Tuesday, 29 September 2015

It's good but...

Following defeat to Wales, England players are apparently upset at comments by former England prop Bill Carling...

Monday, 28 September 2015


As an aside, I am 51 years old today. Woohoo. Happy birthday to me etc.

For my birthday present I have asked Stuart Lancaster to deliver a bonus point victory over Australia on Saturday.

I won't be holding my breath...

Whatever happened to TCUP?

Thoughts in the cold light of day, following initial feelings of betrayal and bereavement (yes, bereavement - I know, I know, I really need to get things in perspective!)…

Chapeau to Wales for a magnificent effort when reduced to the bare bones of a team.

Wales were, however, undoubtedly aided by a series of inept English decisions...from removing an utterly dominant front row from the fray, to taking off Sam Burgess with the Wales backline more or less on its knees, to deciding to kick to Wales and invite them to run it back, to blitzing in defence at entirely the wrong time, to not attempting to kick a kickable penalty at the death when 3 points down, to chucking the ball to the front of the ensuing lineout...the list goes on.

Ultimately, well done Wales, brilliant effort.

But whatever happened to thinking clearly under pressure?

Friday, 25 September 2015

Have a little Faith

A bit of light relief away from the increasingly unbearable tension ahead of the England v Wales match tomorrow as diminutive singer Paloma Faith is accused of ruining the Rugby World Cup.
There is, it seems, a petition on Change.org that reads as follows:

"We, the undersigned, request that you, ITV, remove Paloma Faith from the Rugby World Cup in order to make it a more enjoyable experience for all spectators."
Admittedly her rendition ‘World in Union’ isn’t great but ruining the World Cup? Hardly.

As the time of posting the petition is supported by a whopping 2,588 people. That’s 2,588 people out of a total average of 3.2 million people that watched the opening eight matches. Which, I think, says it all…

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

All hail Eddie Jones

Some interesting comments this week from Japan coach and recently-hailed rugby genius, Eddie Jones:
“Rugby now is a collision sport. World Rugby needs to find way to make it more fatiguing. There are various suggestions that need to be looked at. The ball needs to be in play for longer periods. 
“Look at the game of rugby. It's 80 minutes and sometimes the ball is in play for 27 minutes. The longer the ball is in play the more fatigued players are, the more fatigued players the more space there is.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Earlier this year I suggested that
one solution to the brutality of modern-day tackling was to speed up the game…

“…award free kicks instead of penalties for all but the most blatant of scrum offences, don't allow the selection of a scrum as a penalty or free-kick option, put a time limit on the completion of set pieces - anything to move the game away from the gargantuan gym monkeys currently dominating the game”

...echoing the views of Austin Healy a couple of years ago who suggested the need to make rugby more aerobic, forcing players to prepare accordingly and shrink in bulk, thus reducing the impact of collisions.

Who’d have thought…an old curmudgeon like me finds himself agreeing with the likes of Austin Healy and Eddie Jones…?

Monday, 21 September 2015

Total Flanker Approves


'Extinct' species spotted on South Coast

A species previously thought to be extinct was spotted on the South Coast this weekend.

A rare example of the the Japanese Lesser Spotted Hooker, last sighted around the turn of century, was seen by thousands of enthusiastic twitchers at the Brighton Community Stadium on Saturday.

The Hooker (named after its characteristic hooking motion it makes with its leg during scrummages in games of what is known as 'rugby') has been missing for several years, having been forced out of its natural habitat by a bigger, burlier species commonly known as the Prop, and by changes to the laws which has made its environment less habitable.

It would appear, however, that the Hooker is making something of a comeback, with it's trademark hooking motion allowing other species such as Half Backs to flourish. It is also rumoured that a Canadian strain of the same species was spotted in South Wales the same weekend.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Quite remarkable

To put Japan's victory over South Africa into context - it is only their second ever victory at a world cup.

Some are saying it's the biggest upset in RWC history. Scrap that - it's the biggest shock  in the history of international rugby and - given the disparity in resources between the top tier teams and the 2nd and 3rd tier nations in rugby - possibly the greatest upset in sporting history, ever.

