A massive earthquake with a magnitude of 7,8 rocked the island nation of Tonga on Thursday, triggering a panic evacuation in a New Zealand town after tsunami warnings were briefly issued for the South Pacific. Although the warnings were withdrawn within two hours, hundreds of people in the New Zealand coastal town of Gisborne, more than 2 200km from the quake's epicentre, fled their homes.
Super 14 rugby coaches will have their calculators out this weekend as the unbeaten Canterbury Crusaders head a congested pack of 12 teams still in with a chance of making the play-offs with four matches to play. In a battle of former All Black coaches, the Crusaders should be far too powerful for the winless Western Force in Perth.
The New South Wales Waratahs and the Canterbury Crusaders will settle the Super 14 rugby pecking order on Friday and nothing will be more crucial than the head-to-head battle between flankers Richie McCaw and Phil Waugh. McCaw, the All Black captain-in-waiting, has faced a barrage of media criticism this week.
The unbeaten Canterbury Crusaders face fellow competition leaders the Wellington Hurricanes this weekend on the first leg of a two-week campaign that should unravel the cluttered top end of the Super 14 table. The following week they play the New South Wales Waratahs, who co-lead the championship with the Hurricanes.
The NSW Waratahs' demolition of an inept Auckland Blues caterpulted them from third to the top of the Super 14 ladder at the weekend joining the Wellington Hurricanes who produced another late win, this time over the Sharks. The unbeaten Canterbury Crusaders, who had a bye, slipped to third but only one point behind and with a game in hand, while the ACT Brumbies clung on to a two-point win over the Waikato Chiefs.
The All Blacks' ''band of brothers'' set out on Thursday on a rare grand-slam tour of Britain and Ireland, but with those two crucial words cut from their vocabulary. While playing down the significance of facing Wales, Ireland, England and Scotland successively, coach Graham Henry Henry has sought South African advice on how to achieve this.
New Zealand go into Saturday's Tri-Nations rugby decider against Australia as overwhelming favourites despite lingering injury concerns to flyhalf and goalkicker Leon MacDonald. The All Blacks are on a high after putting away defending champions South Africa last weekend.
The New Zealand All Blacks kept their Tri-Nations hopes alive on Saturday when a late try by Keven Mealamu saw them snatch a dramatic 31-27 victory over South Africa. The Springboks still lead the table but will be overtaken if the All Blacks beat injury-ravaged Australia next weekend.
The All Blacks and England are preparing for a battle of brawn in the first rugby Test on Saturday with no suggestion of a try-fest at the renowned ''House of Pain''. Both sides are agreed that the intenseness of their rivalry dictates it is a match that will be won up front.