Nick Mullins

Suffering from La Baule blues (56)

La Baule - So there you go, seven days into the World Cup and we’re all going home. Wales - and the rest of us flip-flopping around with them - are pulling the suitcase out from underneath the hotel room bed and heading back to Cardiff for the next couple of pool matches.

Sunday in Nantes was terrific, the hospitality there and here at our base beside the Atlantic in La Baule has been overwhelming. But just as we’re beginning to get into the swing of the party, we're off.

It’s so unbelievably ridiculous it renders the question almost pointless. Yet is there really anybody out there, beyond the hoteliers in Cardiff and Edinburgh who are now charging exorbitant prices, who thinks a shared tournament is a good idea?

Show me the half-wit (or most probably half-wits) who thought it was and I’ll get them to carry my luggage the 50 miles to the airport in Nantes on their seemingly empty heads.

I love the Millennium Stadium and Murrayfield as much as anyone. I also think a World Cup in France is a seriously damaged and diluted one if those grounds have games to stage when serious rugby centres like Biarritz and Perpignan can only watch on wistfully.

And it would have been even worse if Ireland – having cuddled up to the French federation in the first place to make sure they got a slice of the cake as well – didn’t then realise they wouldn’t have a stadium to play them in because they’d have the builders round at Lansdowne Road.

We all actually know why it happened. In a desperate bid to stop England winning the vote for 2007, France bribed the Celtic nations with matches for votes. It was financial expedience and rugby politics at their very worst.

It seemed crass, small-minded and self-centred then and nothing’s changed in the intervening years. You could say exactly the same about the decision four years later to give the 2011 tournament to New Zealand rather than Japan, but that’s another plate of sardines for another time perhaps.

And if you’re thinking I’m being a tad selfish about all this, getting a bit depressed about brushing the sand out of my hair and watching a milky Atlantic sunset with a bottle of Bordeaux for the last time in a week or so, then you’re dead right.

But this is a French World Cup. It belongs to the French. On the evidence of the well-attended opening weekend it will deliver the world game and the developing nations millions. It has no place in Wales or Scotland. And we should make sure the blazers are never allowed to do this again.

PS – Anyone who read Tom Shanklin’s piece on the BBC Sport website or listened to Five Live’s coverage of Sheepgate (Mark Jones smuggled a real, live sheep into Dwayne Peel’s hotel room. Don’t ask!) might be keen to know that “Boycey” was later returned unharmed, if a little bemused, to the flock. Dwayne’s room is still recovering. Boycey says he’ll miss Dwayne while he’s away.

Nick Mullins is a BBC Sport commentator on several sports and specialises in rugby union. He is covering Wales at the World Cup for Radio 5 live and you can see the station's full broadcast schedule here.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 07:54 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • John Heller wrote:

I went with a group of friends to the last world cup in Australia. The fact that it was based in one country meant that it had an atmosphere which gave the entire tournament huge momentum which it did not have in 1999 nor does it have this time around for the very reasons that Nick Mulllins has described in his article. JH.

  • 2.
  • At 08:45 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Tim G wrote:

Just returned from Nantes, sunburnt, and totally recharged, what a short break.

Spot on Nick, a mixture of self-agrandissement, and self interest (eg Wales facing Oz at the MS rather than in France) all conspire to ensure the blazers can have their day in the sun on home territory!

I agree 100% with the Japan 2011 issue, when will they ever learn?

In addition, why is there not a Plate tournament, the benefits are so obvious I cannot understand how anyone in power can ignore the increased income stream, to say nothing of raising the profile of the game in the so called 'developing countries'.

Keep up the good work, if it helps the weather in Cardiff looks good for the weekend, I hope so as I've got Oz friends camping in the garden.


Tim G

  • 3.
  • At 08:53 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • james smith wrote:

The reason Wales and Scotland are staging games is not because the French "bribed" the celtic nations to avoid an english rival bid.

It's because the english agreed to support a Welsh bid in '99 if the celtic nations and France suported their bid for '91.

Having made some money then in '91, the english then reneged on the deal to support Wales so that they could bid themselves for '99.

Wales then had to offer the French games to back their bid on the understanding that they would back the french bid for '07. Sco and Ire agreed to back both over an english bid in return for home games.

