Tuesday, 28 February 2012

The Odd Couple


There appears to be some kind of bizarre love-in occurring between hirsute Welsh prop Adam Jones and Mayor of London (and erstwhile David Strettle look-a-like) Boris Johnson.

“Adam plays rugby with fire in his belly, steel in his spine and that mad mop of hair on his head,” says Boris. “Anyone in public life with hair like that gets my vote.”

“It was a bit of a shock but nice to have someone of that profile as a fan,” responds Jones. “Obviously he is a bit of a legend.”

Aahhh, isn’t that nice?

Monday, 27 February 2012

Confession of an England Rugby Supporter

Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.

I didn’t mind too much that England lost to Wales on Saturday. There, I’ve said it, it’s off my chest.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want England to win. Believe me, from my armchair I made every single tackle (and was still beaten in the tackle-count by Mr Barritt). It’s just that over the years I’ve found every English error exasperating, have screamed in anguish at every refereeing decision against us and have taken every defeat personally. As I’m sure you’ll appreciate, in recent years that’s been one helluva heap of hurt.

And yet on Saturday I was relatively sanguine. Why? Well, largely because I witnessed a team of relative international rookies stand toe-to-toe with a supposedly vastly superior team and not concede an inch. Players hitherto regarded as no more than good club players displayed genuine international credentials and players with potential came of age. In short I saw boys become men.

England's future bodes well. I am hugely encouraged – at least for another 2 weeks.

Good weekend/ Bad weekend - 6N 2012 - Round 3


GOOD WEEKEND

Scott Williams

Much more of a threat than the good doctor and rewarded with the winning try at Twickenham.

Owen Farrell

A star is born. Superb.

The next England rugby coach


Whoever is appointed must be hugely encouraged by England’s performance against Wales.

Stephen Wicken


New leader in the TF Premier League - grrrrrrr!



BAD WEEKEND

Rhys Priestland

Finally discovered that international rugby is not as easy as he had previously made it look.

The England bench

Matt Stevens, Ben Youngs and Courtney Lawes – all game changers for England. Sadly not in a good way.

Wayne Barnes

Did Scotland absolutely no favours against France.

Jacques Brunel


Must be scratching his head about how he can fashion a silk purse out of a pig’s arse.

TF Team of Round 3

1. J-B Poux 2. R.Ford 3.A.Jones 4.P.O’Connell 5.M.Botha 6.T.Dusautoir 7.R.Rennie/ S.Warburton 8.B.Morgan 9.M.Blair 10.O.Farrell 11.G.North 12.B.Barritt 13.W.Fofana 14.T.Bowe 15.S.Hogg

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Happy accidents

Last Summer it was Warren Gatland who benefitted from a series of extremely fortunate events.

Injuries to Stephen Jones and Matthew Rees led to the discovery of Rhys Priestland and Sam Warburton as fly half and skipper respectively, while Gavin Henson’s wrist injury finally put paid to any half-baked plan to take him to New Zealand.

And now, with the happy accident of Chargedown Charlie’s injured left index finger, it’s the turn of Stuart Lancaster.

Brad Barritt and Manu Overboard in the centre? That’ll do nicely.

It’s better to be a lucky coach than a good coach.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Manchester nightclubs on high alert

Manchester nightclub owners have reacted with delight to the news that Sale Sharks are set to announce that they have agreed a deal to bring Danny Cipriani back to the English Premiership next season.

Cipriani’s arrival will bring much needed additional revenue to the Manchester club scene and club owners are already gearing up for the fly half’s arrival. Although additional security measures will be required to protect the clubs’ vodka supplies, it is thought that such extra costs will easily be offset by the revenue opportunities afforded by the former England starlet’s nightly club attendances.

Also thought be to be beside themselves with excitement are Natasha Giggs, the entire female cast of Coronation Street and various other local Z-list celebrities.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

(Baby it's) all White now...

Who'd be a referee?

As well as having deal with a complex set of laws and various edicts and directives emerging from the IRB every 5 minutes, refs in this year's Super Duper Rugby will find in their pockets an additional white card to sit alongside the red and yellow varieties.

