Archives for August 2011

Aug. 26, 2011 – Who Will Win the World Cup?

Before I wander into prognostications of the absurd, here is a link to the final rosters for the 20 teams in the World Cup:

http://www.rugbyworldcup.com/home/news/newsid=2044941.html

Scan to the bottom of this webpage and click on the article that goes with each team’s name to see that countries 30 man roster.

Now back to who will win the World Cup.

If you’re going with the favorite, then by far that would be New Zealand. The best odds I could find (Aug. 26th) is 4/7 . A $7 bet will win you $4. Australia is the next favorite with odds of 9/2. A $2 bet will win you $9.  Now if you are looking to make some money, here is the long shot …. Japan. A $1 bet will win you $5000. A $100 bet will make you half a million dollars.

There is a reason Japan is such a long shot, but for the sake of this article let’s say there is some logic to the idea that if Team A beats Team B and Team B beats Team C, then Team A will beat Team C. If we trace some recent game results we can stretch that logic to the point where Japan is in with a chance slightly better than that of the proverbial snowball in hell. All of the following scores happened since the beginning of July this year. On July 13th Japan beat Fiji 24-13. Four days earlier Fiji  defeated Samoa 36-18. On the 17th of July Samoa beat  Australia 32-23. Australia destroyed South Africa 39-20 on July 23rd and South Africa beat New Zealand 18 to 5 on the 21st of August. Thus there would seem on paper to be the chance that Japan could defeat  Australia, South Africa,  and New Zealand and lift the Webb Ellis Cup on Oct. 23rd.

Of course it is very unlikely that this will happen. Also the warm-up  matches prior to a World Cup often have little that can be used to judge how a team will do once they enter the World Cup tournament.

The following teams have won a World Cup:

1987 –  New Zealand

1991 –  Australia

1995 – South Africa

1999 – Australia

2003 – England

2007 – South Africa

These teams are the top 4 contenders to once again lift the Webb Ellis Cup according to bookies. After these 4 teams the bookies like France (16/1) and Ireland (29/1). Note – Different bookies have different opinions and odds. France has had an uncanny knack for beating New Zealand in the World Cup knockout rounds doing this in the semi-final in 1999 and quarter-final in 2007. France is in the same pool as New Zealand for this World Cup. If they lose to NZ in the pool round of matches and finish 2nd in the pool (which is likely as the rest of the pool is not that strong even though it includes … Japan), they could come through the knock-out round quarter and semi-finals to face New Zealand again in the final. If that happens,  would the All Blacks once again choke against Les Bleus? Ladbrokes currently list this as the second most likely final (odds 9/2) after New Zealand vs Australia (13/8). Only 5 teams have played in a World Cup final. France has played in 2, but never won the cup. Is this the year where the French save their knack for toppling the All Blacks until Oct. 23rd,  the very last match?

Aug. 21, 2011 – What is the Rugby World Cup?

At the first Rugby World Cup in 1987 the version of rugby played, called rugby union, was an amateur sport . The first World Cup was originally meant to be a one off. England was uncertain if they would participate until about 6 weeks before the first match. Interest even in New Zealand, one of the host nations with Australia, could best be described as mild. The opening match was in a less than half full Eden Park. When you read tales from players who were there, it sounds like a good party with some rugby thrown in to work up a thirst. Stories of parties lasting until 4 a.m. or later in the Irish team’s hotel are legendary.

Twenty-four years later the importance of the Rugby World Cup has drastically changed. The  Webb Ellis Cup has become the ultimate trophy a national side can win. Rugby Union became a fully professional sport in 1995, so most of the players participating are paid professional rugby players.  (There is a version of the sport called rugby league that has been professional since 1895 when these 2 versions of rugby split over the issue of professionalism.) The South African national team the Springboks, featured in the movie “Invictus”, have recently been playing mostly B-team players in important matches with Australia and New Zealand in the annual Tri-Nations tournament in order to ensure key players are well rested and fit when they begin their quest to become the first team to win 3 World Cup titles. There have only been 6 so far, and South Africa was banned from the first two because of the anti-apartheid sport boycott. The Rugby World Cup is now the 3rd largest sporting event in the world behind soccer’s world cup and the Olympics. If you read any interviews with players who are hoping to make squads to New Zealand this year, it has been their rugby goal for at least 4 years. It is THE rugby tournament and all others fade away in comparison.

