As this week ushers in a new chapter of Six Nations history with games to be played on Friday nights, is it possible that the players are as frustrated as the supporters that the game has been moved at the behest of the broadcasters?
The impact on travelling Welsh fans has already been discussed on The Rugby Blog, but the Welsh players might feel hard done by as well – a match at 9 o’clock in the evening is a very different proposition from a Saturday afternoon game. Preparation schedules will need to be altered to accommodate those of the television companies – training sessions will be moved, sleep patterns affected and match-day routines revised.
The game will finish at about 10.30pm and who can honestly say they aren’t tired at that time on a Friday night after a busy week? Of course, the Welsh play Magners League and Heineken Cup games on a Friday night every now and then, but an international Test match is played at a different level and they’ll need to be ready for the challenge.
The support staff will have been reviewing their usual approach to accommodate all this, forcing the players to stay up late each night this week to adjust their body clocks and allowing a few hours’ extra in bed in the mornings. Doesn’t sound like a huge hardship, but that’s not all.
The dieticians will be adjusting their match-day menus to provide sufficient fuel for their players – the standard breakfast of egg whites and chicken breasts won’t keep them going all day, so should they have supper before the game, or should they shift their ‘breakfast’ to 5 o’clock in the afternoon? Two or three meals on a match day – what do they eat? Where’s Nigella when you need her?
But worst of all – and this could have a significant effect on other squad members if things don’t work out – Gavin Henson may have to spray on his tan in the morning of the game, rather than the night before, to ensure that it endures the heat of (yes, you’ve guessed it) the television cameras.
So can Wales defy the broadcasters, overcome the French and continue their march to a third Grand Slam in five years?