Sunday, 28 September 2014

50 not out

It's taken something pretty extreme to wake me out of my recent bout of blogging lethargy and that something is I'm afraid to say, turning 50.

Yes, today I rack up my half century. I feel quite ill. No, seriously, I feel crap - no doubt partly to do with slightly over-indulging last night as well as the beginnings of a flu bug that's doing the rounds. Welcome to the rest of my life.

My hypochondriac tendencies aside, time to catch up on a few bits and pieces going on in the world of rugby…

I see that yet another England kit is on the market - the major innovation being to move the rose to the centre of the shirt (genius) as well as the crassly unauthorised use of the Victoria Cross emblem. A red (sorry, crimson) change kit will also make an appearance this autumn. It seems that a new England kit launch is now to be an annual event. How nice.

Meanwhile I also see that there's been further discussion recently about "plastic Englishmen" with the talk being that Sarries' Australian prop, Kieran Longbottom, has declared availability for England on the grounds that his granny is English. Whether or not he is legitimately qualified, however, is hardly the question. The words Australian and prop ought to be enough to decide his fate.

Clearly further thought does need to be given to international eligibility criteria though, with England's Steffon Armitage having been named in an initial 74 man French squad on grounds that I utterly fail to understand but which involve, I think, a loophole in the regulations which have something to with Sevens and the possession of a French passport.

Finally, somewhat belated congratulations must go to the England Women's team, not only for their victory in the Women's Rugby World Cup but also for the award of professional contracts to a number of them. It is a significant step forward, although the fact that professionalism is limited to Sevens players is slightly perturbing. No only is it a slap in the face for certain stalwarts of the England team who perhaps aren't of the quick and nimble persuasion, it also sends out entirely the wrong the message to youngsters coming through - i.e. if you're a big strong lass who likes scrummaging then forget it.

That's all from me for now. Time for a lie down.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Sevens and hell

I thought South Africa were good value for their victory over New Zealand in the final of the Commonwealth Games Sevens last week.

It's just possible that I may have previously mentioned this, but it must be said that I'm not exactly Sevens' biggest fan. Don't get me wrong, it's often a bloody good day out (as the attendances would verify), but as a game I'm afraid it leaves me cold.

I absolutely HATED playing it - way too much running about with nowhere to hide - and would always make re-discover that annual mystery ankle ailment and make myself scarce as Sevens season approached.

Not only that, but I've never really enjoyed watching Sevens either. Yes, watching it live with a couple of beers can be good fun but as a TV spectacle it simply does nothing for me. Frankly the netball was more exciting.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Women's World Cup...

Time to break radio silence (has it really been THAT long?) to wish England's women all the best in the Women's Rugby World Cup in France, especially Chesham coaches Rocky Clark and Kat Merchant.

Great start by England on Friday last week against Samoa and here's hoping they can one better than the last 3 World Cups where they have finished second to the New Zealand Black Ferns.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Once bitten...

The four month ban received by Luis Suarez for biting the shoulder of Italian Giorgio Chiellini at the FIFA World Cup is, although unprecedented, still fairly lenient when compared to rugby's most notorious biting incidents.

Bath prop Kevin Yates was handed a six monts ban in 1998 after being found guilty of biting the ear of Simon Fenn of London Scottish, a sentence considered far too light by many. Meanwhile South African prop Johan Le Roux copped an 18 month ban after biting New Zealand hooker Sean Fitzpatrick's ear during a scrum during a test match in 1994, after which he declared "For an 18-month suspension, I feel I probably should have torn it off". 

Rather than complain of injustice Suarez should consider himself quite fortunate...

Owen Williams

This blog's thoughts are with Cardiff Blues' centre Owen Williams who is in hospital in Singapore having suffered a "significant injury" to his cervical vertebrae and spinal cord at the World Club 10s last week

Thursday, 19 June 2014

A question for Warren Gatland

Does Samson Lee have a massive head or just a tiny face?

I think we should be told.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

The future's bright...

…the future's English?

England's senior team  may have lost yesterday but the boys in the Under 20s team continue to go from strength to strength, storming into the Junior World Cup Final with a 42-15 win over Ireland. They now face South Africa in the Final on 20th June at Eden Park, Auckland.

There now appears to be a healthy production line through the junior ranks into the England senior XV - with the likes of Owen Farrell, the Vuniploa brothers, Joe Marler, George Ford and Jack Nowell all having graduated via the Under 20s.

