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Now That's What I Call Tom and Ben (in photos) (19)

Hang out the bunting, strike up the band, Tom and Ben are home.

Not quite in a jet draped with flags, awaiting a press corps and tumult of fans, more in a campervan, on a ferry, still wearing those flip-flops. And that vest. Probably.

So here's a best of Fordyce & Dirs, in photos and links to remind you of the past seven weeks' adventure.

You can check out all of their photos on flickr.com.

Continue reading "Now That's What I Call Tom and Ben (in photos)"


Mark Orlovac

The Bloggys (70)

Waterloo station/ a cross channel ferry, Monday - As a final parting World Cup gift, myself, Tom and Ben (remember them?) thought we'd dish out a few prizes from the last seven weeks. First prize goes to all of you, obviously, for reading and joining in and making the blog what it is.

But after you lot, there have been some outstanding, and not so clever, achievements. Here's just a few. Let's call them "The Bloggys". (See if you can spot who wrote which ones!)

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John Beattie

Why all six nations should back England (419)

I know, I know, it might seem a crazy idea, but I’d like all Scots, Welsh, Irish, French and Italians to support England in the rugby World Cup final. What do you think?

Aaargh, stop throwing bricks at me and let me put forward my logic.

You see, when I was a wee boy growing up in Borneo, the UK seemed a long way away. But it also struck me that all of us in the Northern Hemisphere are quite like each other. For instance, you can’t say that someone a mile north of the Scottish border with England is markedly different from someone a mile south of it.

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John Haughey

Emerald Isle wants answers after World Cup flop (130)

It hasn’t quite matched the national trauma induced by Roy Keane’s departure from Saipan five years ago but Ireland rugby team’s hapless efforts in France have gripped the Emerald Isle over the past three weeks.


Two months ago, a semi-final place in this World Cup was being spoken about as the minimum acceptable requirement for this so-called Golden Generation of Irish players.


Instead, their World Cup was over before we made it into October as the shambolic displays against Namibia and Georgia were followed by conclusive defeats against France and Argentina.

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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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Bryn Palmer

Irish fall under magician's spell (115)

Paris - As Argentina’s players cavorted round the Parc des Princes after the final whistle, Ireland’s stood around in stunned silence, staring vacantly into the distance.

They looked like unwanted guests at someone else’s party, not uttering a word.

They then had to go through the torturous process of collecting a medal as a permanent memento of their participation in this World Cup.

It is safe to say it won’t take pride of place in any of these players’ trophy cabinets.

Continue reading "Irish fall under magician's spell"


Bryn Palmer

Ireland ratings v Argentina (271)

Paris - I was at the Parc des Princes on Sunday as Ireland’s dismal World Cup campaign ended with a 30-15 defeat to Argentina.

Here’s how I rated each individual player’s performance. See if you agree and let us know your own thoughts.

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Alastair Eykyn

Ireland's shot at redemption (126)

Paris - It’s time to go now. The Irish squad did not shed too many tears as they headed north-east from Bordeaux to Paris today. For them it marked a place of unhappiness, of isolation, of rumour and counter-rumour, and most of all, of lousy rugby. Yes, the train to the French capital will be seen as a release of sorts, even if what awaits them there on Sunday is fraught with pitfalls.

So after three weeks of under-achievement, of negativity, and navel-gazing, here’s some optimism. Misplaced optimism maybe, but optimism nevertheless. Feel free to add to the list. Here’s why Ireland can qualify for the quarter-finals:

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Alastair Eykyn

Where are you, Brian O'Driscoll? (174)

Paris - What hope an Irish miracle? The faces of the players as they wandered through the interview area in the bowels of the Stade de France on Friday told a story.

For them, the French match was THE one. Defeat has all but condemned them to an early exit, and don’t they know it.

A pall of gloom hangs over the squad, despite the defiant mutterings of the captain and coach. Barring an astonishing turn of events next Sunday, the golden generation have missed the boat.

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Bryn Palmer

Relieved hosts leave Irish in a stew (75)

Paris - From the “scenario catastrophe” of their opening-night faux pas, the cathartic effects of a comfortable and critical victory enveloped France on Friday night.

Given the enormity of what was at stake, the relief of a nation - and perhaps many neutrals who feared for this World Cup’s health without its hosts - was palpable.

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Bryn Palmer

Ireland ratings v France (168)

Paris – I was at the Stade de France on Friday night as Ireland’s World Cup hopes were left hanging by a thread after a convincing 25-3 defeat by France.

Here’s how I rated each individual Ireland player’s performance. See whether you agree and let me know your own thoughts.

Continue reading "Ireland ratings v France"


Bryn Palmer

Five reasons why Ireland can beat France (91)

Paris - France are hot favourites to put their opening-night catastrophe against Argentina firmly behind them and pulverise an under-performing Ireland on Friday, taking a huge step towards the quarter-finals in the process.

So is there any hope at all for Eddie O’Sullivan’s boys? Could they upset the odds and effectively eliminate the World Cup hosts before the end of the group stages?

Let’s see if we can come up with some reasons why Irish eyes might be smiling, rather than sobbing, at the Stade de France…

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Bryn Palmer

The Caveman cometh (75)

Paris - A phenomenon sweeping across France will reach a new peak in Paris on Friday.

With the country on tenterhooks for the do-or-die World Cup clash with Ireland, the man they call “L’Homme des Cavernes” (The Caveman) will rumble into the Stade de France with millions roaring him on around the country.

