The serious business of professionalism and the sausage-machine club academies have anaesthetised the whole affair.
But while is is unlikely any of the England side will be downing a glass of aftershave tonight after the game against France as prop Colin Smart once did in Paris – lovely breath apparently – spend 20 minutes in the company of Jonny May and your faith would be restored.
From going to the toilet mid-way through training to becoming addicted to colouring books, May is an off-centre oddbod around whom offbeat things happen.
A space cadet with warp factor speed, he is the lightning rod for many of the laughs in the England squad – most of them unintentional.
Even Eddie Jones, a shrewd assessor of personalities, cannot quite work him out, which is hardly surprising since May struggles himself.
England rugby star Jonny May opens up about his character ahead of Six Nations opener
"It is hard to say why but I'm probably a little bit of a different character in the group," said May. "I don't know how to describe myself. I'm a thoughtful person. I'm deep in thought and people probably wonder: 'is he thinking about a lot or not a lot?' and it is probably a combination of them both."
This week, when defence coach Paul Gustard was trying to raise the temperature in the squad with a potted history of Anglo-French military wars, he made the mistake of asking May why he thought there had been so many.
"Because they fell out?" offered May, puncturing the moment exquisitely.
The Gloucester flier has already provided international rugby's comedy moment of the season so far with his panic-stricken attempt to pack down as an emergency flanker against Argentina in November when England were down to 13 men.
Mako Vunipola had enough on his plate dealing with the Pumas front row without May grabbing hold of his leg and threatening to bring the whole edifice crashing down.
Eddie Jones admits even he can't quite work May out
"I didn't really want to disturb the second row," said May. "I wasn't really sure what I was doing. That was quite evident wasn't it?"
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During one training session in the autumn, Jones's plan to run the side through some backline manoeuvres centred around scrum-half Ben Youngs ran aground when May decided to answer the call of nature.
"I was desperate for a wee and thought they might not notice if I went during that part of it," said May. "Eddie was commentating: 'Jonny has got the ball, he is going to go down the line' and he was like '…ah, where's Jonny?' As he said that everyone was looking around and then I walked in trying to be subtle. Luckily he found it funny."
Jones says he would love to spend a day inside the 26-year-old's head – although he should be warned the experience may be disorientating.
If he nipped inside on the coach on the short journey from the Sion Park Hotel to Twickenham today he could find the strains of songs from animated Disney musicals echoing around.
"It's anything feelgood for me. It doesn't need to be current," said May, who will marry his fiancee Sophie in July.
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"If there's anything I like I hear on the radio I just add it to my playlist. At the moment I like Ed Sheeran's new songs. He can write a cracking song, can't he? "My mother is a friend of his mother and when I was younger we'd have been playing football in the garden together but I haven't seen him in a while."
After a 2016 in which he became addicted to colouring books during his long lay-off with a serious knee injury, May hopes for an uninterrupted 2017 – even if he starts it with stitches and a shiner from a clash of heads in training this week.
"Given the year I had last year, I always thought this could be my year," he said. "To overcome the injury I had, and to do what I have done, probably exceeded my expectations. It was a pretty nasty injury. If I can do that, I know I can continue to get better and I feel like I am ready to play my best rugby now."
Standing in his way today at Twickenham will be the giant figure of Virimi Vakatawa, one of two adopted Fijians on the French wings.
Swindon-born he may be and as white as a sheet but it turns out there is an element of the exotic to England's singular flying machine too.
"We've a bit of an odd family tree," said May. "My dad was adopted and we have a picture of my great gran and she looks like a Pacific Islander. We don't really know where she was from. I joke about having a bit of Islander in me with the Islanders at the club."
Jonny May – unconventional to the core.