Rugby World Cup LIVE: France and Wales triumphant

By NZ Herald staff

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France fans overjoyed with their team's performance against England.  Photo / Getty Images
France fans overjoyed with their team's performance against England. Photo / Getty Images
10.48pm:
France and Wales have booked a date with each other next weekend. Both sides thoroughly deserved their victories this evening, and now we have just 24 hours to find out what the other semi-final will look like.
Make sure you join us here tomorrow for that, and all the news, highlights and excitement that knock-out rugby brings.


10.23pm:
France will be playing Wales next weekend, England will be at home watching.
What a game from the French, they looked like a brand new team.
All of a sudden France look like contenders.


10.19pm:
The try is given but Toby Flood has missed a vital conversion. England down by 7 with two minutes to go!


10.15pm:
Less than five minutes to go now. England are up against the clock as much as they are up against the French now.
They're attacking all the same, and now the third match official will decide if they're still in this game...


10.09pm:
We're into the final stages here, France have had an extended amount of time in England's half. They're looking to soak up time here. Perhaps a drop goal?


9.59pm:
There will be little to talk about between the two coaches after this game. Earlier in the week Marc Lievremont spoke of his relationship with Martin Johnson:
"We played against each other in the past. I don't see him around often enough to say that we get along well. Of course, he was a great player and I owe him a lot of respect.

When we bump into each other, we greet each other in a polite and formal way. But as his French is maybe even worse than my English, so it is not so easy for us to have a conversation."


9.46pm:
49,105 people are in Eden Park watching this French side dominate England at the moment.
There are a few noticeable patches of empty seats, which is a shame, but the vocal French fans that are there are more than making up for it.
But now the English fans get a chance to scream, with Ben Foden's try.


9.39pm:
This from nzherald.co.nz's Paul Harper, who may look to obtain French citizenship soon:

"I've got some more stats from the game; there are 78 per cent more smiling French fans than smiling English fans.
And I'm almost getting tired of hearing Alles les Bleus. Almost."


9.20pm:
France go into halftime with a 16 point lead after seeing off a late surge from England.
Remember to head to our cover it live page, here, for all the minute-by-minute commentary.
But perhaps for now, sit back, have a breather and take in the post-match reaction to the Wales vs Ireland quarter-final.


9.06pm:
Right now, this looks like an entirely different French team to the one we saw in pool play.
It looks as though the tough love shown to his players is paying off for Marc Lievremont.
France 16, England 0.


8.53pm:
At this point in the game England look like they're perhaps not playing their natural game.
France have all the territory at the moment, and after striking his two earlier penalties beautifully, Yachvili puts one wide. France 6, England 0.


8.42pm:
Refreshingly, this game has got off to a very fast, running start. The northern hemisphere sides are full of surprises tonight.
The atmosphere must be mainlining adrenaline to these players - Eden Park is absolutely going off tonight.


8.31pm:
As 'God Save the Queen' is belted out by the English fans, they'll be hoping God saves Jonny Wilkinson's kicking game for this match.
The conditions are perfect, and the balls are sure to be pumped up to regulation standard, so it's all up to him now...unless Toby Flood steps up into the role of course.


8.20pm:
It's all eyes on Eden Park now.
This game is another difficult one to pick, but at least the conditions are a lot nicer than they were in Wellington.
Head here for our cover it live commentary. It's up-to-the-minute, and you can share your opinions too.


8.06pm:
Warren Gatland has been rewarded for putting his faith in youth. His side looked sharp right until the death.
All that's left for Gatland to do now is sit back and wait to see who he'll face next week in the semi-final.
Wales' start was electric and they lead the whole game, but England's coach Martin Johnson talked down the importance of having a big opening few minutes:
"It doesn't matter how you kick off, it is how you react to subsequent events in the game. Anything can happen and we have to be able to deal with it mentally, because if you don't deal with it mentally you can't deal with it physically."


7.52pm:
As rugby fans in Wales (probably the entire nation, to be fair) wake to the absolute joy of making the semi-finals of a Rugby World Cup for only the second time, we'll now shift our attention to Auckland where England face France.
Check out the match preview, with interactive team guide here.


