This weekend sees the most important sporting event of the year. No, not that little game in Miami, though I will be watching that as well (Geaux Saints!). I refer, of course, to the annual Wales – England rugby match.
This year the game is in London, which should help England overcome their natural disadvantage of being, well, English. Also the England side is very much in a rebuilding phase, with many young players looking to establish their reputations. The Welsh side, on the other hand, is stuffed full of veterans of two Grand Slam campaigns. They ought to win. Expectation always brings pressure.
My main worry is at scrum half. Gareth Cooper is the Welsh third choice – Philips and Peel both being injured. He’s a good player but, as I’m sure Will will explain in the comments, Danny Care is a wily fox and proving worthy of being England’s first choice at the position.
My other worry is the referee. As the BBC and Martyn Williams explain, some new regulations have just been handed down regarding how rucks will be policed. Going into the game, the players will be unsure what is legal and what isn’t. They will need to watch the referee carefully and see how he whistles the game. But Wales cannot afford to give away penalties, because if they do then Jonny Wilkinson will kick them, and then we’ll probably lose.
On the bright side, the selection of Tait instead of Hipkiss suggests that England are actually going to try to play rugby rather than mud wrestling, and when they do things that don’t come naturally to them they often get in a terrible mess. We shall see.