Friday 16th August: 10:30
Happy Birthday to my lad: 39 today. Where has that time gone?
I was amazed to read how strong a side Warren Gatland has put out for tomorrow’s game. Dan Biggar starts with Jared Evans on the bench. Jake Ball and James Davies get their chance to impress. James and Jonathan Davies will represent their country together for the first time. I would not have played Alun Wyn Jones and certainly would have given some of the fringe players an opportunity to shine. This is an opportunity for those who were so slow and sluggish last weekend to regain some confidence but it is also an opportunity for more injuries to key players.
King Eddie has been a little more cautious making just three changes. Maro Itoje is the big inclusion with other stars being rested for at least another week. Ruaridh McConnachie will make his debut and Courtney Lawes will move to blindside flanker. Tom Curry, Anthony Watson and Charlie Ewels are all missing.
I expect a better showing from Wales in Cardiff especially as the roof will be closed but I fear England will be too strong and Wales will take another step backwards. If England do win then those who follow the Red Rose might want to start dreaming of World Cup glory.
Steve Hansen has discarded three from his squad after the loss to Australia. Out go Owen Franks, Ben Smith and Rieko Ioane. In come Nepo Laulala, George Bridge and Sevu Reece. This indicates to me that Hansen has for the first time got a serious problem on his hands and the invincible All Blacks are not invincible at all. Australia make just one change with Adam Coleman replacing the injured Rory Arnold. I hope this is as good a game as the first but sadly this time around I expect a comfortable All Black win.
South Africa will stroll past Argentina indicating to me that France and England will stroll through the group to the quarter finals.
There is a good piece in The Guarniad about the upcoming World Cup and how the tier 2 and 3 nations will get their moment in the sun. Sadly it then goes on to highlight that as soon as the trophy is presented they will fade back into obscurity as the tier 1 nations fight for the hearts, minds and wallets of the rugby world. Sad but true.
You suddenly understand your own mortality when you read of the premature death of former Bath and Leicester wing Steve Booth. 42 years of age and no longer with us. Let us spare a thought for him and the many like him who have been removed from this mortal coil why too early.
As I am in Bridgnorth internet access is a nightmare so my normal trawl through the rugby pages is limited I’m afraid. This also goes for a look at news other than BBC and SKY. I have picked up on Comrade Corbynov offering to be Prime Minister. Comrade, not now as I would rather see Harry Redknapp than you . That’s not going to happen either. Mrs Bleater came out with a pithy comment: “Corbyn as Caretaker Prime Minister, what tosh. He’d make a crap school caretaker let alone a caretaker PM”
Whilst in Bridgnorth I have been asked to go through stuff that is cluttering up my mum’s home. I have been through all the press cuttings and sorted out many of the trophies and shirts of my brothers. Boy oh boy it made me feel inadequate and that despite in my younger days being a more than OK player.
Do you remember the late Bob Crow? You all know my view of him and his successor Mike Loadsa Cash. Well imagine my pride when I found a presentation plaque to my late grandfather congratulating him on his 14 years of service as the NUR Branch Secretary for the Neath Region. The NUR of course the pre-cursor to the RMT, the same RMT that has given me so much valuable material over many years.
Wednesday August 14th: 10:30
Another day in Bridgnorth, another trip to the library. Some good news though, Paddy O’Fez has been found safe and sound. Apparently his trip to Scotland was thwarted at the border when the Republican Guard of the Kingdom of Sturgeon turned him away. On his immigration form he failed to put down he was a die-hard Saracens supporter and wearing a fez and eye-patch were deemed offensive.
Nothing but resolute O’Fez turned west and headed to Ireland where the borders, at least until October 31st are open thus allowing anyone into the country, even a one-eyed card carrying member of the Nigel Wray fan club. At the moment he is trying to see if Ben Spencer has any Irish ancestry in order to get him to Japan.
On this point for once I agree with Sir Clive Knowitall in that Ben Spencer should be going to Japan. Picking just two scrum halves is a high risk strategy and whilst replacements can be flown out that is not a quick fix. Ben Youngs or Heinz 57 getting injured the day before a test could be catastrophic leaving no time for a replacement to arrive. That said King Eddie doesn’t need to submit his final squad list until September 8th. Plenty of time for changes. Sir Knowitall goes on to say he likes the balance of the squad overall and his view is consistent with mine in that the absence of Shields, Brown, Te’o is no big deal.
Chris Foy of the Organ of Truth disagrees. He thinks the squad lacks experience and is a “rookie filled gamble”. This is an interesting position as many of the players mentioned such as Hartley, Shields, Robshaw and Care are the ones that have failed to deliver when delivery was required. Yes the selection is a gamble but I feel this time around Jones’s gamble might just pay off and the dice will roll his way.
I always saw England as contenders but with an outside chance. Right now their odds are shortening rapidly and I can see them being favourites by the time they arrive in Japan.
Wales on the other hand are going the other way. Clearly the best side in the Northern Hemisphere after their Grand Slam triumph but last Saturday was woeful. I fear with three more games ahead there will be many more injuries and further defeats will knock the stuffing out of Wales. Only time will tell.
Whilst all this is going on Scotland, Ireland and France are going quietly about their business under the radar.
Show me the money!! How is the Buffoon going to pay for all these new pledges: money for the NHS, the police, the prisons, the CPS, his stylist, and even the Downing Street cat? I applaud the fact he is investing in vital services but he has to say how he is funding it. Scrapping the money pit of HS2 is one idea as is getting the waste out of the overseas aid budget plus chasing tax avoiders like Facebook, Google, Starbucks et al. Saying nothing makes it look like the bullshit he spouted during the Brexit referendum. Politicians must be forced to justify their spending promises with detail otherwise it is just hot air and fancy rhetoric which the Buffoon is a master of.
As I sit at my mother’s dining table typing this drivel I think what climate change as the temperature has dropped and the rain bounces off the windows. Climate change is real and we must think differently. We don’t have to be zealots and stop flying, that genie is out of the box never to return. Likewise we don’t have to give up our cars. We all have to make small adjustments such as reducing waste. Do you really need a plastic bag for two carrots and an onion? Shop to a menu plan to reduce food waste. When driving go at least 5 mph less than normal to improve your MPG. Don’t leave your electronics on standby. Turn your heating down a degree or two. I am not going to stop eating red meat as some have suggested or stop taking holidays but I will think about what I can do to help the situation.
