The Reuters global sports blog
A rugby writer, with tongue only half in cheek, once said it was possible to gauge an Englishman’s entire outlook on life by ascertaining whether he was a Stuart Barnes or a Rob Andrew fan in the years between 1985 and 1993.
Barnes, a cavalier among flyhalves who passionately embraced the running game, played only a handful of matches for the national team. Andrew, an accomplished all-rounder but with a game based increasingly on kicking, became an England institution.
Predictably, perhaps, Andrew is now a pillar of the rugby establishment in his role as England elite director of rugby.
Barnes is a consistently entertaining and perceptive television commentator and writer.
Having been privileged to be sitting a few metres from the finishing line as Usain Bolt shattered his own 100 and 200m world records in Berlin – and having also witnessed his double in Beijing, I got to wondering where those performances ranked in my personal bag of live events.
So, here is my list of contenders, followed by my podium. I’ve included only events I have attended in a professional capacity as a sports reporter as memories of some others I’ve enjoyed as a “punter” might be clouded by beer.
English rugby officials are not happy about leading players heading for the riches of France and, week by week, are ratcheting up the pressure on those heading across the Channel.
The Rugby Football Union (RFU) seems not to be much interested in any benefits that might be accrued by players developing their game in a new environment – they want total control.