Wednesday, 30 September 2009

If at first...

Good luck to Manchester RFC when they take on Otley in National Div 1 this Saturday.

Why? Well, take a look at their last 4 league results:

vs Wharfedale, lost 124 -5

vs Blaydon, lost 145-12

vs Nuneaton, lost 95-0

vs Esher, lost 148-0

Restricting Otley to anything below 90 points might be regarded as a moral victory.

Scrum Queens


A new women’s rugby website covering the international game has been launched.

The site – http://www.scrumqueens.com/ - will cover the international women’s game at both 15 and 7 aside level. The launch comes during a pivotal year for the sport with a final decision on whether to make rugby 7s an Olympic sport, which would include women, due in October. The Women’s Rugby World Cup will also take place next summer in London.

The site features international rugby tournament news and information from leading competitions such as the Women’s 6 Nations, Nations Cup, and Women’s Rugby World Cup, real-time results, a world fixtures calendar and an interactive gallery for the women’s community.

ScrumQueens.com, which will include both professional and user-generated content, is to host a wide range of blogs from well known names in the women’s sport including current Irish rugby international Fiona Coghlan and international rugby referee Clare Daniels. It will also feature regular guest bloggers from the world of rugby and sport looking at issues facing both the men’s and women’s game.

As rugby continues to grow internationally the site will also provide coverage of the game in emerging nations with the ultimate aim of improving the profile of the sport globally and in the short-term increasing the promotion of the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2010.

The site launches with features on the impact Olympic 7s could have on the women’s game and interviews with South Africa coach Denvar Waanies, and England captain Catherine Spencer as well as with dedicated news from around the globe with specific countries catered for in various site sections.

ScrumQueens.com also aims to interact with supporters and fans in a number of ways including encouraging readers to upload their own international match pictures and inviting them to contribute to blog posts.

Behind the site are a group of women’s rugby players with strong links to the game. Website editor, Alison Donnelly is the former PRO for the Irish women’s rugby team and she’s also worked on major international rugby tournaments for various international rugby bodies. Website designer and developer Sarah Edwards, who also plays rugby, has invested in the site through her London-based creative agency Make It Clear and she will continue to provide support throughout the site’s development.

Alison Donnelly said: “It’s been a fantastic year for the women’s game with the IRB Rugby World Cup 7s featuring women for the first time and next month the England women’s team will take on the world champion Black Ferns at Twickenham as part of a men’s double header in what should offer some major exposure for the game. We feel there’s a real need for a strong online portal for the game and we’re delighted with the look and feel of the site.” The site was designed by creative agency Make it Clear.

For more information contact: Alison Donnelly, Alison@scrumqueens.com or 0044 7516797560

Monday, 28 September 2009

45

Happy Birthday to me...

Forty-five years old today and utterly underwhelmed. Perhaps it's because of my age, perhaps it's because 2 friends of a similar age have sadly passed away this year and it's a reminder of my own mortality, or perhaps it's just because it's a Monday.

Actually I think my melancholy is largely down to the fact that I've been struggling with various aches and pains of late, I'm nowhere near as fit as I should be, I'm not leading a particularly healthy lifestyle at the moment and right now I can feel a head cold coming on. In other words, bah humbug!

Shoulder problems meant that I was unable to play the first Vets game of the season on Saturday which may also have something to do with my mood. Having said that, it was a scorching hot afternoon and the ground was bone hard, so playing with a dodgy shoulder and very little fitness would have been foolhardy.

I did turn up to watch. Well, when I say "turn up" - what I actually did was arrive at Fullerians whose Vets we were supposed be be playing only to find no sign of anyone in Chesham colours. On checking my voice mail (and yes, I realise it might have been sensible to do so before I left for the game) I discovered that the fixture had been switched to High Wycombe where we were playing their 3rd XV. I therefore managed to arrive with about 20 minutes left to play, only to witness Chesham's defences finally collapsing as a 7-19 deficit quickly became 7-47 by the final whistle, the opposition's evident youth and fitness proving decisive.

Chatting to the shattered Chesham players after the game I felt both pleased not to have endured the heat, pain and exhaustion and somewhat guilty for not having done so. There's certainly some truth in the statement that an after-match beer doesn't taste anywhere near as good when you haven't earned it.

Anyway, enough of feeling sorry for myself. Time to knuckle down, get fit, get some weight off and be ready (well, ready-ish) for our next fixture in 3 weeks.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

The world according to Graham

The Right Reverend Graham Henry.

