Last night I piled, accompanied by the intrepid Tippler to the freebie shindig organised by the RFU. Speakers included the Jim Nicholson, Europe's Ulster Unionist, President of the RFU, the President of the IRB and Rob Andrew.
The room was full to the gills with MEPs pretending to have an interest, or a past in the game. Andrew Duff, Sajjad Karim, Sayed Kemal (swearing blind that he had played in the Parliament's touch rugby tream last year) and others some who to be fair seemed to know one end of a scrummaging machine from the other. Most charming of all was one functionaire´(one of the most decent men I have met in my years in Brussels who had in a slightly scruffy plastic bag a book of the 1977 Lions tour to New Zealand. In it was a photo of his younger self as one of the three fans who had been to every match on the tour.
Rob Andrew's speech was excellent, all about the seven year old dreaming of playing for his country, standing there at Twickenham with tears down his cheeks as the National Anthem was roared out by 80,000 misty throats.
However the grandees were dire. The Commissioner for Sport Spidla had obviously not heard of the game before yesterday. The President of the RFU claimed that there was no youth crime when he was a lad - and chortled noisily at his own flat jokes about his host's fecudity.
Meanwhile Syd Millar, one of the true greats of Irish and Ulster rugby and now President of The International Rugby Board and thus boss of the Rugby World Cup informed us that he was looking forward to the event starting in three weeks time.
Given that the tournemant starts next week by that time I fear that England and Ireland will be pretty well out if it.