Friday, 29 July 2016

No more Easter

News today that former England and Harlequins number 8 Nick Easter has retired from playing at the age of 73.

Easter won the first of his 54 England caps against Ireland in the 1980 Five Nations.

After a 20-year absence, Easter returned to international duty for the 2015 Six Nations and became England's oldest try scorer in the victory over Italy, aged 71.

Best wishes to Mr Easter in his new coaching role at Quins.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016


By all accounts the new 8 year, £225m deal between the RFU and premiership Rugby is "a good thing."

One possible exception, however, is that the much debated "exceptional circumstance" clause has now been set in stone.

 So now a player who does not play his club rugby in England will be only be considered for selection where the England team is suffering an injury crisis in his position ahead of playing a tier-one country. In other words it will never happen.

Apparently this was always the intention of the clause despite the fact it was never stated as such. Yeah, right.

I guess this is part of the price that Eddie Jones the RFU have to pay to get the access to players that they desire and I suppose at least it will stop the media clamouring for the selection of the latest flavour of the month player plying his trade abroad.

Shame about Sam Underhill though...

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Ian Ritchie: "We're all right Jack"

Comments from RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie that the Six Nations is likely to remain in its current February/March slot are a tad disappointing to say the least.

Bill Beaumont, head honcho of World Rugby (aka the artist formerly known as the IRB) had previously suggested that starting the tournament later to accommodate a global rugby calendar "could be a solution".

Ritchie, however, has adopted the "if it ain't broke" approach to the issue, commenting:

"Why would you want to change something that works really well?"

In other words, we're all right Jack, the rest of you can bugger off.

The point is not whether the Six Nations currently works or not (it does). The point is whether the moving of the Six Nations would help contribute to the overall goal of achieving a workable and sensible global professional rugby calendar, where player welfare is properly addressed, thus securing the future of professional rugby worldwide.

Ritchie's comments demonstrate the inherent self-interest that those seeking reform are up against. The last major reform in the game came with professionalism in the mid 90s but, given how long it look for rugby to be dragged kicking and screaming into the professional era, I won't be holding my breath for a solution to the question of a global calendar anytime soon.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

England Women rewarded

Some great news for England Women's Rugby with the announcement that professional player contracts will be awarded for the 15-a-side game for the first time this year.

A massive 48 player contracts will be awarded by the RFU for the 2016/17 season, a step up from the groundbreaking 20 contracts awarded following England's 2014 World Cup triumph. 

The fact that the contracts will no longer just be limited to Sevens players (as was the case previously) - is also hugely significant and will provide major encouragement for those players who, shall we say, perhaps might not be of the quick and nimble persuasion...

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Finishing Touch (2016)

Olé Olé Olé Olé ...

A sweltering July evening (the culmination of the hottest day of the year so far) saw Dave's Dad's Dog's Dead secure the 2016 Chesham Touch Premiership title for the 3rd year in succession, a thumping 25-4 victory meaning that we overtook the incumbent league leaders, Chairman's Choice,  on try difference.

With a record of Played 10, won 9 and lost 1 - with 148 tries scored, it was a great effort from the team with the oldies increasingly playing a supporting role to the young stars. It's a team the core of which has been playing together since 2010 - and in some cases the team has quite literally grown up together.

4 tries during the season from yours truly, despite having to nurse my heel injury through the latter weeks, was quite satisfying - even though my general form and fitness didn't ever quite hit the heights that I would have liked.

So, almost unbelievably, another Touch season has come to an end with the only consolation being that my poor, abused plantar fascia will finally get some relief.

Friday, 15 July 2016

The Total Flanker Guide to: Pre-Season Training

At this time of year many a rugby club begins summoning its players back for what is known as “pre-season training” but what is in reality an exercise in sado-masochistic torment on a grand scale.

So, first things first, let me get my admission out of the way that it’s a few years since I have had to subject myself to pre-season training. I see that as no reason however, for me not to proffer my advice on the subject, having experienced/endured its torture on many, many occasions in the past.

Actually I can hardly believe I've waited until now to publish this guide, but here it is - Total Flanker's top tips on how one might survive what may only be described as hell on earth.

1. Always, always attend the first session. Yes, it will be horrible. Yes, it will hurt. But believe me, if there is one session in which the coaches might be tempted to go a little easier on the players it’s the first one. After that it only gets worse. If you’re going to miss a session, choose the second one.

2. The jury is out on how much training you should do before pre-season starts. None at all means that it will really, really hurt and the coaches may well decide to make an example of you. Too much, however, and the coaches may be tempted to push you even harder. Do just enough, therefore, not to get noticed.

3. At the beginning of training grab a ball, organise a game of touch and encourage the coaches to join in. You never know, they may enjoy themselves so much that they forget to get started on the planned infliction of pain. Not guaranteed to work but worth a try.

4. If subjected to the dreaded "beep test" or whatever the modern equivalent may be, don’t be a hero. There’s nothing big or clever about being there at the end – they’ll only expect more from you next time.

5. There's nothing shameful about an early, tactical vomit.

6. Judicious use of injuries is advised. Time spent with the physio is time spent away from the training field.

7. Always, always stick around for a couple of drinks afterwards. The fact that you're still there after training will have a subliminal effect on the coaches, no matter how crap you were during training.

8. If all else fails, take a leaf out of Andy Goode's book - retire from rugby then make a miraculous comeback mid-season.

There, hope that helps…

Friday, 8 July 2016

Down at heel

The thing about getting older is that, eventually, pretty much every part of your body tends to go wrong at some stage.

My current ongoing medical drama centres upon my right heel.

Often painful after exercise, I completely buggered it up (to use a medical term)  at Touch a couple weeks ago.

It turns out I've damaged the plantar fascia, a band of tissue that runs under the sole and supposedly acts as a shock absorber to the foot. The condition - plantar fasciitis - is, apparently, quite common.

Treatment includes:

- icepacks - tick, I've been icing my heel regularly

- painkillers - tick, I've been tucking into my ibuprofen stocks

-  supportive device for the heel - tick, my shoes are now full of pads and such like

- resting - tick - had two weeks off, felt better, played Touch again, back to square one

- losing weight - ah, oh well!