Sunday, 31 December 2017

Total Flanker Awards 2017

It's New Year's Eve and ahead of the evening's main event may I welcome you, one and all, to the 11th Annual Total Flanker Awards ceremony, held this year at the swankiest of swanky virtual venues...

Yes, another calendar year has rushed by with indecent haste, bringing us once again to the time of year when we recognise and celebrate the highs, the lows, the ups, the downs, the ins and the outs of rugby in 2017.

Without further ado, first up this evening is the Total Flanker OK I May Have Got That Wrong Award. It's not as if I've never made a mistake before, but on this occasion I am referring to the fact that I had originally believed that the appointment of Warren Gatland as head coach of the British and Irish Lions in New Zealand was as uninspiring as it was doomed to failure. How wrong I was. Under Gatland the Lions performed way beyond expectations to secure a series draw despite a ridiculous and brutal schedule and totally inadequate preparation. Well done Mr Gatland.

Next up is the the Total Flanker Is this Real or Yet Another Case of the Emperor's New Clothes? Award. I'm referring, in this instance, to the Scotland rugby team under new head coach Gregor Townsend. Two victories this year over Australia, home and away, plus running the All Blacks close at Murrayfield and scoring a bucketload of tries would suggest the Scots are on an upward curve. Set against that, of course, is a defeat in Fiji and conceding a whole shedload of points at home to Samoa. Will the real Scotland please stand up. I guess the Six Nations will tell us more.

Moving along, our next award is the Total Flanker How Impossibly Stupid Do You Have to Be? Award. Several candidates exist for this award, you might think, but one candidate stands head and shoulders above the rest. Step forward Ospreys' hooker Scott Baldwin who missed his his team's Pro14 fixture against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein because he had been BITTEN BY A LION WHILE TRYING TO PET IT. Words fail me.

And so the Total Flanker Now That's How You Do It Award. No hesitation here, there can only be one winner and that is the Women's Rugby World Cup 2017a hugely successful tournament with sell-out crowds and plentiful live TV coverage throughout, culminating in a cracking final full of fast, skilful, dynamic, competitive and compelling rugby and worthy winners in the Black Ferns.

The penultimate award this evening is the Total Flanker Time To Put A Lid On It Award. This one, I'm afraid, goes to England coach Eddie Jones. Now, as big a fan as I am of Eddie and the job he has done for England over the last two years, isn't it time now to stop banging on about wanting to be the World's number 1 team and winning the Rugby World Cup? If anything, all this talk of "greatness" just smacks of insecurity as if he's trying to convince himself and his team and I can't help thinking that less talking and more concentrating on the here and now would be so much more beneficial.

And finally, last but by no means least we have the Total Flanker This Is What Rugby Is All About Award. For this award we head back to the Lions Tour of New Zealand this summer and salute those many Kiwi rugby fans who opened up their homes for free to accommodate British and Irish visitors to New Zealand, thus encapsulating the unique nature of this great game of ours and providing a fitting finale to this awards ceremony.

Yes, sadly our whistle-stop tour through 2017 is now at an end - leaving me only to say a HUGE thank you once again for continuing to indulge this blog and the regular drivel contained herein.
I wish you all a fantastic 2018...

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