Sam’s Chop House is a long way from south west London. But it is the place to watch England live on TV, for those in Manchester who are in the know.
England legend Neil Back shows his RWC2003 world cup winning medal to his audience in his Rugby Legends Lunch in 2015 at Sam’s Chop House
The bar features a big screen with its own surround sound which can be equally big. And waiter service, so you can plan your rounds without disrupting your neighbours. Until you break the seal.
We regularly squeeze in 150 spectators, with the early birds booking their own bar food tables in front of the screen.
Few who were there will forget either the atmosphere when England played the All Blacks last November nor the occasion when we won the world cup in 2003.
2019 is a huge year for rugby.
And for once the Six Nations can legitimately be described as a stepping stone to the world cup. But that does smack a little of getting your excuses in early. Whatever, England travel to Dublin to play the form team in the world. And to Cardiff to face Gatland’s world cup dark horses. So the draw is our first opponent.
Then we have to see who will be left standing after two weeks of Heineken Cup rugby. Which French side turns up for Le Crunch. And whether the Jocks really have made the strides that Gregor Townsend has promised, and Cockers is forging in his Edinburgh forwards.
I fear we should all respect the Scots.
Nevertheless, we were all encouraged by the Autumn Internationals. England discovered a balanced back row. Tom Curry is the prefect replacement for Sam Underhill, leading the premiership turnover stats. And as I write this Manu Tuilagi is ripping up trees and Billy Vunipola is taking his first giant baby steps towards full fitness.
Grounds for cautious optimism at least.
The Six Nations, table service beers, corned beef hash… and a much easier trip home. What’s not to like?
Sam’s owner Roger Ward hosting Neil Back’s event at Sam’s
Alan Fildes tries Backy’s medal for size – not wearing his Quins shirt for once