Rugby World Cup: LIVE updates

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Wallabies coach Robbie Deans says Quade Cooper could start at fullback at this weekend's semifinal. Photo / Getty Images
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans says Quade Cooper could start at fullback at this weekend's semifinal. Photo / Getty Images
3.30pm:
That's all for today's updates. Just four more sleeps till the first semifinal.

3.18pm:
Former All Black Stu Wilson says Richard Kahui and Cory Jane should start on the wings against Australia. Sorry SBW. No room for you.


2.45pm:
France have made no changes to their side for Saturday's semifinal against Wales.
2.18pm:
Let's be honest, the first five focus is beginning to grate. Gregor Paul reckons halfbacks and opensides are the new 'rock stars' of rugby. He might be onto something here.
1.44pm:
De Villiers' unique 'resignation' wasn't exactly out of character, yet his quirkiness will likely be missed once his contract ends in December. One World Cup columnist is sure that life will be 'boring' without him. Gems like "there is little difference between winning and losing except you feel better after winning" and "we don't want to become a fruit salad" have, at least, spiced up the 'full credit to the opposition' blueprint.
12.28am:
English fans are not the only ones blushing about their team's lamentable performance. Chris Ashton has paused for a little reflection with some comments to the Guardian that run the risk of bruising Martin Johnson's feelings.

Johnson's decision to treat his team 'like adults' might have been the worst decision he made as players pushed the limits again and again. Sun columnist Will Carling says he would have jumped ship too.

11:33am:
With the verdict on Kurtly Beale still up in the air, coach Robbie Deans says Quade Cooper could start at fullback with Berrick Barnes in at No. 10 for the Wallabies' semifinal match against the All Blacks.

Beale still awaits scans to determine the gravity of the hamstring injury that pushed him off the field during Sunday's quarterfinal win over defending World Cup champions South Africa.

Read more about the potential switch here.

11:07am:
Wales, on the other hand, are staying 'dry' as they concentrate on making World Cup history. Skills coach and 87-cap veteran Neil Jenkins told the Telegraph he predicts the "biggest game in Welsh history" will be decided by a kicking duel. He has also dismissed speculation that the team's youth could work against them, responding "it could be a strength as well. The way they are playing they do not have a lot of fear at this moment in time."
10:38am:
There's been a healthy amount of debate at this year's World Cup around players' lives outside of the stadium. Ex All Black legend Buck Shelford has defended the All Blacks' right to a few beers, dismissing public furor over Cory Jane and Israel Daggs' boozy night on the shore. See what he has to say here.
9.52am:
After the All Blacks brought in two new players yesterday in Hosea Gear and Stephen Donald it seems they aren't the only team with injury concerns. Their semifinal opponents Australia are sweating on the injuries of two key players. Which two? Read here to find out.
9.30am:
Welcome to live updates for this Tuesday. Another big day at the World Cup as the four remaining teams prepare for the weekend's semifinal clashes. We'll keep you updated with all the news as it comes through during the day.
5.00pm:

Watching the All Blacks battle Argentina Sunday night? You weren't alone. More people tuned in to watch the All Blacks quarterfinal match than the Rugby World Cup opening ceremony, APNZ is reporting. Nielsen television viewership figures show 1.8 million people aged over five watched the All Blacks beat Argentina 33-10 at Eden Park last night. That was some 100,000 more than the Rugby World Cup opening ceremony and first match between the All Blacks and Tonga, which attracted almost 1.7m viewers. Sky Sport got the biggest share of viewers, with 628,450 people tuning in last night, followed by Maori Television with 501,500 viewers. TV One and TV3 had 441,960 and 236,060 viewers respectively. Sunday's earlier quarterfinal match, in which the Wallabies beat the Springboks 11-9, attracted 1.1m viewers. On Saturday, 1.2m viewers tuned in to watch France beat England 19-12 in their quarterfinal match, while 923,240 viewers watched Wales beat Ireland 22-10.


