A warm welcome, then, to Martyn Thomas, the acting chief executive of the Rugby Football Union, who flew all the way to Auckland just in time to see the England players board a flight heading in the opposite direction, thereby summoning amusing memories of the New Zealand supporters who arrived at their hotel in Paris four years ago at the very moment their defeated heroes were checking out.
What with the political meltdown at Twickenham, the fast-growing threat of a special general meeting aimed at removing him from all his duties and various lawyers picking over the carrion of a failed administration, Thomas has enough problems of his own, without worrying about those affecting Martin Johnson (the man whose appointment as manager he did so much to secure) or Mike Tindall, or Manu "the dolphin" Tuilagi.
Still, you have to feel a little concerned for a man whose next task – always assuming he survives the challenges ahead – is to oversee the planning and delivery of the home World Cup in 2015. The event is fraught with danger. Imagine how much drinking time the red-rose players will save when they can go straight to the boozer without asking for directions.
Kiwis win big after sending Wales to casino
It's a cruel world. Just as the rump of the England party were mooching around the lobby at the Crowne Plaza hotel yesterday morning – sipping coffee with their agents, hugging loved ones, making sure the Rugby Football Union had stumped up for whatever "extras" might have been charged to their rooms – who should turn up with their kitbags? Why, it was none other than the French, their conquerors at the weekend. The World Cup organisers nominated four hotels, one for each semi-finalist, and the 20 competing teams drew lots before the tournament began. Staggeringly, the All Blacks have landed in their favourite pad, down towards the Auckland waterfront in this city of sails. The Welsh are in what amounts to a casino with beds, while the Wallabies are the ones out of town – over the harbour bridge in Takapuna. It makes sense. The New Zealanders really don't want to see anything of those buggers until Sunday.
Henry's Puma praise comes from the heart
Many congratulations to Graham Henry, the All Blacks head coach. Not primarily on account of his side reaching the semi-finals, although he was understandably pleased to get there after the traumatic failure of 2007. ("Bloody amazing," he said after the victory over Argentina. "I haven't been to a semi before.") More praiseworthy by far was his support for the Pumas, who will join an expanded southern hemisphere Four Nations tournament next year and whom he went out of his way to congratulate on their efforts in this tournament. "They gave us a tough old game of footy: I think the Four Nations will be good for Argentine rugby and good for all of us," he remarked, apparently without a hint of smart-arsery. Hell, he wasn't even wearing his famous upside-down smile when he spouted forth. The man has a heart, after all.Reuse content