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Rugby World Cup 2011
Lawes punished with two-match ban
England's Courtney Lawes feels the long arm of the law while New Zealanders pray Dan Carter remains fit for tournament.
Last Modified: 13 Sep 2011 15:43
 With a number of injury concerns Lawes' suspension is the last thing coach Martin Johnson needed [GALLO/GETTY] 

England lock Courtney Lawes paid the price for striking an opponent with a two-match ban and the first suspension of the rugby World Cup on Tuesday as the rumblings of discontent over chaotic transport on the opening night reached parliament.

Elsewhere, Argentina named a first-choice side to face lowly Romania, who almost beat Scotland in their opening match, and French coach Marc Lievremont returned to his indecisive ways by changing most of his lineup for the clash with Canada.

Despite the suspension for the powerful Lawes, England will be relieved that the second row forward will only miss matches against Georgia and Romania, after the act of dropping a knee to the head of Argentine hooker Mario Ledesma was deemed a low-end offence.

England manager Martin Johnson, however, said he was upset by the verdict handed down to Lawes, who will be available to return for the clash against old rivals Scotland on October 1 in Auckland.

"Disappointed to lose a good player for us obviously, we have the cover there but it's not great"

England coach Martin Johnson

"Disappointed to lose a good player for us obviously, we have the cover there but it's not great," Johnson bemoaned.

By the time the Scotland clash comes around rugby World Cup organisers will be hoping there will be no repeats of the chaotic scenes witnessed in the city on Friday's opening night of the tournament when an estimated 50,000 people flooded the public transport system which ground to a halt.

That number was more than double what had been expected and Prime Minister John Key said in reply to a question in parliament that the local transport authority had to take responsibility for the overcrowded trains and lack of buses as it was not the government's fault.

World Cup minister Murray McCully said there would be no repeat after the next big match at Eden Park between Tri-Nations champions Australia and Ireland on Saturday.

"We have been the victims of our own success," McCully said.

"But we've also been criticised pretty roundly for not being proactive enough in our planning, I will be taking that on board and making sure we've learned our lessons."

While New Zealanders could probably put up with train delays and a long wait for a bus home, the one thing that would cause them great consternation is an injury to flyhalf Daniel Carter.

Financial boost

The standoff is key to New Zealand's hopes of ending the All Blacks 24-year wait for another World Cup title and the news of a sore back, although minor, is still enough to cause a ripple of concern amongst supporters.

Carter will probably be rested when coach Graham Henry names his side on Wednesday to play Asian champions Japan in Hamilton on Friday with assistant coach Steve Hansen suggesting a rotation in team selection, much to the frustration of All Blacks fans desperate for a first-choice lineup be named.

"You know, we're only one game into it and you just need to trust us that we'll get this task done," Hansen said.

       The back that New Zealanders will be praying is in working order over the next few weeks [GETTY] 

As priceless as many All Blacks fans think Carter is, the flyhalf is worth nothing in comparison to the value of hosting the seventh edition of the rugby World Cup, a report commissioned by tournament sponsors Mastercard revealed.

The largest sporting event to be hosted in New Zealand is projected to bring an extra $491 million directly into the local economy with a long-term figure predicted to be worth as much as $1.2 billion.

The figures would be welcome news to New Zealanders having to deal with the cost of rebuilding the city of Christchurch which suffered a huge earthquake in February.

The All Blacks match with Japan, who suffered an even deadlier earthquake and tsunami in March, will be marked with a minute's silence for those who died in both disasters.

Source:
Reuters
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