There is now a military feel to professional rugby union, what with the strict itineraries and painstaking planning of each and every manoeuvre. Maybe that is why those free-and-easy Fijians turned to Mac McCallion, a former member of the élite SAS squad in the New Zealand Army, to be their coach. Try telling McCallion that you don't much feel like circuit training today and would it be okay just to chuck a ball around for an hour or two? "Success on the battlefield is the same as success on the pitch," is the McCallion clarion call.
So it's a good job Fiji didn't employ the former Japan coach Shiggy Kono, or else there could have been even more mutiny in their fun-loving ranks. The octogenarian, who is now head of the Japan Rugby Football Union, has been taking great delight this past week in telling after-match dinner guests about his wartime duties. Trained as a suicide pilot, he managed to finish the Second World War "without a scratch". Perhaps the only "failed kamikaze pilot" - as he loves to describe himself - in the history of combat.
It seems that wherever you are in Australia right now, you will either run into Max Boyce or any one of that ever-swelling legion of rugby legends. And they always, but always, have a drink in their hand.
At least in your own hotel room you can escape them. Or can you? Spare a thought for the poor Japanese fan who heard banging on his door in the early hours the other night, ventured on to the landing to see who it could be and listened to his door slam behind him. It was made slightly worse by the fact that he was stark naked.
So who was it that had awoken this poor wretch? Only Tim Horan, the Australian centre who won "player of the tournament" at the last World Cup. "Gee, sorry mate," Horan told the shivering fan. "Wrong room number."
The bars of Northern Ireland may not be belting out the "uniting" rugby anthem "Ireland's Call" before tomorrow's match against Namibia. For the first time in World Cup history an Ireland team will start a match without a single Ulsterman.
The wallaby Nathan Sharpe has revealed that his main superstition is to wear the same pair of underpants in every international he plays. How his wife, girlfriend, mother or whoever it is that does his laundry, must pray that he doesn't earn as many caps as his predecessor in the second row, John Eales. He played for Australia 86 times.
"Welsh coach confesses to wearing tights". To a nation down on its luck, this headline could prove the last straw before they all head off to the Severn Bridge to do their lemming impression. But it is true. Steve Hansen told journalists the other day that he wore a pair on the flight over. Only for medical reasons, of course, to guard against DVT after an operation a few days before take-off. But didn't the players pull his leg, or even his stockings? "Nah, no worries," he said. "I made sure I was the only one who knew I had 'em on."
Rather like Hansen's tights, Wales' weapons of mass destruction have been kept well hidden of late, but one person who may be turning up in Canberra next week to see if he can locate them is George W Bush. The American president is visiting Parliament House in the Australian capital, and White House officials have reportedly already checked out the possibility of the best seats for Wales versus Italy.
As Max Boyce told the Queen before one oversubscribed Wales-England encounter: "Some people will do anything for a ticket."Reuse content