With the annual Colours match on tonight at Donnybrook (kick-off 6.30pm), UCD lock Richie Mandeno offers his latest diary installment.
"Tonight the 55th Colours match is on at Donnybrook, for me it will be my second appearance in the annual fixture. Speaking on behalf of the players in UCD rugby club this is one of our most competitive fixtures throughout the year. Although, this term, it will not be a league match I know this will not take away any of the focus or intensity both teams will have for tonight's encounter.
"Tonight the battle of Hastings is set to resume. After there being a notable absence from last year's match, Michael is back in the fold. UCD's Michael Hastings being the twin brother of Trinity captain Brian Hastings.
"Michael told me: "Last week there was a lot of 'banter' about the match but this week that has dried off." Tonight the brothers will be starting at 12 and 13 respectively. I am sure that an inch will not be given by either. I know the thought of my brother having the bragging rights would ensure I would do everything possible to win the match.
"The 2005 match against Trinity was my first Colours match. The build-up for the match had been massive, throughout the club everyone was talking about special moments they had during the colours. One particular story I can recall was many years ago, before security to this event was high, one particular supporter managed to sneak a whole salmon into the ground, which eventually found its way to the side of some unfortunate player's head! Part of me was impressed with the accuracy of the throw, another part of me became nervous about what the night had in store for us.
"I think the passion that the past and present students have for their particular universities is what makes this game so special. It, along with other Colours events, is a focal point where the competitive (friendly) rivalry between two of Dublin's major universities is met head on.
"Since all AIB League matches are played at a strict 2.30pm kick-off, playing under the floodlights takes some adjustment. With the later kick-off, the whole build-up for the match starts later (in the day), so eating for the day changes, usually (for the 2.30pm starts) I am pretty set in my ways - I eat some toast and have some traditional cereal, after this I usually have two poached eggs, sometimes going crazy I mix it up with scrambled eggs. Then it's just a sambo and I am ready for kick-off.
"With the 6.30pm kick-off lunch becomes far more important, I try to eat a high carbohydrate meal of pasta for lunch and then another meal around 3.30pm. Also the lights can take some adjustment, every training session is done under lights but when you get out onto the field under proper playing lights your eyes take some time to adjust.
"Running out onto the pitch (against Trinity) at Donnybrook itself is like no other game that we play in. For a start there is a substantial crowd all shouting at the top of their lungs, thus creating a great atmosphere to play in. From the first whistle the intensity is higher than other matches, both teams have a lot riding on the match and therefore both the teams' games are lifted. At the start of last year's match, the step-up in intensity admittedly took the body by surprise!
"Aside from the Colours, as a proud New Zealander I'll offer my views on last weekend's internationals. There are many people saying now that both New Zealand and Ireland can push for World Cup glory after their two convincing wins against France and South Africa respectively.
"I know that once again New Zealand will be going into the World Cup as favourites, but as history has show this does not mean a thing. World rugby is at a stage where anyone, on a good day, can beat any other team. Although I am optimistic about New Zealand's chances, hopes have been dashed before."