If the English hadn't of reneged on the original deal after 1991 then the RWC's in both '99 and '07 wouldn't of had to be carved up like a piece of meat.

So get your facts right and don't blame the French or the Celts, look to HQ for messing it all up again.

  • 4.
  • At 08:55 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • David Shield wrote:

Agree entirely Nick, well said.

  • 5.
  • At 09:02 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Banjojim wrote:

Whilst I agree in principle, Im in Cardiff at the weekend, joining in the World Cup atmosphere with hundreds of thousands of others, in the stadium and in the bars, who otherwise would have been watching on telly. This spreading of the net has to be good for rugby, no?

  • 6.
  • At 09:06 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • SidPenguin wrote:

Totally agree with everything you say, Nick. It is also unfair to Oz and NZ for Wales and Scotland to be given home advantage in their key pool matches

  • 7.
  • At 09:11 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • James wrote:

The most entertaing part of the whole votes for Matches debacle is that if France come second in their group, they are almost guaranteed to face New Zealand in Cardiff! At thier home world cup! DOH!

  • 8.
  • At 09:12 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Lomu for PM wrote:

Really gutted that I can't be at the tournament. Have spent the last 3 weeks in hospital here in New Zealand,and need to spend another 3 weeks in for further tests. I was all set for the trip and looking forward to travelling back to some of the haunts visited during my trip for the 99' world cup. I'm kind of on the fence on this one, probably a bit bias as 03' was on the doorstep.
I guess if you want to do the crazy travelling around thing, the 07' one gives you a little opportunity to do that.

BTW, have you seen what Henry has been up to with the team selection against Portugual? Have a look, I laughed?

AB's all the way.
We have plans's A-Z this time not like '03 where Michell only have plan A.

  • 9.
  • At 09:14 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • GD wrote:

Lets not forget that the 1999 tournament in Wales also had pool games in Scotland, England and Ireland. Same for the 1991 world cup in England. This is not football people, lets not get worked up about the politics and just enjoy the rugby!!!!!!

  • 10.
  • At 09:15 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Stephen Smith wrote:

I fully agree, the Atlantic sunset over a plate of moules frites, bottle or so of vin de pays provided perfect apres rugby scenario as did Nantes/cathedral/castle, free well organised Sunday transport. My only regrets, not being able to reunite a distraught rugby supporting local with potentially his tickets to all games dropped near the tramway station. France should have all the world cup, presumably the likes of Ryanair etc are laying in jumbos and large stocks of shrink wrapped sandwiches for the short flight from Japan to New Zealand.

  • 11.
  • At 09:23 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • G Thorpe wrote:

Couldn't agree with you more Nick!! If a World Cup is to be held in one country then keep it there, if its to be shared between two at least let it share with one who shares the same geographical boundary!?!?! Surely in an Eco-friendly world, the logistics of having teams travel from France to then either Wales or Scotland cannot stack up? Apologies for bringing football into this but look at the hosts of Euro 2008...Switzerland and Austria....both share a boundary!?

Then there's the point of 'home' advantage for the Scots and Welsh who must be loving the fact that they are playing Australia on home turf!! Is this not an advantage?!

  • 12.
  • At 09:25 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

I am sure the French team will be delighted with the decision to move the games away from France if, as looks possible, they have to play the All Blacks in the quarter finals in Cardiff rather than in the south of France

  • 13.
  • At 09:43 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Mike Parton wrote:

Yes, James, I read that too, but it's complete fabrication I'm afraid. Wales, Scotland and France all knew how bad it looked after the vote-selling episode and so concocted the other story to try and deflect attention and shift some blame onto England (which is the constant aim of the Northern Hemisphere countries). However, I'm afraid it's all complete baloney. England never made a bid for the '99 RWC nor did they ever want it (presumably because they knew they wouldn't win it only 8 years after hosting the tournament previously).

Young Mr. Mullin's facts are spot on, I'm afraid!

  • 14.
  • At 09:53 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Ray B wrote:

As always Nick is talking total sense here. I also think that a single country should host the RWC and not share it about. Saying that I was lucky enough to see England v NZ and England v Tonga and Twickenham in '99 along with Tonga v Italy at Welford Road.

