- 11 Sep 07, 09:07 PM
La Baule - So there you go, seven days into the World Cup and we’re all going home. Wales - and the rest of us flip-flopping around with them - are pulling the suitcase out from underneath the hotel room bed and heading back to Cardiff for the next couple of pool matches.
Sunday in Nantes was terrific, the hospitality there and here at our base beside the Atlantic in La Baule has been overwhelming. But just as we’re beginning to get into the swing of the party, we're off.
It’s so unbelievably ridiculous it renders the question almost pointless. Yet is there really anybody out there, beyond the hoteliers in Cardiff and Edinburgh who are now charging exorbitant prices, who thinks a shared tournament is a good idea?
Show me the half-wit (or most probably half-wits) who thought it was and I’ll get them to carry my luggage the 50 miles to the airport in Nantes on their seemingly empty heads.
I love the Millennium Stadium and Murrayfield as much as anyone. I also think a World Cup in France is a seriously damaged and diluted one if those grounds have games to stage when serious rugby centres like Biarritz and Perpignan can only watch on wistfully.
And it would have been even worse if Ireland – having cuddled up to the French federation in the first place to make sure they got a slice of the cake as well – didn’t then realise they wouldn’t have a stadium to play them in because they’d have the builders round at Lansdowne Road.
We all actually know why it happened. In a desperate bid to stop England winning the vote for 2007, France bribed the Celtic nations with matches for votes. It was financial expedience and rugby politics at their very worst.
It seemed crass, small-minded and self-centred then and nothing’s changed in the intervening years. You could say exactly the same about the decision four years later to give the 2011 tournament to New Zealand rather than Japan, but that’s another plate of sardines for another time perhaps.
And if you’re thinking I’m being a tad selfish about all this, getting a bit depressed about brushing the sand out of my hair and watching a milky Atlantic sunset with a bottle of Bordeaux for the last time in a week or so, then you’re dead right.
But this is a French World Cup. It belongs to the French. On the evidence of the well-attended opening weekend it will deliver the world game and the developing nations millions. It has no place in Wales or Scotland. And we should make sure the blazers are never allowed to do this again.
PS – Anyone who read Tom Shanklin’s piece on the BBC Sport website or listened to Five Live’s coverage of Sheepgate (Mark Jones smuggled a real, live sheep into Dwayne Peel’s hotel room. Don’t ask!) might be keen to know that “Boycey” was later returned unharmed, if a little bemused, to the flock. Dwayne’s room is still recovering. Boycey says he’ll miss Dwayne while he’s away.
Nick Mullins is a BBC Sport commentator on several sports and specialises in rugby union. He is covering Wales at the World Cup for Radio 5 live and you can see the station's full broadcast schedule here.