Friday, 30 September 2011

Balls

I see the good old press corps are wringing every last drop of sanctimonious condemnation out of the latest ‘misfortune’ to befall the English rugby team, namely the failed attempt to switch balls for a conversion attempt against Romania last week.

On a scale of 1-10 it’s a misdemeanour that barely registers a 0.5 but, nevertheless, accusations of “blatant cheating” have rained down on England’s management, alongside calls for England to be fined/ docked points/ sent home/ all of the above.

All of which conveniently ignores the fact that England have dealt with the matter in-house to the satisfaction of the RWC organisers. In any event, aren’t we forgetting that England didn’t actually manage to switch the balls as the referee prevented them from doing so (i.e. he was doing his job) and who is to say whether other teams have been doing the same? The fact that no one else has been caught doesn’t mean it hasn’t been happening.

What England are actually guilty of is of being more than a little dim. Given how the press have seized with undisguised glee on the likes of Bungee-gate, Dwarf-gate and Blonde-gate, and given that referees are clearly watching England like hawks for signs of indiscipline on the pitch, might it not have been sensible for England’s coaches to play things by the book?

What this incident has done is to throw a few more morsels into the press pack feeding frenzy. I do wonder what the reaction would have been had it been, say, New Zealand involved? Would the press have had quite such a field day?

Of course not. It is becoming increasingly obvious to England rugby fans that the press, and the English press in particular, have a barely disguised agenda. England are not blameless, clearly, but I wish the press would just wind in their collective necks and let the team get on with it, instead of seeking every opportunity to undermine the campaign. It's as if they are so desperate to be able to turn round and tell the world "I told you so" that they'll almost do anything to ensure that England failing at this tournament becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If I was in charge (oh, if only!) there would certainly now be a list of hacks I wouldn't allow anywhere near the England camp.

Here endeth the lesson. Ready for squeaky bum time against the Sweaties tomorrow.



PS - Incidentally, I agree with the consensus that the £5000 fine imposed on Alesana Tuilagi for wearing a branded mouthguard is ridiculously draconian, although comparing the sanction to England’s Ball-gate punishment, as many wise-arse commentators have attempted to do, isn’t particularly helpful. Had an England player been let off for a similar offence, or had Samoa been docked points for switching balls, then fair enough - but to use Tuilagi's misfortune as fodder for the argument that England are being let off lightly is yet another example of very lazy journalism.

Here endeth the lesson again. Really.


Thursday, 29 September 2011

Inside the mind of James Haskell

I stumbled across this today : The Gun Show: Inside the mind of James Haskell.

Two words: Comedy Gold.

Sir, my cap is duly doffed.

Permutations be damned

There are websites out there on t’interweb which set out the various permutations governing which 2 of England, Scotland and Argentina will progress to the Rugby World Cup quarter finals.

This blog is not one of them.

Forget 8-point differentials, number of tries scored and losing bonus points, if England cannot beat Scotland on Saturday I’ll expect the resignations of Martin Johnson and his coaching staff on my desk first thing on Sunday morning.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

47

For all the advances in modern medicine there’s still no known cure for the common birthday.

47 today, going on 19.

Such an auspicious occasion demands a blog post of insight and clarity. Unfortunately you’ll have to make do with this…

The media seem to be getting their collective knickers in a twist about this week’s comments by NZRU chief Steve Tew that the prospects of the All Blacks going to England for the 2015 Rugby World Cup are very slim under the current financial model . Apparently the NZRU lose "millions" in World Cup years owing to the tournament's strict sponsorship restrictions and loss of revenue from incoming tours.

My heart bleeds. If the likes of Namibia or Romania can find enough pennies down the back of the sofa, I dare say New Zealand can manage. Of course I haven’t seen the books, but I’m guessing that during the three years in between World Cups the NZRU’s peddling of the All Black brand around the world is fairly lucrative. That they can’t adequately manage their finances every fourth year (like everyone else has to) is their problem, no one else’s. It’s called budgeting.

