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Now That's What I Call Tom and Ben (in photos) (19)

Hang out the bunting, strike up the band, Tom and Ben are home.

Not quite in a jet draped with flags, awaiting a press corps and tumult of fans, more in a campervan, on a ferry, still wearing those flip-flops. And that vest. Probably.

So here's a best of Fordyce & Dirs, in photos and links to remind you of the past seven weeks' adventure.

You can check out all of their photos on flickr.com.

Continue reading "Now That's What I Call Tom and Ben (in photos)"


Tom Fordyce

Heading back to old Blighty (85)

Calais ferry port, Monday morning - C’est tout. Seven weeks to the day that we set sail from Dover, hope in our hearts and three clean pairs of socks apiece in our luggage, the time has come for Ben and me to go home.

It’s a very quiet Bloggernaut the pair of us sit in today. For once the well-known brand of mp3 player is silent, the rugby ball motionless on the floor.

The rear of the campervan, as always, looks like a cross between an abandoned refugee camp and an explosion in a pant factory.

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Ben Dirs

Best job in the world (45)

Paris, Sunday - My mother phoned me this morning and asked me what I want for dinner on Monday night.

Mrs Dirs is a quality cook, but that’s not what I wanted to hear the morning after England played in a World Cup final. This trip is over. Make mine a roast or I think I’ll start crying.

My initial reaction to England’s defeat was pretty childish: “bothered”. Like most of the England fans still partying at 6am on Sunday morning, I was just happy to be there.

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Ben Dirs

Why Wilkinson is the main man (188)

Thursday morning, Paris - Former Middlesex and Durham seamer Simon Hughes tells a great story about an ageing Ian Botham bowling to the touring Australians at Chester-le-Street.

Botham, Hughes maintains, wasn’t doing anything with the ball at all, simply padding up to the crease and sending it down at a gentle military medium.

But to the Australian players, who were huddled in the pavilion, glued to the action and talking in reverential tones, every delivery was a potential hand-grenade.

It’s what sports people often refer to as “presence”, a word that has been used repeatedly in connection with Jonny Wilkinson ahead of Saturday’s World Cup final...

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Tom Fordyce

Desperately seeking a Cup final ticket (147)

Paris, Wednesday night - Suddenly, I feel as if I’ve fallen into the plot of a cheap, tear-jerking melodrama.

After seven weeks, 12 matches and 4,500 miles together in Le Bloggernaut, Ben and I are about to be split up on the eve of the biggest sporting event we’ve ever experienced.

Two men, one ticket.

I never liked maths, and I like that particular sum about as much as Bernard Laporte likes shampoo.

Despite having been to more matches, travelled more miles and watched more minnows than anyone else we can think of, only one of us has been given the nod by the organisers for the World Cup final.

And it’s not me...

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Tom Fordyce

From Cape Town and Dover they came... (74)

The outskirts of Paris, Tuesday - “Confidence,” sang Elvis - “There's no job too immense when you've got confidence.”

While Elvis was a hero to most, he never meant squit to me. But, as I’ve strolled around the streets of Paris in the last few days, the words of the be’quiffed porker have rung in my ears time and time again.

If there’s a Springboks fan out there who isn’t completely and utterly 100% certain that his side will win the World Cup on Saturday night, I’ve yet to meet them.

Continue reading "From Cape Town and Dover they came..."


Ben Dirs

Ugly win a thing of beauty (372)

Paris - Big sporting occasions can mess with people's minds. On Saturday night, as my brains were being blown out by the Marseillaise, I found myself making the sign of the cross and I very nearly cried.

When I tell you that I’m not sure I believe in God and that I blub about once every 10 years, usually when watching The Champ, you get some idea of the mind-bending atmosphere that was swirling round the Stade de France as England beat the World Cup hosts.

The scenes after the final whistle will live long in the memory: French fans disappearing from the ground as quickly as bath water being sucked down a plughole; England fans roaring along to Oasis’ Wonderwall; the tears of Sebastien Chabal.

