Rugby trips of a lifetime and hazy away days
What's the best rugby trip you've been on? Ever. Anywhere.
As Edinburgh fans scramble around borrowing money for a trip to Dublin, my mind started wandering.
Will the Scottish rugby team hit winning ways soon, who was the biggest person ever to play for Scotland (Richard Metcalfe I think) and will Donald Trump buy Murrayfield, call it Trump and Grind, and stick a couple of wind turbines on the back pitch?
Actually I wasn't really, I was thinking about going back to Ireland's capital and packing light. Yes, Dublin's fair city where the girls are so pretty but it's not much use if you're in your fifties, or something like that.
And from there my mind raced to all the places I've played rugby in, or had the luck to go to and watch games. You and me, we like away trips.
I've been tweeting to try to get Edinburgh fans to come to our Sport Nation programme on Saturday morning and I hope that plenty make the journey to the Aviva stadium or it'll be like going to a new branch of a fast food restaurant called Little Belfast. All red and white and "Stand up for the Ulstermen..." and the rest of it.
Rugby fans have always been fond of an "away day" (pic: SNS)
As a kid the first trips were on "tours" to the Borders of Scotland to get bits of my body kicked by players from Hawick, Kelso, Jedburgh and Melrose. Those were excellent weekends. In fact, I think we nearly won a game once.
The older I got the more travel beckoned: Dublin and Aurrilac with the then Scotland "B" team, the other home nations and a tour of France and Spain with Scotland. Spain as part of a, yes, football World Cup, and then two southern hemisphere trips with the Lions.
In the middle of all that was a game against Australia where, at the post-match function, I sat beside a really outgoing young stand-off called Michael Lynagh and I just want to put in writing that I really hope he's Okay. To heck with the rugby he played, that is a decent man.
And then with the Beeb, and I know I'm one of the luckiest blokes in the world, there have been some amazing times.
Do you know what though? See when you step off a plane anywhere in the world I'm kind of proud that my game is rugby. Fans will rib each other without real bitterness, there is no segregation.
I remember being in a bar in Brisbane and some Aussie found out who we worked for and asked who we were. I said that the person to my left was my producer. "Oh." said the Aussie. "And just what kind of films exactly is it you star in?" with a wink.
On the same trip I was woken by kids surfing at half five in the morning, I've had monkeys throw dates onto my hotel's tin roof outside Durban in South Africa, and I've sat with a Scottish team on tour in the middle of France as they dished up octopus stew - and nobody touched it.
There is something about a rugby town that sticks with you. Dublin this weekend will put on its green hat and welcome the folks from Edinburgh and Belfast.
It'll be Guinness and buskers and Grafton Street and walking and laughs and food and very little sleep.
When the Leinster men go to Bordeaux to play Clermont Auvergne it'll be wine and warmth and smoky sausage barbecues, baguettes and funny hats and a language barrier.
All are equally lovable, and all marvellous, which is how an Edinburgh win would be this weekend.
For Edinburgh to reach the Heineken Cup final they have to get that game plan working and keep the ball from Ulster who are a good side. Can Edinburgh win? Possibly...
I'm not going to be fancy. The best ruby trip of my life was to the Scottish Borders. The first time for most things is the best. I was 17, in a car being driven by an older team-mate and crammed to the limits by anything up to five players and their kit and golf clubs, passing Carstairs and Carluke, down through Peebles, and then into a land of green I'd never seen before.
The hospitality was as amazing as the physicality on the pitch. And then there's that pint in your hand, a hotel bed (I know, extravagance) a hungover breakfast full of smiles and memories, a day off on the Saturday, a repeat performance in the shape of being kicked to bits on the Sunday, and then back up the road to get ready for another hopelessly out-of-sorts Monday at University.
Man it's been a good life.
So if you're in Dublin I'll see you there - but, before you go let me know the best rugby trip you've ever been on.