I have just come back from a trip to Ireland to visit relatives and meet old friends. It was mostly a very successful trip, having accomplished all I need to do and meeting all the people I needed to see.
The secondary reason for the visit was to get my ' tank topped up with Irish rugby' energy and involvement prior to the start of the Rugby World Cup which start this week in New Zealand.
First on my agenda was to watch an Irish Rugby warm up game in a traditional Irish ‘watering hole’ (that is a pub). This is where the discussion before, during and after the game are as important as the game itself. After this I was changed from a spectator to a 'Local armchair expert'. This is very important for enjoying any rugby game.
The second portion of the agenda was to visit Thomond Park. The official playing ground of the Munster Rugby team and located in Limerick the world renound Capital of Irish Rugby. This can be confirmed by asking any Limerick man, like me.
The third was to attend a rugby match in the new Aviva stadium in Dublin. I attended the game between Ireland and France. The stadium was great, the game was so-so and the day was fantastic. Attending a rugby game has a ritual all of its own. It involves going to the match at least 3 hours before the game and as per tradition and ritual visiting several 'watering holes' which have to be visited in sequence. Each one is closer to the stadium and at each one the rugby discussion intensifies and the knowledge obtained is invaluable.
The Rugby World cup conditioning and training has been very successfully completed. I am now a fully qualified expert on what is going to happen at every world cup match after the games are completed. I can also baffle you with thousands of statistics and anecdotes to all games before during and after every game.
Let the games begin.