RETURN OF THE WICKER MANRecent light rain in Tokyo brought some welcome refreshment from the heat and humidity which the Japanese capital is famed for even at this late stage of summer.
For us peely-wally members of the Scottish rugby press corps, more used to the Murrayfield west stand which goes from freezer in winter to refrigerator in spring, the oppressive blanket can take as much getting used to as the jetlag and the hyper manic bedlam that is the Tokyo rail network.
It can all be gotten to grips with, of course. But one veteran of countless overseas trips covering rugby, football and even warzones, had plotted a 20-minute walk charted on Google maps which seemed more appealing than negotiating the two-stop rail trip.
Your diarist, staying nearby, and equally intimidated by something which makes the London tube look like a Hornby train set, agreed to accompany our adventurer. Inevitably, after a few detours, including one steep incline on a back street which would rival Mount Fuji, the intrepid duo made it to the Scotland hotel in good time.
But a glance at my by then “flushed and glowing” sensai brought to mind a tale he takes delight in telling against himself about a tour to Fiji. After the Test in steamy Suva the media had to hopfoot it around the stadium to conduct post-match interviews on the opposite side of the pitch. Upon arrival, Scotland forward John Barclay greeted his inquisitor with a typically ‘dry’ observation. “Jesus, you look like a melted candle!”
COMPLIMENTAL BREAKFASTYour diarist looked much worse than that following a direct flight from Amsterdam to Tokyo on Sunday/Monday but was given a fleeting pick-me-up from the crippling jetlag during breakfast at the hotel. A friendly waitress, who turned out to be from Nepal and spoke flawless English, asked the reason for the trip to Tokyo. “For the Rugby World Cup,” I answered. To which came the reply: “Oh, are you playing in it?”
The compliment was duly taken but given the 12 hours of flying time could be added to careworn diarist’s 43 years, it was swiftly deduced that she could only have thought that rugby was some form of western version of seniors tour middleweight Sumo wrestling.
SAM’S ON THE RIGHT SIDE NOWHe’s one of our own now but Sam Johnson gave a typically straight Aussie response to some questioning yesterday about who he was supporting in that last World Cup when Scotland and the Wallabies clashed in an epic quarter-final at Twickenham not long after he had arrived at Glasgow.
“I’m a different person to the one I was four years ago,” beamed the 27-year-old from Queensland, who qualified for his adopted country last summer. “I was just this kid who had come from Australia so I was cheering for Australia,” he admitted. “I didn’t know any better. I had no idea what was going on. I’m a completely different person now.
“Back in 2003 [when Australia hosted the tournament] I had no idea about rugby union. I was more a rugby league guy.”
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