THE BREAKDOWN | WORLD CUP BRIEFS
MURRAY IN SUNDAYS PLEA
Scotland prop Euan Murray has called for Sunday matches to be removed form the calendar for religious reasons. Murray, a Christian, has elected to sit out this weekend’s crunch Pool B clash with Argentina because of his faith. He said: “I don’t see why there have to be games on Sundays. I hope things will change in future.” Should they qualify, Scotland’s quarter-final and semi-final are also likely to fall on Sundays, as does the final.
HABANA SHRUGS OFF FEAT
South Africa wing Bryan Habana has played down the significance of breaking his country’s try-scoring record. Habana claimed his 39th, overtaking former scrum-half Joost van der Westhuizen, in yesterday’s 87-0 thrashing of Namibia in Pool D. “I think other people were more worried about it than I was,” he said. “I’ve said it my whole career: it’s always been about the Springbok team. It’s never been about the number of tries I’ve been able to score.”
O’GARA STAYS, SAY IRISH
Ireland chiefs insist veteran fly-half Ronan O’Gara has assured them he will play on beyond this World Cup. The 34-year-old hinted last weekend that this tournament would be his international swansong. But he has since backtracked and team manager Paul McNaughton said: “As far as we’re concerned, he’s confirmed that retirement wasn’t on the agenda. We’re happy with that.” Ireland face Russia next on Sunday.
FRANCE TAUNT ALL BLACKS
France back-row Julien Bonnaire has taunted New Zealand ahead of tomorrow’s Pool A showdown, insisting the All Blacks fear Les Bleus. “They know we are unpredictable – in a good and a bad way,” he said. “We can either fail or pull it off, and that is what they fear.” Conspiracy theorists believe France have not picked their strongest side in order to finish second and avoid southern hemisphere teams in later stages. But Bonnaire added: “Controversy is part of the deal. It’s up to us to prove them wrong.”