The following is a roundup of stories from the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
Botha Ruled Out
South Africa will be without lock Bakkies Botha for the opening game of its World Cup title defense against Wales on Sept. 11 because of an Achilles injury, Springboks assistant coach Dick Muir said.
“He’s so important for us for the remainder of the competition that we wouldn’t take any chances with Bakkies,” Muir said today at a news conference in Wellington. “We’ll take it week by week, but I think he’s going to be out this week unfortunately.”
Springboks coach Peter de Villiers is scheduled to name his team for the match in Wellington tomorrow.
‘Give it to Them’
Tonga captain Finau Maka said his 12th-ranked team is determined to make an impact in tomorrow’s tournament opener against World Cup favorite New Zealand in Auckland. The All Blacks have won their three previous meetings by an average margin of 74 points.
“We just don’t want to turn up and make up the numbers, we want to go out there and show the world that Tonga does exist,” Maka said in comments distributed by World Cup organizers. “There’s no pressure on us, the pressure is on them. We’re just going to go out there and give it to them and see if they can handle it.”
The U.S. and Ireland will honor the members of the rugby community who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in their World Cup match in three days, tournament organizers said.
Both teams will observe a minute’s silence prior to kickoff and will wear black armbands in memory of those who lost their lives. The Eagles will also attend a memorial service on the morning of the match in New Plymouth.
“Obviously 9/11 is at the front of their minds, so it will be emotional,” U.S. coach Eddie O’Sullivan said in comments distributed by tournament organizers. “It will be nice, especially with the guys being away from home.”
Ireland prop Cian Healy won’t play against the U.S. because he hasn’t recovered from an eye injury sustained against England last month, team manager Paul McNaughton said. Sean O’Brien, Gordon D’Arcy and Rob Kearney are all available for selection.
“We’re picking from a full deck other than Cian,” McNaughton said at a press conference. “He won’t resume contact until the weekend, so he won’t be available for the U.S. game, but he will be available for the Australia game.”