It’d be interesting to see what would happen were the IRB to call their bluff.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Weekend observations

  • England are improving. Only 13 penalties conceded against the mighty Romania. That’s one fewer than against the mighty Georgia, an improvement in anyone’s book.
  • The All Blacks are in cruise control. Still no clue as to how they will react when (if) put under pressure.
  • Richie McCaw. Congratulations. 100 caps and still, for me, the best 7 in world rugby. On-field presentation/speech etc, however, not a good idea.
  • Scotland. Oh dear. Defeat from the jaws of victory. England can expect the kitchen sink on Saturday.
  • Barring slip ups against Italy and Fiji respectively it’s looking like an Ireland v Wales quarter-final. Which, in turn, means one of Ireland or Wales in the semi-final of the World Cup. Strange days indeed.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Pants

A Wellington lingerie shop has been asked to change a sign which advertises "All Black lingerie 20 % off" because the NZRU says the use of the words "All Black" breaches its trademark.
The NZRU say, without a hint of a smirk, that customers could be lead to believe the shop is selling official All Blacks branded products.

You really couldn't make this stuff up.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Quote of the Century


All Black centre Conrad Smith, claiming that the All Blacks passion for rugby is equal to that of the French, only in a more understated way…
"We can be passionate about something but we don't create a song and dance.”
Errr...apart from the Haka, maybe?

Friday, 23 September 2011

Sour Grapes






Apparently Australia did not lose to Ireland last weekend by being out-scrummaged, out-tackled, out-rucked, out-mauled and out-played. No, according to Tim Horan (aka Total Flanker Dunderhead of the Week) the Aussies lost because Ireland’s players deliberately feigned injury against Australia to slow down play.


Jesus is an All Black

It seems that New Zealand is leaving nothing to chance in its attempts to win the Rugby World Cup.

St Paul's Anglican Cathedral in Wellington has been exhibiting a painting depicting a haloed Jesus wearing an All Blacks jersey as he dispenses blessings while clutching a white rugby ball.


"Central to Christian belief is that God became a human being in this world. Our belief is that he happened to do that 2,000 years ago in Palestine… if it were to happen today, why should he not be an All Black?" says the Very Reverend Frank Nelson.
And this blog can exclusively reveal that, according to the the Right Reverend Graham Henry, if Jesus were indeed an All Black, he would be named on the bench as cover for Dan Carter.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Blackballed

Although named in England's starting line up to face Romania on Saturday, Ben Foden has been sitting out training this week, afflicted with a sore side and a bruised testicle.

Fortunate, then, that girlfriend Una Healy announced last week that she was up the duff and Foden were expecting their first baby together. Equally fortunate, for fans of popular singing combo The Saturdays (of whom Ms Healy is a member), is that their forthcoming tour will not be affected by the pregnancy. Thank heavens for that.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Genius?

Did Marc Le Fou have his Eureka moment in the bath this week?

Or is it simply the case that the injury to David Skrela, the ineptitude of François Trinh-Duc and the coach's preference to lose to the All Blacks on Saturday have conspired to produce the selection of Morgan Parra at fly half?

"Farce!" screams the NZ Herald, but of the French 22, apparently 14 have previously beaten the All Blacks (with 6 having beaten them twice). The French team may well be a collective basket case, but Parra's selection at 10 is so gloriously bonkers it could prove to be inspired. 

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Meanwhile, back to "reality"...

While channel hopping on Friday evening, I stumbled across Channel 5’s The Bachelor (honestly, it wasn’t intended – but once I’d landed there it was only fair to give it a chance).

For the uninitiated, The Bachelor is a programme in which a bunch of women are prepared to endure ritual humiliation at the hands of our favourite tangerine, the artist formerly known as Gavin Church, as each one attempts to launch a new career as a D-list celebrity win his heart.

I’d obviously missed a few episodes as the initial group of 25 had already been whittled down to 12 and Gavin lost no time in jettisoning another in Friday’s episode.

