Sunday Jan 21st - 10:00
Well done to the 2s coming away from Horsham with a 52-0 win over their 3s. Sadly we couldn't get a team together so the Crows had to scratch.
A make or break day yesterday in Europe. Exeter and the Ospreys came up short. Exeter fought back but in vain with the magnificent Glasgow burst being enough. Ospreys looked to have the upper hand at times but Clermont were always that little bit better when it mattered. Dan Biggar going off with what looks a serious shoulder injury is not good news. Scotland will be buoyed by the performance of Stuart Hogg
Bath did what they had to but with the Scarlets holding off Toulon in a tense and at times brutal affair it wasn't enough. Scarlets going through is great news for the Welsh game.
Leinster beating Montpellier was an impressive result as was Sarries hammering of woeful Northampton Saints. Sarries look pretty sure of a quarter-final spot but will have to wait until today's games are complete to be certain.
The Challenge Cup is somewhat clearer. Edinburgh face Cardiff in the next round. Dragons miss out at the expense of Brive who beat Worcester with the crucial bonus point.
Plenty to watch today. Wasps vs Ulster is the pick of the games.
Leicester City get another win on the board.
NFL Championship games tonight.
In other news two stories caught my eye, both with the same anger inducing sentiment. Some of the drivel I write is a little tongue in cheek often to get a response from you the readers. This time I am genuinely disgusted and appalled at the racism and discrimination shown by the BBC and Labour Party. BBC Radio 1 is advertising for an assistant and have stated that only black, Asian or ethnic minorities need apply. The Labour party are charging middle England white folks £40 to attend a conference whereas black, Asian and ethnic minorities can get in for £10. This is absolutely disgraceful. In terms of the job opportunity surely it should go to the best candidate and not to a candidate who is selected by race. In the Labour Party the many white folks are now second rate citizens and are to be discriminated against. I hope those Trotsky loving idiots remember that when they want votes and the taxes from middle England. We should all be treated equally regardless of race, creed, colour, religion or gender. For the many not the few.
Friday Jan 19th - 08:15
Boy its cold this morning. Wrapping up warm for the exertions or otherwise of litter picking at the club as part of my Friday Club duties. I might be allowed near a shovel this morning to move some sand.
To the rugby. Much to play for in this the final group games of the European cups. Mathematicians of a higher standing than me (they can do the 13 times table) are struggling with the permutations so I am just going to pick out a few games that have caught my eye. Scarlets v Toulon is one such game. Let us assume Benetton lose to Bath so Scarlets must triumph and triumph well if they are to progress. Glasgow v Exeter will be interesting. The West country boys need a 5 point win and results elsewhere to go their way if they are to progress.... I think. Sarries v Saints is always interesting. The pick of Saturday is Clermont Auvergne v Ospreys. I go the French side by a lot. On Sunday Wasps v Ulster is the one to watch.
Not much else in the rugby news except Eddie Jones playing down England's 6 Nations chances and he alluding to the fact the Irish regional system gives the men from the Emerald Isle an advantage.
One rumour to follow as it develops into truth or fades away as 'fake news' is Taulupe Faletau could be returning to the Dragons.
In other news Harry & Meghan visit Cardiff. Yawn, yawn, yawn!
The Carillion affair rumbles on. Those bosses need their gonads separating from the rest of their bodies. Crooks is what they are. I don't agree with Comrade Corbyn about renationalisation. The Government are a bunch of clowns and couldn't manage a paper bag. Why then do we expect them to be master builders, train operators etc. Less of that for now because soon free speech will be a thing of the past and Corbyn and his party of anarchists will have finalised their plans for Wales to become the home of the gulags and everything from your local nursery to the banks and railways will be under state control.
All that said it can't be any worse than being under the control of a shoe fetishist who runs a circus where the only entertainment is from clowns and juggkler and pretty unfunny clowns and bloody useless jugglers at that.
Must go. My brain hurts.
