TENSION is bubbling over in New Zealand as the World Cup finally gets under way, evidenced by a public enemy list which, although ostensibly light-hearted, outlines the extent of the worry and paranoia.
At No 1 is Quade Cooper, the Kiwi-born Wallabies out-half, who had the temerity to assault national darling Richie McCaw.
At No 2 is the possum, "an Aussie pest which, like Cooper feels at home in New Zealand."
At No 3 are the French 'Rainbow Warrior' saboteurs Alain Marfart and Dominique Prieur. Welsh/ English Kiwi-baiting journalist Stephen Jones is at No 4 and Australian cricket's infamous sledging Chappell brothers fill the fifth spot.
And No 6 is reserved for ... you've guessed it ... All Blacks coach Graham Henry. If he does anything other than land the world title on October 23, he will, of course, be moved up to No 1.
English are ready to move mountains
THERE is a story going around about England checking out their training facilities in Queenstown ahead of their visit later in the tournament.
Apparently, despite the excellent set-up at the Events Centre, which earned the unreserved praise of the Irish camp, England had a problem with the amount of helicopters and planes crossing over the area and asked to have the flight paths changed so they would not be observed while training.
The request was met with incredulous hilarity as the primary reason aircraft opt for that particular route is to avoid colliding with the surrounding mountains -- well, as long as it doesn't upset their line-out calls.
"I think it's good to rotate, it's good for everyone's morale" -- France winger Vincent Clerc backs the controversial tinkering policy of coach Marc Lievremont on the basis that ... well ... he has to.
"I'm speechless" -- Delon Armitage reacts to his selection in the England side to face Argentina, before finding his tongue and adding: "My record for England is really good, I've never had a problem or issues with discipline. There was nothing for me to really fix."
number of the day
63 Predicted margin of victory for New Zealand in the opening clash with Tonga, which was cut back from 70 after punters piled on.
Today-- Pool A: New Zealand v Tonga, 9.30am (RTE2)
Tomorrow -- Pool A: France v Japan, 7.0am
Pool B: Scotland v Romania, 2.0am; Argentina v England, 9.30am.
Pool D: Fiji v Namibia, 4.30am
•All on UTV and Setanta Ireland