“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” mumbled Gavin, as usual looking and sounding as if he’d been heavily sedated. His ex-wife must be delighted.

“I opened my heart but I have no idea what he is thinking” sobbed the unfortunate young lady.

Thinking? I guess there’s a first time for everything...

Monday, 19 September 2011

Random World Cup Observations and a couple of milestones...

England are not happy. “Sloppy” fumes Johnno. “Not acceptable”  moans  Haskell. An air of doom and gloom now pervades the English campaign. Jeez fellas – just chillax. Six tries, bonus point secured, job done. Have a beer or two, chuck a few dwarves about and move on to the next match.

Meanwhile Samoan centre Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu has accused the IRB of unfairness in their scheduling of matches and in particular the 3 day turnaround Samoa had before facing Wales. While his claims of Samoa’s treatment being “like slavery, like the holocaust, like apartheid” were crass and inappropriate, the principle behind the argument is sound enough. If, in order to have a 20 team tournament, it is necessary that some teams have to play twice in a week, then surely it is the better resourced Tier 1 countries who should bear the brunt?

Not to be outdone in the controversy stakes, the All Blacks are obviously so insecure that, in the absence of any scandal, they have felt compelled to invent one. Poor Zac Guildford has therefore donned the sackcloth and been paraded in front of the media by New Zealand’s management . His offence? He had a couple of drinks too many in the privacy of the team hotel after New Zealand's Tri-Nations defeat by Australia in Brisbane last month. Seriously.

And finally, I can’t let this moment pass without mention of the fact that this is my 1000th post on this blog. Yes, I’ve managed to find very little of interest to say 1000 times! Nevertheless, this weekend also saw the blog receive its 200,000th visitor. So I may well be blogging a load of old bollocks, but quite a few of you still seem to be reading it! J

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Irish eyes are smiling...

... and the cat is most definitely amongst the pigeons!

Ireland 15 Australia 6 could be a hugely significant result in the overall context of the tournament. France will now be desperate to lose to New Zealand in their group match to ensure they stay in the Northern Hemisphere half of the draw, while South Africa will be kicking themselves for their comeback against the Welsh!

Altogether now - Alive, alive oh-oh!

Friday, 16 September 2011

Shameful

And, no, I’m not talking about the conduct of England’s rugby players.

What really pisses me off is the way the British press have fallen over themselves to condemn England’s players and management following the so-called “wild” night at Queenstown’s Altitude Bar on Saturday night.

It’s been no surprise to see the ever-tolerant tabloids leap aboard the bandwagon – and The Sun, The Mirror, The Daily Express and that most hateful of rags, The Daily Mail, have not disappointed. After all, groundless sensationalism is hardly an unexpected phenomenon amongst the gutter press.

What is astonishing, though, is how supposedly responsible and “serious” rugby journalists, who really should know better, have seen fit to join the feeding frenzy and write holier-than-thou judgemental drivel about how the England rugby team should or should not behave, such opinions clearly being based on no more than the crap from the very tabloids that these hacks are supposed to rise above.

The following correspondents in particular should hang their heads in shame:

MICK CLEARY – Telegraph
ROBERT KITSON – Guardian
JAMES LAWTON – Independent

I don’t pay for a subscription to The Times so have no idea what stance its’ journos have taken, but take one look at the comments section under the lazy and ill-informed bile written by any of the above hacks to see what the real rugby fan thinks of such sanctimonious bullshit.

Bottom line: It was a night out, a few drinks were taken and a few photos posed for. Other teams have done the same (albeit without dwarves) to no press reaction whatsoever.

And the fact that reports are beginning to emerge that the blonde woman, supposedly “groped” by Mike Tindall, may actually have just been an old friend of Tindall and his wife, only serves to highlight just how low the British press is willing to stoop.

Rant over.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

EXCLUSIVE: Rugby Players Enjoy Post-Match Beer

Or, as The Sun chose to report today:


No doubt we're all suitably scandalised.

