Wednesday, 29 April 2009
Friday, 24 April 2009
Wednesday, 22 April 2009
- The make-up of the squad isn't a million miles away from the squad I predicted.
- Of particular interest are:
Bolts from the blue: (a) Keith Earls (Keith who?); (b) Alan Quinlan (better than Tom Croft? I think not); and (c) Leigh ½p.
Lucky blighters: (a) Shane Williams and (b) Andy Powell. Selected on form? My arse!
Sick as a parrot: (a) Tom Croft - made for the hard grounds of South Africa; (b) Delon Armitage - FAR more ability than Ugo Monye, for instance; (c) Ryan Jones - dumped on from a height by the Welsh management team; and (d) Scotland.
- In reality, of course, the squad announced is unlikely to be the squad that travels to South Africa - there's much rugby to be played in the next few weeks and the intensity of the latter stages of the Guinness Premiership and Heineken Cup is likely to throw up an injury or two.
- Even if this squad does travel to South Africa, how long before the victims of fired-up Boers - intent on wrecking the tourists' test chances - begin to trickle back to the UK on stretchers? Those on the reserve list may as well set up camp in the Heathrow departure lounge.
- In any event, no matter what team the Lions are able to field, the chances of success for what is essentially a scratch team against the World Champions in their own backyard is negligible. Why, then, am I so psyched up about this tour?
Saturday, 18 April 2009
Chesham, my current club, have had what might be described as a very "solid" season. Starting slowly, they lost their first 8 matches before rallying mid-season to put together a 6 match winning streak and stave off the threat of relegation. A playing staff made up largely of teenagers and 30-somethings (and perhaps the odd 40-something) has eased the team comfortably into in 6th place in Berks/Bucks & Oxon 1 North and represents steady progress on last season's efforts. Chesham finish the season with a home fixture against Aylesbury 2nds today, a match they should win.
As for the Vets, having won our last fixture 3 weeks ago I think we have to conclude that the season has been a success. Having said that, I'm a tad miffed that our fixture today against Beaconsfield 3rd XV was called off. I've been nursing a sore achilles through the last couple of weeks so that I could play one last game of the season for the Vets so I was more than disappointed to hear that the game was off, especially given that I'd also forsaken the chance to play in a charity match at my old club Barnes in order to turn out for my team.
Nevertheless, six fixtures in total represents two more than last season and I must say I've thoroughly enjoyed my second season back in the game. I'm far more comfortable in what I'm doing, my confidence has been high, my defence is much improved on last year and I've even chipped in with a few tries late in the season. All I need now is to get my fitness levels up and my weight down (the two are just possibly related) for next season. And if anyone knows where I can purchase a bucket-load of pace, please let me know.
Barnes, meanwhile, have had a storming season in London 1, and trail leaders Shelford on points difference only. They play Luton today, needing a huge win to overhaul the leaders and with the best will in the world it's a huge ask. Nevertheless, 2nd in London 1 is nothing to sniff at and they should, at the very least, get a crack at winning promotion to the National leagues via a play off. Given that they were in Surrey Division 2 in my first full season in 1991-1992 the progress they've made as a club is just fantastic.
Just as impressively, if not more so, with two fixtures remaining Ealing sit 2nd in National 3 South behind London Scottish. I'm not sure how many teams go up to National 2 this season (if any, given that there appears to be yet another re-organisation on the cards) but the club (who were in the old National 4 when I first joined back in the late eighties) certainly occupy their highest league position and hopefully, with a tough away fixture at Rosslyn Park (how the mighty have fallen) today, can maintain their lofty status through to the end of the season.
Meanwhile Guildford (formerly Guildford & Godalming) - for whom I played in 1986-87 - sit 3rd in London 3 SW. After two successive relegations this represents something of a success and at the very least steadies the boat. With the top two in the division, Chichester and Wimbledon, clashing today, an away win for Guildford at Effingham & Leatherhead could see them end the season in 2nd place, a creditable finish.
Finally Peterbrough, where I started my club rugby career, face Longton today and are currently 5th in Midlands 1 - almost, but not quite, challenging for promotion. Again this represents an improvement on last season and it's good to see the club going so well. In checking out their website I noticed that not only did Benny Lee - a teacher at my old school - turn 70 last year, but that he also played in a Veterans rugby match at Peterborough to celebrate the occasion. Benny was a pretty handy backrow forward in his day, as I recall, and was largely responsible for starting my school's first ever 1st XV when I was in the sixth form. I only wish I'd known about the match last year as I'd have loved to have played a part. I guess I'll gave to wait for his 80th!
Well, that's it. Although there's talk of another Vets match being organised before the season closes I suspect that it won't happen and that the season is, in fact, over. I'll look back on this one with some satisfaction - I'm just pleased that I've managed to get through another "bonus" season more or less in one piece!
Friday, 17 April 2009
Wednesday, 15 April 2009
Wednesday, 8 April 2009
Tuesday, 7 April 2009
Yesterday, however, I received something a bit different from Nicolás Murillo on behalf of Vigo Rugby Club in Spain.
Entitled "A MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE FOR JONAH LOMU" the press release was from the 'infantile and cadet category' (which I interpret to mean the junior section) of Vigo Rugby Club who have written to Mr Lomu to explain the economic difficulties that the club is currently experiencing, difficulties that threaten its very existence.
The aim of the letter is that it reaches Mr Lomu in Auckland via the six degrees of separation theory that holds that we are connected to any person in the world through a chain of 6 interpersonal acquaintances. The letter, which has been placed in a bottle, is currently on its way to Dublin in the possession of ex-Malahide player and current Vigo resident Joe Scully.
The message isn't a begging letter, but it is hoped that the support of Jonah Lomu and the publicity generated by this innovative and unusual campaign, will raise funds which will help the club to survive.
I'm more than happy therefore to publish the text of the letter below:
The progress of the bottle can be tracked through the websites of both the Club - ww.vigorugby.com - and the Communication Consultancy Torres y Carrera - http://www.torresycarrera.com./
To Jonah Lomu
Legend of All Black
We are writing to you this letter because you are the best rugby player of all time for us and because, in the hard moments we are going through, you are our role model.
We are the infantile and cadet players of the Vigo Rugby Team. Vigo is an industrial city of the Atlantic coast of Spain. There are not many fans by our sport here, but as you will know, when the passion for rugby arouses oneself, it is all the same there were many or few people on the terraces.
That´s why you will understand that, in normal conditions, playing rugby here is not easy. But now, with the economic crisis, the situation has turned worst. The unemployment grows around us, the companies close down and the horizon looks
This situation affects us especially because we live it in our families also in the team surroundings. This year we start the competition without sponsors. Those we had have just gone because their situation has got worse. Finally we have been able to jump on the pitch once again thanks to the veterans of the team that have got involved and have afforded us the money.
As you will see, we don´t have a lot of reasons for being happy, but we have one to continue fighting: the rugby. Our trainer always insists on the fact that it is necessary to fall in order to learn to stand up. And that is what we do everyday… and the trick we use to stand up faster and in a stronger way is thinking on legends of our sport like you are, running and crushing your adversaries. Jonah you are the best.
And that is all. We don´t want to write a letter to cry. This is a fighting message, to don’t give up. We greet you, Jonah, with the hope for being, some day, so strong as you are, physically and minded.
Best wishes from all the infantile, cadet and training schools of the Vigo Rugby Club.
Monday, 6 April 2009
No doubt the front row will come under huge pressure and it could be a baptism of fire for the likes of Corbisero and/or Wilson - but there's plenty of opportunity here for Johnson to develop a few younger players whilst maintaining a degree of continuity from the 6 Nations.
Sunday, 5 April 2009
Saturday, 4 April 2009
However, a quick check on the date of the story - 16th March - shows that it is either a very early prank or an extremely elaborate hoax. Or perhaps it's true.
Whatever the veracity of the story, it is claimed that Nottingham RFC's recent National Division One clash with Exeter at Meadow Lane was watched by an an extra 1,000 inflatable fans provided by a local company who specialise in enhancing crowd scenes for films and TV.
The company had apparently spent hours blowing up and dressing up the "supporters", who sat in the Family Stand, attempting to make them look indistinguishable from the normal fans. The idea was that the presence of an extra 1,000 inflatable "people" in the crowd would encourage more supporters to come and cheer on their local team.
I'm not so sure about how that might work - unless the inflatables start paying for tickets - but, you never know, this might just catch on. Who knows, it might not be too long before teams employ inflatable players (a cunning ploy, perhaps, to circumvent the salary cap) - although to be honest in some some cases I reckon it would be nigh on impossible to spot the difference.
Wednesday, 1 April 2009
O’Neill, a fanatical supporter of the ELVs, has apparently reacted badly to the news that the maul is to be reinstated and that his beloved sanctions law is to be parked.
“He was expecting the usual battle with the Luddites in the Northern Hemisphere,” said an Australian rugby insider. “But when the South Africans started to turn against him John really began to lose it.”
It is understood that, rather than seek compromise, O’Neill demanded further ‘improvements’ to the game in an effort to make it a more TV-friendly spectacle including the introduction of four periods of play (or “quarters”), allowing the ball to be passed forward, full body armour for the players, rolling substitutions, specialist kickers and spectacular half-time entertainment.
“The rest of the world don’t appreciate the pressure John’s under from Rugby League and Aussie Rules,” the ARU insider said. “He needs to deliver something unique for our TV audience.”
When it became clear, however, that even the New Zealand Rugby Union would not support these new proposals, O’Neill is said to have stormed out of the summit and it later emerged that the ARU have been in secret discussions for months with the NFL to establish franchises in ACT, New South Wales and Queensland – franchises that would swallow up the Brumbies, Waratahs and Reds organisations. The new franchises would compete against the likes of the Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers in the NFL next season.
“It makes sense financially,” confirmed the ARU insider. “The TV revenue alone would be enormous and will give us the fiscal muscle to compete with the other sports in this country. We might even consider including the NRL in future discussions.”
When asked about the fate of the Western Force the ARU insider is reported to have replied:
“Who gives a f**k about those drongos.”
The conference’s recommendations will be voted on by the IRB next month.