Tom Fordyce

It's the final countdown! (94)

Paris, Friday evening - Right – let’s get down to business.

Like my Bloggernaut compadre Dirsy, my nerves are currently clanging like a fire engine bell.

And while Ben is dealing with his personal squeaky-bum hour by splitting his time equally between the bathroom and his packet of cigarettes, I’m going for the classic diversionary tactics.

Rather than torturing myself with the thought of how I’ll feel if I don’t get a ticket, I’m drawing up a provisional timetable for Saturday’s shenanigans.

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Mark Orlovac

Mind games, James Bond and Gordon Brown (35)

Paris - For a man supposedly not comfortable with the media spotlight, England coach Brian Ashton played a blinder on Friday.

In Friday's final news conference before England play South Africa in Saturday’s World Cup final, Ashton did not look like a man just 80 minutes of rugby away from writing his name in the history books.

He was calm, funny and relaxed, and dare I say it, could he have even been playing a few mind games ahead of the clash at the Stade de France?

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Ben Dirs

Better a Thinker than a Blessed... (24)

Paris – Friday - Different players find different ways of preparing for a big match.

Some smash their heads repeatedly against the changing room wall, some insist on grabbing team-mates by the collars and bawling in their faces. Some, usually the backs, prefer to sit quietly in the corner or go for a wander.

In my playing days, I was what you might call a 'Thinker', spending hours sat on the toilet, in the same pose as Rodin’s masterpiece, feeling sick and wondering how I managed to find myself so out of my depth.

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Ryan Jones

A step too far for England? (98)

Swansea - After defying their doubters once again, and yes my hands are held up, England could pull off one of the most amazing sporting achievements in living memory when they contest the World Cup final on Saturday.

That they will face South Africa in that game is an ironic twist of fate considering the events of the group game between the sides.

And should they manage to overturn the gulf in class evident on that day just over a month ago, it really would complete a comeback of such magnitude that it would sit comfortably in a list of the greatest of all-time, next to Liverpool’s, Take That’s or Lazarus’!

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Tom Fordyce

Legends Johnson and Stransky re-live the nerves (65)

Paris – Friday morning - Every now and then, you have a chat with someone so expert, so unarguably knowledgeable, that you just have to ferme your bouche and listen to every single word they say.

Such was the scenario the other day when I parked myself down next to Martin Johnson and Joel Stransky at a Visa Legends reception down the road in Bercy.

Did they know their onions? My giddy aunts – to the extent that I’m just going to step away and let their words speak for themselves.

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