France - I love the country but the customer service has not quite reached the American levels of 'have a nice day!'
Last night, we beat Beziers and Montpellier 34-17 in our first warm-up game, in what was an encouraging start to our season. In the first half, we were 14-12 down to Montpellier before going on to beat Beziers 22-3 in the second half. Despite this, and having scored five tries to Beziers four (all scored against Montpellier), Beziers went on to win the Baccus trophy apparently on the number of tries scored!
Tries against Beziers were scored by Pat Sanderson, Tom Williams (2), Andy Reay and Ben Willis.
The team showed a tremendous amount of character and commitment from being 17-12 down after 56 minutes, and with a penalty count of 20-6 against us, including one or two outrageous decisions.
In addition to the performance yesterday evening, it is also pleasing to report that apart from the usual niggles, we did not pick-up any injuries from the game last night and everyone will be fit for training today.
The team to play Castres on Tuesday (19th August 2003) will include those players not involved last night, such as Andre Vos, Tony Diprose, Mike Worsley, George Harder, Josh Taumalolo and Matt Moore.
On the more amusing front, it is now Thursday and our head coach is still waiting for his baggage to arrive at our location here in St. Affrique!
Those players in the London Pride Middlesex Sevens this Saturday, such as Pat Sanderson, Ugo Monye and Luke Sherriff, will return to the UK tomorrow morning.
With temperatures reaching in excess of 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the water consumption by the squad has been enormous. The local supermarkets are now getting in extra deliveries just to cope with our requirements.
Friday will be a day off for the squad, when we will be spending some time on the beach before hitting the Ferier in Bezier. At the weekend we will be doing three rugby sessions on each day as we continue our preparations for the season ahead. The London Wasps game is now less than one month away.
Back at the Stoop, I understand that season ticket sales are still going very well, with over 3,650 sold to date. If you have not got yours yet, I would suggest you get in touch with the office very soon.
I hope you are all still enjoying the weather back home and we look forward to returning to the UK next Wednesday, hopefully after another good performance against Castres.
Harlequins fan Ed Atkin won the Etihad Airways 'Up and Under' competition at the Northampton Saints game. As a result, he and a friend have won a holiday to Abu Dhabi courtesy of Etihad Airways and the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority.