Thursday, 20 September 2018

Pull the other one, Eddie

Eddie Jones' comment that Danny Cipriani has been left out of the 36 man England training squad announced today "100%" on rugby grounds is, at best, disingenuous.

Let's be honest, I've long been critical of Cipriani's off-field antics and, fair enough, I could comfortably get behind a decision to leave him out of the squad for behaving like a wazzock.

But for Jones to claim that Cipriani is currently only England's "third or fourth choice" fly-half is, quite frankly, utter nonsense given the Gloucester outside-half's spectacular early season form and the fact that he is (or was) England's incumbent no.10.

The decision, and the reasons given for it, does the credibility of Eddie Jones amongst England rugby followers (and, surely, amongst the squad) no favours whatsoever.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

England's Women going full time...

Delighted by the news this week that the RFU have finally seen sense and have decided to reintroduce professional contracts for the England Women's 15-a-side team from 1st January 2019.


Twenty-eight full-time deals will be awarded plus seven elite player squad agreements. 

Not before time.

The move represents something of a u-turn from the previous policy of only paying the 15-a-side team on a match by match basis, full time professional contracts having been cancelled following last year's Women's World Cup.

Now all the RFU need to do is prioritise the 15-a-side game (and use Sevens as a development pathway) for sense truly to be the winner...

ENGLAND APPOINT MITCHELL

The RFU has finally confirmed that the rumours are true - Phil  Mitchell has been appointed as England’s new defence coach until the end of Rugby World Cup 2019.

Mitchell will leave his role as general hard nut in Albert Square, Walford E20, to join Eddie Jones' squad ahead of England's November internationals. 


It's a joke that will never get old...

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Rugby? Gone soft? Don't be daft.

While I do have some sympathy with Leicester's Will Spencer's red card for a high tackle against Wasps on Sunday, the decision was ultimately the correct one.

There was no malice or intent in Spencer's tackle on Tommy Taylor - but it was a forceful shoulder-to-head tackle and the law is clear that such a challenge constitutes a red card offence.

To those whose knee-jerk reaction is that the game has "gone soft" - please - don't be daft.

Just take one look at the number of walking wounded at Premiership clubs after just 3 weeks of action.

Go on, ask Cornell du Preez (fractured larynx), Brad Shields (fractured cheekbone) or Olly Woodburn (broken jaw) whether the game has gone soft. Or ask former Leinster and Leicester flanker Dominic Ryan - forced to retire this month aged 28 after repeated concussions.

It is right and proper that World Rugby is attempting to address the increasing issue of head injuries by making players tackle lower - and if there are a few perceived injustices on the road to Damascus then so be it.

Monday, 17 September 2018

Rugby snippets from the weekend...



1. The All Blacks are human after all and still, it appears, reluctant to go for the drop goal.

2. No matter how crap the team you support are, hurling foul-mouthed abuse at players and pushing kids is never acceptable.

3. In Zach Mercer have England found the big, mobile ball carrying forward they so desperately need?

4. Joe Cokanasiga looks fairly handy on the left wing too.

5. And Henry Slade looks in fine fettle.

6. Another blooper from Ian Tempest - apparently a blatantly late tackle (Dan Cole) cannot be late if it occurs after a tapped penalty has been taken from the wrong place. Go figure.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

New inductees to the Hall of Wazzocks...

Congrats to Liza Burgess, Stephen Larkham, Ronan O’Gara, Bryan Williams and Pierre Villepreux - all of whom were inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame last week.

Congrats (kind of) also to the following characters who have been inducted into the Total Flanker Hall of Wazzocks:






For further details please click here...


Thursday, 13 September 2018

Twelve months to save international rugby?

This week’s warning from World Rugby’s vice-chairman Agustin Pichot that international rugby game is under threat should be taken seriously by all involved.

Pichot wants unions and clubs to agree a new 10 year global calendar before the 2019 World Cup in Japan – in other words, “Rugby I love you, but we only have 12 months left to save the game”. (Bonus points for spotting the movie reference there 😀).

The fact that Premiership clubs this week felt confident enough to turn down a £275 million takeover bid shows that the club game in the northern hemisphere is, at least on the face of it, in rude health.

Many international unions, however, are facing financial difficulty, and the steady drip, drip, drip of players from the southern hemisphere to the north is in danger of becoming a torrent – particularly if (as seems likely) further huge investments are made into the club game.

And let’s face it, any organisation investing vast sums into, say, the Premiership, is hardly going to be thrilled at the prospect of losing its key assets – the international players – for extended periods of the season.

It’s therefore easy to understand Pichot’s fears that the international game is in jeopardy. And yet, conversely, international rugby remains the game’s showpiece and the club owners must know that the interest generated by the international game is ultimately what drives domestic rugby, both in terms of TV coverage and bums on seats.

In the middle of this, of course, are the players – pulled from pillar to post and flogged both physically and mentally by the game’s stakeholders pulling in opposite directions.

Pichot is right. It needs sorting out, and sooner rather than later.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

The sad, sad case of Marc Cecillon

Former French captain Marc Cecillon - perhaps best known in England for being smashed in a tackle by Mickey Skinner in the 1991 World Cup Quarter Final - is apparently back in prison.

In 2004 Cecillon, who suffered problems with alcohol and depression following his retirement from the game, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for murdering his wife, having shot her 5 times in front of guests while drunk at a barbecue. He was released on parole in 2011.

Sadly it seems as if the demons are very much still there for the former "Quiet Man" of French rugby, having now been found guilty by a Perpignan court of assault, theft of a vehicle and drunk driving during a night of violence at a vineyard last month. 

Cecillon is subsequently serving 12 month jail sentence (with six months suspended).

We can only hope he now gets the treatment he so obviously needs...

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

By jove, I think he's got it

Although not a massive fan of meddling with the laws of the game, sometimes someone comes up with a proposed change in the laws that makes eminent sense.

On this occasion it is Ospreys head coach, Allen Clarke, who has put forward a clever idea to help create space amidst rugby's increasingly congested defensive lines.

Clarke suggests that if a player kicks the ball from inside his own half and the ball bounces into touch in the opposition's 22, the kicking side should be awarded the throw-in at the subsequent line out

To defend against this and prevent conceding a dangerous set-piece in its own 22, the defending team would therefore need to position its wingers deeper, thus reducing the numbers in the front-line defence, ergo creating more space for the attacking team.

Of course, a defence may still choose to push up to deny space, in which case the defending team may be vulnerable to the kick in behind and then having to defend a line out deep in its own territory.

The beauty of the proposal is its simplicity. And who knows, it might even work!

Monday, 10 September 2018

Wazzock of the week

Mathieu Bastareaud's disgraceful forearm smash on the prone Christophe Samson - in the weekend's clash between Toulon and Castres - was nothing short of assault and battery.

A lengthy ban must follow and in my humble opinion Bastareaud will be lucky if he escapes police action.

And following his ban earlier this year for on-field homophobic abuse, the current French captain's candidacy for the Total Flanker Hall of Wazzocks is now firmly established.