And so, the six tribes come together for the Northern Hemisphere’s spring stoush. Buckles will be swashed, loins girded, Scipio’s helmet buffed to a gleaming shine. For the lover of the ellipsoid pigskin, this is the high point of the year.
And what better way to follow this most gladiatorial of sports than to indulge in Bacchanalian reverie in the footsteps of the greats – McBride, Care, Guilford – enveloped in the flag of your fathers?
As a son of Pontypool, I know a thing or two about getting through a weekend session. Ray Prosser once made me neck a wellington full of vodka and Graham Price’s vomit. Believe me, once you cross that Rubicon, there is no going back. Here is my guide to watching each match, complete with recommended tipple and predicted outcome.
Wales v Ireland Millennium Stadium 13:30
First match, plenty of thirst and ambition. Mainly thirst between these two cranky Celtic cousins. Farmer-flanker O’Brien, Carlow’s finest son, to get things rolling for Ireland, but Welsh Brains to take over. A narrow win for the Men of Harlech, to be enjoyed with 4 pints of Guinness and 5 pints of Brains.
England v Scotland Twickenham 16:00
The Calcutta Cup runneth over. One part Lagavulin to 6 parts Indian Pale Ale. Brian Moore, opinionated solicitor of this parish, to describe Scotland’s performance as ‘cowardly’, King Edward’s men sending the tartan army to the bar early. And why not? Jerry G’s smug smile is enough to make me spew but at least Andy Nicol has to pay for the curry this time.
Italy v France Stadio Olimpico 15:00
Ah, our sophisticated continental cousins, clashing in the Eternal City. Watching this in the pub, ensure that you look as sophisticated as Bergamasco playing at 9 with a tall, cold pint of Valpolicella followed in the second half by an intriguing Claret served in a yard. Expect me to over enunciate the French players’ names – Fofffff-ar-na!, and if the lad doesn’t pronounce it as such he should – as the second day’s plonk kicks in. Les Bleus by three essais.
In closing, despite anything Brian Moore – is this blowhard solicitor remotely aware that there’s more to our wonderful game than scrummaging and feeding the scrum? – says to the contrary, this is not my bedside table:
God – and my liver – willing, I’ll be back next week with my tips and tippling suggestions for Round Two.
Entirely imagined by Droptheclaw after a tankerload of Guinness