Sadly I did not get to witness such a momentous event as I was stuck on a ridiculously slow train to Twickenham on my way to the France v Italy game.

As a game the Franco-Italian clash was poor. As an occasion it was quite magnificent, with HQ in the grip of a unique carnival atmosphere - clearly much has been learnt and applied from the Olympics - with French fans in particular in good voice.

One thing that never changes, unfortunately, is the chaotic nature of transport home from the stadium - a 2½ hour journey home meaning a very late night for me and TF Jnr...

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Whatever happened to the England scrum?

One thing is certain after last night's 35-11 victory over Fiji - if England scrummage like that against Wales and Australia they won't make it out of the Pool.

With all due respect to Fiji, the England scrum should never, ever creak against the Pacific islanders.

Good as he is in the loose, Tom Youngs' presence in the front row appears to have destabilised a scrum that comfortably held its own during the 6 Nations when Dylan Hartley occupied the no.2 shirt, and there was a marked improvement when Rob Webber replaced Youngs in the second half.

Time now for England forwards coach Graham Rowntree to earn his corn...

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Nothing to see here

In another non-story, the ticketing of the French team bus by a traffic warden while it was parked at a bus stop while the squad dined at a Croydon restaurant was not, according to a Council spokesman, “Croydon’s Revenge.”

Earlier this week the town, which is hosting the French squad, was described by French newspaper MetroNews as “sad and monotonous” and “pas très chic.”

I think it’s about time the rugby started.

Fuss about nothing

Proving that I am clairvoyant, we already have our first Haka controversy of this RWC.
No doubt you've seen the video doing the rounds showing former England scrum half Matt Dawson, together with members of the Battersea Ironsides Rugby Club, performing the "Hakarena" to promote a certain clothing company.

Predictably enough there has been reaction in New Zealand, with Sir Pita Sharples, former co-leader of the Maori Party, describing Dawson's effort as "pretty shameful" and "insulting."
Less predictably however (and, in truth, quite refreshingly), All Black hooker Keven Mealamu has described the video as "quite funny."
Spot on Kev - not original, far from hilarious, just quite funny - mildly, very mildly, amusing. 


Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Total Flanker Guide to Rugby World Cup 2015

So, with only 2 sleeps to go, here are a few things to look out for over the next six weeks:

- compulsory references to Pool A as the "Pool of Death"

- a continuing press obsession with Sam Burgess

- the words "dwarf" and "tossing" to make an appearance before loo long

- a controversy surrounding the Haka (again)

- a cracking game between Japan and Samoa at Milton Keynes (I’ll be there with TF Jnr)

- justifiable complaints about the playing schedule for smaller nations

- endless referrals to the TMO

- a French implosion, possibly involving Croydon?

- at least one of the Pacific islands causing an upset

- a cracking first Quarter Final at Twickenham (again, I’ll be there with TF Jnr)

- an England v Australia final (you heard it here first)

...Can't wait J

Monday, 7 September 2015

Our survey said...

According to a recent survey of 2,000 adults in the UK ahead of the Rugby World Cup:

- 86% said that they did not understand the offside rule in rugby;

- 23% did not know what role a hooker performs;

- 70% were unable to name a single member of the England squad;

- 43% did not know the duration of a rugby match; and

- only 43% knew that the ball has to be passed backwards (!!!).

I trust that the organisers have made sure that none of the above respondents have been sold RWC tickets J

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Wales go (experi)mental

It’ll be interesting to see how the new experimental scoring system being trialled in Wales this season will work out.

Wales' 2nd tier clubs – the likes of Llanelli, Cardiff and Newport – will adopt a system whereby 6 points are awarded for a try and 2 points for all kicks, including penalties and drop goals.

My guess is that this is likely to result in more penalties being kicked to touch and more driving mauls from lineouts in the opposition 22.

Whether that’s a good thing or not is debateable.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Almost famous...

All very exciting at Chesham Rugby Club where various players are the stars of a nationwide promotional campaign for the RFU to promote grass roots rugby and encourage new players.

Billboards featuring the players are appearing at mainline train stations and shopping centres nationwide - here's just a taster of what to expect:

Click here for more...