RWC Almost Here As Teams Settle In

Paul Mullen: I'm Only One Of 8

The Rugby World Cup kicks off in five days with the host nation, Japan, taking on Russia.

The USA team left Denver for Japan this Sunday and got a nice, rousing sendoff from fans as they got on the bus to go to the airport.

Several other teams are already there, and chatting with the press. Every World Cup year the discussion comes up about players who were born in one country, and playing for another. 

Where Are You From?

It happens in every nation, so it shouldn't be a surprise, but players get asked about.

Taniela Tupou is from Tonga, but players for Australia.

"I remember playing for Tonga U14s a few years ago and our coach was saying the plan is for everyone to play in the World Cup in 2019 for Tonga. And here I am sitting here, playing for Australia," he said, adding: "There is one playing for Australia, one playing for Japan and none playing for Tonga."

Someone Famous In The Hotel (?)

Meanwhile, New Zealand superstar Beauden Barrett was asked about another superstar, boxing legend Floyd Mayweather, who is apparently staying at the All Blacks' hotel.

"I haven’t seen him but a few of the guys saw him yesterday. Aaron Smith (NZL) got sort of caught up with his security team. He’s pretty keen on him," said Barrett.

The former World Rugby Player Of The Year has shifted from flyhalf to fullback, and that's been a slight adjustment for him.

"Both [positions] require very similar skill sets," said Barrett. At fullback, I have to learn how I can influence the game differently to how I would at first five-eighth [aka flyhalf]. Both I really enjoy and I'm really happy to play in either."

Good To Get There Early

And South Africa captain Siya Kolisi said that getting to Japan early has been an important part of the preparation.

“It was a great call for us to come early and it has been a great privilege," he said. “We know how to handle the conditions now and the fact that our training has been very hard means it will stand us in good stead. The benefits will come through later in the games."

It also gives players a chance to see the sights before things get real.

“I’ve also enjoyed the city. I visited the volcano and it was pretty amazing to see it erupt while we were there, and the people have been so welcoming in the way they have looked after us," said Kolisi. "They always want to help."

And, finally, as teams arrive they bring their team photos. Here are Uruguay and Namibia, pretty pleased to be in the big show.



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