Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Collared!


Glory be!

A rugby shirt that looks like a rugby shirt.

A rugby shirt with a COLLAR.

All hail adidas!

(Now, if we could just lose that sponsor logo...)

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

What goes around...

...tends to come around.

Bryan Redpath's removal from being involved in team affairs at Sale, apparently to make way for John Mitchell, is laced with delicious irony.

Redpath, you may recall, resigned from his position as head coach at Gloucester in April, with 2 games remaining last season. Coincidentally (or not), a few days earlier Sale's CEO Steve Diamond had stated that all interviews for the position of Director of Rugby at Sale had been concluded. Diamond also insisted that no contact had been made with Redpath prior to his resignation but, lo and behold, who turned up at Sale in June?

So, now to John Mitchell, a coach whose previous tenure at Western Force in Perth came to an end under a cloud after he was investigated following complaints from senior players about his methods and who is currently suspended by his present employer, South Africa's Golden Lions, pending an investigation into player allegations of misconduct against him. Be careful what you wish for, and all that...

One thing's for sure - Mitchell "doesn't suffer fools gladly" - Mr Cipriani, you have been warned.

Monday, 29 October 2012

What's in a name?

So, the powers that be at the RFU are considering selling the naming rights to Twickenham to boost their coffers ahead of the Rugby World Cup in 2015.

What price on the Heinz 57 Arena?

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Kick Racism out of Rugby

Interesting piece in today's Telegraph about Slough prop Gavin Connor who claims he was racially abused in a Southern Counties North match v Milton Keynes recently.

This of course follows the somewhat more high profile debate about racism in professional football. Just because rugby is lower profile, however, doesn't mean that the issue is any less important.


The case against Milton Keynes was dismissed at a Bucks RFU disciplinary hearing because of a lack of evidence, but such is his dermination to heighten awareness about racism in rugby, Connor has set up a "Kick Racism out of Rugby" campaign.


Look, I don't know the bloke and have no idea whether he was racially abused or not. I also don't see racism as a major problem in rugby. The fact is, though, that any racism in the game needs to be stamped on and stamped on hard - and for this reason I'm more than happy to support Gavin Connor's campaign.


For more info check out the campaign's Facebook page.

Not a lot of people know that...

So, New Zealand missed out on equalling the world record of 17 consecutive international victories last weekend as they were held by Australia to a draw in Brisbane.

Or did they?

It turns out that, even had the All Blacks won, they would still have fallen 1 win short of the current record of 18 victories held by...wait for it...LITHUANIA.

Yes, little old Lithuania hold the record of 18 consecutive international victories, a run which began in May 2006 with a 23-17 away win over Hungary and ended with a 27–16 home defeat to Ukraine in May 2010. The 77–5 away win over Serbia on 24th April 2010 was Lithuania's 18th straight victory, overtaking the previous record set by New Zealand (1965–69) and South Africa (1997–98).

As Michael Caine may or may not have once said...not a lot of people know that.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Vultures

Fiji coach Inoke Male appears to be using Mako Vunipola’s call up to the England squad as an ideal opportunity for bandwagon-jumping, labelling England as "vultures."

According to Male, if you go to the Fijian secondary school championships you will see scouts from Australia, New Zealand and England “taking our young players like vultures”.

Somewhat conveniently Male won’t name names, but he says that players are being invited to the UK when they are 14 and by 17 are opting to play for England. Apparently there is one very talented 16 year old Fijian in particular who has now opted to play for England.

If that is in fact what is happening then it’s pretty disgraceful and the IRB needs to clamp down.

In the absence of names, however, I suspect that it’s bollocks.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Mako for England

Some interesting choices in England’s squad for the Autumn internationals, with uncapped forwards Mako Vunipola and Tom Youngs joining the squad alongside the returning Ugo Monye and James Haskell.

Vunipola’s selection is an especially bold one given that he’s still just 21 and no doubt, given his Tongan heritage, there will be those who claim that he is simply not English enough, despite the fact that he came to these shores as a youngster in 1998 and has graduated through the England Under 18s and Under 20s, much like Manu Tuilagi before him.

On the flipside, I’m a little disappointed with the selection of Monye ahead of, say, Jonny May. Nothing against Monye per se – he’s been in fine form by all accounts – but if England are to develop an attacking game to rival the best in 2015 it would have been great to see if the likes of May is up to the mark.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Fat Sam's Speakeasy...

