Friday, 30 November 2012

Bloody, Muddy...and back

Sorry, a bit behind the times here, but just noticed that Blood & Mud is back after the shortest-lived retirement since Oliver Reed said "You know what, I think I'll stick to mineral water."

Blood & Mud is therefore duly restored to the Total Flanker blogroll...happy unretirement and welcome back to the Blogosphere!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Tweet of the week...

...goes to Brian Moore for his comment on David Campese's somewhat ill-advised criticism of the Sydney Morning Herald for appointing a Sheila (sorry, couldn't resist) as its lead rugby correspondent:
Don't knock Campo, to be fair - he fell in love with himself early and has been faithful ever since.

England 17 New Zealand 8

No, not a prediction for Saturday (I’m not daft) but the result of the women’s international match yesterday evening which saw England’s women secure a series win against the world champion Blacks Ferns (with the final encounter of the 3 match series still to come on Saturday).

Well done girls/ ladies/ chaps (he says, hedging his bets on acceptable language).

Monday, 26 November 2012

Questions and answers

Question: Is all this criticism of Chris Robshaw justified?

Answer: Only insofar as he failed to slap Owen Farrell for dithering.

Question: Should Andy Robinson have resigned as Scottish coach?

Answer: Too right he should have…and good on him - it’s rare to see a coach take responsibility so readily for the abject performance of his players.

Question: Were Ireland brilliant or were Argentina crap?

Answer: A bit of both – Ireland do appear to have moved on into an exciting post-BOD and post-POC era but for Argentina it did look like one game too far.

Question: Why are the All Blacks so good yet so unloved?

Answer: Ask Andrew Hore.

Question: Which Welsh coach came up with the idea of a 13-man lineout?

Answer: Whoever it was, he’s a bloody genius!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Just say no

England's abomination of a change kit has, according to the RFU, accounted for 35 per cent of shirt sales to date this season.

There. You only have yourselves to blame. If you keep buying it, they'll keep selling it.


Fame at last!

Blimey... Will Carling (@willcarling) is now following me on Twitter! Fame at last! #rugbyroyalty


Never-ending Journey

England’s defeat (whilst looking bloody ridiculous in "regal purple") to an under-strength and supposedly demoralised Australia on Saturday shows just how far Stuart Lancaster’s team still has to travel on its seemingly never-ending journey.

Oh, for the halcyon days…

There, that's better!

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Siva Tau

I have to say that I feel sorry for Wales.

After all, they lost to Western Samoa in 1991, 1994 and 1999. How could anyone therefore reasonably expect them to beat the whole of Samoa last night?

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Tait and smile (sorry)

With apologies for the headline, it's great to see Mathew Tait back playing again.

Tait completed 80 minutes at fullback for Leicester against the Maori earlier this week – his first full 80 minutes since October 2011.

Although not particularly fashionable in this age of bish, bash, bosh centre play, I’ve always been a big fan of Tait’s almost Guscott-like ability to beat a man on the outside with no more than a swivel of the hips.

A particularly horrendous run of injuries has sadly seen Tait disappear entirely from the international radar but the bloke is still only 26 (believe it or not) and is overdue a bit of luck. Who knows, an injury-free period might even see him knocking on the England door again come 2015?

Lucky b******!

Far be it for me to suggest that New Zealand flanker Adam Thomson's one match ban for raking the head of Scotland's Alasdair Strokosch on Sunday might be seen as just a tad lenient.

The ban leaves Thomson free to face Wales and England later in the tour although, judging by the look on coach Steve Hansen's face at the time of the incident on Sunday, Thomson might just find himself holding tackle bags for the rest of the trip.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012


Don't you just love the build up to international rugby games?

Apparently Aussie hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau has declared that the Wallabies will "dominate" England's scrum in at HQ on Saturday. Australia. Dominate. Scrum. Really.

Meanwhile Digby Ione can't wait to play against England's "pretty" wingers. Chris Ashton. Pretty.

I'll have whatever the Aussies are drinking.

