From the Touchline

(Rugby News Service) Tuesday 18 October 2011
From the Touchline
Zinzan Brooke strides clear during the RWC 1991 quarter-final with Canada

AUCKLAND, 18 Oct. - A lighter look at Rugby World Cup 2011.

The numbers

2 - Matches played between New Zealand and France in the month of October. Both were at the Rugby World Cup, in 1999 and 2007, and both were won by France.

6 - The half-time score of one team in eight of the 14 RWC semi-finals. Six sides - Scotland (1991), France (1995), South Africa (1999), France and Argentina (2007), and Australia (2011) - lost, while Les Bleus won in 1987 and 2011.

He said it

"I think every kid did and if they say they didn't then they're lying. You're always out there practising, maybe kicking the winning goal or scoring the winning try."
- All Blacks fly half Aaron Cruden is sure he is living out every child's dream of playing in a World Cup final ... and maybe even emerging as the match-winning hero.

Gore blimey

New Zealand star Andy Ellis is convinced his “toughness rating” has received a massive boost since staggering off the Eden Park pitch with his face smeared in blood during Sunday's semi-final win over Australia.

Not that Andy would consider squeezing every last drop of gory glory from his facial injury, of course. Then again, the scrum half did confess to accentuating his abrasion to boost his bravery standing with the fans.

He said: “I’d like to think so. I think the fact that when it was bleeding I actually wiped it over my face to really give that impact. I started limping, as well, just to give that real hard-man edge, so I think my rating has gone up.”

Aaron won't dare to bare

Aaron Cruden is no shrinking violet. But stripping down to his boxers fills the apparently coy 22-year-old with dread.

When asked whether he would be following in the footsteps of fellow fly half Dan Carter with underwear endorsements, the reluctant pin-up said: “No, I don’t think so. I’ll leave Dan to keep doing that.”

But All Blacks teammate Andy Ellis reckons there is one player in the squad who would be eager to show off his physique for the right price. “Kahui, on the other hand ...”

Rather than affect a shocked response, the conspicuously keen Richard Kahui responded with an emphatic: “Oh yeah.”

Innocent abroad

Watch out, ladies. Tatafu Polota-Nau, the self-proclaimed most eligible bachelor of the Wallabies squad, has been busy preening himself in preparation for his last few days (and nights) in New Zealand.

The hooker emerged from his hotel room on Tuesday clean-shaven and sporting perfectly sculpted eyebrows.

However, when questioned about his snappy appearance, an angelic Polota-Nau pleaded innocence.

“Someone got me last night when I was sleeping,” he said, unconvincingly. “They got me with a razor.”

Regardless of who wielded the weapon, it seemed to do the trick. Before he knew it, the 26-year-old was being interviewed by a blonde female television journalist dressed in only a bikini.

Let's hear it for brilliant Brooke

Journalists enjoying a wine-tasting at the Cloud's media centre in Auckland on Monday were surprised to see several rugby legends among the throng.

But the likes of Michael Jones, Wayne 'Buck' Shelford and Will Carling were not there to get their free sample of New Zealand's finest vintages.

They had turned out to reminisce about All Blacks great Zinzan Brooke, who was the subject of a This Is Your Life programme being filmed upstairs.

Shelford and Jones paid tribute to the part the young Brooke played as a replacement loose forward in the 1987 World Cup-winning squad. 

Carling recalled the drop goal Brooke nonchalantly slotted from the halfway line in the Rugby World Cup 1995 semi-final against England in Cape Town.

And his four brothers, including fellow All Black Robin, joked about how competitive he had been during a childhood spent running around the family's dairy farm north of Auckland.

Brooke, 46, who suffered head trauma falling from a taxi while coaching the Barbarians in Spain in 2007, now lives in England and runs a boutique B&B with his wife in Windsor, Berkshire.

RNS pj/mr