Cooper blocks out boos, penalties look harsh to Johnson and Lievremont is mad with effort


Quade Cooper turned a deaf ear to booing during his first appearance at the Rugby World Cup in Australia's win against Italy at North Harbour yesterday. The Wallabies playmaker has been tagged "public enemy No 1" since his arrival in New Zealand following his well-publicised run-ins with Richie McCaw, the All Blacks captain, in this year's Tri Nations. "You can't tell if they are cheering or booing. The roar from the crowd just spurs you on," Cooper said. Robbie Deans, the coach, said: "Background noise is great. Players love playing in a cauldron and it's better than apathy, if you like, no interest ... it's better than playing in silence." Cooper, 23, has received a torrent of abuse from All Blacks fans on his social media Twitter site and said last week he was ready for a hostile reception. "We're here to win a competition, we're not here to make friends or make enemies, it's all about playing rugby," Cooper said.


Ryukoliniasi Holani, the Japan No 8, has been ruled out of the rest of the World Cup with a knee injury, becoming the team's second player to withdraw. Holani, 29, was diagnosed with an anterior cruciate ligament injury in his right knee after Japan's 47-21 defeat to France. Holani joins Justin Ives on the sidelines after the New Zealand-born lock failed to recover from a knee problem and was replaced by Yuji Kitagawa.


England's bruised and battered players headed to the resort of Queenstown yesterday with plenty to think about after narrowly avoiding defeat to Argentina in their 13-9 opening win. Argentina forced a string of errors at the breakdown and Bryce Lawrence, the referee, consistently penalised England for ill-discipline and Martin Johnson, the coach, said: "I'd like to look at the detail. Some were clumsy, some were a bit harsh. The guys were frustrated with some of the calls."


Marc Lievremont, the France coach, slammed his players yesterday for an unconvincing showing against Japan despite their eventual 47-21 win against the Asian champions. Lievremont acknowledged that at one stage deep into Saturday's second half, when the Japanese pulled to within four points of his side, he even contemplated a shock defeat. "I was frustrated with the way our play was polluted with approximations, technical errors, indiscipline," he said during a news briefing. " ... we lacked organisation."


Richie Dixon, the Georgia coach, thinks Scotland's struggles against Romania in their Pool B opener was an indication of a possible power shift in Europe. And he is well placed to make the call, being a former Scotland coach. Dixon's Georgia team will play Scotland at Invercargill's Rugby Park Stadium on Wednesday. Scotland needed two late tries to beat Romania 34-24 on Saturday, and Dixon said the eastern Europeans "showed perhaps the gap between the ENC-1 [European Nations Cup] and the Six Nations is not as great as people might believe."


Gonzalo Tiesi, the centre, was ruled out of the rest of the World Cup yesterday with an injury to his right knee suffered in the defeat to England on Saturday. Felipe Contepomi, the captain and fly-half, is also a doubt for Argentina's second game against Romania after leaving the field in the first half with a rib injury, although tests showed no serious damage.


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