Sport Comment: An encouraging start, but could do better

John Inverdale
ROW L in the East Stand at Twickenham was not a good place to watch uninterrupted coverage of the England-Australia international on Saturday. And it’s doubtful if many of the rows from B to Z were much better.

For those who don’t attend rugby matches, it may come as a shock that you can buy alcohol throughout the game. Even if you had four pre-match pints it is mandatory to replenish the moment the second scrum collapses and England’s midfield trio indicate they have barely met each other.

The problem with heading off for a beer that early is you then have to get rid of it 20 minutes later. So up, down we all go, to accommodate this never-ending travelator of spectators to the bar and then the toilets, meaning you miss large parts of the match. More than that, it’s a pain. Having berated football for not learning from other sports, here’s one rugby can learn from football. Ten minutes before kick-off, shut the bars. Something else to review is the shambolic trophy presentation – so long after the final whistle there was barely a quorum left in the ground – forcing players to hang around for 15 minutes before getting their medals. First Test of the season, but a definite could do better.

Which was probably the fairest assessment of the team. Full-back Mike Brown’s performance was so accomplished the person you felt most sorry for was Ben Foden, sitting in the stands wondering if he’ll ever get back in. Billy Vunipola is a one-man wrecking ball with intelligence and, with one or two caveats, the side showed signs that this might be quite a handy outfit in the making.

Luther Burrell and Kyle Eastmond may be the centres against Argentina and, if England change one or two other positions they’ll know their best side to face the All Blacks. Then we’ll see where England stand. If indeed some of you are still standing after half the game at the bar.