Thursday 18th Apr: 09:00
A massive weekend for European rugby coming up. Four games, four interesting contests. Saracens hosting Munster starts it all off. You never write the Irish sides off but I really can't see anything other than a Saracens win. Yes they lost to Worcester last weekend but that was a weakened side and they have been outstanding in Europe thus far.
Then we have the two Challenge Cup games. First up La Rochelle v Sale. As I much as I'd like a Sale win La Rochelle at their place is a daunting task. Sale's away form has been pretty poor at best and I expect them to struggle down there on the edges of the Bay of Biscay. Clermont Auvergne is "mission impossible" for Quins I think. The French outfit whilst not setting the Top 14 alight have been excellent in Europe. The Stade Michelin is a cauldron of passion and for Quins to come away with anything the crowd will need to be taken out of the game early on.
Sunday gives us probably the game of the weekend: Leinster v Toulouse. Toulouse in fine form and having beaten Racing 92 in the quarter-final will arrive in Dublin in a confident mood. Leinster at home in the European Cup are always going to be a difficult opponent. Packed with international stars not over played this season, Leinster will be ready. Some of the Irish are nearing their best before date and this might be a factor. Toulouse are resilient. Unlike many French teams before they don't crack under pressure and don't fade away if the scoreboard is against them. I go......... Leinster........... just.
The only other game of note is Richmond v London Irish. The Irish will be promoted back to the Premiership with any sort of win.
With the weather promising to be fantastic I intend to be outside but there is also plenty of Super Rugby to watch if you decide being inside is best for you.
Todd Blackadder is to leave Bath. He's done ok but not quite enough to get Bath back to where they were during the glory days. He's off to Japan chasing the big bucks.
Manchester City v Tottenham. What a game! What a result! Money can buy you lots of things but clearly not the European Cup.
Following on from my comments about rugby clubs going to the wall isn't it fascinating that soccer has its problems too. Bury and Bolton Wanderers at serious risk of going bust. Players and staff have not been paid. Councils threatening to stop games because of safety concerns due to staff shortages. Not a great advert for professional sport.
Whilst the Notre Dame fire is a tragedy nobody died. At least 29 people have been killed in a horrendous coach crash on the island of Madeira. A terrible, terrible way to go into Easter for those affected. Cathedrals can be rebuilt. Lives lost are lost forever.
Climate change is a reality. Pollution is a reality. The Earth's fragile ecosystem is at risk from human devestation. Rainforests are being hacked down in the pusuit of wealth. I could go on. We need to be aware and we do need to act. Protest is fine but these clowns have gone way too far and are now at risk of losing their argument through anarchy and hypocrisy. Thousands upon thousands of commuters were forced to use their cars yesterday because of the disruption to the tube. Thousands and thousands of pounds that could be pumped into vital services for the vulnerable will now have to be ploughed into clearing up their pollution. Millions of kilowatts of energy will be needed to power the tools to remove grafitti, and that ignores the millions of gallons of water that will be wasted in the clean up operation. From everything I have seen this is a bunch of well-heeled "do-gooders" who live comfortable if not very comfortable lifestyles thanks to the well paid jobs they do or the excellent pension pots they have accrued or worse do nothing thanks to the generosity of mummy and daddy. Muppets with good intentions but no idea of the real world. By the way it is the wealthiest in society who can absorb the costs of more eco-friendly policies. It is the poorest and most vulnerable in society who can't. I've not heard any mention of them during this protest.
Mind you I did have a little chuckle when some of them chained themselves outside Comrade Corbynov's home. They should have had a sit in at his (dacha) allotment. He might have paid more attention to that than he did otherwise.
Can I wish you and yours a very pleasant, relaxing and thoughtful Easter. I'll be back on Easter Monday with a review of the weekend's results.
Wednesday 17th Apr: 09:00
The Israel Folau saga rumbles on. He intends to challenge Rugby Australia's decision to sack him. I bet that has nothing to do with the $4m AUS he was reportedly earning. Sadly it will also give him another platform to express his beliefs. As I say I have no problem with free speech but there must come a time when a line shouldn't be crossed and when you are being paid handsomely you have a duty to honour your employers code of conduct.
As expected The RFU has achieved a reasonable balance in reprimanding Billy Vunipola for his support of Folau. It was accepted the comments were not meant to cause offence but intended to support a fellow Christian. The fact South Sea Islanders hold strong Christian beliefs was also taken into account. The RFU have made it clear any further transgression will be dealt with swiftly and will be less sympathetic.
Sarries sponsors have all come out and condemned the statements, as any big corporate machine is likely to do, but will continue to support the club on the basis Vunipola (and others) respect the code of conduct dictated by the club and The RFU.
