Season 2005/2006 Press Conference

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Season 2005/2006 Press Conference

by dom_pedro on Mon Oct 17, 2005 2:33 pm

A report worth keeping from this year's Press Conference written by Cath Sweeney.

They're different every year, these press conference things. Back in the days of Venter (and he always stood up, did Venter), you were pumelled into submission. It was like watching the burning bush; by the time he'd finished, you felt like you'd witnessed a miracle. Had he told the audience to dance up and down with their knickers in the air, they would have done. Even Julian Easterbrook. Oh yes.


Then there was Conor, and Gary. The master of the charm offensive, and his sparky, intense sidekick. Conor would soothe and smooth, and Gary would occasionally hiss and pop in the corner like an indoor firework. And finally, yesterday, we met Taylor, Smith and the Academy Master, Corin Palmer. They remained sitting and didn't really deviate from the script. Like a good tin of Ronseal, they did exactly what it said in the press pack. Straight to the point. No razzamatazz and no mucking about. They said things (read the offy site if you want to know exactly what), and answered questions, but gave very little away. And anyway, the team are the ones who are supposed to put on a good show this season.

And they've got their work cut out - Brian wants them to score two tries per game. So long as the opposition don't score four, this is definitely a good move. He praised Geraghty muchly, and said he thought Magne the best in his position in the world. Flutey is a feisty, cheeky, bolshy player. The team has shape, and perhaps a bit of character. We could do with that. There wasn't much of it on the pitch last season. Palmer updated us with matters Academy. His net is to be cast wider in geographic terms. An enthusiastic, personable man, is Palmer. The Academy is in good hands.

At the end of previous conferences, after the fire brigade has been in to put out the burning shrubbery and exploding sparklers, I've usually left the room thinking "yeah, we'll win everything!". This time, I wondered how bad the traffic would be on the way home. It was all, well, very low key. Maybe the polarity has been reversed - less high jinks at the top table, and more on the pitch. Well, that'll do nicely. Especially after the miserable season just gone.

The photocall went as normal, and then the Headboy (Magne) was wheeled in to meet the press and placed behind some scene of crime tape to stop photographers getting too close. Or perhaps it was to prevent Magne from escaping - not that he could, as Paddy would have felled him with one blow. So there he was, trapped, like King Jean after the Battle of Poitiers (not that I mentioned this at the time, Anglo French relations being what they are. And Magne is bigger than me anyway).

Meanwhile, Subtel and I were trying to eat some cheese before the frighteningly efficient caterers whipped it from under our noses. We'd been horribly disappointed to see an almost full buffet being removed before we'd had a chance of seconds (and we weren't the only ones - there were a number of deprived looking journos gazing sadly at the empty table). Then again, Rob Hardwick was prowling around outside like a wild animal, so perhaps it was a wise move.

Ayway, there was some very nice French cheese left on the platter and, since Olivier was speaking, it seemed fitting to eat some. We were then told by a passing official that we were eating too noisily, that Olivier is "a bit of a star, you know". This was the first I'd heard of Magne's sensitivity to cheese consumption and cracker chewing in close proximity. Needless to say, I was horrified at the prospect of having inadvertently disrupted the great man's train of thought. How would we ever explain to the Supporters Club that we'd ruined Magne's season with a piece of rogue Camembert before a ball had even been kicked? The shame of it.

I looked down the room to see if our faux pas had been noticed. Fortunately, Magne seemed ok. Indeed, he was smiling. Paddy was unperturbed. The official had clearly been having us on, so we breathed a sigh of relief and continued to munch.

Magne spoke in halting English, and we waited for the moment when Julian would ask one of his hair brained questions - "Olivier, are you GRATEFUL to be given the opportunity to play in a superior country?" - and hoped it would be treated with the lack of comprehension it deserved. Fortunately, Easterbrook was on his best behaviour and managed to restrain himself before someone else did it for him.

"Do you drink guinness?" someone asked helpfully.

"I have to". Pause. "Not very often".

Well, that's hardly surprising, considering the far better choice of red wines available to a Frenchman. Honestly, what a daft question. Where's Easterbrook when you need him, eh?

Last years head boy, Catt, was outside in flip flops, the onerous responsibility of being new kid on the block no longer his to carry. Strudwick was also in flip flops, answering taxing questions like "Do you train twice a week? Is that, like, really hard?" Justin Bishop was also being interrogated, but I couldn't see any flip flops as he was clearly exhausted and had had to sit down.

Barry jogged onto the pitch wearing a number 9 shirt. I know Brian Smith said he wanted the players to compete for places, but steady on there. Barry pretended to take a shot at the posts, running up to the ball and just stopping short to avoid braining the photographer who lay precariously at his feet with camera at the ready. "Kick it", said a few uncharitable souls, but Barry didn't because Barry is nice.

We took our eyes off the ball for a couple of seconds and so, apparantly, did Barry because when we looked again the ball was behind him.

Must have been one hell of a kick.
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