There is still no light at the end of the Heineken Cup tunnel, which may turn out to be longer, and darker, than the one running under the Swiss Alps.
Biarritz 9 Harlequins 16
Harlequins were truly blessed by the draw for this season's Heineken Cup pool stage – Connacht, the weakest of the Irish teams, and the Italian side Zebre, the weakest team in Christendom, were opponents of which dreams are made. However, they will find themselves thoroughly tested when they chase a clean sweep of victories, together with guaranteed top seeding for the quarter-finals, in the Basque country tonight.
O'Shea delighted to progress but knows value of playing next stage at The Stoop
It has not been a happy time for English clubs in Europe – in the last three Heineken Cup campaigns, the Premiership fraternity have filled only four of the 24 quarter-final places available – and if results go the wrong way this weekend, another humiliation will be on the cards.
Harlequins 40 Biarritz 13: Quins tear French side apart in second half but lose Evans to injury
Our first family holiday was anything but a holiday, I realised, at 4am in a turquoise-walled suite in the South of France, where the peace was broken at regular intervals by a wailing baby. Correction: my wailing baby. While we were trying to introduce her to a new routine, it seemed that she was breaking us into a completely new way of being, a holiday where we couldn't relax, even when she was sleeping.
While the world at large has been moaning about the weather which, admittedly, has been remarkably inclement, not to mention the remarkable lack of security at the Olympics, something remarkably strange has been happening to my wardrobe. "You're wearing red, white and blue," says my friend and I realise that there's no arguing with her.
The last time Jonny Wilkinson and Iain Balshaw appeared together on a rectangle of mud down Twickenham way, they were overshadowed by a swaggering newcomer by the name of Danny Cipriani as England put 33 points on Ireland and finished second in the 2008 Six Nations. The two red-rose oldsters will be back in town this evening for the Amlin Challenge Cup final between Biarritz and Toulon at the Stoop and while Wilkinson is being given the top-of-the-bill treatment, they could easily find themselves marginalised again.
Your hunger and passion will only see you through the opening exchanges
Sarries face a talented Clermont today but Farrell knows how to foster team spirit
Prop Gethin Jenkins will join the Welsh player exodus to France next season.
Saracens 20 Biarritz 16
Where are you now and what can you see?
Benetton Treviso made Pool Five of the Heineken Cup, the competition's obligatory pool of death, a little deadlier still – if that is possible – by beating Biarritz 30-26 in the Veneto yesterday.