Ruck and Maul: Argentina supporters take their chance to sing like football fans


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Argentina's supporters have lit up the World Cup, not least when 300 of them massed outside the team's hotel in Wellington last Sunday, singing and beating drums for two hours before Felipe Contepomi's side departed for their crucial victory over Scotland.

"We felt like the Argentina soccer team," one player said, and in the stadiums there is a definite football-style vibe with fans leaping up and down in time to the songs.

One favourite is: "Y ya lo ve, y ya lo ve, el que no salta es un Inglés". Which translates as "you can see, you can see, whoever's not jumping is an Englishman."

Last Sunday they changed the final lyric to Escocés (a Scot); well, it scanned just as nicely.

Not the Apple of their eye

At the opposite end of the fun-loving scale is the paranoia over "clean stadiums" and the sanctity of sponsors.

Numerous examples range from the Samoa wing Alesana Tuilagi's reported £5,000 fine for wearing a branded mouthguard to photographers having umbrellas and chocolate bars confiscated lest an unwanted product be glimpsed on TV.

Then there was the fevered flunky dispatched to the Georgia coaches' booth in Palmerston North the other night to duct-tape over the tiny Apple logo on two laptops.

No mania for Romania

More seriously – and although not everyone expresses their outrage as lavishly as Eliota Fuimaono Sapolu – there is widespread resentment of the uneven scheduling of pool matches: the consequence of TV companies' wish to show the major nations at weekends, and the mathematics of having four pools of five teams.

There is a whisper the IRB might consider a secondary world tournament for lower-ranked teams after 2015, as proposed by England in the unsuccessful bid to host the 2007 tournament. But Marius Tincu, captain of the Romania team who were defeated in all their pool matches this time, told Ruck and Maul: "Two cups wouldn't be good. I played England [in Dunedin last weekend] with 30,000 people watching. If you have two cups, people wouldn't come, they wouldn't be interested. If you don't play against the big teams you don't get better. The IRB should help the little nations with tutors and with money."

Various ideas get bandied about. Georgia's Scottish coach Richie Dixon, an IRB consultant, said he would take part in a post-World Cup "wash up" and argue for at least one Test for each Tier Two Union against a Tier One side in the November window.

Romeo Gontineac, the Romania head coach, wants promotion and relegation between the European Nations Cup and the Six Nations' Championship but said: "I can't see it happening for a long time."

And Steve McDowall, Romania's scrum coach and 1987 World Cup-winning prop, forecast more of the same: "In 50 to 100 years there could be a different top six countries to what there is now. But there's no danger of it within the next 20 years because it takes at least that time to grow a player and each generation holds on to a bit of the past."