Mark Rigby, Chief Executive of Lambert Smith Hampton and a former Captain of London Wasps looks forward to Weekend Three of this year’s RBS Six Nations…
'Anyone who saw Ireland’s game with France a fortnight ago will know that, as far as this weekend is concerned, Croke Park is the place to be. As I watched the game on TV, the atmosphere in the colossal stadium seemed just fantastic. Heaven only knows what it was like in the stands!
“Come Saturday, we will have over 80,000 people watching something that many of them would have never imagined possible. England being hosted by the Irish RFU at the home of Gaelic games and, more significantly, playing in a stadium supercharged with Anglo/Irish emotion and significance.
“As a Chief Executive of a major UK and Ireland firm with an eye on how different people choose different techniques to motivate and bring the best out of their teams, I thought that Brian Ashton was spot on to invite Conor O’Shea, the former Ireland full back, to meet the England players and talk to them about the history of Croke Park earlier this week. Not everyone will know the background – many are too young – but I see this as an excellent piece of common-sense leadership which should stand the players in good stead to appreciate the unique atmosphere which awaits.
“So, what’s going to happen on the field? The sure thing is that it will be fiercely competitive and I’m expecting so see both sides going hammer and tongs from the start. Even if early passion does work against technical skills and delivery, I think it is going to be a great game and, on paper, it is certainly the match of the weekend.
“Scotland will also be looking to build on their excellent result against Wales to push into a position in the table which many might find surprising. It is hard to see anything other than a Scottish win in Edinburgh against Italy and, before we know it, we might hear the mutter of ‘Scotland for the championship’. Ah, the painful memories of Tony Stanger in 1990 still hurt…
“In Paris, where we have seen some outstanding clashes between France and Wales in recent years, I’m not so sure. France, despite some early doubts about downplaying the tournament in favour of the World Cup, are on fire. Wales have called in new faces and shuffled the pack. Although I’m looking forward to some exciting running rugby from both sides – and the Welsh backs are capable of anything – I think France will be victorious.
“I am sure that there will be plenty of Property Week readers at games this weekend so good luck to everyone and best wishes for a great weekend. In the Rigby household – with two daughters – there has been a suggestion from some quarters of giving up rugby for Lent. Not likely – and the only pancakes I expect to see will be the Irish front row once England have flattened them.'