Australian press apologise for Pom bashing



Australian newspapers which led a vitriolic campaign against England's rugby team have apologised for knocking the World Cup winners.

The Sydney Morning Herald conceded England was the best team and that Martin Johnson and his players were not boring, as they had claimed last week.

An editorial addressed to England fans said: "Regarding your magnificent football team's 20-17 triumph in the Rugby World Cup final on November 22, on behalf of all Australians, we would like to admit the following:

"You were not too old (although we hoped you would be when the game went to extra-time). You were not too slow. You scored as many tries as we did. You kicked no more penalty goals than we did. You ran the ball as much as we did. You entertained as much as we did.

"You did it with one of your own as coach (even though he did spend some formative years playing at Manly). You are better singers than we are (and just quietly, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot is growing on us, as is Jonny without an "h").

"You played with class, toughness and grace. You were bloody superior. You are, for the first time in 37 years, winners of a football World Cup. As a result, we believe Twickenham is a most fitting home for Bill (the cup), though we humbly remind you that, unlike the Ashes, you have to hand it over if you don't win next time.

"We will no longer characterise your fans as beer-swilling, pot-bellied louts or knife-wielding hooligans and try to remember the sporting and enthusiastic supporters who did so much to make the final memorable."

Sydney's Daily Telegraph, which printed a voodoo doll of Jonny Wilkinson and issued 'Stop Jonny' T-shirts, also apologised. An editorial said: "Jonny is unstoppable. To ignore his greatness would be unconscionable."