THE first round of European action ends on October 29; the very day that Wales head out to Poland for their conditioning camp ahead of the Autumn tests.

We will hear about how fit they are, how they will be able to play harder for longer. There will be the ice chambers, the weights, the six-packs and gun shows.

But on Sunday night it was reassuring to sit down to watch Toulon go up against Montpellier in a bruising Heineken Cup clash.

It was good fare with plenty of quality players on show that cause scales to creak, and not just because of their muscle.

There was the bulk of Steffon Armitage and Mathieu Bastareaud following on from the televised clash earlier in the day when the big, hulking mass of Toulouse's Census Johnston smashed into the portly frame of Leicester Thomas Waldrom.

After the rugby was over it was time for NFL with the monumental frames of New England defensive tackle Vince Wilfork (6ft 2ins, 23 stone) and Cleveland Browns rookie Billy Winn (6ft 2ins, a mere 21 stone) strutting their stuff.

Maybe it's just because the quality of television sport meant I had spent most of the day wallowing on the sofa, but there's nothing quite like seeing a big old unit on the charge.

They may not be Men's Health cover models but all hail those that like the odd pie and a pint, not just Nando's and protein shakes.


ALAN Partridge sits astride a chair and does his impression of a football manager.

“You pass the ball to him, you score a goal,” booms Norwich’s premier radio personality at a 1998 seminar.

Who would have thought that 14 years on Chris Coleman would adopt the very same policy for Wales? I’d imagine the pre-match flipchart just has 10 arrows pointing towards Gareth Bale.

God help Coleman if Bale picks up a knock before the March trip to Hampden Park and it’s Hal Robson-Kanu wearing number 11.