Waltzing Matilda ruling angers ARU

September 06, 2003 - 10:03pm
Story by: AAP

ARU boss John O'Neill has described allowing Waltzing Matilda to be sung, but only before World Cup players take the field, as akin to being "half-pregnant".

The International Rugby Board issued a statement on Friday night saying the traditional Australian song could be sung at matches involving the Wallabies at the Rugby World Cup, which starts next month.

But the rider was that once players took the field, "no formal musical performance will be permitted other than the playing of the national anthems".

O'Neill said the ARU was unhappy with the ruling and said it would be difficult to stop the crowd from singing it if fans decided to do so after the players took the field.

"We did the right thing, we asked for permission and now we're in this half-pregnant situation where you can sing it but not when the players are on the paddock," John O'Neill told ABC Radio.

"Then again if the crowd decides to burst into the song after the national anthem, I don't think you can decide to stop the crowd from doing it."

The IRB had initially ruled that only a country's national anthem or displays of cultural significance could be sung or performed before games at the October-November tournament.

Then the ARU made a formal request to the IRB that the song be allowed.

There had also been a public and political outcry - which included Prime Minister John Howard, state politicians and former players bemoaning the fact the song was not allowed to be sung.

In recent years the ARU has employed performers like country singer John Williamson to lead a singalong just before kickoff.

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