Watching the preliminaries of the South Africa v France game, it struck me that this was one of the very rare occasions when there were two national anthems back-to-back that really did the job they're supposed to of summoning up the blood. In fact, off the top of my head I can only think of four countries' anthems that I would really put in the 'spine-tingling' class -
Of course there are a second tranche of anthems like Flower of Scotland and Land of My Fathers that get under your skin after you've heard them a few times, but they don't have quite the same instant hook.
It's not as if the world is short of inspirational music, so why do most countries always plump for the irredeemably banal and dreary? The petition to 10 Downing Street a few years ago calling for God Save the Queen to be replaced with Gold by Spandau Ballet may have been tongue-in-cheek, but in some ways I think they had a point.