By the way if none of us flew anymore can you imagine the consequences on those countries where tourism is their lifeblood or the impact on employment around the world?
No blog tomorrow. The library is closed on a Thursday.
Tuesday August 13th: 10:30
So King Eddie rolled the dice, spilt the wine, read the runes and picked a squad. Two surprises in my mind: the untried and untested Ruaridh McConnochie is retained as is Lewis Ludlam, but that is after his fine showing on Sunday. Jones was very defensive about his selection and not willing to talk about the players omitted. I have no problem with that after all he is head coach. Some raised an eyebrow over the omission of Ben Te’o and the inclusion of Piers Francis. The former was involved in a training ground bust up with Mike Brown and that would have been an immediate red flag to Jones who is a stickler for discipline.
Cipriani was never going nor was Mike Brown. Brad Shields omission could be down to his foot injury but in my mind he wasn’t worthy of a place regardless of injury. I have been underwhelmed by him both for England and Wasps. It is often the case that players who get nowhere near All Black selection aren’t going to be good enough for other tier 1 nations.
I personally would have taken Ben Spencer instead of Willie Heinz but Jones obviously sees something in Heinz that perhaps I have missed. The squad is otherwise well balanced and the back five look mighty powerful. There though lies a potential problem in that if Jones is thinking of clubbing teams to death with brute force then he might need to think again. On paper this looks a world cup winning squad. It is on the field the cup will be won and not on paper however. There are still some question marks with Nowell, Curry, Vunipola M, Underhill and a few others still under the watchful eye of the medics.
Wales were delivered a huge blow with Gareth Anscombe being ruled out with an ACL injury. He has been in fine form and will be sorely missed. For Rhys Patchell and Jared Evans the door now opens for them to be Dan Biggar’s understudy. I personally would look over the Severn Bridge at Rhys Priestland but what do I know. Warren Gatland will come in for some stick for playing such a strong squad and losing and suffering a major injury blow. He was damned if he did, damned if he didn’t. He will be sat with his coaches worrying over selection for next weekend, as of course will King Eddie. What do they do? Gatland having not named his final squad has more flexibility in who to play and who to leave out. Jones on the other hand is forced to put key players from the squad at risk….. or is he. Will Jones play dirty and pick a squad of players including some who have been discarded. That would raise a few eyebrows me thinks.
I read through a number of the match reports from the weekend and happily I think the real hacks assessment was very much like mine. I think the big winner this week is Michael Cheika and Australia. Not just because they beat the mighty All Blacks but how they beat them bearing in mind it was a strong New Zealand side. In the smugness stakes I think Jones and his England side can be mightily pleased with their showing. The second string players stood up and were counted with several being rewarded with a seat on the plane.
The losers were New Zealand and the New Zealand press. This was the day they were to set the record straight and get back to being the all-conquering All Blacks. Steve Hansen has much to ponder. The same can be said for Gatland after an almost first string Welsh side were outplayed, out-thought and out-muscled by England.
Much in the news about Hong Kong. That isn’t going to end well me thinks.
Boris the Buffoon is giving out gifts like every day is Christmas, and he isn’t paying.
Diane Abbott is criticising the gifts.
Caroline Lucas has loaded the gun and shot herself in the foot. How sexist is it to suggest the country needs a cabinet of women to sort Brexit. The second barrel finished the job when all the women were white.
Bleater@crowboroughrugby.com for your thoughts on the England squad, or anything else.
Monday August 12th: 10:30
Might as well start at Twickenham and what you can read into yesterday’s result? England were good, Wales weren’t. England have strength in depth, I’m not sure Wales do. England looked like a side that could win a world cup, Wales looked a side that might struggle to get out of the group.
Wales were uncharacteristically lethargic and porous in defence and the accuracy we saw in the 6 Nations wasn’t there. Too many basic handling errors and their kicking game came back to bite them. All too often Wales failed to chase hard enough allowing England’s pacey back three to counter-attack with force. The men in red also came second in the scrum and unusually second at the breakdown.
England looked sharp and even though this was very much a second string side versus a first choice Welsh team they looked well drilled and played with a freedom so lacking in the King Eddie era. Billy Vunipola and Tom Curry were excellent and Cowan-Dickie was everywhere. In the backs I thought Jonathan Joseph played well as did Anthony Watson. George Ford was the pivot at 10 telling me that he should start with Farrell at 12.
It wasn’t all happiness and joy as I felt Elliot Daly was very shaky in defence and lacking in attack. When Courtney Lawes came on he added muscle but the England penalty count went north at the same time. The biggest negative was Tom Curry going off with what looks like a shoulder injury. His short contribution was excellent and if his injury is serious that will be a blow for Jones and England.
Have Wales gone from heroes to zeroes overnight? No, I don’t think so and I think they will still be there or thereabouts come the world cup final. In that 20 minute spell in the first half they played well and except for a sloppy last pass they could have not only been in contention but could have been ahead. Gareth Anscombe limping off and later being seen on crutches is a massive worry for those like me who follow the dragon.
If there is a positive for Wales it is the weight of expectation has been brought back to levels of normality. England on the other hand when you think of the players who were watching from the stands can ramp up the level of expectation. Winning RWC 2019 is not beyond them.
After Australia’s stunning win over the All Blacks on Saturday do we write off the men from New Zealand and pencil in an England v Australia final a la 2003? I don’t think so. As good as the Aussies were the All Blacks were poor which has been a theme in the last few games but you write them off at your peril. Australia played with vision and pace. Their set piece was a source of good ball and the mistakes of recent games were missing. They took the opportunities presented to them very well and with Lealiifano and O’Connor in the back line they looked much more accomplished and balanced.
On the other side of the pitch the Barret / Mo’unga combination failed to work and players like Ben Smith, Sam Whitelock and Sam Cane all looked below par. Of course the sending off of Scott Barrett had a major impact but it was the right call, 100% the right call. It was a thoroughly enjoyable game which will have boosted Cheika’s side’s confidence. The All Blacks will bounce back and I expect a much improved showing next weekend.
