- 3 Oct 07, 02:43 PM
The suburbs of Marseille, Wednesday - Hold onto your seats, for I have shock news for you: England’s plan to defeat Australia features some of the most radical strategies ever unleashed on a rugby pitch.
I’m still shaking after what I’ve just witnessed, to be honest.
But at the risk of being hung for treason, here’s the inside scoop.
What’s that? How do we know? This very morning, Le Bloggernaut was parked up mere feet away from the Stade Roger Couderc, the unprepossessing concrete bowl where England have been training.
For 45 minutes we watched slack-jawed from just beyond the touchline as Brian Ashton put his troops through their paces.
And on the basis of those incendiary three-quarters of an hour, England will be hitting Australia with the following astonishing tactics:
1. George Chuter will spend the entire game lying on his back with his bum in the air, gently wiggling his legs
2. Olly Barkley will be employed as a second left winger, with the sole task of doing keepy-ups with a second ball
3. Mike Catt will jog around slowly behind a reconfigured back line, carrying a wire basket containing eight bottles of protein drink
I know what you’re thinking: “That’s utter madness.”
Doesn’t this tie in perfectly with Ashton’s reputation as a rugby maverick, the loose cannon of the coaching world?
Doesn’t the misfiring England team need just this sort of visionary overhaul?
Won’t the ever-cocky Wallabies be utterly flummoxed when they find themselves running out to face a completely different game-plan than the one they’ve planned for?
I for one am more than excited about this change of direction. Having seen the Aussies in action on a couple of occasions in this tournament, both Ben and I have been having nightmares about what their back line could do to England.
Just last night I was awoken by the sound of Ben gently sobbing in his bunk, tearful after a bad dream involving a 20-foot high Stirling Mortlock smashing his way through a Mathew Tait so frail he could have been made from meringue.
There is just one worry on my mind.
England’s training-ground might have stick-waving security men crawling all over it, and an impenetrable green fence around it.
But, no more than a long line-out throw away, there stands a block of flats so high that an Aussie spy could get a perfect view of what was going on.
In fact, Ben swears that he saw a mane of hair that looked suspiciously like the Swayzesque barnet of Wallabies backs coach Scott Johnston sticking out of one kitchen window.
The better news is that that grey clouds are gathering over Marseille.
While this will do nothing for Dirsy’s burgeoning man-tan (face, forearms and calves only) it could presage exactly the sort of wet, slippery conditions that England will be crying out for.
Will Matt Giteau be able to slice through England’s defence if he’s up to his scrum cap in filthy, stinking water? Will Chris Latham be as happy under the high ball if his hands are so caked in slime that he couldn’t catch a ballerina?
There is hope once again for England – oh yes…
Tom Fordyce is a BBC Sport journalist travelling around France in a camper van with Ben Dirs. Click here to search for all of Tom and Ben's blog videos.