World Cup Diary

Carreras' operatic prowess upstages rugby's centre piece
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The Independent Online

*The weather has been ordinary, the footie predictable. But rugby aficionados like the former Wallaby coach Alan Jones say it's by no means all doom and gloom at the 2003 Rugby World Cup in Australia. A new boy is making his debut this coming week and a pile of rugby guys are snapping up tickets for his opening performance. Truth to tell, he's not quite quick enough for scrum-half and his goal-kicking skills are doubtful. But when it comes to singing in the bath, he'll be a champion. Jose Carreras debuts at the Sydney Opera House this week and, for a few hours, Rugby World Cup 2003 will take back stage. Rugby men from all corners are making plans to be there.

*You have to smile. David Campese is to the intricacies of rugby forward play what Dame Edna Everidge is to culture. But there was 'Campo', in his morning column in an Australian newspaper this week, brazenly discussing the merits of the tight-head prop, the form of the back-row men and why the Wallaby line-out had been comprehensively walloped by the Irish in Melbourne. As one of Campo's former Wallaby team-mates said: "Mate, it's the greatest conversion since St Paul. Campo's now a world expert on forward play. Do me a favour!"

Australia's achievements mean nothing to absent Springboks

*The Former South African rugby supremo, King Louis Luyt, told an Australian audience this week that they'd got history all wrong. "If you look at the rankings, South Africa had been world champions for 62 years. Australia were not world champions in 1991 because the Springboks did not play in the World Cup," he said. If we had played we would have beaten them." On that basis, Iraq ought to consider themselves World Champions for the last 16 years. After all, they would surely have walloped every nation in sight with all those WMD's.

*The French have been staying at a swish hotel on Bondi Beach - hardly the best venue to enforce coach Bernard Laporte's 'no sex' ruling on his players. A group of frustrated French players, scoffing at their bespectacled coach's insistence on a quiet night, quickly plundered the nearby beach for some local 'company' and took even less time to smuggle them back in. Creativity and cunning; it has been a feature of France's play so far.

*The Fijians may have gone but the memory of their 136kg prop Joe Veitayaki lives on. Big Joe was reduced to walking to most rucks after 30 minutes. But people can be so unkind. The Fijian half-back Moses Rauluni asked a photographer lining up a pic of big Joe "Are you from National Geographic?"