Friday, 27 November 2015

Off the scale?

Claims this week that steroid abuse is "off-the-scale" in Welsh grassroots and semi-professional rugby seem a tad sensationalist.

UK Anti-Doping figures reveal that 10 of the 16 rugby union players banned from the sport across the UK are from Wales.

That’s 10 out of around 50,000 players registered in Wales - 0.02%.

I'm not saying that there isn't a problem that needs tackling but “off-the-scale?” Hardly.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015


As the fallout from England’s failed RWC campaign continues, I have to admit that, being British, I am a tad uncomfortable when big, roughty-toughty rugby players feel the need to bear their souls in public.

First we had Danny Care publicly bemoaning the fact that he had been dropped as first choice scrum half last year: 
“I didn’t really understand the decision behind it and it did hurt (sniff, sob).”
We then had Mike Brown declaring a lack of trust in his England team mates: 
“I think the trust has been, as you can imagine, completely shot now (sob, sniff).”
And now we have Luther Burrell declaring his devastation at his (admittedly undeserved) non-selection for the squad by Stuart Lancaster: 
"He let me down…that is how I feel about him (sniff, sob, sniff).”
When did rugby players ever feel the need to talk about their feelings?

Whatever happened to stoicism?

Whatever happened to just rolling up your metaphorical sleeves and just getting on with it? 

Whatever happened to the good old British stiff upper lip?

Friday, 20 November 2015

Relief all round as Fast Eddie signs up…

It is with a huge sigh of relief that it has been confirmed that Eddie Jones has accepted the role of England Head Coach, not least because this blog has discovered the RFU's contingency plan should the search for a permanent Head Coach have proved fruitless.

I can now exclusively reveal that Andy Farrell had been lined up to lead England into the 2016 Six Nations as Interim Head Coach and that he had recommended an interim management team involving several other players' parents.

Apparently former Tongan hooker Fe'ao Vunipola had agreed to come in as as scrummaging coach, while the Youngs brothers' father and former England scrum half, Nick, was considering an offer to come on board as attack coach.

The Vunipola brothers' mum, Rev. Iesinga Vunipola, was believed to have accepted role of Interm Spiritual Health Coach while Mrs Sarah Goode was set to take charge of nutrition, tea and biscuits.

Apparently Farrell had convinced the RFU that parental input would be vital in restoring the team’s shattered morale with the added bonus that the parents would also be able to provide free lifts to and from training and to difficult away games.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Richie McCaw = Legend

Just a few words about Richie McCaw on the occasion of his retirement.

For me, McCaw is simply the best number 7 ever to have played the game.

Ill-informed gripes about him living offside and so-called “cheating” are so far wide of the mark it’s not funny. The role of an openside flanker is to get away with whatever he can at the breakdown and McCaw was simply the master at it. 

He also happened to be a supreme athlete and a quite phenomenal all-round rugby player.

One would like to think that his retirement will leave New Zealand severely depleted and give the rest of a chance to catch up, but the performances of Sam Cane during this year’s World Cup suggest that the All Black number 7 production line is still in fine working order.

Enjoy your retirement Mr. McCaw – it is richly deserved.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Poisoned chalice?

So Stuart Lancaster has done the decent thing and stepped down as England Head Coach ("by mutual consent" - whatever the hell that means).

Good man. He has taken responsibility for England's failings, as he said he would, and deserves respect for that.

Now that there is a vacancy, however, I’ve noticed several comments to the effect that the Head Coach role is something of a poisoned chalice, that no serious coach in his right mind would want to coach England in its current state and that the problems for English rugby lie far deeper than the coaching.

All of which, quite frankly, is bollocks.

In my humble opinion there are several reasons why a top coach might want to coach the England squad - plenty of English talent around the Premiership, a hugely promising next generation of players coming through, huge resources at his disposal and a not insubstantial salary, for a start.

It’s also not as if any new Head Coach would be starting from Ground Zero. After all, in each of the last 5 Six Nations tournaments, an "unsuccessful" England have played 5, won 4 and lost 1, finishing 2nd in each of the last three tournaments only on points difference, and don’t forget over the same period England have beaten both of this year’s Word Cup finalists (which not too many other teams can claim). It's not a fantastic record, but it's not a bad base to start from.

Poisoned chalice? My arse.