Sunday 23 November 2008
The draw for the next World Cup takes place three years early, so when the competition begins in New Zealand in 2011 present form could look very silly indeed. So why the premature announcement? "Logistics," explain the International Rugby Board. The draw – will England manage to avoid the All Blacks? – will be held on 1 December next to Tower Bridge... within a rugby ball. It is not, however, an ordinary Gilbert but the world's largest ball. At 25m long and 17m metres wide it can accommodate 230 people, and the message from New Zealand is that people "are set for a trip to rugby Nirvana". When the ball is opened to the public on 25 November, they are set for something else: Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, will take part in a Maori ceremony. What have the Maoris done to deserve that?