Money, money, money. Perhaps I am missing the point and that could be because I am tight-fisted bugger but I find it bizarre that New Zealand Rugby appear to be happy with a $1.4m NZ loss and a deficit of $30m NZ looming on the horizon. It is a fascinating piece in stuff.co.nz from Liam Hyslop. Interestingly enough the loss was less than budgeted and according to the article a lot of that was due to the British & Irish Lions tour brining in much needed revenue. Cuts loom which explains why the Southern Hemisphere nations are so keen on the Nations League idea. By the way The RFU have voted against that as the 6 Nations is such an enormous money spinner for them.
The Bard kindly brought my attention to an article in The Times written by the excellent Owen Slot. "Closed shop is killing Yorkshire rugby". It highlighted the lack of a top flight club in Yorkshire, the biggest rugby county in England* and how those who are chasing the dream are simply not able to compete in terms of revenue and expenditure. Yorkshire Carnegie, once known as Leeds Tykes have done their best but it seems they have come to the end of the road. They have had to slash their player budget with only eight players being retained for next season. Only a £400k injection of cash prevented a player revolt meaning they can finish this season but what of next season. Slot goes on to highlight the clubs that have followed the dream of Premiership rugby now see their trajectory as very much downwards. Yorkshire Carnegie were part of the Premiership cabal** at one point but sold their stake to Exeter and this is part of the problem. The article also makes the very important point that even if you make it to the top table you are destined for failure as you will not reap any of the benefits the 13 shareholders will enjoy, even if two of them are in the Championship. The dice are loaded in fact. The final element of the article highlights the negative impact on grassroots rugby in the county with interest in the game on the decline, but that is a problem everywhere. It's an excellent piece well worth reading.
* I believe it still holds true that there are more rugby clubs in Yorkshire than in all of Wales
** Regular readers would know I have previously stated a 14 team ring-fenced Premiership including Yorkshire Carnegie would make a lot of sense.
I see Premiership Rugby's CEO Mark McCafferty is to step down to be replaced by Darren Childs currently at UKTV. McCafferty, a firm advocate of breaking away from the RFU and ring-fencing the Premiership will work with CVC who he did the deal with recently. He "joins" them as an advisor, basically because he knows where any skeletons are hidden and quite clearly as he is one shrewd operator. The Mr Pessimist in me continues to say there is only one winner here and that is CVC. I fear for the game as a whole, especially grassroots and I fear for the Premiership who have allowed a virus into their network.
Big weekend of European rugby coming up. I'll focus on that tomorrow.
The protests around Britain are much in the news. I find it fascinating that many of those featured are middle class, middle aged or even elderly. In one respect that is good news as they are fighting for the future of their children and grandchildren. On the other hand I bet they all go back their cosy cottages in the Cotswolds and elsewhere thinking they have done well, not a thought for those less fortunate who are having their lives severely disrupted, and not a thought about the cost to the taxpayer of their actions.
Have you noticed the absence of Brexit in our papers? It is madness that our politicians who see Brexit as either the best opportunity since the wheel was invented or an Armageddon in waiting are all on holiday. Maybe's out walking. Corbynov is throwing out populist soundbites like confetti. The others are who knows where. Hey ho! Why worry about Brexit when you can put it off until October!!
Tuesday 16th Apr: 09:15
Sussex RFU held their annual club planning forum last night. It was very well attended with representatives from all the clubs in county being present. Plenty of smugness about promotion, plenty of despair about relegation. Obviously we at Crowborough were in the former category which could be enhanced when the 2s play Crawley on April 27th.
We as a club had an extra reason to be smug with one of our own having played at the Principality Stadium last week. This person not only played at the home of the Grand Slam winners but in front of a large crowd and it being shown live on TV.
The Welsh Varsity is a day of sport between Cardiff University and Swansea University culminating with the ladies and men's rugby final. Our very own Becky Eyres, daughter of Jacqui our catering guru, wore her Cardiff Uni shirt with pride and got the opportunity millions around Wales can only dream of and that is playing at The Principality. Sadly Cardiff came out second best on the day but who cares. Well done Becky.
I am led to believe that she now also knows the Welsh national anthem Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau. If Nathan Hughes is English can we now claim Becky as Welsh.
Back to last night's meeting. It is good the county are trying to tackle the decline in the game and having an open forum is the right way forward. In my very humble opinion those present are missing the point by tinkering at the edges. The game simply isn't sexy enough for today's young men and women. When the Khardashians tweet how good the game is we might see change. Tinkering with league structures is not going to change anything. We are not an island. Sussex need to be working with Kent and Surrey as well and whilst this is happening it needs to be more structured and proactive.
