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Springboks Pick Rugby’s Most-Experienced Team: World Cup Roundup

The following is a roundup of stories from the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

Test Record

South Africa’s starting lineup for the opening match of its Rugby World Cup title defense is the most-experienced in the sport’s history, tournament organizers said.

The combined tally of 815 Test appearances breaks the record of 810 set by the Springboks against Australia last month. Nine of the 15 starters to face Wales in Wellington in two days featured in the 2007 final victory against England.

Apart from Tendai Mtawarira, Jannie du Plessis, Heinrich Brüssow, Pierre Spies, Morné Steyn and Jean de Villiers, all of South Africa’s players began the final in Paris four years ago.

Fraud Foiled

New Zealand Police charged two men for being part of an alleged ticket fraud at the 48-game tournament.

Police recovered 933 tickets worth more than NZ$500,000 ($417,500) after raids today and the men appeared in the Auckland District Court, Auckland City police said in an e-mailed statement. The tickets were bought from overseas using false credit card details.

“Initial analysis indicated police have recovered the majority of the tickets which were fraudulently purchased,” Detective Superintendent Andy Lovelock said in the statement.

Irish First

Brian O’Driscoll will become the first Ireland player to play at four World Cups after being named as captain for his team’s tournament opener against the U.S. in two days.

O’Driscoll, who made his World Cup debut against the same opponent in 1999, already holds the Irish record for matches played (13) and tries scored (6) at the four-yearly showpiece. He’s won 49 of his 76 Tests as Ireland captain.

“Teams that have won the World Cup have played simple, very effective rugby,” O’Driscoll, 32, said today in comments distributed by tournament organizers. “I hope we can play a physical, uncompromising brand.”

MacDonald Milestones

U.S. prop Mike MacDonald will reach two milestones himself after being named in the starting lineup to face Ireland.

MacDonald, 30, will play a record 63rd Test match for the Eagles, lifting him one clear of the the mark he shared with the retired Luke Gross. MacDonald and center Paul Emerick will take part in their third World Cup, tying the U.S. record of Alec Parker.

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