Waking up at 5:00 in the morning is not something I do regularly but this year, at this time, it is a necessity. Why?  If you didn’t know, the rugby world cup is taking place in Japan. An event held every 4 years like the Olympic Games and the football World Cup. But for intensity and excitement this event can’t be beaten. The first match starts at 5:15  AM just enough time to make a cup of tea. The final match will finish at 2:00 PM. If England or Ireland are playing in the early fixture it is a must for me. 


A long career as a player, referee and coach has not diminished my passion for the game. The enormous clashes of theses powerful athletes can be thrilling  to watch when a tackle is completed accurately. As well as this players hit rucks, a way of keeping the game flowing, with the force of a car hitting a wall. However, it is not just the sight of giant athletes that keeps me enthralled. Alongside these men there are those players with dexterity and nimble footwork that gives the game its glamour. 


The cheeky number nine with his chatter to the brutes in front of him, ordering their every move, has to pass the ball to the conductor of the team the fly half. Alongside the maestro are two damage control and chaos causing felines. Not the domestic cats you have at home but the sleek, silky, lithesome animals one can see in grasslands of any continent. Then there are the ferraris of the team the wingers and fullback whose power, pace and nifty footwork perplex opposition players. Alongside the power pace and strength of the athletes there is the dexterity of basketball players. This is not the round ball you see in most games where the bounce is even or can be counted on a good surface but an oval shaped ball difficult to handle effectively without skill. Every player on the team has to be able to control the ball with ease and pass accurately under pressure. 

This wonderful exciting running game where brutality looks the norm, but is played side by side grace, artistry and deftness, is wonderful to watch. I can say playing the game in England saved my life. Take the chance to watch the final 3 or 4 weekends of the tournament. Where you can lookout for the all round talents of the greatest rugby playing nation on earth The New Zealand All Blacks. The feisty but wonderfully inventive Australians and the raw power of the South African team. From Europe France can be mercurial and the Welsh have a flair that matches any team in the world. At this point it is not clear whether the hosts Japan will make the last eight but don’t write them off. As you read this we will know if they have beaten the unpredictable Scots. Finally my teams. I have a foot in both camps of Ireland and England. England have power and pace but require the inventiveness to take them to the final and rarely has there been a better Irish side than the one we are witnessing now. 

Go on give yourself a treat and capture the magic that is rugby!



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