Being immersed in children's Christmas presents for the last few days did get me thinking as to what some the various national team coaches might have wanted or indeed received from the fat bearded fella in the red outfit (and no, I don't mean Adam Jones).
Brian Ashton, for instance, largely got what he wanted in that his reward for taking England to the World Cup final was to be allowed to keep his job. Furthermore he's now been awarded an MBE for his efforts. However, I'll tell you what he wants (what he really really wants) and that's to have a bit more control over his own destiny. After all, he's still lumbered with the same coaching staff he has so far failed to bond with, will get no more time with his squad until the new deal with Premier Rugby kicks in in July and still doesn't have the "manager" he's asked for. Apparently he's been told he can "name his man" but the Guardian's interview with Simon Halliday suggests it's not quite that simple.
Across the Severn, Warren Gatland must be celebrating getting the WRU to part with vast sums of cash to tempt him away from Waikato and persuading Rob Howley to join his coaching staff. It's clear, however, that Shaun Edwards is number one on Gatland's wish list and his hopes of being the next Great Redeemer could hinge on whether Edwards chooses to join his old mate instead of taking up an offer from the RFU to coach the appallingly named England Saxons.
Meanwhile, over in Ireland I can only think that Eddie O'Sullivan is thanking his lucky stars that his employers at the IRFU saw fit to give him a new contract before the World Cup debacle. On the cards for 2008 simply must be a return to form, although it has to be said that it's only a matter of time before Ireland's lack of a credible front row is exposed à l'Australie.
Speaking of our convict friends down under, new Wallabies' coach Robbie Deans has, no doubt, been marvelling at the generosity of the ARU whilst at the same time wondering where on earth he's going to find a couple of props who are at least half-reasonable. In the past Australia always seemed import their props from Argentina but, with the ARU budget tied up in Deans' salary, that avenue may well be closed, especially as many Argentinian props these days generally turn out also to be Italian.
And finally, your friend and mine the Right Reverend Graham Henry must be happy that Santa delivered, against the odds, a renewal of his contract to coach the All Blacks, but equally he must be wondering why the big bearded bloke (and no, not Carl Hayman in this instance) couldn't also have provided ready made replacements for Hayman, Chris Jack, Keith Robinson, Byron Kellaher, Aaron Mauger and Luke McAlister.
Meanwhile I'm more than happy with my Andy Ripley autobiography and my banjo - more on that later undoubtedly...