DAN COLE, LEE MEARS, STEVE THOMPSON, UN-NAMED DWARF
"They were great lads, not throwing the midgets, it was all light-hearted good-humoured fun" said the not-very-politically-correct manager of the bar in question.

In other words - move along now, nothing to see here.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Best story of the RWC so far…

Michael and Sunette Adendorff, a South African couple in New Zealand to watch South Africa play in the Rugby World Cup, thought something was amiss as they drove around Eastbourne, Wellington, searching for the Majestic Hotel on Royal Parade.

Having stopped at  a local chemist's shop to ask directions they were bemused to find that Eastbourne did not actually have a hotel and, on checking the booking details, they discovered that the Majestic Hotel was, in fact, 12,000 miles away in Eastbourne, England.

"I booked into the right hotel, just in the wrong country," said Mr Adendorff.

An early contender for Dunderhead of the Week (or is that "Boofhead" of the week?).

Boofhead

It's official. Quade Cooper is a Boofhead. Whatever that may be.

According to the Australian ambassador to the world of rugby, Sir Nicholas Farr-Jones, Cooper is a "dope" for his baiting of New Zealand's Saint Richard of McCaw.

"Respect in sport is critical for success, and carrying on like a boofhead exhibits no respect. And it also shows arrogance, which has no place in the game," says Sir Nicholas.

Hear, hear.

Mind you, I still have no idea what a "boofhead" might be.

Question?


How can Andrew "Big Ted" Sheridan - 19 stone plus, 6 foot 4, man-mountain, able to bench press 225kg and squat lift 275 kg - be quite so fragile?

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Merci, Patron

It very much looks like the French team may have to play this Rugby World Cup without much support from coach Marc Le Fou.

Lièvremont labelled his team's overall effort against Japan as being "polluted with approximations, technical errors, indiscipline", adding "a dozen penalties against us and so many mistakes made on moves that were relatively easy."

He also singled out Imanol Harinordoquy, as being "very lackadaisical" while half backs Dimitri Yachvili and Francois Trinh-Duc were merely "lacklustre."

The solution?

"They’re the ones playing, they are out on the pitch, it’s up to them to sort out the problems."

Cheers, coach.

Lawes: 2 week ban



"IS IT COS I IS ENGLISH?"
 

Monday, 12 September 2011

Hooked

There are some that say that English ref Wayne Barnes cost Wales a famous win over the Springboks on Sunday, by failing to refer James Hook's 14th minute penalty miss to the TMO.

Delusional nonsense of course.

I've watched the TV replay several times now and the only conclusion I can reach is that it's inconclusive. The ball does appear to swing inwards at the last moment but there's no way of telling exactly when or exactly where. The people with the best view, unsurprisingly, were the 2 touch judges.

Notwithstanding the fact that the kick was in the 14th minute (had it gone over, Wales would still have been behind with 66 minutes remaining), the controversy also hides the fact that it was a relatively simple kick. Hook should really have banged it straight through the middle. He didn't do so. He botched it, along with another reasonably straightforward kick at the end of the match that would have sealed victory.

Harsh but fair.

Dunderhead(s) of the Week

Time to revive the long lost and mostly forgotten DUNDERHEAD OF THE WEEK award (last seen in the possession of former Scotland coach Matt Williams in November 2007).

With the first weekend's action over, the award goes to the entire ITV commentary team, every last one of them. Whether it was Steve Ryder desperately trying to remember how to be a sports presenter, or Craig Doyle taking time off from his double glazing adverts, or Girvan Dempsey looking like a bemused auditor, or Phil Vickery's West Country monotone, or Dallaglio and Pienaar utterly failing to get to grips with a hi-tec touch screen that patently did not work, or the cliché-ridden commentaries - if I didn't know better I would assume that this was some kind of fiendishly clever self-parody.

