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| Tales from The Leaky Caravan »

September 3, 2010

Posted on 09/03/2010

The long and winding road


ESPN's Ben Kay and Nick Mullins will be guiding you through this season's Aviva Premiership © Getty Images

ESPN's Nick Mullins brings us his first Premiership Postcard ahead of the season openers

The obvious - and occasionally not so obvious - signs that a new season’s almost with us have been steadily increasing as the summer’s drawn on. The first tremors began to appear in my laptop inbox as June turned to July. At the moment there are 408 saved messages, 407 of which have the word “rugby” somewhere in their title.

They include a vast swathe from Premiership Rugby and individual clubs, making sure we don’t miss announcements of new signings, sad farewells, press days and how much a season ticket in the Booth Street car park next to Edgeley Park will set you back. You can always rely on Dave Swanton - Sale’s press guru - to lighten the gloom. It’s £100 by the way. Good value.

And then there have been the ones from ESPN. Whilst everyone involved is as chuffed as an American with a lifetime’s supply of hot-dogs to be covering the Aviva Premiership, the enormity of the challenge - broadcasting 43 live matches from around the grounds when last season you didn’t do any - has been slowly sinking in.

I’ve had my own, personal, finely-tuned pre-season routine. It didn’t start too well. I fear suggesting the Blue Anchor beside Hammersmith Bridge for the first meeting with new producer David didn’t send a particularly business-like signal. I made sure when I shook hands with our new director Steve for the first time it was at least beside a rugby pitch. Much more professional.

We were watching Harlequins train at their impressive new base at the Surrey Sports Park. It’s nowhere near as convenient to get to as the ramshackle old place off the A3 in Roehampton, but at least there’s no danger of contracting woodworm anymore.

The highlight of a full-on session was Nick Easter being clobbered by Joe Marler. Poor old Nick was on licorice stick legs as he struggled to remember whether he was in Guildford or Godalming.

It helps to see the teams I’ll be commentating on in the week leading up to the match. It used to be a logistical problem when it was say Ireland and Italy in the Six Nations, but I’m already finding there aren’t enough days in the week when you’ve got four clubs to get around.

You often rely on the coach’s good nature to let you into sessions that are normally closed. Reveal any state secrets though and it’s the last session you’ll go to.

It’s worth the effort. This week I’ve learnt how quiet a Wasps photo-shoot is without Cipriani and Sackey, how the latter raced Tom Voyce in his new Ferrari down to Toulon and why Toby Booth dips old Irish training balls into buckets of water.

The big concern - what with all the extra miles criss-crossing the country over the next few weeks - is whether the lease car company will let me go over their 36,000 limit before I hand it back in November. I think the contract’s somewhere in my saved box. It’ll be the one without “rugby” at the top.

ESPN commentator Nick Mullins

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Comments

Posted Babu on 09/09/2010

Thats true..! we’ve noticed how quiet a Wasps photo-shoot is without Cipriani and Sackey

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