Ben Dirs

Old Port, old rivals (28)

Marseille - Down at Australia HQ in Marseille’s Old Port, the Wallabies could only have looked more relaxed had they been receiving facials while fielding questions from the floor.

A slight murmur went up when I asked George Smith if he agreed with Australia Rugby Union chief executive John O’Neill’s comments that all of his countrymen “hate England”.

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Ryan Jones

Another new chapter (81)

Swansea - Well what can I say?

What an absolutely torrid weekend. We’re out and our coach has gone.

I can’t say that I’m hugely surprised that Gareth was asked to vacate his position following the defeat on Saturday because history has shown us that when the national team underachieves heads have tended to roll - and this World Cup campaign will be categorised as an underachievement.

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Tom Fordyce

For those about to rock, we salute you (32)

Marseille, Tuesday morning - “Oh, what an atmosphere!” Ben chirped this morning. “I love a party with a happy atmosphere!”

I sighed. No man likes to be woken up by a semi-naked rugby fan from Romford, particularly when he’s dancing around singing lines from his favourite Russ Abbott songs - but for once Dirsy had a point.

After four weeks of phoney wars and soggy squibs, the World Cup party feels like it’s truly about to start.

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Bryn Palmer

Highs and lows of the group stages (48)

Paris – So 40 matches down, eight to go.

The group stages are over and we are down to our eight quarter-finalists.

So I thought it was time for another batch of awards, reflecting on what we have seen so far. Again, let me know if you disagree or want to offer your own suggestions for additional honours.

Best game: Wales 34-38 Fiji .
No contest this one. Much as it was painful to watch, as a Welshman, Saturday in Nantes threw up one of the most enthralling games in the entire history of the World Cup. Nine tries in total, Fiji scoring 25 points in 10 crazy first-half minutes, Wales hitting back to lead 29-25, Fiji going back in front, Martyn Williams’ intercept try to give Wales the lead again…Fiji winning it at the death. Bewildering, breathtaking, heartbreaking stuff.

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