One Percenters: Japanese fans do their World Cup homework, P.A.S hits Japan

by Beth Newman, Emma Greenwood and Iain Payten

The Wallabies might have plenty of travelling fans at the Rugby World Cup but the dedication from Japanese people to support every team has been one of the remarkable elements of the tournament.

Take Saturday's Wallabies-Uruguay game.

For each game, there are two child mascots who run out with the teams and stand next to the captains as the anthems are sung.

You could probably forgive them for not knowing another country's anthem, but on Saturday it was clear that was no issue.

A young Japanese boy absolutely belted out the Uruguayan anthem and while there's no exact confirmation on whether he was singing all the correct words it certainly seemed as if he had done his homework.

It's a small gesture that is emblematic of the spirit of this Rugby World Cup with Japanese fans ensuring every team feels supported throughout the competition.

Schools side makes history, now to take next step

The Australian Schools and U18s broke a seven-year drought with a win over New Zealand in Hamilton this week, sparking plenty of optimism about the next generation of rugby stars.

This crop showed some incredibly bright seasons in the past year, with many featuring in last year's European tour, before achieving this feat.

The next challenge will be ensuring this talent is developed in Super Rugby and hopefully, one day, into becoming Wallabies.

A move to expand the schoolboys to a schools and U18s group is already keeping players in the game and a host of last year's graduates are now on Super Rugby lists.

Current flyhalf Reesjan Pasitoa is already locked in to head to the Brumbies in 2020 and it's hoped that many more of this year's group follow.

Looking back to that crew of seven years ago, three players have featured for Australia from that season - Jack Dempsye, Tom Robertson and Matt Philip.

A host more carved out Super Rugby stints and one, new Waratah Tepai Meoroa, is set to return to rugby after a stint in rugby league.

Take a look back at the 2012 squad here.


2012 Schoolboys squad

Jack Dempsey (NSW), Lolo Fakaosilea (QLD), Andrew Ferris (NSW), Lolakai Foketi (NSW), Michael Gunn (QLD),Gareth Kalell (QLD), Siotame Kavapalu (VIC), Andrew Kellaway (NSW), Adam Korczyk (QLD), Jake McIntyre (NSW), Tepai Meoroa (NSW), Neori Nadruku (ACT), Matthew Philip (NSW), Jonah Placid (QLD), Aaron Pleash (QLD). John Porch (NSW), Angus Pulver (NSW), Tomas Robertson (NSW), Andrew Robinson (ACT) Harry Rorke (NSW), Matt Sandell (NSW), Moli Sooaemalelagi (VIC), Tom Staniforth (ACT), Jim Stewart (NSW), Jack Tuttle (QLD), Mitchell Whiteley, (NSW) Brad Wilkin (QLD) Tom Wilson (NSW)

Ruan's departure leaves hole off the field in Queensland

Ruan Smith has backed Brad Thorn's confidence. Photo: Getty ImagesThe departure of front-rower Ruan Smith from the Reds to join the Melbourne Rebels will be seen as a blow to the playing group and not just because of his on-field ability.

Smith - whose twin and fellow front-rower and meat lover JP remains on the Reds' books - has played a key part in helping groom the next generation of Reds props.

While the Reds have an advantage in that area in their coaching staff, with head coach Brad Thorn and scrum doctor Cameron Lillicrap great fans of forward play, both Smith twins have also mentored emerging Reds players.

Ruan will have less competition at the Rebels than in Brisbane, with Wallabies tighthead Taniela Tupou and Junior Wallabies prop Josh Nasser on the books.

And Nasser and loosehead Harry Hoopert have sung his praises as a teacher.

"Obviously scrummaging is an extremely technical aspect of the game but working with Ruan Smith, who's almost 30 and really experienced in his field, he's been immense in helping me," Nasser said.

"You might get toweled up once or twice but you've just got to take learnings every single time you do have the opportunity to scrum."

Hoopert, who grew up on the Darling Downs and knew the Smith twins from his time at Toowoomba Grammar, said Smith had been a great teacher.

"I remember last year was my first proper year of pre-season and Ruan and Taniela were touching me up a fair bit but now it's starting to get a bit more even," Hoopert said.

"I'm clawing my way back up.

"Ruan tends to tell me what to do and how to fix stuff."

Uruguay bring slice of home to Japan

Uruguay brought a piece of home with them to the Rugby World Cup, carting a huge collection of mate.

Mate is a traditional drink in South America, brewed similarly to tea with mate leaves and boiling water.

A group of players were drinking the signature South American beverage at their captain's run and assistant coach Joaquin Pastores revealed they had brought plenty with them.

The team shipped 200kg of mate to the Rugby World Cup to ensure they had plenty to drink during the tournament.

Now, that's commitment.

P.A.S hits Japan

Great game from the wallabies!! #gopoey

A post shared by P.A.S (@pocockappreciationsociety) on

Every Aussie rugby fan knows how popular David Pocock is but few probably know of the society entirely dedicated to honouring the star flanker.

A group of Canberran rugby fans have started up the P.A.S - Pocock Appreciation Society - and they travelled to Japan to watch him in action.

This is no amateur society either, the organisation has official merchandise and a logo dedicated to Pocock.

Along the way, they have recruited some famous additions including Stirling Mortlock and George Smith but on Saturday they finally got to link up with the real deal.

The members met and snapped a pic with Pocock after Saturday's Uruguay match, gifting him a shirt from the society as well.

Wallaroos feature in NRLW final

Wallaroos lock Millie Boyle and 2016 Rio gold medallist Amy Turner collected a new piece of silverware on Sunday, winning the NRLW premiership with the Broncos.

Boyle has been one of the stars of the NRLW competition this season and looks almost certain to be picked for Australia's Jillaroos when the national team is named to play PNG next week.

The 21-year-old is juggling both rugby and rugby league and the title caps off a stellar season for her after a series of injury setbacks in recent seasons.

Brisbane dominated the match, beating the Dragons 30-6 at ANZ Stadium ahead of the NRL decider on Sunday.

Queensland Super W player Lavinia Gould was also in the Brisbane colours, while former Sevens prospect Tiana Penitani featured for the runner-up Dragons.

Sayle to be farewelled in Sydney

Randwick rugby icon Jeff Sayle will be farewelled in a public service in Coogee next Friday, with hundreds of people expected to attend.

Sayle's funeral will be held at St Brigid's Catholic Church in Coogee at 11:30am.

England coach  Eddie Jones is expected to be among the number at the service, after the RFU granted him permission to return to Australia to say goodbye to his "great mate".

Anyone who does attend has been asked to don a dash of myrtle green.