ITV's problem (also shared by Channel 4 when covering the World Athletics Championship)  is that, other than football, they really have no experience or pedigree in presenting a sports programme - as the channel ably demonstrates every 4 years at the Rugby World Cup.

So, congratulations ITV - the first DUNDERHEAD OF THE WEEK award this RWC is all yours.
On the bright side, at least Jim Rosenthal is no longer presenting.

James *@#&ing Haskell

Flippin'eck
It seems that Le Hask's “torrent of vile abuse” aimed at Martin Scelzo towards the end of the England v Argentina match, captured by the referee’s microphone, has caused a bit of a stir.

ITV were quick to apologise but if TV companies are going to broadcast the feed from pitchside mikes then they have to expect to capture a certain amount of industrial language, especially given that Haskell had just been struggling to remove Scelzo’s thumb from his eye socket.

Or perhaps they should just dub in a more palatable translation: “I say old chap, jolly bad show you bounder.”

Sunday, 11 September 2011

A tale of two teams...

Two teams...

One team plays poorly but somehow manages to scrape a win against the team that finished third at the 2007 World Cup. This team is castigated by all and sundry.

The other team plays well but, despite several chances, manages to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory against the reigning world champions. This team is lauded by all all and sundry.

I wonder which team is happier?

Saturday, 10 September 2011

And another thing...

If the RFU are going to spend zillions commissioing Nike to manufacture state of the art rugby kit, is it too much to insist that the numbers do not start to peel off the shirts at the first sign of the players breaking sweat?

The Heart of Rugby

Apparently there’s a bit of a shindig going on in New Zealand at the moment. How do I know this? Well, largely due to the fact that I’m being contacted on a daily basis by all manner of companies (who usually ignore me all year round) asking me to promote their wares on my humble little blog.

I do wonder why they bother. A cursory bit of research (one glance at the blog) would have revealed that TF does not carry advertising – not necessarily out of principle but because I know from experience that there is very little money to be made from advertising or affiliate deals unless your audience is humongous.

So, unless anyone would like to offer me unfeasibly stupid amounts of cash I remain, through circumstance, strictly amateur.

That said, every now and then an email drops into my inbox that does spark my interest and one such email arrived last week from the publishers of a book entitled UNION: The Heart of Rugby, offering me a copy of the book to review.

UNION, it must be said, is right up my street – a coffee table book conceived as a celebration of the heart and soul of rugby and launched to coincide with the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. It features more than 150 memorable photographs taken by award-winning photographers alongside text by award-winning author Paul Thomas based on interviews with five legends of the game: John Kirwan, Nick Farr-Jones, Philippe Sella, Joel Stransky and Martin Johnson.

Many of the photographs are instantly recognisable – the ubiquitous Fran Cotton Mud Monster, for instance, but the book also features many pictures that I had not previously seen and it is these more obscure (and mostly black and white) photos that are of particular fascination to a self-confessed rugby geek like tours truly.

UNION is also liberally sprinkled with quotations – from the above 5 legends as well as from other rugby (and some non-rugby) personalities, my two favourites being:

“Playing rugby at school I once fell on a loose ball and, through ignorance and fear, held on despite a fierce pummelling. After that it took me months to convince my team-mates I was a coward.” - Peter Cook

and

Rugby is a game for big buggers. If you're not a big bugger, you get hurt. I wasn't a big bugger but I was a fast bugger and therefore I avoided the big buggers.” – Spike Milligan.

Bottom line is that UNION is absolutely my cup of tea (or indeed coffee) and, having looked through it a couple of times now, I suspect it is a book that I will go back to time and time again.

It is available from all good bookshops (and no doubt one or two rubbish ones too).

Early thoughts

OPENING CEREMONY - I have no idea what this was like thanks to lack of coverage in the ITV highlights package. Lots of tongues sticking out by all accounts.

ALL BLACKS - from highlights it looked comfortable enough. Offload city. Scrum looked a bit iffy though.