4.41pm:
There's been a variety of reactions on Twitter to the call-up of Hosea Gear and Stephen Donald to the All Blacks. Donald, who last wore the black jersey against Wales in last year's end of year tour, was a surprise to many (even the man himself, who was called up while whitebaiting). Brendan Gallagher of the Daily Telegraph called them both "pretty useful replacements." But another fan wasn't so happy. "ARE YOU KIDDING. The point in replacing someone who can't kick, with someone who can't kick, is what?" wrote Jamie Wills, while Mike Kilpatrick noted that "In 7 games against Australia Stephen Donald has been on the losing side just once."

3.31pm:
The All Blacks injury game of musical chairs continues. The All Blacks have called up first five Stephen Donald and winger Hosea Gear to replace injured players Mils Muliaina and Colin Slade, reports say.
Muliaina injured his shoulder in last night's test against Argentina, while Slade picked up a groin injury. TVNZ said the often-criticised Donald had been called into the squad to cover Slade. Gear was the injury cover for Muliana, it said.
The team has scheduled a press conference in Auckland at 4pm.


2.31pm:
Look out, Robocop and the Terminator -- it's "Robo Dan," the droid who's challenging the All Blacks. Check out this cool story about high-tech rugby's possible future.


1.42pm:
Don't cry for the Argentinans. Argentina's veterans are predicting a bright future for the nation's rugby team after the Pumas join an expanded Tri-Nations competition next year. Argentina went out of the Rugby World Cup on Sunday, losing 33-10 to New Zealand in the quarterfinals, but showed encouraging signs by matching the All Blacks in the scrum for long periods of the first half.
While the 38-year-old hooker Mario Ledesma will never play for his country again, and 34-year-old center Felipe Contepomi is nearing the end of his career, they are confident the next generation will surpass their achievements, they told the Associated Press.
Argentina will play annually against New Zealand, South Africa and Australia when the Tri-Nations expands next year, and Contepomi says "that will be very positive.''


12.36pm:
Some fans are disappointed that footage of Mils Muliana being awarded his 100th test cap was cut from broadcast last night. See our story here. What do you think? Should Mils have gotten the same treatment as Richie McCaw?


12.23pm:
The always-friendly British press is beginning to pile on its losing Rugby World Cup team, who ended their campaign this weekend with a loss to France. Martin Samuel of the Daily Mail says the Brits showed "no class on or off the field." He notes last night's incident with Manu Tuilagi taking a little swim around the ferry docks was a fitting ending for the team, reinforcing the perception "that what has unfolded in the southern hemisphere this last month is closer to Mike Tindall's stag do than professional athletes striving to attain a world championship."


11.12am:
Interesting to see that 1.8 million New Zealanders watched last night's clash against Argentina. Impressive numbers but still short of the promised "stadium of four million".


10.57am:
One of the All Black standouts last night was halfback Piri Weepu. We've compiled a gallery dedicated to his brilliant performance. See gallery.


10.41am:
Here are the player ratings for the All Blacks' quarter-final win over Argentina. We've already had a few comments about Cory Jane only getting a 6.5 out of 10.
10.15am:
"The airline catering team loading the plane for England's long flight home today from the Rugby World Cup should put only one dish on the menu: humble pie. Lashings and lashings of it," begins Peter Bills' latest column.


Seems he's happy to see the end of the side.

9.52am:
Former Wallabies skipper Nick Farr-Jones has a message for the All Blacks - Don't forget about Quade Cooper.

Farr-Jones who lifted the Webb Ellis trophy in 1991 told Radiosport "he can't play that badly again" referring to the no.10's poor performance against South Africa.

9.30am:
Welcome to live updates for this Monday - the first day of semifinal week. That's right we're now down to four teams with Ireland, England, South Africa and Argentina all heading home. Three of which took out the top three places at the last World Cup.


If you missed the action over the weekend we have match highlights of all four quarter-finals.

Wales v Ireland
France v England
Australia v South Africa
All Blacks v Argentina

10.58pm:
That's it for Live Updates this evening.
We have our four semi-finalists. Wales will meet France next Saturday, and on Sunday the All Blacks will face Australia.
We're just three games away from finding a new World Champion.
We'll leave you with a pictorial journey through tonight's All Black victory.
Good night, and sleep well in the knowledge that the men in black are still in it.