This could, of course, all come back to bite me on the arse. After all, according to Stuart Lancaster, there's no beast more dangerous than a wounded Wallaby. Apart from a wounded lion, or tiger possibly.

Monday, 12 November 2012

November Internationals Week 1 – very quick review

ENGLAND – Jury firmly out. Should know more after next weekend assuming the Aussies can put up more of a fight than Fiji (not guaranteed after the fiasco against France).

FIJI – lively in patches but lacked any semblance of a set-piece.

WALES – outthought, outplayed and outfought by Argentina. Strength in depth? My arse.

ARGENTINA – tough as ever but now also creative and clearly benefitting from playing in tournament formerly known as the TriNations.

IRELAND – how can 3 provinces individually be so mighty and yet collectively be so mediocre?

SOUTH AFRICA – not quite as mediocre as Ireland.

SCOTLAND – gutsy and resilient but blinked too often and every time they did so conceded a try.

NEW ZEALAND – ability to accumulate points so rapidly is what sets them apart.

FRANCE & AUSTRALIA – didn’t see it and haven’t seen any highlights but the score sort of speaks for itself, doesn't it?

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Man in the middle

Good luck to Glen Jackson who takes charge of his first Test match on Saturday when England take on Fiji at HQ.

Jackson, former Waikato, New Zealand Maori and Saracens fly half, was being touted as a possible England number 10 as recently as 2007 and has enjoyed a meteoric rise through the refereeing ranks since hanging up his playing boots a little over 2 years ago.

It’s great to see a former professional rugby player putting something back into the game in this way – and I’m sure he has certain insights into the game that other refs cannot possibly have.

All we need now is for a few former prop forwards to take up the whistle. They may not be able to keep up with play but at least we’d start to see scrummages refereed properly :)

Monday, 5 November 2012

At long last…

… William Wesley ‘36’ Twelvetrees has made the England squad, albeit as injury cover.

At six foot three and 16 stone plus with pace, great distribution off either hand and a very decent kicking game, Billy Twelvetrees is potentially the complete package at inside centre and is the closest thing to Will Greenwood that we’ve had for years.

The chances of him actually featuring this autumn are slim (given the perceived pecking order) but, as I have previously asked, what’s not to like?

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Welcome to Draconia

Quade Cooper’s fine of 60,000 Aussie dollars (with $20,000 suspended) by the ARU last week for bringing the game into disrepute appears to be, on the face of it, fair dinkum.

Fair dinkum, that is, until you consider that a chunk of the fine was for expressing his dislike of a computer game.

Admittedly the bulk of Cooper's fine was related his tweeted comments about the "toxic environment" of Robbie Deans’ Wallabies regime and how it was "destroying" him as a player and person.

However, $10,000 of Cooper's fine (that’s nearly £6,500 in real money) was for describing Wallabies Rugby Challenge, a computer game licensed by the ARU, as “the shittest” game.

On the whole I admit to having little sympathy with sports stars who take to Twitter with ill-informed opinions usually expressed before they have engaged what little grey matter they possess, but even I am struck by the utter absurdity (and dubious legality) of the ARU's punishment in this instance.

Obviously Cooper has had to take it on the chin to avoid completely torpedoing his career, but what kind of precedent does it set?

Forget Australia, Quade - welcome to Draconia.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Ashton out

Chris Ashton’s one match ban for receiving three yellow cards for acts of foul play in the Premiership this season means that he misses England’s first Autumn international against Fiji next week.

3 points:

1. Given his form in recent times, I seriously doubt he’ll be missed very much.

2. Stuart Lancaster could have ensured Ashton’s availabilty for the Fiji game by releasing him back to Saracens this weekend to serve his ban against Wasps. Good on him for not being so cynical.

3. Given that Ashton’s offences were all committed in the Premiership while wearing a Saracens shirt, shouldn’t it be his club that are punished rather than England? And the same applies vice versa – if an England player receives a hefty ban for committing foul play while on international duty, why on earth should his club suffer the consequences?