On a recent warm August evening biking around Lake Pontchartrain  with DeepSouthRugby.net publisher, Fran Thompson, we stopped in the bar at the beach volleyball courts. Our discussion turned to how aware the average U.S. athlete was of rugby and the Rugby World Cup. We asked the bartender, Jennifer,  a competitive athlete with a world class smile, if she knew what rugby was. Jennifer is a graduate of the University of New Orleans, a university that has had a rugby team off and on since the mid to late 70s. This year the New Orleans Rugby Club were the national division 2 men’s club side champions. There was a big billboard on I-10 by the Industrial Canal congratulating the team on its championship. Jennifer told us she knew about rugby but was unaware that there was a Rugby World Cup. Jennifer then asked, “You wear a glove in rugby, right?”

You don’t wear a glove in rugby. As a nation we are very unaware of rugby and our national team. The National Guard is a significant contributor to rugby. Our tax dollars support the game. Yet,  most of us are oblivious to the fact that in September our national team will be competing for the most prestigious of rugby trophies, the Webb Ellis Cup.

The USA Eagles have participated in 5 of the 6 previous World Cups and will start participation in the 2011 World Cup with their Sept. 11th kick-off against Ireland. On the 10th anniversary of 9/11  our national team will begin their world cup campaign  in New Plymouth, New Zealand. Maybe there is some alignment of the stars as our national side begins the tournament  in a New Zealand town with a very similar name to the town where the Pilgrims first settled in the USA and this happens on the 10th anniversary of what many consider the most devastating tragedy in the history of our country. Are they destined to create their own Invictus-like story and lift the cup? This probably will not happen.  As a weaker tier 2 side the Eagles have often struggled to be competitive when playing tier 1 sides like South Africa or England. Their 2 World Cup wins have been against Japan in 1987 and 1991. It is dubious if the Eagles could beat Japan today, and they are playing them in Japan later  today, Aug, 21st.  Japan has formed a competitive professional league which has developed strong Japanese players as well as providing employment for foreign players (Kiwis, Aussies, and other Pacific Islanders) who become eligible to play for the  Japanese national side after residing in the country for 3 years.

In the last World Cup (2007) the USA went winless, losing their pool matches to England, South Africa, Tonga, and Samoa.  The USA fell within a try of beating Samoa on a drizzly night in St. Etienne, France, and was threatening to score as the whistle blew to end the match, but in the other matches the USA never really had a hope. On the plus side the Eagles played the 2 teams that played in the final, South Africa and England. Although they lost 28-10 to England it was a terrific hard fought match against the team that would go on to beat Australia and France in the quarter and semi-finals before losing the Webb Ellis Cup to the South African Springboks in the final.

This year the USA play Australia, Ireland, Italy, and Russia in their pool matches. The Russian Bears are the Eagles best hope for a win. They beat the Bears 32-25 in June of this year.  Currently the USA and Russia are ranked 18th and 19th in the world respectively. When they face off against each other on Sept. 15th, only 4 days after the USA play Ireland, the result will determine for most players on both teams and their rugby savvy supporters who had a successful World Cup even though neither side will come close to lifting the William Web Ellis Cup.

Aug 14, 2011 – Ultimately It’s Not if You Win or Lose, but How You Celebrate the Game

On a warm Colorado evening in a sold-out Infinity Park Stadium in Glendale (RugbyTown) USA the USA Eagles spluttered to a 27-7 loss to the Canadian national side. The sides appeared basically evenly matched except the Eagles were unable to finish when they made a break – knock-ons, failure to support, failure to take the right angle and finish with power, failure to off load in a timely manner and keep yourself in support, defense like last week Gave Up some relatively easy tries …. That is enough said about the dismal result. At www.deepsouth.net you can find an RSS feed that should have a few links to reports on the match. This story is about 3 sets of people and how this match brought them together.

The first set is me, Croz –  DeepSouthRugby.net’s  intrepid World Cup reporter , and 2 friends I worked with 15 year ago in Honduras, The Flanagans – Rick and Shelley. The Flanagans are soccer parents. They have 2 daughters who play soccer over 30 weekends a year. They live in Denver and had never been to a rugby match before. After dropping their daughters at home following a day in Boulder watching their girls play, they arrived at Infinity Park just in time for the national anthems. We found a place along the cement wall at midfield at the back of the south stands. Early sloppy play gave me and the announcer several opportunities to explain why scrums are formed and other aspects of the game. After about 15 minutes of play we decided to record the moment by taking a picture. We asked the fellow standing next to me if he would mind snapping a shot of us with the match and stadium in the background.

