Monday, 24 October 2016

Oh, Bugger

Bad news today that Maro Itoje has been ruled out of the November Tests with a broken hand, joining fellow Sarries and England lock George Kruis on the sidelines. So the debate as to whether Itoje should move to the back row has now become somewhat redundant.

That his loss is such a major blow to England is testament to the impact Itoje has had this year - don't forget that he didn't make his international debut until February.

I was there at Allianz Park on Saturday watching Saracens take on a strong Scarlets team and feared the worst when Itoje left the field injured after an excellent display. Sarries were, at times, ruthlessly brilliant, with Mako Vunipola, Owen Farrell, Nick Tompkins and Michael Rhodes all showing up well. If they ever do piece together an 80 minute performance then someone is going to take a fearful hammering.

One of the reasons I was at Allianz Park was to attend the presentation of last season's Under 13 Herts & Middlesex Div VII league trophy to my son's team, which I have to say was a fairly surreal experience. With way too may people crushed into a fairly tight space, and with our boys there ready to step up to receive their deserved acclaim, it was was announced that, due to lack of space, only the coach and captain of each team should step forward to receive the trophy.

And so it came to pass that I (in the absence of the head coach and four other coaches) and my son (in the absence of the captain, the vice-captain, the vice-vice captain and the vice-vice-vice captain) stepped forward to receive the trophy from none other than my favourite player (!!), Chris Ashton :)

You couldn't make it up...

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Hit and miss

Massivley unimpressed by Montpellier’s Francois Steyn who yelled "MISS" when trying to charge down a conversion attempt by Northampton’s Stephen Myler during their match on Saturday.

Myler did miss, but referee Nigel Owens quite rightly ordered the kick to be taken again and Myler converted.

Steyn received a ticking off from Owens but, quite frankly, a yellow card would not have been unjustified. He will be inducted into the Total Flanker Hall of Utter Wazzocks in due course.

That Northampton went on to win the match by 2 points is justice of sorts.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Anthony Foley R.I.P.

Put up or shut up

I find myself agreeing with Matt Dawson.

The former England and Lions scrum half has noted how “bizarre” it was that only seven Premiership Rugby DoRs turned up for a meeting with England boss Eddie Jones this week.

This, following public criticism from some of the clubs of the intensity and timing of England’s recent training camp which resulted in injuries to 3 players.

Apparently the meeting was "very amicable" but it does seem very odd that certain clubs appear unwilling to take the opportunity to address face-to-face any issues they have with the England set-up but are happy enough to criticise in public...

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Black Dog

Sad to hear that former Wales No 8 Andy Powell has been suffering depression for the last 18 months.

Powell retired from rugby this week with his club, Merthyr, citing a persistent knee injury. The player has since confirmed, however, that his battle with depression was the main reason.

I'm always slightly surprised when I find that a professional sportsman who is "living the dream" can suffer what can be such a debilitating condition, especially a "character" like Powell (and who can forget his infamous drunken escapade in a stolen golf buggy on the M4 motorway in 2010?). Again, however, it only goes to show how depression is no respecter of reputation.

The fact that Powell has, in a week which featured World Mental Health Day, now gone public with his condition can only be good thing and he is to be applauded.

I'm sure we all wish him a full recovery and a happy retirement.

Friday, 14 October 2016


With England’s injury list growing, there’s been talk of Maro Itoje playing at 7 for his country this November.

If true then, while a huge fan of the FEC (Future England Captain), you have to ask yourself whether it’s really fair to expect him to switch to a specialist back row role at international level from the position he plays week in/ week out for his club?

He’s a very, very special player, and I guess that if anyone could do it then it’s him, but are England’s back row resources really that depleted?

Eddie Jones has stated that the English game doesn’t have specialist opensides who are good enough to play internationally, which is why his preference has been to deploy defensively robust players at 7 who are good over the ball.

Itoje certainly fits that description, but it would be something of a kick in the teeth for the likes of Matt Kvesic, Luke Wallace and other aspiring English opensides if they were overlooked in favour of a lock forward with little or no experience of their specialist position.

I guess it's a question of watch this space...