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Topic: Rugby World Cup Return to archive Page: 1 2 3 4 5
11-07-03 04:58 PM
stewed & Keefed Preview: France v Ireland

Sun 9 Nov | 0730 GMT | Melbourne | Quarter-final
France will be looking to avenge their Six Nations defeat to Ireland earlier in the year when the teams meet in the World Cup last eight.

Frederic Michalak, the tournament's leading scorer, faces a big test
France coach Bernard Laporte has remained true to his word and stuck, en masse, with the team that beat Scotland so convincingly in the pool stages.

Laporte had told the second-string team he sent out against the USA they were only playing for places on the bench, and so it has proved.

Notable changes among the substitutes see South African-born centre Brian Liebenberg come in for Damien Traille and Patrick Tabacco return to the fold.

France preview:
Les Bleus at full-strength
Les Bleus were edged out 15-12 in a kicking duel at Lansdowne Road earlier in the year.

Lock Jerome Thion is the only newcomer in the pack from that match, but wholesale changes behind the scrum mean wing Aurelien Rougerie is the only survivor from that outing.

While the French first team have been putting their feet up on Bondi beach for two weeks, their opponents have had two hard games against Argentina and Australia in Pool A.

Ireland have made two changes from the team that pushed the Wallabies so close in their final pool match, also in Melbourne.

Coach Eddie O'Sullivan has made one apiece in the backs and forwards.

John Kelly comes in on the left wing in place of the injured Denis Hickie, a victim of a torn Achilles.

O'Sullivan has also recalled Victor Costello in place of Anthony Foley at number eight, describing the change as "horses for courses".

Ireland preview:
Costello and Kelly get the nod
Costello missed the Australia game with a thigh strain.

Ronan O'Gara has won the vote at fly-half, with rival David Humphreys on the bench for the second successive game.

The teams have met 77 times with France leading the head-to-head 44 victories to 28.

That tally of wins includes the only previous World Cup match between the sides in 1995, although the French have lost three of their last four meetings.


France: N Brusque; A Rougerie, T Marsh, Y Jauzion, C Dominici; F Michalak, F Galthie (capt); J-J Crenca, R Ibanez, S Marconnet, F Pelous, J Thion, S Betsen, O Magne, I Harinordoquy.
Replacements: Y Bru, O Millou, O Brouzet, P Tabacco, G Merceron, B Liebenberg, P Elhorga.

Ireland: G Dempsey, S Horgan, B O'Driscoll, K Maggs, J Kelly; R O'Gara, P Stringer; R Corrigan, K Wood (capt), J Hayes; M O'Kelly, P O'Connell; S Easterby, K Gleeson, V Costello.
Replacements: S Byrne, M Horan, D O'Callaghan, E Miller, G Easterby, D Humphreys, A Horgan.

11-07-03 05:00 PM
stewed & Keefed Preview: New Zealand v South Africa

Sat 8 Nov | 0730 GMT | Melbourne | Quarter-final

The southern hemisphere heavyweights meet in a mouth-watering encounter in the first of the World Cup's quarter-finals.

New Zealand have been heavily backed to win the tournament throughout their campaign.

However, a patchy performance in their final pool match against Wales will give their opponents hope.

Despite that far from convincing 53-37 win, coach John Mitchell has made just one change.

Lock Chris Jack returns, in place of Brad Thorn, after recovering from an ankle injury.

Number eight Jerry Collins is still under treatment for sore ribs, but has been named in the side and is expected to play.

New Zealand preview:
Umaga out of reckoning
Centre Tana Umaga has not made the cut, his ligamant injury deemed too much of a risk in such an important game.

South Africa go into the knock-out stages on the back of a convincing 60-10 victory over Samoa.

With that result in the bank, the Springboks looked to have settled on a winning combination, making just one change.

That was forced on coach Rudolf Straeuli after Joe van Niekerk was ruled out of the tournament with a knee injury.

South Africa preview:
Springboks call on Rossouw
The flanker has been replaced by impressive open-side Danie Rossouw.

Rossouw forms part of a strong back-row, with Juan Smith at number eight and skipper Corne Krige on the blind-side.

Outside the scrum, Straueli has kept faith with promising young fly-half Derick Hougaard, who will partner veteran scrum-half Joost van der Westhuizen.

It will be the 63rd time the old enemies have met, New Zealand holding the head-to-head advantage with 33 wins to 26.

South Africa have beaten the All Blacks in each of the last two World Cups, but have not celebrated a win in the last six meetings dating to August 2000.


New Zealand: M Muliaina, D Howlett, L MacDonald, A Mauger, J Rokocoko; C Spencer, J Marshall; D Hewett, K Mealamu, G Somerville; A Williams, C Jack; R Thorne (capt), R McCaw, J Collins.
Replacements: M Hammett, K Meeuws, B Thorn, M Holah, S Devine, D Carter, C Ralph.

