Tuesday, 29 November 2011

And so it continues...

I have to admit that I’m a tad fatigued by the ongoing farce at HQ to the extent that I can barely be arsed to comment.

The latest development appears to be that Prince Mike of Tindall, fined £25k and dropped from the England squad for going out and getting very pissed on a management-sanctioned and RFU-funded piss up, has now had his fine reduced to £15k and has been restored to the squad - largely, it appears, on the basis that he was too pissed to remember what happened and therefore could not possibly have misled the England management as to his actions.

The man coming to this conclusion was chief mischief maker Martyn Thomas in his last act as acting CEO, a man who, having escaped his own misconduct charge, might be described as having had nothing to lose.
 
Entirely coincidentally, when asked this morning by the BBC who he thought might have leaked the three confidential Rugby World Cup reviews to The Times last week, Brian Moore commented that the source might well have been someone with nothing to lose.
 
Just saying...

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Twicki-Leaks


No, not leeks, LEAKS!
The revelations behind England's Rugby World Cup failure, contained in the three confidential reviews leaked to The Times, are shocking enough and, predictably, have spawned a plethora of “I told you so” articles from the holier-than-thou British press corps.

The fact that the three CONFIDENTIAL reports – by the RFU, by the players' union and by the professional clubs – were leaked in the first place is also utterly indicative of the current malaise at the top of the English game. The word ' disgrace' is overused but in this instance is entirely apt.

The only morsel of comfort is that, with this all now out in the open, England rugby might, just might, be able to (in the words of Edwyn Collins) rip it up and start again.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

100 Pigs



News today that the Samoan RWC team manager Mathew Vaea has been fined 100 pigs by his home village for alleged drunken behaviour in New Zealand.

Village leaders have apparently have ordered Vaea to pay 100 sows for bringing his chiefly title of "tuala" into disrepute.

Reports remain unconfirmed that Mike Tindall will, at his RFU appeal on Thursday, offer to pay his £25k fine in livestock.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

All aboard the bandwagon

The sport of Rob Andrew-bashing appears to be the latest craze sweeping the nation’s media in the wake of Martin Johnson’s resignation.

For reasons previously hinted at, it is not a bandwagon upon which this blog will be jumping.

It seems to me that certain journalists and commentators simply resent the fact that Andrew has somehow been able to survive amidst the political maelstrom that habitually engulfs the committee rooms and corridors at HQ.

By virtue of the fact that he is last man standing, Rob Andrew is a convenient target for what can only be described as a media witch hunt. And that, I'm afraid, is more than a tad pathetic.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

The King is dead. Long live the King?

So, Martin Johnson has fallen on his sword. Frankly I don’t blame him. Who in their right mind would wish to continue working for such a dysfunctional bunch of muppets? He deserved better.

The priority now is for the RFU to get its shit together. Don't hold your breath but then, and only then, will England be able to begin the Long March towards 2015.

What England players need to feel when they enter the international environment is that it is a marked step up from their clubs. It’s somewhat fanciful, but here’s an elite coaching team who could drag the England team, kicking and screaming, along the track to the next World Cup:

Head Coach/ Manager: Nick Mallet – available, experienced, successful and a strong enough character to deal with the egos in the squad, coaching team and, more importantly, the RFU.

Forwards Coach: Dorian West or Dean Ryan or anyone who might finally persuade English forwards to produce quick ball.

Scrum Coach: Phil Keith-Roach or Mike Cron – why settle for someone still learning his job when you can employ one of the top 2 scrummaging gurus in world rugby?

Attack Coach: Brian Ashton – or if not him the closest thing we have to Brian Ashton – Mike Catt.

Defence Coach: Dave Ellis - available, experienced, successful…

Kicking Coach: Dave Alred – has his issues, but is still arguably the best kicking guru out there.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Perspective

The shocking news earlier this week that 32 year old former Springbok flanker Solly Tyibilika had been shot dead in a Cape Town bar should put all the petty shenanigans at the RFU into sharp perspective.

