World Cup diary

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Flippancy sparks CIA denial

Apologies to the following: Wales, Australia, the CIA and the world's press. Oh yes, and George W Bush.

Last week, in a tongue-firmly-in-cheek moment, this diary leapt on a small item in the Canberra Times saying that the White House had inquired about tickets for tomorrow's Wales-Italy game. Bush is in the Australian capital this week and, quite flippantly, this diary ventured the outrageous possibility that the President might see the Pool D maker-or-breaker.

Little did we know, some people take what is written here seriously. Within hours, the Welsh newspapers had reported with their usual restraint: "Steve Hansen's men are set to play their do-or-die clash in front of the most powerful man on the planet." That was enough for some of the "most powerful newspapers on the planet" to run with it. One, a leading Australian daily, even rang the Canberra authorities to verify it. Stunned by the news they rang the US security services. They shot it down in flames, as they tend to, making it clear that under no circumstances will Bush be there. By all accounts he will be at Gillingham v Crystal Palace. (That'll get them busy on the Croydon Advertiser.)

Media ready to jump off cliff

Two weeks gone and the media are flagging. There are only so many times you can listen to an 18-stone prop say he is "so proud to play for my country" and playing in the World Cup is "a dream come true". So when they noticed in the media guides that Welsh tight-head Adam Jones's hobbies were "cliff-jumping and clay-pigeon shooting", excitement rose.

"What does cliff-jumping entail, Adam?" they asked. "Uh, you swim around in the sea, find a cliff and jump off it," he said. "OK. So how long have you been clay-pigeon shooting?" "I haven't, I made that bit up." "Is playing for your country at this World Cup a dream come true, Adam?"