And without being biased, it IS a big ask, but I do believe that the England squad have the potential to come out triumphant on 31st October and lift the Webb Ellis Cup.

We have not lost at Twickenham since November 2014 – and whilst we need to concentrate on consistency throughout a match – we have both the attack and defence levels to carry us through. Overall we have a great team – well balanced in skill levels but I think we need a greater cohesion to play better in some areas as a team rather than individual personalities.   Whatever the outcome, praise must go to Stuart Lancaster for having the no nonsense vision to put together this squad so let’s hope they make him proud.

Also if you will indulge me, as a long time Bath supporter, I’d like to congratulate the guys at the Rec for getting six of our team in the England squad to help us win the Rugby World Cup.   All brilliant but watching Johnathan Joseph at centre as well as Anthony Watson at full back (aged still only just 21) will both be memorable and George Ford at fly half will be a key player.

Captain: Chris Robshaw

Player to Watch: I’d love to name tag all the Bath boys obviously but am going to choose two players from other clubs who stand out every time I watch them – Mike Brown for brilliance in making play and Jonny May  for seeing the gap and finishing.

Dates of Pool Matches:

Friday 18th September vs Fiji – Kick off 20.00 – Twickenham

Saturday 26th September vs Wales – Kick off 20.00 – Twickenham

Saturday 3rd October vs Australia – Kick off 20.00 – Twickenham

Saturday 10th October vs Uruguay – Kick off 20.00 – Manchester City Stadium, Manchester

 

For more information on England Rugby – http://www.englandrugby.com

For full details follow: http://www.rugbyworldcup.com

 

What to Eat & Drink whilst watching England 

Food:  As food to watch the match with should be simple to hold and good to eat,  there is one Classic for this Rugby World Cup – so in honour of the three Exeter Chief players in the squad – Cornish pasties!  There are all sorts of variations kicking around but the traditional cannot be beaten. They are relatively easy to make, so there is a recipe on this link but otherwise just get Ann to send you some of her fabulous pasties ready for you to cook at home! http://www.annspasties.co.uk

Or why not take inspiration from a traditional English Roast as nibbles for match day? Roast potatoes always taste best when sneaked from the dish in the kitchen, so why not do a huge bowl – and let people dig in – suggest you get some smoked salt to sprinkle on top http://www.cornishseasalt.co.uk

Then make (or buy – see Auntie Bessie in freezer section!) mini Yorkshire puddings  – chop up some thickly sliced roast beef (a square would work well)  – pour in small amount of gravy into Yorkie,  top with beef square and horseradish – perfect finger food!

Or a great all English Cheeseboard (to show Les Bleus!).  There are so many amazing independent cheesemakers in England that you can put together a board with soft, hard, flavoured, blue, goats – everything. If you are lucky enough to be near one of their stores then head to the brilliant – http://www.nealsyarddairy.co.uk otherwise look on line at http://www.finecheese.co.uk

Top cheeses to look out for are: Stichelton (unpasteurised version of stilton), Kirkham Lancashire (wonderfully crumbly) , Tunworth (brie like from Hampshire), Wyfe of Bath (Gouda like from guess where!) and  of course the pungent Stinking Bishop (read the story of it at http://www.charlesmartell.com)

Drink:

Beer:  There are so many UK real ales, that most Rugby lovers are better equipped than I to choose their own beer for this section – but a few to try out if you have not yet heard of them are  http://www.lcbeers.co.uk    https://www.brewdog.com     http://adnams.co.uk/beer   http://palmersbrewery.com  http://www.conistonbrewery.com

I would just say to look out for Bath Ales – especially Gem as it sponsors the boys at the Rec – https://www.bathales.com

Cider: Of course we produce some of the best West Country cider – which is great to pair with the Pasties – look out for http://www.lymebaywinery.co.uk as well as http://www.orchardpig.co.uk – thought Waitrose do stock a good range as well.

Wine:  Once somewhat of a joke amongst wine lovers, the situation has changed dramatically these days.  The English Wine scene is thriving and improving rapidly, indeed close to where I live in the South Downs we seem to be surrounded by an increasing tide of new vineyard plantings – even the French Champagne makers are looking at buying more land this side of the channel! Without getting too technical, there is the kimmeridgian limestone that links from  the South of England through under the Channel till it appears again in France in Champagne which makes the soil so ideal.

Sparkling wines are leading the way with names like Nyetimber http://nyetimber.com  and Camel Valley (see below) challenging French Champagnes in blind tastings.

Chapel Down Vintage Reserve Brut – a good value English Fizz from leading Kent producer at £20.99 – available from http://www.cellarviewines.com – Look out for the Three Graces from same producer at just £2 more when back in stock.

Made by top Sussex producer Ridgeview, especially made for Laithwaites, South Ridge Cuvee Merett is appealing and very drinkable! http://www.laithwaites.co.uk – But also look out for the Sparkling Rosé Fitzrovia Ridgeview from same producer – fabulous strawberries & cream in a bottle! http://www.ridgeview.co.uk

And finally how could I not mention the fabulous wine made in Cornwall at Camel Valley since 1989. Today the brilliant Sam Lindo is in charge and do try the Pinot Noir Rosé Brut Sparking. http://www.camelvalley.com but also let yourself be tempted by their award winning Bacchus – a still white wine  with lovely notes of tropical fruit balanced out with good acidity.

Madeleine Angevine is probably my favourite England still white variety – when it’s made as well as at Danebury in Hampshire with lovely floral and citrus notes http://www.danebury.com

If you are looking for a light Red, which can even be lightly chilled,  then head to the Dart Valley to the beautifully located Sharpham vineyards  for their Rondo & Pinot Noir blend. http://www.sharpham.com

For all English wines mentioned above, do call direct for local stockist or else they will happily send direct from the vineyard.

To find out more about English Wine – http://www.englishwineproducers.co.uk

If you need something stronger to sip whilst dissecting the match afterwards, questioning the ref’s decisions and all that – then do get in a bottle of Somerset Brandy – the Pomona is especially smooth – http://www.ciderbrandy.co.uk

PS  –  did you know that the England skipper Chris Robshaw  is part owner of a Wine Bar in Winchester that lists only natural or organic wine? http://www.blackwhitered.com

National Drink:  The coffee invasion has been retreating over the last year or so and some wonderful Tea Houses with loose leaf tea have been springing up to reaffirm that our national drink is indeed still tea.  So for something different for the designated driver on match day – get hold of some English Tea from Cornwall tregothnan.co.uk