As 12 hour working days go, covering two World Cup quarter-finals is almost as good as it gets.
Fortunately, organisers had given us a bit more time to get from one ground to the other. A fortnight ago, it was a bit of a rush to get from Huddersfield to St Helens for the two games. This time, there was an extra one and a half hours between the game, and it certainly made things a little less stressful.
Set off for Wrexham at 10am for the game that Wales forgot. Of course, the venue had surely only been chosen with the assumption that Wales would make it through to a last eight meeting with Australia, and a possible repeat of the famous 2000 World Cup semi-final. They didn’t, and as such, Wrexham wasn’t a great location for the game, a point perhaps emphasised by a disappointing crowd of less than 6000.
Followers of our @loverugbyleague twitter account will have already been made aware of this, but sat right behind me at Wrexham was a lad, probably in his late 20s, sat with a girl, and he was consistently making loud outbursts in favour of the Australian team, cheering tries like they were the ones that had won the World Cup. The girl even received a text from a mate, saying they could hear said lad from wherever they were sat in the ground. I don’t mind a bit of passion, but where was this guy from? Wrexham.
Got to Wigan painfully early. I’m not one for waiting around, I can rarely stay still for long, and I’m usually pacing around the office on a daily basis when talking or discussing ideas and work. I’d not actually sat in the press box at the DW Stadium before, despite it probably being one of my most visited grounds, and much like at Leigh, the view is superb.
Speaking of Leigh, I was pleasantly surprised to see them mentioned as “2013 cup winners” on the welcome to Wigan sign, along with of course the Warriors and Wigan Athletic football club, who themselves had won the FA Cup this year.
I skipped the food at Wigan, having grabbed something a little early, but only after Nathan Lawrenson had revealed he didn’t like pies, which was what was on offer. A man from Wigan who doesn’t like pies?! I believe his deportation papers are currently being processed.
The after match mixed zone for the press is certainly more organised at Wigan than most other places, although being 5’7” (on a good day) and too polite for my own good, doesn’t help this journalist force his way in to the scrums around Sam Tomkins and Kevin Sinfield, to name but two.
Got soaked on the walk back to the car, and had to stay parked up while I waited for Russell Hargreaves at TalkSport to ring me for my regular rugby league feature on the radio. That took about half hour, and managed to hit the road at half 11.
You learn a lot about yourself when covering so many games in a short period. While in the regular season you might do a game, and then go seven days until your next one, repeating what you do every single day enables you to pick out faults, try different things and also pay more consideration to how others go about their work.
Bizarrely, one of my discoveries, is that I can write a far better match report if I do it all in one go towards the end of the match, although that does mean hitting deadline and getting it online as close to full time as possible does sometimes take a hit. Some reporters prefer to write up on the game throughout the match, often bulking it out at half time with the more intricate details of the first half, before gradually adding to it in the second half and as the game’s conclusion becomes clearer, you can write the first few paragraphs.
I’ve been conscious of getting too much stuff during the World Cup. The sheer nature of the website means we can produce an infinite amount of content, but of course each piece takes time to think about, interview and write up. You could speak to 7/8 players after each match, but with previews, reports and at least two reaction pieces already, how much content around one match do people want to read?
Hopefully you’ve enjoyed our coverage nonetheless, and it continues with Samoa and Fiji in my hometown on Sunday afternoon.