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Watching rugby semi-finals may be a problem

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Bars have to close just as games start

After a month of rugby, the world’s third largest sporting event is down to the final four, but due to Whistler’s bylaws there is a strong possibility no one in Whistler is going to be able to watch the remaining games live in a public place.

The final four games of the Rugby World Cup are all scheduled to be played at Sydney’s Olympic Stadium at 1 a.m. Whistler time (8 p.m. Sydney time), but the pubs in Whistler are forced by law to close at 1 a.m.

The only hope hundreds of local supporters have of watching the game live together is if Whistler-Blackcomb manage to organise a venue.

Whistler-Blackcomb public relations manager Christopher Nicolson said the mountain is usually responsive to the needs of the people living and working here and there was a possibility something could be organized.

Supporters are advised to check notice boards for updates.

Replays of the semi-finals between Australia and New Zealand and England and France will be shown at Tapley’s and Buffalo Bill’s on Saturday and Sunday.

"I’d love to be showing these games live but it’s against the law for me to stay open," Tapleys manager Donny Pashleigh said.

"We’ve got our licence before the council right now, it’s been there for five months, because we’re trying to get an extension to 1:50 a.m. and the last thing I need at the moment would be something to upset that process.

"But we’ll be showing replays of New Zealand and Australia on Saturday at noon, 2 p.m. and 10 p.m.

"We’ve got to balance the France and England game with the Grey Cup on Sunday so we’ll be showing replays of that game at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m."

After some people were shut out of Tapley’s last week due to capacity restrictions, Pashleigh spoke to Buffalo Bill’s management and they agreed to also show replays of both games at 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

In what has been one of the most highly anticipated games in the World Cup, the reigning world champions, Australia, play New Zealand first for a spot in the final.

New Zealand are the favourites to win mostly because they convincingly beat Australia several times in the lead up to the World Cup.

Australia are expected to name the same starting 15 that beat Scotland 33-16 in Brisbane last Saturday.

Veteran NSW Waratahs inside centre Nathan Grey is the only inclusion to the side on the bench.

Grey returns for the injured Matt Giteau, who failed to recover from ankle ligament damage sustained in the final stages of the game against Scotland.

There could be a second change if lock David Giffin can complete a training session. South African-born lock Daniel Vickerman will retain his place on the bench if Giffin does not recover from his leg injury in time.

Australian coach Eddie Jones has continue to tinker with his side throughout the tournament and, in doing so, he has left big names such as fullback Chris Latham and utility back Matthew Burke.

But according to several sources Jones will stick with his relatively inexperienced side against the All Blacks and, despite the heavy criticism he has fielded about his defence, Wendall Sailor will be given the job of stopping the All Blacks’ outstanding winger Joe Rokocoko.

New Zealand coach John Mitchell is also expected to retain the same side that beat South Africa last week.

Blockbusting centre Tana Umaga was close to making a return from a knee injury but it now appears that he won’t be fit enough to play in such a crucial match.

Experienced halfback Byron Kelleher is the only change to Kiwi squad. He takes the place of Steve Devine on the bench and will cover for the starting halfback Justin Marshall.

The other semi-final is also expected to be an incredible match after the French destroyed Ireland last week in their quarter-final.

The English are expected to again rely heavily on the steady boot of fly-half Jonny Wilkinson.

In their quarter final against Wales, England only scored one try, while the Welsh scored three. But Wilkinson kicked six penalties and a field goal to finish with a personal tally of 23 points.

Veteran utility back Mike Catt, 32, might have played his was into England’s starting side after he covered brilliantly for winger Dan Luger when he was substituted at half time against Wales.

Despite their pre-tournament form, the French have again risen to the occasion and are now being widely tipped to win the entire tournament.

The French scored 27 unanswered points in the first half against Ireland and all their best players are in form.

The leadership of Fabien Galthie in his fourth World Cup, the kicking game of fly half Frederic Michalak who scored his 100th tournament point against Ireland, and the ever present flanker Olivier Magne will be crucial to France’s chances against the pre-tournament favourites.

Tournament Record:

Australia: defeated Scotland 33-16, Argentina 24-8, Romania 90-8, Namibia 142-0, Ireland 17-16

New Zealand: defeated South Africa 29-9, Italy 70-7, Canada 68-6, Tonga 91-7, Wales 53-37

France: defeated Ireland 43-21, Fiji 61-18, Japan 51-29, Scotland 51-9, USA 41-14

England: defeated Wales 28-17, South Africa 25-6, Georgia 84-6, Samoa 35-22, Uraguy 111-13

Likely Teams _ FICIAL

Australia: Bill Young, Brendan Cannon, Ben Darwin, Justin Harrison, Nathan Sharpe, George Smith, Phil Waugh, David Lyons, George Gregan (c), Stephen Larkham, Lote Tuqiri, Elton Flatley, Stirling Mortlock, Wendell Sailor, Mat Rogers.

Replacements: Jeremy Paul, Al Baxter, David Giffin/Daniel Vickerman, Matt Cockbain, Chris Whitaker, Nathan Grey

Coach: Eddie Jones

New Zealand: Dave Hewett, Keven Mealamu, Greg Somerville, Chris Jack, Ali Williams, Reuben Thorne (c), Richie McCaw, Jerry Collins, Justin Marshall, Carlos Spencer, Joe Rokocoko, Aaron Mauger, Leon MacDonald, Doug Howlett, Mils Mulliaina.

Reserves: Mark Hammett, Kees Meeuws, Brad Thorn, Marty Holah, Byron Kelleher, Daniel Carter, Caleb Ralph

Coach: John Mitchell

France: Jean Jacques Crenca, Raphael Ibanez, Sylvain Marconnet, Fabien Pelous, Jerome Thion, Serge Betsen, Olivier Magne, Imanol Harinordoquy, Fabien Galthie, Frederic Michalak, Christophe Dominici, Yannick Jauzion, Tony Marsh, Aurelien Rougerie, Nicolas Brusque   Reserves

Reserves: Yannick Bru, Olivier Milloud, Olivier Brouzet, Patrick Tabacco, Gerald Merceron, Brian Liebenberg, Pepito Elhorga

Coach : Bernard Laporte

England: Jason Leonard, Steve Thompson, Phil Vickery, Martin Johnson, Ben Kay, Lewis Moody, Neil Back, Lawrence Dallaglio, Matt Dawson, Jonny Wilkinson, Ben Cohen, Mike Tindall, Will Greenwood, Dan Luger, Jason Robinson  

Reserves: Dorian West, Trevor Woodman, Simon Shaw, Joe Worsley, Kyran Bracken, Mike Catt, Stuart Abbott

Coach: Clive Woodward

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