The Sussex CB do a great job and are led very well by Gary Henderson but when I looked around the room I was horrified to see the demographic. Except for Marylyn who does an amazing job doing the counties admin it was exclusively white males with most of those my age. If change is to happen we need team captains there. We need ladies who are playing the game right now to have a say. We need some ethnic diversity. Sorry to be critical but if change is required, and it is, then change needs to be radical.
Sarries have given Billy Vunipola a slap on the wrist and warned him about his future conduct following his support for Israel Folau's recent comments. I expect the RFU will do much the same. We should not condemn Vunipola or Folau for having deeply held religious beliefs but as Sarries have said there is a time and a place for sharing them and if they are contrary to your employers ethos then problems will surely arise.
Gareth Anscombe is to stay in Wales. He will leave Cardiff and join the Ospreys after the World Cup.
Former Aussie captain James Horwill is to retire at the end of the season after a splendid career.
Shaun Edwards is definitely not joining Wigan Warriors as head coach. There will now be a scramble for his signature...... perhaps!
Also at last nights meeting we heard about England's financial woes. The grassroots game has been hit with the moratorium on AGPs an example. Cuts are to be made to travel allowances and other expenditure for clubs levels 3 to 6. I have no problem with this. Those clubs are generally the ones throwing the cash at players so they can absorb the additional costs me thinks.
It was also stated that the top echelon of the game including the international side have not been faced with cuts. The reason being much of the cost is contractual. Fair enough, but window dressing such as bringing in Will Carling is a luxury that could easily be done without and in fact wouldn't be missed.
It would be remiss of me not to mention the Notre Dame. It is only a building you cry. No, it is symbol of France and one recognised around the world. This is a world heritage site of great importance. We should be saddened by the damage.
Extinction Rebellion. I applaud their cause. People take climate change way too lightly. It is a serious issue which is easier to ignore for economic reasons than to tackle head on. Protest can be a way forward but stopping people going about their daily life is not acceptable. Being the miserable so-and-so I am I do wonder how many of them are saving the planet by claiming benefits rather than working. Quite clearly they are not available for work now so the benefits should be stopped. Also isn't it ironic that a significant amount of energy will be wasted on removing their graffiti and litter and repairing the damage caused. Hypocritical or what?
Monday 15th Apr: 08:45
Plenty to chew over today so lets not waste any time. The Crows fought to the end on Saturday but it wasn't enough against a very good Eastbourne 2s. Final score 19-35. I am sorry I couldn't make but thankfully it looked as if many others could to support this band of brothers.
In the play-offs Crawley narrowly missed out on promotion from Sussex 1 being beaten by Gillingham Anchorians 23-21. Looks a tight affair. Shame for the Sussex outfit as they deserve some reward for their efforts over recent times.
Better news for Horsham as they had an easier day of it beating Farnham 44-17 to earn their place in London 1 South next season. What with the AGP, and the new changing rooms it has been an excellent season for Horsham. I wish them well for next season. With both Beckenham and Horsham going up from our side of the league ladder but only Hove coming down it will be interesting to see how the leagues are restructured next season.
It went down to the wire in London 1 South with Sevenoaks coming out on top. Their 10-26 win at Thurrock and Camberley losing at home to Brighton 24-26 was enough to secure promotion. Medway faltered at the end losing by a single point 29-28 at Havant. It is therefore Brighton who sit second and go into a play-off where they face Colchester away in two weeks time.
In the Premier Inn Tunbridge Wells ended their season with a 33-32 defeat at Hertford to leave them in 7th. A top half finish must be seen as a good season me thinks. Sutton & Epsom's win at Bedford Athletic secures them promotion with Westcliff taking the play-off spot when they will host Barnstaple.
In the national leagues TJs excellent season continues with a fine home win over Clifton. They remain in third but barring an admin cock-up can't now catch Canterbury in second. Worthing's win away at Dings Crusaders secures their place in the league for next season. Just pride to play for in two weeks time as everything else has been decided.
Bridgnorth finished their season with a comfortable 42-8 win over Sheffield and end the season in 5th in the Midlands version of the Premier Inn. Salisbury didn't fair so well losing away at play-off bound Old Centralians 50-28. They still finish a creditable 7th.
Before moving onto the big boys it is fascinating that Ampthill recently featured in The Times are likely to be promoted into the Championship. They play bottom place Loughborough students in their last game. It is amazing what a generous benefactor can buy you. I wish them luck for next season and hope the pockets that fund them remain deep and bountiful. One to watch next season me thinks.
