In Brief

All Black Ali Williams a 'bitter Welshman' after England jibe

Furious England fans round on New Zealand star after he says it would be a dark day if England win Rugby World Cup

Former New Zealand rugby star Ali Williams was denounced as a "bitter Welshman" on Twitter amid a furious backlash over his comments about England ahead of the Rugby World Cup this week.

Williams, a World Cup winner with the All Blacks in 2011, stoked the rivalry between England and New Zealand ahead of this year's tournament which starts this week, when he told a French newspaper that fans at Twickenham were "vindictive" and that it would be a "dark day" if tournament hosts England won the title.

He later tried to distance himself from some of the more incendiary comments, claiming that what he said had been "lost in translation".

However, his interview with L'Equipe was soon translated from French back into English and spread across the internet.

"The English always carry this consciousness of their grand past and would like to be reminded of their great empire," Williams said, according to TVNZ. "It's this that explains why all the big rugby nations want with all their heart to beat them – Australia, France, New Zealand, South Africa, the Welsh hate them and I'm not going to mention the Irish. They create a consensus against them.

"If the English, the only team nobody wants to see win, win this World Cup, it will be a dark day," he predicted.

He also rounded on the fans at Twickenham. "It is the most hostile stadium there is. It's worse than Pretoria. The atmosphere is vindictive. The supporters sing and applaud when we miss a penalty, and whistle us if we do something they disapprove of in terms of playing style."

The comments caused anger among fans on Twitter, but it was not just students of the game who were offended. With Rugby World Cup fever mounting some new converts were equally enraged, including one supporter who derided Williams as a "bitter Welshman".

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