August 15th 2009, the day that Twickenham and the RFU officially recognised The Rugby Blog as a part of the rugby media. Press accreditation had finally been granted, and off we went to Twickenham to rub shoulders with other writers, commentators and photographers associated with our great game.
I was slightly anxious, but generally excited about the day and I set off early, heeding the RFU warnings about losing your accreditation if you are late. Nobody wants to look like the novice, so I turned up trying to pretend I knew what I was doing and where I was going.
Spelt my name wrong…
After picking up my pass, I was faced with my first dilemma. On the information sheet that came with the pass, there was separate information about where to go for ‘Rugby Writers’, ‘TV/Radio/Internet’ and photographers – I could rule out the latter, but was I a Rugby Writer or ‘Internet’?
So West Stand or East Stand? I read through both sets of instructions, and what clinched it was the promise of lunch on the commentary gantry, compared with light refreshments for the rugby writers.
Off I went to the West Stand after a rendez-vous with The Rugby Blog competition winner to hand over some tickets, took the lift to the 4th floor and made my way to the press gantry. I didn’t see a single person on the way to check my press pass, so it made me think I should have just turned up at other events (but it might be a different story for an international!).
The UR7s team were already in position, as were the Sky Sports commentators and a few others, so I get myself sorted, ready to start the live updates for the first game at 10am.
Just as the game starts, Shaun Edwards adopts the seat next to me, but doesn’t seem to be that keen on chatting – he’s content to just watch the games and say ‘Good hit’ at every tackle. We have a brief conversation, but I managed to avoid anything like: ‘I work for The Rugby Blog.’ / ‘Who?’.
The whole stadium was pretty quiet early on, (there weren’t many people on the press gantry either) but I was soon feeling very much at home, and actually slightly aggrieved that the refreshments and lunch were non-existent. The Sky Sports team had their own thermos of coffee – that’s experience for you – but I had to make do with a trip to the burger van at lunchtime.
I can’t complain though, because enjoying the Sevens from the best seat in the house was a privilege and something of a dream come true. I’ve got my fingers crossed that now The Rugby Blog has made the media list, there will be more days like this to come.
Not a bad view…
Look out for more ‘live updates’ on The Rugby Blog over the course of this season. We can’t promise you every match, but we’ll do our best.