I got to watch three games this weekend and all three were pretty enjoyable. Albeit not live I enjoyed the Gloucester v Bath game. Some good skills on display and a see-saw of a game. Bath dominant only to allow the cherry & whites back into it. Danny Cipriani and Ben Morgan were again excellent. Then yesterday I thoroughly enjoyed Exeter v Wasps. Where has that quality of play from wasps been all season? They stifled Exeter's game plan perfectly and in the end ran out very worthy winners.
Elsewhere I am certain Sale rested many of their front line stars ahead of their trip to La Rochelle. Worcester won't be complaining as they ran out 39-17 winners. Josh Adams being the star man. Bristol beating Saracens is another where the visitors priorities are next weekend. Bristol and Worcester winning would be a frustration for Newcastle and drags Leicester back into the danger zone.
In the Pro14 Leinster losing at home to Glasgow was no surprise. Leinster another side already in the end off season jamboree so their focus clearly is now on Europe.
Didn't get to see it but Toulouse 47 - Clermont Auvergne 44 looks a cracker, as expected!!.
Also as expected Israel Folau has had his Rugby Australia contract terminated. It is a tough call as freedom of speech and the ability to be open and honest about your beliefs and principles should be a given. That said his contract demanded a level of conduct which he has breached thus justifying the termination. Folau has said if he can't play then so be it.
What next for Billy Vunipola who was booed when he came off the bench against Bristol. Whilst I personally am unhappy that he has so openly supported Folau's comments I don't think it is fair or right that he should be booed in that way. He is set to meet both his club and the RFU over the issue.
The French votes are in and it is "non!". A foreign coach of the national team. Sacre Bleu!! The French junior clubs have said it is not acceptable meaning Warren Gatland is now out of the frame. It is funny though that the French game at the top two levels is packed with foreign players and coaches. Hey ho and Gallic shrug of the shoulders before moving on.
A story to watch. Shaun Edwards could stay with Wales post RWC 2019. Happy days??
Elsewhere well done Tiger Woods. What a great victory. What a comeback from horrendous injury and personal trauma.
The F1 was yet another procession from start to finish. Except for one crash, one attempted overtake and a brilliantly efficient double tyre change by Mercedes it was boring with a capital "F".
I read that someone in Crowborough has made the national news by rescuing a piglet and now keeps it in her council property. The council have said the pig must go as it is contrary to the tenancy agreement. Makes sense. Pigs are farm animals not pets me thinks. Mind you it is a nice looking thing. I could easily see it served roasted on a silver platter with all the trimmings. Come on you vegans, make a fuss about that. Yet another minority group gaining support only because it is fashionable. Eat meat. Live well.
Bugger, where did that aubergine come from? Must go, I'm under attack.
Saturday 13th Apr: 10:15
Just because the curtain is coming down on the season doesn't mean The Friday Club have taken their foot of the gas. Steel Cross is looking a picture ready for The Crows when they host Eastbourne 2s later today. Well done guys.
They did enjoy an added bonus yesterday. As the minis departed for their annual tour so The Friday Club hoovered up the remaining bacon butties that the mini parents had left behind. Thankfully no minis were left behind. They were all safely packed away in the coaches luggage hold.
Yes Steel Cross looked great yesterday even if the pitch was a little hard. With the possibility of CRFC getting an AGP moving away into the distance as the RFU struggles with its finances the club needs to think about next season and pitch maintenance. Recently we have had a "quadraplay" on loan. Basically it is the Swiss Army Knife of pitch maintenance. The club has decided to go for it and try and raise the necessary funds. This was kicked off last weekend at The Presidents Lunch. Thanks to Damper Sayer and old stalwart of yesteryear Nick Instone getting up and loosening people's wallets a big inroad was made into the appeal for funds. More is needed but what a great start. Thanks to all who have committed. Thanks to Damper and Nick too. If you want to make a contribution contact me email@example.com.
The headlines say it all: "Leicester ease their relegation fears". It wasn't a classic but it was better than watching the Foxes lose to the United version of Newcastle. George Ford played well whilst Toby Flood was targeted. I still think that hit on him in the ruck was deliberate with the shoulder aimed at his head. No action by the officials. Bizarre. It does highlight why the jackal is extremely dangerous and needs to be changed. Johnny May's try was superb but the two Falcons tries were of equal quality. The Falcons could have and should have snatched it at the end. They didn't and now languish at the foot of the table.
Billy Vunipola has voiced his support for Israel Folau's recent comments. Unsurprisingly the RFU have been quick to call a meeting with Vuniploa as the comments are not in keeping with the RFUs values and those of clubs up and down the country. By default Courtney Lawes could be dragged into the mire as he has come out to defend Vunipola. You can't read the drivel I write without a firm understanding that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and should be allowed to air it. However, there are lines not to be crossed and we must, unlike our moronic politicians accept that others views, lifestyles and opinions are as valid as our own.