All seems very politial to me, Why did Japan not get the 2011 games I don't know. Shows that all the talk about expanding the game is just that, all talk.

Was in NZ for the Lions Tour and the country only just managed with that, If you're planning on going there for RWC'11 better get a bed booked quickly, or better still a camper van.

  • 15.
  • At 10:01 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Ieuan Johns wrote:

Yes let's force all world cups to be held in just one country.

That way Wales/Scotland/Ireland/Argentina/Any Pacific Nation will never again be able to host one.

Almost EVERY world cup has had matches shared out around surrounding nations, why moan about this one ?

  • 16.
  • At 10:03 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Nicholas wrote:

If France comes second in the group they play in Wales?? That is going to be in my opinion the biggest downer of the world cup. Especially as their chances of beating the all blacks are slim. Now without home advantage their chances are even slimmer. Surely the organisers should have anticipated a second place landing for the French and made changes accordingly?

  • 17.
  • At 10:13 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Robin wrote:

I totally agree with Nick Mullins.
France should have the whole tournament and there should not be any games in the UK!
Sport scheduling needs to be examined though as the organisation is surely made more difficult with football Euro qualifiers (today France V Scotland at Parc des Princes) Which numbskull thought that one through?
All they had to was to reverse Scotland and France's home matches and then there would have been a good rugby match available at the Parc des Princes this week!

  • 18.
  • At 10:20 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Marc wrote:

I'm with you. If i was Italian i'd be pretty peed off that Scotland get to play 2 games at home. Which could make all the difference on bonus points and form and confidence. Plus Italy does actually border France. Same applies in Wales group.

If they going to be stupid by giving games to other countries, then don't let them have an unfair advantage.
Saying this i wouldn't of complained if England had to play South Africa at Twickenham rather than France.

Totally agree, and when France fail to win their Group, they'll play All Blacks in Wales if they are runners up, won't they!

  • 20.
  • At 10:30 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • James Padden wrote:

Well i guess the only people calling for a world cup to be held in one country do not come from the Celtic Nations. We do not have the infurstrcute to host it on our own!

I dont think the brewery field, sardis road or the knoll are up for holding world cup matches!

I think however that this time France should have staged the entire competition, i also think New Zealand should have been required to build a new stadium as the capacities they have are not large enough to hold an event of this magnitude.

I think only Australia, S Africa, France, England can host a world cup on thier own

  • 21.
  • At 10:42 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Tim G wrote:

James, you could add Japan to that list, which adds irony to 2011.

  • 22.
  • At 10:43 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • mark wrote:

Agree with the 'one-country should host all' argument in principle - it just means for example that smaller countries could never host a World Cup. e.g. Wales (or Scotland) could probably never host a World Cup without England. Giving smaller countries like Wales options like they have in 2007 is the only way the WC can be played in the NH without it always being England or France. The tradeoff works both ways. I seem to recall that if Wales had beaten Australia in the QF in 1999 the SF was at Twickenham and possibly even against England - although it was a Welsh hosted WC?

  • 23.
  • At 10:51 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Giddy wrote:

I think countries such as South Africa, England, France, Australia, and NZ have the infrastructure to hold the RWC on a sole host basis, and this would always be the best way for them. That said, I wouldn't have any objection to a Celtic Nations hosted RWC combining Ireland Scotland and Wales. Hopefully, Japan, Argentina and Italy will also be able to host the RWC in the not too distant future.

  • 24.
  • At 11:04 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • James Padden wrote:

I guess you could include Japan but after thier dismal attempt at The recent world championships maybe it points to a good decision by the IRB.

  • 25.
  • At 11:07 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • John O'Gorman wrote:

I think the key factor here is that France has the infrastructure to host a WC on its own. I don't think there would be any complaints if, say, the Pacific nations shared the WC as it would be impossible for them to host it on their own. However, France are more than capable of staging all the matches themselves.

  • 26.
  • At 11:23 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • ieuan wrote:

I agree that it is totally absurd. However, I think the worst part is the fact the towns/cities which have missed out on games in France as a result as Nick mentions.