Had to laugh at the recent assertions by West Ham manager, “Big” Sam Allardyce, that crticism of footballers is motivated by jealousy.

According to Allardyce… “a footballer kicks somebody, or does something that’s slightly untoward to the rules and it’s ‘lock them away, ban them for life’”.

Meanwhile “…nobody seems to highlight the fact that rugby players stamp on each others heads, gouge each others eyes, and that seems to be acceptable.”

I am not going to dignify Allardyce’s comments with a response – save to say that anyone who thought it was a good idea to sign Alan Smith and Joey Barton while manager of Newcastle United deserves no respect whatsoever.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Such a shame...

Back to being an old fogey traditionalist and in stark contrast to my last post, I must admit to being disappointed by the news that the iconic All Black shirt will now be adorned with a sponsor's logo.

It's such a shame that commercial reality has finally caught up with the All Blacks who, shirt manufacturer aside, had managed to keep their coveted shirt free from such vulgarity, unlike every other rugby playing nation.

I suppose we should congratulate them really for holding out for so long...

Thursday, 18 October 2012

RWC getting it right...

I’m intrigued by the news that South Leicester’s Member of Parliament intends to call for a parliamentary debate on the decision not to include Welford Road on the list stadiums under consideration for the Rugby World Cup in 2015.

The argument appears to be that Welford Road should be included for largely nostalgic reasons - as it has hosted games in previous World Cups and is the home to the “iconic” Leicester Tigers.

The counter-argument, from England Rugby 2015, is that the pitch is too small, the area around the pitch is too narrow and there is not enough space to accommodate the host broadcasters.

There also happens to be an alternative venue in Leicester – the horribly named King Power Stadium – which ticks all of the boxes and which has a greater capacity.

This may upset Tigers fans, but I’m with the organisers on this one. As evidenced by much of this blog, I am a huge supporter of nostalgia and tradition, but if the Olympics showed us anything it was that world class sporting events require world class venues.

England 2015 is right to think big. It has an opportunity to stage a truly world class tournament for which world class stadia with world class facilities will be needed.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Alive - 40 years on

Only just realised that last weekend (13th October) marked the 40th anniversary of one of the greatest survival stories ever – the crash in the Andes of a plane carrying Old Christians Rugby Club to a match in Chile.


The remarkable story of how the survivors of the crash kept themselves alive by eating the flesh of dead passengers is well known, having been immortalised in the movie Alive.

40 years on and it’s still an incredible story and fitting that the anniversary was marked by a match featuring veterans of the disaster against Old Grangonian, the team they were due to play on that fateful day in October in 1972.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Badgers!

Somewhat off topic, but this is the state of my back garden following an all-night rave by local badgers last night.

 A much-discussed badger cull is due to start this autumn in Gloucestershire. This may upset Brian May and other animal lovers but I'll be rounding up all the local badgers and buying each of them first-class train tickets to Gloucester.


Tuesday, 9 October 2012

The other is in the Albert Hall...

One of my birthday cards last month bore a caption along the lines of:

Football is a game played by men who roll around pretending to be injured. Rugby is a game played by men pretending not to be.

Never was this more amply demonstrated than by Paul Wood of Warrington Wolves who played on for 20 minutes in SuperLeague’s Grand Final against Leeds at the weekend with a ruptured right bollock.

Admittedly this was League and not Union but I am prepared to give credit where it’s due. Wood’s knacker apparently swelled to the size of a tennis ball before having to be removed in hospital that evening. Just writing about it makes me feel slightly nauseous.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Southern Comfort

Congrats to New Zealand, inaugural winners of the Southern Hemisphere’s Tournament formerly known as the Tri Nations (#) following their 51-14 win over Argentina at the weekend. It seems that the All Blacks are some way clear of the chasing pack at the moment (again).

As for Argentina – their progress has pretty much been the only point of interest in this tournament for this blogger and, although so far winless, by and large it appears they have been competitive and have fully justified their long overdue inclusion in mainstream international rugby. Good luck to them at home against the Aussies this weekend.

(#) – which marketing genius came up with the name “The Rugby Championship”? Crap name which, certainly up here in the north, carries with it connotations of a very much second-tier competition. Sometimes rugby does itself no favours.