Rugby Union: World Cup: Hart and Randell `must go'

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The Independent Online
PHONE-IN radio programmes in New Zealand were inundated yesterday with calls for the All Blacks coach John Hart and the captain Taine Randell to resign, while political analysts admitted the country's political election could be affected by the World Cup semi-final defeat at Twickenham.

Radio Sport and Radio Pacific callers said Hart had refused to heed suggestions that Randell was not the right captain or No 8 after last year's five consecutive losses. Some said the 28-7 defeat by Australia in August should have given the All Blacks enough warning about the inconsistencies in the team and added that both the coach and the captain should now go.

The former All Black Grant Fox, who played a starring role in helping his side win the first World Cup in 1987, ironically beating France in the final in Auckland, said: "We go into mourning now for four years. This is something that will knock the election off the front pages."

The majority of New Zealanders got up in the early hours to watch the 4am local time kick-off. The former All Black captain Sean Fitzpatrick said the New Zealand public would take defeat hard. "There will be total devastation," he said.

Meanwhile, a political commentator said the defeat will damage the National Party's chances of retaining power in this month's election. "It's stopped that feel-good factor," Barry Gustafson, an Auckland University political studies professor, said.

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