Thursday Jan 18th - 10:00
So King Eddie signs an extension to his contract taking him through to 2021. Makes sense as he does seem to have ironed out many of the failings of previous coaches. He has the biggest pool of talent to draw from and he is not afraid to hire in foreigners the minute they become eligible. (Mind you Gatland did the same with Hadleigh Parkes). There is still much to do if England are to get close to winning RWC 2019. England's performances during the Autumn internationals were not glittering and he will continue to be plagued by injuries thanks to the pressures of Premiership rugby. The contract runs up until the next Lions tour so if as many predict Jones remains red hot favourite for that job there might be a conflict of interest. The new RFU supremo Steve Brown thinks not as part of Jones remit post RWC2019 is to help find and mentor his successor (which could be Rob Baxter but he says is 'cool' on the idea). This will mean the day to day pressure of coaching England will be on the wane by then.
James Haskell will not be eligible to play after being handed a four week ban for his tackle on Jamie Roberts. As always you can't fault the process and no-one can argue the ban is unfair. Haskell's England career was on the slippery slope anyway so this will not inconvenience Jones one bit. In fact it has forced his hand, along with other suspensions and injuries, to blood youngsters which can't be a bad thing ahead of RWC2019.
Zach Mercer and Gary Graham (Scottish born import)are among eight uncapped players in Jones 6 Nations squad. Marcus Smith is included but won't feature in the matches. Despite the absentees it remains a very strong squad and with Italy first up giving Jones a window of opportunity if he wishes to test some of these youngsters before the bigger challenges of Scotland and Ireland.
The Irish squad looks particularly strong enhanced by the addition of rising star Jordan Larmour. This squads looks the best balanced between experience and youth and is packed with players on top form. The Irish could well top the table when the curtain comes down on 6 Nations 2018.
No rugby for the Steel Cross 1st XV this weekend but the Crows might be in action. Just waiting for confirmation. The juniors will be in action and are having a great run of successes at the moment. Quite frankly I don't give a rat's backside for the results. What is important is there are kids out there playing rugby, having great fun with their mates, meeting new people, being well coached in good surroundings. This IS exactly what is happening. Well done guys and gals. It is brilliant to read about how you are doing.
Plenty of European games to keep you interested this weekend. I'll look at those tomorrow before I disappear to Friday Club.
Wednesday Jan 17th - 09:30
The 6 Nations squads are being revealed with Warren Gatland rolling the dice first. Out go Jamie Roberts and Luke Charteris, in comes James Davies and Josh Adams. Whilst the former have been playing well for their clubs RWC 2019 is still 18 months away and both are getting a bit long in the tooth. Roberts is very one dimensional and if Wales are to compete Gatland has to think differently. Charteris can feel a little aggrieved but Bradley Davies and Cory Hill have been playing very well.
The inclusion of James Davies has been a given. He has been the outstanding #7 in Wales for some time but until now ignored by Gatland. His on and off-field temperament is sometimes supect and that has counted against him. Will he get the nod? I for one think the bigger, tried and tested will be in the match day squad ahead of him, especially with the news that Moriarty is looking fit and Navidi and Shingler are in fine form. Josh Adams has been in fine form for a Worcester side under pressure. If you can produce that kind of form in a losing side you have the potential to be a star on the international stage.
The Wales squad looks pretty strong particular when you consider there are still a number of high profile players on the injured list. All that said I see them behind England, Ireland and Scotland in the pecking order.
Gregor Townsend has also announced his squad. In are Hogg, Laidlaw and Scott Lawson, all returning from serious injury. By comparison to Wales, and against the squad I expect England's Jones to announce man for man the Scotland squad is not as good. Where they will triumph is the sum is greater than the individual total.... if you get my drift. The two Scottish regions are playing well with most of the sqaud playing together week in week out. They have France and England at home which is an advantage but I see Ireland in Dublin as the game that will define their 6 Nations.
Tommy Bowe is to retire from all rugby at the end of the season. A fine player who has lit up the game playing for Ulster, Ospreys, Ireland and of course The Lions. He'll be missed.
