TOKYO, 30 Oct – There is certain to be plenty of emotion on the pitch on Friday night at the culmination of the bronze final between New Zealand and Wales as several players bow out of international rugby.
There will also be some mixed feelings in the coaches' boxes as Steve Hansen and Warren Gatland bring down the curtain on their respective careers with New Zealand and Wales.
But Hansen, above, who was denied the chance to become a three-time World Cup winner when the All Blacks were beaten by England in the semi-final last weekend, is doing his best to find the positives.
He said being able to give some players one last run-out in the famous black jersey at the Tokyo Stadium was one and then, when asked about facing the media for the last time ahead of a test match, he picked up on another.
"I haven't even thought about it but now that you mention it, it's quite good, isn't it?" he said. "I don't have to do any more of these (press conferences). There's another positive - two of them."
Ben Curry may have been given the weekend off by Sale Sharks to travel to Japan to support twin brother Tom in the World Cup final, but Ben Youngs’s big brother will be at work so had to settle for sending his best wishes via social media.
I am so proud of what you have achieved so far. The whole family is.— Tom Youngs (@TomYoungs87) October 29, 2019
I would be there but there is a job to do this weekend here in Leicester for the club 🐯 we love.
We will all be watching and cheering you on @benyoungs09. #WearTheRose pic.twitter.com/wWIbue5tB2
Lose, win, lose, ... ?
Will this sequence have a nice symmetry to it for England on Saturday night?
Can England tame Lions curse?
If England do win the World Cup this weekend, they will put an end to one sequence that stretches all the way back to 1997.
In that year, when the British and Irish Lions toured South Africa, they were taking on a Springboks side who were the reigning world champions, having famously lifted the trophy on home soil in 1995.
Twelve years later, when the Rainbow Nation next hosted the Lions, pictured, South Africa were once again World Cup holders, this time having beaten England in the 2007 final in Paris.
And so, with South Africa next on the agenda for the Lions, in 2021, the omens are not on England’s side this weekend.
RWC Daily has it down to a tee
In today’s episode of Rugby World Cup Daily, England’s 2003 World Cup-winning number eight Lawrence Dallaglio picks his ultimate RWC 2019 XV, New Zealand legend Richie McCaw reveals the best players he played with and against, and Elma and Martyn Williams replay the South Africa-Wales semi-final… with golf clubs.
Episode 40 is here! @dallaglio8 picks his #RWC2019 ultimate team, Richie McCaw answers your twitter questions and @Elmakapelma takes on @martynewilliams for a #WALvRSA rematch... Kinda... @LandRoverRugby#RWC2019 pic.twitter.com/aWDd3cNQtD— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) October 30, 2019
Bok to the future
South Africa fly-half Handre Pollard was bang on target with the boot in his side’s semi-final victory over Wales, kicking 14 points with a 100 per cent success rate, and he was also deadly accurate with his pre-game prediction.
📅 Friday, pre-match conference for Wales v South Africa.— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) October 29, 2019
💬 "I'm sure it will come down to a kick" - Handre Pollard.
📅 Sunday, 75th minute.
🎯 Penalty slotted. pic.twitter.com/KByZMVoeow
Pollard’s prophecy may have been impressive in its accuracy, but how about this from Conor O’Shea who, following his Italy team’s 37-0 Rugby World Cup warm-up defeat by England in early September, announced: "If anyone beats this England side, they will win the World Cup."
Just recalled interviewing Italy head coach Conor O’Shea following powerful England win over his side in final #RWC2019 warm-up match in Newcastle: “if anyone beats this England side, they’ll win the World Cup”. Seems he was bang on.— James Gemmell (@JamesGemmellTV) October 29, 2019
Stat of the Day
Wales managed an average gain of just 1.6m per carry (182m from 114 carries) in their semi-final defeat by South Africa. That was the lowest ever recorded by a team in a Rugby World Cup match.