Enter the second set of characters in this story. Jason Hark, thrice capped US Eagle and current player in the super league for Old Puget Sound, kindly agreed to take the picture. Jason had played in the warm-up match between the US Classic Eagles and Classic Canadians. The “Classic” teams are made up of players who have played for their national team but are now 33 years old or older. The US won 14-10. Jason is from New Zealand, but moved to US in 1997 for school. He is a mountain of a man with Maori tattoos and a wealth of stories. Stories that ranged from bailing his brother out of jail in New Orleans during Mardi Gras to the price of a McDonald’s meal in New Zealand for himself and his nephews. His openness with people who just happened to be standing next to him and asked to have their picture taken caused a twinkle of interest in the nature of relations between rugby players in the Flanagans. When Jason left after the Canadian’s final try put the game out of any hope of an Eagle comeback, the second person in this set of characters  slid over to our side. We will call him “Jerry” – not his real name. Jerry had heard us talking about what an incredibly nice facility Infinity Park was and how incredible that it seemed to be purposely built as a rugby facility; although, whoever planned the concession outlets grossly underestimated rugby players adult beverage requirements during a match and the ensuing need for a well laid out plan for where the  kidney filtered adult beverages should be deposited. Jerry with the look about him of someone with information that could get him killed, challenged us to Google these three words, “cocaine, mathews, and dunafon.” Apparently if we did this, the secret illicit dealings that were the seeds that created Infinity Park would be revealed.  I haven’t Googled yet.

As we left the rugby castle that had just had a cloak of illicit dealings and mystery thrown over it, we went  to the Hilton Hotel for a farewell drink before I picked up my luggage and  a taxi to the airport. On the way we didn’t talk about the match, but about the characters at the match, the friendly teasing between Canadian and U.S.supporters, the way the teams shake hands after a match and will often have a meal and drinks together, and a stranger wanting to enliven our visit with rumors of illicit dealings behind the building of RugbyTown.  It is a culture very foreign to the soccer parent.

When we arrived at the hotel the bar was throbbing with post match good cheer. The crowd was mostly Eagle supporters, but everyone was in good cheer. We found a table which had a drink on it and soon were joined by the owner of the drink, Guy Hagen. Guy is the President of San Diego Youth Rugby. Guy  and the Flanagans compared the difference between post game attitudes of youth soccer players and parents and youth rugby players and parents.  The Flangans talked of teams indoctrinated in attitudes of  do not fraternize with your opponents, and Guy  talked of how a post match get together between teams was the norm. As we chatted a fellow joined us who Guy introduced as a friend and  former coach. As Rick explored aspects of this new-to-him rugby culture with Guy and his former coach, Shelley turned to me and said, “It is amazing how friendly everyone is.” I agreed and offered to have her pick-out anyone in the bar and we would go and say hello and I bet that within seconds we would be having an in-depth discussion of their life and experiences in rugby. She didn’t take me up on it, but had no doubts that I was telling the truth. Everyone was celebrating a game of rugby; even though, most of them had been supporters of the losing team.

Aug. 13, 2011 – Three Days of Eagle Coaching Insight

For 3 days (Aug. 10-12) 150 coaches from various levels of rugby from across the USA met at USA Rugby headquarters in Glendale, Colorado, to learn from masters of the game. On the first day USA Rugby President Nigel  Melville presented theories of coaching and personal and team development that have guided his successful career as a coach in the English Premier Division.

On the second day the Eagle coaching staff took turns demonstrating how they analyze, plan, and implement coaching strategies based on feedback gleaned from video coverage of matches. David Hodges, former USA Eagle and now game analyst for the Eagles, presented the extremely complicated matrix of areas that are coded following a match. When asked how long it took to code all the data he replied, “8 hours.” Dan Payne, former US Eagle and coach of the contact area, then showed how he used the analysis to guide selection decisions, plan priority areas in need of improvement, and develop game strategies. The Eagle XV (a B-side selection) had played the Glendale Raptors on Wednesday (Aug. 10th). Coach Payne pointed out that Coach Hodge’s team had worked through the night analyzing the game data so he would have the information for practice on Thursday. These presentations were followed by defense coach, Mike Tolkin, and kicking coach, Chris O’Brien. The day ended with  Coach Eddie O’Sullivan holding a 45 minute question and answer session. He didn’t hold out much hope for a win against any side except Russia in the World Cup and didn’t divulge any special plans he had to do that (e.g. holding out major impact players from the Ireland match which will be only 4 days before the Russia match). It hadn’t tweaked  in my mind that the Ireland match will be on the 10th  anniversary of 9/11, but somebody asked the question if that would be a factor. Eddie responded that it would probably be the easiest pre-game motivational talk he will have ever had to give, but he had some concerns about players being over excited and making more of the stupid mistakes that cost them the match against Canada on August 6th. Although Coach O’Sullivan didn’t raise anyone’s unrealistic hopes that a tier 2 side like the USA  would beat any of its tier 1 opponents (Australia, Ireland, and Italy),  he did describe a scenario where because of wet New Zealand conditions and the Eagles playing an excellent game they could find themselves  in the final minutes of a match either threatening to score the game winning try or making a valiant try line stand to hold on to a slight lead.