Marcus Smith signs a very lucrative £230k contract with Quins. Smith is going to be a global star if he maintains his current trajectory. He will be much sought after as his career progresses so I hope he can keep his feet on the ground and gets the best possible advice on keeping out of trouble.
The king of Toulon Mourad Boudjellal is in trouble for his bizarre rant following the Bastereaud racist comments. He has gone off on one aiming his ire at the 'Mormon' Irish and Welsh members of the EPCR. Unbelievable!!. The man has never been shy of courting controversy but this seems an outlandish slur and quite frankly is a racist attack.
FYI on Monday I attended the Sussex RFU General Meeting. Things are a changing!! It was very well attended and at last the agenda reflects what clubs need and want to know. In addition there is a recognition that admin for the sake of admin in the game is not helping recruitment and retention. Hoorah!!
In other sport Leicester City progress in the FA Cup thanks to the new video technology. I think the TMO in rugby is a postive addition but referees appear to be more and reliant on it which must not happen in soccer.
In the news there is much about the inception of the RAF 100 years ago. As someone who is fascinated by flight and aeroplanes and having a son-in-law who has served with distinction in the RAF it is wonderful to read the stories of times past and the developments for the future. 1st April is the big day.
Much in the news about the nurse shortage in the NHS. Something I alluded to previously. I mention this because it highlights the folly of leaving the EU. Many leaving are EU citizens returning home. Many of the Brits leaving the service are under 30 and sadly, in my mind, this is an idictment of today's young people; no sticking power, no desire to deliver loyalty, a society only motivated by instant gratification.
Carillion is much in the news. The Government has much to answer for in this sorry saga. Due diligence clearly was not done and good money was thrown after bad when it was obvious something was not right in the state of Denmark Carillion. What makes this whole sorry affair a disgrace is the fact the men at the top of the organisation seem to be able to continue to enjoy the high life thanks to their inflated salaries whilst hardworking trades people scratching out a living have had two fingers stuck up at them big style. Heads must roll and those fat cats must be brought to book. It is criminal. One good thing coming out of this means HS2 might get cancelled. The £billions this would cost could be invested in law and order, the NHS, care for the elderly.
As the Labour party gets taken over by the far left aka Momentum the Carillion news plays straight into their hands. Manner from heaven for those who want to take Britain into a Soviet style tyranny. Hey Ho!
Finally Macron is going to ask for more money as a result of the migrant crisis in Calais, and across Europe. Cher Msr Macron vous etes en erreur. You seem to forget that the ridiculous Schengen open borders have caused this. These migrants should have claimed asylum at the first safe border i.e. in Italy or Greece or Spain. The fact they haven't and have reached Calais is NOT the UKs problem mon ami.
Monday Jan 15th - 10:15
It's Monday, it's results round up day.
Sadly our 2s game at home to Pulborough 3s was pulled as Pulborough couldn't raise a side. Shame after all the effort to prepare the pitch on Friday. On that point, before I move on, I am pleased to announce that whilst Dave Bristow awaits back surgery Drew Pratt will lead the work on our pitches. Drew attended Plumpton College, albeit in ye olde times, has a farming background and is great with the heavy equipment we use around the grounds. Drew will also continue to be one of our great club photographers.
The Crows travelled to St Francis 2s and came away with a 61-12 win under their belts. Well done guys.
In our league Thanet Wanderers stay top after beating a resurgent Park House 42-24. After Aylesford Bulls' bonus point win against us they remain in second spot just four points adrift and with a game in hand. It is Old Dumstonians who sit in third after a comfortable home win over Folkestone 65-12. Lewes also had a very comfortable home win, this time over Sheppey 55-0. Continuing the theme Hastings & Bexhill beat Crawley 27-0 to leap frog us into 7th spot whilst we slip to 8th. Bromley and Old Williamsonians fought out a 17-17 draw. Crawley are looking more and more like relegation contenders whith Sheppey also looking forlorn. For the rest with eight games still to go there is much to play for.
