From the Touchline

(Rugby News Service) Sunday 16 October 2011
 
From the Touchline
New Zealand-born Russell Crowe says RWC 2011 is "a truly global event"

AUCKLAND, 16 Oct. - A lighter look at Rugby World Cup 2011.

The numbers

26 - Richie McCaw played his 26th Test against Australia on Sunday, setting a new All Blacks record.

6 - Craig Joubert refereed his sixth match of RWC 2011. He became the first official to take charge of six matches at one RWC.

9,171 - Days since Australia last won a Test match at Eden Park (6 September 1986).

764 - Days since New Zealand last lost a Test match in New Zealand (12 September 2009).

He said it

"The problem is we are not world champions yet and we just qualified for the final. This reminds me of 1999 when there were four days of celebration for the semi-final."

- France coach Marc Lièvremont was furious on Sunday when he learned some of his players had disobeyed his orders by going out to celebrate their RWC 2011 semi-final win over Wales. He is worried about a repeat of what happened at RWC 1999, when the French famously came from behind to beat New Zealand in the semi-finals, then crashed 35-12 to Australia in the final. Lièvremont is speaking from bitter experience; he played in both of those matches.

Huge crowds for semi-final

Saturday's semi-final between Wales and France brought out almost 110,000 spectators, perhaps the biggest live audience in history for a rugby match.

There were 58,629 people crammed into Eden Park in Auckland to see France beat Wales 9-8.

And an estimated 61,000 fans packed Cardiff's Millennium Stadium to watch the live telecast on giant video screens - and they were every bit as heartbroken as fellow Welsh supporters who had made the trip to New Zealand.

Bookie refunding bets on Wales

Bookmakers are not renowned for their generosity to unlucky punters. But one major Irish bookie has announced that money lost on Rugby World Cup semi-final bets on Wales will be refunded because of captain Sam Warburton's sending-off.

Warburton was handed a red card for a tip tackle on French winger Vincent Clerc after 18 minutes of the match, and Irish bookmaker Paddy Power said on Twitter, "we've decided to refund all losing match bets on Wales. Only fair as Warburton decision was wrong - Wales would have won with him."

A famous Kiwi is crowing 

A tweet from Russell Crowe: "What an excellent tournament this Rugby World Cup has been. Congrats to all involved. A truly global event."

Warm words of praise from the New Zealand-born actor, who is also the owner and lifelong supporter of Australian rugby league club South Sydney Rabbitohs and cousin of former Black Caps cricket captains, the brothers Martin and Jeff Crowe.

Crowe's tweet is helping to spread the RWC 2011 message far and wide - he has 296,064 followers.

Kleeberger's beard almost a goner

The beard that grabbed the attention of rugby fans around the world is about to be consigned to the history books.

Adam Kleeberger, the Canadian flanker, has a date with a shave on Monday - and it will not be administered by a professional hairdresser. Not even by an old-fashioned barber.

Kleeberger and his mass of facial hair, the focus of considerable media attention during the early stages of RWC 2011, will part company in Victoria, British Columbia, where the deed will be carried out by Rick Mercer, a  popular Canadian comedian. Mercer has no known history of removing other men's facial hair and it was not known what sort of implement he would use to tackle Kleeberger's abundant beard.

The object of the exercise is to encourage people to make donations to a fund to help rebuild the New Zealand city of Christchurch, which was devastated by two major earthquakes a few months apart, and to a campaign to raise cancer awareness in Canada.

Donations to Kleeberger's Shear the Beard campaign can be made via the following websites:

http://donate.rugbycanada.ca/e/Shear_the_Beard

http://mobro.co/SheartheBeard

RNS gs/mr