5. The ear-lobe loving of Mike Catt
Prior to any major international, South Africa-born England international, Mike Catt would always touch his ear during the national anthems, as the camera panned across the England line-up. Originally intended as a way of sending a visual message to his family members watching at home, the routine became somewhat of a pre-match ritual for Catt and continued throughout the entirety of his international career.
6. No, after you…
Mike Tindall was one of those players who had to be the last man out of the changing room before big international fixtures. This is the type of routine that’s perfectly harmless – so long as it only applies to one of your squad. If most of your team have the same superstition, you could be faced with a long wait at the end of the tunnel while your team argues, prima-donna style, over who’s going to be at the tail end of the procession.
7. Tim Horan and the fear of 13
In an article he wrote for The Guardian back in 2001, France and Saracens fullback Thomas Castaignède revealed that Aussie rugby great Tim Horan – then a teammate of his at Sarries – had refused to wear the 13 jersey when he started at outside centre on his return from injury. Horan had suffered four injuries in the shirt that season, and demanded that he either wear 12 or 26 when he returned to Saracens’ starting lineup. One of the strangest superstitions in rugby from down the years.
8. The Haka
The most famous pre-match ritual in rugby – and probably the whole of sport, has its roots in ancient Maori warfare. The combination of chanting, scowling, facial contortions, foot stomping and arm waving was designed to bring luck to and inspire confidence in the war party, while having the added advantage of terrifying the opposition. Far from dying out, it seems that the All Black’s version of this tribal dance is getting more elaborate each year.