The intention is that the white card will be brandished "when an act of foul play has occurred but the referee is not sure if a red card is warranted, or is unsure of the identity of the offender".

What next? An orange card for when a referee thinks that an offence deserves slightly longer than 10 minutes in the sin-bin? A blue card when a referee thinks a player's language is a bit too fruity? A pink card for all backs wearing scrumcaps? A brown card to signify "I haven't a clue what happened here chaps and I'm off to the changing rooms to sob uncontrollably for the next 15 minutes"?


Monday, 20 February 2012

Are Wales really that good?

England may as well not bother turning up to play Wales at Twickenham next Saturday.

At least that's what most so-called expert pundits seem to think.

Former Welsh no.10 Jonathan Davies even goes as far as to say that the English pack will get smashed (and I assume that he doesn't mean that the English forwards will be out on the lash).

An English pack smashed by a Welsh pack at Twickenham? That'd be a first (and I remember the 70s).

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that Wales aren't favourites - they clearly are, and deservedly so - but the way certain sections of the media are building this Welsh team up is just silly.

A good team? Yes.

Unbeatable? Hardly.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Le Farce

Rugby is treating its paying customers with contempt.

The postponement of France vs Ireland last Saturday was the right thing to do - quite rightly player safety was prioritised.

The problem, however, was in the scheduling of the match. A kick off time of 9pm local time in mid-winter in a city where cold weather is hardly unprecedented, was spectacularly stupid. Huge numbers of travelling fans, both French and Irish, were left massively inconvenienced as well as out of pocket.

So, when rescheduling the game, a Saturday afternoon kick off was the obvious choice, allowing supporters to travel to and from the game with minimal disruption.

It comes as no surprise to learn that the obvious solution has been ignored.

Sunday 4th March at 4pm is when the powers that be have decided to re-schedule the match. Not only will this mean that I will miss the game on TV as I'm taking my kids to the X Factor Live Tour (yes, I know),  the revised kick off time effectively forces anyone who wants to travel to see the match (who may already have wasted a small fortune travelling last weekend) to take the following Monday off work. Incroyable.

There are ticket refunds on offer for those unable or unwilling to splash the cash for a second time. Big deal.

You really couldn’t make this stuff up.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Good weekend/ Bad weekend - 6N 2012 Round 2

GOOD WEEKEND

Alex Cuthbert

The new George North (and, again, not bad for an Englishman :) )

Lee Dickson & Ben Morgan

Game changers for England.

Italian RFU

Well done for getting the game on.

Graham Gedge

Best performance in round 2 in the TF Premier League, although not quite enough to dislodge yours truly from the top of the table.

BAD WEEKEND

Ben Foden

Oddly indecisive throughout Italy match, culminating in mad 5 minutes before half time. Will bounce back.

Ben Youngs

Could whoever has kidnapped Ben Youngs and replaced him with this muppet please let us have the real Ben back please.

Roman Poite

Completely ruined Stuart Hogg’s debut by spotting a knock on where none existed.
Six Nations organising committee

9pm start in Paris for the benefit of the TV audience backfired spectacularly when the game was called off just before kick off.  As you sow so shall you reap.


TF Team of Round 2

1.A.Corbisiero  2. L. Ghiraldini 3.D.Cole  4.R.Gray 5.R.Jones  6.D.Lydiate 7.R.Rennie 8.T.Faletau 9.L.Dickson 10.R.Priestland 11.L. ½p 12.J.Roberts 13.T.Benvenuti 14.A. Cuthbert 15.S.Hogg

Saturday, 11 February 2012

The Caretaker

Following the resignation of Fabio Capello as manager of the England football team earlier this week, it has emerged today that the FA are giving serious consideration to the possibility of appointing a caretaker coach to lead the English team to the Euro 2012 tournament this summer.

With bookmakers' favourite Harry Redknapp unlikey to accept a part-time role and despite the FA's announcement that Stuart "Psycho" Pierce will take charge of England's friendly against Holland later this month, this blog can exclusively reveal that the man the FA now want to lead England’s Euro 2012 is none other than Arnold Rimmer lookalike, Stuart Lancaster.