Although as well as, Biarritz and Perpignan. Beziers (which hosted games in '99), Clermont-Ferrand, Castres....the list goes on, have missed out! Has Toulouse even got any games?

But of course many of these wouldn't have large enough attendances and less money.

  • 27.
  • At 11:54 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Ian wrote:

I agree with the one country for the World Cup hosts and none of this buying off of smaller celtic nations.

One thing I do disagree with is the griping on this blog re the 2011 RWC going to New Zealand which I believe is misplaced.

I was in New Zealand earlier this year and several things struck me about the country.

1) The country is completely rugby mad and the fact that the home of the All Blacks hasn't hosted the World Cup for over 20 years is already a travesty. Not to give it them in 2011 would have been mad.

2) The people are genuinely friendly and the whole place is set up for nomadic visitors by means of amazing local plane links at sensible prices and also huge numbers of campervans, campsites etc. It is also a stunningly beautiful country.

3) My friend, an exiled englishman, and regular attendee at the cake tin in Wellington pointed out that many of the famous old grounds in New Zealand are coming to the end of their lifespan. If we are to see Rugby played in these famous old grounds with massed crowds close to the pitch rather than concrete monstrosities out of town 2011 may well be the last chance.

4) Tokyo, Osaka and other big grounds built for the 2002 World Cup in Japan would be half empty so much for an atmosphere. Japan is extortionately expensive to get to and it has loads of expensive (and I really mean very expensive) luxury hotels for the corporate types. In New Zealand travel, accommodation and beer is much more affordable.

  • 28.
  • At 11:55 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Stewart wrote:

I completly agree,

The blazers need to go

The problem is the IRB is a closed shop,

I say open it up to the top 25 countrys and let them all decide where it goes.

The WC is not a tri nations and 6N tournament with the rgs in but for one and all

  • 29.
  • At 12:01 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Nick Mullins wrote:

To Ieuan...You're absolutely right. That's something that would need to be clarified in the future. But if it's to be shared, then at least let there be some kind of natural affinity between the countries involved rather than grubby vote-getting. A British and Irish competition might work. France could even expand across the border into Spain San Sebastien. Can you imagine Argentina playing in the Basque country? Maybe even Treviso could get a game. I'm not sure there's enough interest in Italy at the moment to host the tournament on its own. Tasmania was part of the 2003 World Cup and by all accounts did it brilliantly. The view around the beers last night was Argentina will one day host a magnificent tournament.

To James, Nicholas and Steve...Don't worry. The point that France's blazered brigade might have inadvertently ensured their team have to fly to Cardiff for a quarter-final with the All Blacks hasn't escaped our notice either. You can be sure it also hasn't been lost on Bernard Laporte. The hosts go out in Wales? Now that really would be payback on a grand scale. By the way, you can be sure it'll be jumping in Cardiff at the weekend and Nantes has already laid down the marker. Our group of merry media men were joined by a Frenchmen last night who - in between teaching us La Marseillaise - told us he is the man who delivers the beer to Nantes and the city has never consumed so much in a single weekend. Ever. The citizens of one bar apparently swam their way through 2,000 litres the night before the match. There's talk they were having to fly in extra supplies from Wales to keep up with demand. Disgraceful behaviour. It's not big and it's not clever!

  • 30.
  • At 12:01 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Stu wrote:

I was at the Bledisloe cup game between NZ & Oz at Eden Park this year and to say the organisation was shambolic is an understatement on a grand scale. Hour long "queues" with no control and when we finally reached the gate (one of two that were required to cope with a whole stand of about 10,000 people - with one person on each gate!!) having missed the Haka and the pre match spectacle and atmosphere (not too bothered about missing the two anthems though since they're two of the more turgid I can recall) they realised they needed to get people in double-quick so just stopped checking tickets, bags, anything really. I love NZ and the passion people have for the game here really is astonishing, be it man, woman, child or pet (you honestly don't realise until you hear Ethel, 82, from the bowling club disseminating Richie McCaw's tactics at the breakdown) but unless an awful lot of work gets done in the next 3-4 years it's going to be an unbelievable free-for-all in 2011 (Eden Park is only half the size currently that it'll be for the RWC). It's a comment I hear commonly from the locals (in Auckland anyway, probably not necessarily the case in Christchurch, Invercargill, Wellington etc) over here that they would have been quite happy with the America's Cup in 2011 and left the RWC to Japan, after all they seemed to cope with the football version pretty well. Common sense once again trodden into the turf by a shiney leather soled brogue eh...sadly an increasingly common theme in global sport these days.

