TOKYO, 20 Oct - New Zealand coach Steve Hansen had a double reason to celebrate on Saturday.
Not only did he successfully steer the All Blacks into the semi-finals of RWC 2019 with a convincing win over Ireland, he also scooped a handy windfall after the horse in which he owns a stake, Nature Strip, finished fourth in The Everest, the world's richest turf race, at Sydney's Royal Randwick Racecourse.
The five-year-old gelding's fourth-place was worth AUS$820,000 - the winner, Yes Yes Yes, collected a whopping $AUS4.8million - and, although it's not clear exactly how much Hansen will receive for his one-fifteenth stake in the horse once all the expenses are taken into consideration, he is certainly not complaining.
"I was watching on Sky Go and got a wee bit excited when we were coming round to the front," he said. "He kicked actually and I thought, 'We've got a show here'.
"Then with 100 (metres) to go I thought, 'Hang on, boy, hang on', but then they all came at him. I'm really proud of him, he finished fourth and all the first four broke the track record.
"You only have to look to see what we got paid for running fourth, and I'm reasonably happy about that, too."
Hansen also found another reason to smile on Saturday night, picking out a member of the media pack for a special mention following his side's win over Ireland.
But it wasn't a question from the floor that amused the Kiwi coach, it was the reporter's new facial fuzz.
Even on the biggest day in their rugby history, Brave Blossoms fans Inomata and Takahashi, below, wanted to deflect just a little bit of attention elsewhere and express their thanks to the Canada team who helped residents in Kamaishi clean up after the devastation wreaked by Typhoon Hagibis.
"We are so grateful for their help and we wanted to say thank you to Canada in front of the world," Inomata said.
The two friends are from Kawasaki and had travelled all the way to Tokyo Stadium to make their statement, even though they did not have tickets to the hottest game of the tournament, Japan versus South Africa.
It is just another example of how passionately this extraordinary country has embraced RWC 2019.
Rose to the occasion
Towns and cities across Japan have made huge efforts to welcome teams and fans as they step off trains, planes and automobiles but the Oita council may want to slightly tweak its rose globe, pictured below.
The beautiful evocation of planet earth comprises 2,800 pieces of colourful preserved roses but while they have appropriately represented Australia with a cluster of vibrant golden flowers, England, whose rugby team is sometimes referred to as the Red Roses, is a shade of disturbing sky blue.
And that's a pale imitation of how Eddie Jones sees his side.
Thanks a million
Teams who are used to winning trophies might look down on nations who celebrate like world champions when they reach the last eight of a tournament, but everything is relative in the world of sport.
"This is great ... not just for Japanese rugby, but rugby in Asia and Tier 2 rugby," said captain Michael Leitch.
However joyous the celebrations were, though, they couldn't hope to match those in another host nation who reached the quarter-finals, this time in football. In 1998 Burkina Faso, one of the world’s poorest countries, somehow found the money to host the Africa Cup of Nations.
The Etalons (Stallions) lost the opening game against Cameroon and that, it seemed, was that. But they beat Algeria, ranked far higher, then scored a late winner against Guinea to make the knockouts for the first time. Cue pandemonium.
Crowds five and six deep lined the roads for several miles from the stadium back to the centre of Ougadougou, the capital. They sang and danced and banged saucepans for every passing bus, even if it was full of police or media - then the really big crowds turned out in the city centre. State officials estimated the turnout to celebrate at one million.
And they even went one better than Japan and won their quarter-final. It was no one-off either, for in 2013 they went all the way to the final.
So look out for Japan to really make their mark at RWC 2035.
In the latest episode of Rugby World Cup Daily, Elma gets to the heart of all the quarter-final action as she spends the day, and night, with fans of England, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland. And there's also a special message from golf superstar Rory McIlroy.
Happy camper man
Ireland fan Michael Magee was a happy camper after he managed to secure tickets for both Tokyo quarter-finals.
With most Irish fans expecting their side to top Pool A and play in the fourth and final last-eight match in Tokyo on Sunday night, there was a mass swap organised via social media, with numerous Irish and Japanese supporters exchanging tickets.
Magee – a Cavan man living in Montreal – is on tour with three friends, travelling around Japan in a motor home, below. He had a ticket for Japan v South Africa, which he decided to keep, but he was also able to get his hands on a prized ticket for Ireland's clash with New Zealand.
"Some lovely lads from Australia had one (spare)," Magee said. "I paid them a reasonable bonus.
"There are four of us, three from Montreal and one from Selby and we have been all over the west of Japan. This motor home has to be the most photographed vehicle in the country."
Rice and easy does it
Fans across Japan have been guaranteed the warmest of welcomes by their hosts wherever they have travelled.
And the Welsh lads and lasses in Oita for Sunday's quarter-final with France will have been delighted to see this tempting offer, right, in a local eaterie.
The sign reads ...'Chicken rice balls - welcome back to Oita'.
The canny restaurateurs were even grammatically spot on with their deal for 'two pieces' or 'three pieces'.
Fortunately for Warren Gatland's men, they were just about able to secure victory over the French to ensure their World Cup campaign did not end up in pieces.
Stat of the Day
Japan v South Africa was a thrilling quarter-final, but it yielded the fewest points - 29 - of any game at RWC 2019. Japan, for all their free-flowing rugby, were also involved in the game with third lowest points tally - their 19-12 win over Ireland in the pool stage.
RNS icr /sw