On the third day Eagles 7’s coach Al Caravelli led a fascinating session using video footage to illustrate his strategies of focusing on kick-offs, creating space, and supporting and working in groups of 3s. Coach Caravelli was followed by the director of rugby for San Francisco Golden Gate, Paul Keeler. Paul gave a humorous and passionate description of the life of a director of rugby at a top notch club. When asked how much was his super league team’s travel budget and how did he fund it, he replied that the costs ran $25,000-$30,000, and it was funded by old boy donations. That created a bit of a murmur around the tables as those assembled quickly understood why many super league sides were withdrawing from the league. Craig White, international rugby peak performance trainer, presented his 22 principles for developing peak performers. A quick and dirty distillation of the 22 from this participant’s perspective is train smart and hard, eat right, and create balance in your life. White did a marvelous and fascinating presentation on the multi-faceted aspects of  enhancing performance.

Today the Eagles face-off against Canada for their penultimate warm-up match before their Sept. 11th World Cup match against Ireland. (They play Japan on Aug. 21st in Japan.)  Although the USA and Canada are currently ranked 17th and 16th respectively,  the way theIRB world rankings are calculated the point differential between the 2 sides ( currently a 4.8 difference and the USA will get a 3 point home field advantage weighting) means even a convincing win by the USA will not move them up. The USA starting squad and reserves have no real surprises. There are 4 changes for the USA from the side that played in Canada last week. Mate Moeakiola (prop), Phil Thiel (hooker), Mike Petri (scrum half),  and Kevin Swiryn (winger) are out and Mike MacDonald, Chris Biller, Tim Usasz, and Colin Hawley are in. Probably all these players will be on the plane to New Zealand, but are now vying for the starting positions on the squad that O’Sullivan wants for his most important World Cup game, and the big question remains is that the starting match against Ireland or the most winnable versus Russia.

All those able to make the 3 day course  left with a much deeper understanding and  appreciation for the hard work, thought, passion, and commitment that the USA’s coaching staff puts into their work. Nigel Melville and his staff’s efforts to arrange and support this project were much appreciated as the wisdom of the great rugby coaches who presented flows out to all levels and corners of the USA game.

Aug. 10, 2011 From Confusion to Renewal – USA vs Raptors

From Confusion to Renewal – Aug.10, 2011

Today, August 10th, 2011, was the first of Nigel Melville’s 3 day course for rugby coaches. Melville is the current head of USA Rugby and the former coach of English premier sides Wasps and Gloucester. For four hours Melville cruised through several theories on aspects of developing a winning team sprinkling his PowerPoint presentation with tales from his career in English professional rugby. Although entertaining the information and theories seemed at times out of touch with the reality of USA high school, college, and club coaches who are dealing with teams composed of players who often have very little or no rugby experience in places where there is little or no support for rugby, an example being Melville’s insights on motivating players. The theoretical structure that was used to enumerate factors involved in individual motivation were broken into two groups: hygiene factors and motivators. Although not a lot of time was spent on this, Melville spent a few minutes highlighting that how much a player gets paid is a hygiene factor not  a motivator. I seriously doubt if there was a coach in the room who had ever had a player paid anything to play. The idea of payment not being motivating is interesting and many of the factors listed were relevant for the average USA coach, but in my opinion not enough effort was put into thinking through how the application of many of the theories would be very different for a USA coach than for a English premier team coach.