South Africa: J van der Westhuizen, A Willemse, J Muller, D-W Barry, T Delport, D Hougaard, J van der Westhuizen; C Bezuidenhout, J Smit, F Rautenbach, B Botha, V Matfield, C Krige (capt), D Rossouw, J Smith.
Replacements: D Coetzee, R Bands, S Boome, S Burger, N de Kock, L Koen, J Fourie.

11-07-03 07:19 PM
stewed & Keefed Looking forward to four great games this weekend,and next week Four Flicks.

[Edited by stewed & Keefed]
11-08-03 08:38 AM
stewed & Keefed Australia cruise past Scots


Australia 33
Tries: Mortlock, Gregan, Lyons
Cons: Flatley (3)
Pens: Flatley (4)
Scotland 16
Tries: Russell
Cons: Paterson
Pens: Paterson (2)
Drop goals: Paterson

Australia 33-16 Scotland

Defending champions Australia shrugged off a poor first-half performance to book their place in the semi-finals.

When the teams turned round level at 9-9 it looked as though the lacklustre Wallabies were going to be pushed all the way by a revitalised Scotland.

However, Australia raised their game after the break and once Stirling Mortlock cruised over six minutes into the half there was only going to be one winner.

Captain George Gregan and David Lyons added further tries for the Wallabies, who will now play bitter rivals New Zealand for a place in the World Cup final.

From the outset Australia were determined to get the ball wide and use their dangerous strike runners on the wings.

Lote Tuqiri looked especially threatening with the ball in hand but he was not seeing as much of it as he would have liked because the Australians were struggling to secure decent possession.

We're disappointed but we've got to get on with it

Scotland captain Bryan Redpath
More reaction from Scotland

The Scots were disrupting them at the scrum and the lineout and Australia looked most threatening when they turned over Scottish ball.

A penalty apiece from Flatley and Paterson saw the sides locked together at 3-3 after 10 minutes and it was nip and tuck for the rest of the half.

Two Flatley penalties to one from Paterson saw the Wallabies leading 9-6 before the Scotland fly-half ensured it was all square at the break.

Paterson had been hit in the face by a ball before kick-off but he showed no ill effects when he let fly with a monster drop goal to make it 9-9.

Lucky break

It could have been better for the Scots, who were denied a possible try-scoring opportunity by referee Steve Walsh.

The referee, who also failed to pick up a number of blatant obstructions, did not allow any advantage as Kenny Logan chased a threatening Gregor Townsend kick.

We're in the semifinals, you've got to be happy with that

Australia captain George Gregan

Australia took off George Smith and brought on the 6ft 5in Matt Cockbain to boost their lineout for the second half and they were soon handed a lucky break.

Phil Waugh was ruled on-side when he turned over the ball and once Stirling Mortlock had blasted through Glenn Metcalfe's flimsy tackle he was left with an easy run to the line.

Flatley converted and added a penalty to give Australia a 19-9 lead with half an hour to play, before Gregan kicked through and touched down under the posts.

David Lyons added a third try for Australia and, with Flatley adding both conversions, Australia had a healthy 33-9 lead, making Robbie Russell's late converted try no more than a consolation for the Scots.

Despite the 17-point margin of victory Australia still look short of their best and they know they will have to exert a lot more control up front if they are to beat the All Blacks when they meet in the last four next weekend.


Australia: M Rogers; W Sailor, S Mortlock, E Flatley, L Tuqiri; S Larkham, G Gregan (capt); B Young, B Cannon, B Darwin, J Harrison, N Sharpe; G Smith, P Waugh, D Lyons.
Replacements: J Paul, A Baxter, D Vickerman, M Cockbain, C Whitaker, M Giteau, J Roff.

Scotland: G Metcalfe, S Danielli, G Townsend, A Henderson, K Logan, C Paterson, B Redpath (capt), T Smith, G Bulloch, B Douglas, N Hines, S Grimes, J White, C Mather, S Taylor.
Replacements: R Russell, G McIlwham, S Murray, J Petrie, M Blair, J McLaren, B Hinshelwood.

[Edited by stewed & Keefed]
11-08-03 08:39 AM
stewed & Keefed New Zealand overpower Boks


New Zealand 29
Tries: MacDonald, Mealamu, Rokocoko
Cons: MacDonald
Pens: MacDonald (3)
Drops: Mauger
South Africa 9
Pens: Hougaard (3)

New Zealand 29-9 South Africa

New Zealand outmuscled South Africa with a dominant display to book their semi-final berth in Melbourne.

The All Blacks crossed for three tries from Leon MacDonald, Keven Mealamu and Joe Rokocoko as they snuffed out any potential danger from the improving Springboks.

