Friday, 29 July 2016

No more Easter

News today that former England and Harlequins number 8 Nick Easter has retired from playing at the age of 73.

Easter won the first of his 54 England caps against Ireland in the 1980 Five Nations.

After a 20-year absence, Easter returned to international duty for the 2015 Six Nations and became England's oldest try scorer in the victory over Italy, aged 71.

Best wishes to Mr Easter in his new coaching role at Quins.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Unexceptional

By all accounts the new 8 year, £225m deal between the RFU and premiership Rugby is "a good thing."

One possible exception, however, is that the much debated "exceptional circumstance" clause has now been set in stone.

 So now a player who does not play his club rugby in England will be only be considered for selection where the England team is suffering an injury crisis in his position ahead of playing a tier-one country. In other words it will never happen.

Apparently this was always the intention of the clause despite the fact it was never stated as such. Yeah, right.

I guess this is part of the price that Eddie Jones the RFU have to pay to get the access to players that they desire and I suppose at least it will stop the media clamouring for the selection of the latest flavour of the month player plying his trade abroad.

Shame about Sam Underhill though...

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Ian Ritchie: "We're all right Jack"

Comments from RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie that the Six Nations is likely to remain in its current February/March slot are a tad disappointing to say the least.

Bill Beaumont, head honcho of World Rugby (aka the artist formerly known as the IRB) had previously suggested that starting the tournament later to accommodate a global rugby calendar "could be a solution".

Ritchie, however, has adopted the "if it ain't broke" approach to the issue, commenting:

"Why would you want to change something that works really well?"

In other words, we're all right Jack, the rest of you can bugger off.

The point is not whether the Six Nations currently works or not (it does). The point is whether the moving of the Six Nations would help contribute to the overall goal of achieving a workable and sensible global professional rugby calendar, where player welfare is properly addressed, thus securing the future of professional rugby worldwide.

Ritchie's comments demonstrate the inherent self-interest that those seeking reform are up against. The last major reform in the game came with professionalism in the mid 90s but, given how long it look for rugby to be dragged kicking and screaming into the professional era, I won't be holding my breath for a solution to the question of a global calendar anytime soon.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

England Women rewarded

Some great news for England Women's Rugby with the announcement that professional player contracts will be awarded for the 15-a-side game for the first time this year.

A massive 48 player contracts will be awarded by the RFU for the 2016/17 season, a step up from the groundbreaking 20 contracts awarded following England's 2014 World Cup triumph. 

The fact that the contracts will no longer just be limited to Sevens players (as was the case previously) - is also hugely significant and will provide major encouragement for those players who, shall we say, perhaps might not be of the quick and nimble persuasion...

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Finishing Touch (2016)


Olé Olé Olé Olé ...

A sweltering July evening (the culmination of the hottest day of the year so far) saw Dave's Dad's Dog's Dead secure the 2016 Chesham Touch Premiership title for the 3rd year in succession, a thumping 25-4 victory meaning that we overtook the incumbent league leaders, Chairman's Choice,  on try difference.

With a record of Played 10, won 9 and lost 1 - within 148 tries scored, it was a great effort from the team with the oldies increasingly playing a supporting role to the young stars. It's a team the core of which has been playing together since 2010 - and in some cases the team has quite literally grown up together.

4 tries during the season from yours truly, despite having to nurse my heel injury through the latter weeks, was quite satisfying - even though my general form and fitness didn't ever quite hit the heights that I would have liked.


So, almost unbelievably, another Touch season has come to an end with the only consolation being that my poor, abused plantar fascia will finally get some relief.