I feel like I did in the back of the car heading to my grandmother’s. Before anything electronic or beepy had been invented, my head slumped against the window, watching the world whistle by as we traipsed across the country in search of a turning just below the one for Cold Slad, deep in the Gloucestershire countryside. “Are we nearly there yet?”
Wales v England, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. Six Nations opener, but also so much more; red versus white, heaven sent bread versus chariots swinging low, the Dragon versus St George. Passion, pride and an awful lot of pre match shenanigans.
Gatland and Lancaster. Like two playground bullies who have been inexorably yet begrudgingly led to a showdown with each other. They don’t want to fight really, it will reveal too much, but they know they have to. Lancaster has a dead leg, a dodgy wrist and feels a bit sick but he’s game. He will fight anyone. He’s not scared. Gatland; smirking and sarcastic, sideways glances at his henchman – ‘I know how I’m going to do you in England, always have.’
It’ll be a bumpy and intriguing ride. Here are some things to look out for.
1) An actual game of rugby. Goodness me there’s been a lot of chat. The two sides have set about each other’s plans, tried out some mind games, argued about the laws, even discussed if they want the sunroof open. What might happen on Friday night is an actual rugby test match. And if all goes to plan, it’ll be great. Far better than listening to people talk about it.
2) Jonathan Fox Davies. Of the three centres on display, he is arguably the most talented. He has been off the boil out in France but form is temporary. All the prematch discussions have been focused on the other three (Joseph, Burrell and Roberts); expect JFD to spoil everyone’s party and have a stormer.
3) The front row. With the sidelining of such a talismanic figure as Adam Jones, the Wales front three will have everything to prove and, off the back of a good autumn series, will be more than keen to kick on in the Six Nations. For England, Cole and Marler team up with Hartley between them. I think this is an arm wrestle to salivate over. Plus Hartley could always punch someone. Keep your eyes peeled.
4) George Ford. Is he really that good? Forget being thrown in on the end of a November series versus a tired Australia. Wales in Wales on the opening weekend of the Six Nations is where it’s at. Can he do the job? Might also be worth watching how long it takes Jamie Roberts to run down his channel.
5) A shot of the roof being open.
6) A red card. Something in my water says we might see a red tomorrow. I hope I’m wrong as it will change the game completely and might make it less of a spectacle but I feel a tip tackle or a ‘taking out in the air’ could happen. Such is the fervour of expectation, someone could lose their head. Plus Jerome Garces is in charge and he was the referee that sent off Jared Payne. He has previous.
7) Someone who looks like your Auntie dressed as a daffodil.
8) A bit of Danny magic. He will come on and he will put someone through a hole. He has clawed his way back from obscurity, watched all others fall away around him and now he’s on the bench. Some things are just meant to be.
So, gather round, 8.05pm, Friday night. It feels like it has been a long time coming and it should be a lot of fun. A bit like my grandma’s always was. Although there will probably be more aggression.
Sam Roberts © 2015. (Text only). All Rights Reserved.