All Black tour of France under threat

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Rugby Union

New Zealand's tour of France later this year came under renewed threat yesterday as a political row over French plans to resume testing nuclear weapons gathered momentum.

Jim Bolger, New Zealand's Prime Minister, pledged to discuss the matter with rugby administrators. He said: "No responsibility rests with the All Blacks or rugby management, but I will talk with them. We're talking about a tour in October, November. I think it's too early to tell. I don't want to jump to any conclusions."

Bolger's comments were the latest in an escalating debate over whether the All Black tour should be cancelled in protest at the decision to resume nuclear testing at Mururoa atoll in the South Pacific from September. The row flared again after French commandos used tear gas to storm the Greenpeace ship, Rainbow Warrior, off Mururoa.

Laurie Mains, the All Black coach, said: "Let me make quite clear that not only myself but also the majority of the All Blacks are very anti-nuclear testing, just as much so as any other citizen probably in this country, but why just take a small group of 30 people and make them pay the price, make them make the sacrifice. If we're committed to it as a nation, let's stop all political relations with France and let's stop trading with them."