7.43pm:
The tournament is over for Ireland. They gave us all a mighty thrill when they beat Australia, but they've been outclassed by a very impressive Wales tonight.
The first semi-finalist place of Rugby World Cup 2011goes to Wales.


7.39pm:
The man of the match has been announced, and it goes to Welsh halfback Mike Phillips.
He really has stood out in a very solid Wales side tonight.


7.32pm:
As the rain comes down in Wellington, we head into the final stages of this first quarter-final, and Wales have the edge over Ireland. They've taken exciting chances and their defence has stood strong.
The Irish won't roll over, but they're going to have to take some risks. Things could open up here.


7.21pm:
Earlier in the week Welsh coach Warren Gatland had this to say:
"We've talked about times we want to be smart, we've got to play territory, we've got to play weather conditions, but if you feel there's an opportunity to move and play we want to encourage that."

As wales sit in the lead 15-10, you can definitely say they've taken their opportunities to move.


7.07pm:
As Ireland even things up on the field in Wellington, Paul Harper has performed some research in Auckland:
"I've just conducted a scientific poll, and Ireland is the team both Frenchmen and Englishmen want to play in the semifinals should their team win tonight.
Of the eight England supporters surveyed in Bar Eden during half time, five hoped they'd come against Ireland next week. Wales was seen as "a more complete side" who could score with much more ease.
All three France fans spoken to by nzherald.co.nz wanted to play Ireland in a week's time, as the French have a good track record against Ireland.
However, supporters from both sides agreed Ireland deserve to progress to the final should their team get knocked out.
The survey had a margin of error of +/- heaps."


7.01pm:
The teams are back out after oranges, and Ireland have made a change - Charteris is off and Davies is on.
No chance of the wind subbing off though. It's still up to its swirly tricks.


6.49pm:
It's halftime, and the Welsh are up 10-3.
Welsh supporters everywhere will be happy with their side's willingness to run the ball, being rewarded very early on with Williams' try.
Before the match we caught up with the real experts to gauge their opinion on this match- here's a bunch of Welsh and Irish fans dishing out their views.


6.40pm:
Here's some weather news and sartorial suggestions from Paul Harper near Eden Park:
"It's been a gorgeous sunny spring day here in Auckland today, but it may be a chilly night. The wind has picked up a tad, and as the sun drops behind the Waitakeres it may get a bit colder. There are a few clouds in the sky but hopefully the rain stays away. If you're going to Eden Park tonight, dress warm."


6.35pm:
In case you've just joined us, and want comprehensive live commentary, with the chance to throw your own opinions into the ring, head to our cover it live coverage here.
Few know the game better than Cameron McMillan, and even fewer can type the game out for your enjoyment faster.


6.25pm:
The pace of this game is what some commentators would call 'blistering'. The wind, however, could be described as 'blustering'.
Word from the cake tin is that no team is necessarily gaining an advantage from Wellington's famous wind this evening. It's swirling around and being of equal menace to both sides.


6.16pm:
Shane Williams now has 56 tries for Wales. Only two other players have scored more in international rugby.
We'll pop back up to Aukland now, where nzherald.co.nz's Paul Harper has set himself up on Dominion Road:
"All the bars here, only a short walk from Eden Park, are packed mainly with England fans, but also with the odd France and Ireland supporters. Very few Welshmen. But big cheers go up as Wales get on the board first."


6.06pm:
What a start for Wales!
Shane Williams has touched down in the corner after just 3 minutes.
So much for dull northern hemisphere rugby. Some absolutely massive hits put in already.
We've got ourselves a cracker.


5.53pm:
Here's the place to head for comprehensive, minute-by-minute coverage of the Wales vs Ireland game.
We're minutes away now. Keep popping back here for more news around the cup, but for now brace yourself for the start of 'go hard or go home' rugby. This game is going to be a ripper.


5.47pm:
We're getting closer to kick-off, so let's take a last look at what the weather is going to be doing to the cake tin.
Here's the metservice forecast for all the quarter-finals.
However, word from Wellington is that those southerlies aren't really easing.
This could be a very interesting evening for the kickers.