When talking about how teams change Melville described his theory of the “Change House” which involves a team cycling through the  “rooms” of contentment, denial, confusion, and renewal. He used England’s 2003 World Cup winning side as an example of a team that falls into the trap of resting in the contentment stage describing the moments when they returned to England to open top bus rides through the streets of London while hundreds of thousands of fans cheered and the Queen awarded every player regardless of if he played a minute an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) as the moment the team collapsed. He suggested that then English coach Clive Woodward should have sacked most of the team and started a renewal l with fresh new players. England certainly recovered, though, and were in the World Cup  final match against South Africa four years later and have a strong side going into this year’s World Cup. The USA continues to struggle to qualify for the World Cup every four years (failing to qualify in 1995) and has won only 2 (both against Japan) of their 17 World Cup matches. When asked what room the current USA side is in, Melville replied, “Renewal”, using a belief that the team is young and developing as evidence of this and discounting current poor performances in the Churchill Cup as being caused by using mostly domestic based players. Although  his criticisms of the USA’s very recent loss to Canada because of failure to hold on to a lead going into half and giving away a game losing try at the end of a match are indicative of a team in the “confusion” room, he felt these were issues that were being addressed and the team was moving in the right direction.

The day culminated with the USA XV playing the Glendale Raptors in the lovely Infinity Park stadium. Many of the USA XV will be on the plane to New Zealand in a couple of weeks, but they started out having considerable trouble with the Raptors, the 2011 National Division 1 Champs. The half time score was 19-10 in favor of USA, and it definitely looked like if this was a side representative of what the USA will be sending to the World Cup the Eagles were in denial about not being in the confusion room. The Raptors on several occasions kept the Eagles out of the try zone through multiple phases of play from less than 5 meters out. At the 58th minute USA winger Zach Test scored a try which pushed the score to 34-10 and the flood gates opened. The USA fly half (Nese Malifa who is a Raptor club player in season) began to set-up deeper giving outside backs more time to move the ball wider. Four excellent tries came quickly with winger Colin Hawley scoring 3 of them. (Hawley also scored the USA’s first try of the match.) The final score was 58-10. Hopefully the USA will hold on to what happened at the 58th minute moment of renewal as they move into another match with Canada on Saturday and on to the World Cup.

For Alex Goff’s RugbyMag.com report of the match go to:

http://www.rugbymag.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1673:playing-in-pattern-saw-selects-home-captain&catid=39:usa-men&Itemid=194

Aug. 7, 2011 Wales v England Friendly?

Today, Aug. 8,2011, I watched England vs. Wales in the first of their “warm-up” matches for the World Cup. England won the Cup in 2003 and finished runner-up 2 other times – including the last one in 2007. If England is a contender for the Web Ellis Cup this year, Wales’s response to that today was we are too.

I was in Eastbourne on the south coast of England for a wedding and watched the match at The Crown & Anchor pub on the seaside with a pint of Speckled Hen ale the first half and a pint of Strongbow cider  the second.  Seagulls swooped by the pub windows and the Italians who were watching soccer scurried off as the channel was switched to Sky Sport Rugby when  match kick-off time arrived. Michael Lynagh commentating on the  match at half-time  stated the seemingly obvious, “The game is physical” . This was supposed to  be a friendly warm-up match, but no match between these teams could really be called a friendly and many  players were still  vying for spots on the plane to New Zealand.  England was ahead 13-7 at half mainly because of the boot and wisdom of Jonny Wilkinson.  Wales was never out of it largely because of the magic of winger Shane Williams. Englands pack looked very strong and Samoan-born center Tuilagi put in a strong performance  with a stunning  try that might place Mike Tindalls’s arse on the bench unless he can get some royal intervention. The Welsh certainly showed flare and if they can work out some of the bumps, including running into each other on occasion,  they have a lot more potential. England’s fullback Delon Armitage and Wales’s young Tongan-born #8, Toby Faletau,  showed they will be impact players.  It didn’t get any less physical in the second half;   although, fatigue was showing when the replacements started coming on at about 60 minutes. Early in the 2nd half  Welsh fullback Morgan Stoddart went off on a stretcher with what turned out to be a broken ankle  and English Captain Lewis Moody left with what looked to be ominously another injury to the knee he  injured during the season. England  finished  ahead at the final whistle 23-19, but Wales had 3 tries and another that the  English crowd in the Crown and Anchor urged the ref to go ahead and award as it was so close. England went into the match the favorite and came away the winner. Wales left the match with a definite confidence about their ability to beat England, and that if England is a serious contender to lift the Web Ellis Cup on October 23rd in Auckland, so are they..

