If you have no interest in rugby then I make my apologies that my first blog post back after a bit of time away with the family is solely about this majestic sport, but anybody who has followed the fortunes of the England rugby team for numerous years I am sure is in the same boat as me - it's been a long, hard road from those 2003 glory days, but with what is now going with the England team, my question is as the title says - "so how excited do we get ?"
In my opinion the French game on Saturday was a pretty scrappy affair that could hardly be called a classic, yet we came away with a win yet again. Of course the French were going to come out and play better than the drivel they have been producing so far in the Six Nations, and yes, England seemed to be somewhat rusty in the first half especially, but we still came away with the win (helped I am sure by some simply daft French substitutions). Yes, any rugby supporter is always going to want to see the kind of match that was England v New Zealand late last year, but at the end of the day it's about winning, and if you ask me this winning thing is a habit that needs to be learnt. So are we finally learning how to win in many different ways ?
Or is this "revival" of English rugby yet another false dawn where our emotions as supporters are taken through the full gamut of feelings, only to be left bleached upon the rocks once again ? But could this "revival" actually be the real deal, and therefore something to start getting genuinely excited about ? Well I reckon Lancaster and Robshaw are obviously making one hell of a partnership as coach and captain, along the lines of Strauss and Flower in the cricket perhaps. Each seems to buy into a long-term vision together, and whilst Strauss and indeed Robshaw would never be termed the showy players, what happens is that their respective teams are in fact significantly weaker without them.
Three games down and we are in with a genuine shout at the Grand Slam, in fact I can't help but feel if we don't end the Six Nations as the single unbeaten team then it will be termed a failure of sorts. I might get all misty eyed at the thought of 2002/2003 English rugby, but we must remember that even that mighty team failed to come through on a couple of Grand Slams I think it was - but when it mattered the most, they got the job done and then headed to the southern hemisphere as the best team in the world at the time.
Which the current England side are very obviously not. We are not there yet and who knows how close we might or might not get to this status one day (soon I hope !!), but for me these are the most exciting rugby times since November 2003 - and this comes from a rugby fanatic who was so desperately disappointed that Martin Johnson's (best English rugby captain ever ?) time at the helm was such a comparatively damp squib. So how excited do we get ? Well I am doing my personal best to remain calm and not get too far ahead, but it's getting harder not to get really, really excited about where the England rugby team seem to be heading. Be still my beating heart.................