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Friday, November 5, 1999 Published at 20:34 GMT

Rain may force covered cup final

The roof may be closed for the Rugby World Cup final

Heavy downpours could force officials to close the Millennium Stadium roof for the Rugby World Cup final on Saturday.

Wales was lashed by driving rain and gale-force winds on Friday, forcing officials to close the retractable roof ahead of the much-awaited final between Australia and France.

If the bad weather continues, the roof could stay closed for the game, as Australian Rugby Union officials originally requested.

[ image: An Australian fan soaks up the atmosphere in Cardiff]
An Australian fan soaks up the atmosphere in Cardiff
The weather forecast for Saturday is for improved conditions, however, which would mean the roof could be left open.

The storms came just hours after South Africa beat New Zealand 22-18 in the third-place play-off on the same playing surface.

Millennium Stadium ground staff were hard at work on the pitch Friday afternoon, working under the closed roof to protect the pitch from a further battering.

'Pitch problem'

The state of the playing surface, which cut up in the quarter-final match between Australia and Wales, is causing concern.

"The pitch has been a bit of a problem but they are working on it with the system that they have got," said World Cup chairman Leo Williams.

"In terms of the roof being closed, we will take a decision on the day if we think that the weather could impact on the match.

"We will make that decision, if it needs to be made, as a group of World Cup directors."

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Rugby World Cup 1999
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