World Cups are festivals of fun. Games of goodwill. You know how it goes: for seven weeks the world is in union. But every now and then a virus hits the software. This is what happens when World Cups go bad.
10. South Africa goes to war with ... (oh) Canada!
They don't make fights like they used to.
Canada brought to South Africa in 1995 some gnarly types with ice hockey attitudes to casual violence.
The Springboks were aiming to prove to the world that isolation had not emasculated them.
As the players were working themselves into a pre-match frenzy, the lights went out. For 35 minutes the players had nothing to do but eat angry pills and slap each other's faces.
By the time they hit the field at Port Elizabeth, Boet Erasmus Stadium was a tinderbox waiting for a spark of flammable testosterone.
The game was pants. These were the days before commentators were told they must always accentuate the positive so at one point the Irish world feed commentator actually uttered this: "Three minutes gone in the second half of this less than attractive international. Hardly pulsating."
At that stage it was 20-0 to South Africa, which was the match's final score – but things would start pulsating alright.
There had been a number of borderline nasty incidents during the game but it boiled over when Springbok winger Pieter Hendriks took his opposite Winston Stanley in a high tackle and followed through by shoving him into the hoardings after the ball had gone out of play.
It might have ended there but Canuck fullback Scott Stewart came flying out of nowhere and in the words of the august Times of London: "A red-hot rugby match had become a boiling saloon bar free-for-all. All that was missing were the broken chairs."
Fists and, more disgracefully, boots were flying into the seething mass of manliness. Headbutts were essayed. Bok Lock Hannes Strydom came out worst, his eye grotesquely swollen with blood pouring from a cut.
Irish referee David McHugh tried to adjudicate but it was mere guesswork. James Dalton, Gareth Rees and Rod Snow were the unlucky ones to see red. Hendriks and Stewart were later suspended.
Rees was sanguine about his red card and suspension: "I don't regret getting involved. I regret getting sent off, but I don't think I disgraced myself. We're a very tight team."
We'll always have a soft spot for Buck Shelford laying out Huw Richards after the Wales lock teased Gary Whetton about his moustache (Richards woke from his power nap to the sight of the referee pointing to the changing sheds as he was sent off for being the antagonist), but the Canada-Saffa fracas was more epic in scale and damage.
9. Man of the match? Seriously?
England's last two campaigns have been fairly rancid, particularly 2015 when as hosts they left their own party before the knockouts.
Faced with having to win their final pool match against the Wallabies to advance, England were mauled 33-13, exiting stage left with a whimper.
They didn't go home completely empty-handed however, as Joe Launchbury won man of the match, a decision made more bizarre given that he spent the final 13 minutes riding the pine after being replaced by George Kruis.
You have to give Launchbury some credit for the way he handled the incident. The photos of him accepting the award remain a classic study in awkwardness and his quotes were fitting.
"It was extremely strange to be named man of the match. It was embarrassing and it definitely won't go on the mantelpiece," Launchbury said. "It was a strange award that could have gone to a whole host of guys on their team."
By most people's measure, David Pocock was the outstanding figure on the pitch but if you wanted to quibble it could have gone to Bernard Foley who was almost as influential. By comparison, Launchbury was the best of a bad England bunch.
The voting system saw a shortlist of three players was selected by the tournament's world feed radio early in the second half before fans choose their preferred candidate on social media. It led to some crazy calls. Wales halfback Gareth Davies also won despite his team losing 15-6 to the luckless Wallabies, but the biggest embarrassment came when an award went to Uruguay's Agustin Ormaechea despite him being sent off against Fiji.
The system was adjusted after pressure was put on organisers to address the anomalies.
8. Craig Joubert's mad dash
This is not a list of teams that feel wronged by refs. If so it would take a long time to catalogue the travails of Paddy O'Brien v Fiji (1991), Derek Bevan v France (1995), Steve Walsh v England (2003), Wayne Barnes v New Zealand (2007), Bryce Lawrence v South Africa (2011), Joubert v France (2011) and any number of other matches where one team felt persecuted.
The 2015 quarter-final between Scotland and Australia has a special place in history, however, not because of the tricky but incorrect decision that cost Scotland a famous win, but for Joubert's weird behaviour in the aftermath.
