Tim Glover: Tout of order as trips to Lions safari and World Cup dry up

Ruck and Maul: The Kiwis hope up to 70,000 fans will visit the country, but all they can do is keep their fingers crossed
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The Independent Online

In these cash-strapped times, spare a thought for that eternally optimistic entrepreneur, the ticket tout. Next thing you know, they'll be standing on a street corner playing a fiddle. Packages for the forthcoming Lions safari in South Africa are harder to shift than Andrew Sheridan in a lead suit, while over in New Zealand, the Land of the Long White Cloud, the recession is casting a shadow over the silver lining of the 2011 World Cup. To make the maths work, the Kiwis hope up to 70,000 fans will visit the country, but all they can do is keep their fingers crossed. The hosts, who will have to foot a bill of £125m, want to recoup most of that through ticket sales, while admitting that the cost of entry to the top games will be too expensive for the locals. New Zealand will only be allowed to keep the ticket revenue – everything else will be Hoovered up by the IRB.

Italians give Magners fizz

How do you solve a problem like Italy? Once again the Six Nations Championship virtually reverted back to five as the Azzurri lost every game, leaving them to stir their pasta with the wooden spoon. Their coach, Nick Mallett, the former Springbok maestro, points to the poor level of domestic rugby in the country. Enter the Celtic Magners League, who have agreed in principle to accommodate two Italian sides for the 2010-11 season. Questions remain over venues and television rights. The Italian Federation wanted four clubs involved, and the four will probably merge into two. This could be a smart move for all concerned. Rome is expected to appear on the fixture list, and the Eternal City has slightly more appeal than Newport on a wet Friday.

Respect Austin's powers

In 'The Big Tackle with Austin Healey', the former Leicester Lip turned his healing powers on Rosslyn Park, a famous old club trying to get off Sunset and on to Sunrise Boulevard. Unless the TV cameras were lying, Park and Healey, an unlikely fit, seemed to get on quite well. Dammit, Ruck and Maul has to admit that Healey, as objectionable as he is, is not half bad at this makeover lark.

Johnno's nuts

Talking of big tackles, Martin Johnson, giving a retrospective on England's Six Nations, came out with an interesting line. "You can live your life on a level playing field if you want," the Red Rose manager said, "but if you get involved in high-level sport you are going to get a kick in the nuts occasionally." Who would dare?

Varndell to buzz at Wasps

Wasps are losing James Haskell, Tom Palmer, Riki Flutey, Tom Voyce and, possibly, Eoin Reddan, but have recruited Tom Varndell, Dan Ward-Smith and Steve Kefu. Ward-Smith, the Bristol No 8, was heading for an England career until injury knocked him backwards. Varndell was also a high-flyer, but it wasn't injury that slowed him. Martin Johnson went off him, as did Leicester, but Wasps' Shaun Edwards is a fan: "Tom is probably the fastest player in the league and somebody we've admired a long time".