You might think that in
order to become the star of a World Cup tournament, you have to score a
handful of stunning tries or kick your team to victory.
You might think that, but
you'd be wrong.
After drawing the biggest
cheer of the night on Friday at Eden Park when he exposed his chest (the All Blacks beat Tonga 41-10 in case you've forgotten), barely a page of the newspapers in New Zealand have been free of Sonny
Bill Williams's face.
Or more precisely,
barely a page of the papers have been free of Sonny Bill Williams's naked torso.
Williams's right shirtRead More »from Rugby takes a back seat
sleeved ripped during the match
Whoever came up with the idea of an all-black England second kit must have a large smile permanently etched upon their face.
The plan has worked perfectly: the mind games are in full swing with the World Cup now just five weeks away.
There have been plenty of Kiwi complaints this week, largely from UK-based sycophants who cannot believe the level of 'disrespect'.
When did this turn into the fourth chapter of The Godfather, exactly? Why shouldn't England play in black? New Zealand do not possess any pre-ordained right to the colour.
New Zealand's Prime Minister, John Key, disagrees - andRead More »from Precious Kiwis need all-black history lesson
Oval Talk runs the rule over the eight men who will be looking to lead their nations to World Cup glory.
Graham Henry (New Zealand)
Widely regarded as one of the best coaches the game has ever seen, Graham Henry's task is unenviable.
The 65-year-old manages the most talented rugby nation on the planet, and with the Rugby World Cup taking place on home soil this year, anything less than a first title since the inaugural event in 1987 would be deemed as a failure.
The former Wales and British and Irish Lions boss is currently the longest serving leading national team coach having first takenRead More »from Meet the men in charge
With the rugby World Cup kicking off with a look back at New Zealand history, we thought we'd bring you the best photos from the opening ceremony.
In the battle of the hakas, Tonga were the first to take the stage ...
But, unsurprisingly in Auckland, New Zealand got the bigger cheer of the two.
The ceremony began with a traditional call to arms ...
... before the boats arrived ...
... and a traditional haka began.
A great display of rugby prowess as a school boy fought off fully grown men to score a try.
A huge Webb Ellis Trophy was also one of the features of the ceremony, as theRead More »from Opening ceremony sights and scenes
12 different stadia will be used to host rugby matches at the 2011 Rugby World Cup:
Read More »from Where the World Cup will be played
AUCKLAND: Eden Park (Capacity: 60,000 - Matches: 11)
One of the most famous sporting stadia in the world, Eden Park will make history on October 23 when it becomes the first venue to host two Rugby World Cup finals.
It also staged the final of the inaugural tournament in 1987 and the first game of the competition on May 22 of that year.
The All Blacks won both matches and will be hoping that history repeats itself on a ground where they have not lost since 1994 and where they have won around 80 per cent
With less than a couple of weeks to go
until the World Cup, Australia
have laid down a marker to everyone else after they beat New Zealand 25-20 on Saturday.
The victory secured Australia's
first Tri-Nations title in 10 years and the bookies have reacted by trimming
their odds to lift the Webb Ellis trophy for a second time. William Hill cut Australia's
odds from 4-1 to 7-2.
The transformation of the team over theRead More »from Australia lay down World Cup marker
last year is quite remarkable. When England
35-18 at Twickenham in last year's Autumn international most pundits had
written off the Wallabies. But their Kiwi coach
If Oval Talk had to pick one player to particularly get
excited about ahead of the Rugby World Cup then it would have to be Wales'
Having watched him first hand play for the Scarlets before
seeing him make his international debut against South Africa at the Millennium
Stadium last Autumn it was clear very early on that the guy is special. It is
not hyperbole to say he could be the star of this year's World Cup.
On that day against South Africa North scored two tries andRead More »from North star to light up World Cup
terrorised the opposition throughout. The 19-year-old did not deserve to come
out on the losing side with the
For England this is no time to panic - but
the defeat away to Wales should be a wake-up call for Martin Johnson.
His side looked a shadow of the one which destroyed
Australia last autumn then went on to win their first Six Nations Championship
in eight years.
The 19-9 loss at the Millennium Stadium
might only have been a warm-up match for next month's World Cup in New Zealand,
but England only have one more chance to show what they can do before they
travel out there.
The match against Ireland on August 27 isRead More »from England need creativity as well as possession
one in which Johnson should field his strongest team and replace some of the
let it be said that things are dull when the RFU is involved. You could go as
far as saying the RFU puts the fun into dysfunctional.
Union's internal problems over the past few months have caused such an outcry
that it has damaged its reputation almost beyond repair. The Board responded by
asking their disciplinary officer Jeff Blackett, a man
respected throughout the rugby world, to chair a review of how the Union had
acted during that time.
In particular the report focused on theRead More »from Integrity of English rugby in jeopardy
dismissal of John Steele and the Union's inability to appoint a performance
director. And it