MONTROSE IN A SWEAT
They were patting down sweat-filled brows around RTÉ’s control bunker yesterday as Montrose battled technical glitches at the start of Hugh Cahill and Donal Lenihan’s television commentary from Yokohama.
The RTÉ coverage had the dubious quality of an underwater phone line for the first nine minutes as sports department bosses cut to the world feed commentary provided by the Beeb’s Eddie Butler.
The issue, say sources, was a “technical problem with the circuits” which had not presented itself during the testing on Friday.
However, RTÉ’s embarrassment was nothing like broadcasters from EuroNews, which repeatedly announced the wrong result of Ireland’s opening fixture — before a ball had been kicked in the Pool A opener.
The Paris-based serviced told baffled TV viewers throughout its rolling bulletins on Saturday that Ireland had beaten Scotland 22-9 — confusing the date for the scoreline.
The gaffes didn’t stop there, as the TV host made the same error when announcing the exact same 22-9 result for both Italy v Namibia, and England v Tonga — again hours before the actual games had taken place.
FOFANA RULED OUT
France have confirmed that Wesley Fofana has been ruled out of the Rugby World Cup following a complication of his thigh injury sustained during the clash against Italy last month.
The centre, who was set to retire from international duty after the World Cup, was ruled out of facing Argentina in the World Cup opener, with reports now suggesting he requires at least three weeks to recover.
The 31-year-old will be replaced by 21-year-old Pierre-Louis Barassi.
A SPECIAL K
Cheslin Kolbe has handed South Africa a big boost by confirming he avoided any injury in Saturday’s 23-13 loss to New Zealand.
The Toulouse wing lit up the Yokohama clash, bamboozling All Blacks defenders with his lightning footwork. The 25-year-old offered everything but a try on his World Cup debut, before receiving medical attention and appearing in pain late in the engaging tussle.
Asked if he had feared a serious injury when grimacing on the turf, Kolbe said: “I wasn’t worried at all. I had a bit of cramp and just a little shock on the ankle, but it’s nothing; nothing to worry about. I should be fine. I’ll just manage myself and make sure that I get the best recovery.”
Kolbe’s bullet pace and instinctive shape-shifting could well prove the combination to elevate him above all others at this tournament.
Ireland could well face the Springboks in a quarter-final, and won’t be greatly enamoured by the prospect of Kolbe hitting even greater heights.
HODGE IN HOT WATER
Australia winger Reece Hodge could be in doubt for the Wallabies’ must-win Wales clash after being cited for a dangerous tackle on star Fiji flanker Peceli Yato.
Citing commissioner John Montgomery, from Scotland, found the incident in the 26th minute of the Wallabies’ 39-21 win, met the red card threshold for an act of foul play.
Hodge will face a hearing before a three-person judicial committee in the coming days, although World Rugby is yet to announce the exact timing. The tackle left Yato concussed and ended his involvement in the game.
He watched from the sidelines as his team-mates opened up a nine-point lead on the Wallabies before withering under Australia’s tactical tweaks in the second half.
Former All Blacks coach Graham Henry — Ted to his rugby friends — is nothing if not straightforward. Hence this pitchside exchange before the All Blacks’ 23-13 win over South Africa on Saturday is welcome in some respects.
Asked by Spark Sport’s colleague Kimberlee Downs what he would say to the All Blacks’ World Cup rookies before they took the field, he deadpanned: “Well I don’t think you can tell them anything really. They’ll be shitting themselves, quite frankly.” Nice.
Italian captain Sergio Parisse became only the third man to play in five Rugby World Cups as the Six Nations team recovered from a slow start to beat minnows Namibia 47-22 yesterday.
Namibia’s World Cup opener ended with defeat to Italy yesterday but the Africans had the first and last say on the scoreboard with Damian Stevens and Chad Plato bookending the 10 tries recorded.
The result was well beyond doubt when Plato touched down in the 78th minute but it still meant a great deal to the winger who dedicated the effort to his best friend, who died in a drowning accident at the age of 20 in May 2018.
“It felt so good,” he explained. “It was so humbling. I just thought of my friend, Sedick Brenner. He passed away in a drowning accident that is still a mystery. He always believed in me. He was my best friend. I dedicate that try to him.”