Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Head in the game...

Apparently Chris Ashton's decision not to tour South Africa with England Saxons next month is not a question of the Sarries winger throwing his toys out of the pram having been left out of the senior squad to play Australia.

Ashton's wife is due to give birth towards the end of June and so, according to Sarries Head Coach Mark McCall, his head "wouldn’t have been in the right place."

And yet his head would have been "in the right place" had he been selected to go to Australia. Go figure.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Wild West

There was a really interesting piece in the Grauniad last week about England's 2nd tier of professional rugby - the RFU Championship - having become "the wild west of professional rugby".

Much of the article revolves around the thoughts of Ben Hooper, a 28 year old prop plying his trade in the Championship with Yorkshire Carnegie, who tells of players being exploited, underpaid and let down by their clubs, the RFU and their own union.

It makes depressing reading but really should not come as too much of a surprise and, much like the arguments around ring-fencing the Premiership, kind of misses the point.

Despite the fact that the RFU remains “fully committed to the development of a professional English second-tier competition,” what everyone should be asking is how financially sustainable is professional rugby in England?

I've said for some time that rugby in England simply isn't big enough to sustain 2 fully professional leagues of 12 teams. The comments from Ben Hooper would appear to support this.

The sooner the powers-that-be recognise that English rugby can only sustain a limited number of fully professional clubs and structure the game accordingly, the better for all concerned, including those much put-upon players currently scratching out a living in the Championship.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Dave's Dad's Dog's Alive

Back into the Chesham Touch Premiership yesterday evening with Dave's Dad's Dog's Dead. 

Last year's record of played 10, won 10, with 130 tries scored (to which yours truly contributed precisely 1 (ONE) try) will take some beating, but we started off with a 9-7 victory last night in a fast and frenetic game.

And I feel ridiculously sore for someone whose contribution to the game, it has to be said, was entirely negligible. From a personal perspective it can only get better...

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

What's the score George Ford?

I've heard it suggested that George Ford may, sooner rather than later, follow father Mike out of the door at Bath.
The inference is that the Fords somehow come as a package and that, Mike having lost his job this week as Bath's head coach, young George may wish to follow him to wherever he goes.

Any such suggestion is surely ridiculous. We're talking professional rugby here, not some cosy local Under 13s coaching arrangement. Can George be so insecure that he can't play for a club that does not employ his old man? I don't think so.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Not a bad season

Maro Itoje's season to date:

England debut, Grand Slam Winner, RPA Young Player of the Year, Champions Cup Winner and now European Player of the Year.

And still the Premiership to come…?

Friday, 13 May 2016

On the move?

First of all, belated congratulations to Bill Beaumont following his elevation to the position of Chairman of World Rugby (aka the artist formerly known as the IRB).

And secondly, well done Bill for daring to broach the thorny issue of a global rugby season, for some time now ruby's panacea for players' welfare.

Beaumont has said that a possible move for the Six Nations to April "could well be a solution" - something that to date has not been countenanced by the "if it ain't broke" brigade who refuse to look beyond their bubble self-interest and insist that the current February to March slot is non-negotiable.

The fact is that something has to give to fix a ludicrous northern hemisphere season where players are pulled from pillar to post, bouncing between domestic, European and international action and where commercial planning for clubs becomes exceedingly complex.

The Six Nations is big enough and ugly enough to absorb any change and must look at the bigger picture for the benefit of the game as a whole. And who knows, a move to later in the season - when the weather is better and pitches are firmer - may even improve it as a product?