Letter: Not guilty ... I was there

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Sir: Alan Watkins ("When it comes to World Cups, football is what interests Blair", 9 November) accuses me of not having shown any interest in the recent Rugby World Cup, nor sent any support, moral or physical, to the England squad. What rubbish.

Not only did I attend all five of England's matches - and even a training session a couple of days before the match against the All Blacks - but I met with players and Clive Woodward after games to offer my support and encouragement. I also attended the final, with Chris Smith (who incidentally is still my Secretary of State, though the Department of National Heritage ceased to exist in 1997).

I agree that my words of encouragement did not change the course of the competition, but some reflection of the facts may well have changed the tone of his article.


Minister for Sport