10.48pm:
Patrick McKendry has filed his full review of the match, you can read that here.
Also, John Smit spoke to the press after his side's loss, and also his last game. Things get very emotional from here on in:

"I think it's not important how I want to be remembered. People always talk about a legacy but for me it has been a privilege to be able to play with the guys that have made my career what it was.

"If anything I would be proud to know that the guys in the future years who have played with me would look back and ask what would Smitty have done, both on and off the field, and if that's the case I will be happy."


10.39pm:
An emotional Peter de Villiers has said he will will be stepping down as Springbok coach:

"It was a brilliant journey, something that none of you guys can take away from me. There's a time to come and a time to go. So I think the journey for me is over."

On how he would like to be remembered:

"I wanted to be the best me that I could be, the way that I am is the way that I want to be remembered."


10.34pm:
Full match highlights are up from the Australia vs South Africa quarter-final victory., you can check them out here.
Points to take from it:
- It was a bruising encounter
- Australia's defence was terrific
- James O'Connor played very well, despite having increasingly ridiculous hair.


10.25pm:
Mils Muliaina will pick up his funny little hat now. The legend notched up his 100th game tonight, and it was a tough one.
He picked up a knock too, let's hope it's not too bad, because this All Black squad is getting stretched to its limit.


10.19pm:
The All Blacks will be playing Australia next Sunday in a Rugby World Cup 2011 semi-final.
If that sounds familiar, well...it should.
They've met three times in the exact same fixture in previous World Cups, with the Wallabies winning two of those.
The All Blacks were made to work for their 33-10 victory, and a talking point will be the injury that Colin Slade picked up.


10.03pm:
As Kieran Read goes over for the All Blacks, sighs of relief are heard through the country.
The All Blacks have only waited longer than this to score a try in four Rugby World Cup matches. In three of them they didn't score and in the other one, they scored in the 77th minute (against Scotland in 1991).


9.53pm:
The All Blacks are pushing closer and closer, but nothing is going their way.
However, Vergallo has been shown a yellow card for slowing things down right on the try line.
Can the All Blacks make their numerical advantage count?


9.37pm:
Wayne Smith was asked earlier in the week about the many very convincing wins the All Blacks have had over Argentina in the recent past:

"This is different because it's the quarter-final of the Rugby World Cup. It brings out a patriotism and a nationalism that you don't see in a lot of other Test matches. That's why it's unique."

It could be patriotism or nationalism, but whatever it is, Argentina have it in spades at the moment. They're playing out of their skins.


9.21pm:
As the teams run in at halftime, with Argentina scoring the only try and a shaky All Blacks side narrowly in the lead, Paul Harper sums up the atmosphere:

"It's not hard to guess which fans have been having the most fun at Eden Park tonight, despite their team being narrowly behind most of the game. Hint: they're singing in Spanish"


9.15pm:
The crowd are perhaps playing a part in the nervous play on the field. This from Paul Harper:
"Out of the four games I've been to at Eden Park this World Cup, tonight's crowd is easily the most quiet. The most noise we've heard all night followed that Argentina try."


9.09pm:
Have the All Blacks been behind at this World Cup yet?
Oh dear. It gets worse. Colin Slade is coming off injured.
Aaron Cruden comes on for what will be the biggest game of his life.


8.59pm:
Colin Slade looks to be having a lot of trouble with his ankle. Aaron Cruden is warming up, but for the moment Slade is hanging tough, and staying on the field.
At first we thought it was a groin. Gulp.


8.48pm:
As Piri Weepu puts the first points on the board, it appears as though Argentina are winning in the singing match, according to Paul Harper at Eden Park:

"If there was a neutral anywhere in me, I'd be going for the Argentinians. Their outnumbered supporters are drowning out the Kiwis with some enthusiastic singing. Is there anything we have to sing in response?"


