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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 October, 2003, 07:17 GMT
Send the 'Red Coats' home

By Jim Stokes
BBC Sport, Sydney

There are approximately 25m people in Australia, and about 25% of those live in and around Sydney.

So what are the chances of meeting your neighbour from Belfast, Northern Ireland, wandering around Central Quay?

I would say pretty slim. But it happened.

Taking a walk from the Rocks, there was this fresh-faced chap with spectacles just alighting from the Sydney 2000 cruise ship after lunch on the high sea.

I had to rub my eyes before confronting Brian Thompson, who took a step back before we sat down and attempted to work out the odds on meeting 10,000 miles away from the suburbs of home.

He's not even interested in rugby. Brian's daughter Susan married an Aussie and settled in Brisbane.

Brian had travelled out for a visit and when he got a little weary of painting the homestead in Queensland he decided a trip to Sydney was the answer.

Little did he realise!

Then, just to make up a friendly threesome, along limped Syd Millar, a fellow Ulsterman out for his daily constitutional.

The chairman of the International Rugby Board - the world's top rugby official - was in his usual ebullient mood, but did complain about having to do me a favour.

"I don't usually do this for former Malone players," said Ballymena man Syd, no doubt remembering the time I took a swing at him during an Ulster League match back in the Seventies.

The Pommie baiting continues unabated with injured Aussie number eight Toutai Kefu having his tuppence worth.

Prompted or not, Kefu has called for England to be stripped of the points following their extra-man gig against Samoa.

Toutai Kefu
Toutai Kefu has been one of many England detractors
While the World Cup big-wigs get their heads together to deliberate on England's response, Kefu was in no doubt what should happen to Clive Woodward's men.

"The World Cup organisers need to show courage over England's extra-man scandal and strip the Poms of their points,'' he told Sydney's Daily Telegraph.

''It makes no difference that the English sent out Dan Luger at the tail-end of the game when the result was already decided. The bottom line is that rules are rules.

''Even worse, England defied a tournament official. That's the key issue here. The English are always arrogant,'' said Kefu who then came out with a classic line.

''Go back in history, look at the English Army. Who goes to war wearing red coats? To suggest nothing should be done is a joke.''

There you go now.

In the same daily, the Irish, we are told, are poised to surrender when they send out a weakened team against Australia on Saturday.

Surrender! My dear chap, in all my days I have never known any Irishman to surrender. Get beaten yes, but surrender?

That could well get their backs up in Melbourne, weakened team or not.

Not for the first time in this tournament, Argentina have had a rattle at the World Cup organisers.

Secretary Federico Fleitas is saying that they are being treated unfairly after their two props were cited.

Roberto Grau is accused of punching and Mauricio Reggaiardo of the nasty business of gouging.

''We are tired of the IRB and we only want them to use the same measures for all the countries,'' he said.

Argentina have previously complained about their itinerary which has seen them play two games in four days, while both Ireland and Australia have had a week to recover. On that point one has to agree.

Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan hit the right chord in explaining the IRB ranking system which sees Ireland leapfrog over Australia into third place.

"This is musical chairs. At 12 last night, Australia were a better team than us. Twelve hours later, we are better than them. I rest my case."

Rudi van Vuuren is a sportsman extraordinaire
Rudi van Vuuren is a sportsman extraordinaire
Namibia's Rudi van Vuuren will see his dream of playing in two sporting World Cups in the same year realised on Thursday evening.

Injured for most part of the World Cup, Van Vuuren has finally recovered from a calf injury and will come off the bench at some stage to face against Romania at Launceston.

The fly-half played in the cricket World Cup in South Africa earlier this year took a five-wicket haul against England.

He was also selected for the 1999 world Cup but did not manage to get on the paddock.

When George Gregan and Stephen Larkham link up to face Ireland in Melbourne on Saturday, they will equal the Nick Farr-Jones and Michael Lynagh half-back dynasty.

It will be the 47th time the two will be in tandem, although it will be five short of the world record held by Azzurri pair Alessandro Troncon and Diego Dominguez.

Links to more Rugby World Cup stories


Keeping up with Australia's Jones'
28 Oct 03  |  Rugby World Cup


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