Upon peeping his whistle for the final time with Australia ahead 35-34, Joubert went on a mad sprint to the sideline and off down the Twickenham tunnel. It went against the unwritten rules of rugby, where despite any misgivings players and officials share wet-fish handshakes. Worse, it looked like the actions of a man racked by fear or, more likely, guilt.
A fit man, Joubert quite possibly set a Commonwealth record for the 100m.
He would later explain himself to the Daily Telegraph, admitting he was worried about what might happen should he stay on the pitch.
"In my head was a desire to avoid any possible unseemly confrontation that would mar what had been a wonderful occasion," he said. "I had it in my mind somewhere that there had been an incident between the official and the England coaches [Andy Farrell and Graham Rowntree] in their match against Australia and I just didn't want any of that to happen, not because I don't understand the emotions of the moment for players and coaches, their desire for answers to questions, but just because I did not want that to become another possible incident.
"That was my thinking, not for myself but for the situation."
Joubert later admitted he got the call wrong but noted that he was justified in doing so because of the speed at which the incident happened. He might have a case but it's the speed at which he left the pitch that will linger longer in infamy.
7. Barbed Wire Boks
Strictly speaking, Kamp Staaldraad (Camp Barbed Wire) took place pre-World Cup but the controversy blew up in the aftermath of their limp 2003 quarter-final exit at the hands of New Zealand.
It emerged that during a team-building exercise prior to leaving for Australia, Springbok players had been forced to do lots of unpleasant things in the nude, such as standing in a freezing lake while trying to inflate rugby balls underwater (we kid you not). Players who tried to get out of the lake, including skipper Corne Krige, were forced back in at gunpoint.
Other naked activities included: huddling together in a pit; standing in a foxhole listening to God Save the Queen and the haka as freezing water was poured in; crawling across gravel.
Coach Rudolf Straeuli defended the camp, saying the aim was to root out individuality, a tenuous principle to begin with.
When leaked pictures emerged of the Springboks suffering in the lake, their privates hidden by rugby balls, the backlash was severe.
Military commentators said they would never force recruits to do these sorts of activities while naked. Rugby pundits argued that the Boks needed more individuality, not less.
Straeuli, on thin ice anyway, was ordered to fall on his sword (metaphorically, in this case). Even without Staaldraad, it had been a fraught build-up, with racism charges levelled at Afrikaner lock Geo Cronje after he refused to room or share bathroom facilities with black lock Quinton Davids. He was later cleared of racism.
There was a tragic postscript to the Staaldraad saga. The whistleblower, video analyst Dale McDermott, was forced to leave his job at the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (from which he had been contracted to the Boks). Jake White tried to employ McDermott but SA Rugby vetoed the appointment.
Shortly thereafter he was found dead with a single bullet wound to the head. There were no suspicious circumstances.
6. The fast gets furious
The All Blacks 2007 World Cup was a disaster. For the only time in history they failed to make it to the semifinals and their defeat to a poor French side in Cardiff was emblematic of a confused campaign.
If you had to pick one picture to sum up the hopelessness of defeat it could have been Mils Muliaina in tears as the team faced the media the following day. It could have been a plane-load of stunned supporters on the trip of a lifetime landing in anticipation of the semifinals and final only to learn that their team had been knocked out as they sipped bubbles and worked their way through a couple of rom-coms at 35,000 feet.
Or it could, and probably should, be Doug Howlett jumping up and down on the bonnet of a late-model European car.
Howlett, who didn't play in the ill-fated quarter-final, was arrested at Heathrow Airport for vandalising two cars after a session on the turps. The flying wing was held after armed police were called at 3am to a disturbance outside the airport's Hilton Hotel. It was also alleged that he was involved in the trashing of a hotel room.
Before the incident, Howlett and teammates ran up a $30,000 tab in the hotel's foyer bar. He is then said to have gone outside and bounced up and down on two cars, smashing the windscreen of a BMW.
"I would like to say I'm sorry for what has happened and I'm embarrassed that the events of one evening have led to me being in a situation that was a little bit of tomfoolery that has caused me to be here," he said.
"I'm working with the police to contact owners and fix what I have done wrong. There was drink involved — it's not an excuse."
All Blacks manager Darren Shand said this through gritted teeth: "It is a serious matter and we are concerned that something of this nature has occurred at what is already a disappointing time for the team and supporters."
