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Last Updated: Saturday, 6 September, 2003, 10:27 GMT 11:27 UK
Matilda ruling angers Aussies
The Australia rugby union side sing the national anthem
The official Australian national anthem is Advance Australia Fair
Australian rugby officials have criticised the ruling that "Waltzing Matilda" can only be sung before their players have taken to the field at the World Cup.

The International Rugby Board initially decided the song could not feature at all before Australia's matches as it was not a national anthem.

It eventually relented on the condition that a performer sung the ballad before the players arrived on the pitch.

But the Australian Rugby Union, which argued that the song had special cultural significance, is still unhappy.

"We did the right thing, we asked for permission and now we're in this half-pregnant situation where you can sing it but not when the players are on the paddock," ARU managing director John O'Neill told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"Then again if the crowd decides to burst into the song after the national anthem, I don't think you can decide to stop the crowd from doing it."

A number of Australia's top players have said a rousing rendition of "Waltzing Matilda" inspires them to play better.

But the IRB does not class the song in the same category as the brief "ritual challenges" which New Zealand, Samoa, Fiji and Tonga are allowed to perform following their anthems.

It said those acts were performed by the players only and were "a long-established and indivisible part of international rugby tradition".

The IRB added in a statement on Friday: "The directors recognize the importance and significance of Waltzing Matilda to the Australian nation and are pleased to confirm that it may be both formally played and sung at any nominated time before the teams take the field.

"Once players are on the field, however, no formal musical performance will be permitted other than the playing of the national anthems."

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