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Mark Orlovac

South Africa v Argentina player ratings (150)

Paris - It worked so well on Saturday we're continuing the Orlo/Dirsy blog partnership for the SA v Argentina ratings, but this time with added Fordyce!

Here are our player ratings for the Boks' semi-final win over the Pumas. I have rated South Africa and Ben and Tom are now so inseparable they have jointly rated Argentina.

Do you agree? Let us know your thoughts!

Continue reading "South Africa v Argentina player ratings"


Tom Fordyce

England in dreamland (349)

Paris, early hours of Sunday morning - Words - you fail me. Legs - you can’t hold me. Liver - stand by me.

I’m dreaming. I must be. Except in dreams I’ve never thrown myself into the arms of a bug-eyed, bawling Benjamin Dirs while bellowing myself bandy and thumping myself on the legs like a banjaxed Keith Moon.

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Mark Orlovac

England v France player ratings (243)

Paris - A brand new partnership of me, Orlo, and him, Dirsy, together in one blog.

Here are our player ratings for England's semi-final against France. I have rated England and Dirsy's rated France.

Do you agree? Let us know your thoughts!

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Ben Dirs

Paris primed for English invasion (48)

I’m normally loathe to use military metaphors when writing about sport. Unless, of course, Phil Taylor is playing Peter Manley at arrows, in which case, it’s entirely appropriate.

But, as I sit here tapping this out in a darkened hotel room, the glow from my laptop serving as my only light, I can’t help feeling like an army scout, sent into enemy territory to test the waters in advance of England’s invading hordes.

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Tom Fordyce

Quelque chose pour le weekend? (92)

The outskirts of Paris, Friday - Just one day to go now until Le Grand Weekend.

Gulp.

Right now, Ben and I are incapable of doing almost anything except run round in ever-decreasing circles, squeaking in schoolgirl fashion before collapsing to the ground like a pair of over-dramatic old luvvies.

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Tom Fordyce

Gaga about Paris (57)

Macon, Wednesday, en route to Paris - 400 kilometres down, 400 to go.

At this stage of the trip, with the sunny pitches of the south disappearing in Le Bloggernaut’s dusty wake and the bug-battered bonnet pointing towards the autumnal north, we’d expected to feel as glum as Lemmy in a library.

Instead, our chuggathon up the autoroute has seen the pair of us so sparkly-eyed and perma-smiled that we could pass for aged members of a particularly bad-looking boy-band.

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Ben Dirs

The journey to Paris begins... (52)

Aix-en-ProvenceTommy and I set sail from Marseille on Monday afternoon like a couple of battered sailors fleeing a storm and have now weighed anchor in the calmer waters of Aix.

Thousands of others will have done the same and will now be cowering under duvets all over the globe, still struggling to come to terms with the weekend they’ve just experienced.

There will never be another two days like it. Apart from next Saturday and Sunday, that is.

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Tom Fordyce

Sweet and sour memories of Marseille (84)

Marseille, Monday morning - There’s no two ways about it – that was without doubt the greatest sporting weekend I’ve ever been involved in.

Marseille this weekend has been a city drenched in beer, tension, disbelief, sorrow, happiness and wild, wide-eyed celebration.

Even now, with the streets finally emptying of campervans, sleeping fans and plastic pint pots, you can still almost feel the excitement bouncing off the sticky pavements.

Continue reading "Sweet and sour memories of Marseille"


Ben Dirs

England spark Marseille party (154)

Marseille - More bad news for those who have been complaining about us wasting their licence fee for the last five weeks: England are off to the semi-finals of the World Cup…and we’re going with them!

Not even as I weaved my way through the puddles of sick and empty beer glasses that littered Marseille’s Old Port at 6am on Saturday did I think Brian Ashton’s boys were going to beat Australia.

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BBC Sport Rugby

England v Australia player ratings (263)

Marseille - Tom and Ben here, together in one blog. Here are our player ratings for England's quarter-final against Australia. Tom's rated England and Ben, Australia.

