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The Surfer

If you last cheered for a hooker when you were watching Pretty
Woman, then it's time you followed (aided by the Web sites
below) the 1999 Rugby World Cup. Since Oct. 1 fly halfs, scrum
halfs and hookers--players who endeavor to kick the ball
backward in a scrum--from 20 nations have been competing in the
quadrennial competition. The semifinals (Saturday, 10 a.m., and
Sunday, 9 a.m.) and the Nov. 6 final (9 a.m.) from Cardiff,
Wales, will be on pay-per-view.
The official tournament site includes archives of every match, a
"Live Centre" that tracks each match in progress, rosters for and
background on each team and a cool on-line store. (Team jerseys
sell for $65.58.) Favorite video clip: New Zealand wing Jonah
Lomu (above, with ball) steamrollering England's Tony Underwood.
If, like most Americans, you do not know the difference between a
try (analogous to a touchdown) and a drop goal (like a field
goal) or between a pretty boy (back) and a donkey (forward, akin
to a lineman), this site's for you. A "Survival Guide" will
enlighten you on the rules, lingo and history of the sport, which
was invented in England by a bored teacher, William Webb Ellis,
who in 1823 decided to add a little pizzazz to the afternoon
soccer game at the Rugby School.
Rugby players most closely resemble NFL linebackers, and at 6'5",
260 pounds, New Zealand's Jonah Lomu is rugby's analog to the
Chargers' Junior Seau. Of Samoan ancestry (like Seau), Lomu, 24,
was named Player of the Tournament in the 1995 World Cup. A year
earlier he had become the youngest player in the history of the
renowned All Blacks. Lomu's site includes what you'd expect--a
photo gallery, a bio and an E-mail forum--but no hint of New
Zealand's losing him to the Dallas Cowboys next season.
New Zealand's All Blacks are rugby's version of the Bronx
Bombers. This site provides history and legends pages, plus a
video clip of and words to the haka, the mesmerizing Maori dance
that has become the team's pregame ritual.
Rugby is the Three Stooges of sports, and this site, known as The
Rugby Reader's Review, celebrates the game's comedic nature.
Included are the transcript of a Monty Python skit in which
British councilmen play the All Blacks, an apocryphal anecdote
about the Pittsburgh Rugby Club practicing with preserved human
heads and a Baedeker-style look at the town of Rugby, Tenn. (pop.


NBC's feisty Jim Gray wouldn't change a thing about his
relentless grilling of Pete Rose

He was equal parts Sam Donaldson and Sam Waterston. With his
interview of Pete Rose moments before last Sunday night's World
Series game, NBC's Jim Gray, who in 1997 stood toe-to-toe with
Mike Tyson after the Evander Holyfield ear debacle, cemented his
reputation as television's nerviest interrogator.

"Are you willing to show contrition, admit that you bet on
baseball and make some sort of apology?" Gray asked just moments
after Rose had been treated to a minutelong ovation at Turner
Field as a member of baseball's All-Century team.

"Not at all," countered Rose, whom baseball banned for life in
1989 for betting on games. "I'm not going to admit something that
didn't happen."

Gray, however, didn't let the subject drop, declaring that the
evidence against Rose was "overwhelming" and adding that, when it
came to reinstatement, "some people will say you have been your
own worst enemy." Many, including hundreds of irate callers to
NBC and its affiliates, begged to differ. They agreed with Rose,
who said on-air that Gray's persistence was out of line,
especially given the feel-good nature of the evening.

Like Rose, however, Gray, shows no contrition. "I wasn't trying
to be belligerent," he told SI. "Was it an appropriate forum?
Yes. It was the first time that Pete had been allowed on the
field in 10 years. Pete knew what was coming. I was trying to
give him a window of opportunity to state his case to the
public." --J.W.


Lee Corso
The ESPN College Gameday analyst correctly smelled Texas's 24-20
upset of Nebraska.


Sleep-deprived New York baseball fans
Through last Sunday, no Mets or Yankees postseason game played on
a work night ended before 11:28 p.m. ET.