With this guide, you will be talking shop with the lads almost immediately.
Rugby Guru

9 foolproof steps to becoming the perfect rugby pundit

Learn a bit of French and know your Shakespeare if you want to be a top analyst.

THE TOP 14 season may have started a few weeks ago but the beginning of the Guinness Pro12 is when the rugby season really kicks off for Irish fans. And with the Pro12 now being shown on Sky, we will see Stuart Barnes, Dewi Morris and company analysing rugby on a dark and windy Friday night in Zebre.

The Sky rugby pundits aren’t for everyone, so we have put together a handy nine step guide you can follow if you want to be your own rugby analyst. If you follow these steps, then you can ring up a couple of friends, slap on some business attire, and execute your own show at half-time.

Step 1: Learn a bit of French

French may be the language of love but it is also the second language of any self-respecting rugby pundit. Why say “Top 14″ when you can say “Top Quatorze”? Why say “They won the Top 14″ when you can roll “They won the Bouclier de Brennus” off your tongue? If you add joie de vivre and hors de combat to your arsenal too, then you will be alongside Gerry Thornley as Ireland’s suavest rugby guru.

Gerry Thornley A few French phrases here and there, and you could be as ice cool as GT. Billy Stickland / INPHO Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

Step 2: Know your pronunciation

Pronunciation is key to becoming a top rugby pundit. You need to nail the French teams, like nouveau riche (add that to your French vocab list) Clermont (Clare-mon), Montpellier (mon-pell-yay) and former greats Biarritz (Bay-reets). You should be ok with the English sides, unless you are a particularly uncultured individual (I’m looking at those scoundrels who say glue-chester and war-chester).

Nathan Hines, Morgan Parra and Davit Zirakashvili dejected You will go far in the punditry world if you nail the gallic pronunciations. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

We haven’t had a pronunciation problem among the celtic nations since Llanelli became the Scarlets, which was a particularly great day for non-Welsh pundits.

Step 3: Know your Hamlet from your Macbeth

You need to be a man of literature to be a truly iconic rugby pundit. It wasn’t a mistake for the IRFU to give Eddie O’Sullivan a four-year deal before the World Cup, it was like “King Lear giving away his fortune to his undeserving daughters”. If an in-game situation can be compared to a Shakespearian play, you make that comparison. In fact, even if it can’t, make it anyway.

Step 4: Familiarity

You don’t call them Anthony Foley, Keith Wood, Shane Horgan and Brian O’Driscoll, you call them Axel, Fester, Shaggy and Drico. Whether the player in question was the best man at your wedding or someone you’ve only ever seen in a matchday programme, you are on nickname terms. Put an N.B next to that one.

Keith Wood Keith Wood? Pfft, you call him Fester. Patrick Bolger / INPHO Patrick Bolger / INPHO / INPHO

Step 5: Master the tactics board

The greatest trick Dean Ryan ever pulled was convincing the world he was a good pundit. Ryan gave the most mono-syllabic interviews imaginable as a coach and has somehow remained on our screens despite doing the same as a pundit.

ryan Dean Ryan, seen here using an iPad like Steve Jobs intended, is a technological savant.

His one skill (besides making scarily demonstrative hand movements) is being one of the only pundits on Sky who really knows how to use the magic tactics board. Even the most basic insight seems ground-breaking when you can use squiggly arrows.

Step 6: Accept a demotion over a firing

If your first few live appearances are underwhelming and you are given a choice between going to the tactics truck or going home, take the tactics truck. It is better to be in purgatory than hell. Sure, you are basically sitting inside a robot’s stomach and nobody really pays much attention to you when you come on-screen, but you could end up being the next Mark McDermott.

And every so often you can throw up a gem, like when Malcolm O’Kelly partly exonerated Shane Byrne’s awful throwing performance in the first Lions test in 2005 by pinpointing Richard Hill’s sloppy lifting.

Step 7: When asked about scrums, blame the IRB/refs/turf

As a rugby fan, there is no shame in admitting that watching how different referees interpret the scrum can be baffling. The trick as a pundit is to blame one of the above for the constant resets. If pressed, say “You could really have given a penalty to either side” or compare scrums to the Battle of the Alamo. That should get you off the hook.

Step 8: Look good in a suit

This is the Shane Horgan theory. A) Buy a suit. B) Look dashing in said suit. C) Buy a tie. D) Do some DIY tailoring to make sure it is as skinny as possible. E) Buy a brown shoe of some sort. F) Sit back, and watch as you start permeating every aspect of the rugby media.

Shane Horgan Style icon Shaggy swapped a skinny tie for shades in a move that no doubt caught the attention of Sky bosses. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Step 9: Know your lines

Don’t waste time thinking of inventive ways to describe players, merely use the current clichés in existence to give yourself a head start. For instance, Heinrich Brussow is a “groundhog”. Lee Byrne has a “siege gun left boot”.

Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup 2011 - Quarter Final - South Africa v Australia - Wellington Regional Stadium That lad is a real groundhog. Barry Aldworth Barry Aldworth

The front five play at the “coalface”. Sean O’Brien is a “tank/bulldozer/wrecking ball”. Courtney Lawes is “certainly the greatest rugby player of all time and arguably the greatest person of all time”.

Is there anything else you need in your repertoire to become the ultimate rugby pundit?

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