South Africa struggled for possession in the first half to trail 13-6 at the break, but despite a brighter second period they were undone by a powerful Kiwi pack.

And, though the vaunted Kiwi backs were not as their scintillating best, there were several moments of individual brilliance, particularly from fly-half Carlos Spencer.

New Zealand's seventh straight win over their southern hemisphere rivals kept them on track for a meeting with Australia, who beat Scotland 33-16 in Brisbane.

The opening exchanges were tension-filled and error-strewn but the pattern of play soon settled into one of New Zealand domination.

It was a huge game - I am very proud of them

All Blacks captain Reuben Thorne
More New Zealand reaction

The All Blacks had the first chance to notch up points but MacDonald scuffed his penalty from wide right.

Shortly after, Kiwi scrum-half Justin Marshall escaped on a sharp break but failed to offload to a flying Doug Howlett on his shoulder.

The Kiwis were beginning to stretch their muscles as the ball edged wider and wider, but they opened the scoring with a simple penalty under the posts from MacDonald.

South Africa hit back instantaneously, with three points from Derick Hougaard.

But New Zealand's skill behind the scrum was ignited on 17 minutes when Spencer dummied his way through from just outside his 22, and stepped on the gas before timing his scoring pass to MacDonald to perfection.

We did make a lot of mistakes, but you have to look at the pressure they put on us and the massive hits

Springbok captain Corne Krige
More South Africa reaction

The Kiwi pressure was building but the mercurial Spencer missed two drop-goal attempts in quick succession.

South Africa were still unable to string together any phases as the All Blacks edged further away with another MacDonald penalty on 33 minutes.

The Springboks did manage to get their hands on some ball inside the last five minutes of the half and went close to a try before Hougaard slotted a morale-boosting penalty.


But South Africa began the second half in a much brighter mood with Jorrie Muller making a promising break that may have influenced the outcome had it resulted in a score.

The All Blacks quickly punished the wasted opportunity with a drop-goal from Aaron Mauger.

But Hougaard kept the resurgent South Africans in touch with another penalty.

Mealamu scored New Zealand's second try

The Springboks, though, were hanging on and found themselves further adrift when All Black hooker Mealamu burst through for a powerful solo try on 57 minutes.

The fight was still there from South Africa but the result was slipping away.

And New Zealand removed any doubt with another MacDonald penalty and a entertaining third try from left-wing Rokocoko after an audacious pass through his legs from Spencer.


New Zealand: M Muliaina, D Howlett, L MacDonald, A Mauger, J Rokocoko; C Spencer, J Marshall; D Hewett, K Mealamu, G Somerville; A Williams, C Jack; R Thorne (capt), R McCaw, J Collins.
Replacements: M Hammett, K Meeuws, B Thorn, M Holah, S Devine, D Carter, C Ralph.

South Africa: J van der Westhuizen, A Willemse, J Muller, D-W Barry, T Delport, D Hougaard, J van der Westhuizen; C Bezuidenhout, J Smit, F Rautenbach, B Botha, V Matfield, C Krige (capt), D Rossouw, J Smith.
Replacements: D Coetzee, R Bands, S Boome, S Burger, N de Kock, L Koen, J Fourie.

[Edited by stewed & Keefed]
11-08-03 01:43 PM
glencar What channel does the game get shown in in England? I get FOX Sports here which is part of Murdoch's SKY Channel.
11-08-03 02:21 PM
Gazza ITV - its on terrestrial television, and not satellite (ie, SKY)
[Edited by Gazza]
11-08-03 02:30 PM
glencar Crap! I'll have to just read about it on this thread. I was looking forward to watching a match finally.
11-08-03 03:18 PM
Gazza Its only really starting getting worth watching at this stage as we're down to the last eight teams, all of whom could have easily have been predicted to have reached this stage.

theres about 4 levels of rugby

1) England, Australia and New Zealand. Only one of these 3 teams will win the World Cup.

2) South Africa, France and Ireland. each of these teams on a very good day could beat one of the top 3, but they wont get lucky twice.

3) Wales and Scotland. No chance against the teams in the first category, but could give the teams in the second category a decent argument on a good day. However, they're both in decline and pretty mediocre sides.

4) Everyone else. varying from the mediocre to the awful. These countries are relative newcomers to international rugby so their infrastructure hasnt developed enough for them to compete with the big sides
11-08-03 09:50 PM
Gazza wrote:
4) Everyone else. varying from the mediocre to the awful. These countries are relative newcomers to international rugby so their infrastructure hasnt developed enough for them to compete with the big sides

I think the Japanese were behind the pack before the first game with their chosen team name 'The Cherry Blossoms'.

I know this is a Japanese thing, but geez, may as well call yourselves the 'The Fluffy Bunnies'.
[Edited by fmk438j]
11-09-03 06:54 AM
Hannalee Bloody Hell.