Over in Argentina South Africa were clinical and the more I see of them the more I think they could well be in the frame for the world cup in Japan. They looked the complete article albeit against a pretty average Argentinian outfit. Backs and forwards linked well and they played with accuracy. They showcased an excellent array of skills but it was doing the basics well that won this game for them.
I’ll read through the match reports later today and add more thoughts tomorrow.
By the way to those who winged on about the Scott Barrett sending off, Will Greenwood being one, I say if you read the guidelines to referees the incident was the perfect example of what justifies a red card.
Thursday 8th August: 07:00
No blog today or for the next few days. Bridgnorth beckons.
Back on Monday mid morning when the Bridgnorth library opens.
Wednesday 7th August: 09:00
Not sure whether this drivel is prophetic or pathetic. Only yesterday I wrote that Mike Brown was not guaranteed a seat on the plane to Japan, and no more than four hours later he was out of the 33 man squad to play Wales. Mind you if you're flying BA today no-one is guaranteed a seat today as their systems go into melt down again. You downsize and out source you can expect trouble.
King Eddie has axed not only Brown from his squad but also Ben Te'o, formerly one of Jones's favourites, and Ben Spencer. The omission of Spencer is for me the biggest surprise. A lynchpin in Saracens success last season, blooded during the season by Jones with the World Cup in mind and a player who has for Saracens helped out in emergencies elsewhere on the pitch. Willie Heinz has been good at Gloucester but is he better than Spencer or Dan Robson. Let's wait and see as this could be a final audition; fail and he's out and Spencer returns.
It is no surprise that Alex Dombrandt has been released but with both the Fijian Nathan Hughes and Brad Shields missing (right now) I would have taken a punt on Dombrandt. Interestingly young Lewis Ludlam and Ruaridh McConnochie are retained and could find themselves in the final 31. With a name like McConnochie I wonder if Jones has selected him to ensure Scotland don't get their hands on this young talent from Bath. Mako Vunipola and Jack Nowell along with Shields are the three who are in a race against time. Fit and they go is my view.
As I said yesterday the result on Sunday is pretty irrelevant, it is about who plays, how they play and more importantly how the team performs. You can expect some big names NOT to feature on the team sheet and rest assured some who do will still be left behind when that plane leaves, with or without their luggage.
Did you read about the EasyJet flight that took off with one passenger in a seat with no back to it. The FAA will certainly have something to say about that. Ryanair on the other will start charging you if you want a seat with a back to it.
Nice piece in The Guarniad by the excellent Robert Kitson reviewing well respected Welsh broadcaster Ross Harries book about Wales and their training camps. It highlights that games are won by being fit, having skill and determination, having good coaching but don't underestimate the importance of team bonding or camaraderie. The latter can often make a team greater than the sum of its individual parts and I think that is Wales much of the time.
In the same article Kitson also points out how relegated Richmond are extremely unhappy that Yorkshire Carnegie have been thrown a lifeline by the RFU. They are quite right to be annoyed and their justification for annoyance is spot on: "clubs who spend beyond their means and subsequently crash and burn should not profit at the expense of more responsibly run rivals". Hear, hear to that!
In the Welsh section of the rugby news much is made of Rachel Taylor becoming the first woman to be appointed to an academy skills coach role. There is also a piece about gocompare.com founder Hayley Parsons being the first woman appointed to the board of Cardiff Blues. This is such bullshit. This should not be happening. What we should be reading is something like this: "after an extensive and thorough recruitment process xxxx has been appointed to the position of xxxx by xxxx. We are certain they are the very best person for the job and will help us take xxxx to the next level". It is 100% irrelevant that they are women in my mind. It is a sad indictment of today's bigoted and misguided society that we have to laud something that should be a matter of course. Would it read: "Billy Fish, a man, has been appointed to........ "? No it wouldn't.
In the news Brexit is back. It looks increasingly like No Deal which in my opinion is madness but what do I know?
If things go belly up we could soon be living in a Marxist Utopia that is unless you live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland as the man we most need to fear, even ahead of Corbynov, comrade McDonnell shamelessly sells the Union of the Kingdom down the river to covet favour with Wee Jimmie Sturgeon and her blue shirted Nationalists.
Ah thank goodness, the coffee is ready. Back tomorrow.
Tuesday 6th August: 08:15
As the World Cup gets ever closer so Mrs Bleater and I get more excited. Just 45 days before kick off so 46 days before we head to the Land of the Rising Sun. Ireland host Italy in their first warm up game on Saturday. Yes every game is about winning but in these games it is more about giving players on field time, putting into practice what has been discussed on the training paddock and for the coaches rubber stamping what they believe their final 31 man squad will be. I expect Ireland will win but I want to see what Italy can do up front against the Irish and see how Johnny Sexton performs, obviously if selected.
England host Wales on Sunday. If the talk coming out of the England camp is anything to go by then the players are up for it and seriously believe they can go to Japan and return victorious. Certainly Maro Itoje, Jamie George and Mike Brown, the latter still not guaranteed to be in the final 31, are saying all the right things. I just hope they are not too confident. More on this as the teams are announced.
The Rugby Championship continues on Saturday. First up Australia v New Zealand. If the men in gold have any chance in Japan I think this game is pivotal. A good performance, not necessarily a win, will put them in good stead. They must defend flawlessly and must eliminate those annoyingly silly mistakes. Going forward the scrum must be as it was against Argentina: a source of good ball going forward and a powerful weapon in defence.
It is unusual to ask but the result also depends on which New Zealand turns up. The stuttering, vulnerable, error strewn All Blacks or the ruthless and all powerful All Blacks. After a series of mediocre performances I expect a more polished showing in Perth on Saturday. Glancing through the papers the New Zealand hacks think Hansen will persist with Mo'Unga at #10 and Barrett at #15. Let's wait and see.
On Saturday evening could we see South Africa lift the trophy for the first time in a long time, albeit in a shortened tournament this time around. They have played well and Argentina failed to impress last time out. Rassie Erasmus has competition for places which is great for the Boks. Argentina must sort out their set piece, normally a strength and must throw caution to the wind. A defeat would not be catastrophic for the Pumas if they can show grit and determination and an unpredictability but a win would send their confidence through the roof and send a little shockwave through the English and French camps.