My lovely wife, Carolyn,  met me in the pub for the last few minutes of the match, and as the drizzle stopped and the sun came out over Eastbourne’s rocky beach, we sauntered off  to find some authentic fish and chips.

World Cup Dream Comes True

My dream of getting press credentials to a rugby world cup came true in April. The dream began some 11 years ago in New Orleans at Tipitinas between Radiator sets. My pal and publisher of “The Mullet Wrapper”, Fran the Man, and I were discussing our recent trip to Edinburgh to watch Scotland thrash Uruguay in a 99 World Cup match.  In a flash of inspiration we decided we should start a rugby themed  website to get press credentials to the next World Cup. The idea crawled into my subconscious when the Radiators came back on stage. The 2003 World Cup passed without a  thought about the website dream.  Fran and I both had busy lives and many bills. In 2005 Katrina washed away my house and job and left me substitute teaching in New Orleans with a lot of potential time on my hands. When a job in Mongolia fell through, my wife and I made the decision to spend some time in France during the  2007 World Cup and the dream of press credentials crawled out of my subconscious. Fran had his newspaper web designer build us  a website (www.deepsouthrugby.net) . Our efforts were too little and too late to be taken seriously for press credentials, but the website moved along over the next four years gradually embracing a mission of  recording  the news and history of rugby in the Deep South Rugby Union of the USA.

                As South Africa pranced off the pitch in Paris in October, 2007, with their second Web Ellis Cup, my wife, Carolyn, and I decided to plan the next four years of our life around the upcoming 2011 New Zealand World Cup. I put myself on email lists for media notifications.  When the window opened to apply for press credentials in January of this year, I was ready to send off my application. I opened DeepSouthRugby.net to check that the website was looking good and found it was down. I checked with Fran and found out the Mulletwrapper had switched internet carriers and all the DeepSouthRugby.net internet files had been lost. Fran’s wife, Michelle, and I spent 2 months rebuilding the site from files I had saved. With the site back up I  sent off my application. A week later I received an email saying my request had been rejected.

                Discouraged but not ready to capitulate  I latched on to another issue that was aggravating me with the World Cup. I had pre-bought a bunch of tickets to matches. There was going to be a raffle to win the possibility to buy tickets at face value to the final. For every ticket you pre-bought you got one entry in the raffle. A day before the final raffle I started receiving email advertisements from tour companies who had tickets to the final at greatly inflated prices. The next day I found I had not “won”  the right to buy a ticket to the final. I put together an article about the seemingly unfair process and circulated it a bit. A friend, John Howe – who I played with at Tulane University and now presents a rugby radio program, took up the issue and a week later I was asked by World Cup media operations to appeal my press credential rejection. Upon appeal my request for press credentials was granted. That is the long story made relatively short.

                With the dream now within my grasp I have  turned my attention to becoming  a real journalist. My previous journalistic experiences, beyond writing and editing for DeepSouthRugby.net, has been one year editing “The Mississippi Community Education Quarterly” and several years teaching kids to write articles for school  newspapers that included the 5Ws – who, what, where, when, and why. This summer I checked out the book Values Craft American Journalism from the local library. As the title kind of suggests this was not a book that would grip one’s summer reading interest. Daily I would crawl into my hammock to read and without fail I would be snoring away after a couple of paragraphs. I managed to get through the first essay in the book and half of the second  before leaving on my World Cup adventure.  One of the points I was able to take out of the first essay was that good articles needed to include the 5Ws, so I had some experience behind me. In the second article I read one tip which was called “Get the name of the dog.” This tip basically means  if you are writing an article that has a dog in it make sure you get the name of the dog and include it in the article. That is why in the first paragraph you know that the dream first materialized in Tipitinas while the Radiators were playing and not just in a bar in New Orleans.

                This series of articles will be a report on the World Cup, but hopefully it will also include a report on my development as a journalist. The first stop on my World Cup journey was  the town of Dewsbury in Yorkshire. We were here for a wedding. One of the guests at the wedding was a long time reporter on Leeds United. I spent some time discussing his craft and trying to get a few tips. The one key point he was able to clearly point out as contributing to his success was, ‘be in the right place at the right time.’ With that in mind my next stop will be Denver for the Director of USA Rugby’s Coaching Course complete with sessions given by USA national team coaches and the USA v Canada warm-up match.  That should be the right place to get the 5Ws and the specific names of who will be leading the USA to hopefully a successful trip to this World Cup.