8.42pm:
The game has got off to a very competitive start, with both sides looking like they're getting rid of bouts of knockout rugby nerves.
The All Blacks looking far from dominant.
This from Paul Harper on the atmosphere at Eden Park:


"Unlike last night, there are very few spare seats to be found in Eden Park tonight. Not surprisingly it is almost a "black out", apart from the odd patch of blue and white. If the Kiwis make a lot of noise tonight they'll drown out the South Americans, but the Argentinians will no doubt have a few songs of their own. And we're hearing one of them now!"


8.29pm:
As the All Blacks line up for a haka, we'll point you towards our live commentary here. It's updated constantly and will feature expert analysis. You can also put your two cents in by making your own comments on the page.

Get there now to put in your score predictions for this one.


8.25pm:
This from Paul Harper at Eden Park:
"Who says New Zealand supporters could not chant? Just been treated to a passionate rendition of "nananananananananananana, Colin Slade, Colin, Colin Slade". Very nice.
Let's have more of that, New Zealand."


8.21pm:
Here's a full match review of the Australia vs South Africa game.
But read it fast, because it's time to shift our attention to Eden Park where we are only 10 minutes away from kickoff.


8.09pm:
34,914 people were inside the Wellington Regional Stadium to see Australia book their place in next Sunday's semi-final.
They'll be facing the winner of our next match this evening, All Blacks vs Argentina.
Here's our interactive team guide for that match.


7.59pm:
Of the three quarter-finals played so far, not one has been won by the team that came first in their pool.
All Black fans everywhere will be hoping that trend stops here.


7.52pm:
This from nzherald.co.nz's Paul Harper at Eden Park:

"A lot of Kiwis were applauding that final whistle. Either All Blacks supporters prefer the prospect of facing the Wallabies, or the Springboks and their South African supporters are disliked more than the Australians."


7.47pm:
Australia will be playing the winner of the All Blacks vs Argentina in next week's semi-final.
They've somehow managed to get past this tough Springbok side after being on the wrong side of every statistic possible.
James O'Connor;'s penalty has been the difference.
Australia 11, South Africa 9.


7.40pm:
This just in, a very late change for the All Blacks:
John Afoa replaces Ben Franks on the New Zealand replacements' bench for their quarter-final match against Argentina.

Franks is out of the match-day 22 with a stomach virus.

Afoa will wear jersey No.17


7.36pm:
This game between Australia and South Africa is getting brutal. Some bodies are going to be extremely sore tomorrow.
Take a photographic journey through the game's biggest moments so far, at our gallery here.


7.24pm:
James Horwill had this to say earlier in the week:
"Stats don't mean much when you are out there. Stats make good news stories, but they don't mean much to us. It's about going out there and playing. Whoever fronts up for them we know they're going to be right up for it. Every time we play South Africa it's one hell of a game."

The stats have been firmly in South Africa's favour all through this game, and now they've taken the lead.


7.13pm:
Nzherald.co.nz's Hayden Donnell is conducting his own 'research', by talking to fans in Kingsland, near Eden Park:


John: I'd rather face Australia because South Africa will grind out a win.
Raymond: it doesn't matter. The All Blacks will grind out a win.
Girl who waved pom poms in my face: go the All Blacks! Can I have a beer?


7.08pm:
Nzherald.co.nz's statistical analyst Paul Harper has spoken to fans on who they would prefer their team to face next week:
"Three All Blacks supporters hoped the All Blacks would face Australia in the semifinals.
"We just like like Australians," summed up the opinion of one woman.
"I just don't think we'll beat South Africa," was the response of a male friend.
Englishman John Allen, from Leicester, wanted to see South Africa to win.
"I believe the South African side is no in keeping with game," he said. "I don't like the method."
One fan in an Argentinean shirt but with a strong English accent hopes they will go onto play the Australians."


7.00pm:
Earlier in the week Wallaby coach Robbie Deans was asked what would win this match:

"The decisions in the game will be key - making good decisions to ensure we're playing the game where we want to play it and in a way we want to play it.

"That's something the Springboks are very clear on. That's one of their assets that they bring a real clarity to their game and try to maximise the pressure on their opponent as a result of that."