The Organ of Truth are thrashing the Sarries salary cap debate to death. They broke the story which prompted the investigation so no surprise there. Chris Foy writes that the top clubs fear the whole issue will be swept under the carpet. If that were the case it would leave a bad taste in the mouth and bring the integrity of the game and Saracens into question. That said have Saracens broken the rules or have they found a way around them? Breaking rules and bending them are two different things. Take Maro Itoje for example. He is a very bright, articulate man, the sort of guy any company would want on their board driving their business forward. It could be argued that Nigel Wray, if he is "employing" him as a director is doing exactly that. The fact he is also a full time rugby player is irrelevant, or is it? I can see both sides of the argument, especially as I see clubs at much lower levels than Saracens using exactly this approach to get around the new RFU guidelines on the payment of players at grassroots level.
So what is likely to happen? I don't know but I'll have a wild stab that if it is swept under the carpet some clubs with generous benefactors e.g. Bristol will simply follow suit. By the way I question how Bristol can afford all their stars and still be within the cap.
In other sport weren't England woeful yesterday. It was men versus boys with the home side capitulating to a pretty average Aussie outfit.
Harry Maguire is now a Manchester United player. £80m is madness.
The Heathrow strike is off. The unions are considering a revised pay deal. Good news for holidaymakers.
I cannot believe that the Big Orange Pustule has refused to condemn the US's totally unregulated sale of guns, and these are weapons that have more fire power than those of some countries armies. Madness.
Brighton & Hove Pride Festival was apparently a huge success. Good. What was far from good was the amount of rubbish left behind. Sack after sack after sack of the stuff, and I bet some of the people enjoying the weekend's events are the same people who whinge on about climate change and being green. Sort of contradictory to me.
Back tomorrow with another look at the games ahead and perhaps some more views on climate change.
Monday 5th August: 09:30
Quite rightly the rugby pages lead with the death of All Black legend Sir Brian Lochore at the age of 78. The former captain, 68 times capped 46 as captain and World Cup winning coach passed away after a short battle with cancer. Those of a similar age to me who have followed the game will know the name Brian Lochore and will therefore be saddened by his passing.
Japan continue their RWC 2019 preparation with a 41-7 win over Tonga. Fiji beat Canada in their latest warm-up game. There was a bizarre moment in this game when a Fijian accidentally poleaxes the linesman assistant referee when he threw the ball in celebration of a try. Samoa were robbed by a Nigel Owens cock up. Mis-hearing a call from the touch line he wrongly awarded a knock-on when the Samoan had in fact kicked the ball forward quite fairly. The USA went on to win 13-10 thanks to Sale Sharks AJ MacGinty slotting a penalty late on.
Some weeks ago I mentioned some law changes that are to be trialled in Australia such as the 50-22 kick and having a goal line drop-out when the ball is held up over the line rather than an attacking scrum. A well respected South African sports writer Brendan Nel has ripped into these ideas saying we are already too close to rugby league without these changes and all they will do is increase the amount of kicking not decrease it. Tinkering at the edges doesn't solve the mess that is the ruck and the scrum. Good point Reg!.
I found the story in stuff.co.nz if you want to read the full article.
The build up to England v Wales on Sunday has begun. Much in the papers from the Welsh camp about key players who have shot to fame since the last world cup: Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams, and Liam Williams and how they are eager to maintain Wales winning run.
The England camp are expecting and preparing for a full on encounter. No quarter asked, no quarter given. Willie Heinz is likely to get some game time as the New Zealander strives to become the back up to Ben Youngs.
During the tournament it would be fascinating to compile some alternative stats.
How many players in RWC 2019 are plying their trade in the English Premiership but not playing for England?
How many players are playing for a country that is not their country of birth?
How many players are playing for a country only because of the pathetic residency rules?
Finally it would be fascinating to know from the moment the ball is kicked off in the first game to the very final whistle how much time the ball was actually in play. Excluding extra time that is what percentage of 48 x 80 minutes?
In other sport the Ashes 1st test continues. Yawn! Five days and we will still only get a draw. After the World Cup and the T20 test cricket is slow and ponderous. Putting names and numbers on shirts is not going to make it any more interesting.
F1 returned to its normal procession this weekend. The battle between Verstappen and Hamilton had its moments but the best action was off the track. That decision to pit Hamilton was inspired and turned the race on its head.
Couldn't be bothered with the Community Shield. It is too early for the season to start.
Mind you the silly season started some time ago. Leicester City's Harry Maguire to Manchester United for £80m. Madness. Sad to see him leave the Foxes but £80m in the bank is good business me thinks.
Crime, especially knife crime is out of control in Britain. Much of the latter is gang/drug gang related and much of the former is potentially due to reduced police numbers and a serious decline in society values.
We should be outraged by it but at least it is not caused by the madness that allows people to walk into a supermarket and within a few minutes and after a few checks walk out with a semi automatic assault rifle. That person can then walk back in some time later and shoot dead 20 innocent people and injure many more. Madness. That is then compounded by someone walking around a small town in Ohio killing at least nine other innocent people.
The USA, the NRA you should be ashamed.
Dear Buffoon, well done for promising to pump billions into our police and the NHS but tell me WHERE IS THE MONEY COMING FROM? Yours Bleater.
Naivety at its best. A guy on the BBC saying disgruntled workers at Heathrow should not strike during the school holidays. Oh I never thought of that. Let's not strike when we are going to get the most publicity and create the most havoc, lets strike when nobody will notice.
Saturday 3rd August: 09:00
As I sit here typing my neck aches, my arms are throbbing and my legs are burning. The Friday Club worked their elderly butts off again yesterday so I am sure there will be a shortage of Radox in the shops as the old farts soak away their aches and pains. A great job guys.
The inside looked pretty damn good too. Jacqui hosted a military mess dinner last night and I am certain that would have gone fantastically well. The food smelled great as she was preparing it.
I have been taken to task by my good friend Robert about inaccuracies in yesterday's blog. No change there then. Apparently the LibDems have held Brecon and Radnorshire for all bar 9 of the last 34 years so Thursday's result was more of a home coming than a stunning victory. He also by the miracle of percentages goes on to prove that the Buffoon didn't actually get a bloody nose when you consider the LibDems were bolstered by Plaid Cymru and the Greens who didn't stand and the Tory vote being split by the Brexit Party. With no element of glee he did point out that the Labour Party were nowhere to be seen.