I'm going to be a nervous wreck by the time this lot's over.
11-09-03 10:37 AM
stewed & Keefed France blast past Ireland


France 43
Tries: Magne, Dominici, Harinordoquy, Crenca
Cons: Michalak (4)
Pens: Michalak (5)
Ireland 21
Tries: Maggs, O'Driscoll (2)
Cons: Humphreys (3)
As it happened
Match photos

France 43-21 Ireland

France decimated Ireland with a devastating display of 15-man rugby in Melbourne.

Les Bleus were too athletic, too fast, too well-organised and too eager for a bewildered Ireland who lacked the necessary firepower either up front or behind the scrum.

The French stormed to a 27-0 lead at half time and amassed four tries in all to Ireland's three.

Olivier Magne, Christophe Dominici, Imanol Harinordoquy and Jean-Jacques Crenca all crossed for France, while stand-off Frederic Michalak kicked 23 points.

Ireland clawed back some pride as France slacked off in the second half, with tries from Kevin Maggs and two from Brian O'Driscoll.

But Bernard Laporte's men, runners-up at the last World Cup, laid down a ominous marker for the rest of the tournament as they await England in the semi-final.

We won't make any excuses - we tried our damndest but it didn't come off

Ireland captain Keith Wood
More Ireland reaction

France set off at a furious pace from the outset and crossed Ireland's line within five minutes after Magne scored from Michalak's high kick.

Ireland were shell-shocked and under extreme early pressure as winger Aurelien Rougerie went close to another score, only to put a foot in touch.

Irish centre Brian O'Driscoll then made a crucial last-gasp tackle on a flying Tony Marsh, all within the first 12 minutes.

Keith Wood's men did manage to find some modicum of composure and at least staunched the blue waves for a few moments before Michalak added another penalty.

Have Your Say
Your post-match reaction

But Irish morale slumped further when their own promising attack fell down in midfield and France broke clear from their own 22 to set up winger Dominici for a stunning score.

Number eight Harinordoquy added another try before the break, and supplied the scoring pass as loose-head prop Crenca scored France's fourth inside the first 10 minutes of the second period.

The game was over as a contest but Ireland finally got on the scoreboard with a bludgeoning run from centre Maggs.

The second half was more difficult because we were tired, but it's okay - I am very happy for French football and for our country

France captain Fabien Galthie
More France reaction

Irish tails were immediately lifted and they went close again soon after, only to be repelled on the line by a combination of formidable defence and poor handling.

France were hampered by the loss of hooker Raphael Ibanez for 10 minutes inside the last quarter for knocking the ball out of Peter Stringer's hands while on the floor.

And Ireland pounced for another try when O'Driscoll raced through to get a touch on replacement fly-half David Humphrey's grubber kick.

O'Driscoll also wrestled his way over for a third Irish try on the whistle.

But it was merely papering over the cracks as France had done all the work and were coasting into the last four.


France: N Brusque; A Rougerie, T Marsh, Y Jauzion, C Dominici; F Michalak, F Galthie (capt); J-J Crenca, R Ibanez, S Marconnet, F Pelous, J Thion, S Betsen, O Magne, I Harinordoquy.
Replacements: Y Bru, O Millou, O Brouzet, P Tabacco, G Merceron, B Liebenberg, P Elhorga.

Ireland: G Dempsey, S Horgan, B O'Driscoll, K Maggs, J Kelly; R O'Gara, P Stringer; R Corrigan, K Wood (capt), J Hayes; M O'Kelly, P O'Connell; S Easterby, K Gleeson, V Costello.
Replacements: S Byrne, M Horan, D O'Callaghan, E Miller, G Easterby, D Humphreys, A Horgan.

11-09-03 10:39 AM
stewed & Keefed England edge Wales in thriller

England 28-17 Wales
England: 28
Try: Greenwood
Con: Wilkinson
Pens: Wilkinson (6)
Drop: Wilkinson
Wales: 17
Tries: S Jones, Charvis, M Williams
Con: Harris
Match photos
Player ratings
As it happened
Match stats
England booked their place in the World Cup semi-finals, but only after Wales gave them a huge scare in Brisbane on Sunday.

Steve Hansen's side led 10-3 with 43 minutes gone and it was only in the second-half England finally managed to snuff out the dragon's fire.

Stephen Jones, Colin Charvis and Martyn Williams claimed three tries for Wales and although Will Greenwood hit back, 23 points from the boot of Jonny Wilkinson ultimately proved the difference.

While Clive Woodward's side now head to Sydney for a semi-final with France, Wales head home.

But the men in red will return as heroes after also running the All Blacks close last weekend.

In a furious opening quarter, Wales were inches away from an early score when Robert Sidoli was brought down by Lewis Moody on the line.

