Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

from Photographers' Blog:

Climbing Eden Park

By Bogdan Cristel

After 40 hours of flying Bucharest - Amsterdam - Beijing - Auckland, I arrived in New Zealand; my first time in the Southern Hemisphere.

The first nice surprise here was that both my check-in pieces of luggage arrived on the same flight (I expected it to take a week and to be on the safe side packed a toothbrush in my hand luggage).

After a day of adjustment, with serious jet-leg (New Zealand is 9 hours ahead of Romania), slowly the Rugby World Cup started for me.

The first big assignment was the RWC opening ceremony and the first match. Reuters had three photographers covering it – Jacky Naegelen, Nigel Marple and me. When Tim Wimborne, our photo editor, asked if I wanted to be in an elevated position for the opening ceremony, I said yes without any thought. I had no idea what it meant.

Cricket World Cup — live

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Join us for coverage of the revamped Cricket World Cup on the subcontinent. Follow all the drama here with regular posts and some of the best photographs around. Comments welcome!

England v Australia, Twenty20 final — live

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We’re blogging from the final of the World Twenty-20 cricket in the West Indies, with the clash between England and Australia building towards a climax.

England are doing surprisingly well, but who would write off Australia after their semi-final comeback against Pakistan? Stay tuned … and remember, comments are extremely welcome…

Italy fight haka with their very own rugby tenor

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How about this for a job swap. Former Italy rugby international Denis Dallan will sing the national anthem before the Azzurri’s test with New Zealand at Milan’s San Siro on Saturday.

Dallan, who picked up 42 caps between 1999 and 2007, fancies himself as a tenor and will boom out what has to be one of the world’s most upbeat national anthems to 80,000 people.

All Blacks arrive without the aura

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allblacksRoughly once a decade throughout the 20th century, a group of South Seas islanders in the guise of the New Zealand All Blacks would invade Europe to teach the old world the ways of the new.

There were reverses, notably at the hands of Wales in 1905, 1935 and 1953, three of the first four games between the two small rugby-mad nations. But the win-loss ratio remained overwhelmingly in favour of the All Blacks, whose distinctive all-black uniform and pre-match haka (Maori war dance) enhanced their special aura.

A bunch of fives from Jonah Lomu

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RUGBY-ZEALAND/LOMUI have big hands and am 6-ft 4-ins. I can palm a basketball, and dunk it — just about. It’s not often meeting athletes I feel weedy.

Until the All Blacks and Wallabies came to town.

Last weekend’s Bledisloe Cup test in Tokyo between the hulking trans-Tasman rivals prompted me to dust down the Dunlop Green Flash and renew my lapsed gym membership. For that I thank them.

Rugby’s hard-but-fair reputation has always been a myth

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meadsColin Meads, regarded by most New Zealanders as the greatest All Black of them all, delivers a diverting after-dinner speech in a self-deprecating “aw shucks” hill farmer’s style with a bottle of beer firmly clutched in a large fist.

It is only after the laughter subsides that the listener realises with a twinge of unease that the majority of the anecdotes involve Meads using one or both of his large fists to thump a member of the opposition. Illegal then and illegal now, it’s worth recalling now amid all the hot air spouted over the Harlequins fake blood scandal.

Tri-Nations waves goodbye to tedious kick-and-chase

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Australia’s shock win over South Africa in Saturday’s Tri-Nations breathed new life into a series that was in real danger of fizzling out.

The Wallabies’ 21-6 win not only stalled South Africa’s seemingly unstoppable march to this year’s title but also provided some much needed entertainment.

Is Italy’s rugby trip south the ultimate tour too far?

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The ‘tour too far’ cliché is often wheeled out by rugby pundits when an outgunned northern hemisphere side travels south to take on Tri-Nations powers.

But it seems especially appropriate this year after the International Rugby Board (IRB) cooked up the ultimate mismatched series by handing Italy tests against Australia in Canberra and Melbourne on June 13 and 20 and a meeting with New Zealand in Christchurch on June 27.

Indian cricket fans are surely the world’s most demanding

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India have just won their first test series on New Zealand soil in 41 years after rain spoilt their chances of winning the third and final test at the Basin Reserve.

The victory was their third successive test series win since defeating top-ranked Australia in November.

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