Watched the opening stanzas of the Southern Kings v Ospreys game. Finally the Welsh outfit showed what they are capable of. Too little too late and against a very poor side. What a pathetically small crowd. How can that be sustainable?
I read that Wasps are under investigation for financial irregularities. The FCA have called them in to explain why their accounts are "suspect". It centres around £1.1m of overstated earnings in 2017. Watch this space me thinks. The club is also in a bitter dispute with the owners of Coventry City FC who have effectively been evicted from the Ricoh. Watch that one too.
Being a chairman of a rugby club is a great honour but let no-one kid themselves it is hard work requiring an huge commitment in terms of time. I know. I've got the T-shirt to prove it. Our good neighbours Tunbridge Wells are losing their Chairman John Crees. He is standing down after many years at the helm and 27 years in total at the club. We at CRFC wish him well for the future. The article can be found online in timeslocalnews.co.uk. It is well worth reading as it highlights the many challenges faced by those who generously give of their time, often unrewarded and unnoticed.
Before I go my good friend Robert who is a regular reader of this nonsense has taken me to task. There is an implied criticism that I might have been a tad hypocritical in Wednesday's blog. He refers to my comment about those who want a second referendum being akin to living in North Korea and then stating I want to revoke Article 50 and stay in. Yes I was very unclear and can understand why Robert asked for clarity.
Here goes. I voted "remain" and I am still convinced that is the country's best option. The vote was to "leave" and that was democratically arrived at. I 100% support the democratic process and believe we should honour the referendum which is why I have said on a number of occasions that warts and all Maybe's deal is the only deal in town that gets us out with some safety nets. It is also why many of the alternatives on the table are more akin to us staying but staying in with all the pain and no gain. My point therefore is in order to honour the democratic process let's get on with it. "LEAVE". If as is the case desired by our politicians we don't honour the democratic process and stay in then my view is we should revoke Article 50. Clear now I hope.
On that note isn't it great that Parliament gets an extension from the EU to solve this mess we are in. What is the first thing they do? Go on holiday. It is a farce with a capital "F".
Thursday 11th Apr: 12:00
Slightly later than usual as I had business to attend to. A quick update on CRFC first. The 2s game away at Hellingly has been conceded by Hellingly so we are awarded a five point win taking us closer to the league title. The 2s face Crawley on the 27th April in their all important final game. The Crows v Eastbourne at Steel Cross is still on.
Tom Youngs has been hit with a three week ban. Basically six down to three in accordance with RFU guidelines. I am happy with that. He misses the must watch Friday night encounter away at Newcastle. Bizarrely the mighty Leicester City host Newcastle United on the same night and both are on TV. Come you Foxes!!! Come on you Falcons. Long story for another time!
The suits at Premiership Rugby are scrutinising Saracens managing of the salary cap. No smoke without fire is what I say. It is not in Premiership Rugby's best interest to rock the boat right now so don't expect anything dramatic. I know where I sit and that is I believe Sarries might not have broken the rules per se but have been devious in how they have kept their dealings totally secret until being exposed. I have no intention of reading the minute detail of the regulations but it strikes me that the players involved are getting a significant "added" benefit out of playing for Saracens and ONLY because they are PLAYING for Saracens. It is a way around the salary cap.
Israel Folau is fully entitled to his beliefs as we do generally live in a world where free speech is tolerated. There is a big caveat to that and that is he has over stepped the mark by inciting hatred, especially on the issue of being gay. Nobody likes thieves, drunks or liars but in a modern multi-cultural society we need to be tolerant of others views and lifestyles. I express mine freely and know there are many who dislike them but there are limits beyond which I won't go. Rugby Australia are likely to sack him which some might argue is harsh. I for one think it is the right decision.
One man who has also incurred the wrath of his union is Guy Noves. He was sacked for serious misconduct. Noves had the last laugh as he was awarded a million euros for wrongful dismissal. Bet the FFR are now very reluctant to get rid of Jacques Brunel.
Some good match-ups on the weekend when Gloucester host Bath and Quins host Saints. Connacht v Glasgow might be a good one in the Pro14. Toulouse v Clermont Auvergne in the Top14 on Sunday is the best game of the weekend after Falcons v Tigers.
Julian Assange has been arrested after Ecuador revoked his asylum claim. The Met Police took him away this morning and he now will face a magistrate who will determine his immediate future. Good is what I say. Not because of what he has or hasn't done but because it will be a news story to follow other than Brexit.