Do you agree? Let us know your thoughts!


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Tom Fordyce

Dang. Dana-nang neh-neh ne-ne-nah nang... (32)

Marseille, Friday morning - England probably think they’ve got a tough task on their hands, trying to beat the Australians in the World Cup quarter-finals this weekend.

They have. But I can tell them now that it won’t be as hard as driving Le Bloggernaut around a lap of the Monaco Grand Prix circuit.

That’s right. On Thursday afternoon, fired up on baguette and an over-ripe piece of goat’s cheese, we took our stinking campervan into one of the world’s richest countries, put pedal to metal and let rip.

Continue reading "Dang. Dana-nang neh-neh ne-ne-nah nang..."


Ben Dirs

Old Port, old rivals (28)

Marseille - Down at Australia HQ in Marseille’s Old Port, the Wallabies could only have looked more relaxed had they been receiving facials while fielding questions from the floor.

A slight murmur went up when I asked George Smith if he agreed with Australia Rugby Union chief executive John O’Neill’s comments that all of his countrymen “hate England”.

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Tom Fordyce

For those about to rock, we salute you (32)

Marseille, Tuesday morning - “Oh, what an atmosphere!” Ben chirped this morning. “I love a party with a happy atmosphere!”

I sighed. No man likes to be woken up by a semi-naked rugby fan from Romford, particularly when he’s dancing around singing lines from his favourite Russ Abbott songs - but for once Dirsy had a point.

After four weeks of phoney wars and soggy squibs, the World Cup party feels like it’s truly about to start.

Continue reading "For those about to rock, we salute you"


Ben Dirs

Northern exposure leaves Dirsy depressed (79)

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.

Some claim this tournament has proved that rugby runs stronger and deeper than ever before, with Fiji’s stunning victory over Wales and Georgia’s near upset of Ireland cited as prime examples.

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.

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Tom Fordyce

Lyon and the leggy lioness (26)

Lyon, Friday morning - “You know what?” said Ben this morning, as he stared forlornly out of Le Bloggernaut’s windows at the sleet whacking down outside. “We’re halfway through our trip. We’re officially on the back nine.”

I looked up anxiously. Since that desperate night spent parked on an industrial estate in St Etienne, Ben’s mood has been as up and down as a Frederic Michalak garryowen.

Continue reading "Lyon and the leggy lioness"


Ben Dirs

The glamour of the World Cup (52)

St Etienne - Those of you who have been complaining about us wasting your hard-earned cash for the last three weeks will be delighted to know that we awoke this morning in an industrial estate to the tune of hailstones ricocheting off the roof of The Bloggernaut.

And as we weaved our way through the breathtaking Rhone Valley on Wednesday, The Dubliners’ Seven Deadly Sins turned up to 11 on the wireless, comparisons with the west coast of Ireland became irresistible. Marseille this isn’t.

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Tom Fordyce

Man against Mountain (42)

Bedoin, at the foot of Mont Ventoux, Wednesday morning - Some people are born foolish; some have foolishness thrust upon them. Very few combine both those traits, and then also happily embrace additional foolishness with arms outstretched.

It would appear that I am one of them.

My companion Degustation Dirs is fulfilling his cultural remit on this Francophile extravaganza by sampling every cheese, wine and brandy he can lay his eager hands on. By idiotic contrast, I decided to break our journey from Montpellier to St Etienne by cycling up the hardest climb in the entire Tour de France.

I know.

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Ben Dirs

Up close and personal with Namibia (16)

La Ciotat - Namibia may not be the most talented team at this World Cup but I’d wager they have one of the cosiest set-ups.

Situated in the town of La Ciotat, 20km from Marseille, their hotel has its toes dipped in the Med and is the sort of idyllic little place you’d plump for if you wanted to keep a mistress sweet.

Contrast this with Ireland’s HQ, a business hotel on the outskirts of Bordeaux and, if media reports are to be believed, the scene of some disquiet.

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