The World Cup from Amateurism to Zinzan

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The Independent Online
Ais for amateurism. And the All Blacks. Yesterday's match was probably the last time the two terms will be used together.

B is for Max Brito, the Ivory Coast winger paralysed from the neck down when buried under a ruck in his side's game against Tonga. He will never recover and the rugby world must never forget.

C is for Campese, one of the big disappointments of the tournament. Others were George Gregan, Jeremy Guscott, and most of those who played for Wales.

D is for drop goal, Rob Andrew's, two minutes and 38 seconds into injury time against Australia. Four days later, Andrew was an MBE.

E is for the Evanses, Alex and Geoff, who oversaw another Welsh failure. Also for Dennis Easby, the RFU president, who, five weeks after sacking Will Carling, was giving him a dressing-room cuddle after England's quarter-final victory.

F is for the fashion statement that came in the form of the Canadian shirts. They looked like Smartie adverts gone wrong - disastrous. If this is a glimpse of the future, then let's all sign for rugby league now.

G is for game plan. It helps to have two or more. England only had one and didn't it show?

H is for Hastings (Gavin) and hero; the two go together. Other World Cup heroes: Dewi Morris, John Eales, Chester Williams and the team of Mrs Mops who swept the water off the pitch before the Durban semi-final.

I is for ITV. Poor Alastair Hignell froze when fronting the first live broadcast and it was downhill from there.

J is for Japan, the team who were on the wrong end of the biggest defeat ever in a World Cup finals match - 145-17 to New Zealand. And Jonah wasn't even playing.

K is for King's Park, Durban. They said it never rained here and how they lied. It poured down on three of King's Park's five games, last week's semi-final being hit by the sort of deluge that would have prompted Noah to load up the animals.

Lis for Lomu, large, lightning-quick and soon to be loaded. The player of the tournament and a new phenomenon in the game. Also for (Doug) Laughton, the Leeds coach, one of the many rugby league men eyeing him up.

M is for David McHugh, the referee who sent off three players after the South Africa v Canada free-for-all at Port Elizabeth.

N is for nail-biters: England v Australia (see D), Scotland v France (N is also for N'Tamack, the French winger who won that game in injury time), and we should not forget the brilliant Samoan comeback victory over Argentina.

O is for open spaces. There were many of them, doted around around the stadiums, even in the semi-finals. They tell of an ill-conceived ticket allocation system for games which could have been sold out many times over.

P is for president. Perhaps the most moving moment of the tournament was Nelson Mandela's opening address.

Q is for qualification, a process the England team, after their dismal performance in the third-place play-off game, will have to go through to reach the 1999 World Cup.

R is for retirees. Already we know we have seen the last of Dewi Morris, Gavin Hastings, Kenny Milne, Iain Morrison, Mike Hall, Peter Fatialofa, Marc Cecillon and Louis Armary. We have yet to hear about Lynagh, Campo, Carling and co.

S is for Joel Stransky, the man who put the Springboks together with success in yesterday's dramatic finale.

T is for tries. There were 187 of them. Marc Ellis scored six for the All Blacks in the one run-out, against Japan and, alongside Jonah Lomu, led the try-scorers' table with seven; Rory Underwood and Gavin Hastings topped the northern hemisphere try-count with five each.

U is for unity, a sense of which, the South African press would have us believe, swept the country as the nation linked in support of the Springboks. There was a joyous mood in South Africa, but a large percentage of non-whites still support any Springbok opposition.

V is for Van der Westhuizen, the superb Springbok scrum-half acclaimed as the tournament pin-up. Rumour has it that he was substituted in last weekend's semi-final only because his eye-liner was running.

W is for Chester Williams, the only black South African in the Springbok side and a national hero because of it.

X is for Xhosas, the South African tribe who threw their support wholeheartedly behind the Western Samoan team.

Y is for Yoshihito Yoshida, the Japan wing who led the charge against Ireland and nearly inspired the biggest upset of the tournament.

Z is for Zinzan, the elder of the two Brooke brothers, the All Black No8 who struck the audacious 45-metre drop-goal against England. Here was outrageous talent plus the confidence to use it.

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