World Cup Diary: Lewis's Millennium masterstroke

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The Independent Online

Eden Park may or may not be absolutely full for tomorrow's Wales-France semi-final, but even if all 60,000 seats are occupied, the biggest crowd watching the match will be at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Well over 50,000 supporters have signalled their intention to congregate there and those who took the big-hearted – not to mention clever – decision to throw open the doors for free are preparing the "house full" signs. "I think we'll have to cap it at around 62,000 for health and safety reasons," said Roger Lewis, the Welsh Rugby Union's chief executive, yesterday. "It's a fabulous response. Unbelievable." The man knows a thing or two about events, having worked in the popular music business for many years, and as he said yesterday: "We want to make the venue work for us. Our last big event was just recently: a Michael Jackson concert." Strewth, Rog. You did bloody well to get him there.

Third-placed plan has aged very well

As Tom Petty sang many moons ago, the waiting is the hardest part. Rugby not being football, there is no practical means of hurrying this jamboree towards its conclusion: certainly not by holding the semi-finals in midweek. Knockout matches are played, the place is at fever pitch, someone wins... then nothing for six days. What to do? Norm Hadley, that giant brick outhouse of a Canadian lock forward who played in the 1991 World Cup, believes the next World Cup should have plate and bowl competitions for those who disappear early from the main draw. Another idea, from a senior member of the Rugby Football Union council, is to stage a mini knockout for third-placed teams. Some may recall the RFU making suggestions along these lines when it bid for the hosting rights in 2007. How many of the 20-odd votes did it secure? Three, two of which were its own. The other one? That came from Canada.

Aussie expert puts his foot in it

Richie McCaw's foot: now there's a subject. Yesterday, the popular prints carried pages of information on the great All Black flanker's orthopaedic problems, complete with diagrams informing readers exactly where the fifth metatarsal might be found and showing precisely where surgeons inserted a screw – between 4mm and 6.5mm in diameter, apparently – back in February. Naturally, various specialists were consulted on the prospects of Captain McCaw surviving the semi-final with the Wallabies on Sunday. "If he puts a lot of weight on that foot and gets a sudden, sharp stab of pain, it might give way at a critical moment," said one. "From the game point of view, it's difficult." And what might be the nationality of this Jeremiah, this prophet of doom, this master of melancholy? Funnily enough, he's an Australian.

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