Thanks Robert. I can't promise to check any of my facts going forward though. If it is good enough for Donald and Vladimir not to do so then it is good enough for me.
Following the success of the recent public service announcement I have been asked if readers could look out for one Paddy O'Fez. Apparently he has gone missing and his friends are family are becoming increasingly worried. O'Fez will be easily recognised by his Saracens fez and matching eye-patch. He is likely to be wandering aimlessly singing some Irish ditty or belting out something about keeping a red flag flying high. His last known whereabouts are somewhat contradictory in that he is either hidden away trying to solve the conundrum that is "Sarries and the salary cap" or he is doing missionary work in Scotland. Who knows what that might entail by the way.
Did you know, and yes this is apparently true, that in some parts of Glasgow you can get cocaine delivered to your house quicker than you can a pizza. A terrifying thought.
If you see him please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Talking of the salary cap the Premiership club bosses are demanding a verdict on the probe into how Saracens could be getting around the cap. They are becoming increasingly frustrated about how long the investigation is taking and the wall of silence surrounding it. Some have stated quite clearly that if it is ok for Saracens then they will simply follow suit (I paraphrase but you get the gist). The issue has arisen because a number of star players are allegedly employed as directors of Nigel Wray's companies thus seemingly being rewarded over and above the cap by a back door route. Premiership Rugby have put out a very bland statement about confidentiality etc, etc . The Organ of Truth for the full story.
I watched the Currie Cup match-up between the Free State Cheetahs and the Golden Lions last evening. It was pretty good stuff actually but played in front of a sparse crowd.
Talking of which the Ospreys are in advanced talks about moving away from the Liberty Stadium to a brand new smaller and more compact stadium in Llandarcy. Makes a lot of sense as it must quite miserable having just 7,000 fans in a 21,000 seat stadium.
David Pocock has returned to the Wallabies camp after injury. That is one mighty boost for Cheika and Australia's chances in the upcoming Bledisloe Cup.
Before I go a thought for you to ponder. Rugby club names. We have Sharks, Tigers, Lions, Cheetahs, Bulls, Sunwolves. Why isn't there a team of sloths?
Back on Monday. Much to do tomorrow.
Friday 2nd August: 07:00
My body feels as if it has been hit by a dump truck. A very full day at the club yesterday doing all sorts of stuff but mainly getting the pitches ready for the season ahead. If it sounds like self congratulation so be it but the old farts who make up the Friday Club have done an amazing job. More today so I wonder if I'll be in bed again by 21:00 absolutely exhausted.
The inside of the club also looks great thanks to the Exec's investment in getting a floor polishing company into to get out stressed oak flooring looking pristine and lovely. Boy it looks great.
There are two main headlines across most of the rugby pages that I trawl through.
Taulupe Faletau suffering a collarbone injury meaning his RWC 2019 campaign is over before it has begun. He will need an operation so has been ruled out. The WalesOnline headline is a bit dramatic: "Wales suffers huge World Cup blow" or something like that. In my mind, alongside Alun Wyn Jones Faletau is a truly world class player who would walk into any international side in the world. Yes even the All Blacks. His loss is a blow but Wales won the Grand Slam without him and back row is an area where Wales have strength in depth. Ross Moriarty is likely to become the first choice No.8 but Warren Gatland will still have other options at his disposal. Wales is greater than the sum of its individual parts so lets not lose hope of RWC 2019 glory because of one player leaving the camp.
Israel Folau is the other man in the news. He is suing Rugby Australia for c.£5.8m and is demanding to be reinstated into the team. I might be naïve but this for someone who claims to be a devout Christian seems very un-Christian behaviour. It smacks of greed and a self-serving drive for publicity. If Folau genuinely feels he has been wrongly dismissed then I can understand the desire for compensation but to demand he is reinstated is pure fantasy. No employer is going to reinstate someone they have dismissed and someone who has failed to follow the company policy and someone who has brought the company and the companies industry into disrepute.
We all should be allowed to speak freely, and perhaps no matter how offensive that might be. Folau's views are offensive but as deeply held religious beliefs we should accept that. What is not acceptable is being paid handsomely by RA and then ignoring their rules and guidelines. His homophobic comments go against common decency but for us in the game are totally contrary to our all inclusive attitude that wins rugby so many plaudits. This is why he must not win his case.
I am going to stray into potentially controversial territory here. If someone like Folau's opinions are deemed acceptable then others cannot be taken to task for taking an opposing view. In Birmingham there have been protests by Muslims outside schools because the school is teaching pupils that family life is not just a man and woman and children. There are of course other very happy combinations of family life so it makes sense. If these people are allowed to protest surely we should be allowed to protest for example about the sometimes barbaric way women are treated in Muslim society. We can't because we would be hauled in front of the bench for racist behaviour. For me you can't have it both ways. Something to ponder.
By the way what an absolute disgrace that a man working in Stormont in Northern Ireland was offended by the portrait of the Queen therefore given £10,000 in compensation, and the portrait has been removed. WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! If you are offended then go and live somewhere else. Unless things have changed overnight Her Majesty is still Queen of Northern Ireland.
I see the Buffoon got his first bloody nose last night losing Brecon and Radnorshire in the by-election. Traditionally a staunchly Tory constituency this is a big blow for the Buffoon.
The sneak preview of the new 50p coin celebrating Boris's rise to the top job is courtesy of my good friend Ken (who is at home in Wales celebrating his good old mum's birthday) and his sidekick Max the Mower.
Wednesday 31st July: 08:45
And I didn't think anyone read this drivel. Well clearly some people do. Within half an hour of asking for information on a club member that we had failed to locate we had the answer. Thank you, and I am sure Mr Nunan will be very pleased we tracked him down.
Who was the best scrum half Stuart Barnes ever played with? My brother Nigel of course. He reads this rot too and as I am seeing him in a few days time I thought I'd better ingratiate myself to him. The fact he has organised a family lunch on the day England play Wales in a RWC warm-up is questionable.
According to the app it is just 51 days and 3 hours before RWC 2019 kicks off.
