Sunday, 25 May 2008

Congratulations

No, not to Russia for their highly questionable Eurovision Song Contest victory - I'm with Wogan on that one - but to the following highly deserving recipients this weekend:

  • Congratulations to Munster on winning the Heineken Cup for the 2nd time in three years. If I'm honest I must admit that didn't think they'd be good enough to win it this year - but, once again, Munster proved to be masters of playing to their strengths and preventing teams from exploiting their weaknesses and to see off a club like Toulouse in the final with a certain amount of comfort is no mean feat.

  • Congratulations also to England's women. Not only did they win the Six Nations and Grand Slam for an unprecedented third time on the bounce in March, they followed that up with winning the European Championships this weekend in Amsterdam. Furthermore, having already won the Amsterdam Sevens last weekend they beat the Aotearoa Maori in a one-off exhibition match at the London Sevens at Twickenham today, inflicting a second defeat in as many weeks on the New Zealand women who had previously gone nine years unbeaten (click here for more details).

  • And finally congrats must also go to Bath for their European Challenge Cup win against Worcester. It had looked as if Bath might end up empty-handed this season but this win is just reward for them playing some great stuff this season. I'm particularly pleased for Steve Borthwick - a player I've always thought very highly of but who doesn't appear to be particularly rated by many journalists. The important thing about Borthwick, though, is that he's hugely respected by his peers for his consistency and his professionalism - qualities that will, I'm sure, stand him in good stead for his stint as England skipper. He's also as hard as nails - not in an obvious Rambo-esque kind of way perhaps but, if you've any doubts as to his toughness, there's a piece in today's Sunday Telegraph that recounts how Borthwick once ruptured a testicle on a Saturday, had the operation to fix it on Tuesday and was back playing again by the weekend... thus setting a benchmark of bravery at Bath when any injury in training or during a game was assessed as follows: "Burst a bollock, have you? No. Well, get up and play on then."

5 comments:

Matt @ Green and Gold Rugby said...

You forget the biggest one TF - congrats to the Waratahs for making it to the Super 14 final!

Total Flanker said...

Sorry Matt - I mostly comment on Rugby Union as opposed to the game you lot play down under :)

Nursedude said...

Hey TF, I thought Munster executed their game plan very well-after absorbing some serious punishment from Toulouse the first 20 minutes. I also thougt they did a better job of keeping their cool. Fabien Pelous cost his side dearlly with the stupid yellow card he took for his school boy kick in the but against a Munster Player, as well as drawing a penalty late in the game where O'Gara punished the men men from Southwest France.

Bath played a heckuva game against Worcester. I was glad to see Bath get SOMETHING out of this season. I am looking forward to Leicester-Wasps next weekend. I hope(and predict) that the team from the Midlands will win the final.

Nursedude said...

PS- In looking at the comments by Ellisalde and Noyes in "L'equipe", I cannot believe the amount of whining from a team that thought had a little more class...Munster won the game fair and square. For all of Toulouse's ball work in the first 20 minutes, they had 3 points, a missed penalty and a missed drop from Ellisalde to show for all of that "Champagne Rugby". The fact that Toulouse was also done in by the lack of discipline from an experienced player like Fabien Pelous. For Toulouse to complain about Munster winning ugly ring hollow, indeed.

Total Flanker said...

Dead right Nursedude. I also get pissed off when tight and intense games like this are labelled "boring" - the inevitable conclusion being that the Northern Hemishere produces dull rugby and the laws therefore need changing.

Finals - in any sport - are rarely played to the highest quality simply because there'e a huge amount of pressure and so much riding on the result. It's usually more a question of which team holds their nerve and takes their chances. To judge an entire sport (or a particular hemisphere's approach to that sport) based on the aesthetics of one or two matches is just imbecilic.