So the first weekend of the 2003 Rugby World Cup has passed by without a hitch, or has it?

Although it’s certainly true that all the home nations managed to avoid major slip-ups it is hardly encouraging that the Scots struggled to beat Japan, and even less so that England’s destruction of Georgia (fair play to the opposition, by the way, who held their heads up to the end) came at a cost of three scrum halves.

Would it not be so typically British to enter a competition as hot favourites only to bomb out badly in the relatively early stages having exhausted our supply of replacement half-backs? Bracken looks to be a goner (his back pains are an old injury) and both Dawson and Gomarsall will now be carrying injuries which the South Africans will be hoping to exploit at the weekend. Martyn Wood (Bath) is being flown in as cover, just in case.

Grewcock, I now gather, is also out for two games with that big wusses injury: a broken toe. This caused, no doubt, by the modern habit of wearing football boots on the Rugby field instead of proper old-fashioned footwear with metal toecaps.

I wonder if the toughness of Woodward’s training techniques is going to come back to haunt England in their hour of need.