World Cup diary: Great migration north is a great myth

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The Independent Online

Fears down south of a mass exodus to the northern hemisphere by top players after the World Cup seem grossly off the mark. Of the 30 All Black squad members, 29 have re-signed with the NZRU for next season. Full-back Leon MacDonald is the lone defector, accepting an offer to play in Japan, as has Springbok full-back Jaco van der Westhuyzen. Among the discarded internationals coming here are All Black Christian Cullen and Bok Cobus Visagie. Both have vented their anger at being dropped for the World Cup. In his autobiography, Cullen brands Kiwi coach John Mitchell "a dick", while Visagie says of Rudolf Straeuli that "there is no plan beyond second phase".

Why backward means forward

Chris Handy, the outsize Wallaby prop of yesteryear now turned television pundit, found a novel way of explaining why Australia appear to have got away with a number of forward passes in this tournament. "As long as the passer intended the ball to go backwards, and his hands went backwards, it didn't matter if the ball drifted forward with momentum," he told a caller. What you call a Handy excuse, one supposes.

Rugby is a religion, SA style, part 1

"Our objective remains to win the World Cup. At very worst we would like to be No 2 or 3, though that is something for other countries to aim for," said the South African Rugby Football Union president, Silas Nkanunu. Not good news, then, for Rudolf Straeuli (pictured). "He has a performance clause in his contract..." Nkanunu added. The Boks are likely to meet the All Blacks in the quarter-finals. Feel any pressure then, Rudi?

Rugby is a religion, SA style, part 2

"I may have to emigrate," penned the Business Day editor, Peter Bruce. "I can live in a country with the highest murder rate in the world... where politicians live in the pockets of business people... where the currency yo-yos... where my home is surrounded by electric wires... but I cannot live in a country without a fly-half."

England's roses a thorny subject

Clive Woodward's victorious team left their mark on Subiaco Oval in Perth in more ways than one. Cleaners who went into their dressing room after last week's dust-up found the walls covered in Red Rose stickers. "I wouldn't mind if they used Blu-Tack, but they superglued them on and it's murder getting them off," one unimpressed attendant said.

Where Wales beat Wilko

The BBC's World Cup website has seen over 13,000 messages posted since the cup opened. Some 5,279 of those are dedicated to England's progress (266 for Ireland and 264 for Scotland), but the busiest fans have been Wales's, with 6,859 messages before yesterday's win over Italy. Jonny Wilkinson's company (Jonny W Ltd), meanwhile, have bought up all the obvious domain names to protect him from cybersquatters, "people who would damage his reputation", according to a release.

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