The 2015 RBS 6 Nations tournament was officially launched at the Hurlingham Club, in London today.
A 5.30am start for me, with no time to feed the cats, or have a coffee it was straight to the launch much to the starving cats disgust.
The dulcet tones of Andrew Cotter guided us through the opening procedures with a video montage of last years tournament, followed by the surprise announcement that there would be a new championship trophy this year.
Bill Beaumont chairman of the 6 Nations council welcomed all present and reminded us what a wonderful tournament it truly is.
Captains were interviewed by Andrew Cotter on stage, after which the journalists favourite part of the day arrived… bacon and sausage sandwiches were served, the gathered press sprinting towards the feeding area at a speed that George North would have struggled to keep up with.
The captains and coaches then ran the gauntlet of interviews with press, TV, on-line providers and radio broadcasters.
I asked Sam Warburton about the problems of a world cup year attempting to peak for the Autumn internationals, the 6 Nations and the Rugby world Cup , he told me ” Now that he was on a central contract it was much easier for him to peak at the right time, as the number of regional games he plays are now controlled.
I caught up with Sam again later doing a round of TV interviews, he was looking exhausted by this stage, fortunately I had a big bar of fruit and nut chocolate for him which perked him up no end.
I managed to get a chat with Phillipe Saint-Andre, well actually it was more of a blurting out of French nouns, but he smiled pleasantly and headed for a coffee.
My Italian fared a bit better when I met Sergio Parisse, who was more interested in checking out his tackling stats on the high-tech gizmos supplied by sponsors Accenture.
Then it was time for lunch !!! how much more food is there ? sandwiches, pastries, endless coffee, good job my nutritionist wasn’t around.
But I could have done worse,as official sponsors Guinness, were providing free draught pints of their product all day, some of my colleagues were finding the lure of black stuff just too good to turn down.
After piously sipping yet another mineral water I exchanged banter and views with Charlo and Ross Harries, along with the charming company of Sara Orchard, and Sonja McLaughlan, all of whom were only too happy to answer my inane questions.
From all the captain,coaches and sponsors I spoke to, there is no doubt that the six nations tournament has a history and integrity that they all respect and wish to protect.
The tournament is in good hands.
So the launch is over, stand by for blast off, a week on Friday at the Millennium Stadium.