Theresa Maybe came home last night with a Brexit extension to October 31st; Halloween. Many, many, many fingers are pointing at her and yes she has a lot to answer for but in my mind she is in a no win situation with none of the current options palatable. Forget "leave" or "remain". It could be Buffoon Johnson or Comrade Corbynov leading the country next. How does that help? It doesn't. We'd either be out of the EU doing deals with those mighty economies of The Gambia or Lesotho on WTO terms or we'd be tied to the EU having all the pain with none of the gain. A rock and a hard place. It is a monumental mess and all a six month extension gives us is another six months of childish bickering.
Can you imagine it on October 31st. You ring your MPs door bell and when they answer you scream "trick or treat".
Rather than offering you some nice sweets or maybe a juicy apple all you would get would be "I haven't decided yet. I think I need to ask my neighbours which is best. I have campaigned for treats to be banned so would want to give you a trick. I haven't decided yet what that trick should be so could you come back in say three months time and ask me again. In the meantime here are some leaflets about my re-election campaign. Can you give them out whilst you are knocking on doors in the neighbourhood?"
Your reply would be: answers to firstname.lastname@example.org
Msr Macaroon didn't get his way. More on him next week. Now for the love song. Nus Ghani, our MP. A staunch Brexiteer. Her constituents voted out. She has done the right thing throughout. Voted with her conscience with her voters "leave" wishes in mind but with the sense to recognise the Maybe deal is probably our best shot at happiness. Stephen Lloyd of Eastbourne. A remainer who resigned the Liberal Party whip because in all conscience he couldn't vote against his party's manifesto and couldn't betray his voters desire to "leave". An honourable decision me thinks.
Back on Saturday.
Wednesday 10th Apr: 09:30
It isn't all over for many and that includes The Crows and our 2s. Both have games this weekend. The Crows are at Steel Cross against Eastbourne 2s and the 2s are away at Hellingly 2s. Both games have something on them in terms of league points and status for next season. I cannot get to either I'm afraid; a family commitment, but if you can that would be great. Kick off at 15:00.
Fascinating piece in the bbc.co.uk/news website about the growth of women's rugby. Sutton & Epsom ladies are the team featured. More and more women are coming into the game for a range of reasons: health and fitness, camaraderie, personal self confidence and the physical challenge and the thrill of pushing oneself to the limit. There is an underlying positive that no matter the shape and size of the player they are part of a team of equals. They are not having to worry about what Kim Kardashian is doing and trying to keep up with her. HOORAH for that I say!!
There is one concern that I have and that is the article talks about a steady stream of injuries and regular visits to the club's medical team. Even in the women's game the speed and impacts are getting faster and heavier. It is well worth reading.
Leicester Tiger's Tom Youngs will hear is fate later today after Saturday's red card. It looked pretty malicious to me and I expect a ban that could see him miss most of the remaining games this season. He can join brother Ben in the stands. He is out injured for the rest of the season and could be a doubt going into next season.
Young Sale player Jake Pope is in the news as he fails a second drugs test. I am sure the use of "recreational" drugs in the game is much more widespread than we would wish to admit to. Young fit men at the top of the game with time on their hands and money in their pockets is a recipe for disaster at times. Don't underestimate the widespread use of performance enhancing drugs, especially in Wales. With the riches available at the top of the game the incentive to "cut corners" to get there is immense.
My late mother-in-law lived in Crosskeys for many years just a stones throw from Pandy Park where Crosskeys ply their trade. They have a long and illustrious history which could soon be coming crashing down to earth. I eluded to it yesterday; the money being spent in rugby is not sustainable and unless clubs and the unions wake up to the fact many more clubs will suffer the same fate as Neath, London Welsh, et al. Crosskeys need at least £20,000 to get them to the end of the season. Only time will tell whether they make it or not.
Airmiles Maybe has been smooching with Macaroon and Angela in order to garner support for a delay to Brexit. I think she will be offered a delay but not to June 30th but to some time early 2020. I dread the thought so is it time to say "up yours" to the EU and go it alone. Many say it is. I have been resolute in my view that staying in is the best option for this country's prosperity and the long term future for our children and our children's children. What has consistently got my back up is the inability of our MPs to move from their entrenched positions even where their vote is contrary to the wishes of their constituents. Anna Sourface and Professor Plum are perfect examples of the duplicity of that. Finger pointing is useless, even at Comrade Corbynov who would vote against anything offered unless it results in a general election, but he is not solely to blame. Collectively their all are. The ostriches with their heads in the sand are possibly the worse. Abdicating responsibility by saying it will be all right without any basis for fact and contrary to all sensible and common sense logic which says it won't beggars belief. I still think the worse of all the clowns are those who want a second vote. Not one of them has said what they will do if that happened and it came back a resounding "leave". I would have a guess that they would demand a third and a fourth and a fifth vote. That is not democracy. We might as well live in North Korea if the will of the people is asked for then ignored. The SNP have been consistent about remaining and that is what the Scots wanted. However I still haven't seen one coherent argument that explains how in the case of independence the Scots could remain in the EU if the rest this glorious country wasn't. (Scottish independence. That is entire weeks worth of blogging material on its own. Independence means independence is my slogan so pis. ...).
