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David Miller: World Cup, Just Let The Game Begin

David Miller Online

The World Cup Saga: Just Let The Game Begin

The IRB’s decision to award Australia sole hosting rights to the upcoming rugby World Cup has angered many New Zealanders, and the issue won't go away. Not only are there calls for the All Blacks to boycott the tournament or the Bledisloe Cup, as suggested by Zinzan Brooke, but there are also calls for heads to roll at the NZRFU. There is a feeling that the decision has somehow brought shame on the country. Amidst all the ructions over the whole saga it has become difficult to find out exactly why New Zealand missed out on playing its part in staging the event, especially as this is a land with so many experts on the game all offering an opinion, whether informed or not. However despite all the speculation and venturing of opinions the questions remain as to why New Zealand missed out, is the IRB decision really the end of the world and shouldn’t we be worrying about England’s chances in the soccer world cup that starts next month?

From what I can gather the whole issue revolved around sponsorship and New Zealand’s alleged inability to provide ‘clean’ stadiums in terms of the sponsors rights. I use the term ‘alleged’ as I am unsure as to whether this is the true reason but it appears to be the one that is most prevalent among the opinion columns and news reports. If this is the case and I hope someone can enlighten me on this, then it is a very serious situation that will plague future bidding campaigns in the future.

The problem is a clash between sponsors and their rights during the tournament. On one side there is the IRB’s sponsors or financial partners who provide a large amount of the funding for the tournament and as a result will demand that their signage alone is displayed at the venues. If those venues or the local unions have existing contracts in place with advertisers then there is a possibility that a clash can occur and the issue arises as to who has the rights to display signs at the grounds. This sounds rather small and somewhat petty but with the money involved it is obviously a very serious issue. It appears that there was disagreement over the allocation of the corporate boxes and this may have something to do with the displaying of signs and banners that are not those of the IRB sponsors on these.

Whatever the case the NZRFU has come in for much of the flak and their handling of the situation has been criticised for not being smart in the lead up to the IRB vote and for their lack of professionalism. From what I can gather there will be no mass resignations over this and I believe the only way to get over this debacle and to grow again as a nation is for John Mitchell’s men to knock the Wallabies out of the tournament and bring the trophy back to where it belongs.

For those people who are already tired of the whole saga there is a much bigger, more spectacular tournament is being held next month in Korea and Japan and I think that while we await for the All Blacks to be presented with the Webb Ellis Trophy we should focus our energies on cheering for my beloved England.

As an English supporter these are worrying times so all the support that is offered is much appreciated. First of all, skipper David Beckham was deliberately fouled in the Champions League and suffered a broken foot and there are fears he may miss the tournament. This injury has left a huge whole in the England midfield and meant that the world’s best free kick exponent will be watching from the sidelines instead of leading the team to glory. There is also rumoured to be concern that the team’s manager, Sven Goran Eriksson is more worried about getting a date with television star Ulrika Jonssan than worrying about the on field tactics and deciding whether the trusted 4-4-2 formation will work in 2002. According to that ever so reliable source the British tabloids, the pair were spotted together at a recent premiership match sparking rumour of a possible romance.

If New Zealand really wants to get over this debacle of the world cup then the way to do it is for people to stop the inquests into the way in which the matter was handled and get on with supporting the All Blacks in their campaign. All the talk and rhetoric in the world is not going to reverse the decision taken by the IRB and the only way to prove anything is victory on the field.

As for England, well I have to admit that even though I have washed my replica shirt I will not be holding my breath. Miracles do happen and it is all down to what happens on the day but at this stage Argentina and France will be the teams to beat.

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