If we play like that we won't stand a chance next week

England coach Clive Woodward
More England reaction

England again looked out of sorts, as Steve Thompson struggled to find his men in the line-out and Wilkinson failed to find touch with the boot.

Both the Newcastle captain and his Welsh counterpart Jones then missed straight-forward penalties, before England finally got on the scoreboard when Wilkinson slotted his second attempt.

The score calmed England's early nerves, but still the Welsh defence held firm and, minutes later, it was Wales who were celebrating, thanks to a bizarre cross-field kick from Mike Tindall.

Hoping to find lock Ben Kay, the ball was instead picked up by Welsh flyer Williams, who darted up field and fed the ball out before re-gathering to send fly-half Jones over on the left.

Another brilliant effort by Wilkinson to hide the rubbish that this England team are

From John G
Have your say on Scrum V

Jones missed the conversion but with his team-mates playing with verve and confidence it hardly seemed to matter.

England, in contrast, were sluggish with the ball in hand and looked incapable of breaking through.

And again it was Wales who took the honours before the break when captain Charvis powered over from a close-range penalty after Jones spurned a kick for goal.

England coach Clive Woodward made the changes at halt-time with Mike Catt replacing Dan Luger.

They needed a flying start and they got it in a moment of brilliance from Jason Robinson, who tore through the Welsh midfield, beating five men and drawing the sixth to feed the ball out to Greenwood.

We're gutted but we've come a long way

Wales coach Steve Hansen
More Wales reaction
Wilkinson's conversion brought the scores level at 10-10 and two further penalties left the red shirts looking jaded.

Mark Jones then spurned an almost certain try when he opted to go it alone, despite having Williams outside him.

And Wilkinson made Wales further pay for that decision with his third penalty of the half - to the visible relief of the England bench.

Nine points ahead, Woodward's side finally began to look more like their old selves.

Wales v England webchat
Join in from 1815GMT

But then came a superb cross-field kick from replacement fly-half Ceri Sweeney that Dallaglio failed to secure and Martyn Williams touched down to keep English nerves on edge.

Harris' conversion brought his side back within eight points, but England had the last word with a Wilkinson drop-goal that guaranteed an appointment with a revitalised France next weekend.

England: J Robinson, D Luger, W Greenwood, M Tindall, B Cohen, J Wilkinson, M Dawson; J Leonard, S Thompson, P Vickery, M Johnson (capt), B Kay, L Moody, N Back, L Dallaglio.
Replacements: D West, T Woodman, S Shaw, J Worsley, K Bracken, M Catt, S Abbott.
Wales: G Thomas; M Jones, M Taylor, I Harris, S Williams; S Jones, G Cooper; I Thomas, R McBryde, A Jones; B Cockbain, R Sidoli; D Jones, C Charvis (capt), J Thomas.
Replacements: M Davies, G Jenkins, G Llewellyn, M Williams, D Peel, C Sweeney, K Morgan.

11-09-03 11:40 AM
stewed & Keefed Tournament Betting
New Zealand 6/5
England 7/4
Australia 5/1
France 13/2
11-09-03 11:44 AM
stewed & Keefed Semi-finals
Saturday 15 Nov
New Zealand v Australia 7.30am (UK) Telstra Stadium, Sydney
Sunday 16 Nov
France v England 10am (UK) Telstra Stadium, Sydney
11-09-03 01:26 PM
Monkey Woman My god! France vs England and Australia vs NZ??? Sparks are really going to fly!
11-12-03 05:41 PM
stewed & Keefed France name unchanged team

Galthie's France team are strongly fancied to beat England
France have named an unchanged team for Sunday's World Cup semi-final against England in Sydney.
Coach Bernard Laporte kept faith with the XV that outplayed Ireland in France's 42-21 victory in last Sunday's quarter-final.

Shortly after unveiling his side, Laporte tried to diffuse the growing war of words with between the two sides following newspaper reports in which he reportedly accused the English of being "arrogant".

France ready for 'arrogant' England

On Wednesday, he denied he had every made the comments.

He said: "Some reports said that I said everyone hated the English, but that is not true.

"They have a very professional set-up, I have a lot of respect for [their coach] Clive Woodward, who has turned England into the best team in the world.

It was very easy to pick the team for this match

France manager Jo Maso

"They have stated they will win the World Cup, but I see that as confidence more than arrogance."

France will again be captained by 34-year-old scrum-half Fabien Galthie, in what will be his last match before retirement from international rugby if France lose.

Laporte made four changes among the replacements, two of them enforced.

David Auradou was called up as substitute lock to cover for Olivier Brouzet, who has been ruled out for the rest of the tournament after dislocating a shoulder.

Clement Poitrenaud replaces utility back Pepito Elhorga, who flew back to France after the death of his father. Elhorga will return to Sydney just before the game.

