From the Touchline

(Rugby News Service) Friday 14 October 2011
From the Touchline
Marc Lièvremont shows off the spoils of his fishing trip

AUCKLAND, 14 Oct. - A lighter look at Rugby World Cup 2011.

The numbers

1 - New Zealand will host its first Rugby World Cup semi-finals this weekend, despite staging most of the matches in the inaugural tournament. At RWC 1987, the semi-finals were hosted by Brisbane and Sydney. The final was at Auckland's Eden Park.

10 - Players in Australia's match-day 22 for Sunday's quarter-final against New Zealand who were not born the last time the Wallabies won at Eden Park.

He said it

"I think he's getting better and better. He's the sort of player that can make or break a game. With all the talk about him not having a good World Cup and all the emphasis on Quade, everyone bagging him and that, I think this week he's going to be desperate and at the same time he's going to be dangerous. He wants to prove a lot of people wrong."
- New Zealand centre Ma'a Nonu expects Australia's Quade Cooper to respond to his critics with his actions on the field in Sunday's semi-final.

Semi-final meating place

Eden Park's corporate section will be hosting a meat feast during the RWC 2011 semi-finals, with a total of 2,445kg of meat being served to guests on Saturday and Sunday.

The logistics of supplying such vast quantities of prime beef, lamb and pork have been a major operation. “We’ve been planning for this for six months,” said Andy Ham (that really is his last name) from Neat Meats.

It took four days to deliver all the meat to Eden Park's kitchens and the company has put on an extra truck to help them cope.

Here’s what they expect the champagne set to go through over the weekend: 765kg lamb racks, 680kg Angus filet, 215kg Angus short ribs, 165kg Angus rump, 165kg Angus sirloin,125kg diced lamb, 75kg pork loin, 60kg lamb mince, 55kg boneless lamb leg, 50kg gourmet sausages, 45kg lamb shoulders, 35kg streaky bacon, 10kg wagyu beef filet.

If that seems like a lot of meat, well, it is. One comparison is that the goodies in the corporate boxes will outweigh the 22 players on either the Welsh or French teams who meet in Saturday's semi-final. The Welsh team total 2,343kg, with the forwards contributing 921kg, the reserves 742 and the backs 680. The French total a mere 2,200kg, the forwards 850, replacements 723 and backs 627.

All weights are before cooking.

Robbie who?

As the excitement builds for Sunday’s semi-final between Australia and New Zealand, more is being made of the relationship between the man who coaches the All Blacks and the man who wanted the job before moving to Australia.

New Zealand’s Graham Henry played down talk of personal rivalry on Friday but couldn't resist a little dig at his opposite number Robbie Deans

"Who?” he asked a packed press conference with a cheeky smile. “Robbie? Oh, I do know him. Good coach, good man but to me it's not personal.

“It could be ... what's the prime minister's name in Australia, Mrs what'shername? Gillard, it could be her coaching the side. It's one team playing another team in a game of sport and you're trying to do your job."

Henry continued in mischievous form when he was asked whether he thought his coaching was improving with age and experience: "I'll be bloody good when I'm 80 mate.”

Gone fishing

Coach Marc Lièvremont and members of the French management team took their minds off Saturday's semi-final clash against Wales with a fishing trip on Auckland's Waitemata Harbour on Thursday.

They returned from the Rangitoto Channel, one of Auckland's finest fishing spots, with a bin brimming with snapper and kahawai, and Lièvremont, who was also accompanied by his three sons, said the fishing was a great break from the build-up to the big match at Eden Park.

"We're obviously very focused on the game this week but it's nice to take a pause and enjoy some of what Auckland has to offer," he said after the group returned to Westhaven Marina.

RNS gs/mr