The future's bright...

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Still no cigar

Another close run thing for England. Lots of its, buts and maybes but perhaps, just perhaps if the cavalry (in the form of Messrs Lawes, Hartley and Vunipola) had arrived a little earlier things may have turned out differently?

Or perhaps England have just approached this tour in the wrong way. Perhaps they should have taken heed of new research by scientists at the School of Sport and Exercise at Massey University in New Zealand which shows that an 11-pint binge the night before a game does not affect performance.

19 eager volunteer club rugby players were tested for jumping, sprinting, hydration and strength before a heavy drinking session and after a match played the following day.

Apart from jumping (and that's what line out lifters are for, right?) every aspect of performance was unaffected.

I don't know about you, but 11 pints these days would probably kill me.

At least, however, we now know the All Blacks secret.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014


With SoccerAid having raised over £4m the other night, support appears to be building for a rugby equivalent.

For the uninitiated, SoccerAid involves retired footballers combining with celebrities to play a game of football in front of a capacity crowd at Old Trafford to raise a shedload of funds for UNICEF. Sunday evening saw the Rest of the World triumph 4-2 over an England team with a hat rick from Clarence Seedorf and a goal from Westlife's Nicky Byrne. Yep, surreal or what?

And now momentum is gathering on certain social media sites for #RugbyAid.

I'm sure that getting a few retired internationals out for a run around won't be an issue. But what of the celebrities? I'm sure we could all think of one or two we'd like to see at the bottom of a ruck...

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Getting excuses in early...

Magnificent effort from the English boys today. Very close but alas no cigar.

Here's the thing. The scheduling of this match was, frankly, a disgrace.

It's difficult enough travelling to New Zealand with a full strength squad but to be expected to play a test without so many first choice players was utterly ludicrous.

The fact that England made such a good fist of it is a credit to the players and the coaching staff - no thanks at all to the numpties at the RFU who agreed to the tour schedule and the hawks at the NZRU who insisted on it.

The All Blacks remain favourites for a 3-0 series win, but it should now get very interesting.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Long time no blog...

Apologies for recent radio silence. A new job has been taking up most of my focus – well, that and the fact that I’ve also been buying a new house.  New job, new house, but you’ll be relieved to hear that I’ve kept the same wife (although Mrs F might not agree).

I know what you’re thinking: “I wonder how TF’s touch rugby season is going?” The simple answer is that it hasn’t – sciatica cutting me down in my prime during the first league match 3 weeks ago. My team – enigmatically entitled Dave’s Dad’s Dog’s Dead – have really missed me. They remain unbeaten.

Meanwhile it is beginning to look like anyone who fancies a game for England in New Zealand in a couple of weeks merely needs to turn up with their boots. With Farrell, Myler and now (probably) Ford all missing from the first Test we may yet see the return of the prodigal Danny Cipriani. Who’d a thunk it?

Speaking of prodigal sons, even Gavin Henson has been making the headlines recently for rugby reasons, being selected for the Welsh trial match. Whether his form for the Batch 2nd XV strictly merited his selection or whether Warren Gatland picked him purely so that he could have a fight with Premier Rugby is a moot point, but Bath duly obliged by refusing to release Henson for the fixture – precisely what Gatland knew would happen.

Speaking of out of control egos, I have to say that those promoting the return of Chris Ashton to national colours (you know who you are) need to have a serious word with themselves. Not only is that stupid swallow dive still in evidence, but shouting at Nick Evans to try to put him off while taking a kick at goal during last week’s Premiership semi final was beyond contempt. Twonk.

Finally, congrats go out to Jonny Wilkinson on his display in his last ever game on British soil. Another immaculate kicking performance from Jonny in the Heineken Cup final saw him lead Toulon to victory once again and leave Sarries knowing just how far short they are.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Nice trip

I'm a bit tardy on this one, but below is the moment a disgruntled parent lost the plot when his son's team were on the end of a hammering…

The incident happened 10 minutes from the end of a Hertfordshire Under 16s Cup match with Fullerians being well beaten by their Royston counterparts. The parent in question, who had obviously had enough, stepped onto the field and tripped the Royston winger to prevent the player inflicting further misery on his son's team.

Unsurprisngly the offender was sent off by the referee, has since been banned by the Fullerians club and in time honoured fashion the Fullerians President has confirmed:

"We have had a committee meeting since and will have further meetings."

So that's all right then.