Monday, 31 July 2017

A question of discrimination

Back from my hols this weekend and slap bang into the row over the proposed culling of England Women's professional contracts by the RFU after the World Cup.

Look, the RFU can quite rightly point to the fact that they have led the way internationally with professional contracts for England's elite female players, that they have invested considerable sums in the women's domestic game of late, that the nature of the women's international game is cyclical - alternating between emphasis on the World Cup XVs and the Olympic VIIs - and that England's Women have been fully informed for some time of the RFU's plans.

The bottom line, however, is that the RFU would never contemplate treating England's elite male players in a similar way.

By its very nature the RFU's position on female professional contracts is therefore discriminatory.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Finishing Touch (2017)

And so another Touch summer season is at an end, with the finale played out yesterday evening in atrocious conditions.

In a winner-takes-all encounter, sadly Dave's Dad's Dog's Dead came off second best against my alter mater, Chairman's Choice - a shockingly poor first half against a fast and skilful team meaning we had way too much to do in a much improved second half.

So, runners-up it had to be - which we would probably have taken after our two defeats in the first two weeks in the competition - and, for a team with a fair sprinkling of old men and women more often than not up against against fit, young twenty-something men, I think we can be quite proud of our collective efforts.

Personally my contribution felt somewhat negligible. I wasn't terrible, but neither did I feel that I brought much to the party this year, a basic lack of fitness (and speed) being my main downfall. Fitness is something I can fix but, at 52, my pace is but a distant memory.

It was, nevertheless, a hugely enjoyable couple of months and it's only a shame that we must now wait another 10 months before the 2018 Chesham Touch season clicks into gear. My mission (should I choose to accept it) is therefore to find a way to play the game all year round somehow.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Lions 2017: Postscript



Well, well, well.

Any sane British/Irish rugby fan who had been offered a drawn series against the All Blacks two months ago would have taken it without hesitation.

Given how utterly impossible the task looked on the back of an entirely inadequate preparation period and a seemingly brutal playing schedule, what this group of players and coaches (and yes, I’m admitting I was wrong about Warren Gatland) has achieved is nothing short of remarkable.

And yet, and yet…

What is bleedingly obvious is that for the Lions concept to continue to flourish (and it’s been obvious from the legions of fans travelling down under and the way the Kiwis embraced the tour that it is a concept treasured by the rugby public), the decision to reduce future Lions tours to only 8 matches needs to be reversed.

In New Zealand the Lions achieved the impossible with one arm tied firmly behind their backs. To further handicap future tours is not only unfair, it also puts the whole concept at risk. After all, who will want to play for or coach a team that is recklessly being set up to fail?

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Oh, Maro Itoje!


This man received a 4/10 (!!) rating from the New Zealand Herald for his immense performance in today's 2nd Test victory in Wellington.

Perhaps the NZ press and public could learn a thing or two from the humility and good grace showed by All Blacks skipper Kieran Read - a class act both on and off the field of play.