Like it or not we are in the throes of a new season.
It is that time of year where the pro teams court club sides and fans to attempt to foster that relationship “that just wasn’t there last season.” Indeed as Melrose found out last night the charm offensive has already started in earnest as fans are torn between supporting club rugby or seeing the big boys come the 2nd of September. We see the same adverts and hear the same appeals on STV (only) and a select few radio channels. Don’t forget about the Rabo-League!
It is also apparent that despite restructuring and new directives; fewer ‘elite’ teams and the same fixed number of B & I Cup places, Club rugby is gearing up for its new season much as it has every other year.
The bigger clubs do the rounds ‘asking’ players their plans for the year, some players finally achieving success hang up the boots. Some of those rather ‘miffed’ at relegation retire rather than swap clubs. Some players swap clubs like night-out t-shirts. The merry-go-round whirls undeterred (I will analyse the Prem 1 pre-season and offer up my own predictions for each team just before the RBS Premier 1 season begins on the 27th of August).
We also realise that the full-timers have their squads almost set in stone now, with the flitting of the 7s players to be taken into account and no new signings looking likely to swell ranks. The news of Hugo Southwell officially becoming a Wasp is no surprise. Edinburgh and Glasgow, it seems, are happily left to their own devices as every focuses in on the Big Team’s World Cup Preparation.
Oh yeah. That Webb Ellis thingy.
It’s time to step up our build-up to RWC 2011.
In the next few weeks we will be looking at New Zealand’s preparation for the tournament, analysing our group opponents, analysing our potential squad and, perhaps most importantly, evaluating our selections and form leading up to the first match against Romania.
Rory will do what he can from the ‘Ends of the Earth’ but back in Blighty I will be doing what I always do: conducting interviews, dissecting official statements and press conferences and trying not to be toooooo negative.
Tomorrow I begin my countdown to the Rugby World Cup 2011 with an Interview with a Kiwi and Haggis flavour, and from here on out everything is focussed on the glorious return of Rugby.
In the meantime:
What do YOU think of the Scotland team to play Ireland this Saturday in the first EMC test?
15 Chris Paterson (Edinburgh) 104 caps and 783 points
14 Nikki Walker (Ospreys) 22 caps and 30 points
13 Joe Ansbro (London Irish) 6 caps
12 Graeme Morrison (Glasgow Warriors) 28 caps and 15 points
11 Sean Lamont (Scarlets) 55 caps and 40 points
10 Ruaridh Jackson (Glasgow Warriors) 6 caps and 8 points
9 Rory Lawson (Gloucester) 27 caps CAPTAIN
1 Allan Jacobsen (Edinburgh) 55 caps
2 Ross Ford (Edinburgh) 48 caps and 10 points VICE-CAPTAIN
3 Geoff Cross (Edinburgh) 5 caps
4 Jim Hamilton (Gloucester) 31 caps and 5 points
5 Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors) 10 caps
6 Alasdair Strokosch (Gloucester) 19 caps and 5 points
8 Johnnie Beattie (Glasgow Warriors) 15 caps and 15 points
7 Ross Rennie (Edinburgh) 6 caps
16 Dougie Hall (Glasgow Warriors) 34 caps and 5 points
17 Alasdair Dickinson (Sale Sharks) 19 caps
18 Alastair Kellock (Glasgow Warriors) 32 caps and 5 points
19 David Denton (Edinburgh) uncapped
20 Greig Laidlaw (Edinburgh) 1 cap
21 Nick De Luca (Edinburgh) 24 caps and 5 points
22 Jack Cuthbert (Bath) uncapped
Me? I will reserve judgement until Friday, and then I will have a match review on Sunday. Still wanna go to the game? Dont panic. You can still get tickets:
- Online – at www.scottishrugby.org until 12noon v Ireland and 3pm v Italy.
- From the 24 hour hotline- 0844 335 3933 until 12noon v Ireland and 3pm v Italy
- Or in person by cash or credit card at specially designated ticket sales outlets located in front of Murrayfield Stadium, off Roseburn Street from 9am until kick-off. (FINALLY!)