A feast in store for rugby lovers everywhere

John Inverdale
THOSE of you with few friends, not much of a life, and a propensity for rugby union, will have had a field day on Saturday. You could have sat in front of your television set and watched internationals from one corner of the globe to the other from sunrise until well after midnight with barely time to check on the rain falling on Andy Murray. And if that was how you chose to spend half your weekend, what conclusions might you have drawn?

That the All Blacks still set the standard by which all others must be judged. The demolition of France included one of the greatest tries in living memory, all achieved without Richie McCaw or Dan Carter. That against Argentina, England discovered in Kyle Eastmond a player who could excite Twickenham like no-one has since fellow rugby league convert Jason Robinson.

That by winning against admittedly a second-string Welsh team, Japan are on the road towards making a decent fist of being proud hosts of the 2019 World Cup, on the field as well as off it, a competition in which shrewd observers among you will, on recent evidence, be backing Samoa to reach the last four, and possibly even the final.

And, of most immediate concern, that Lions coach Warren Gatland needs to be pragmatic in the first Test in Brisbane because winning the opening skirmish against the Wallabies is all that matters.

Whatever the try count against the Waratahs, he must not be sidetracked by a misplaced sense of the need to entertain, but select a front row that can scrummage Australia off the field, and remind Sam Warburton that irrespective of how much the crowd bay at decisions to kick for goal, Leigh Halfpenny is his potential match-winner. Leave the flamboyance to the Wallabies.

But the main conclusion you will have drawn is that this coming weekend is another wonderful opportunity for utter, slovenly decadence. And I bet you can’t wait.