Sebastien Chabal, the shaggy-haired, bearded behemoth beloved of Sale fans, has belatedly found fame and popularity in his own country.

His image is everywhere, on television, publicity posters, newspapers. He even has his own puppet in France’s version of Spitting Image, “Les Guignols de l’info”.

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John Beattie

Beginning of the end for Six Nations? (155)

Do you know, I think that this World Cup is hastening the end of the Six Nations.

The premier northern hemisphere competition is being exposed for what many have suspected it to be for a while – protectionist.

The sooner we let Portugal, Georgia, and Argentina into regular elite competition on an annual basis, the better.

Continue reading "Beginning of the end for Six Nations?"


John Haughey

Murphy absence baffling (243)

Belfast - Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan has made three changes for Friday’s must-win World Cup clash against France but the biggest talking-point may be his decision to leave Geordan Murphy out of the entire 22.

The Ireland team is: Dempsey; Horgan, O'Driscoll, capt, D'Arcy, Trimble; O'Gara, Reddan; Horan, Flannery, Hayes, O'Callaghan, O'Connell, Easterby, D Wallace, Leamy. Replacements: Sheahan, S Best, O'Kelly, N Best, Boss, P Wallace, Duffy.

To put it mildly, Gavin Duffy's inclusion on the bench at Murphy's expense is baffling.

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John Haughey

O'Sullivan must stop the rot (129)

Belfast - It wasn't meant to be like this.

The closing minutes of Saturday's 14-10 World Cup win over Georgia was some kind of weird sporting Alamo for a stunned Irish sporting public.

Millions of Euro have been ploughed into this professional Irish rugby team yet for the second weekend in succession they have been embarrassed by the so-called minnows of world rugby.

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James Standley

Ireland player ratings (194)

London - Ireland kept their World Cup campaign on track by the skin of their teeth as they edged past Georgia 14-10 on Saturday night.

The Georgians are ranked just 17th in the world but they produced the performance of a lifetime to push the Irish - who won the Triple Crown in the 2007 Six Nations remember - right to the final whistle

These are my ratings - do you agree?

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Alastair Eykyn

To axe or not to axe... (15)

Bordeaux - It’s a funny one, loyalty. Rugby coaches battle with it every week. Which is the preferred policy - the stick or the carrot?

The best in the business can administer both at different times, and with different people. An even-handed approach usually generates respect between the players and management. It also generally provides more consistent results. But what a tough balance it is to find.

When does loyalty cross over into blind faith?

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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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Alastair Eykyn

Cheers to the Irish (51)

Bordeaux - There are plenty of people in France who've written off the Irish World Cup challenge already - and Eddie O'Sullivan's men have yet to take the field.

I was lucky enough to witness that extraordinary opening win for Argentina that broke French hearts.

Now the optimists are all waiting for "Le Backlash".

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Bryn Palmer

World Cup fever? (3)

Versailles

“Mesdames et messieurs, bienvenue a Paris.” It was only when I rolled into the Gare du Nord on the Eurostar on Monday afternoon that it finally hit me.

La Coupe du Monde, c’est arrive! Finally. The eternal build-up almost over, the warm-up nonsense done and dusted, the real thing upon us once again.

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Mike Carr

Rugby World Cup coverage (40)

It doesn't seem like four years ago that Jonny Wilkinson was winning the World Cup for England, but here we go again with the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

In fact if you're nostalgic for the moment that Wilkinson sealed the Webb Ellis Trophy for his country, you can watch a re-enactment with John Inverdale, Matt Dawson, Phil Williams, Mark Pougatch, Mark Saggers and Spoony, and also create your own version - but this is just part of the BBC's build-up to the tournament, which starts on Friday 7 September.

Inverdale and company's video is available with out-takes on the BBC Radio 5 live website and also on YouTube, where you will be invited to have a go yourself. And there's more fun available this week as you wait for the action to start, including a game, called DropClick, where you can test your knowledge of rugby union.

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Ben Dirs

Bonjour and welcome (91)

The other day, as I passed a queue snaking out of the door of a KFC in Romford High Street and became embroiled in my third set-to of the afternoon, a voice appeared in my head.

“Dirsy,” it said, sounding a lot like Richard Littlejohn, “it’s time you gave this great country of yours and the rabid lunatics that infest it a swerve for a month or two.”

As luck would have it, Tommy Fordyce and I are off on Monday to the Rugby World Cup in France, a country that has given the world more than its fair share of culture and sophistication down the years.

Indeed, to paraphrase the mighty Bob Hoskins in The Long Good Friday, a little bit more than a Chicken Zinger Burger - know what I mean?

“TWO BLOKES JOLLYING IT UP ROUND FRANCE IN A FIVE-BERTH WINNEBAGO FOR SEVEN WEEKS?” I hear the angrier licence fee payers among you splutter.

Well, yes. And no.

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Alex Trickett

About the Rugby World Cup Blog (0)

Keep reading this blog for all the latest from rugby union's showpiece event in France.

News and reports will be on the BBC Sport website but we hope to bring you the colour and gossip behind the scenes right here.

In particular, two of our journalists - Tom Fordyce and Ben Dirs - will be blogging their way around France in a camper van.

They - like all of our bloggers - are keen to hear your views. We want people to engage and comment on what we have to say.

Continue reading "About the Rugby World Cup Blog"


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