5.39pm:
If you've adopted Wales as your second team to support, you better hurry up and learn "Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau".
However, with lines like 'Ei gwrol ryfelwyr, gwladgarwyr tra mad', you might want to switch allegiances and learn "Ireland's Call".


5.28pm:
Wynne Gray has written a piece that shines the spotlight on the eight players remaining at this World Cup who have the letter 'c' after their names on the team sheets:
"Six are forwards, four loose forwards, while Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll and Argentina's Felipe Contepomi play with double-digits on their jerseys."
They're a mightily impressive set of players and Wynne sums up their roles well. He also uses the word 'scuttlebutt' in the story.


5.17pm:
There's less than an hour to go before our first quarter-final between Wales and Ireland, and in terms of a stirring contest, many people think it's the pick of the bunch.
So too does Brendan Gallagher, writing for The Telegraph:
"Both sides have caught the imagination and there is just too much talent, ambition, adrenalin and patriotic fervour coursing through the veins of all concerned for it to be anything other than a Rugby World Cup classic."


5.05pm:
Because we're now in the knock-out stage of the cup our old mate extra time might pay us a visit.
It's only happened three times before in Rugby World Cups:

The RWC 1995 final between South Africa and New Zealand was the first extra-time match played when the score was 9-9 at the end of normal time.

The first semi-final of RWC 1999 between Australia and South Africa at Twickenham finished 21-21 after normal time before a Stephen Larkham drop goal and a late Matt Burke penalty goal saw the Wallabies progress to the final 27-21.

The most dramatic finish occurred in the RWC 2003 final at Sydney's Telstra Stadium when, with the score tied at 14-14 following an 80th-minute Elton Flatley penalty goal for Australia, the match against England went into extra time.


4.53pm:
Let's spare a thought for the northern hemisphere fans this evening.
They all have to get up at a pretty unreasonable hour to get behind their teams. As much as Irish and Welsh rugby fans must love a Saturday morning lie-in, they'll have no trouble springing up, smashing their alarm clocks and strapping themselves in for a wild 80 minutes.
They're looking for their teams to make history, after all:
"With the semi-final a holy grail for both countries (Wales' sole semi was in 1987 and Ireland are seeking to break new ground) unlike the respective Grand Slam coronations at Cardiff in 2005 and 2009 this time both sides have a Slam to aim for."
More from the Irish Times


4.41pm:
Jonny Wilkinson has gone from making star guest appearances coaching a young Toby Flood at his high school, to having his spot as first-choice kicker challenged by his young protege.
Wilkinson's kicking form has been put under the microscope after his failure to live up to the high standards he's always set.
In any case he's glad to be joined by Toby Flood in the starting line-up tonight as another decision maker, but it's hard to say how he feels about the possibility of not being the goal kicker. Here's more on the England number 10.


4.29pm:
Bob Dylan is a rugby fan... according to David Leggat.
In his piece on the quarter-finals he drops Dylan lyrics, Japanese proverbs and presidential quotes to sum up the state of play between the eight remaining teams.


4.17pm:
Richie McCaw has spoken about his foot:

"I am good to go. The foot feels good after a bit of rest last week and over the weekend. I trained with the team yesterday and it is always hard when you have missed training here and there.

"I would like to think that when you have been playing this game for a few years, you know what you need to do to get in form.

"I just got to make sure I get into form and that's the key. I am confident and all the boys are in pretty good shape."

You can read more on that, plus see an interactive team guide, here.


4.03pm:
Here's a selection of the best quotes to come out of yesterday's press activities:
"It will be absolutely massive. We've got a real opportunity to do what no Irish team has done and reach the semi-final. We need to grasp it with both hands."
- Prop Mike Ross is fired up for Ireland's potentially historic last-eight clash against Wales.

"Thick scrum, driving lineout, ball in the air, big physical presence at the breakdown and they scramble well in defence."
- But Henry is also wary of the threat posed by the powerful Pumas for their clash at Eden Park on Sunday evening.

"To be honest, in the back of our minds it's something we'd like to achieve, but it's not something that's spoken about on a daily basis. Sure, it's a motivation at the back of the minds to be successful, but it doesn't affect us too much."
- South Africa assistant coach Gary Gold keeps cool over the prospect of becoming the first nation to secure back-to-back World Cup titles.