  • 31.
  • At 12:23 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Eifion J wrote:

Mike Parton, you are wrong, there was a deal between some of the 6N countries over RWC1999, and England's insistence on the 2 semi-finals did not help England's cause. I get the impression that France could have bought out Wales' games if they so wished, I believe Ireland are getting some compensation for their part of the deal. Lets get real, Brisbane to Melbourne, let alone Perth to wherever, is far more of a journey than Nantes to Cardiff. In addition, stadium size is actually quite important, other than the Paris stadium and Marseilles, where else could you play the 'big' Pool games?

I tend to agree that giving pool matches to Italy and the Basque country would have made much more sense than Wales or Scotland from the viewpoint extending the popularity of the game and maintaining atmosphere

As for the Celtic nations not being up to hosting on their own, I would think that Scotland and Ireland should be able to cope. Both have significant tourism industries that cope with millions each year and I think the sporting infrastructure too.

Exactly how many grounds are required to host the entire world cup? 48 matches with say 6 matches per ground would be 8 grounds. Say 9 grounds, Ireland and Scotland have that easily (though in the Irish case the GAA would have to give approval for what would be a one off), with the GAA renting out their grounds, you'd have
Croker at over 80,000, the new thomond park is 26,000, Lansdowne 50,000, whatever gets built in the north will be 40,000/50,000, and the Gaelic grounds in Limerick (500 yards from Thomond park) is 50,000. And those are all seater. Fitzgerald in Kerry is 50,000, pairc ui chaoimh is 40,000, as is Semple Stadium, though they are standing stands.

  • 33.
  • At 12:29 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • jim wrote:

Spot on Nick. France is a big enough country to hold all the world cup, not only in size but in areas where there is passion for the game.

The Cardiff/Edinburgh thing is a joke.
There again the IRB is so self serving it's lets down the spirit of the sport. imho

  • 34.
  • At 12:40 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • GH wrote:

Nick, agree totally. I'm dreading the sight of a qurter full Murrayfield for Scot Vs Romania. I was flabbergasted to see 35,000 turn up for Scot Vs Portugal. It was amazing. Truly great to see. I feel the Scot Vs Romania game will be played infornt of near empty stadium, in the dreary grey skies of Edinburgh. Apart from the numerous signs no doubt kicking about, it will be no doubt hard to tell that it is a World Cup game.

  • 35.
  • At 12:51 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Sardis Supporter wrote:

Question for Nick - Putting your broadcaster's hat on, do you know how long ITV have the broadcasting rights for the RWC?

  • 36.
  • At 12:54 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Peter in Preston wrote:

Everyone seems to over looking the possibility of Ireland beating France and France failing to qualify for the knock out stages. At this point it would be better to leave France to wollow in self pitty and complete the tournament in Wales/Scotland.

  • 37.
  • At 12:54 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • James Padden wrote:

Lete be realistic!The celts cant hold it on their own

The GAA would never hand over thier grounds for a world cup!

They wouldnt lend it to munster whilst Thomand Park was being built let alone to the IRB!

I live in Limeirck and moved from Cardiff last year. i can honestly say the inferstruction in Ireland is shocking and about 15 years behind rhe rest of Europe! It does not have the transport links to host a world cup. There is a terrible roadstructure and the railways are even worse!

Scotland - What grounds? Murryfield, Hamden and where else? i cant see rangers and celtic giving over their grounds for the rugby boys to churn up in the middle of October!

Wales - Not a hope.

Argentina, whilst a romantic idea they are not even considered for the football world cup! i would love to see a world cup there though and would defiantly visit. However they are in the middle of an economic crisis, the stadia would need updating and safe transport links provided.

  • 38.
  • At 01:02 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Oliver Raud wrote:

Couldn't agree more. France is a proud rugby nation and to be splitting the World Cup in such a way, must be an insult to all "true" Gallic rugby fans.