It should do but it won't.

On the slate

What's in the bottle Mike?
It turns out it's all been one giant misunderstanding.

Not only did the RFU sanction the England players' now infamous night out in Queenstown, the RFU also agreed to pick up the tab and re-invoice Mike Tindall £25k.

A source close to Mrs Tindall confirms that she fully understands that, as stand-in skipper, it was Mike's shout. It is believed that she is planning to auction off a couple of tiaras to cover the cost.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Recidivist

Following Delon Armitage's suspension from rugby this week for a fourth time in 11 months, his rap sheet for 2011 now reads as follows:

-         8 weeks for pushing a doping control officer;

-         3 weeks for punching Northampton’s Stephen Myler;

-         1 week for high tackle on Scotland's Chris Paterson;

-         5 weeks for dangerous tackle on Bath wing Tom Biggs and 3 weeks (to run concurrently) for kneeing lock Dave Attwood.

Armitage is fast becoming something of a recidivist and clearly suspensions have little effect as a deterrent. Perhaps it’s time to start hitting him where it hurts – in the pocket.

Friday, 11 November 2011

On the wings of a Dove

Welsh fans can now rest easy. Although the Ospreys have turned their backs on years of Welsh rugby tradition by not allowing their players to spray tan, the WRU has ridden to the rescue of the Welsh metrosexual by announcing that it has signed a deal with Dove Men+Care for the title sponsorship of the Wales v Australia game in December.

Audible sighs of relief all round, no doubt, as Messrs Hook, Phillips, Henson & Co retain access to their essential skincare products.

"As a brand which combines powerful technology and care, Dove Men+Care makes a natural partner for rugby” said a spokesperson.

Or some such bollocks.

Where's the soap?

Justice?

Hmmmmm...

Mike Tindall’s removal from the England squad is utterly pointless given that his England career was almost certainly over in any event and, given that the night out in Queenstown was authorised by management, the £25k fine is just barmy. Talk about an expensive night out. I’d be straight on the blower to my solicitor.

Meanwhile the suspended £5k fine levied against each of Chris Ashton and James Haskell for inappropriate banter with a hotel maid in Dunedin is somewhat bizarre given that the RFU inquest concluded that the allegations of serious wrong-doing were “entirely false”. Go figure.

I'm sure, however, that it will be of great comfort to the players that they have the right to appeal to the recently-ousted RFU acting chief executive, Martyn Thomas. Or maybe not.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

My Life as a Basket Case

Published today, Jonny Wilkinson's stunning autobiography, My Life as a Basket Case:

"I...lower myself into the water until I'm completely submerged, and then I let out a scream of total frustration. I come up for air and then submerge myself again and scream again. No words, just pure desperation. I carry on screaming as long and as loud as I can and I don't stop until I am hoarse. I cannot find any other way of dealing with this non-stop barrage of thoughts and negativity."


"I am so desperate to get it right, so driven by the annoyance and fear of not getting it perfect, that the anger I feel inside begins to express itself physically. I don't know what it is, but my frustration is so intense I start shouting at the walls, screaming obscenities."

"When my left foot lets me down, I stamp down hard on it. At one stage, I am so livid that, before I know it, I am sinking my teeth into my hand, trying to bite right through the skin between my thumb and index finger."

"I have visualised perfect outcomes of every kick, but when my practice doesn't match that, I have to take it out on something, so I start tearing my T-shirt apart. This becomes habitual; I start getting through way too many T-shirts."

Available at all good book shops and psychiatric clinics.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Making plans for Nigel...

According to Llanelli Scarlets coach Nigel Davies, some games are being ruined by players cheating in scrums.

In other news, Davies also claims that the earth is round, the Pope is a Catholic and that Dolly Parton sleeps on her back.

Monday, 7 November 2011

England - a 5 point plan

Yep, me again, still banging on about England.

Here it is, the Total Flanker solution to all of England's woes - a brief 5 point plan to ensure that England conquer the rugby world in 2015...

