It’s just over 50 days to go until the start of the Rugby World Cup, and we’re starting to gear ourselves up for it. Big time.
We’ve been doing all sorts of planning and we’re generally trembling with excitement about what should be a brilliant tournament, and hopefully we can make it even more fun here on The Rugby Blog.
Here’s an overview of what we have in the pipeline:
Over the next few weeks, Ben Coles will be taking over the Editor duties and generally running the show during the Rugby World Cup. So if you’re up at 3am watching Samoa v Namibia, wondering if you’re alone, fear not – Ben will be watching too.
Hutch, Stuart Peel and Justin Aylward will be heading to New Zealand for an 8-week campervan tour, following England in the South Island to start with, and then heading north to Auckland for the latter stages. Hopefully we’ll be able to provide a different viewpoint from New Zealand, and bring you stories of our travels and people we meet. We’re also media-accredited, which gives us access to team training, press conferences and other things that might be interesting.
Conor Buckley, JL Pagano, Paul French, Christine Lester and Tom James are lined up to provide coverage of the home nations and beyond, and Conor will be doing his own New Zealand tour following Ireland and contributing where he can. Follow them all on Twitter…
There are a few other people that have said they’d be keen to get involved, and others are welcome too – just drop us a line.
Naturally, we’ll be following the Tri-Nations and World Cup warm-up matches very closely with the usual previews, player ratings and analysis, but there are a few other things coming your way between now and September 9th.
We’re going to study the potential routes through the tournaments of the home nations and other big teams, identifying the must-win matches in the pool stages, and predicting likely opponents in the knockout stages. It’s important that everyone knows which matches are the most important!
We’ll be looking at every one of the twenty competing nations, so if anyone says to you, ‘I didn’t even know they played rugby in Russia’, you’ll be able to reel off a few fast facts, name their key players and offer a prediction as to how they will fare.
RWC Player Watch
As the Tri-Nations unfolds and as the Northern Hemisphere teams take each other on, we’ll be profiling players that could have a big impact on the tournament. All the national coaches are keeping their eyes out for talent, and we’ll be doing the same.
We’ve also got a few other light-hearted features up our sleeve that will hopefully get people in the mood – more on those later!
During the Rugby World Cup
We’re planning to experiment with live updates, and we think we’ve thought of a clever way to do it. The main aim is to give people somewhere to discuss the game as they’re watching it, as well as to provide coverage for people that can’t see the match, and we’ll be doing a bit of testing during the warm-up matches, so take a look then and see what you think.
Previews and Reviews
The matches will be coming thick and fast in the early stages of the tournament, but we’ll be on the ball to publish team selection (everybody’s favourite topic to debate), as well as previews and predictions for each big match. After the game, we’ll have an ‘aftermath’ article where people can share their initial thoughts, and then bring you player ratings and analysis a little later.
The Rugby Blog isn’t necessarily the place you’d go for breaking news – the BBC have hundreds of licence-payer-funded journos for that – but everyone has an opinion on the big stories. Between the guys in London and those in New Zealand, we have nearly every timezone covered, so will hopefully be quite quick off the mark to publish any interesting news items.
I know as well as anyone that nobody likes looking at other people’s holiday photos, but hopefully we’ll be able to bring you a slightly different angle on the World Cup. We’ll be going to games, speaking to other fans from the different nations, soaking up the atmosphere and doing some fun things, so we’ll try to publish a few interesting features as the tournament progresses.
We’ll be keeping our Twitter and Facebook accounts up to date, and sharing content that isn’t necessarily on the main site. If you frequent those sites, keep in touch – click Like on the Facebook box to the right hand side, and follow @TheRugbyBlog on Twitter.
Rugby World Cup Prediction Game
We’ll be setting up a league on SportGuru’s Rugby World Cup Predictor Game, and we’ll have some prizes up for grabs. It’s definitely a case of more the merrier, so get your mates involved and set your own leagues up as well. It’s going to be the biggest tournament yet on SportGuru.
There’s a tournament for the Tri-Nations and warm-up matches too, so join that here if you haven’t already.
Opinions and debate
There are always so many talking points during Rugby World Cups, and between us, we’ll be poring over them ad nauseam, sharing our views and inviting you to do the same.
We try not to take ourselves too seriously though, so we’ll also be focusing on the more alternative stories, doing our best to keep people amused throughout the 7-week rugby marathon.
Most important of all though is your comments, so please do keep the conversation going. A big thank you to all of our regular contributors, please keep up the good work – and to everyone else, feel free to share your views. Everyone is (usually) friendly!
Moreover, if you have any suggestions for features you’d like to see, or topics you’d like us to cover, please do get in touch with your ideas and we’ll see what we can do.
Here’s to making Rugby World Cup 2011 the best ever.