Oval Talk

  • Sponsors brand England ‘arrogant and rude’

    England's World Cup squad is set to come under further
    scrutiny with the RFU awaiting an official letter of complaint from team
    sponsors Land Rover.

    Chronic player indiscipline has overshadowed England's poor
    performances on the pitch in New Zealand with Mike Tindall, Dylan Hartley and
    Manu Tuilagi in particular finding their antics splashed across the papers.

    And now Land Rover, who sponsor both England Rugby and the
    World Cup, have gone to the IRB to express their displeasure with the team's
    attitude.

    Land Rover took 11 players on a company day in which Land
    Rover Discoverys and Range Rover

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  • All Blacks have one hand on Webb Ellis trophy

    After overcoming Australia in the second
    World Cup semi-final
    , it's hard not to see New Zealand going all the way and
    lifting the Webb Ellis trophy next Sunday.

    They now only have France to beat in
    order to win the World Cup for the second time and finally end 24 years of
    disappointment and expectation.

    They may only have scored two tries in
    their last two matches but New Zealand, despite clearly missing Dan Carter's
    kicking skills, have clearly been the most consistent of the tournament.

    Of course that hasn't meant much in the
    past with the All Blacks often heading into a World Cup as the

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  • Team of the Week: Black beauties

    Here is our elite team from the World Cup semi-finals:

    15. Israel Dagg — New Zealand
    He has been one of the stars of this tournament and who would have guessed that back in August when Australia beat the All Blacks to win the Tri Nations? Dagg was a constant threat in the semi final and it was no surprise when he made a brilliant run before neatly offloading the ball to Ma'a Nonu to score the try. He was also impressive in defence.

    14. Cory Jane — New Zealand
    The All Blacks' back three dealt with the high ball superbly but none better than Jane. It really helped New Zealand to have a

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  • ‘French are shambolic for a reason’

    Trying to
    work out how the World Cup final is going to play out?

    In the
    football version of the 2010 World Cup, things were simple. You could simply
    turn to the wisdom of a psychic octopus.  

    The New
    Zealanders tried something similar earlier in the tournament with a sheep
    , but it went awry
    when 'Sonny Wool' only picked one result correctly in the quarter-finals.

    So how
    about having a look at how the two nation's workplace attitudes shape up to
    indicate Sunday's result?

    Oval Talk
    isn't going to slip thoughtlessly into the stereotypes of lazy French workers -
    especially when a risk management

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  • Refereeing takes a step forward

    This week has seen a monumental decision
    which has the potential to transform rugby in the northern hemisphere.

    No, it isn't Mike Tindall's £25,000 fine
    and ban from the England
    set up. Nor is it Wales'
    refusal to allow some of their top stars play for the Barbarians against England later
    this month.

    It is in fact how the Aviva Premiership could
    become the first league north of the equator to trial the extended use of
    Television Match Officials. The International Rugby Board want to have two
    leagues - one in the north and one in the south - to test the new rules.

    The trial will see referees

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  • How can Andrew be allowed to rule on England malaise?

    After last week's RFU board meeting the acting chief
    executive Martyn Thomas was shown the door - and, in Oval Talk's opinion, about
    time too.

    But the Twickenham exodus should not stop there as the
    Professional Game Board carries out its review on England's elite game and in
    particular the senior team's performance at the World Cup.

    What sets off a few alarm bells, though, is that Rob
    Andrew, the RFU's operations director - formerly known as the director of elite
    rugby - will be managing the review.

    How can the man who has run the show for the last five
    years be the one who has to highlight

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  • Why RFU dithering will cost England the 2015 World Cup

    So, the World Cup is over and the biggest
    issue back on this isle, whether we like it or not, is the turmoil in the RFU.

    Before the two-month rugby bonanza the RFU
    was in a complete mess without a permanent chairman, without a permanent chief
    executive and still searching for their first performance director.

    All tha was temporarily forgotten while the
    spotlight was on the tournament in New Zealand, but fast forward a few weeks
    and nothing has changed at Twickenham.

    Actually, that's not quite true. Things
    have got slightly worse because, after England's farcical tournament both on
    and off the

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  • Team of the tournament

    Here is our elite team after seven weeks of the 2011 World Cup:

    15. Israel Dagg — New Zealand
    Dagg has been the number one fullback at this World Cup since he scored the very first try of the tournament in against Tonga. His performance against Australia was exceptional and he made the angled run which set up Ma'a Nonu for the decisive try. And at just 23 years of age Dagg has the potential to become one of the best fullbacks of all time.

    14. Vincent Clerc - France
    Clerc shows you do not need to be built like George North to be a successful winger in the modern game. He scored an emphatic
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  • Zinzan Brooke: All Blacks for glory

    Oval Talk caught up with former All
    Blacks legend Zinzan Brooke ahead of the World Cup final against France in
    Auckland to find out who he thinks will lift the Webb Ellis Trophy on Sunday.

    "We've been here before against France
    in a must-win game but I think the All Blacks will do it," said Brooke, who was capped 58 times by New Zealand.

    "They are certainly good enough and, throughout
    this World Cup, they have consistently shown the intensity they will need to
    win this game.

    "All the preparation has been done now
    and the training camp was obviously good; you can see that with the way New

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  • Dan who? A tale of two fly-halves

    Eight days ago New Zealand was a country
    practically in mourning when the news broke that Dan Carter had been ruled out
    of the World Cup with a groin injury.

    Fast forward just over a week and few
    would have predicted that the All Blacks would have all but kicked themselves
    into the semi-finals.

    Sure, they scored two late tries to confirm
    the victory, but it was the seven penalties from the boot of Piri Weepu that
    really secured victory against Argentina.

    Oval Talk wouldn't be rash enough to
    suggest that the All Blalcks didn't miss Carter against Los Pumas but maybe it's
    not the national

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