From the Touchline
AUCKLAND, 30 Sept. - A lighter look at Rugby World Cup 2011.
18 - Jonny Wilkinson will play his 18th RWC match against Scotland, equalling his manager Martin Johnson's total as a player. Only three players, England's Jason Leonard (22), Australia's George Gregan (20) and England's Mike Catt (19), have made more RWC appearances than Wilkinson.
1871 - The year of the first England-Scotland match, which is also the first recognised international match. The Scots won by a goal (converted try) and try to a solitary try.
He said it ...
"I've got an opportunity this week, so I've got to go out there and take it with two arms and put my best foot forward and hopefully get picked the following week."
New Zealand scrum half Jimmy Cowan sets a new tournament cliche record after being selected for Sunday's Pool A match against Canada.
Royal seal of disapproval
England captain Mike Tindall might find his in-laws tight-lipped when England take on Scotland on Saturday night in Auckland.
Tindall's mother-in-law, HRH Princess Anne, is patron of the Scottish Rugby Union, while brother-in-law Peter Phillips was capped by Scotland at school level.
When asked whether there were many messages from the House of Windsor, Tindall said: "No, not really. I just spoke to the missus (Zara Phillips). She did say that her mother (HRH Princess Anne) wished me good luck, but I'm not sure that came fully heartfelt. She's very Scottish through and through in her heart. She'll be hoping that they win the game, I think. I also get pride in proving her wrong."
Henry's pie charts
Perhaps it was the comfort of knowing his team were well prepared for his 100th Test in charge, or that he had not been forced to name a 35-year-old back row on the wing, as was the case with trans-Tasman rivals Australia.
Whatever the reason, All Blacks coach Graham Henry was in playful mood at the press conference to announce his team to play Canada on Sunday. Asked why particular players hadn't been selected, Henry explained patiently that he couldn't select them all.
"The IRB are pretty strict on those sort of things. I did suggest we play 17 this week but they said, ‘No’.”
Henry reckoned if things went well against Canada, he might duck out for a meat pie after half-time, as was the practice of a Wellington coach way back when. "He'd done his half-time talk, he went and got his pie, wandered around the back of the stand and had a chat to one or two people and arrived in the coaching box 20 minutes into the second half.
"So perhaps I could pop down to the fan zone on Sunday?"
Scots have a hoot
The Scots players gave as good as they got when hijacked by the questioning of James McOnie, of New Zealand sport show The Crowd Goes Wild, about Saturday's clash with England.
When asked whether they might psyche themselves for the clash with the Auld Enemy on Saturday by watching Braveheart or listen to The Proclaimers, the Scottish lads fairly picked up that ball and ran with it.
Fly half Ruaridh Jackson ventured he would be “feasting on haggis, playing the bagpipes”, while Chris Paterson, the full back, thought his pre-match meal might be “porridge with a kilt on, maybe some shortbread”.
Hottest ticket in town
Scottish coach Andy Robinson, although a Somerset-born former England international, got in on the act as well, venturing that he might take in a show by the Red Hot Chilli Pipers.
The band were discovered on a British TV talent show When Will I Be Famous? Described as “bagpipes with attitude, drums with a Scottish accent”, they are touring New Zealand, playing at Auckland’s Vector Arena on Friday evening, then on to Dunedin, Queenstown and Christchurch.
Phipps in another orbit
The Wallabies' injury problems mean scrum half Nick Phipps is covering several positions from the bench for Saturday’s match against Russia. If there are a few knocks he might even show a versatility that surpasses 117kg back row Radike Samo's selection on the wing.
Despite standing only 180cm, Phipps reckons his set-piece skills could come in handy. “I used to jump in the lineout playing Sevens,” he said. “I was so small they used to throw me up by the ankles.”
Russian to find a phrasebook
Phipps' Melbourne Rebels teammate Adam Byrnes is wishing he paid more attention in his Russian language classes as a child.
The Australian-born second row, who qualifies for Russia through his grandparents, is finding his command of the lingua franca is limited to basic greetings and lineout calls.
"I didn't see the value in it at the time. I wish I had," Byrnes said ahead of his side's clash with his countrymen on Saturday.
Byrnes took advantage of both sides training in Nelson by meeting his mates in the Australian squad for a coffee. "I think he was just happy to talk to someone in English," Wallaby captain James Horwill said.
That's my boy
Canada hooker Ryan Hamilton won't lack for support at Sunday's match against the All Blacks, with parents Cynthia and Geoff over from Vancouver.
“Once Ryan was named, of course we were over the moon. We picked the last two games (they also went to Canada-Japan) simply because it included the All Blacks in New Zealand, a once-in-a lifetime experience,” Cynthia said.
Having his parents in town is a bonus for the growing boy. “We have taken him out for food quite a bit, because sometimes he can’t go from lunch to dinner. He goes from lunch, to mid-lunch, to late afternoon lunch to dinner,” she says.
Ryan's mum won't be in the kitchen this trip, though. “No man. She’s on vacation. She won’t be doing any of that,” he said.
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