The length teams go to try and win the Rugby World Cup sometimes read like fake news.
For instance, there was a report that Wales players lubricated a rugby ball with baby oil when they wanted to simulate wet conditions during practice for their first match against Georgia last Monday.
They need not have worried – not only did the predicted deluge stay away, but with odds of 1 000-1 Georgia are rank outsiders to win the cup, and are in fact regarded as walkovers, like Japan before they beat South Africa at the previous World Cup.
However, unlike the Springboks then, Wales were not taking any chances. Before coach Warren Gatland reached for the baby oil he had submerged the practice ball in a bucket of water to get it really wet, but that turned out to be not wet enough.
Of course he could also have used Vaseline, a better-known slippery ointment used by studs, or even Vicks Vaporub, which could have come in handy too if anybody developed a wheezy chest by trying to hold on to the unholdable.
Even before arriving in Japan Gatland made sure his players were prepared for every possible condition in their host country. To this end they visited Turkey where the temperature touched 40 degrees, just in case a heat-wave hits Japan during the tournament, and after that they visited Switzerland to get used to conditions high above sea level.
Really? Wasn’t Japan only a flattish island with one volcanic mountain called Fuji?
Maybe the players went to Switzerland only as an excuse to for once get their minds off rugby, and on to some non-contact sport such as skiing.
As the defenders of the World Cup the All Blacks too made sure they came to the tournament well prepared. In their last warm-up game against Tonga their wily coach Steve Hansen did what has never been done before: he deliberately ordered one of his team’s 15 players off the field, to simulate what it takes to beat your opponents with only 14 men.
But why didn’t he try his luck with 13 men, or even 12? For the All Black still won the match 97-7.
Many couch commentators felt it was unsportsmanlike to deliberately face one’s opponents not at full strength, just as the tennis player Nick Kyrgios is criticised for suddenly refusing to play on during a match and in an inexplicable fit smashes his racket to smithereens before walking off court in a fury.
He should start playing rugby to see what happens if you lose your cool, on or off the field. Just ask Eben Etzebeth.
Stuur jou mening van 300 woorde of minder na MyStem@netwerk24.com en ons sal dit vir publikasie oorweeg. Onthou om jou naam en van, ‘n kop-en-skouers foto en jou dorp of stad in te sluit.
Netwerk24 ondersteun ’n intelligente, oop gesprek en waardeer sinvolle bydraes deur ons lesers. Lewer hier kommentaar wat relevant is tot die onderwerp van die artikel. Jou mening is vir ons belangrik en kan verdere menings of ondersoeke stimuleer. Geldige kritiek en meningsverskille is aanvaarbaar, maar dit is nie 'n platform vir haatspraak of persoonlike aanvalle nie. Kommentaar wat irrelevant, onnodig aggressief of beledigend is, sal verwyder word. Lees ons volledige kommentaarbeleid
Murray La Vita is 'n bekroonde rubriekskrywer en profielskrywer vir Netwerk24.
Hanlie Retief is 'n bekroonde skrywer en aanbieder van 'n Halfuur met Hanlie op Via.
Blouwillem is 'n voorheen bevoordeelde, tans geseënde middeljarige man.
Waldimar Pelser is redakteur van Rapport en aanbieder van 'In Gesprek' op kykNET.
Henry Jeffreys is 'n politieke kommentator en voormalige redakteur van Die Burger.
Johann Maarman is eindredakteur by Die Burger en 'n bekroonde rubriekskrywer.
Nathan Trantraal is 'n strokiesprentkunstenaar en digter van Kaapstad.
Leopold Scholtz is 'n vryskutjoernalis en politieke kommentator.
Barnard Beukman is die redakteur van Beeld.
Gert Coetzee is redakteur van Volksblad.
Herman Lategan is 'n skrywer wie se rubrieke in 'Binnekring van Spookasems' gebundel is.
Sonja Loots is 'n dosent aan die Universiteit van Kaapstad en bekroonde outeur.
Sarel van der Walt is 'n joernalis vir Netwerk24 en 'n voormalige Londen-korrespondent vir Media24.
Charles Smith is Netwerk24 se nuusredakteur in Bloemfontein.
Hallo, jy moet ingeteken wees of registreer om artikels te lees.