Alastair Eykyn

Pedal power saves the day (48)

Jon Snow does it. Boris Johnson does it. And now we are doing it too.

Strike day on the Metro forced us onto two wheels across Paris today, and what a liberating experience it was.

A thwarted attempt to board the only line alleged to be running dictated a breathless half hour time-trial along the River Seine, to hear from the Springboks for the last time before the big kick-off.

For the princely sum of a single Euro each, we hired the kind of bicycle on which postmen used to wobble through leafy English villages, in days gone by.

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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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