ANY GIVEN MONDAY
We're so close to the World Cup that you can almost cut the atmosphere with a knife but if there's one thing we should have learned by now it's that history will count for nothing once the opening whistle sounds.
Yes, this will be a World Cup of small margins and huge cliches.
The bromides have already been set for your team, whether they're a favourite, a dark horse or an underdog.
Here's where they stand in the Platitude World Cup.
New Zealand: One-time World Cup chokers now searching for a threepeat after decade of conning refs and slowing opposition ball down with impunity. Shameless poachers of Pacific Island talent.
England: Boring, boring. So boring. Set-piece dominance. Accurate box-kicking. Arrow-straight goalkicking. Relentlessly, joylessly dull.
South Africa: Global superpower whose wings are clipped only by internal politics. Big, powerful forwards from the highveld. Masters of the dark arts.
Australia: World Cup specialists.
Ireland: World Cup underachievers but don't worry they're there for the craic and win or lose, it'll be a hell of a night on the piss.
France: Capable of the odd game of testicle-grabbing, eye-gouging fury but tend to play their final a game or two too early.
Wales: Never lose except for occasionally on the scoreboard. Fans will be in good voice whether whine, moan or draw.
Scotland: Brave. Plucky yet unlucky.
Argentina: Possess a big scum and lovely kicking game. Let down by occasional indiscipline.
Fiji: A team full of natural gifts let down by World Rugby. A genuine superpower if only they had access to their best players more often.
Georgia: Big scrum. Tough forwards who practice by pulling tractors in the former Soviet republic.
Samoa: Awesome physicality but prone to running out of puff. Would be a lot stronger if superpowers didn't poach their best players.
Tonga: Awesome physicality but prone to running out of puff. Would be a lot stronger if superpowers didn't poach their best players.
Canada, USA, Russia: Rugby's poised to take off in these big countries but for the moment they're just here for cute photos of bearded players attempting to make their own sushi and trying the ancient art of origami.
Japan: Gracious, humble, undersized hosts.
Italy: Rugby's great underachievers. Team that goes backwards under the first signs of pressure.
Namibia: World Cup curiosities whose players grew up on farms that take three days to drive across in lion-proof jeeps.
Uruguay: Somewhere near Argentina.
Sky Television's top brass have made a lot of decisions over the past year.
Most have been understandable given their precarious position as the world pivots to streaming, such as turning over senior staff wedded to a set-top box strategy.
Some have been unfathomable, such as paying for naming rights to a stadium with an ordinary spectator experience as well as the shirt front of a less than average football team, right about the time you announce that shareholders won't be getting a dividend.
Still, it seems like Sky has waged a fairly effective PR battle of late, with the attack dogs ready to pounce on every instance of buffering during "Spark's" Rugby World Cup. Unless you're a shareholder, Sky seems to be able to do no wrong and Spark Sport can do no right.
This culminated in the release of an exhaustive survey last week that revealed 57 per cent of 1200 great New Zealanders don't know how to work things.
This could be a tedious two months.
Nobody could say there was any surprise in the elevation of former All Black Mark Robinson into New Zealand Rugby's most powerful position but… at a time when the national sport is facing incredible challenges, particularly at community level, you wonder if it was time for a radical departure from the norm.
THE MONDAY LONG READ ...
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. From The Ringer.