Eight is a lucky number in Japan. Its widening girth at the base symbolises prosperity and growth.
Superstition matters to Japan's ageing population, as does tradition and custom, which is why there is a nervousness about hosting a World Cup which will bring tattoo-covered, beer-drinking fans who may be oblivious to the tranquil and spiritual essence of the host nation.
But a deep appreciation of the number eight may be where there is common ground between hosts and visitors. A mutual love of eight might be what glues this World Cup together as it is the magic number for every team.
It is the buffer everyone wants – the minimum safe distance to keep an opponent, particularly in a knock-out game.
Any team that holds an eight-point lead knows the opposition have to score twice to get ahead.
An eight-point lead is psychologically powerful – it puts the team that holds it in control of the game, able to revert to low-risk percentage plays that pile the pressure on their opponent.
Eight points brings a sense of comfort that deepens the longer it is held. An eight-point margin starts to look almost unassailable with five minutes left, if the team that holds it is smart enough to realise they don't need the ball to close out the game.
Just hoof it long and defend, knowing that while their opponent may conjure one miracle score, it would take a scarcely credible effort to produce two.
Those teams facing an eight-point deficit know they have to chase the game – be prepared to attack from everywhere, to up the urgency and push their luck.
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An eight-point deficit creates tension and anxiety that seeps through the ranks. It builds a sense of the game slipping away and with it muscles clam up, hands become concrete and legs like jelly.
An eight-point lead is a weapon and come the quarter-finals, it's a number the All Blacks can't lose sight of.
It's maybe not necessary to have an eight-point lead front of mind in the early stages of a game, but come the second half, it's the number that should govern all decision-making.
The scoreboard is the master whom must be obeyed at a World Cup. Teams ignore it or assume things on its behalf at their peril and anyone who gets cute with it, often ends up with a lifetime of regret.
If the All Blacks are five points ahead and win a kickable penalty – go for goal. If they are three points ahead and have some momentum, kick for the corner – take the risk of turning a three-point lead into eight.
Every decision should be rationalised on the basis they must follow the path most likely to end in them holding that eight point lead.
No matter the temptation to turn a five-point lead into 10 or 12, the smart play at a World Cup is always to take the easier three points and lock in that eight-point margin.
This isn't an easy mind-set for the All Blacks to employ. It's not their natural way of doing things and strikes against their innate desire to attack with ball in hand and play for the try.
This is not a side that is conservative by nature. They are much like Oscar Wilde in that they can resist everything except temptation and the All Blacks have, for the past decade at least – if not longer – been instinctive risk takers, albeit they don't see it in those terms.
They have a colossal array of attacking weaponry and they trust it. They are not a side that battles inhibition or doubts about their ability and typically throughout this World Cup cycle they haven't worried or focused much on the scoreboard, mostly because they haven't needed to.
But when they have come under pressure and found themselves in a tight contest, more often than not their default means of alleviation has been to pass, catch, run.
Put the All Blacks in a hole and they will try to run their way out. Give them a small lead and they will want to make it bigger by taking risks to score tries and for most of the last World Cup cycle, they have never given any real thought to the power and importance of the number eight.
And it's mostly worked for them. They were behind by two points with three minutes to play in the second Bledisloe Cup test of 2017 and conjured a miracle play through their sleight of hand and angled running to put Beauden Barrett over the tryline.
They also passed and ran their way to victory in Pretoria last year when they were a long way behind with not much time on the clock.
It hasn't always worked, however. Last year they needed three points to beat the Boks in Wellington but they forfeited the chance to drop a goal in the last minute to instead, unsuccessfully attack wide from a scrum.
The bigger crime in that test, though, was that they didn't become cognisant of the scoreboard until too late and if the number eight had been more prominent in their minds, they would likely have kicked a couple of goals early in the final quarter and continued to make their decisions to build the magic buffer.
To a lesser extent they made the same mistake this year against the same team on the same ground when they chased a try with five minutes to go when they led 16-9.
If ever there was a time to drop a goal that was it – when they were camped in the Boks' 22 and with both Barrett and Richie Mo'unga on the field, able to set up either side of the ruck to nail the killer score.
They didn't respect the importance of an eight-point margin and were stung for it when Herschel Jantjies grabbed a loose ball in the last minute and earned his side the draw.
A drop goal a few minutes earlier would have rendered Jantjies' brilliance moot – nothing more than a consolation score. If such profligacy surfaces at a World Cup knock-out game, it will be a history changer – lumbering the All Blacks with years of painful inquisition as to why they didn't bang over the three points when they had the chance to make the game safe.
And this effectively is one of the big questions facing the All Blacks as they chase a third successive title.
Can they show due respect to the number eight and manage the scoreboard with the diligence required?
Can they inject an element of conservative decision-making to manage the scoreboard to their advantage?
They don't need to win games with style, substance is the way to do it and if three points from a drop goal gets the job done, then get the job done.
It's understanding they just need a dance partner, anyone will do. It doesn't have to be the Prom Queen.
This was key in their 2015 campaign. Dan Carter never lost sight of that all-important eight-point margin.
He was brilliant at realising when the All Blacks needed points and his drop goal in the semifinal after 45 minutes was the game-changer.
The All Blacks were 12-7 down and Jerome Kaino was in the sin-bin. If they conceded any kind of score in that period, they would have been at least eight points behind and in a world of trouble.
In the final, he nailed a 45-metre drop goal with 10 minutes remaining, to push the All Blacks' lead to seven points, after the Wallabies had clawed it back to four.
That drop goal didn't make the All Blacks safe, but it meant that a converted try by the Wallabies would only bring them level and it also killed the prospect of them conjuring a win with penalties or drop goals.
All respect to eight, the only number that matters in Japan.