Thursday, 22 February 2018

Six Nations 2018: Round 3 Predictions

Enough frippery.

Here are the TF Six Nations Round 3 predictions:

France v Italy

France's selection policy remains barking mad and I wouldn't have it any other way! Italy have a great chance here but, with the match being played in the hotbed of the Stade Velodrome on Friday night in Marseilles, I do see France shading this one by 3 to 6 points.

Ireland v Wales

Does the selection of Dan Biggar for Wales signal a return to Warrenball? Certainly the Welsh will need to improve their aerial game significantly to succeed in Dublin. This will either be very close indeed or a comfortable win for Ireland. I suspect that latter.

Scotland v England

Every 2 years we're told that Scotland will send the English homeward tae think again and very occasionally it does happen, but not to this English team. I expect England's tight five to impose themselves and the "finishers' to wrap this one up. England by 9-12.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Elementary, my dear Haskell...

It’s fair to say that this blog has somewhat taken the piss out of James Haskell from time to time – and the fact that he has been more than happy over the years to put his “Brand Haskell” head above the parapet does make him something of an easy target.

As his career has progressed, however, and with his renaissance as an international rugby player under Eddie Jones, there is little doubt that both this blog and the English rugby public in general have warmed to The Hask and I fear he’s right when he states that the game is beginning to run out of characters like him.

As if to emphasize the point, Haskell’s girlfriend, Chloe Madeley, has apparently recently let slip that the England flanker is obsessed with Sherlock Holmes and has written a novel which he plans to publish when he retires.

Which, however improbable, must be the truth…

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Toon, Toon, Black & White Army!

Long time readers of this blog will know that I am no fan of the new-fangled, tight-fitting, multi-coloured, sponsor-laden monstrosities which purport to be rugby shirts these days and yearn for  the thick, heavy cotton, warm and comforting garments of bygone days.

That said, may I express my 100% support for the decision of Newcastle Falcons to wear a special edition black and white striped shirt when they play Northampton in 'The Big One' at St James' Park on Saturday 24th March in aid of the My Name'5 Doddie Foundation.

Not only will profits from the game and sales of the shirts go to a fantastic cause - research into Motor Neurone Disease (MND) (with which Newcastle and Scottish legend Doddie Weir was diagnosed last year) – as a long time (and long-suffering) follower of Newcastle United, how could I possibly object to the Falcons sporting the iconic black and white stripes at the “Cathedral on the Hill?”

I mean, what’s not to like?

(Please click here for for more information on the My Name'5 Doddie Foundation).

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Sad news

Very sad to hear the news this week that Graham Mead, who coached me as a member of the Peterborough Colts team from 1980-83, has passed away after a short illness.

A softly-spoken, humble and thoroughly decent man, Graham gave up huge amounts of his time to coach us. He also asked me to captain the team in the 1982-83 season, so clearly was also a man with impeccable judgement :)
Peterborough RUFC Colts 1980-81
RIP Graham.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Six Nations 2018 - Belated Round 2 Verdict

Quite a weekend of 6 Nations rugby to reflect upon...

Sergio Parisse (who was uncharacteristically crap in Dublin on Saturday) claims that Ireland are better than England. That may be so, but the Italians still managed to score 3 tries against Ireland who, although impressive in parts, are not without their issues. Still, a predictable rout and bonus point for the Irish.

To Twickenham where, according to some, Wales were robbed. This despite being comfortably outplayed for at least three quarters of the game by an English team that really should have been out of sight by the hour mark. The fact that they weren't probably explains Eddie's irritability.

And finally Murrayfield, where Scotland eventually discovered that there is no substitute for doing the basics well and where French indiscipline proved costly. And where Finn Russell was replaced at fly half by a scrum half, which tells you all you need to know about his performance.

TF Team of the week:

15. Mike Brown 14. Teddy Thomas 13. Huw Jones 12. Owen Farrell 11. Johnny May 10. Gareth Anscombe 9. Greg Laidlaw 1. Mako Vunipola 2. Rory Best 3. Simon Berghan 4. Joe Launchbery 5. Johnny Gray 6. Peter O'Mahon 7. Sam Underhill  8. Ross Moriarty

Friday, 9 February 2018

What the hell, Eddie?

On the face of it, yesterday's rant by Eddie Jones was, at best, ill-advised.

Questioning the "bottle" of young Wales fly-half Rhys Patchell is one thing, but to then cast doubt on the integrity of Welsh skipper, legend and all round good guy Alun Wyn Jones is another thing entirely and must surely fire up the Wales team even further for tomorrow's encounter at Twickenham.

Unless, of course, that's what Eddie wants...?

Une Certitude Bleue - Part Deux

You have to hand it to France coach Jacques Brunel - he has fully bought in to the methodology of the chaos theory with his latest team selection.

Having selected a 19 year old rookie at 10 to face Ireland last week, this week he recalls 32 year old Lionel Beauxis to play fly half against Scotland, a player who last played for France in the 2012 Six Nations (when he featured prominently in this blog's Six Nations Chumps XV).

He also drops Kevin Gourdon, probably France's best forward over the past 12 months, and recalls Louis Picamoles, France's most effective ball carrier for the last 10 years, to take up a place on the bench.

If such eccentricity wasn't enough, rumours that Brunel plans to call up Serge Blanco (59), Jean-Pierre Rives (65) and 74 year old Walter Spanghero have yet to be denied by the FFR.

Vive la France!

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Six Nations 2018 - Round 2 Predictions

Here are the Total Flanker predictions for week 2 of the 2018 Six Nations with the proviso that, the author having proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is no Nostradamus, no liability whatsoever will be accepted for any losses suffered by any eejit stupid enough to rely on what is about to follow...

Ireland v Italy

Conventional wisdom suggests that Italy have two hopes in Dublin - Bob Hope and No Hope. And Bob Hope is dead. Ireland weren't great against France but should win comfortably enough here. The question is whether they have enough firepower to secure the bonus point and I think the answer is probably, yes.

England v Wales

So a confident Wales, deservedly buoyed by their victory over Scotland, cross the Severn and come to Twickenham "not scared" - much like going on a bear hunt. I suspect that this is where the Welsh rookies will discover what Six Nations rugby is all about. England by 15+.

Scotland v France

Ah, Scotland, back wrapped up in their Murrayfield comfort blanket and with their psychologist's words fresh in their minds, I'm guessing they fancy their chances against the chaotic French. I'm not so sure, however, that chaos won't prevail. France by 6.