SCOTLAND & FRANCE - got away with it at the death and neither final score reflected the match overall. France look like a basket case (an accurate reflection of their coach?). And just how good were Japan in the second half?

ENGLAND - phew! In the first half I seriously thought that Bryce Lawrence's wife must have been having an affair with an Englishman! Ben Youngs made the difference, as did Matt Stevens and Le Hask was also excellent. As for the rest...

And what on earth happened to Jonny? If he doesn't make his kicks then what is the point of him exactly?

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Don't Drop the Egg

A little light relief to while away the hours waiting for some little tournament based in New Zealand to begin...

Total Flanker is delighted to introduce the somewhat bizarre chronicles of the Clapham Falcons:

A question of eligilbility

This week those nasty men at the IRB have resisted calls for eligibility rules for Pacific Island players to be watered down.

To be fair, it’s pretty clear that you can’t have one set rules for Pacific Islanders and another set of rules for everyone else.

In fact, overall I’d say that eligibility rules need tightening up if anything. The 'one grandparent' rule is utterly ridiculous, for instance, as is the rule only requiring 3 years of residency.

There may, however, be a solution. If a player was always allowed to play for the country of his birth, whether or not he had previously played for a different country, then surely (providing only one “switch” was permitted) that’s the problem more or less solved.

Could it be that easy?

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

He ain't heavy...

For fans of utterly useless information, apparently there are 13 sets of brothers set to be involved at RWC 2011:
  • Manu Tuilagi (England) and Alesana Tuilagi (Samoa)
  • Sailosi Tagicakibau (Samoa) and Michael Tagicakibau (Fiji)
  • Salesi Ma'afu (Australia) and Campese Ma'afu (Fiji)
  • Jamie and Phil McKenzie (Canada)
  • Owen and Ben Franks (NZ)
  • Anthony and Saia Fainga'a (Australia)
  • Marco and Mirco Bergamasco (Italy)
  • Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis (South Africa)
  • Darryl and Ryan de la Harpe (Namibia)
  • Vakhtang and Zviad Maisuradze (Georgia)
  • Andrew and Roland Suniula (USA)
  • George Pisi and Tusi Pisi (Samoa)
  • Isitolo and Finau Maka (Tonga).
I know, I know, fascinating stuff. I may have mentioned previously that "interesting" is my middle name.

PS - I stand corrected by BigJocktheLock. There are of course 14 sets of brothers - how could I forget Sean and Rory Lamont?

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Horlicks

While the England players focus on getting themselves ready for the opening RWC game against Argentina, back home the RFU continue to make an utter horlicks of running the domestic game at large.

A brief summary of events to date:

- Following the retirement of Francis Baron, the RFU appointed John Steele as CEO in June 2010. Steele put together plans to reform the management structure within the RFU, plans which were endorsed by the RFU Management Board.

- Part of the plan was to appoint a Performance Director, a role seen by many (including RFU Chairman Martyn Thomas and a selection of rugby hacks) as tailor-made for a certain knight of the realm.

- In May this year, concerned by the lack of applicants for the role, Steele decided to change the job spec, taking the England team out of the equation, only to to perform a spectacular U-turn less than 3 days later after coming under pressure from Thomas and the Board who were set on employing said knight of the realm (who promptly ruled himself out of the running).

- Upset at losing their preferred candidate, the RFU Management Board effectively sacked Steele in June and asked Jeff Judge Blackett to investigate the circumstances leading up to that point. Martyn Thomas took over as acting CEO on a reported salary of £250k.

- Judge Blackett produced his report in July but, rather than condemn John Steele's actions (as the Management Board had anticipated) the principal recommendations of the report were that Martyn Thomas and nine other non executive directors on the Management Board should resign.

- Athough Martyn Thomas did indeed, in a tactical move, step down as Chairman of the RFU Management Board at the RFU's AGM on 10th July, he also prevented publication of the Blackett Report by threatening to bring legal proceedings against Judge Blackett for libel and managed to retain his lucrative new role as acting CEO.

