By Christian Nicolussi www.dailytelegraph.com.au
The Webb Ellis Cup made its way to the top of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building in Dubai yesterday. The iconic building stands at 828m, which is just a bit taller than Sydney’s Rugby Club, the venue where the Cup will beam brightly today at a huge luncheon.
The Cup also visited the Emirates hangar, where the A380 that will ferry it from Sydney to Auckland on Friday was getting a special paint job.
Meanwhile, we found out that an engraver will be at Eden Park during the World Cup final and will take no longer than four minutes to grind the winner’s name into the base of the Cup. Also, the Cup’s minder, who we yesterday revealed to be IRB employee Alison Hughes, hates the cup being nicknamed “Bill”.
As the temperatures soared into the mid-40s in Dubai, it did not stop local side the Hurricanes being put through their paces at a surprisingly-grassy complex yesterday.
We thought it was a mirage when we spotted the Emirates Dubai Rugby Sevens complex, several bowling-green like fields in the middle of the desert, complete with a giant clubhouse.
The Hurricanes was founded in 1999 and features plenty of Aussie, Pommy, New Zealand and South African kids and adults alike who train and play in a three-month competition between January and March. Club secretary Simon Lewis told us it was only 15 years ago, before the Hurricanes was born, the locals were forced to play in the sand.
English Premier League giant Arsenal also conducts its soccer school at the complex, which has “softer, smoother grass for ballerinas”, quipped Lewis.
SPOTTED: Several members of the France’s World Cup squad enjoying a quick ciggie in the business lounge at Dubai airport awaiting a flight to Sydney. So French.
Dallaglio was target for Smith
Roosters coach Brian Smith has always had a wonderful eye when it comes to identifying young talent, so it is little wonder he once tried to get former England rugby great Lawrence Dallaglio to switch codes.
Dallaglio, who went on to win a World Cup for the Poms against Australia – and still remains one of the most recognisable sportsmen in the UK – told us Smithy made some inquiries about him joining Bradford when he was then in charge of the UK Super League outfit way back in 1996.
“I’ve always been a big admirer of rugby league and had the opportunity to play but didn’t take it because I still had things I wanted to do in union,” said Dallaglio, who was only a bright-eyed 24-year-old when sounded out by supercoach Smith.
“Jason Robinson, Chris Ashton, Martin Offiah and Shaun Edwards all played both. But (at the time) I was a firm fixture in London and didn’t want to leave. And the London Broncos didn’t exist. It was Bradford who had an Australian coach called Brian Smith coaching them.”
Dallaglio went on to play 85 Tests for England.
It was clearly more brutal than the tiff between Wallabies duo Quade Cooper and Kurtley Beale, but not as good as Adam Blair versus Glenn Stewart, but check out this stink betwee Chris Ashton and Manu Tuilagi. The lads went the knuckle last year but will pack down for the Poms together in the Cup. Tuilagi, who is a real excitement machine, even gets airborne at one stage as he throws a vicious right hook.