On the tactical side, Christian Labit takes over from Patrick Tabacco as back-row replacement with Damien Traille returning as back-up centre in place of Brian Liebenberg.

Team manager Jo Maso defended the decision to leave the starting line-up unchanged.

He said: "There was no need for any changes to the starting 15 - we were very pleased by our performance against Ireland. It was very easy to pick the team for this match."


France: Nicolas Brusque; Aurelien Rougerie, Tony Marsh, Yannick Jauzion, Christophe Dominici; Frederic Michalak, Fabien Galthie (capt); Imanol Harinordoquy, Olivier Magne, Serge Betsen; Jerome Thion, Fabien Pelous; Sylvain Marconnet, Raphael Ibanez, Jean-Jacques Crenca.
Replacements: Yannick Bru, Olivier Milloud, David Auradou, Christian Labit, Gerald Merceron, Damien Traille, Clement Poitrenaud.

11-12-03 05:43 PM
stewed & Keefed Hill fit for England

Hill has not played since England's first game in the World Cup
England's World Cup campaign has been given a massive boost after Richard Hill was declared fit to play in the semi-final against France.
And coach Clive Woodward's tournament ambitions were further enhanced after both Josh Lewsey and Iain Balshaw passed fitness tests on Wednesday.

Hill has been out since damaging a hamstring in England's opening match against Georgia, while Lewsey and Balshaw have been struggling with thigh and knee complaints respectively.

England have been evasive about Hill's fitness, but the veteran insists he will be ready to play on Sunday.

"I am fully fit. I am available for selection and very much want to play at the weekend," said Hill.

"It's been a very frustrating time for myself and ultimately longer than I expected."

We know if we don't improve, we'll get beaten

England captain Martin Johnson

Despite Hill being short of match fitness, coach Clive Woodward said he would be involved in Sunday's game at Sydney's Olympic Stadium.

Woodward said: "He is obviously short of match practice but he is one of the world's best players. Richard Hill will definitely be taking part on Sunday in some shape or form."

Neither Lewis Moody nor Joe Worsley, the two players who have been used in Hill's absence, have been able to fill the void left by a man who has played 61 Tests.

Hill said he had no doubts about his match fitness for France, whose highly mobile back row is rated the world's best.

"I've been taking part in training sessions and have come through very well," Hill said.

Brooke: England need bulk

"The key thing is that throughout the whole injury I have been able to keep myself going, whether it's on a bicycle or jogging.

"As far as I'm concerned it's going to be no different to having three months off over the summer and then coming back to play France in September."

Balshaw and Lewsey had also been major selection doubts, with Austin Healey flown to Australia as cover.

Hopefully Hilly will raise the moral levels and we'll see a passionate, winning performance

From Phil
Have your say on Scrum V

But after the duo were cleared fit, Healey flew back to England on Wednesday.

Skipper Martin Johnson is well aware England need to improve their form over their unconvincing quarter-final victory against Wales.

"We know if we don't improve, we'll get beaten, it's as simple as that," Johnson said.

"We weren't happy as players, the coaches weren't happy, obviously, and we need to put it right.

Squad selector:
Pick your England XV

"The game's about passion and emotion. We've got to raise the stakes to that level, too. We have got great players. We just have to get out and give them the ball."

11-12-03 05:44 PM
stewed & Keefed Giffin cleared for semi-final

Giffin's line-out experience will be crucial against the All Blacks
Australia vice-captain David Giffin has been declared fit to take his place on the bench against New Zealand on Saturday after passing a fitness test.
Giffin's place had been a doubt after a leg strain kept him out of the Wallabies' quarter-final win over Scotland.

His inclusion sees Daniel Vickerman drop out of the 22-man squad.

"I trained on Tuesday and didn't have any problems so I fully expect to get through the rest of week and be fine for the game," said Giffin.

Australia coach Eddie Jones was relieved to be able to call on the services of Giffin, with the lock likely to be used as a second-half substitute.

"He is the vice-captain of the side, a line-out leader and a guy with great experience," said Jones.

"At this stage he is right to start off the bench and not start the game. The last 20 minutes of the game against New Zealand is probably going to be the crucial 20 minutes of the game."

11-12-03 05:45 PM
stewed & Keefed Mealamu wary of Wallabies

Mealamu has been in electric form for the All Blacks
New Zealand hooker Keven Mealamu has warned his players to be wary of the under-fire Australian pack when the two sides meet on Saturday.
The Wallabies forwards have been heavily criticised for a string of lacklustre performances.

But Mealamu said: "They are a strong pack and quite smart as well.

"They've got a few tricks with their scrummaging so we are going to have to be just as smart.

"They know how to do their jobs and do them well. I've never seen them buckle. We'll just have to be wary when we play against them."

New Zealand have got the better of their staunch rivals already twice this season.

