- 19 Oct 07, 04:50 PM
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.
The same applies to fans. There are the ‘Brian Blesseds’ – clamorous, cacophonous and supremely confident of victory. Then there are the ‘Happy to be heres’ – rational, expecting little, but enjoying the ride.
Again, I’m a ‘Thinker’: intensely quiet, contemplating defeat, bordering on morbid.
Ahead of England’s World Cup final against South Africa, I can’t help thinking that’s the best way to be. If you turn up in Blessed mode, where is there to go? Whereas the rush brought on by an unexpected victory, well, that’s an absolute delight.
As for France’s transport unions, I’m not sure they’re fans of rugby at all.
As I write, with England supporters starting to trickle into town, the Metro is still up the wall and the state-run rail company SNCF has only been able to guarantee its services will be halfway back to normal by Friday evening.
On Thursday morning, like English schoolchildren at the first sign of snow, most of Paris’ workforce sacked it off and stayed in bed. Nicolas Sarkozy, you’ve got no chance sunshine.
The good news is the strike is expected to be over by Saturday, so leave those cars on the outskirts – when it comes to driving, these Parisians will have you for breakfast.
As to how England’s players must be feeling right now, unless you’ve been there, it’s almost impossible to know. But they can be safe in the knowledge that the Stade de France will feel more like Twickenham on Saturday night.
I know the hordes are coming, but I still feel nauseous. Keep repeating it Dirsy: “England are going to get whupped, England are going to get whupped…”
PS. A mate just phoned and asked if I want a free ticket for tonight’s third-place play-off. Altogether now (you be Warwick, I’ll be Wonder): “Keep smiling’, keep shinin’, knowin’ you can always count on me, for sure…that’s what friends are for…”
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.