"Looks can be deceiving. They're excited about it."
- Australia's Kiwi coach Robbie Deans reveals that his players might look relaxed ahead of Sunday's quarter-final with the Springboks, but they are really raring to get going.

"John's a quality player. I've always had a huge amount of respect for him as a player and a person. I've never had an easy game against him and Sunday will be no different."
- Wallabies hooker Stephen Moore expects yet another tough front row clash with South Africa skipper and opposite number John Smit.

"If there is a bit of sledging involved then so be it. That's all part of it and it adds to the spice and excitement of the game."
- South Africa-born second row Dan Vickerman is prepared to receive some verbal assaults as well as physical from the Springboks when he lines up for Australia at the weekend.


3.52pm:
Did you know that some of the world's first animated films were made and released in Argentina, by a man named Quirino Cristiani in 1917?
No? That's because you've spent too much time thinking about the All Blacks.
Let's fix that, with a beginner's guide to Argentina. Don't worry, it's all rugby related, no animation.


3.40pm:
French coach Marc Lievremont might have had a bit of trouble keeping his team in line throughout this tournament, but he's keeping his facial hair very organised.
The Telegraph reports that he's been manscaping his mo "as a tribute to Les Bleus' English defence coach Dave Ellis."
And the French media joined him yesterday, with a full contingent of French lip-slugs at his press conference.


3.28pm:
The Wales vs Ireland game is shaping up to be, if you'll forgive the expression, harder to pick than a broken nose.
In today's edition of Rugby World Cup news, Warren Gatland talks about how he sees the form of the Welsh side.
There's also a look at the merchandise side of the cup, with a trip to an official Rugby World Cup store.


3.18pm:
We've just been for a quick wander down to Quay Street, near Party Central, and the crowds are starting to gather.
There are plenty of English supporters and a handful of French fans looking sideways at them. Then there's the odd Irish fan, who may not have believed they'd get up against the Wallabies, and had made plans to be in Auckland. Hard to keep a rugby loving Irish fan down though, especially if there's Guinness about.


2.45pm: Who's going to do the England goalkicking tonight. Well England first five Jonny Wilkinson has made it clear he wants the responsibilities for the quarter final against France.

Long regarded as one of the greatest place kickers of all time, Wilkinson has converted just 45% of his kicks for goal this tournament.

But he believes he's striking the ball well. But not all the kickers have had problems. Check out this story by David Leggat on which kickers could have the greatest impact from here on in.

"I would probably take back two kicks I've taken that I've not been happy with, I just need to keep working to get better and better," says the World Cup winner.

Toby Flood, who will start outside Wilkinson at second-five, has a 77% success rate at the tournament.


2.32pm: Wellington's party central organisers believe they're well prepared for tonight's quarter final festivities.

Courtenay Place and some surrounding roads closed early this morning, for the pending street party.

They won't open again until Monday, and there'll be extensive road closures around Wellington Regional Stadium before and after the games.

Courtenay Accord president John Coleman says crowds are expected to be twice the size of a Sevens weekend, and it's a more mature clientele.

"They've come along away, they've got coin in their pockets, they want good wine and nice food," says Mr Coleman.


2.15pm: All Blacks halfback Piri Weepu is keeping to the status quo in preparation for tomorrow night's Rugby World Cup 2011 quarter final against Argentina.

He may be handed the goal kicking responsibilities for the match, with coach Graham Henry refusing to reveal who will have those duties.

Weepu says he's approaching the match no different.

"Keeping the same routine, not making dramatic changes. I'll prepare the same as the last four weeks," says Weepu.

The All Blacks have a captain's run this evening to finish their official preparation for the quarter-final.


2.00pm: Hi, welcome to today's live updates covering all the Rugby World Cup news on and off the pitch for the next nine hours. Of course two huge games tonight with Wales taking on Ireland at 6pm in Wellington and then England taking on France in Auckland after that. It seems everybody is ready to write-off the French after their loss to Tonga. But not Toby Flood. "We understand the predicament that they're in, it makes the first 30 minutes hugely important to squash any enthusiasm the have," says Flood.

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