Where does all this leave us? If it was me I would revoke article 50 and stay in. I am not for a delay if it means this circus full of clowns prevaricating over and over and over again. If we are not staying in for good then lets just leave. (There are some good apples in the barrel and I'll try and give them a shout out during tomorrow's love song segment).
By the way Macaroon has a nerve. The streets of Paris are ablaze with rioters, youth unemployment is at an all time high, the unions are refusing to move one iota on antiquated working practices, and the government is stymied from introducing any tax reforms of any description. Yeah bonne chance mon ami.
Tuesday 9th Apr: 09:45
Up and down the country whether it be in England, Scotland, Ireland or Wales clubs will be reflecting of the season just finished or about to finish and thinking about next season already. Club treasurers will be sweating about how well the club has done off the field and can they pay the bills about to come in and what about the summer? What revenue earners do clubs have to tide them over until September when the whistle goes on another season. Every club is different and the challenges they face will be different but rest assured money will be somewhere in the discussion.
This leads me on nicely to The RFU. If their financial woes weren't bad enough then hearing the roof is about to collapse in on you must be a devastating blow. I exaggerate of course but the roof at Twickenham is about to reduce the investment in grassroots yet further as the mandarins at HQ hear the news that two thirds of the Twickenham roof needs replacing and/or significant repair. The cost is certain to run into the many millions and potentially cause the double whammy of reducing revenue by disrupting games whilst the work is completed. Inevitably the cost will need to be covered from somewhere and the easiest hit is the grassroots game. They could cut costs again via headcount reduction but you can bet the senior set up is not going to be affected, which is where a significant cost lies. Sleepless nights ahead for the CFO me thinks.
The story was broken exclusively in the Daily Torygraph but interestingly quickly picked up by WalesOnline. The Welsh never slow to gloat have suggested the news is bad for The RFU not because of the roof but because any dream of luring Warren Gatland into their fold will have dissipated as the funds dry up.
Talking of funds we today hear the news that surprise, surprise Exeter remain the only Premiership club in profit. Of the other 12 clubs who own the Premiership not only were they in debt but the deficits increased. Revenue has generally increased but losses have spiralled to £50m in total. Saracens, who are still under suspicion of fudging the salary cap, have also been clever by using financial trickery and turning £48m of debt (loans) into equity thus removing it from the balance sheet. Of the losers Leicester Tigers and Sale were the best performers with losses less than £2m. No wonder the clubs have been quick to sell their soul to CVC. Full story in The Guardian.
Which leads me nicely onto Leicester Tigers, relegation and ring-fencing. Regular readers will know my view on the subject. I think it is the best way forward. It allows the big boys to alter their business model as the fear of relegation disappears. It stops those below throwing millions at what has now become a pipedream. It allows the game as a whole to take a breath and think sensibly about how money is not the only answer to the games prosperity. There is another obvious reason why I believe ring-fencing will happen and happen possibly in the next few weeks. Why? Leicester Tigers is why. CVC who have ploughed £250m into the top flight have done a deal (I believe) that gives them 27% of all revenue from the game in return for a lot of things but 27% of revenue is key. Which club is the best supported and therefore by default has the highest revenue? Leicester Tigers of course. This is why CVC would be mad to let them slip into The Championship and see that club's revenue decline as a result. If it were Sale who have the lowest revenue then the debate would be different. The closer the Tigers get to relegation the noisier the debate about ring-fencing will become. That is my view at least. By the way I am not privy to the exact details of the CVC deal but I cannot believe they have agreed to take 27% of the profit (losses) so can only assume my information is reasonably accurate.
It is not only in the North where money is at stake. Super Rugby are in serious discussions about a major shake up of their competition. Ideas revolve around soccer's Champions League format with a few big sponsors across the piece, a single broadcaster, a neutral venue for the final, set time slots for each game each week. There is also talk of changing the format of the four nation Rugby Championship series and making it more TV and spectator friendly in terms of timing. Finally the southern hemisphere nations are also concerned about the drain of talent to the UK, France and Japan. They are considering allowing players to move across the franchises in the Super Rugby arena without risking their international status as is the case now. I found the article on stuff.co.nz.
That'll do for now. Let me make it a Brexit free day. Tomorrow however I will be delighted to review Maybe's visit to France and her discussions with Macaroon and Angela, everybody's favourite German grandmother. I will also be having a go at the duplicitous and the ostriches.