Surely it would make more sense to have a United Kingdom hosted tournament, rather than France and Scotland and Wales. Travelling times would be shortened (causing less harm to the environment), there would not be the same disruption and a French World Cup would truly be a French World Cup.

I think the mantra "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" has been taken a step too far!

  • 39.
  • At 01:24 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • simon wrote:

Selfish sod. The team are the important ones, not the likes of you. A home advantage for us against Australia is ideal, regardless of what it does to your holiday plans.Grow up.

  • 40.
  • At 01:28 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Stu wrote:

Ian, I'd posted before I'd had a chance to read your comments, which were perfectly valid (though I'm still sure a world cup in Japan would be a huge success and a huge boost to the game over there). I just don't want to see the world cup in general and NZ's reputation in particular be sullied because it's infrastructure simply can't cope. I hope therefore that the Bledisloe was an eye-opener for them because considering it was always going to be the biggest match played in NZ this year it was worrying how many of the basics they'd got wrong.

  • 41.
  • At 01:33 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • paddywho wrote:

thanks for answering my unasked question. I'm pretty sure that most people would agree that the dream host for World Cup is Ireland, given the famous craic, but I was wondering how many stadia there would be. Ireland for 2015, with GAA getting a slice of the pie (but don't tell the blazers)!
Also, someone mentioned the lack of Plate competition - why not Plate, Shield and Bowl with 3rd, 4th & 5th in each pool playing semi and final. Seems daft for the "minnows" to be at the World Cup and only get one or two competitive games, with three or two thrashings, when they could play one or two extra games that they have a real chance of winning, and the potential for a trophy at the end of it. Works for the Sevens, but if crowd attendance is a concern, how about having games back-to-back in the same venue like EDF Finals day at Twickers - I reckon there'd be a fair turnout.

  • 42.
  • At 01:58 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • GD wrote:

I like the idea of the plate / bowl / shield, but I think the beaks probably view that as too confusing for the neutral fan, plus the clubs would be inconvenienced and deprived of their own players that have been taken from their clubs mid-season and should (in their eyes) be returning to strengthen the domestic cause.

I'd much prefer to see an "emerging nations" type tourney. Like the Euro Championships in football, it could be played 2 years before / after a world cup. Perhaps it would feature teams from outside the top 8, 10, 16 or whatever (be it by invite or qualification). Then the emerging teams could get a more regular match at international level, have something other than pride to play for, and the duties of hosting it can go to nations where the stadia are typically of smaller capacity (25k - 30k). Brings a lot more countries into the equation as hosts too......

Any thoughts people?

  • 43.
  • At 02:54 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Peter in Preston wrote:

Taking GD's point a step further the semi finalists in the 'Emerging nations cup' qualify for the next world cup and have 2 years to prepare/play a few more internationals.

  • 44.
  • At 03:34 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Wayne Jones wrote:

Are we still talking about Rugby here or has the 'football syndrome' started to kick in. Politics, Politics and sour grapes, that's all I've read in most of the posts.

Who cares where the matches are played, all I want to see is good quality rugby. So what if France have to play New Zealand in Cardiff, what goes around comes around, I'm sure France will somehow get something back in the years to come. It's all irrelevant anyway, NZ 'will' win, it's just a case of much they'll put on the board.

  • 45.
  • At 03:51 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Peter in Preston wrote:

Noone has picked up on the point that France may well miss out on the knock out stages if they lose to Ireland.

  • 46.
  • At 04:10 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Phil wrote:

I think the Japan issue is not so clear cut as you make out. Their team is obviously not of a high enough competitive standard to really justify hosting a RWC. Yes of course the game should be expanded away from its core but the host team of any competition needs to be competitive. What's the point of Japan hosting a tournament if they're going to get smashed a cricket score - it does nothing to prove the game has really moved on.

Argentina has been banging on the door of high standard rugby for a lot longer and deserve far more support from the IRB. I hope their win against the French means that they are seriously considered not only for an expanded Southern Hemisphere Tri-Nations competition, but also for the 2015 RWC. Japan may have more money (and make those suits salivate at the prospect of grabbing it), but Argentina deserve more support for producing the quality players and cultivating a unique rugby tradition, which is ultimately what the game is all about.