It will be touch and go if Brad Shields makes it but his foot injury is not as severe as first thought. Jack Nowell is another who is in the race against time. He has been sent home from England's training camp for further assessment on his ankle post the surgery. In my mind Nowell would be the bigger loss if he doesn't make it. George Kruis and Mako Vunipola are set to return and whilst they might not be ready for Wales on August 11th they are pretty certain of making the plane to Japan.
Much has been made of New Zealand's recent form, and not in a positive way. Steve Hansen has whittled his squad back to 34 ahead of the trip to Perth for the Beldisloe Cup clash. Obviously there is no Brodie Retallick but Scott Barrett returns thus joining Beauden and Jordie. Sonny Bill Williams is rested from All Black duty but will play for Counties Manukau for the next two weeks.
What can you tell from warm-up matches? Probably not a lot but for the record USA blasted past Canada 47-19 which is interesting as the USA are in England's group. Samoa beat Tonga 25-17 which is not a surprise but do go on line and find the pictures. The pitch was appalling (unlike Steel Cross which right now looks like a bowling green, just perfect).
Away from the World Cup Yorkshire Carnegie have been given a provisional reprieve and will take their place in the Championship when it kicks off. Their financial woes put them at risk of being booted unceremoniously out of the league but agreement between the RFU and the clubs creditors appears to have been reached thus saving them from the ignominy.
This case reinforces my long held belief that clubs are going to have to wake up and smell the coffee and realise that some of the operating practices e.g. being sustained by one benefactor is unsustainable in the long term. You know the rest.
Well done Egan Bernal, the first Columbian to win Le Tour and one of the youngest ever. Geraint Thomas came in second. Real shame the final two "proper" stages were curtailed due to weather issues as this was one of the most competitive Tour de France for a long time. Still no French winner!!
Wasn't the F1 good this weekend. Spills and thrills and surprises. Mercedes dominance shattered with Hamilton finishing way down the field and Bottas finishing in a field. Can I be so bold as to suggest all races should be run in the wet?
The Ashes start tomorrow.
Big few days at the club coming up with much work on the pitches, the clubhouse and the surrounding environment to be completed. Well done all who are involved.
I see comrade Corbynov is refusing to use the new Prime Minister's first name. No issue with that. Just call him Buffoon like everyone else is. He continues his tour of this great country giving out presents like Father Christmas on speed.
Dear PM, or may I call you Buffoon, I like the extra cash for police recruitment and I like the promises on care for the elderly but where is the money coming from especially as you seem to be giving money back to those who already have oodles of the stuff. By the way not sure about some of those VERY high cost infrastructure projects such as HS2. The cost of that is out control and should be scrapped in favour of investing in the NHS. Yours Bleater.
Before I go I see that Richard Branson has been slammed for going on about how material things are unimportant and experiences and family are way more important. You know what, I can associate with that as for us experiences and family are way more important than anything else. We are not in Branson's league when it comes to wealth but we are very privileged to be able to afford experiences and it is therefore important to remember that there many who can't afford great experiences because they can't even afford the basics of life let alone the fripperies like the ones you enjoy Mr Virgin.
No blog tomorrow, back on Friday.
Tuesday 30th July: 07:55
First this morning a public service announcement.......
For very positive reasons CRFC are keen to get in touch with a Mr Nunan, a club member of many years whose details were never included on our database. If any of you who read this know Mr Nunan can you contact me, email@example.com
Let me throw out there some more of what was discussed on Saturday night by the esteemed panel of experts at the pre-Japan tour event.
With two passionate Scots on the panel it was no surprise that Scotland was seen as a possible winner of Pool A. Much was said about Ireland and the reliance on Johnny Sexton, who it was argued is getting close to his best before date. There was a feeling that Ireland's game plan had become too predictable and the spine of the squad was aging. This left the door open for Scotland if they could replicate the second half they produced against England in the Calcutta Cup game at Twickenham.
Did you know the host country can dictate the order of the games in their pool. Japan have chosen to play Russia first in the hope of getting a win on the board and have asked that Scotland v Ireland is the other opening game. The logic being the loser will have suffered an early blow thus deflating their ambition. Japan clearly think this will be Scotland as they have asked that they play them last when potentially the Scots will be at a low ebb.
For info Japan beat Fiji last weekend so don't write them off too soon.
By the way if this is the case then it makes England's exit in 2015 all the more shocking. Not only did they have home advantage but they were able to organise the pool games to benefit them the most!!
Much was discussed about England as you would expect. The big concern is which England will turn up. The cohesive, dynamic, powerful England that put in an amazing 30 minute performance against the All Blacks last autumn, and the same England who were unstoppable against Scotland for 40 mins during the 6 Nations. Or will it be the England who stuttered in the second half of that game and who whose game plan fell apart against Wales. The panel who were consistent, England, a bit like Ireland, have too rigid a game plan set by an autocratic coach and when things don't go to script the team are like rabbits in the headlights and freeze. They did feel that if they get off to a good start and play with fewer constraints and more flair they could go all the way.
That brought them on to the Cipriani debate. All five of the learned men on the stage were fulsome of their praise for Danny Cipriani and where he has come from in his early days at Wasps (under Ian McGeechan) to now being player of the year at Gloucester. Most felt he should be in the squad even if only to come off the bench and shake things up a little as the opposition tired, something I alluded too recently. The panel also believed that King Eddie was not a man who liked mavericks, he wants "yes" men around him, and would rather avoid the challenge of having to manage a player who can sometimes step out of line off the field too. Easier not to pick him therefore. There was also a lot made of Farrell and Ford along with Ben Youngs being the centre of the players cabal and as they have shunned him in the past they were likely to do so again. This is not good for team morale at any time let alone in a world cup.
Barnesy who himself was a maverick and got far fewer caps than he should have because his challenger was Rob Andrew, another play by the book "yes" man and therefore in the coaches eyes a safer pair of hands. Interestingly he was the only one who said he wouldn't pick him. He felt the squad was well established and being so close to the tournament now wasn't the time for experimentation. King Eddie knows what he wants and the squad seem comfortable with that. Don't rock the boat now.