They might pull something out of the bag

Keven Mealamu on the Wallabies

Back in July, they won 50-21 and followed that up with a 21-17 victory the following month.

The All Blacks are hotly tipped for a hat-trick of wins come Saturday, particularly with their pack firing on all cylinders.

Mealamu has been at the heart of that, using his experience as a former flanker for a series of telling breaks, culminating in a try against South Africa at the weekend.

But despite his and his team-mates' strong displays to date, he is taking nothing for granted.

He added: "They might pull something out of the bag.

Southern rivals in agreement

"They've proven, even though maybe last week they didn't have a good line-out performance, that they do have a good lineout and they have got some good locks."

Of his own line-out jumpers, he added: "They are two world-class locks and great targets to throw to. It's made my job a lot easier."

The game kicks off at 0900 GMT on Saturday at Sydney's Telstra Stadium.

11-12-03 06:09 PM
glencar We have a show here called "Joe Millionaire" where a cowboy from Texas wines & dines a bunch of Euro women who have been falsely told that he just inherited a fortune. The show's crap but I saw one scene where the women called each other ethnic insults. I thought that would all end with EU. Do the finals of rugby inspire national insulting or is it all good fun?
11-13-03 04:48 PM
stewed & Keefed New-look England at full strength

Catt has been brought in to add composure to England's midfield
Mike Catt and Richard Hill are both in a full-strength England team to face France in the World Cup semi-final.
Catt has been selected at centre ahead of Mike Tindall to ease the pressure on fly-half Jonny Wilkinson.

And the presence of veteran flanker Hill is a massive boost as England look to improve their shaky form.

Jason Robinson moves to the wing as Josh Lewsey returns from injury at full-back, while Trevor Woodman replaces Jason Leonard at prop.

Catt has clinched a midfield place alongside Will Greenwood following his superb performance as a second-half substitute during the quarter-final victory over Wales last weekend.

Catt's performance also freed up Wilkinson, who had struggled to influence the game in the first half.

We want to get a little bit more width in our game

Clive Woodward
England coach
Woodward's Catt conundrum
England coach Clive Woodward said: "It was straightforward really. You saw when he came on against Wales, he played outstandingly well. This is no gamble, you don't gamble in a World Cup semi-final.

"This is England's strongest team - all 30 players are fit, this is the first time on this tour."

Tindall, Catt's Bath team-mate, has been relegated to the bench as one of five changes.

Catt said: "Maybe there was a little bit of staleness there - maybe I can bring a bit of freshness.

"Hopefully I can take a little bit of heat off Wilkinson."

Woodward added: "He (Catt) has been playing very well. One of the key things about him is his ability to play at either first or second receiver.

Robinson and Wilkinson will be crucial to England's chances
"We want to get a little bit more width in our game. There's no doubt in my mind that Catt will have a major role to play."

Hill has missed the last four World Cup games because of a hamstring injury, but he is now fit to pack down alongside his long-time back-row colleagues Neil Back and Lawrence Dallaglio.

They will face a stern test from the highly-rated French back row.

France name unchanged team
"To have Hill, Dallaglio, Back come up against the French back row, it's going to be a great clash, and I know who I'd put my money on," Woodward said.

Definitely the best team he could have picked

From Clive, London
Have your say on Scrum V
Also among the replacements are Moody, Kyran Bracken and Bath's Iain Balshaw.

Balshaw has been troubled by a sore knee, but he came through a fitness test yesterday, along with Lewsey, to feature in England's 22.


England: J Lewsey; J Robinson, W Greenwood, M Catt, B Cohen; J Wilkinson, M Dawson; T Woodman, S Thompson, P Vickery; M Johnson (capt), Ben Kay; R Hill, N Back, L Dallaglio.
Replacements: D West, J Leonard, M Corry, L Moody, K Bracken, M Tindall, I Balshaw.

11-13-03 05:13 PM
glencar wrote:
We have a show here called "Joe Millionaire" where a cowboy from Texas wines & dines a bunch of Euro women who have been falsely told that he just inherited a fortune. The show's crap but I saw one scene where the women called each other ethnic insults. I thought that would all end with EU. Do the finals of rugby inspire national insulting or is it all good fun?

Yes and no. It's no fun if you can't exchange a few digs, but there's no history of malice between rival rugby supporters.

