TOKYO, 6 Oct - Champions New Zealand have led the way as the world's top players and coaches joined forces over the Keep Rugby Clean weekend, with all 20 World Cup teams throwing their considerable support behind World Rugby's important anti-doping education and awareness programme.
In team training and at the weekend's five matches dotted around Japan, hundreds of players have enthusiastically sported the pink T-shirts designed to highlight the message of clean sport and a fair, level playing field for all.
It has proved a resounding success, with World Rugby Anti-Doping General Manager Mike Earl calling the level of support from all the teams as "superb".
"From players, teams, match officials and everyone involved, it's been a great demonstration of the shared commitment across the global rugby family to ensure that this important message reaches the greatest possible audience," he said.
At their base in Tokyo's Disney resort, the All Blacks wore the shirts at training before Sunday's game against Namibia, with assistant coach Ian Foster declaring: "Rugby's a unique and fantastic game and we want to be part of preserving that, so we're really behind what World Rugby are doing here.
"It's a clear message that we want rugby to maintain the honesty and integrity that we think it has.
"Obviously, there's temptations out there for anyone to take short cuts and try to think there’s a magic wand you can wave to become a great player. The only sensible way, the right way, is through hard work and balance, particularly in nutrition, so this is a great message and great that it’s being supported by everybody at this World Cup."
One of the All Blacks' legion of star centres, Anton Lienert-Brown, believed it was a weekend to remind all players that they now needed to take more personal responsibility for knowing exactly what supplements and nutrition they were using.
"As a player, I've learned a lot along the way. We've been lucky enough (in the All Blacks camp) to get presentations and seminars about what we can do individually as players," said Lienert-Brown.
"But you've actually got to go out and do your own research. At the end of the day, it's up to you to know what you're taking. What I've taken away from it (the education programme) is that any young aspiring rugby players needs to be conscious of what they're taking and make sure you're asking the right questions to the people who are giving you whatever you are taking."
The All Blacks' opponents Namibia were also trying to spread the message with their Welsh attack coach Mark Jones noting how the weekend was just another weapon in the fight to make rugby "the cleanest sport it can be".
"The stringency and scrutiny around anti-doping now is top level and rightly so. We don’t want any cheats in the game so it's terrific the way World Rugby and the anti-doping agencies are policing it. I can only imagine with the advancements of science the testing will become even more stringent and the cheats will be exposed more so as time goes by."
After the France team trained for Sunday's match against Tonga at Kumamoto, experienced full-back Maxime Medard talked of his pride in wearing the shirt.
"The teams here in Japan, we're the shop window for our sport. It's up to us to give an example." said Medard. "There are kids watching us who are the future of this sport and it's important they know that we high-profile players are against doping. It's good to do this initiative in the middle of a World Cup."
In Tokyo, before their victory over Argentina, England winger Ruaridh McConnochie explained how he and his teammates were keen to help promote the programme in any way they could. "We want to compete in a clean sport and we do as much we can. It's huge, a great campaign for rugby," he said.
England's coach Eddie Jones could not resist his own inimitable take on the weekend as he pointed at McConnochie and smiled: "You don't get the body through steroid juice."
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont saluted the teams' push over the weekend, saying: "It's been fantastic to see all 20 teams coming together with the match officials and everyone involved with Rugby World Cup 2019 to support this important initiative."