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The Way Sideways.



Optimism was the watchword at RFU's secret lair seven miles beneath the earth's surface at Twickenham.

Behind the 50 feet high solid steel and granite doors, monitored by armed henchmen, robot controlled mini gun turrets and a very pumped up Bill Beaumont, was the RFU's presentation of its master plan, its blueprint, its road map, its TomTom Go map update for peace and harmony between Club and Country!

Or is it Country and Club?

In any case, to the sound of tinny 1990s dance music hits such as "Mr Wrong", "Theres limits" and "Doop", the curtain was unveiled to an eager Rugby press. Paul Ackton had been indisposed due to raiding UNICEF's food storage depot at Stanstead Airport, eating Maize that should be going to Zanu-PF in Zimbabwe rather than recording the presentation of a lifetime.

On a specially supported seat - or throne - was the Red Baron himself. Francis Baron to be exact and he was in jubilant mood, almost as jubilant as Neil Kinnock as he stepped out of that Labour Party chopper on that fateful night midway through 1992.

However, there were not going to be any "woah whoahs!", indeed there were not going to be any "yeah yeahs!" either. This was a time to build bridges, paper over cracks, re-point walls, etc, etc.

Today, he was to present his "big conversation" thing. Present some facts, say "its the economy, stupid" and order the clubs to discuss, or words to that effect.

Glossy, lovingly produced copies of the facts and statistics of "the way forward" preliminary findings document were passed around. Allot of "ooohs" and "aaahhs" and "I never knew Northampton Saints played in the GP!" reverberated around the blast proof conference room.

Allot of the document merely contained things that many fans knew already. That the players were playing too much, that club fixtures were needlessly clashing with international fixtures, that stadiums which clubs owned were crammed to capacity and offered awful facilities and the soccer stadia which other clubs rented were too big and didn't have atmosphere, that the EDF Cup was a waste of time and that really the RFU and Clubs should just shut the hell up and make up already.

This however, to most of the assembled hacks, who lived in a dream world of free season tickets to clubs, free food from the RFU and invitations to the very best of VIP only rugby bashes had no idea that the reality was so brutal, so gritty and so...angry.

The unwashed masses outside were revealed to be peeved, disgruntled, maybe even a trite annoyed at what was happening to the game. They enjoyed rugby, yes of course, but they didn't enjoy the lack of quality of the aspects that come together to make a game happen.

Panic erupted, what if there was a revolution? What if the proletariat and the masses stormed the gates of Premier Rugby and burnt down every GP Club in the nation?! What would we do in a Union run by a communist state?! The horror!

"Silence!" bellowed the Red Baron, coughing a bit as he almost choked on some rare Phoenician caviar "I have a solution."

Sighs of relief and nervous laughs were the reply. As if the RFU and PR didn't have a plan, HAH!

"The war between Country and Club shall be declared over in June!" Baron announced "everything shall change after the World Cup, no longer will Club and Country be directly at odds over such piffling issues as player selection."

And before anyone could question the Red Baron on any substance in his words, the smells of the RFU's catering division wafted into the room.

"And now gentlemen...the real reason why you are assembled here!" the Baron grinned as the tables and tables and tables of food rolled in.

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