Family affair for Chile's Escobars  

It was estimated between 10,000 and 12,000 Chileans were in Toulouse to witness Los Cóndores making their Rugby World Cup debut, and their support was not lost on the players.

"Chilean rugby is small and everyone knows each other,” said Alfonso Escobar, proud father of Diego (23) and Alfonso (26), who wore the number two and number eight jerseys against Japan.

"At every step you were greeted by a friend or acquaintance. What we experienced was very exciting, a pleasure and filled everybody with pride.

"I chose to see the boys only after the game so as not to make them uncomfortable and because we were all tremendously excited. Luckily, by the time the anthem arrived I had already stopped crying and was able to sing it,” laughs Escobar, who captained Chile in two attempts to qualify for the 1999 and 2003 tournaments.

"When the boys did their job well, people were happy. It was their first time in a Rugby World Cup and they realised that they could compete."

Escobar Sr travelled to France with his youngest son Martín, 19, who has already played in the backline for a Chile XV.  

"Hopefully, he can also experience a Rugby World Cup with his brothers in the future."

When I say jump, you say how high

Christ Tshiunza and Mason Grady will line up together in the red jersey of Wales on Saturday but they were once rivals in a different sport.

The duo competed against each other in a Welsh schools U15 high jump competition in 2016.

Asked who won that day, Tshiunza just smiles and Grady - who was a talented basketball player - says "let’s not talk about that!"

Tshiunza won with a jump of 1.6m, while Grady finished seventh. Not only did Tshiunza win the competition, but he believes high jump has also aided his rugby career.

He said: "I didn’t know that was going to help me with my line-out, because I wasn’t playing rugby properly at the time. Throughout the years you look back and all that explosive line-out stuff maybe comes from the little stuff I did when I was younger."

A cricket score

Hooker Jamie George has formed a team of England rugby players who could play in the England cricket team as a response to a post on X, formerly Twitter.

George's post was in response to what looked like Joe Root naming cricket players to start in England pool match against Japan on Sunday.

Not only did the Saracens player write the names of rugby players for the cricket team, he also gave reasons for their selection.

For example, England captain Owen Farrell is listed at number eight because "he is annoyingly good at everything. Didn't play much growing up but a solid all-rounder. Bowls a nice cutter, bottom hand heavy with the bat".

From turning round troubled youngsters to taking on Fiji's front row

SAINT-ETIENNE, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 15: Blake Schoupp poses ahead of the Rugby World Cup France 2023, at La Charpinière on September 15, 2023 in Saint-Etienne, France. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

It may not be just rugby fans in Sydney watching on with interest if 25-year-old Blake Schoupp makes his Rugby World Cup debut for Australia on Sunday. Just 12 months ago the loose-head prop was making his living as a teacher at a behavioural school dedicated to helping troubled and highly disadvantaged children.

"It was a multi-learning facility so you just created programmes for kids depending on what the interests were because a lot of them were coming in-and-out of juve [juvenile detention centres]," Schoupp said after being named on the bench to face Fiji.

"A lot of them hadn't had a lot of schooling in the periods before they came to our school. It was about providing an environment for them to come and learn and get away from whatever was going on outside of their lives."

The fast-rising prop graduated with a degree in secondary health and physical education and was "content" giving his all to help turn around young lives before his rugby career took off.

Crediting the job with giving him the "clarity" to get to the very top, and with best wishes from staff members in his back pocket, Schoupp is ready to show his former pupils just how far life can take you.

Rugby, asado, family

Argentina and Uruguay constantly debate who has the best barbecue, or asado. It is a futile debate that has no winner. Regardless of the small differences in the use of charcoal or wood, the position of the grill or some meat cuts, both countries have exquisite meat and their barbecues are unforgettable affairs.

Uruguay elevated its passion for barbecue at Rugby World Cup 2019 when it flew a special barbecue grill from Montevideo to Japan, which accompanied the team at each stopover.

For France 2023, with the same model, again painted light blue and emblazoned with the country's flag and logo of the Uruguay Rugby Union, Los Teros have planned for a delicious barbecue at least once a week.

The first was last Friday and cooked by Gonzalo Cortinas and Fabio Magno, two experts who are also part of the team's support staff. Magno is the father of Diego, the most capped Tero who was left out of the squad.

In charge of their latest asado on Friday was Marcello Calandra, a former Teros prop, former president of the URU and current vice president of Sudamérica Rugby, and a griller of some repute.

Chelo's barbecues are so famous that the grill received the nickname 'Parrichelo' ['Grillmaster'] in Japan, and he has already cooked his first asado in France, when President of Uruguay Luis Lacalle Pou hosted a meeting of the French-Uruguayan Chamber of Commerce in Paris.

Lacalle Pou, a former Old Boys player in Montevideo, attended Thursday's match against France alongside French counterpart Emanuel Macron.

Like uncle, like nephew

When Sipili Falatea replaced Dorian Aldegheri in the 50th minute against Uruguay on Thursday night, he not only joined his French teammates but also his nephew, Yoram Moefana.

Falatea has previously described sharing the pitch with Moefana as "special" but this is the first time they have played alongside one another at Rugby World Cup. 

It was also a historic moment as they were the first uncle and nephew to play together in a French team at a RWC.