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Rugby Union: O'Neill calls for fast-track.

AUSTRALIAN rugby chief John O'Neill has called for law changes to be fast-tracked after criticising the standard of the World Cup semi-finals.

O'Neill, who controversially claimed during the tournament that all Australian sports fans "hate" England, believes the game needs to be made more appealing to spectators.

Neither the Wallabies nor All Blacks reached the semi-finals in France, which is widely agreed to have been the best World Cup in the tournament's 20-year history.

The Wallabies crashed out following a 12-10 defeat by England that saw their forwards dismantled and scrum pulverised.

The Stellenbosch Laws, which are being trialled by the International Rugby Board, take power away from the forward battle in favour of a game more akin to rugby league.

Australia have consistently struggled to produce world class props and O'Neill is keen to see the rules changed to accommodate Wallaby strengths.

"Rugby league went from unlimited tackles to limited tackles," said the Australian Rugby Union chief executive.

"It went from three metres to five metres and reduced the value of a field goal to one.

"We need to create space, we need to create time, we want to create a philosophy that encourages try scoring.

"That's what people come to see. We had two very poor World Cup semi-finals and we had a final in which there were no tries scored. That will not bring the crowds back."

O'Neill's disparaging views of the semi-finals are not shared by rugby fans who were left enthralled by England's titanic showdown against France and a dramatic, if error-strewn, final.

Argentina's third-place finish signalled another high with the magnificent Pumas finally ripping-up the accepted world order that has marked all previous tournaments.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Oct 24, 2007
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