Prompted by the glut of alluring matches on offer (in Japan and here) I thought I'd add to the glut of scribes pontificating about the rugby world cup.

Because, if you're a rugby tragic like me, you can watch provincial and world cup rugby for about 12 hours straight today.

For starters, at 2.05pm Tasman v Auckland (and our local Tui women's team at that slot too), next Magpies v Otago at 4.35pm, before Wellington v Canterbury at 7.05pm, then England v Aussie at 8.15pm and, finally, the small matter of All Blacks v Ireland at 11.15pm.

Thirsty, mouthwatering stuff.


Many of us in my university social footy team would typically polish off a dozen ales each in the duration of an 80-minute match (watching - not playing - that is). So, this afternoon, I face the spectre of 60 cans.

Thankfully my many children's demands preclude couch-based debauchery playing out today. Bless them.

How times have changed. Not only will I stay sober(ish) today, but it's dubious whether I'll last the distance.

But I must, we're playing the Emerald Greens after all, and everyone loves an Irishman.

Observe how this particular clash hasn't (and typically doesn't) involve the usual pre-match odium that we all sense in a clash against South Africa, Australia or England. The rivalry's just as fierce, but it's more like the sibling footy clashes we played in our backyards as kids.

Former Napier resident and now Ireland coach Joe Schmidt echoed this kinship in an interview yesterday: "As a coach, coming from New Zealand, seeing those guys at the top of the tree it is pretty awesome to be coaching against them."

The All Blacks' Barrett brothers also have strong Irish heritage - in fact Irish folklore is already claiming them.

It's just one of ample strands of successful Irish infusion in the Shaky Isles that perhaps explains the absence of trash talk between coaches ahead of tonight's match. No doubt the professionalism of Schmidt plays a part in this too.


Hence, with Irish ancestry of my own I'm in a quandary: I want the All Blacks to win, but I don't want the Irish to lose.

As Schmidt said in the same interview: "We're not happy that we're seeing each other this early".

Not happy at all.