Three big weekends
2 November 2013
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The first three Saturdays of November see three big games on the pitch at Twickenham and busy weekends for me off it.
With less than two years to go to the next Rugby World Cup each game England plays assumes ever greater importance and the game against Australia today is huge. Although I was as delighted as anyone in the UK at the Lions’ success down under I was very aware that it was only very small margins that stopped them being 2-0 down to an ordinary Australian side after the first couple of tests. New Zealand and South Africa were dominant in the Rugby Championship so there is massive expectation for England to win.
The loss of Barritt and Tuilagi in the centres has to be an opportunity to see what Billy Twelvetrees can do and a chance to blood a couple of new centres to increase the depth in that position. Alex Corbisiero’s absence will be a big blow as I rate him as the best loose-head in Europe, but even without these key players England really have to beat an Australian side that lacks the style, flair and finesse of those of the last twenty years.
This game will set the tone for the following two and everyone is looking forward to the game against New Zealand on the 16th, but I’m sure Stuart Lancaster won’t focus beyond the game against Argentina once the final whistle blows today.
Off the field, today will see the 2003 Rugby World Cup squads at Twickenham as guests at the pre-match lunch commemorating ten years since England’s win. Many played in a Legends game on Thursday night and were at a dinner last night so there may be some tired bodies and sore heads!
Next week before the game against Argentina I will be hosting drinks in the West Car Park along with John Winders, Community Rugby Chairman at Eastern Counties. Anyone connected to an Eastern Counties Club is very welcome to come along to say hello; we will be there between 12:30pm and 2pm or until we run dry, whichever is the sooner. Look out for the maroon Eastern Counties flag.
Finally the the RFU President will be welcoming Valued Volunteers and CB Presidents at a black-tie dinner after the New Zealand game. I will be looking after those from my area plus a number of guests for whom I hope it will be a memorable occasion.
Enjoy your rugby this weekend whether you are playing, refereeing, coaching, volunteering or watching.