The England team is assisted by the media to intimidate referees and opposition, says columnist. Photo: Getty Images
Fifth Column: a group of secret sympathisers or supporters of an enemy that engage in espionage or sabotage within defence lines or national borders. (Merrim-Webster dictionary)
The most outrageous comment made during the phony war period leading up to the start of the 2015 Rugby World Cup on Saturday morning (AEST), with England playing Fiji at Twickenham, was Sir Clive Woodward’s accusation that South African referee Craig Joubert effectively robbed France of winning the Webb Ellis trophy in 2011.
“If I had been coach of France in that World Cup, I would still be apoplectic to this day,” Woodward told theRadio Times. “If that final had been refereed properly, France would have won.”
Halfback Nick Phipps struggled against the US Eagles in Chicago. Photo: SMH
Now they are finally in England, the Wallabies can ready themselves for their dive into Pool A – Australia, England, Wales, Fiji and Uruguay – a shark-infested ocean of death for three of the teams.
In previous World Cup tournaments, a top side like the Wallabies, No.2 in the rankings, could ease through the pool rounds. They could hold back plays and sometimes players for the knockout stages. They could even lose a game, or two, as France did in New Zealand in 2011. But the terrible conjunction of four of the five teams in Pool A being in the top 10 of the World Rugby rankings means every Wallabies match from September 23 onwards, aside from the walk-over against Uruguay, has to be regarded as a knockout.
O’Connor waiting in the wings for a chance at redemption. Photo: Patrick Hamilton, AFP
Yes, I know that James O’Connor has been a prat. An official at the ARU who had to deal with him all the time told me that O’Connor was the worst of the Three Amigos – O’Connor, Kurtley Beale and Quade Cooper.
He would encourage and lead his mates into trouble and then, somehow, slide away unscathed, while the other two copped the blame and the punishments.