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Rugby's allure fading in New Zealand (295)

By Sean Martin in Wellington - Could it be so? New Zealand, the country that lives and breathes rugby union, is slowly falling out of love with the game?

There was the predictable gnashing of teeth over the All Blacks’ shock World Cup quarter-final exit – it led news bulletins, dominated front and back pages, talkback radio was awash with the topic and web pages were hastily constructed on the subject.

The Foreign Minister even entered the fray to say that the referee was at fault. Heck, even the prime minister and leader of the opposition weighed in with their tuppence worth.

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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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Ben Dirs

Northern exposure leaves Dirsy depressed (79)

To lose one Six Nations side before the quarter-finals of a World Cup is unfortunate. To lose three just goes to show how stagnant and outmoded northern hemisphere rugby has become.

Some claim this tournament has proved that rugby runs stronger and deeper than ever before, with Fiji’s stunning victory over Wales and Georgia’s near upset of Ireland cited as prime examples.

I don’t go for that. After all, the All Blacks and Australia have been gubbing the minnows at this World Cup just as they always have done.

I hesitate to pick on the Scots – at least they managed to scrape through their group - but it was our misfortune to witness their clash with Italy which was the rugby equivalent of a wet weekend in Prestatyn with only a stack of David Essex LPs for company.

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Sean Davies

Gareth Jenkins' reign (136)

Well, the result that it seems every rugby fan in Wales has been screaming out for has come about and coach Gareth Jenkins has got the boot.

Some of the posters on 606 and other forums have even suggested that one of the blackest results in Wales’ history – the 38-34 defeat to Fiji that dumped them out of the World Cup – was worth it to secure his end.

But I have to buck the trend and express sympathy for Jenkins, who has never truly been able to put his stamp on the team.

And as we finally accept that the 2005 ‘golden generation’ was nothing but a myth, I would suggest that a number of the senior players have got out lightly from the blood-letting blame-game.

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BBC Sport Rugby

Scotland ratings v Italy (142)

Scotland squeezed into the World Cup quarter-finals with a narrow victory over Italy in heavy rain in St Etienne.

It was a tight game with plenty of kicking from both sides but in the end Scotland just had the edge.

What was your view of the game?

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Ryan Jones

Wales moving into gear (34)

Swansea - In the first match of Pool B Australia set a pretty daunting 91-point benchmark for our match against Japan but I think 11 tries and 72 points equals job done for Wales.

The text books went out of the window almost from the word go on Thursday night as both teams threw caution to the wind in the opening exchanges, pretty much setting the tone for the rest of the evening.

Such an opportunity for us to break the shackles and run with the ball usually sees us play our most potent and effective rugby and overall that did prove to be the case - not though, before the Japanese ensured there would be no resting on any laurels when they came up with the try of the tournament so far.

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Sean Davies

Wales ratings v Japan (106)

Wales ratings v Japan

Cardiff – I was at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on Thursday for Wales’ Pool B game against Japan.

Here’s how I rated the individual Wales players’ performances. See what you think and let us know what you made of the performance.

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Ryan Jones

Going walkabout in Cardiff (11)

Swansea - I finally got the chance of some first-hand World Cup action on Saturday as the France 2007 carnival, oddly enough, rolled its way into Cardiff.

I decided to indulge myself, too, by getting right into the heart of the city streets and sucking up a bit of the atmosphere.

When you’re involved as a player you get very little exposure to the buzz of a match day afternoon around and about the stadium where, on top of the 70,000 or so ticket holders, countless more enjoy the day in the capital’s numerous hostelries.

Ironically enough, after enjoying a fine pre-match lunch I joined some friends to watch the match - where else, but in an Australian bar!

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Bruce Pope

Citing spoiling the exciting? (53)

Cardiff - Now don't get me wrong, I am in no way endorsing bad tackles or foul play - I wince and utter the occasional expletive along with the rest of the watching world when something nasty happens during a rugby match.

But I'm thinking that the citing commissioners and disciplinary panels at this Rugby World Cup are coming down too harshly on players.

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Bruce Pope

Was that the end for Alfie? (43)

Cardiff - When Gareth Thomas, dazed and damaged, was helped off the Millennium Stadium pitch on Saturday it may have been the last time we will see him on the international stage.

'Alfie' as he is more often known (after a puppet character from a children's television series) announced at the beginning of this year that he would "probably" retire from Test rugby after the World Cup.

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Bruce Pope

Wales ratings v Australia (121)

Cardiff - I was at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday as Wales lost 32-20 to Australia in a match that leaves the Wallabies in control of Pool B.

Here's how I rated the individual Wales players' performances. See whether you agree and let us know what you thought of the match.


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Sean Davies

Driven crazy by the opening exchanges (38)

It’s been a frustrating first week of the World Cup for the armchair supporter of the home nations.

I’m not talking about the less than inspiring wins over the USA, Canada, Portugal and Namibia.

It’s those damn Peugeot adverts with the imbecile supporters from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

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BBC Sport Rugby

Ireland player ratings (170)

By Richard Hookham

Ireland lurched to an opening 32-17 victory over supposed tournament whipping boys Namibia in Bordeaux on Sunday.

Coach Eddie O'Sullivan's men at least top the pool after winning a bonus point for scoring four tries but there will be far greater tests to come and the battle is well and truly on with France and Argentina to escape the "group of death".

Let us know what you make of the ratings, and your views in general of the Ireland performance.

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