Computer says.... Wales to reach final
It has been 66 years since Wales famously beat the mighty All Blacks at Cardiff Arms Park but the Welsh Rugby Union has assured loyal fans the barren years are about to turn into cheers.
Yes, that's right, it will be a Wales v New Zealand final - and the dragons are finally going to breathe fire when it matters most. Pigs may fly, too, All Blacks fans will say.
Scientists have fed data involving the 20 competing teams into a World Cup computer and simulated the tournament almost 4,000 times, playing 180,000 games, with each result based on mathematical calculations.
The computer forecast that Wales will top Pool D and go on to meet the All Blacks in the final. New Zealand are given a 50 per cent chance of winning the tournament, with Warren Gatland's men deemed the next most likely winners ahead of England, Australia and South Africa. Ireland, the world's No.1 ranked team, and France fared less well.
Oh, and we forgot to mention where that computer was based. Wales.
Mathematicians have simulated World Cup matches, crunched the numbers and reckon it'll be a Wales v New Zealand finalhttps://t.co/z4fnKW4VEB— WalesOnline Rugby (@WalesRugby) September 16, 2019
Rice work, Canada
The Canadian rugby players are having a rice time in Japan. After cutting the white stuff and making chicken skewers earlier in their stay in Nagato, on Friday some of the players had a crack at making soba noodles. Among them were Kyle Baillie and Jake Ilnicki, below.
Scrum-half Phil Mack took an early lead with his surgically precise roll-and-cut technique, while at another table Ben LeSage and Djustice Sears-Duru struggled with the ever-so-technical dough punch. Self-confessed kitchen rookie Lucas Rumball found it was not for him.
“I had a good partner," said Rumball. "(Ciaran) Hearn seems to have baked before. He knows how to knead the dough pretty well so I got to cruise along with him.”
Jeff Hassler, working with team manager Alana Gattinger, was reportedly slow but the best of a bad bunch.
A trip to the onsen - a traditional hot spring - was the just reward for the noodle makers, but first, a little transformation was required. The players changed into the yukata and geta wooden shoes with some shaky, and memorable moments for the locals.
In good voice
Some Japanese rugby fans are as crazy as England's famous 'Barmy Army' cricket supporters, who have entertained with their dulcet tones in all corners of the world. This group (see video) weren't clearing their chords for the Japanese anthem, but instead had a crack at the Russian equivalent ahead of the two countries meeting in the first game of the Rugby World Cup 2019.
Everyone's dolled up
All the teams at the Rugby World Cup 2019 have received a doll-like daruma on which the players have to paint one eye and set a goal - and only when they achieve it can they paint the other.
But Canada coaches and staff have gone a step further – not only planning to paint the daruma’s eye, but vowing to get matching tattoos of the doll if their players "do exceptionally well”.
"We got a bit of a deal," said head coach Kingsley Jones (WAL). "If we get to the final, the boys made a pact to get this tattooed on their bodies - on some part."
Scots have a blast
The most important bit of kit for Scotland’s Captain’s Run in Yokohama on Friday was an industrial-strength boom box, and the rafters of the stadium were rattling to some serious techno beats rather than the sound of bagpipes. In fact, the portable sound system, with a volume control that seemed to turn up to 11, was the first bit kit unloaded from the team bus.
The Scots' management says the pop-up white-line disco was designed to energise the players - and they certainly looked pretty much on song during training.
Carter's collector's item
Dan Carter's getting all sophisticated in his retirement. The All Black legend has collaborated with Louis Vuitton to produce a limited edition rugby ball (see below) made in Monogram Eclipse canvas, which was chosen by the fly-half. Only 112, signed by the man himself, have been made - the same number of appearances Carter made for the All Blacks.
The Louis Vuitton and Dan Carter rugby ball will be available in selected Louis Vuitton stores in Japan from September 20, 2019.
Forget Fiji – Japanese keep flocking to Aussies
Several days after a much-lauded Japanese warlord was spotted sporting the green and gold of Australia, the core members of a university rugby team from Sapporo were filmed professing their undying love for the Wallabies. It appears that the condition is contagious with the fervent Rakuno Gakuen University RFC being joined by supporters young and old all over Sapporo ahead of the opening pool D match against Fiji. But there is a hitch - students admitted that their commitment to the two-time Rugby World Cup champions may waver were the Wallabies pitted against the Brave Blossoms.
Stat of the day
England have won their opening pool match at each of the last six Rugby World Cups. They lost their opening matches at RWC 1987 and 1991.
Quote of the day
"At the moment, we are at the top of the roller-coaster and everyone is excited, and you get down to the bottom and you are not quite sure if you are going to throw up or hang on. The players have equipped themselves to ride the roller-coaster because there are going to be some turns, some accidents and some fun."
- England coach Eddie Jones has primed his squad for all the ups and downs of a Rugby World Cup campaign.
Did you know?
If a drawn RWC final remains deadlocked after all criteria are applied to find the winner then world rankings will not be used as the final decider. In this case, the teams in the final will be declared joint winners of the Webb Ellis Cup.