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Monday 8th Apr: 09:00
Unlike our beloved politicians let me get straight to the point of Monday and that is the league round-up.
As stated yesterday the table doesn't lie. Yes we lost five games across the season but against all the measures we were the best side in the league. Beccehamian might have a case against that as they did beat us twice and we made hard work of it at other times, like on Saturday. Crowborough RFC are champions and now can look forward to the significant challenges of London 2 South East.
Beccehamian's narrow 12-13 win over Bromley kept them in 2nd and therefore promoted alongside us. Bromley finished in 9th and will be keeping their fingers crossed that any cross border league re-alignments doesn't affect them. Folkestone did what they had to and that was beating Vigo away but sadly they finished 3rd with Vigo in 5th. If you consider Folkestone only stayed in this league as a consequence of Barnet not coming down into it and Vigo were only promoted last season so both clubs should be applauded for excellent seasons. In the all Sussex game Pulborough left bottom placed Lewes with the spoils to finish in 4th spot. Hastings & Bexhill RFC will be in Kent 1 next season with Park House and ODs who also didn't play this weekend all staying in London 3 South East.
I know several people from across our league read this nonsense so I thank them for a great season and all the best for next.
No Sussex 1 games but Crawley now know they will be playing Gillingham Anchorians away next Saturday in the play-off for promotion.
In London 2 South East our friends over at Heathfield & Waldron lost again but oh boy that must have been a cracker. Going down 42-45 to Dover must give real hope for next season. As expected Beckenham were promoted as champions after beating Gravesend. Horsham secured second spot after strolling past lowly Maidstone 76-12. I think they go into a play-off for promotion but can't be certain. Haywards Heath ended their season with a loss at Charlton Park. In the other games Deal & Betteshanger beat relegated Aylesford Bulls and Thanet Wanderers beat Old Colfeians. Looking at the league some long journeys for us but meeting up with some old friends.
The top of London 1 South remains as tight as ever. It is advantage Sevenoaks as they beat Chichester to go top. Camberley dented Medway's hopes with a fine away win over there in Kent. Camberley are on the same points as Sevenoaks but sit 2nd. Brighton beat Chobham at Chobham to go 3rd. Medway are now 4th but only four points off the pace. Camberley host Brighton, Sevenoaks travel to Thurrock and Medway are at Havant. We'll know what's what at 17:30 next Saturday. Hove drew their penultimate game 33-33 against London Cornish. They didn't get a win all season but thanks to that draw they didn't lose every game. Hove could get the win they deserve next week at Chobham who are also relegated.
I for one stand and applaud Hove. They haven't pulled out of a single game. They have played with heart according to my sources and never once conceded defeat. Others before them have taken the easy option. Hove didn't. Well done guys.
In the Premier League Tunbridge Wells beat Sidcup and guarantee Premier rugby next season and with one game to go are aiming for a top half finish. Sutton & Epsom blew the opportunity to sew up promotion after losing at home to Tring. Wimbledon's win at Hertford and Westcliff's home win over Chingford keep their slim hopes alive. Shelford beat Dorking which is great for them. They too despite having had a dismal season have battled from start to finish.
In the national league TJs came home from Redruth with a fine 23-37 win. TJs are still in 3rd behind Canterbury and promoted Rams. Worthing eased their relegation fears with a home win over Old Redcliffians. London Irish Wild Geese are relegated. Two games to go and it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that TJs could make the play-offs.
Finally Bridgnorth lost away at Scunthorpe with Salisbury losing at home to Newbury Blues.
Whilst our 1st XV are done and dusted our 2s and The Crows still have matters at hand. For others elsewhere there is still much to play for. Good luck all.
What a cracking game at Franklin Gardens yesterday. Gloucester are looking a good side with Cipriani pulling the strings. A worry therefore to see him limp off. Saints played well and will be safe from relegation.
Had some good feedback about my views on the paying of players. I think it is fair to say that the pitfalls and negatives are generally accepted but for those with money to pay they believe it is the only way if they are to maintain or improve their league status. Fair enough as long as it is sustainable and done properly. Again, and as is the case at one club they are doing it by the book; taxes paid and pensions set up, fair play. However I got to hear about disquiet elsewhere. Players and coaches being paid handsomely yet hardworking volunteers being screwed over by being expected to do more and more for no recompense. No I am NOT going to name the clubs but it highlights the challenges that face clubs the higher up the leagues they go and the higher up they want to go.
I'll leave the politics until tomorrow but I did listen to Priti Patel on Pienaar's Politics yesterday morning. Talk about a view so entrenched that like an ostrich she has her head in the sand and is talking through her backside.