- It was only a matter of time before prima donna ref Steve Walsh hit the headlines again. The exhibitionist whistle-blower has, allegedly, been accused of being drunk at a morning session of the SANZAR conference for coaches and refs early this month in Sydney. Apparently the matter is now an employment issue between Walsh and the NZRFU. It's hardly the first time that Walsh has been in hot water - at the 2003 World Cup he was suspended after squirting a water bottle at English fitness trainer Dave Reddin during an argument during the England v Samoa pool game, while in 2005 he was suspended by the IRB after verbally abusing British Lions winger Shane Horgan during the Taranaki tour match. A case of three strikes?
- Some very sad news from New Zealand with the sudden death of former All Blacks John Drake at the age of 49. Drake was member of the New Zealand team who won the 1987 World Cup and reports suggest that he collapsed and died of a heart attack while cleaning his swimming pool. 49 is way too young an age to go and is a stark reminder of our mortality. My thoughts are very much with his family.
- On a lighter and somewhat bizarre note, new Glasgow rugby "sensation" Ruaridh Jackson has revealed how his "fury" at a verdict on the TV talent show the X Factor prompted him to produce the best performance of his life last week in the Heineken Cup group match against Bath. The 20 year old rookie has admitted it was the decision to evict his X Factor favourite Diana Vickers (who, as it happens, was also my favourite) on last week's show that fired him up to produce his best rugby. For the return fixture today Bath are praying that Jackson is not suitably outraged by the decision of the BBC to allow all three couples through to the final of Strictly Come Dancing.
- Could Dean Richards be the first head coach to win the Heineken Cup with 2 different clubs? After his successes with Leicester, it looks very much like he's putting together a more than half decent outfit at Harlequins. After their battling back-to-back wins over Stade Francais, which leave Quins unbeaten in four Heineken Cup games this season and only one win away from the quarter-finals, I'd certainly give them a fighting chance of going all the way to the Final this season.
- And finally... your roving reporter found himself at a booze-filled Twickenham this week for the Varsity Match. With the wine flowing shortly after 11.00 am before a hearty lunch, there then followed a surprisingly entertaining match - made exciting largely by the decision by the Cambridge right winger to make tackling optional, especially when faced with his opposite number who helped himself to 3 first half tries. The problem was solved in the second half by the Cambridge pack who evidently decided that the best method of defence was to keep the ball. The tactic worked as the beer flowed and the Light Blues hauled themselves back into contention before just coming up short, going down 29-33. For many this game remains an anachronism but to the players (unless you happen to be an All Black hooker) it is THE most important game of their lives and for me it's a chance to catch up with some old (and getting older) faces and drink myself silly.
Sunday, 14 December 2008
That was the week that was...
A quick(ish) trawl through a few rugby bits and bites that caught my eye this week...