All white on the night for France?
"Allez les…Blancs!" They may be hosting this Rugby World Cup, but it doesn’t mean France get all the comforts of home.
Having lost the toss ahead of Friday’s opening match against New Zealand, Antoine Dupont and company will be in the unfamiliar surroundings of the away dressing room at the Stade de France.
They will also be wearing their white ‘away’ kit, while the All Blacks will be wearing, er, all black.
"Oh, that’s news to me," said scrum-half Aaron Smith when asked if it will make a difference. "That’s great. These are distractions out of your control, but you have still got the silver fern on your chest, no matter what colour the jersey."
Bienvenue, Brave Blossoms
A wall being erected does not, on the face of it, seem a welcome result of a global tournament such as Rugby World Cup 2023. However, in the rugby hotbed of south-west France, the board of Stade Toulousain chose to build 'un mur' featuring the French and Japan flags as a way to honour the Japan team that has made the city their base.
"We decided to make you part of the history of Stade Toulousain by offering you a brick in the wall with your name on it," said Didier Lacroix, the club's president.
Brothers in arms
The game of rugby is littered with brothers representing their countries. Names such as Gary and Alan Whetton, the All Blacks twins who won the first Rugby World Cup in 1987, the Du Plessis brothers in 2007, Bismarck and Jannie, sharing the front row for the Springboks, Felipe and Manuel Contepomi for Los Pumas or five-time Rugby World Cup player Mauro Bergamasco and younger brother Mirco have all enjoyed the spotlight of a Rugby World Cup.
However, Chile are breaking new ground in their debut tournament, having flown into France with no fewer than four sets of brothers. Nicolás (turns 25 on 11 September but who has since been forced to return home through injury) and Matías Garafulic (turned 23 in France), Alfonso (26) and Diego (23) Escobar, sons of former Chile captain Alfonso, Santiago (25) and Benjamín (22) Videla are brothers, whilst Clemente and Domingo Saavedra are the 25-year old twins of former international Emilio.
"I am older as I was born two minutes before," centre Domingo told Sudamerica.rugby.
"For the government I am older, as my ID number is lower than his," responded lock or loose-forward Clemente.
Chile play the first Rugby World Cup match in their history against Japan on Sunday.