A Six Nations Championship on the eve of a British and Irish Lions campaign always fizzes with more intensity than usual. Players push themselves to the very limit of their athletic abilities in a bid to impress the selectors and gain a coveted place on the aeroplane for a tour which, for most, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and the pinnacle of their rugby career.
Richie McCaw, like the late Jonah Lomu, deserves his place in the history books as one of the greatest to have ever played our game. He has inspired millions around the world and has left the sport in a better place than when be arrived in it. From this day on the All Blacks will not be the same and one thing is for sure, the man stepping into that 7 jersey has some very, very large boots to fill.
At the start of the World Cup, in any sport, the hope is that you will get to the final and that the two best teams in the world will be going head to head against each other. As previous World Cups have shown this ambition doesn't always come to fruition however it is safe to say in the 2015 Rugby World Cup that goal has been achieved and the ensuing final has the potential to be one of the all time classics.
England's depth of talent has deepened to a point where in every position there are at least two or even three truly viable options... if England make the same amount of progression that they have done since this time last year then there is no reason why they won't head into the World Cup confident and fully ready.
The All Black rugby player had been locked in his room for days, shutting out all contact with friends, family and fellow players. It was 4am when he finally picked up the phone to call a helpline. The reply at the other end was simple, "hello friend". It started a process that led to therapy that has been helping to change the life of Brent Pope for many years.