- 1 Oct 07, 10:43 AM
To lose one Six Nations side before the quarter-finals of a World Cup is unfortunate. To lose three just goes to show how stagnant and outmoded northern hemisphere rugby has become.
I don’t go for that. After all, the All Blacks and Australia have been gubbing the minnows at this World Cup just as they always have done.
I hesitate to pick on the Scots – at least they managed to scrape through their group - but it was our misfortune to witness their clash with Italy which was the rugby equivalent of a wet weekend in Prestatyn with only a stack of David Essex LPs for company.
One Scottish fan explained that the up-and-under was the weapon of choice because of the squally weather up in St Etienne.
But I can guarantee you 100% that you will never hear the following words falling from the lips of a southern hemisphere coach:
“Listen lads, I’ve had a look outside and it’s a bit greasy. So just give it to the number 10, let him hoof it for 80 minutes and let’s see what happens.”
At times over the last four weeks, the lack of basic skills exhibited by Six Nations sides has been jaw-dropping, as has the lack of guile, lack of ambition and, especially in the case of Wales, tactical naivety.
We witnessed the Welsh go down on a big screen in Place Jean Juares in St Etienne, which had been transformed for the weekend into a disorientating mix of kilted Scotsmen, local smackheads and flummoxed French tourists.
Tommy, as you can see on our latest video, almost had a rumble with one young reveller. I was behind the camera at the time, and, as they say darling, you have to keep it rolling, even when your mate looks like he's about to get stabbed with a hypodermic needle.
St Etienne, I am choked to report, was actually pretty accurately described by our Lonely Planet guidebook.
It couldn’t do much about the rain that rodded down for much of our visit, but it’s a little bit scraggy and lacking the class of its near neighbour and gastronomic hotbed Lyon.
Aaah, Lyon, home to the andouillette, or exploding sausage. What Tommy thought of me wolfing down a nine-inch shaft of pig's intestine is anyone’s guess. But then this is a man who thinks handfuls of muesli are what God put him on earth to eat.
Lyon also rewarded us with the sight of an extremely rubbered Scotsman having his hair pulled and being punched by his long-suffering old dear as punishment for swearing.
I found it particularly amusing as most of his bile had been directed at the England team during their match against Tonga.
England gave a decent display and there can be no doubt they are improving as the tournament goes on. But I still think they’ve got about as much cutting edge as a balloon and will get shredded behind the scrum by the Aussies.
We have now swapped an industrial estate in St Etienne for a rat-infested car park in Marseille, but at least down here the vermin have suntans.
On Sunday we saw the hosts in action for the first time in the tournament against Georgia and the Stade Velodrome was fairly buzzing.
It is therefore a shame that Les Bleus are going to get their backsides handed to them on a platter by the All Blacks next weekend.
Bad news on The Bloggernaut, which now resembles some kind of ancient prison ship and is lacking in such staples as bread, water and pickled onion Monster Munch.
Indeed, I’d wager even our neighbouring rats would have a look around, run their claws over a few surfaces before deciding against moving in.
Tommy and I haven’t quite reached the stage where we are eating the weevils off biscuits, but I have been trying to raise spirits by cultivating a George Chuter memorial beard and laughing occasionally in the manner of a pirate.
Strangely, Tommy doesn’t reciprocate, but rather mumbles something about being forced to drive 3000 miles over the course of the last four weeks.
The beard, however, will have to go, as it’s incredibly itchy and will no doubt open up a whole new vein of horrendous lookie-likies.
France is truly a remarkable place. Back home, you're lumbered with Jim Rosenthal fronting the World Cup coverage. Over here, the lady above does the honours. Mary Patrux, we salute you.
PS. Someone suggested last week that our next video should focus on Scotsmen who look like Jesus. That’s the last time I ask the public for any advice about anything.
Ben Dirs is a BBC Sport journalist travelling around France in a camper van with Tom Fordyce. Click here to search for all of Tom and Ben's blog videos.