Tom Fordyce (archive)

BBC Sport Rugby

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

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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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Tom Fordyce

England's World Cup dream dies (196)

Stade de France, midnight on Saturday - Can I make this blog sigh? Can I make this page shed a soft tear? Can I make these words jump off the screen and link arms with you?

Tonight, the nerve-frying, heart-squeezing, bone-shaking dream that has been England’s World Cup wonderland finally came to rest.

At a Stade de France so cold the claps froze on your fingers, the Springboks did exactly what Brian Ashton’s boys had done for the last four weeks – held firm, made no mistakes, poured on the pressure and picked the enemy off with penalties.

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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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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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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.

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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!

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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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Tom Fordyce

Quelque chose pour le weekend? (92)

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


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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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.

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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.

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Tom Fordyce

England unleash cunning new plan (60)

The suburbs of Marseille, Wednesday - Hold onto your seats, for I have shock news for you: England’s plan to defeat Australia features some of the most radical strategies ever unleashed on a rugby pitch.

I’m still shaking after what I’ve just witnessed, to be honest.

But at the risk of being hung for treason, here’s the inside scoop.

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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.

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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.

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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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Tom Fordyce

Things that go bump in the night (9)

Aix-en-Provence, early on Saturday morning - I’m not sure which was the louder noise - the yells of joy in the cobbled streets last night as the celebrating citizens of Aix watched France march through Ireland’s sorry challenge, or the two hours of hacking coughs that Dirsy produced around the 3am mark.

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Tom Fordyce

Star-struck by the All Blacks (44)

Aix-en-Provence, Wednesday - Delightful though the home city of Cezanne and Zola (Emile, rather than Gianfranco) is, there was only one reason why The Bloggernaut was blocking its cobbled streets this sunny morning: the mighty All Blacks were in town.

So far on this trip, we’ve only heard distant rumbles of the favourites’ inexorable progress whilst chugging down autoroutes or perched in the stands at other games.

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Tom Fordyce

What's the French for 'schadenfreude'? (53)

Montpellier, Monday morning - You want to know what true happiness is? A man named Ben Dirs finding out that the assistant venue manager at the Stade de la Mosson is called Paul Bastard.

The weight off Ben’s shoulders since he arrived in a country where his name fails to raise a single snigger has been obvious to all concerned, but this was a moment of pure redemption. Only if he had discovered that “Fordyce” translates as something obscene involving goats and PVC aprons could he have been any happier.

For the residents of Le Bloggernaut, these past few days will forever be known as The Weekend When Nothing Went Wrong.

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Tom Fordyce

Toulouse, la trek (48)

Condom, again - We should have known that something bad was afoot when we both woke up on Wednesday morning from jaw-clenched technicolour nightmares.

Mine involved hitting a furious Brian Ashton in the face with a misplaced spin-pass, while Ben’s saw him steal a VW campervan belonging to Steve Coogan before inadvertently driving it backwards off a cliff.

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Tom Fordyce

Welsh fans in fine voice (85)

Nantes - Of all the scary sounds you’ve ever heard - fingernails being scraped down a blackboard, two foxes fornicating in the street at midnight, the atonal singing of Yoko Ono - nothing can compare with the noise of a hundred hungover Welshmen clearing their orifices in an echoing campsite wash-block at nine in the morning.

For those directly involved it was bad enough, but pity the 60-year-old Frenchwoman who was attempting to do her breakfast washing-up while being brutally serenaded by this furry-tongued squadron of obscene trumpeters.

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Tom Fordyce

Not so mighty oaks (53)

Rambouillet, near Chartres, in the rain, Friday - A new morning, a new campsite – and a new way to be woken up before any normal human wants to be unsnoozed.

Yesterday, it was a rabid dog attacking the campervan next door; two days ago, the freezing dawn air whistling round the van after someone – let’s call him Den Birs – left the windows open and the electricity off.

Today? Today it was the sound of unspecified lumps of something falling out of the trees above us and crashing onto the roof of the van.

Donk. Donk. Donk. CRASH. Donk. Donk.

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Tom Fordyce

Up with les oiseaux (29)

Day three – somewhere near Arras

Lesson number 62 of motorhome camping – don’t leave the window and skylight open when you crawl into your bunk at night.

Someone – I’m not naming names, but since it wasn’t me, you can probably guess who it might have been – also inadvertently turned the electricity off in the middle of the night.

“I thought I was switching the lights off,” was the mumbled excuse at dawn this morning, when the brutal reality of sub-zero temperatures in the van woke both of us up before the sun had even cleared the horizon.

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