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Scott Gibbs: Expect a cracking World Cup

Former Welsh dual-code star believes 2011 event will surpass previous editions in enthralling fans worldwide

Scott Gibbs
Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/XPRESS
Scott Gibbs

Dubai: Former Welsh dual-code star Scott Gibbs is certain the 2011 Rugby World Cup which begins next month in New Zealand will outdo previous editions of the sport's biggest showpiece in terms of entertaining fans.

The former inside centre, who will be in Dubai as a special pundit for OSN (Orbit Showtime Network) - the tournament's exclusive broadcaster in the Middle East and North Africa - also said the host nation would be eager to pounce on their best opportunity yet of adding to their only World Cup victory which came at the inaugural edition 24 years ago.

"I think the last couple [of World Cups] have been stinkers, haven't they?" Gibbs said in an interview to XPRESS.

"The play of football hasn't been that great. Very little tries haven been scored in finals. I think this year will break the mould, and not for any particular reason but I just think it's going to be dominated by Australia and New Zealand.

"If a final route takes you to Australia against New Zealand, you know that neither side can win that game playing tight. They have to be bold. The bolder you are from a rugby playing perspective I think the longer you'll go in this competition," the 40 year old added.

Assessing the mighty All Blacks, who have repeatedly fallen short of living up to their billing as favourites in previous campaigns, Gibbs said being the hosts will only pile more pressure on Graham Henry's men to go the distance.

"The pressure and the expectation must be more, because they probably know that this is the last time the World Cup is going to come to New Zealand," Gibbs said.

"The world cup as a business has grown bigger and just needs to go to further reaches of the world to develop the game. So I'm sure the players and the management are even more aware this is the last chance."

Gibbs, who at his peak was named Player of the Series for his stellar performances on the British Lions tour to South Africa in 1997, said he expects Australia's New Zealand-born outside centre Digby Ioane to be the individual star of this year's World Cup.

"I think there is something special about him, the way he plays. He's always looking to get his hands on the ball. He doesn't sit on his wing. So he's got a huge work rate, very quick set of feet, huge acceleration and top end speed," he said.

For someone always excited at seeing the game grow further, Gibbs, who first visited the Emirates in 1991 to compete in the Dubai 7s when he was just 20, believes the newly formed UAE RA are going about the job in the right way.

"You can only develop a sustainable rugby culture in the UAE with indigenous talent. It can't be dependent on expats because things will change according to work contracts and other things. That's the challenge.

"But rugby's such a far-reaching sport that so many people would want to help and advise on how UAE could take rugby forward," he said.

Did you know?

At his peak, Scott Gibbs was regarded as the world's hardest tackler, summed up by his nickname ‘Car-Crash'

53: Caps Gibbs won for Wales