Wednesday, 31 December 2014

The Total Flanker Awards 2014

The live broadcasting rights having been sold off at exorbitant rates to a major media corporation, welcome one and all to edited highlights of the 8th Annual Total Flanker Awards ceremony.

Yes time, once again, to rejoice in the achievements of those that have impressed, offended or otherwise come to our attention during the past 12 months.

And so, without further ado…

The first award tonight is the The Total Flanker Might This Be A Game Changer? Award. And the winner is the England Women's Rugby team. World Champions this year, 20 players awarded professional contracts, BBC TV's Sport's Team of the Year and now Sarah Hunter and (Chesham RFC coach) Rocky Clark awarded MBEs - 2014 could prove to be a game changing year not only for women's rugby but also women's team sport in Britain.

Moving along, our second award of the evening is the Total Flanker Miracle Man of the Year Award. Step forward the CEO of the RFU, Mr Ian Ritchie. In pulling the stakeholders in the basket case that is European club rugby back from the brink of mutually assured destruction and in doing so  safeguarding the future of a European club competition, Mr Ritchie truly performed miracles.

Next up, the Total Flanker Riddle Wrapped Up In A Mystery Inside An Enigma Award. And this gong goes this year to the England midfield which has been baffling pundits and national coaches alike for over 10 years and is still no nearer to being decided, settled or effective. One of these days...

And so to our next award, the  Total Flanker Why Don't We Just Stick Our Heads In The Sand? Award. The winners this year are difficult to identify precisely, so let's just call them The Powers That Be. The reason? Well, let's just take as an example the arranging of England's 1st Test against New Zealand, one week after the climax of the English domestic season. Top players around the world are being flogged into the ground as commercial interests ride roughshod over player welfare. Something has to change…

The end is in sight now as we move swiftly on to the Total Flanker Biggest Anti Climax of the Year Award. This is an award very personal to me and goes to Rugby World Cup 2015, entirely because all  I was eventually successful in applying for were 2 tickets to see Japan v Samoa at Milton Keynes. Underwhelmed doesn't even begin to describe it.

Our final and probably most prestigious award is the Total Flanker Rant of the Century Award. Only one contender for this award. And I quote:
"I never want to speak with Cockers any more. I am the kind of guy that if I hate you, if you are not clear with me or if you have been a cunt, how you say in English, I never want to speak to you any more. That’s it. That’s how I am. I am not fake. If I hate you, I say in your face and I will never speak to you again. Love me or hate me. I don’t hate anyone. Peace and love. I just don’t like cunts."
Outstanding work, Martin Castrogiovanni.

And finally just a quick word to thank those of you who continue to read the garbage that I continue to produce. For various reasons the volume of my output has been a tad disappointing in 2014. A reduction in quantity often leads to increased quality but not, sadly, in this case. Thank you for your forbearance and I will endeavour to improve in 2015.

Happy New Year.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Play it again Sam

Only a superhuman effort by Sam Burgess will see him picked for the England RWC 2015 squad.

Then again, there are those who would have us believe that he is, indeed, superhuman.

Although sceptical of his chances, I would be delighted to be proved wrong and there is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that Burgess should be included in the England training squad for the forthcoming 2015 Six Nations. Stuart Lancaster has an obligation to leave no stone unturned in his efforts to produce as strong a team as possible for next autumn - and the best way for Lancaster and his coaches to assess the progress of Sam Burgess is to see him first hand.

The same goes for Steffon Armitage. I remain unconvinced by Armitage's claims to an England shirt and am fully behind the principle of excluding players from England duty if they are based abroad. Principles, however, can and should be set to one side for the next 12 months. Get him into the squad, have look and see if he's good enough...