Don'tcha just love him?

According to him the reason New Zealand have been rubbish so far this season is all down to the laws, specifically the fact that the ELVs were not embraced en bloc this season.

"Because of the rules, sides don't take risks and don't pass the ball very often," Henry said.

"I do think the rulemakers have got to re-visit this. The game under the ELVs last year was much more enjoyable to play and much better to watch."

Henry conveniently ignores the fact that aerial ping-pong was as much a part of the game last season as this. And, as the Lions showed this summer, it is perfectly possible to play running rugby under the current laws.

Perhaps he should focus on the fact that New Zealand's lineout has in general been utter pants this season and that there appears to be an alarming lack of depth at fly half, lock and openside flanker?

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Money for old rope...

According to the RFU's newly launched 'This is Rugby' campaign, the sport's core values are:

Teamwork

Respect

Enjoyment

Discipline

Sportsmanship

Apparently this "ground-breaking initiative" was two years in the making.

TWO YEARS!

I daresay some marketing "guru" somewhere is laughing all the way to the bank.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Are we there yet?

Is it really over?

Has "the 3 teams playing amongst themselves for an eternity" tournament finally finished?

I confess I've seen very little of this year's Tri Nations but that in no way prevents me from having an opinion i.e.

- South Africa: well done on becoming 3N champions. You found the Lions far more of a handful than Australia and New Zealand and I have a sneaking suspicion that you might now have just peaked;

- Australia: it looks very much like you might just about have found yourselves a scrummage at last, and in doing so the rest of your game appears to have gone to pot. Nevertheless I have a horrible irrational feeling that you might be the team to beat in 2011;

- New Zealand: if you're going to have a major crisis of confidence then 2 years before the World Cup is as good a time as any. Find a lineout from somewhere and wrap McCaw and Carter in cotton cool for the next 2 years and you'll be fine.

See you all in November...

Keith Floyd RIP

Farewell to Keith Floyd, TV chef, bon viveur and passionate rugby man who died earlier this week.

Floyd quaffed his way through his TV programmes in the eighties and I have to say that his "Escalope de veau à la moutard" (or "Veal Hiroshima" as it became known in my kitchen) and "Poulet rôti à l'ail" (stuffed with a whopping 2lbs of garlic) - both from his Floyd on France series - are still regularly served up by yours truly, while his Thai Fish Cakes (from Floyd on Oz) have yet to be bettered at any restaurant I've been to.

The fact that he died hours after a massive lunch to celebrate him defeating bowel cancer only adds to his legend. The lunch, which apparently included champagne with a cherry soaked in apple eau de vie, a glass of Pouilly Vinzelles 2006 Burgundy, oysters with potted shrimp and toast, two glasses of Fils Cotes de Rhône 2007, red legged partridge with bread sauce and pear cider made into jelly, has now been added to the menu of the restaurant in question as “Floyd’s Last Supper”.

Floyd was also, it appears, a rugby zealot and regularly cooked for rugby players on his TV programmes. Here are a few examples:











Friday, 18 September 2009

The Waka

It has emerged today that, following a reprimand for making inappropriate gestures against Bath last weekend, Wasps' David Lemi has been commissioned by the club to develop a Wasps-centric version of the Haka for the team to perform before Guinness Premiership matches at Adams Park this season.

The Samoan international will, we understand, develop "the Waka" (as it is tentatively being called) with choreographer Arlene Phillips, former judge on the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing.

The ritual dance is said to involve considerable amounts of buzzing and is set to conclude with a middle-fingered salute, representing a 'sting in the tail' finale.

Kiwi Tony Hanks, Wasps Director of Rugby commented: "we're confident that the Waka will give the club a competitive edge, and it'll give David something to do while he recovers from his wrist injury."

A Maori spokesman and expert in kapa haka confirmed that although he hadn't seen or heard anything about the Waka, it was nevertheless almost certainly an affront to Maori culture. "This never-ending exploitation of the Haka denigrates our culture," he commented, "and we'll be studying the Waka closely to make sure that our intellectual property rights are not infringed. You never know, we could make a few dollars out of it."

Top 20

It was with some astonishment that I learned today that my humble little blog has been included in Telegraph Sport's Top 20 Rugby Union websites.

It's utter nonsense of course and totally subjective - there are several sites I can think of, not to mention some very fine blogs, that are somewhat superior to my banal offerings.

