TOKYO, 22 Oct - Sharp-eyed supporters have noticed that the numbers on the back of the South African players’ shirts have been adorned with dozens of pictures.
It is all part of the Boks' Faces on Numbers campaign, to strengthen the bond between supporters and the team. SA Rugby Union marketing manager Marlon Kruger told us that there have been "thousands of registrations from South Africans from all walks of life who have uploaded their selfies on the Springbok website, and there are different faces on the jerseys for each match".
Images of players’ family and friends have been included and a picture of former Bok wing Chester Williams, who passed away in September, was on the jersey during the opening match against New Zealand.
"Players absolutely love the idea of having thousands of fans behind them for every clash. Seeing the images reminds them of the support back home and who they are playing for," Kruger said.
Siya and Schalk reveal who's got their backs at the #FarewellTest at Loftus today.— Springboks (@Springboks) August 17, 2019
You can have your face on a Springbok jersey number in Japan, by simply heading to https://t.co/75C1R0KZxP and clicking on the Faces on Numbers (FON) tab. #StrongerTogether pic.twitter.com/DvAz2sQl3k
It has been a momentous day in Japan's history but Wales are trying to make it business as usual for Sunday’s semi-final against South Africa - not easy when a new Emperor is being enthroned a mile away.
Security has been beefed up at their hotel, which is hosting many of the foreign dignitaries who are in Tokyo for Tuesday's ceremony for Emperor Naruhito at the Imperial Palace, and a banquet for 2,000 guests on Wednesday.
The new #Emperor of Japan has proclaimed his #Enthronement to the nation and the world, with the #Empress by his side, in a Tokyo ceremony attended by representatives of about 180 countries.https://t.co/r9lLBAEolR pic.twitter.com/I0FtjniERB— The Japan News (@The_Japan_News) October 22, 2019
No wonder some of the corridors have been closed off and are patrolled by security guards. "We’ve got a couple of challenges in the next couple of the days with the Prime Minister (Shinzo Abe) being here," said coach Warren Gatland. "We had to come in a separate entrance. There is security with metal detectors. We don’t know how our bus is going to get in and out. We’ve got a few challenges to work through."
A parade had also been planned but has been postponed until 10 November following the severe damage caused by Typhoon Hagibis.
Gone but not forgotten
Quite understandably, Japan is basking in the exploits of the Brave Blossoms and the players are being interviewed extensively. Memories such as these will not fade quickly...
Never too late...
He almost missed the Rugby World Cup party, but welcome to Owen Lane of Wales - probably the last man to be called up by the four remaining teams after the luckless Josh Navidi tore a hamstring.
SQUAD UPDATE: @cardiff_blues wing @owen_lane has been called up to Wales' 31-man #RWC2019 squad, replacing Josh Navidi.— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) October 22, 2019
Lane, who made his international debut earlier this year, will arrive in Japan later this afternoon. pic.twitter.com/KZ0uPiUEOj
One for the album
A wonderful montage of some priceless moments from RWC 2019. If you want to know who they all are, click here.
There is still plenty to talk about as Elma and the team look back at the best moments from the quarter-finals, Francois Pienaar gets serious and James Haskell, Mike Tindall & Justin Marshall have some BIG decisions to make.
It's the season for goodbyes, not least from France's captain. Guilhem Guirado is ending a distinguished international career after leading his country 33 times - coincidentally, his age.
🙏 Il tire sa révérence après 11 années passées sous le maillot Bleu. #XVdeFrance.— France Rugby (@FranceRugby) October 21, 2019
🇫🇷 74 sélections
©️ 33 fois capitaine
🏉 8 essais
🌍 3 participations RWC
🥈 Vice-Champion du Monde
🤝 Un grand monsieur
Merci pour tout capitaine @guilhem_guirado ! #NeFaisonsXV pic.twitter.com/IxGtX9OzDD
Stat of the day
Four England players passed the previous RWC record for the number of tackles made in a single match when England beat Australia on Saturday: Sam Underhill (20), Mako Vunipola (18), Jamie George and Owen Farrell (both 17). The previous record was 16.