Well no Internationals on. No Rugby World Cup. Ahhhh well Pro 12, and Aviva it is then. Nope!! Not for me. I was generously invited to Serbia v Slovenia in Belgrade this afternoon. What a relief it was.
The game was scrappy and the weather certainly hampered both teams. After roaring renditions of both anthems they set about each other. After the excitement and skill on show in England over the last month, standing on the terraces, freezing, huddled together for warmth it was great to back at a proper game!
The scrums were evenly matched in the first half and Slovenia taking full advantage of early running. 12-0 up in no time at all. The crowd downhearted but full of voice cheered on they're brave Serbs. Serbia had a problem trying to force offloads instead of recycling the ball, in complete contrast to the Slovenians who offloaded crisply and created acres of space.
The Slovenians were clearly up for the game and managed to create overlaps. Their scrum half attached the ruck quickly meaning their pack were drawn into the breakdown. They hit back the Serbians and made making the hairline difficult. By half time they were 19-7 up!
The second half saw Serbia make an impact. They fought back and brought the score to within a converted try. With a Serbian yellow card Slovenia turned it on. Their back line firing, they cut through and scored in the corner. Serbia showed huge character and never let their heads down. They pushed the Slovenians into desperate tackling. The rush defence proved too much and Serbia went down 32-17.
The game was played at a frantic pace, and was entertaining to watch. Both teams will be sore today, but both played with great spirit. I look forward to following this Serbian team over the next four years. A credit to the ethos of our game.