  • 47.
  • At 04:17 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • peta wrote:

I couldn't agree more. I live not far from Biarritz and even closer to Dax - i.e. in the heart of rugby country in the south west of France. There is even a chapel dedicated to rugby near Grenade-sur-l'Adour in the same region. I was amazed when I saw that there were no matches closer than Bordeaux and Toulouse. Both Biarritz and Pau have excellent stadiums.

If Nick Mullens is right, and Scotland and Wales were bribed by the French with venues in return for votes to stop England getting the RWC, how very nasty. And how typically small-minded of the Welsh and Scots to accept such bribes, always assuming that they didn't hold the French to ransom in the first place of course. Why didn't they just vote for France? It's a great place to have such a tournament and was probably their turn anyway.

  • 48.
  • At 04:30 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Nick Evans wrote:

Wow! So England go back on their own agreement with the Celtic nations (the price of 2 semis during the "Welsh" RWC of 1999) and somehow the people to blame are those who stick to an agreement? Lovely ethical standards there, but more or less what we've come to expect from the country that's had to be expelled from the 5N for breaching deals about TV rights, and regularly ignores disciplinary standards if an England captain has to be rushed back from suspension in time for an important game.

Is it really that much more difficult to get to Cardiff or Edinburgh from Paris than it is to get to Perth from Hobart? Somehow, I think not.

  • 49.
  • At 05:05 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Nathan wrote:

This is ridiculous.. If it had been the otjer way i.e. England getting home matches in return for a vote, not one english person would say anything!!
And If you remember correctly, in '99, which was a welsh-hosted tournament, England played at Twickenham against NZ. So basically what has happened this year happened in '99! I don't remember anyone complaining then...

  • 50.
  • At 06:42 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • spoton wrote:

trust the Welsh to muck everything up!

  • 51.
  • At 09:02 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Rick wrote:

Nathan alot of people complained actually about the 1999 World Cup, it was the worst ever because it was played in five countries. All of it should of been in Wales but I do not think Wales could of hosted the world cup alone, outside of two venues in Cardiff and one each in Swansea, Llanelli and Newport there is nothing. Five stadiums (most with small capacities) cannot host a world cup. England should of never played the All Blacks at Twickenham in 1999 and Wales should not host the Wallabies and have the potential to cause an upset when the World Cup is France's and if France play New Zealand in a quarter-final in Cardiff then it takes the p*ss.

  • 52.
  • At 09:29 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

I think Nick Mullins must have had a slow day today- nice propaganda attempt, though not well thought-through.
C'mon Wales!

  • 53.
  • At 10:44 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • rugbyfanz wrote:

Typical. Is the the usual Pommie whining of "we wuz robbed?"

From the commentary I've heard so far, perhaps we should only regard England for all RWCs. Award England 60 penalties at the start of every game (because of course, everyone else is just lucky, dirty players, etc. if England get beaten).

France being a great rugby nation is entitled to a RWC. All unions will make alliances where they see it benefits them.

  • 54.
  • At 10:50 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Alasdair_Kyle wrote:

Yes, France have the resources to stage the event without help and there is little real connection with Cardiff or Edinburgh, but common, stop whingeing Nick and get on with the job. Those of us who still have to get on with the nine-to-five slog and couldn't have afforded the chidcare costs even if we had got a ticket have no sympathy.

  • 55.
  • At 05:13 PM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • Jamie wrote:

Seems to be a lot of green eyes on this blog, OK so Wales and Scotland have home advantage over Australia and New Zealand respectively, but even as the most optimistic Welshman ever, I personally don't believe it will be enough and as for anyone thinking that Scotland will beat the AB's purely because they're at home with their fans....come on!! I do believe that half the comments on this page wouldn't be here if England had the fortune to play South Africa at Twickenham!!! Come on let's all grow up, get on with it and enjoy what has and will continue to be a great tournament.

  • 56.
  • At 09:47 AM on 19 Sep 2007,
  • Brian Kelman wrote:

I think you'll find the reason that the French never gave any RWC2007 fixtures to England - at HQ, or elsewhere, is because the RFU blocked the French from having any games in France during RWC1999.

The French have merely returned the favour - what goes around comes around!

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