From the Touchline - Saturday, 19 October

The Rugby News Service team take a walk on the blindside to find offbeat news stories, stats and anecdotes from RWC 2019...

TOKYO, 19 October - In 1987, Australian tennis player Pat Cash established a tradition at Wimbledon, stepping off the grass at Centre Court to climb into the stand and over spectators' heads to celebrate his Men's Singles title with family, friends and coaches. 

Will Beauden Barrett's incursion into the Tokyo Stadium stands, above, to greet his family following the All Blacks' 46-14 win over Ireland set a new standard for rugby players?

As outgoing Ireland coach Joe Schmidt also walked down through the massed ranks of the green army, shaking hands and receiving back-slaps as he signed off as head coach, we think this could turn out to be another welcome innovation of RWC 2019. 

Federer serves up a surprise for Siya

South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus has said that while there may not be many Springbok supporters at Sunday’s quarter-final against Japan, there will be 60 million fans back home cheering them on.

And there will be a familiar face from the tennis world backing the men in green and gold as well.

Swiss master Roger Federer – whose mother is South African – apparently used to enjoy scrummaging with his father in his younger days, so it is no surprise that he will be screaming for the Springboks on Sunday.

"Let’s go Springboks. You guys can do it, and I’m supporting you guys. I’m your – not No.1 fan, because I don’t know all the rules. But I will be supporting you," Federer told CNN.

Boks captain Siya Kolisi, who is a big fan of Federer himself, couldn’t stop smiling when interviewed by the same television station. "That is amazing! I love that."

Ford perfect, says tech-ready Eddie

Eddie Jones, the man who coined the term 'finishers' for his England replacements, was at his affable post-win best when asked about George Ford, above, after the 40-16 defeat of Australia. 

Child's play for England fan Jago

Could this be England's youngest fan? Jago, 11 weeks old today, travelled from London with his parents to see the quarter-final against Australia.

"He loves rugby, he loves Japan," said his proud mum, before showing us his ear protectors - brought specially to block out the noise of those Aussie fanatics…

The little man took his first flight to Japan to see the England-France game, but the disappointment of its cancellation will have been tempered by witnessing England's 40-16 victory ahead of their flight home on Sunday.

Beast is in the pink

He is one of the tough men in the Springbok team, but Tendai Mtawarira has proved that he has a creative side as well.

The South Africa loose-head prop donned shiny salmon pink boots at training this week ahead of Sunday’s quarter-final against Japan.

But despite his colourful boots, the Brave Blossoms better beware: the ‘Beast’ will be unleashed at Tokyo Stadium.

Dear Santa, this year I would like the Webb Ellis Cup

Eddie Jones has been clear about his team’s intention to stay until 2 November, the day of the final, but that does not explain the presence of Father Christmas and some of his reindeer outside England’s team hotel in Tokyo.

As fans across Japan will have noticed, the host nation have been getting geared up for Halloween for some time. But Christmas, although celebrated mainly by couples and kids, is not the big festival it is in the nations of many of the other competing nations. Here's hoping it comes early for one of the teams.

Trophy wife

Whatever England's intentions, Wales centre Hadleigh Parkes has made up his mind about the gift he wants to take home to his pregnant wife.

"Bringing back the World Cup would be nice," said the 32-year-old. "My wife can't be here, it’s too close to the birth, so she’s not allowed to fly. The planning wasn’t the best on that."

Parkes is not without familial support ahead of Sunday's quarter-final against France, however. "My parents and my brother and his wife just flew in yesterday. They are up for this one."

Hanging tough

Oita is the scene of two quarter-finals this weekend, and the city embraced its role as a World Cup host, with its famous Giant Lounging Lucky Cat getting in on the action.

But do we detect some favouritism from the locals ahead of the last-eight matches? For hanging in a local shopping centre is a frightening looking front row wearing the red of Sunday's quarter-finalists, Wales. 

Stat of the day

When his England team beat Australia in the quarter-final, Eddie Jones became the first head coach to beat his native country at a Rugby World Cup. No coach had managed that in 12 attempts. Jones’s achievement was clearly an anomaly - Joe Schmidt later succumbed to the ‘curse’ when Ireland lost to his native New Zealand.

RNS js/am/ns/rl/sw