In Sussex 1 it is the same old story; Hellingly go marching on this time beating Burgess Hill 41-0. East Grinstead put bottom placed Ditchling to the sword 0-59. Uckfield beat Eastbourne and sad to see Seaford was a HWO vs Barns Green. Burgess Hill and Seaford have one game to play. With only four points between them it is winner takes all to decide whether you are in the top four for part two of the league or the bottom four.
Up into London 2 South East where the big Sussex Derby went the way of Hove beating Haywards Heath 20-15. Hove remain behind runaway and unbeaten leaders Dartfordians who beat our friends Charlton Park 8-27. Pulborough would not have enjoyed the very long journey home from Dover after going down 78-7, nor would Barking having been thrashed by Heathfield & Waldron 88-0. Horsham beat Beckenham 32-24 to keep their hopes of a play-off spot alive. In the only other game Deal & Betteshanger lost at home to Old Alleynians and slip to 10th in the league.
As M People would say 'moving on up'.... into London 1 South Brighton lost to Cobham but with a try and a losing bonus point in a high scoring game. Chichester also lost at home, this time to CS Rugby 1863. Medway stay top after their win at our friends 'The Oaks'. Looks a good game; 29-37 being the scoreline. Maidstone stay bottom after losing to Havant.
In the Premier league Liverpool beat Man City. Whoops wrong premier league. Tunbridge Wells lose at home to promotion chasing Tring who remain on the coat tails of table topping Guernsey who beat Hertford.
In the National Leagues TJs secured an excellent away win at Henley. Worthing also won, this time at home in a thrilling 46-43 victory over Redruth. Cinderford stay top.
Bridgnorth beat Bournville but Salisbury lost at Oxford Harlequins.
Some cracking action in Europe yesterday. Racing 92 v Munster was something special. A thoroughly enjoyable and gripping encounter, and what a stadium that new U Arena. Leinster v Glasgow was less enjoyable. A below strength Glasgow allowing Leinster to run riot. Leicester were poor at Castres. No surprise there. Well done Cardiff Blues beating Toulouse to secure a quarter-final spot.
Eddie Jones's weekend was spoilt with the news that Billy Vunipola has broken his forearm and will now miss the 6 Nations. Mark McCall will also be downbeat as Sarries need to maintain a fully fit squad and their form if they are to challenge for silverware this season.
The monster known as Mathieu Bastareaud has been cited for homophobic comments during Toulon's win at Benetton. In the heat of battle the tongue can become loose but there is no excuse for this.
Liverpool v Man City was pretty enjoyable stuff as was the NFL last night. Sadly the Saints hopes of Super Bowl glory hit the buffers in Minnesota.
Terrible to see Cyril Regis passing away at the tender age of 59. Yet another reminder this is not a rehearsal. Make the most of what you have in front of you.
Sunday Jan 14th - 09:15
What a disappointment to come away from Aylesford Bulls empty handed. The boys played exceptionally well and deserved a minimum of a losing bonus point. A last minute home try robbed the boys of this small measure of success and those who were there know exactly what I mean by 'robbed'.
In the first half the Steel Cross outfit defended like demons. Probably the best 40 minutes of defence for a very long time. The Bulls were sloppy at times allowing 'Borough to take the lead with a Yates penalty. It took some time for high flying Aylesford to take the lead but they looked far from convincing.
Into the second half it remained nip and tuck for long periods with Aylesford looking the better side. Crowborough were not giving this one up lightly and a shock was on the cards when they took a 13-12 lead. It remained that way until deep into the second half when Aylesford slotted a penalty. A further well deserved try took the hosts further away but at 20-13 Crowborough were still in bonus point territory.
The final act of the game was 'highway robbery' in the minds of many of the travelling faithful. With 'Borough on the attack and looking to snatch a remarkable draw, or worse case secure that losing bonus point, an Aylesford defender must have found some magical 'Harry Potteresque' pace to get from 5 metres behind the scrum to intercept and take the ball the length of the field for the try. 27-13.