So we came to Wales. For those who will be there following the Grand Slam winners 2019 it was worrying to hear the praise heaped on Warren Gatland for how he has now fashioned a dynamic side prepared to play what is in front of them with or without the ball and the strength in depth in the Welsh camp. Wales amazing defensive capabilities and their work at the breakdown were seen as real positives and the platform from which to build a winning position. Only Tienus Delport didn't see Wales as a finalist, he went for South Africa, but all the others did. The worry is will this weight of expectation be a burden they fail to carry. One thing all the panellists didn't want to see was Wales and England meeting in the quarters as that would scupper the chance of an England v Wales final.
Before closing of the audience asked about the warm-up games and the risk of injury. To a man the panel felt they were crucial. The Northern Hemisphere sides could train all they like but they need to be match ready and the only way that happens is by playing. For reference it is the coaches who suggest who to play in these games not the unions. That was interesting.
That'll do for today. Back tomorrow with more of whatever takes my fancy.
Remember, if you know a Mr Nunan can you contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday 29th July: 07:45
The reason I wasn't about on Saturday and Sunday was because Mrs Bleater & I were at a pre Japan 2019 tour event. Special guests were Sir Ian McGeechan, Ian Robertson, Tienus Delport and Stuart Barnes, all hosted by Gareth Chilcott. Their insight into what might happen in Japan was fascinating but more on this shortly.
Did New Zealand v South Africa give us any hints to what might happen in their head to head in Japan? Yes and no. Both coaches were clearly still experimenting with different combinations and giving fringe players an opportunity to cement a place on the plane. Looking at the reaction of the players and the coaches at the final whistle it was definitely South Africa who learned and therefore gained the most. For New Zealand it felt like a defeat.
In the first half the Boks were dominant with New Zealand hesitant, making a lot of uncharacteristic handling mistakes and conceding a lot of penalties at the breakdown. South Africa should have been clear at the break after an excellent all round showing. The Jack Goodhue try was a massive blow just before the half time oranges. It wasn't all positive for the Springboks with their lineout stuttering, and they too coughing up possession when points were available.
In the second half New Zealand moved up a gear and put the visitors on the back foot. The South African defence kept the black tide at bay but at crucial moments they conceded penalties that were converted into points. Despite the All Black possession and "go forward" they still looked disjointed and looked far from the well oiled steamroller of the past. The Barrett - Mo'unga combination didn't work in my mind. Barrett showed his worth setting up the Goodhue try. Mo'unga showed his vulnerability with too many charged down kicks and questionable decisions. South Africa deserved their late try and a draw was a fair result.
The injury to Brodie Retallick despite the subsequent positive comments from Steve Hansen is a big worry for the All Blacks. Retallick is a lynchpin of the New Zealand side.
The Australia v Pumas contest also gave the coaches an opportunity to experiment and for us to assess the relative strengths of the two sides. For those who follow the Red Rose you will be thinking maybe the performances of Los Jaquares and last week's excellent showing against a below strength New Zealand flattered to deceive. Except for the occasional glimpse of speed, accurate passing and inventive support play the men in blue were generally poor. Way too many basic mistakes and a scrum that in the past has been a weapon was not even a blunt instrument, let alone a weapon.
The Aussies upped their game from last week and were much more resolute in defence. Their set piece was more consistent with the scrum dominant and the Will Genia and Christian Lealiifano worked well at half-back. The lack of tries will be a worry as will the fact they shipped that try late on bringing the Pumas within six points. James O'Connor returning to the fold is a positive for Cheika too. Will the Welsh be concerned about this improvement? Let us wait and see what the Aussies do when they face the All Blacks in two weeks time but my thinking is not really, the Pumas were poor.
So to Saturday night. Some interesting viewpoints and I was somewhat surprised by the strength of feeling behind Wales being in the final and being serious contenders to lift the trophy. There was also consistency in the view that New Zealand for the first time are under pressure and that Steve Hansen and his team are having to experiment and have much to contemplate ahead of the trip to Japan. This was reinforced by the lack of quality in their performance against the Boks. South Africa could be in with a shout as they come to the boil quite nicely ahead of the tournament. Except at the pivotal fly half position they have some strength in depth and their big forwards are gelling nicely. Ireland weren't exactly ruled out but question marks exist. England could win it, and some argued should win it but they have to improve their game plan and they have to be at their best 100% of the time. More on all of this tomorrow as there were some thought provoking comments made, including views on Danny Cipriani.
As a passing comment and a little bit of arrogance it was good to catch up with Stuart. We hadn't seen him for sometime so it was good to share news about siblings and mums, both our dads are no longer with us, and his work with SKY and The Times. He'll be in Japan working for Fox Sports and writing for his paper.
Friday 26th July: 07:00
As expected Michael Cheika has made a number of changes for the test against Argentina on Saturday. Most notably Christian Lealiifano replaces Bernard Foley at outside half. Foley is excluded altogether. Lealiifano will be partnered by the experienced Will Genia who replaces Nic White. The other headline is James O'Connor returning to the squad and certain to get game time from the bench. Kurtley Beale starts this time around. Dane Haylett-Petty is dropped completely being replaced by Marika Koroibete. Is this punishment for blowing that try or because he hasn't recovered from that heavy knock? Finally Scott Sio replaces James Slipper to strengthen the scrum, a weakness last weekend.
Argentina will be without the injured Agustin Creevy. Julian Montaya comes into replace him and is one of five changes for Argentina. The Pumas are sure to give Santiago Socini his debut from the bench.
I fancy Australia to sneak this one but only if they can keep the powerful Puma scrum at bay and cut out the basic errors at the line-out. I expect it will be an open game but then again...?
The other news hitting the rugby pages is Brad Shields being sent home from England's training camp with a foot injury. I am no expert on anything but I believe foot injuries are historically difficult to heal. Quins Alex Dombrandt has been called up to replace him.
For those who follow the Welsh game you will recognise the name Dale McIntosh. "The Chief" is head coach of the Merthyr RFC. A New Zealander who has cult status in Wales will join up with his mate Phil Davies head coach of Namibia as they head to Japan. The uncompromising McIntosh will bring steel to Namibia, something that will be needed when they face New Zealand and South Africa.
Finally Iain Henderson will replace Rory Best as captain of Ulster.
Great day on Le Tour but probably not the one Geraint Thomas wanted. Another huge day today.