I'm in the process gearing myself up by listening to World in Union (the official World Cup album)- just finished off Molly Malone. It goes without saying, however, that Swing Low's the best thing on there...
11-13-03 05:19 PM
glencar That's sort of what we do here between various states. ie, NJ drivers are horrible, Californians are space cadets, etc.
11-13-03 05:22 PM
Gazza >It's no fun if you can't exchange a few digs, but there's no history of malice between rival rugby supporters.

on hannalee's behalf and for the benefit of some American chums for whom that word may be lost in the transatlantic translation, when she talks about exchanging digs, its meant as in the word "jibes" and NOT in the Lennox Lewis/Mike Tyson sense of the
11-13-03 05:30 PM
glencar "Digs" has the same meaning here, Gazza. BTW I'll be gone for 3 days so don't think I've left for good. This is a last gasp, as it were.
11-14-03 11:13 AM
Hannalee Preview: England v France

Sun 16 Nov | 0900 GMT | Sydney - Telstra Stadium

Hill is a huge presence for England
Europe's top teams go head-to-head in what promises to be a titanic tussle in the second semi-final on Sunday.

England have received a massive boost with the news that flanker Richard Hill is fit to return to action.

The influential back-rower has not played since damaging his hamstring during England's opening World Cup game against Georgia.

But he has finally proved his fitness and is back in the ranks in what coach Clive Woodward described as his strongest XV.

England preview:
New look and at full strength
Woodward also welcomes back Josh Lewsey from injury and calls up Trevor Woodman and Mike Catt.

Catt played an influential role in the second half against Wales and keeps his place in midfield alongside Jonny Wilkinson and Will Greenwood.

Skipper Martin Johnson has emphasised the need for England to make a marked improvement. "We know if we don't improve, we'll get beaten, it's as simple as that," he said.

France preview:
Same again for Les Bleus
France, the only team to beat England in more than two years, are in prime form.

Les Bleus have had a number of impressive outings down under and booked their semi-final spot with a convincing 43-21 win over Ireland.

Coach Bernard Laporte has, as expected, stuck with the winning formula.

Fly-half Frederic Michalak, the tournament's top scorer with 101 points, continues his partnership with veteran scrum-half Fabien Galthie.

Back-row bandits target Wilkinson
The outstanding back-row combination of Serge Betsen, Olivier Magne and Imanol Harinordoquy will be looking to nullify the threat of Wilkinson.

The only changes come on the bench where David Auradou, Clement Poitrenaud, Damien Traille and Christian Labit are drafted in.

The encounter will be the third time the two teams have met in the World Cup.

Golden moments:
Moore on the Paris bloodbath
In 1991, England were 19-10 winners in a hard-fought Paris quarter-final, while the French gained revenge four years later in the third-fourth place play-off in Pretoria with a 19-9 victory.

In the 82 previous meetings between the two sides, England boast 45 wins to France's 30.

11-14-03 11:15 AM
Hannalee Last Updated: Thursday, 13 November, 2003, 14:27 GMT

Preview: Australia v New Zealand

Sat 15 Nov | 0900 GMT | Sydney - Telstra Stadium

Umaga is not considered match fit

Rugby's Antipodean heavyweights meet in the first World Cup semi-final in Sydney on Saturday.

New Zealand, the tournament favourites, will again be without their vice-captain and outside-centre Tana Umaga.

Umaga ruptured knee ligaments after 21 minutes of New Zealand's first match of the tournament against Italy.

New Zealand preview:
Umaga to miss semi-final
Coach John Mitchell has kept the 30-year-old in the squad, and although he has begun his rehabilitation, it is too late to get in the starting XV.

Goal-kicker Leon MacDonald retains his place in Umaga's absence in an unchanged side from the team that outclassed South Africa 29-9 in the quarter-finals.

MacDonald for Umaga is the only change to the team that beat Australia by a record 50-21 margin in Sydney during the Tri-Nations.

Mitchell has made one alteration on the bench, bringing in scrum-half Byron Kelleher for Steve Devine.

Australia preview:
Smith fit to face All Blacks
Australia will be out to avenge that embarrassing defeat against their trans-Tasman rivals.

Like his opposite number, coach Eddie Jones has named an unchanged line-up from the team that battled past Scotland in the quarter-final

Antipodean back-three battle
That means Jones has kept faith with the much-criticised back three of rugby league converts Mat Rogers, Wendell Sailor and Lote Tuqiri.

Joe Roff will again start on the bench, where he will be joined by vice-captain David Giffin.

The lock came through a fitness test to take his place as a replacement at the expense of Daniel Vickerman.

Utility-back Matt Giteau will not feature after turning his ankle. Centre Nathan Grey comes into the squad.

Despite contesting more than 100 Test matches, it is only the second time the two sides have met at the World Cup.

Golden moments:
Campo outwits the All Blacks
The first was in 1991, when a David Campese-inspired Australia won 16-6 in a memorable semi-final.

Saturday's encounter will be the 118th between two of world rugby's staunchest rivals. Going into the game, New Zealand boast an impressive 75 wins to Australia's 38.

11-14-03 11:22 AM
Jumacfly Hi my English mates.... just one thing before this week end....



Ju !!
11-14-03 02:10 PM
Hannalee Merde-y beaucoup.
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