South Africa's 2007 World Cup-winning coach Jake White popped into the Wallabies' hotel in Takapuna on Wednesday to meet Brumbies players Ben Alexander and Pat McCabe and reassure them he would be taking up his role as the Canberra-based side's head coach as planned.
White had commented last week that he would fancy the Springboks job in the event of Peter de Villiers chucking it in. But White explained to Ruck and Maul that while his intention was to show the South African public he had not turned his back on rugby in that country, he does not believe he will coach the Boks again. "I don't think I'll ever be reappointed," White said. "There are no coaches in world rugby who have ever gone back to a national side. I didn't want to leave in the first place. I don't need to go into all the politics but Peter got all the things I had been asking for but did not receive."
Smith and groans
Wayne Smith, the All Blacks' backs coach and former Test fly-half, was another who asked but did not get. In March 2009 he toured Europe, visiting the New Zealand players who were then coining in the pounds and euros, to ascertain who would be back for the 2011 World Cup. A night out in London for "a few drinks" with Nick Evans was the All Blacks' last official contact with the Harlequins fly-half, who might have been playing a World Cup semi-final today had he responded to Smith's overtures.
Dan Carter, at Perpignan, was due to come home anyway; the only other to make the current squad was Toulon's Sonny Bill Williams. "You play the cards you're dealt," Smith said when asked by Ruck and Maul whether Evans would be regretting his choice, adding jokingly: "If Stephen [Donald, the latest No 10 called up because of injury] goes down I might getmy chance."
A bit bitter on Twitter
Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu can play on but presumably not tweet on. The Samoa centre escaped an immediate ban after yesterday's judicial hearing over his criticism of a World Cup referee and the International Rugby Board. Fuimaono-Sapolu was found guilty of misconduct and given a suspended six-month ban for his criticism of the Welsh referee Nigel Owens.
He must also retract his criticism of Owens, undertake a refereeing course and do 100 hours of community work in Samoa within the next year. Fuimaono-Sapolu wrote on Twitter that Owens was racist and biased after controlling Samoa's tournament-ending 13-5 loss to South Africa on 30 September, and slammed the IRB for giving second-tier teams less rest between matches than the top-ranked teams in the World Cup.
PM falls for Welsh charms
Welsh rugby unleashed a female version of Ali G on the World Cup: a fake-tanned, busty Valley Commando by the name of Rhian Madamrygbi Davies – aka actress Eirlys Bellin, whose (heavily) made-up character has high-fived with Sir Colin Meads and joshed with Prime Minister John Key on her travels around New Zealand. It looks like neither Key nor Meads spotted the spoof behind Madamrygbi's fluttering eyelashes and swooning enthusiasm for Jamie Roberts's thighs.
Old Trafford up for the cup?
England will officially become the next World Cup hosts after Sunday's final at Eden Park. Ruck and Maul understands the 2011 semi-finalists Wales would be permitted to play the likes of Fiji at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium in 2015, but a pool match involving the Welsh and another top seed would be held at the 90,000-capacity Wembley Stadium. The planned start date of 4 September for 2015 would coincide with the England football team's international window, leaving Premier League grounds such as Old Trafford and Anfield free until 10 September to give the English World Cup a big-crowd kick-off.