Howlett would never play for the All Blacks again, having signed a lucrative contract to join Munster. It is unclear whether he has ever used the word "tomfoolery" again.
In terms of All Black alcohol-related hijinks, special mention should be made of Cory and Izzy's Big Night Out in Takapuna ahead of the World Cup semifinal. Having decided to pop a sleeping pill after a relaxing massage, things veered wildly off course after a beer or two.
At least that story had a happy ending.
5. The gold watch
The 1995 Rugby World Cup has never been topped for drama. This is the second of four entries relating to two months that culminated in Nelson Mandela uniting a divided nation when he wore a Springbok jersey – for blacks, a hated symbol of Apartheid – to the World Cup final.
South Africa were fortunate to make the final. The semifinal between the hosts and France was a torrid affair played on a sodden pitch as storms raged in and around Durban.
The match was delayed for an hour and referee Derek Bevan gave serious consideration to calling it off, fearing that somebody would drown in a pool of water. If the game was abandoned France would have advanced by virtue of their better disciplinary record (mainly due to No 10).
With the help of five local ladies who literally swept the pitch, the match started.
It was a cagey affair and after staking the hosts to a handy lead, France pegged the deficit back. Les Bleus launched a furious attack as the clock approached 80. Every French player was convinced that Abdelatif Benazzi had scored after Andre Joubert spilt a high kick but Bevan ruled that he was held up.
He might have been right. The broadcasting technology wasn't as definitive in those days and there was certainly a case to be made that Benazzi's progress was halted before the line.
What happened after the tournament, however, cast a Louis Luyt-shaped shadow over the decision. In a rollicking post-final speech he caused an All Black walkout when he declared there were no true world champions in 1987 or 1991 because the Springboks weren't there.
His coup de grace was to present Bevan with an expensive gold watch, describing him as the most wonderful referee in the world (the IRB must have thought otherwise because England's Ed Morrison was awarded the final).
"It was something I could have done without," Bevan said later. "It could be misconstrued."
4. Eliota goes nuclear
South Africa beat Samoa at North Harbour Stadium during the 2011 World Cup, essentially ending the islanders' campaign.
The score was 13-5 and it has to be said that Samoa were hard done by on a number of fronts, not least that of all the places the match could have been staged, World Cup organisers chose New Zealand's only South African enclave.
It is also fair to say Samoa were less than impressed with Nigel Owens' officiating of the game. As mentioned above, this is not a feature that catalogues bad refereeing decisions, but it was jarring to hear Owens addressing Samoan captain Mahonri Schwalger with, "What part of 'wait' do you not understand?" That's a far cry from the normal bonhomie Owens is famous for enjoying with players the world over.
More pressing was the absurd decision to have him refereeing a game where his home-country Wales would be the direct beneficiaries of a Samoan loss.
Everybody knows that Owens is a top-class referee. His record is near exemplary. When Samoa fullback Paul Williams was sent off on bad advice from a touchie, however, who spotted a closed-fist punch on Heinrich Brussow (it was an open-handed shove), while missing a Brussow forearm to Williams' head, a burning sense of injustice rose up from within Samoa's highly intelligent, highly combustible midfielder.
Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu took to Twitter to accuse Owens of being biased and racist. He then failed to appear at his own disciplinary hearing.
Samoa Rugby accepted that Fuimaono-Sapolu had been out of line, coming not long after the trained solicitor had been warned for tweeting that the scheduling of his team's matches could be compared to the Holocaust.
Fuimaono-Sapolu backtracked on his claim that Owens was racist, but he was never one to grovel at the foot of those wearing blazers.
He called World Rugby a "joke" and invited officials to "kiss my bum".
"England CHEAT, nothing happens. I TWEET, I'm charged. This is getting ridiculous. You're only charging my batteries!" he posted in another tweet. "I want the same treatment as the England team. Otherwise, get lost."
He never resiled from his claim, either, that World Cup organisers shafted Samoa. Even some of his critics, of which there were many, recognised he had a point.
"Whether it's a perceived bias or an actual bias ... Wales were affected by the outcome of our game and yet the referee was Welsh. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to work it out but you do have to be an idiot not to.
"I just want the next generation of Samoan rugby players to be given a level playing field," he said. "I want them to stop treating the tier-two teams like crap."