What those owners of such sites and writers of such blogs lack, however, is my collection of compromising photographs featuring the sports editor of the Telegraph.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

HALLELUJAH!

It's gone, it's finally gone. The RFU has launched the new England rugby kit today and that unmitigated design disaster - the horrendous red swoosh of ketchup - has been consigned to history.

The new kit, almost virginally white, is a vast improvement on the previous abomination.

Minor quibbles:

  • Whatever happened to proper collars?

  • On the neck of the shirt is the motto 'RUGBEIA FLOREAT UBIQUE' which is, apparently, Latin for 'RUGBY FLOURISHES EVERYWHERE.' Pretentious twaddle and SO middle class.

  • A retail price of a smidgen under £90. Ouch.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Fit for Rugby?

There are a bewildering number of highly scientific and specifically tailored fitness programmes out there for would-be rugby players, but I must admit that I find myself agreeing with The Times' Stephen Jones (and THAT doesn't happen very often) in his Rolling Maul column this week.

"To get endurance fit for rugby," he says, "you have to run a long way till you are very tired, and to get sharp and faster for rugby you have to run a short way lots of times, and that there is no way round it."

Genius!

Sadly the state of my fitness currently is that I can run a short way not very often and get very tired very quickly!

In fact running is pretty much about all I can do at the moment (and even that's difficult with an increasingly sore right hip) as I've been struggling over the summer with a succession of neck and shoulder problems, the latest of which involves a debilitating pain in my right shoulder which is restricting movement of the joint somewhat. I've had it about 10 days and rest is making absolutely no difference, so a trip to the physio is now looking all but inevitable.

What is also looking almost certain is that, without dramatic improvement, there's going to be little chance of me making the first Vets fixture of the season against Fullerians on 26th September (although given the beatings we've suffered at their hands over the past couple of seasons, maybe that's no bad thing!)

Friday, 11 September 2009

Of Volcanos, Camels and Wolves

Just when we thought we might be able to focus on the rugby again after a summer of scandal, up pops Lesley Vainikolo in the dock at Bristol Crown Court charged with inflicting GBH.

The 17½ stone behemoth, taking a leaf out of the book of Liverpool's Stevie Gerrard, has adopted the failsafe "get your retaliation in first" defence, claiming that he was acting in self defence when, during a night out in downtown Bath, he punched the passive Jake Alicker so hard that he fractured his skull.

The fact, however, that Big Les has confessed to being tanked up on...wait for it...Courvoisier and Coke (ye gods!) probably won't count in his favour, and nor will the fact that he later gave a false name to police, claiming to be Shontayne Hape - his "best friend."

Some friend.

Meanwhile, turning to more serious matters, I'm somewhat gutted that Saracens' plans to stage a camel race as part of the entertainment at Saturday's Premiership Big Day Out against Northampton at Wembley have been vetoed by stadium authorities. The Grauniad confirms that damage to the pitch would have been minimal as, and I quote, "camels are cushion-footed quadrupeds", but Wembley's jobsworths have nevertheless refused permission for "a whole host of reasons" including, it seems, health and safety.

Shame. I was thinking of going but I shan't now.

Speaking of ridiculous races, it's heartwarming to see that no sooner is former England wing Ben Cohen back in the country than he's partaking in in some ludicrous publicity stunt. Now Cohen is no Brian Habana, so racing a cheetah is out of the question, but apparently the lumbering ex-international fancies his chances against a Canadian wolf.

The Canadian wolf in question looks suitably fascinated by the prospect, but my money's on him.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Small beer

It was revealed this week that the reason that the ARU sacked Lote Tuqiri last year was because he broke strict team rules by taking a woman to his Wallabies hotel room.

At the time, Tuqiri was on his "last warning'' for previous misdemeanors which included an incident in a Cape Town nightclub in 2005 and turning up pissed to a Wallabies training session in 2007.

All of which strikes me as being small beer compared to the recent scandals engulfing northern hemisphere rugby. Our rugby may not be as good, but we do scandal SO much better!


Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Isn't it ironic #3

I was tickled pink by the news that Harlequins' first match of the season against Wasps at Twickenham on Saturday will be refereed by none other than................wait for it................. Dean Richards!

40-year-old Richards has apparently been refereeing since 1995 and this will be his 22nd senior appointment.

You really couldn't make this stuff up...