All that said if this was boxing Aylesford deserved the win on a majority points decision, and in no small part due to their penalty against being significantly less than Crowborough's. The Steel Cross men have to look at the penalty count and adapt more readily to the referees approach to the breakdown and offside lines.
When asked about 'Borough man of the match Will Creasy stood out for special praise but it would be fair to say that this was an excellent team effort deserving more than just praise in defeat.
Full league round up tomorrow.
In the European games Ospreys v Sarries was a disappointing slug fest. You might as well have got Farrell and Biggar out on the pitch alone for ten minutes and have a penalty shoot out for the all the open play in the other 70 minutes.
Wasps vs Quins was a much better contest throwing up a surprising Quins win. It is amazing with just pride at stake what can be achieved. Albeit playing against 14 men a last gasp winning try was what Quins deserved.
Let's talk about James Haskell. Does his walk of shame from the field sound the death knell for his international career? He is certain to miss the start, if not most of the 6 Nations with a ban, and he is already on downward slope out of international recognition. Was is red? Absolutely! It was a shoulder that connected with the head of Jamie Roberts and in my humble view there was no arms in the tackle making this pretty much a pre-meditated act. A bit like Sonny Bill on Watson in the Lions 2nd test.
Elsewhere Ulster secure an excellent win over La Rochelle. Exeter beating Montpellier was a fine result but the surprise, and a pleasant one too, was Northampton Saints being victorious at home over Clermont Auvergne.
Some good match-ups this afternoon but sadly I'll miss them being en route to Salisbury.
England cricket are on parade right now but the run chase is a challenging one.
Leicester City earned a draw at Chelsea. Nice one.
Off to read the papers now. Back tomorrow.
Saturday Jan 13th - 09:00
Well here is a first. I have been called a 'dimwit'. A 'dimwit' who doesn't understand basic economics. Actually one of my three A Levels is in economics and an 'A' grade to boot. This has all come about because the name caller doesn't get the basic truth that the NHS model is broken. What was amazing in post-war Britain in the 1940s is no longer appropriate for 2010s. It needs a complete remodelling. There is plenty of money made available to the NHS but is it being spent wisely, are the priorities right. My point, and the point made by some of those IN the NHS is the reason for staff shortages is not money, there are many other factors.
Unfortunately the name caller is a member of a dangerous cult. In this cult the leader is all powerful and demands complete obedience and acceptence that his view is the only view. The leader's only solution to every problem is to throw more money at it without any understanding of the underlying cause of the issues. By the way the cult leader plans to attack anyone outside his cult for said money leaving those even with great wealth inside his cult unscathed.
Let's move on............
The Pro14 is rubbish by comparison to the Aviva isn't it? Actually, I think last night saw that myth dispelled. What a thoroughly enjoyable game in which Bath were totally outplayed by a free running Scarlets side. The red tide was unstoppable once they started to move the ball around at pace. It was the closest I have seen to how the Southern Hemisphere sides play for a long time. Bath got their act together in the second half but Scarlets defensively were more than a match. The Matt Banahan try was a piece of magic. How did he get that ball down. Simply sensational. That said the Tadgh Byrne try for Scarlets in the first half was one of the tries of the season to date. He was rightly man of the match and not just for the try. Can't wait for Ospreys v Saracens tonight.
In the Challenge Cup Edinburgh and Gloucester secured quarter-final spots.
I must congratulate the Friday Club for their efforts yesterday. The grounds are very heavy to say the least but the tireless work of the boys geriatrics has got the A Pitch into a very playable state and the C Pitch ready for Sunday.
Looking forward to watching the boys at Aylesford Bulls this afternoon. As expected it is a much changed side but looks a good side. The boys will not give anything but their best. It should be a good game.
Before I go I am afraid I must return to the NHS. There was a piece on the local news in which a woman was criticising the fact that her husband's shoulder operation was delayed and he was sent home. She went on to say that if she had taken a dog to the vet the dog would never had been sent home without being treated. Yes madam you are spot on but you miss the point that that happens because you hand the vet your credit card when you book the dog in for treatment. For us mere humans that process is called private healthcare.
