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.