Nicholas Jones

Nicholas Jones is the New Zealand Herald’s education reporter.

Here come the World Cup Scrummies ...

Pop stars, royals and models are among wives and girlfriends. Photo / APN
Pop stars, royals and models are among wives and girlfriends. Photo / APN

Millions have been spent doing up stadiums and areas such as Auckland's Wynyard Quarter for the Rugby World Cup - but the real glamour could come from an influx of players' wives and girlfriends.

British media have published guides to the notable wives and girlfriends (Wags) - dubbed the "scrummies" - who could be hitting our shores for the tournament.

They include royalty, pop stars, former beauty queens, television presenters, models, actors and a triple Olympic gold medallist.

In the England camp, Zara Phillips, the eldest granddaughter of the Queen, is newly married to England centre Mike Tindall, and Irish singer Una Healy dates fullback Ben Foden.

It has not been confirmed whether Mrs Tindall will visit New Zealand, but England coach Martin Johnson has welcomed players' partners during their near two-month stay.

"I don't impose travel restrictions. The wives and girlfriends are all very sensible and very supportive and just want their partners to have a good experience in terms of playing," Johnson said.

Susie Amy, girlfriend of Irish full-back Rob Kearney and former star of TV show Footballer's Wives, hinted at a visit on Twitter: "I'm about to read for a trip ... I'm away until end of oct".

Frenchwoman Laetitia Guidicelli confirmed a trip to support her partner, Scottish star Dan Parks, when she tweeted: "Trying to figure out what to pack for NZ and Oz (Sept-Oct) ... facing a big dilemma!"

Former Miss France, Alexandra Rosenfeld, the wife of Italian captain and No 8 Sergio Parisse, is another likely to add some French glamour to the tournament.

It's a comparatively short plane ride for Australian swimming star Stephanie Rice - who won three gold medals at the Beijing Olympics - to support Wallabies playmaker Quade Cooper.

And while Cooper and his All Black off-sider Dan Carter are constantly being compared, their partners also share similarities.

Carter's fiance, Honor Dillon, is a Jockey underwear model, while Rice has a contract to model Davenports underwear.

Wags have been the subject of heated debate during past sporting events.

During the 2006 Football World Cup in Germany a 19-strong group of England players' partners - led by Victoria Beckham - caused a blaze of publicity.

Critics claim the distraction contributed to England's early exit - a similar excuse offered for the poor performance of England's and Australia's cricketers in different Ashes series.

All Blacks manager Darren Shand said their policy regarding players' partners had been in place for many years.

"Given that the players share hotels rooms when we are assembled, players' partners can stay at another hotel close by or in another room in the hotel."

- NZ Herald

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