I intend to give the NHS a break but for the record I remain convinced the model is no longer appropriate for today and managing demand is the solution rather than trying to meet demand.
Thursday Jan 11th - 09:30
I can't believe it at times but some people do read this nonsense. I have had received a complaint from someone who wishes to remain anonymous, his name is Paddy, saying that I am being hypocritical for not castigating Cardiff Blues for giving Big Jim Williams a new contract and the Dragons luring Huw Taylor away from Worcester. His point is that they are blocking the opportunity of young Welsh academy players. Well Paddy, Huw Taylor is young and Welsh qualified* and therefore obviously sees an opportunity to be in the frame for full international honours rather than staying in England and being discarded behind a Fijian or New Zealander who only qualify because of residency. It could also be the case that he is fed up with the shenanigans at Worcester and sees the Dragons as a resurgent force going places. With regard to both Dragons and Cardiff, in fact all four regions, the bulk of the players have come through the local system, whether it be clubs or academies, and in the case of the Dragons right now they are only able to play thanks to the excellent academy system they have in place.
*Taylor qualifies by having a Welsh grandparent which is a policy I think should be changed. It should be parents as the qualification criteria.
Good news for Wales and of course Sarries, as Liam Williams* is expected to make a return for the 'fez heads' trip to the Ospreys on Saturday. Bath, who will be losing Matt Banahan to Gloucester next season, host Scarlets. This could be a cracker and well worth watching tomorrow night. It will give a real marker to the standards of the Aviva and the much maligned Pro14.
*Love the irony of me being criticised as Liam Williams runs out in his Sarries shirt. Get me a fez and a Saracens eye patch right now!
As always great match-ups across the board in both European tournaments. Sadly sides who have no chance of progressing will field weakened sides e.g. Quins. I like the look of Exeter v Montpellier and Racing 92 v Munster. Much to play for in the Ulster v La Rochelle game too.
While all that is going on we travel to Aylesford Bulls. The Bulls have been going well recently and will certainly see us as an opportunity to enhance their promotion chances. Our boys will have trained hard and despite a number of enforced team changes will be ready for the contest. The 2s are home to Pulborough 3s and the Crows travel to face St Francis 2s.
Wasps sign New Zealander Lima Sopoaga. Fascinating piece on his social media page thanking his family and friends and the dog and the postman but not one mention of the reason he is giving up any chance of making NZ's RWC 2019 squad; the money. He is leaving for the money!
The Australian Rugby Union decides, quite rightly, that the men's and women's 7s sqauds should be paid equally. Makes very good sense and is the right thing to do. Unlike tennis the women play the same amount of games in the same tournament. I just hope the ARU can afford all this at a time when rugby union is in serious decline in Australia; particpation and viewing.
Changing sports. Not in my wildest dreams as a kid growing up in Newport would I have seen a time when Newport County would be hosting Spurs at Rodney Parade. With Yeovil Town hosting Manchester Utd it is clear the romance of the FA Cup is still alive.
The equivalent of the TMO; the VAR has taken its opening bow in Englsih soccer this week. So far so good it seems.
In the news plastic takes centre stage. I am not a bleedin' heart liberal environmentalist but on this subject I feel we must do something. The amount of pastic waste that cannot be recycled is terrible and it is doing untold harm to seas and beaches and hedgerows across the globe.
On a similar vein global warming is being ignored. Record breaking freezes in the US, searing heat in Australia, storm after storm across the UK and now devastating mudslides in California. It IS an issue. Wake up and smell the coffee.
How repetitive was PMQs. The NHS blah, blah, blah. A well worn record. My view remains unchanged!!! Reduce demand. Get bed blockers out of hospitals. Stop health tourists. Charge for appointments. Fine drunks. Stop waste. Reduce bureaucracy. Get rid of unneccesary layers of management. Punish fraud aggressively. By the way I believe it is not money that is required, it is more staff. From people inside the NHS who I have come into contact with this is their view too. More money is an easy mantra.
Friday Club tomorrow. Back on Saturday.