Sports Briefs


Wed, Oct 10, 2007 - Page 19


France move up to second

France leapt into second place in the rugby rankings issued on Monday after their 20-18 victory over New Zealand in their World Cup quarter-final. New Zealand remain top despite the upset in Cardiff on Saturday but only 1.25 points ahead of the French, according to the International Rugby Board's world rankings. South Africa remain third and Argentina fourth ahead of their semi-final at the Stade de France on Sunday. In Saturday's semi-final, also at the Stade de France, the French meet England, who are still sixth after their upset victory over Australia in a Marseille quarter-final. The Wallabies have dropped to fifth with Ireland, Scotland, Fiji and Wales the other teams in the top 10.

■ 2011 WORLD CUP

IRB undecided on numbers

The International Rugby Board (IRB) is undecided about the number of teams it will have in the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand, IRB chairman Syd Millar said on Monday. The IRB has been considering reducing the number of teams in the tournament from 20 to 16 but there has been an outcry from the smaller nations, many of which "voted" on the pitch for the present format with some fine performances and upset wins. "No decision has been made. We will review it and make sure to get it right," Millar told a news conference. "Every World Cup should improve on the last one and this one has. New Zealand tendered on the basis that there would be 20 teams," he said after the weekend's quarter-finals. "We will review it after the World Cup. No decision has been made," said Millar, who reviewed the tournament.


Two Argentines shortlisted

Argentines Juan Martin Hernandez and Felipe Contepomi are on the five-man shortlist announced on Monday for the IRB World Player of the Year award. If either were successful it would be the first time a player from Argentina, who have reached their first-ever World Cup semi-final, won the coveted title. France center Yannick Jauzion, South Africa wing Bryan Habana and New Zealand captain Richie McCaw, who won the award last year, have also been shortlisted. It is particularly significant that two Pumas should be shortlisted as Argentina do not take part in an annual international competition. Flyhalf Hernandez, who also helped Stade Francais win the French club championship this year, has been at the helm of Argentina's impressive run to the last four of the World Cup. Contepomi, a flyhalf for Leinster who has played a key midfield role alongside Hernandez, is the tournament's second highest scorer with 64 points in the Pumas' five victories.


Players undergo blood tests

France and South Africa players were subjected to drug tests on Monday evening, a first for the 2007 Rugby World Cup, sources said. The France players were blood tested on their return home from Saturday's quarter-final win over the All Blacks in Cardiff. The International Rugby Board (IRB) had been hesitant before finally deciding to conduct doping tests during a World Cup. In August the French anti-doping authorities turned their attention to the World Cup hosts, conducting controls on 18 of the squad's players after training. World Cup managing director Mike Miller said last month before the tournament that rugby was leading the world in its anti-doping measures, however, he didn't provide any details.