In the otherwise deadly serious BTL comments over the weekend, roym asked for ... a World Cup preview!
Fair enough, we have indeed distracted ourselves with the RWC each time it's come around during the epoch of this blog. Sorry not to have got in ahead of the opening fixtures this weekend - but with Wales just finishing up against Georgia, between us we can probably lay down some markers. I'll start, with the Home sides.
England - look to be on course. For those who recall the great days of 2003, England categorically did not cover themselves in glory during the Pool stage that time around: in fact, there were some worrying signs, particularly in the shape of J.Wilkinson who (frankly) started to go to pieces a bit. It wasn't until the rainy semi-final against France that it become evident the old boys who were so invincible in the 2002-03 season still retained enough muscle-memory and nous to see the job through.
Jones knows what he is doing - with a very favourable sequence of early games to play with. So: Pool Stage shortcomings? Pfff.
Scotland - that's not just a shortcoming, that's dire.
Ireland - I liked the comment in the Irish press, after England shellacked them a few weeks ago. England look like an international Rugby team preparing for a WC: Ireland look like a stag party after a week on the lash. Obviously, the Irish were going to get better after that. But they don't look like a side who can carry their superb form of 2016-18 forward for one last, mighty hurrah.
Wales - kicking on from a brilliant couple of domestic seasons; but are only one bad injury away from being scuppered. Sorry to be negative about it, but there it is. Nor will they be happy to have let Georgia over the line.
Well you know where my loyalties lie. Over to you all for the BTL followup ...