3. The curious case of the violently ill All Blacks
It doesn't matter whether you think this was by accident (anyone who doesn't like the All Blacks) or by design (Laurie Mains), there was no doubting that the All Blacks were struck down by illness in the days leading up to the 1995 World Cup final.
We don't have to take the All Blacks' word for it either. Inscrutable former Herald rugby writer Wynne Gray inadvertently saw it for himself when he wandered into the team room at the All Blacks Johannesburg hotel in search of Dr Mike Bowen in the hope he could borrow some Vick's VapoRub to ease his chesty cough.
What Gray encountered was a room full of sick rugby players. Not everyone in the squad was afflicted but enough were that it was impossible to field a team without a number of weak and dehydrated players.
You could also take the word of former Mandela bodyguard Rory Steyn, an Afrikaner appointed as part of the All Blacks security detail. He said the All Blacks started getting sick while at the movies two days before the final. Some didn't make it back to the hotel before they started chundering.
Back at the hotel, things worsened.
"It looked like something out of Saving Private Ryan," Steyn told a South African TV show.
"They were poisoned. About two-thirds of the squad got very sick, properly sick.
"Do I think it was intentional? Absolutely. Do I think South African Rugby was involved? Absolutely not," Steyn said, believing that the All Blacks, heavy favourites to win the title, were targeted by illegal betting syndicates.
Mains, the coach, believed the perpetrator was a waitress named "Suzie", ensuring that her name would become synonymous with every upset All Black loss over the next decade.
The late, great Sir Brian Lochore, not one to create drama out of nothing, also believes it was deliberate.
"I was just going into the dining room and they said, 'No, no, the All Blacks are in this room over here.' I went, 'I thought we were having our meal over here,' and they said, 'No, no, there's a room over here for the All Blacks.' I thought that was strange."
South Africa rightly got the headlines for victory after years of painful Apartheid-inspired isolation, but in hindsight it really is remarkable that the All Blacks got as close as they did that day, forcing extra time before Joel Stransky's dramatic intervention.
"If you had asked me what the score was going to be on the Saturday morning I thought about 30-0 to South Africa," Lochore said.
2. Dwarves are thrown
England won their opening match of the 2011 World Cup so celebrated by going on an epic tear in New Zealand's party capital Queenstown.
There were shots, there were girls, there were reports of royal consort Mike Tindall misbehaving, there were dwarves. They were being tossed, but not by England players apparently.
It was a pretty grubby night on the tiles and fittingly the Red Rose's campaign turned to mud thereafter, their escapades gleefully covered by the huge press contingent in tow.
Coached by the legendary Martin Johnson, England appeared to embody nothing he stood for as a player. The headlines were consistently negative and few were surprised when the campaign ended in ignominy.
England's downfall in the quarter-finals came with a curtain call when centre Manu Tuilagi was fined for jumping off a ferry into Auckland's harbour when returning from a day at Waiheke Island.
This might have been a fitting postscript for England but a more sinister one was to emerge.
Dwarf Martin Henderson suffered serious injuries after being picked up and thrown to the ground outside a pub in Somerset. He blamed England's rugby team for giving his attacker the idea.
Henderson suffered injuries to his back and legs after being thrown on hard ground outside the pub where he was celebrating his birthday.
1. Max Brito breaks his neck
The most devastating shock to happen at a World Cup came when Ivory Coast winger Max Brito broke his neck in a match against Tonga, leaving him paralysed.
Pulled out of the French third division to represent his country in the 1995 World Cup, Brito's injury cast a pall over the tournament and led to questions about the wisdom of having clearly overmatched minnows at the World Cup, and also over welfare measures for players who suffered life-changing injuries.
The play that led to the catastrophic injury was utterly mundane. Brito returned a kick before he was tackled by Inoke Afeaki. A ruck formed on top of Brito and he never got up again. Several vertebrae were broken and the spinal cord between the fourth and fifth vertebrae was crushed.
In a 2007 interview, he was reported as saying: "It is now 12 years since I have been in this state. I have come to the end of my tether ... If one day I fall seriously ill, and if I have the strength and courage to take my own life, then I will do it.
"This bloody handicap - it's my curse. It kills me and I will never accept it. I can't live with it and it's going to be with me for the rest of my life."
Brito is now 48 and his awful plight is a sobering reminder of the dangers of such a physical sport.