A very, very, very big hello to you all from an insanely excited Tackleman.
IT’S HERE!!!! The first weekend of Rugby World Cup 2015, the weekend we have been waiting for, for what seems an eternity. If you love rugby, if you love sport, this is the moment and what a feeling.
You may have noticed I’m a little bit bouncy over this one and you’d be right. I love my rugby, I mean I really love my rugby, and a Rugby World Cup crystallises all my thoughts and emotions I have for the game.
And if I’m like this, how on earth must the payers be feeling with just hours to go before the biggest days of their playing lives so far? For the 20 participating teams, this is the moment and it is a moment that each player will handle differently.
Some won’t have slept a wink and will have been pacing the deserted corridors of their hotel all night, their minds racing with thoughts of calls, moves and what if’s. Others will have stuck to a routine that has worked for them for years and will apply the same approach to this game as they did to their first junior game for “Old Fallopians”.
And don’t think that it’s just the players affected by runaway nerves. The coaching teams will feel the unsettling biorhythms of a body coursing with adrenaline and nagging questions. “Have we done enough? Are these the players? Do I need a raincoat?” Every crazy thought will whizz around the grey matter, mad, irrational thoughts holding hands with the calm, the rational.
For England and Fiji on opening night they must also contend with the potentially unsettling randomness of opening night. Players and coaches alike love to stick to a pre match routine. Everything is finely timed backwards from kick off time. Hydration, when supplements are consumed, when strapping is applied, when warm up routines are practiced.
Well, with an opening ceremony occupying the pitch you can chuck half of that out of the window. So, just as in a game when things go wrong; adapt, improvise but stay focussed.
As the first round of Pool matches get underway, what journey should we expect? You know what? It’ll be a brilliant ride. The stadia chosen are spot on and England might be an island of pessimists yet at heart it is an island of adventurers, of romantics and sportsmen and women. The Rugby World Cup and all its myriad of supporters, players and officials will be welcomed with open arms.
Yes, it’s important in many ways that the host nation and neighbouring countries do well, but the promise of exotic names like McCaw, Carter, de Villiers, Giteau, Nadolo walking the rugby stage will certainly quicken the pulse. And don’t forget the impact of the minnows and the “yet to knows”. Japan, Namibia, Romania and the good ol’ USA could all turn out a performance that captures the heart whilst any of Tonga, Fiji or Samoa could dish out a South Pacific magic show, all beaming smiles and bruising hits. And there’s a name out there, unknown, unheralded, waiting to burst into our consciousness. Wow, I love this game.
So, who does what? I’ll rattle through the Pools and tell you what I think. You may or may not agree and that’s the fun of it.
Pool A – “The Pool of Death” – England to top it, Australia second, sorry Wales.
Pool B – South Africa top dogs, Scotland squeezing past Samoa for second slot.
Pool C – New Zealand walk it by a country mile, Argentina not far behind them.
Pool D – Ireland and France engage in an almighty tussle for top spot, Italy cause one of them a few headaches but in the end Ireland top the pool, France come second amongst stories of team infighting and arguments; standard.
There you go. Agree with me? Of course you don’t and that’s the way it should be.
Buckle up people, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!
Tackleman is DHL’s secret rugby insider. A man of rugby distinction, travelling the world to tackle the latest news and provide insights behind-the-scenes as only an expert insider can tell.
Follow him as he blogs, tweets and posts his way around Rugby World Cup 2015.
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