Spot­ters’ Guide

Rob Bagchi talks you through what to ex­pect from an af­ter­noon on the sofa in the com­pany of In­verdale, Wilko, Wood­ward and co

The Daily Telegraph - Rugby World Cup - - Sport Rugby World Cup 2015 -

First up, Sean Fitz­patrick and Michael Ly­nagh gaz­ing at each other like fa­thers of bride and groom ea­ger for a snifter.

On comes the tee as the All Blacks get a penalty and Richie McCaw tells Dan Carter to kick for the sticks. “Money in the bank,” says Dal­laglio. John In­verdale asks Sir Clive Wood­ward, Jonny Wilkin­son and Lawrence Dal­laglio what “all this means for England”. Smug man in crowd telling his friend when the pre-flame-throw­ers spurt out their first flares: “I told you not to have the vin­daloo.”

David Po­cock and Richie McCaw bat­tle at a breakdown. Com­men­ta­tor Nick Mullins crowns the win­ner “the ul­ti­mate jackal of the tackle”. Nigel Owens stops the pre­match py­rotech­nics to ask the TMO if he has seen any­thing il­le­gal. Play­ers run out dressed in the strange com­bi­na­tion of long track­suit trousers and short-sleeved shirts, re­sem­bling noth­ing more than a troop of mis­shapen male gym­nasts.

A drone cam­era swoops over the peaks of Hel­lel­lyn, Skid­daw, Grass­moor and Scafell Pike as In­verdale says: “A penny for Stu­art Lan­caster’s thoughts.”

Not one player bursts into tears dur­ing their na­tional an­them and looks so over­come that they are in dan­ger of com­mit­ting mur­der by the time the last note fades. A bad omen for the match?

Each side link arms for the an­thems but find har­mon­is­ing with the so­prano im­pos­si­ble. The play­ers fin­ish first, singer sec­ond, crowd third.

Pre-haka dis­cus­sion time, and the con­sen­sus is that, like the Incredible Hulk, it is bet­ter to shy away from con­fronta­tion as, Wood­ward ad­mits: “I learnt to my cost.”

Former prop David Flat­man fi­nally fights past his com­men­tary box col­leagues and makes the most tac­ti­cally as­tute ob­ser­va­tion of the match. The All Blacks’ Sam White­lock and the Wal­la­bies’ Scott Fardy go nose-to-nose in a fight for the ball at the first breakdown and find that their beards stick to­gether like Vel­cro. Prince Harry with bush­man’s beard hands the medals to the win­ners and the tro­phy to the vic­to­ri­ous cap­tain then melts away, avoid­ing the temp­ta­tion to do a Sepp Blat­ter and cling on to the han­dles for dear life to pho­to­bomb the mo­ment. Your win­dows rat­tle to a mi­nor earth­quake, which is later dis­cov­ered to have been the pop­u­la­tion jump­ing up and down in the knowl­edge that they will never again have to en­dure Paloma Faith.

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