- Despite yet more expert legal advice commissioned by the RFU Management Board (this time from Deputy High Court Judge Robert Englehart QC), on 2nd September the RFU Council voted overwhelmingly to publish the Blackett Report and the RFU announced that the findings of the Blackett Report had, after all, been endorsed by the Management Board (!)

- However, (a) the Report will not now be published until 30th September (on the basis that the RFU have to appoint a calligrapher to transcribe the report in goat's blood on papyrus or some other such nonsense) and (b) to date not one of the RFU Management Board has resigned - other than Thomas, of course, who still retains his highly paid acting CEO role as well as his role as as chairman of Rugby World Cup 2015 and his position as one of the RFU’s representatives on the International Rugby Board.

What next? A disrepute charge against Martyn Thomas has been rumoured but who knows? You really couldn't make it up and the other side of the world is probably the best place for the England team to be right now.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Dog days

One of the many positives about lazing around by a pool for 2 weeks was the opportunity to catch up on a spot of reading and one of the many books I devoured was Brian Moore’s “Beware of the Dog”.

It was a book I’d been meaning to read for some time and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Not a comfortable read by any means, the opening chapter detailing his abuse as a child being particularly difficult, but it’s nevertheless a compelling and brutally honest autobiography written in Moore’s inimitable and combative style.

I had previously read his first autobiography (written with Stephen Jones) in the mid 90s and I recall that book as being far more entertaining than your typical sportsman’s biography. “Beware of the Dog,”  however, takes the genre to another level, detailing Moore’s battles with his inner demons as much as those with his on-filed opponents – the daily conflict with his “Gollum” alter-ego being of particular fascination (if a little bizarre).

If anything the book comes across almost as a means of therapy, as if the process of writing allowed Moore to come to terms with his past and deal with his character flaws. I may be over-stating things here, but I’d go as far as to say that it is as brutal a self-assessment as I’ve ever read.

Hardly surprising then that the book won the William Hill Sportsbook of the year in 2010. Much like Marmite, Brian Moore tends to divide opinion but, love him or hate him, you really must read this book.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Flood hazard

Poor old Toby Flood.

With King Jonny seemingly reclaiming his throne, Flood's reign as England's number 10 appears to have lasted a mere 12 months.

Never mind. Flood always has his family's thespian tendencies to fall back on (both grandfathers were actors). Rumour has it he's already auditioning for James Bond and Doctor Who...

Thursday, 1 September 2011

RWC Snippets...


After having cut myself off (sounds painful) from the outside world for a couple of weeks, I’ve been busy trying to get myself back up to speed with the RWC build up….

o       An almost unprecedented 2 defeats on the bounce appears to have caused more than a few palpitations in the NZ media. If you listen really, really closely you might just be able to make out the beginnings of the sound of collective choking…

o       With Danny Care’s injured toe proving more serious than Lewis Moody’s injured knee (?) and with Ben Youngs’ fitness open to doubt, England may find themselves on the brink of a fully blown scrum half crisis. Richard Wigglesworth? Really?

o       It seems that yet another RWC will be Henson-free, a damaged wrist letting Warren G off the hook. What will the tabloids (and indeed this blog) find to write about now?

o       I hate to say it, but a 6 month lay off for 35 year old David Wallace doesn’t bode well for his international future.

o       While full of admiration for Jonny Wilkinson – if the plan was always to revert to his more pragmatic skills for the World Cup, what exactly was the point of choosing Toby Flood as first choice 10 for the last 12 months?

o       It’s official. Manu Tuilagi is English.

o       Finally, the England players are reeling in shock at the news that they will not be the most hated team in the tournament. While 33.8% of New Zealanders polled by the NZ Herald said that Australia was the one team they would not want to see lifting the William Webb Ellis Cup, England polled a pathetic 9.1%, coming in third behind South Africa. I know we might not be seen as much of a threat but we're arrogant and patronising, right? Surely you must hate us a little bit more than that?