From the Touchline
AUCKLAND, 21 Oct. - A lighter look at Rugby World Cup 2011.
3 - The loser of Friday's Bronze Final will have lost three matches in one RWC campaign for the first time in their history.
2 - With a win in Friday's Bronze Final, Australia can become the second team (joining New Zealand) to have finished first, second, third and fourth at RWCs.
He said it
"We've got a very experienced group of players who've basically taken over the team. They've taken on a huge responsibility and I've basically got nothing to do. I'm just wondering what I'll do all day. It's good to talk to you guys, it gives me something to do in the morning."
- New Zealand coach Graham Henry, with the biggest day of his rugby career looming, claims he has nothing better to do than entertain the media with his deadpan humour.
Richie a fan of Richie
New Zealand captain Richie McCaw has revealed some intriguing sides to his off-the-field persona in a video interview on the website of French sports daily, L'Équipe. McCaw spoke about his admiration for the creators of Egypt's pyramids, the music of Lionel Richie and the achievements of a women's rights pioneer, as well as his longing to be able to fly like an eagle.
McCaw said he particularly likes Easy, Richie's 1977 hit single as lead singer with the Commodores, because it reminds him of All Blacks tour movies when he was young. "Every time I hear it, it reminds me of the dream I had as a young fella wanting to be an All Black."
Among his heroes, Richie singled out Kate Sheppard, the New Zealand women's suffrage trailblazer. "New Zealand has a pretty awesome record in terms of women’s rights. Kate Sheppard started this movement, I think, in the 1890s, pretty awesome stuff."
Asked what he would like to be if he was reincarnated as an animal, McCaw chose the eagle. "I have always loved flight, so I always thought being an eagle was something that would be pretty cool. At the top of the food chain, you can see things, it would be pretty cool ... a predator."
McCaw was also asked what he would like to build if he was an architect. "If you designed and built the pyramids you would be a pretty special sort of person. I don’t know what architects they had back then but if you knew how to do that, you would be pretty amazing."
A passion for poisson
France have hardly had a tranquil RWC 2011, but some of their players took time out from the build-up to Sunday's Final for a helicopter trip to Auckland's remote Great Barrier Island, where they enjoyed an afternoon of fishing.
Lionel Nallet, Dimitri Yachvili, Julien Bonnaire, Julien Pierre and Pascal Papé were among the players flown to the spectacular island, where they spent a couple of hours reeling in snapper and kahawai.
"It was a quick trip but the scenery was amazing and the fish were biting straight away," said flanker Bonnaire. "On the journey back we were fortunate enough to spot a huge pod of dolphins swimming just outside the city. It was incredible."
Great Barrier, one of 50 islands in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, is renowned for its surf beaches as well as good fishing.
Carling's pouring far from perfect
Former England captain Will Carling was outpoured by All Blacks legend Zinzan Brooke when the two rugby greats were on bartending duty at Auckland's Heineken World Bar to help promote the RWC 2011 official beer supplier extending its sponsorship to England for the 2015 tournament.
Carling was struggling with the foam until Brooke decided to help out behind the bar - and to the delight of a thirsty media pack he quickly had things under control.
Jane no ticket tout
Being an All Black with the expectations of a rugby-mad nation weighing on your shoulders has its drawbacks - particularly when those expectations include tickets for Sunday's big game.
And wing Cory Jane has no qualms about saying no when friends and relatives try to put the arm on him. "Everyone does it but they cost too much anyway," Jane said. "I’ve got a hell of a mortgage, I can’t afford to buy anyone rugby tickets."