Lancaster is currently England Rugby’s interim head coach but, unless results in this year’s Six Nations dictate otherwise, is unlikely to be offered a permanent position by the RFU. Insiders at the FA, however, confirm that they have been very much impressed by Lancaster’s “back to basics” approach and believe that his no-nonsense style would help transform the fortunes of England’s overpaid and pampered footballers as well as curb any off-field excesses.

Lancaster is said to be intrigued by the prospect and already has plans to select the Euro 2012 squad largely from seasoned pros from League 2 and the current England Under 16 squad, hold a pre-tournament training camp on Ilkley Moor and commission motivational presentations from John Prescott, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Mike Tindall.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Italian Job

I've just read a quite superb preview of England's chances against Italy tomorrow, written by some bloke who can only be described as some kind of rugby genius.

For inspirational enlightenment click here.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

With friends like Andy...

So, after a calamitous Saturday afternoon against the Auld Enemy, Scotland's Dan Parks decides to retire from international rugby and his head coach, Andy Robinson, calls it "the right decision" despite having selected Parks for a must-win match a matter of days before.

Thanks for the support, boss.

Knockout!


Congrats to Sonny Bill Williams who now holds the much-coveted New Zealand Professional Boxing Association heavyweight championship belt after he knocked out American Clarence Tillman in the first round of their title bout.

Now, I'm not entirely sure how you become the New Zealand heavyweight champion by beating a rather portly American, but there you go - I'm sure the Klitschko brothers will now be quaking in their boots.

Monday, 6 February 2012

6N 2012 - TF Team of Round 1



1. A.Corbisiero 2. R.Best 3. A.Jones 4. M.Botha 5. P.Pape 6. S.Ferris 7. S.O'Brien 8. L.Picamoles 9. M.Phillips 10. R.Priestland 11. J.Malzieu 12. B.Barritt 13. J.Davies 14. G.North 15. R.Kearney

Good weekend/ Bad weekend

GOOD WEEKEND

George North

Immense. And not bad for an Englishman.

Stuart Lancaster

Has to be happy after that. Just wait until England start actually playing some rugby.

Louis Picamoles

Not many number 8s manage to eclipse Sergio Parisse. Picamol did.

ME!

Top of the TF Premier League. Thank you Jonathan Davies!

BAD WEEKEND

Andy Robinson

Fine coach. Pitiful selector. Frankly anyone who picks Dan Parks at 10 and Sean Lamont at 12 doesn’t deserve victory.

François Trinh-Duc

Two kick-offs failing to go 10m? Perhaps Lièvremont was right after all?

Dave Pearson

Yellow card for Bradley Davies? You're having a giraffe. Clearly a red.

Wayne Barnes

Yellow card for Stephen Ferris? You're having a giraffe. Not even a penalty.

O flower of Scotland




O flower of Scotland
When will we see
You score a try?
Dan Parks' selection
And a nation asking why?
They're all against him (‘gainst who?)
Poor Andy Robinson
He's off to Cardiff
Tae think again

Friday, 3 February 2012

I bloody well love the Six Nations

Excitement. Unadulterated, irrational, gut-wrenching excitement. Every year it’s the same as the Six Nations approaches.

And this year it’s no different. Lest we forget, England go into the tournament as Six Nations champions but, the baby having been jettisoned alongside the World Cup bathwater, find themselves heading to Murrayfield (of all places) as deserved underdogs.

Meanwhile Wales travel to Ireland with not quite as many injuries as Gatland would have had us all believe, Ireland learn to live without deity in their midfield and France take on Italy with the novel approach of having picked a team of players all selected in their proper positions. Madness.

I bloody well love the Six Nations.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Just a bit of fun...


For anyone interested this is how my Fantasy XV will line up for this weekend's opening 6N round:

Front row: Hartley, Servat, Best
2nd row:   Pape, Gray
Back Row: Faletau, Parisse, O'Brien
Scrum Half: Yachvilli
Fly Half: Sexton
Centres: Barritt, Davies
Outside Backs: Clerc, Ashton, Bowe.

If you think you can do better (and can be arsed), pick your own team and join the TF Premier League (by entering  PIN: 11661).

No prizes other than a virtual pat on the back and bragging rights in perpetuity...