The last time I went out four nights in a row, I came home from a stag do in Dublin requiring the services of a debt counsellor, looking like a cross between Herman Munster and Rocky after 15 rounds with Apollo Creed and smelling exactly like you’d expect the things I’d eaten to smell had they been mixed together, marinated in Guinness for half a week and blended with the contents of a cesspit.
Happily I do not expect this weekend’s exertions to be as physically, mentally or indeed as financially exacting as that particular trip and nor will I mind so much when I am woken at 6am on Monday by a pair of demented lemurs swinging from the lightshade and shrieking ‘Daddy, daddy did you buy us a present?’.
It will, however, be something of an ordeal. Worcester take on Harlequins on Thursday night, Coventry meet Bedford 24 hours later, Moseley travel to Rotherham on Saturday before the road show enjoys what is sure to be a sparkling EDF Energy clash between Warriors and London Irish on Sunday. Four days, four games and four chances to note just how quickly summer can pass straight through autumn and end up in the bowels of winter.
That’s the rugby world we live in now, a match for every day as the sport lifts its skirt to any passing customer.
In some ways I’m not sorry. Watching professional sport is, after all, my hobby and the prospect of missing The Gruffalo readings 865-869 will not weigh my heart too heavily.
But one has to ask is it fair? Certainly not for Worcester who are none too pleased about the prospect of having to face Quins and Irish in the space of three days.
It could have been worse, too. The need to finish the Premiership season early so that the British Lions can leave these shores in one pride has led to the installation of a midweek fixtures round. Quite why that is the case when the second weekend in November is free, no-one is quite sure.
Perhaps telly has something to do with it, you suggest. Not perhaps at all, you can bet your last penny on it.
When the satellite broadcaster whose name we dare not speak selected Warriors’ match as the one to move to a Thursday there were some pretty unhappy people at Sixways. Had the EDF draw been different they could have ended up with two matches in three days and it was only because they are meeting the Exiles at home that they were able to put the game back to a Sunday.
The ramifications have been felt already. In a vital match at Bath on Saturday, Mike Ruddock had to take off Greg Rawlinson, his skipper, after an hour – despite the fact Worcester needed him with the game about to reach a crescendo.
Ruddock will have to field virtually two separate teams for his club’s two matches, a fact that either compromises the Premiership game with Quins or the integrity of the Anglo Welsh competition.
That’s a pretty poor state of affairs for a professional sport and probably symptomatic of why EDF are ending their sponsorship of rugby’s unloved bastard of a cup.
But, more worryingly, the logical conclusion might be for some Premiership rugby directors to start flexing their muscles in the direction of the British Lions and that would be a disaster.
We have already lost so much in the game let’s hope one of the many foreign coaches in the top flight don’t articulate the question ‘What’s in it for me?’ as his team struggles to cope with the midweek appointment.
Then there’s the Friday night at the Butts. Cash to Coventry is what food is to a hungry man and with their very survival on the line they should not be blamed for turning every stone.
Bedford will hopefully bring a decent travelling support, as they do most Saturdays, and – if the evidence of Worcester’s many successful Friday night battles are anything to go by – a wound-up home side could have something up their collective sleeve for the Blues.
Indeed Friday night rugby at National One level is something that should be trialled more readily if more people are to be attracted to the sport. Rugby remains a game where the spectator ethos is still embryonic and many of its devotees still play on a Saturday. The most natural customer group is therefore forced to pick between the club he watches and the one for whom he plays.
It would also allow the floating voter two bites at the local cherry and even offer them a footballing biathlon of rugby one day and soccer the next.
Moseley have given it some thought this season but were not able to find a fixture that fits the bill. There should be nothing to stop Birmingham & Solihull, though, given their full-time squad.
Let’s hope someone in the area finds a way to make it happen because it is as yet an untapped revenue stream and also an opportunity for me to get out of reading The Gruffalo.