It was new territory for this reporter on Wednesday night, as the World Cup went to Bristol.
Any critics of the decision to hold a game there were shot down by an excellent attendance of 7742, of which credit must go to the local council in Bristol for their enthusiasm in hosting the game.
What it did mean, was a long day. It started at 9am in the office, where I had a morning of getting through various emails and client work, knowing I was off in the afternoon.
We managed to push live our revised World Cup section – we’ve been producing a lot of content over the past two weeks, and we were worried that some of it was getting lost on the site. The World Cup section now has clear signposts for preview, reports, video highlights and news content.
Watched the highlights of the Tonga v Scotland match from the night before, and put together a few stories for the site throughout the day.
Hit the road for the 350 mile round trip to Bristol at around 2pm. Drive was relatively trouble free, arrived at the ground shortly after 5pm after a quick bite to eat at a well-known fast food joint. Managed to snaffle some soup in the press room.
Got to the ground and actually had a parking spot – I’m usually quite far down the food chain! – and got let in the ground on the wrong side, so walked around. Seemed to be a nice little ground for rugby, the home of Bristol RFC and also Bristol Rovers football club.
Press room was pretty quiet, and after a bit of bother getting on wi-fi initially, was able to catch up on emails missed during my travels. There was the story of Chris Hill signing a new deal at Warrington to get up, Thomas Leuluai missing from the Kiwis squad and some interesting news about a Leicester side applying to join the Championship.
It was while I was typing up the Leicester story that RFL media chief John Ledger said hello.
Ventured over to the opposite side of the ground and the press bench about half an hour or so before kick-off. The press accommodation at the ground was quite good, and I found a decent enough spot. The desks were angled slightly which posed a few problems for Stuart Cummings, sat a few seats down, when he dropped his iPad to the floor.
The wind and rain was swirling everywhere, and it was a pretty cold evening. Got chatting to two fans in front of me, from Bristol, at their first ever rugby league game. They seemed to enjoy the night, despite not knowing what was going on too much. They fancied the Cooks to win at half time, but the USA prevailed.
As kick-off came, we soon got word of issues with the television feed. We had a couple of people moaning at us on Facebook/Twitter for doing our live coverage, but at the end of the day, I’d travelled 3+ hours to cover the game live, and TV is just another media like our website is. If you don’t want to know the score, stay off social media, it’s not difficult!
The decision to play the game in full delayed was a bit strange to me, and disappointing too, as it meant we couldn’t get much interaction with you lot, like we usually do, so it turned in to a pretty lonely evening!
Sydney-based freelancer Joanna Lester came to say hello at half time, reminding me of some work I’d forgotten I’d done for her while she was the media manager at London Broncos many years ago.
The game went relatively down to the wire, which meant I was late starting my match report, and with my hands a bit slower than usually owing to the cold, I was a bit late to the press conference, and missed half the Cook Islands presser. Thankfully, RLWC communications chief Martin Johnston had it recorded for me.
A very happy Terry Matterson and Joseph Paulo then came in for the USA, and I made sure to ask Paulo about the weather conditions! Then it was off to the USA changing room, where the helpful Chris Garry, Tomahawks media man, sorted me out with interviews with Clint Newton and Craig Priestley.
It was then back to the press room to do a few amendments to the match report, and at about 11pm it was time to make the long journey home.
Dropped off Australian journalist Steve Mascord at his hotel in Bristol city centre, and then set off home. Had a quick pit stop around 70 miles from home for a Krispy Kreme and a coke – I’m not a coffee (or tea) drinker – and got home about 2am.
Enjoy what you do, and you’ll never work a day for the rest of your life. I grew up wanting to be a sports journalist, and yesterday, I lived the dream.