Monday, 6 July 2015

England launch RWC beard

The RFU today announced the launch of the official England beard for RWC 2015.

The beard, modelled here by Messrs Marler, Haskell and Robshaw, features a range of innovations that have been developed by Canterbury and England Rugby following more than 220 hours of testing and 250,000 miles of travel to improve both the look, feel and performance of the beard.

The beard, which will retail at £49.99, is the most lightweight Canterbury has ever produced, featuring new 3D face-mapping technology to ensure a perfect fit for players in different positions.

“Every player in the squad takes enormous pride in wearing the England beard,” said Head Coach Stuart Lancaster.

In other news, the RFU also announced the launch of yet another England playing kit.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Touching Distance

So, one week of the Touch season to go and Dave’s Dad’s Dog’s Dead are now 9 wins from 9 and certain of being crowned champions next week.

This week’s encounter, against a very fit, quick and youthful Welsh Exiles (with not a single Welsh accent amongst them, it must be said) was played in stiflingly hot conditions and, given that we only had 9 players available for duty, was certainly a challenge from a fitness perspective.

A hectic first half saw us tied at 4-4 – which came as a surprise to us all as we had appeared to be up against it defensively all half (as the sweat dripping out of my t-shirt testified).

As has often been the case this season, however, we played a much improved second half, tightening up the defence and taking our opportunities as the opposition tired, with the final score 11-6 in our favour.

It’s been a theme of the season that we seem to outlast much younger opposition in terms of stamina – and this week 5 of our 9 players were in their late forties or older. Or perhaps it’s just been that we make fewer errors then they do when completely knackered?

At the (ever enjoyable) post match beer I was complimented on “almost pulling off the most outrageous dummy” at one point in the match. The telling word in that phrase is, of course, “almost”. In other words it all went pear-shaped once the dummy was sold and acceleration was required. Plus ça change.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Scotland unveil RWC kit...

… and it involves TARTAN.

Good to see that the designers are not prepared to abandon national stereotypes.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Azzurri on strike

It emerged today that the Italian national team are on strike, after the players rejected the Italian Rugby Union’s proposals for remuneration at the Rugby World Cup.

Reports that the strike actually began at half time during Italy's final Six Nations match against Wales in March have yet to be confirmed.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

President Funbus

Although my cap is duly doffed to Gareth Edwards (awarded a knighthood in the Queens Birthday Honours list) and to Jonny Wilkinson (awarded a CBE), I have to say I'm chuffed to bits at the news that England legend Jason Leonard was yesterday elected Preseident of the RFU.

Fantastic achievement and an appointment that should really shake up the blazers - all aboard the Funbus!

Friday, 5 June 2015

Jerry Collins RIP

Shocked and saddened today by the tragic news of the death of former All Black Jerry Collins and his wife Alana in a car crash in France.

Collins was simply one of the good guys and the world of rugby will certainly miss one of its more colourful characters.

My thoughts are with both his and his wife’s families at this sad time. Spare a thought, too, for their young daughter, Ayla, who remains in a critical condition in hospital.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Touch and go

Half way through the 2015 Chesham Touch league and it’s played 5, won 5 for my team, 'Dave's Dad’s Dog’s Dead'.

Not that it’s the winning that matters – this will sound horribly corny but it really is the taking part that counts and the fact that I’m able to play at all given my recent sciatica scare has been a huge, huge bonus (and, believe me, no chickens are being counted at this stage).

What has surprised me is that, as the weeks pass by, I believe that I am making more and more of a contribution to the team. It's more than possible that I'm a little delusional, but I’m certainly feeling fitter, helped no doubt by the fact that I’m around a stone and a half lighter than last year.

Last night saw the team beat the Angry Leprechauns convincingly, playing some great Touch, especially in the first half. I was even able to get on the scoresheet for the first time this campaign, racing the full length of the field to score.

That last bit was a lie. I did score, but it was the equivalent of an open goal, taking a scoring pass less than a metre from the line.

Also on show last night, much to the delight of all attending, was a classic TF “show and go”. Or, to be more accurate, a “show, begin to go, realise that the legs won’t do it any more, attempt a miracle pass and be intercepted.” My trademark move, I like to think.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Another last chance for Hartley?

Dylan Hartley’s four-week ban for headbutting – and his subsequent unavailability for England’s first game of the World Cup against Fiji on 18th September – is now the SIXTH suspension of his professional career.

Hartley has, it seems, been under a perpetual final warning from England coach Stuart Lancaster.

It remains to be seen how many exit doors there are at the Last Chance Saloon?

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Allez Sir Clive?

It appears that Sir Clive Woodward has made the final shortlist of eight for the job of Head Coach of the French national team and is being quoted as 10-1 to get the job, which becomes available after this year's World Cup.

I'd like to say that stranger things have happened, although for life of me I can't think of any examples.

Saturday, 16 May 2015


They say bad luck comes in threes.

One day last week the postman came to the door. The following sequence of events then occurred:

1. I jumped up from my chair and stubbed my toe on the table leg - cue shouting, cursing and bleeding;

2. To stop bleeding on the kitchen floor I attempted to apply a plaster. As I bent down my old friend sciatica decided to pay me a visit, with pain shooting across my lower back and down my right leg; and

3. To address the inflammation I decided to apply an ice pack to my lower back, perhaps a little too vigorously, resulting in what I can only describe as a 2nd degree ice burn on my right buttock.

The upshot is that it has been painful to sit down all week, and agony to stand up. I missed this week's Touch, have been unable to exercise and have been thoroughly miserable.

Thankfully things appear to be settling down as the weekend approaches and I'm hoping that normality will soon be restored.

And I won't be answering the door to the postman anytime soon.

Overboard again

The decision to omit Manu Tuilagi from England's World Cup squad, after he admitted assaulting a taxi driver and two police officers, was a no brainer.

Will it be a decision that comes back to haunt Stuart Lancaster? Perhaps. A fit and firing Tuilagi would be a huge asset to any team.

In reality, however, Lancaster had no choice given Tuilagi's behaviour. And given that the Leicester centre has a long term groin injury which would in any event have rendered his selection something of a gamble, perhaps this incident has just made Lancaster's job a tad easier?