Wales' Dan Biggar, second right, tackles South Africa's S'Busiso Nkosi during the Rugby World Cup semifinal at International Yokohama Stadium between Wales and South Africa in Yokohama on Sunday. Photo: AP Photo/Mark Baker
Wales' Dan Biggar, second right, tackles South Africa's S'Busiso Nkosi during the Rugby World Cup semifinal at International Yokohama Stadium between Wales and South Africa in Yokohama on Sunday. Photo: AP Photo/Mark Baker

The Monday after the Sunday of the RWC Semi-final

By Ashfak Mohamed Time of article published Oct 28, 2019

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TOKYO – Pity the person responsible for the Springboks' laundry. Never mind the 23 festering jerseys. How do they keep Rassie Erasmus' shirt so dazzlingly white?

You might have thought the South Africa coach was whipping a new starched number out of the packet each week, given the armpit-yellowing stress of guiding a team to the Rugby World Cup final. Not so.

"Every time last year, since I started coaching and we lose a match, I changed my clothing. Last year, I had to change quite a lot of clothing, because we lost quite a lot," explained Erasmus.

"This year, I only had to change it once. So, I'm hoping I can wear this until the end of the final. This is my lucky shirt so far. It's my church shirt." He has worn white at all six RWC 2019 games, above.

And, yes, you heard Rassie right: the only match the Springboks have lost this year was against New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup 2019 pool phase. Although it maybe helps that they didn't play a match between November 2018 and July 2019.

Was Erasmus inspired by another member of the urbane coaches' club?

Herve Renard has always understood what a white shirt can do for the eligible mature gentleman. The football coach has managed Zambia, Angola, Ivory Coast and Morocco, and inspired a Facebook page called Let's Get Herve's White Shirt to the Museum.

During his tenure in charge of Morocco, he featured on the front page of the Moroccan version of Hello alongside his new belle and sporting a more casual look – a white T-shirt.

Never mind spies at training, Eddie, what about planting a mole in the laundry?

Diplomacy out of the window

Talking of dastardly tactics, the Rugby World Cup now has prime ministers trolling each other.

Tiger going for Eagles?

Is there anywhere RWC 2019 has not permeated? Luca Parmitano watched the Azzurri via a feed beamed to the International Space Station earlier this year. Now Rory McIlroy has been whispering sweet rugby nothings in Tiger Woods's ear on the greenside.

Mercury rising

This tournament has also further strained the relationship between sport and music. Here Dan Cole stretches it to breaking point. Although Joe Marler shows every sign of being a karaoke king.

South African entertainer Leon Schuster couldn't resist updating his RWC 1995 song Hie Kommie Bokke, and giving it a Japanese spin. Will South Africa fans be belting out his 2019 version, Hey Bokke!, after the final on Saturday?

Daddy's still cool

Talking of 90s classics, Will Carling has led the love for Kieran Read, who yesterday put New Zealand's semi-final loss into poignant perspective. The All Blacks defeat was a shoddy sort of birthday present for Read, now 34. But therein lay the saving grace.

"I get back to the hotel room and there are cards from my kids waiting for me," said Read after the game.

"It changes things and puts things in perspective. I'm a dad, and that's first and foremost the thing I want to be remembered by."

Carling retweeted Read's philosophical take with a row of applause emojis, while Bryan Habana wrote, "Love this authenticity."

There have been few straws for Kiwis to clutch at though. The Silver Ferns lost the Constellation Cup, netball's equivalent of the Bledisloe Cup, on Sunday, with Australia victorious for the seventh time in a row.

Jonny, be good

There'll an Aussie in England's corner on Saturday, although Matt Giteau may want to rethink his allegiance.

Relive the arm-wrestle

Elma-san documents the torturous emotions of those watching Wales v South Africa, the semi-final everyone is calling an arm-wrestle, in Monday's edition of Rugby World Cup Daily.

Maro a marvel

It transpires that WWE's loss is rugby's gain. As if Maro Itoje wasn't fearsome enough against the All Blacks, South Africa now learn they will be facing a forward with an adamantium skeleton.

Stat of the day

South Africa conceded 27 points on average in test matches in 2016. This year Erasmus and his defence coach Jacques Nienaber have whittled that down to 11.

  * Ashfak Mohamed is in Japan covering the Springboks for the Rugby World Cup's Rugby News Service.


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