They say adversity brings out the best in men and women and taking Maxime Mbandà (pictured on the right) as an example, no truer words have been spoken.

The Azzurri back-row has put fears for his own safety to one side to help his fellow citizens in their darkest hour by becoming an emergency ambulance driver as Italy continues to be ravaged by COVID-19.

“I found myself transferring positive patients from one hospital in the region to another. I help with the stretcher or if there are patients to carry from a wheelchair. I also hold the oxygen," the 20-test international revealed in an interview with AFP.

 “Ninety-five per cent of hospital structures are devoted to patients with coronavirus. If people saw what I see in hospitals, there would no longer be a line in front of the supermarkets. They would think about it two, three or four times before leaving their house, even to go for a run.

“What I see are people of all ages on respirators, on oxygen, doctors and nurses on duty at 8 or 10pm who do not sleep a minute of the day and who are just trying to get some rest the next day. I wish I could say that the situation here is at the limit, but I’m afraid I have to say that this is no longer the case.”

Unspeakable tragedy

Italy’s death toll is now higher than in China, the country where the outbreak began, and Mbandà says nothing could have prepared him for what he has seen.

“The agenda is death. When you see their eyes… even if patients cannot speak, they communicate with the eyes and they tell you things that you cannot imagine.

“They hear the alarms, the doctors and nurses who run from one department to another. The first person I got out of the hospital told me that he had arrived three hours ago when his next-door neighbour died. And during the night, two other women died in her room. He had never seen anyone die.

“You have to behave with these patients as if they are relatives. But the terrible thing is that each time you touch them, a simple caress in the ambulance to comfort them, you must immediately disinfect your hands.

“As long as I have strength, I will continue. I am there and I stay there. As long as there is an emergency, I stay there.”

Selfies from the sofa

The Fédération Française de Rugby has launched a #RestezChezVousChallenge for those in self-isolation after French president Emmanuel Macron said citizens must stay at home from midday last Tuesday for at least 15 days.

Stars of the French men’s and women’s sevens and 15s teams – Caroline Boujard, Stephen Parez, World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year 2019 Romain Ntamack and Caroline Drouin – kicked off the campaign by posting selfies and have invited the French public to respond with some of their own while sat at home through their #QuarantineLife.

Roberts offers home comfort

While millions of people are in isolation around the world, thankfully selfless acts, like Mbandà's, are not.

Wales and British and Irish Lions legend Jamie Roberts, a qualified doctor, has offered the use of his flat to medics in his home city of Cardiff.

Roberts, who has remained in South Africa with his Super Rugby side the Stormers while the global crisis unfolds, usually rents out the property as a holiday let.

"It's better that the flat is used by people in need," Roberts told BBC Radio Wales Sport.

"I managed to get an A&E doctor in there as of Friday, someone who's working on the front line with the NHS in Cardiff.

"There's going to be a lot of NHS workers out there who won't want to be going from hospital to family and putting their families at risk and so they're going to need accommodation."

Also in Wales, Scarlets, one of the country’s four professional regional teams, have opened up their stadium to provide 500 hospital beds for coronavirus patients as the pandemic in the country worsens.

Ulster have offered the use of Kingspan Stadium to the Department of Health to help fight the coronavirus outbreak.

Club CEO Jonny Petrie said on Twitter that the department is free to use the facility however they see fit as they tackle the pandemic.

Visser provides capital returns

Meanwhile, Edinburgh-based former Scotland winger Tim Visser has written a letter to his neighbours offering assistance with shopping, while Wales prop Rob Evans has also displayed his generosity of spirit with a similar offer of help to vulnerable citizens in Pembrokeshire.

Rugby so often plays a vital role in local communities and this link is particularly strong in cities such as Gloucester, one of the venues for RWC 2015.

Having no rugby to watch badly disrupts the rhythm of many people’s lives but at least Gloucester fans have an opportunity to keep their spirits up by talking to one of the club’s star players, Ollie Thorley.

Wary that loneliness can come with self-isolation, the powerful winger has made calls to nominated Cherry and Whites supporters.

He tweeted: "I’ve just had a great chat with Alan who’s been going to @GloucesterRugby for the past 30 years. It’s an opportunity for us to keep in contact with those who are isolated."

A once-in-a-lifetime crisis has given rugby an opportunity to show its best side in these most difficult of times.