6.48pm:
Halftime down in Wellington, and after starting with a hiss and a roar the Springboks find themselves behind.
It's Australia 8, South Africa 3, and it's been very gripping rugby, with huge hits and plenty of pace all over the park.


6.39pm:
This from Auckland based nzherald.co.nz reporter Hayden Donnell, making his way to Eden Park tonight:
"The train from Mt Albert was standing room only, but no transport turmoil so far. A couple of Argentinian fans on the train. But they were outnumbered by black clad French speakers supporting the All Blacks."


6.32pm:
Back up to Auckland quickly now, we've just had word from the Senior Communications Advisor for Rugby World Cup 2011 on the state of play down at the waterfront:
"Queens Wharf is busy. Captain Cook Wharf is open. People heading to the Fanzone at Queens Wharf should expect delays.

For further updates on crowd numbers at Queens Wharf, or any of the other Fanzones around Auckland, go to www.auckland2011.com"


6.26pm:
One of the most exciting player match-ups so far has been between Heinrich Brüssow and David Pocock. However, Brüssow has taken a huge hit and is now leaving the field. That's a devastating blow for the Springboks.


6.18pm:
Against the run of play, Australia have scored the first try, but there's a bit of controversy over O'Connor's missed conversion. There was a very early run for a charge down by JP Pieterson, which ended with JP just walking past O'Connor. Maybe he should've been allowed a re-take?


6.13pm:
The Springboks have started strongly here, and they dominated an early scrum.
You can compare and contrast the two squads, and sort out where the key match-ups will be, with our interactive team guide here.


6.06pm:
If the French team can re-invent itself for quarter-finals, So can Wellington. In terms of conditions, the cake tin looks like an entirely different place to the one we saw yesterday.
The sun is shining, the wind looks minimal, it looks just magnificent.
Instead of the wind annoying players, maybe the sun getting in the eyes will be the biggest problem today.


5.51pm:
Our 'cover it live' page is the place to be to follow all the action as it happens. It'll be a blow-by-blow account of what promises to be an epic quarter-final match between South Africa and Australia.
What's more, you can add your own opinion to the mix as the game goes on. Get over there now to put your score predictions in, and enjoy the commentary.
We'll stay here in Live Updates, keeping you ahead of all the news as it breaks, and brief looks at the on-field action.


5.43pm:
The countdown to kickoff in Wellington is on, and the cake tin looks to be filling up nicely.
Rugby fans everywhere are in for a massive treat with this game. As Michael Burgess points out in this story:
"These are the two most successful Rugby World Cup teams in history, which makes the result doubly tough to predict."


5.35pm:
Here's a selection of the best quotes to come out from the Rugby World Cup yesterday:

"Some people thought I was being funny when I said we were coming here to win it, but I wasn't."
- Wales wing Shane Williams is serious in his belief that the Dragons can go all the way following his side's 22-10 quarter-final victory against Ireland at Wellington Regional Stadium on Saturday.
"We always believed that we could do it, but it shows that you've got to do more than believe."
- England centre Manu Tuilagi knows that confidence is not as good as points after his team lost 19-12 to France in Saturday evening's quarter-final match at Eden Park.

"It feels like they're cheering us. It's the first time I've been walking around New Zealand and everyone is saying 'good luck' and 'I hope you do well'. I think we might be favourites. I think they hate the Aussies more than they hate us."
- South Africa second row Victor Matfield believes the Kiwis will give their support to the Springboks as the lesser of two evils for Sunday's quarter-final clash with Australia.

"I think the last word you use when you talk about Quade Cooper is predictable. You can expect anything from him."
- Springboks centre Jean de Villiers reckons he and his teammates should expect the unexpected when lining up against Australia's star fly half at Wellington Regional Stadium.


5.25pm:
The All Black vs Argentina game has its first casualty, and this is a couple of hours before a tackle's even due to be made.
Assistant referee Jonathan Kaplan has been withdrawn due to a bout of the flu. He will be replaced as assistant referee one by George Clancy, with Alain Rolland moving from the reserve position to assistant referee two.


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