1.      Sort out HQ – the internal bickering and political manoeuvring has to stop. Get it sorted and start giving proper support to the team management.

2.      Out with the old and in with the new- no pussy-footing around and no talk of transitional periods. Any player considered unlikely to be around for selection in 2015 should not be picked for England again. Experience wins World Cups. Ergo, young English talent needs to be given opportunities sooner rather than later to build a wealth of international experience come 2015. George Ford, Owen Farrell et al should be fast-tracked into the elite squad. And, while we're at it, appoint a young captain for the long term.

3.      Bring in the best - use the RFU's considerable financial muscle to bring in best of breed as head coach and allow him to go out and cherry pick his coaching team. And forget the idea of making Martin Johnson into some kind of disenfranchised figurehead - either he's the big cheese who runs the show or he moves on.

4.      Get tough - no stupid haircuts, no stupid swallow-dives, no stupid extra-curricular stuff. Get the squad to buy into a code of conduct and enforce it rigorously. If they have any pride in themselves at all the players themselves should insist on this.

5.      Sign Sam Tomkins - however it's done just make it happen.

Not exactly rocket science...

(Someone sign this man now - POSTSCRIPT)



News today that Saracens have signed Sam's brother, Joel Tomkins, from Wigan for £250,000. Do you think that anyone at Sarries realises that they've signed the wrong Tomkins?

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Someone sign this man now

Spent yesterday afternoon in front of the telly watching the England v Australia Rugby League Test at Wembley.

Aside from being reassured by the fact that the refereeing performance was even worse than any witnessed at the World Cup, what stood out for me was the performance of English fullback Sam Tomkins.

With Premiership clubs allowed make one marquee signing outside of the salary cap as from the 2012-13 season, someone really should should move heaven and earth to get this guy signed up.

Blessed with pace, acceleration, a superb step and dexterous hands, Tomkins would be a sensational Union player and would make an impact on the England team not seen since Jason Robinson.

You know it makes sense.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Not before time

Reports are coming in of an outbreak of common sense in TW1 of pandemic proportions.

First came news that the machiavellian Martyn Thomas is being forced to step down from his highly paid role as acting CEO of the RFU as well as his role as as chairman of Rugby World Cup 2015.

Then came confirmation that the so-called independent review of England's World Cup campaign, commissioned by Thomas and led by his opinionated ally Fran Cotton, is to be abandoned.

What next? The removal of the discredited Management Board? The appointment of a competent CEO who is left to get on with his job? The appointment of an England head coach who is allowed to bring in his chosen coaching team? Has the world gone mad?

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Off colour

Seismic changes across the Severn, as perennial underachievers the Ospreys ban fake tans and coloured boots.
STATUS SYMBOL
As attempted re-brands go, the declaration that players are now not allowed to have a spray tan is pretty radical, and may go some way to explaining the absence of preening prima donnas Mike Phillips, James Hook and Gavin Henson from the Liberty Stadium this season.

Just to prove, however, that the Ospreys’ priorities may still be a little off-kilter, a player’s status at the club will now be judged by the colour of his boots, with players only allowed to wear coloured boots once they have played over 50 times for the Ospreys or over 15 times for their country.  

Coming up next: Ospreys announce that only the club captain may shave or wax his legs.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Should he stay or should he go now?

...if he goes there will be trouble, and if he stays there will be double.

Rumours suggest that the powers-that-be at Twickenham now want Martin Johnson to stay as England manager on the condition that he will have to agree to a cull of his coaching team.
Who those powers-that-be are remains unclear. The dead-man-walking Martyn Thomas? The totally discredited Management Board? The “independent” Fran Cotton? Rob Andrew?
Whoever they may be, history shows that any such plan is just plain idiotic. I seem to recall the RFU tried something similar when Andy Robinson was in charge, sacking his coaching staff and foisting John Wells, Brian Ashton and Mike Ford upon him. We all remember how successful that was.