Thursday, 27 September 2007

Live and let dye

Back to the stories that matter at the Rugby World Cup...

Thanks to Joanna Bourne for bringing this one to my attention - a great example of "boys on tour" mentality is being displayed by the Tonga squad. Not content with one of their number, Epi Taione, changing his name by deed poll to "Paddy Power" before the tournament started, they have now apparently employed the services of an Irish hairdresser, Dermot Hickie, to dye the hair of the entire matchday 22 bright green before their encounter with England tomorrow evening. Each player, the Guardian reports, has gone for his own style and there will be varying shades of green.

The IRB having, predictably, refused to amend Taione's entry in the tournament guide to Paddy Power, the Tongans have, it seems, made this gesture to thank the Irish bookmaker for its invaluable financial support.

"They [the IRB] will go mad about this," Taione/Power is reported to have said - and I suspect he's right that the blazers will probably fail to see the funny side.

Another fine example of a squad adopting a tour mentality is to be found in the Australian camp where they appear to be maintaining their own tour blog, with contributions by the likes of Stephen Larkham, Stephen Hoiles, David Lyons, Steve Moore, Rocky Elsom and Phil Waugh.

The most bizarre story to feature so far is that of Al "The Fuse" Baxter (you know, the bloke who's likely to win his 50th Australian cap at prop this week despite being unable to scrummage). Rumour has it that, during the Wallabies' pre-World Cup boot camp where the players all had to glove up and take on legendary Aussie mixed martial arts fighter Chris "The Hammer" Haseman, Baxter stepped up and laid the The Hammer out.

Here's a supposed eye-witness account from none other than Matt Giteau:

I remember Al was particularly focused that day. From looking at the bloke, you just knew he was going to win. He is psyched up. He's not talking to anyone. He's doing all these push-ups and things. And then he gets into the fight. He touches gloves with The Hammer, stares him down, and says, 'Get ready to be Baxtered.' He walks back. He's just mucking around with The Hammer. He's moving around, and then out of nowhere, he goes WHACK. He then stands over the Hammer and goes, 'You've been Baxtered.'

Nice try chaps, and well done to Giteau for keeping a straight face (see below) but obviously a huge WIND-UP. Still, nice to see someone's not taking life off the pitch too seriously - can you imagine anything as imaginative coming out of the England camp?

1 comment:

Matt @ Green and Gold Rugby said...

You wont find me defending Big Al's scrummaging record, but apparently he did land one on Haseman, to the amazement of all and sundry. I read it somewhere while they were on their pre-cup bootcamp.