I love Ireland, the people are fantastic and it's just a great country. But not tomorrow it isn't. Nope, tomorrow is all about one thing and one thing only - the Six Nations. England v Ireland at Twickenham. For a few hours tomorrow I will be forgetting that I love Ireland with a passion and instead be wishing various ills upon their rather exciting looking rugby team. And when it is all over and we have won, I will be back to loving the place.............
Yes, when we have won. England are going to win, I can feel it in my bones. It's going to be a monstrous encounter between two sides that I think are really starting to take shape, but I genuinely do feel that we are going to once again make Twickenham a fortress. Teams are going to fear coming there to play, like it was in the good old days. I don't think I have mentioned it before on this blog, but you might not know that the mighty England won the Rugby World Cup in November 2003. What, I haven't told you before? Shame on me!!
OK, so there is nothing wrong with a bit of optimism. But is my optimism merely false hope? Are the Irish going to come to Twickenham and rolling maul us out of the park like the mugged they Welsh a couple of weeks back? I reckon we can do it, but come tomorrow evening we will know who has won and who must hang their heads, lick their wounds, and try convincing themselves it was a mere blip on the way towards the World Cup next year. There have been a few false dawns in the last few years when it comes to England rugby, but I can't help feeling that Stuart Lancaster has a distinct vision for the kind of team and the players he wants, and that he is really starting to get there. Please, please may my hopes not be dashed upon the rocks in another winter storm of rugby discontent.
I hope it is a game of rugby that lives up to the hype, because games like these are so often not. We know all about Ireland's power and skill, but you've got to like how England are taking shape with their attacking play, and how more of the forwards are beginning to look like they belong on the world stage. You can't help but admire some of those grizzled Irish veterans and how they keep on producing for their country, but even a neutral has to be a little bit excited by some of the English youngsters. It's going to be a monster and I am very, very excited. My favourite place in the world is Ireland, but not tomorrow it isn't. I am English through and through and I want my team to grind the Irish into the ground and stamp a marker down. Come on England!!