Day one of the Buffoon's tenure in No.10. He has already ruffled a number of feathers and the betting remains heavily in favour of an early general election. I expect day two and onwards will remain long on rhetoric and short on detail. Not a great position for us the electorate me thinks.
No blog on Saturday or Sunday but a full review of tomorrow's game on Monday.
Thursday 25th July: 08:20
Wow, and wow again. That is some kind of reshuffle. Just three kept on, two of which change their role and some real talent left out altogether. No not the Buffoon's new cabinet you fools but the All Black side to face South Africa. Steve Hansen has like the Buffoon swung the axe mercilessly bringing back those who have served him well in the past. Ben Smith moves from full back to wing to accommodate Beauden Barrett which in turn allows the Canterbury Crusader Richie Mo'unga to move into the #10 spot. Mo'unga has been pretty much perfect all season and therefore deserves a start. Eat your heart out King Eddie!
Brodie Retallick is the only other player who started last week to keep his place in the run-on XV. As expected Kieran Read will lead the side with big names like Sonny Bill Williams, Cody Taylor, Owen Franks, Sam Whitelock and TJ Perenara all returning.
There is some experimenting with Matt Todd and Shannon Frizell getting the #7 and #6 shirts. Sam Cane, Jordie Barrett and Ardie Savea are the big names who are out of the 23 man squad completely. To me it is clear that Hansen has half an eye on Japan hence some of the selections but is not willing to experiment in a way that would sacrifice a win against the Boks.
Rassie Erasmus has also thrown last week's deck to the ground and picked up a fresh set of cards for the encounter with New Zealand. Out goes Lood de Jager who I thought played well and in comes Gloucester's Franco Mostert. Duane Vermeulen returns and returns as skipper. Eben Etzebeth keeps his place. As predicted Herschel Jantjies drops to the bench for Faf de Klerk. Elton Jantjies is out of the squad completely with Handre Pollard returning at #10. Another returnee is Willie le Roux. The flame haired Steven Kitshoff comes in with Tendai Mtawarira dropping to the bench. It looks a powerful side and with the diminutive Cheslin Kolbe out wide it is also an exciting looking side.
I expect the All Blacks to be too strong in Wellington but I think this South African side won't be a push over.
I've not seen the Australian or Argentinian teams yet. I expect Cheika to make changes but I think any amendments to the Pumas will be limited. They like the other three need to experiment ahead of the World Cup but resources are limited and getting a win would be a more important boost I think.
For me this one is too close to call. The Aussie's luck has to change at some time and perhaps that might just happen up in Brisbane.
Both games are on SKY. I am in London on Saturday at an event where rugby royalty will be present. Sir Ian McGeechan is the star turn ably supported by the excellent Ian Robertson and the wonderful Gareth Chilcott. As a consequence I won't see the games until Sunday afternoon so any review will be first thing on Monday. If I get a sight of the Aussie or Puma teams I might comment briefly before I jet off to the metropolis of Hawkhurst tomorrow where I am on grandparenting duty.
Going back to the selection of Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo'unga in the same side, both excellent outside-halves who would make any team in the world. Why have one kicking his heels on the bench. This is why I cannot understand why Danny Cipriani isn't in King Eddie's thinking for Japan, and equally why I don't understand why he doesn't look seriously at George Ford, who single handedly kept Leicester Tigers in the Premiership, and Owen Farrell as a starting 10 and 12 combination. Hey ho, what do I know.
In other sport Ireland dismissing England for 85: what an embarrassment! Here's me thinking Ireland as a pre-Ashes warm up game was irresponsible. What do I know? My lad was there so at least he saw plenty of action. Plenty of dejected English batsmen trudging off the field in disgrace.
I love the Tour de France but clearly know absolutely nothing about it. No change at the top and a pretty ordinary day in the saddle. I watched the highlights and have looked at today's stage and have read the pundits columns so today really could the be the decisive day for Welshman Geraint Thomas and Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe.
There is only one story in the papers, except the Daily Star, and that is the ruthless way the Buffoon culled those who supported his opponent or weren't disciples of Brexit. He has surrounded himself with acolytes and true believers and many with burning ambition, some in my opinion ambitious enough to in the course of time do a fine impression of Judas. Hang them high Priti Patel takes over the Home Office and Sajid Javid picks up the reins at the treasury. I hope he has a big abacus because he is going to need it when the final cost of all of the Buffoon's thrown away promises are added up.
Failing Grayling doesn't feature. Surprise, surprise he jumped before he was pushed.
Boris's bold statements and grandiose presentation yesterday will probably have gone down well with many. Me, I want to see the detail, especially the cost and the exact timetable. Whilst I am willing to reserve judgement I have two concerns and neither are in the cabinet. The role of Dominic Cummings and the input of Carrie Symonds worries me greatly. Both with huge egos, immense ambition and what appears to me to be a devious streak verging on the psychotic. They both will have the ear of Boris and as we know he is impulsive and erratic. Their influence therefore could be devastating, in MY HUMBLE OPINION.
Wednesday 24th July: 09:15
As we all bask in the glorious sunshine and swelter in the heat spare a thought for Theresa Maybe as she leaves office today. I still say whilst she brought a lot on herself she was stabbed in the back by self-serving morons who don't give a damn about you and me but are only interested in themselves and their careers. Well yesterday, as expected, one of those self-serving morons who only ever had his eye on the top job achieved his goal; Boris Johnson will become Prime Minister later today.
Many will rejoice at Maybe's departure. Many will fawn at the feet of the blonde, mop haired buffoon in the hope of him anointing them with a job of some importance. Many will see it as a step closer to the revolution and the UK becoming a utopian Marxist state. Some will see it as a step closer to Scottish independence. Some will see it as a glorious day for the UK, the first day of a better future for all of us on this "sceptred isle". Many who have a modicum of common sense will groan as we enter another period of political stalemate where nothing has changed.
One thing is for sure, whilst we the good old Brits who like nothing better than to talk about the weather top up our tans or hide away in the shade, for one Boris Johnson the heat got significantly hotter.
Nothing much in the rugby pages today with the teams for Saturday's Rugby Championship being released later. I'll review those games tomorrow. New Zealand host South Africa, a game where I anticipate two much changed sides from last weekend. Certainly the All Blacks will bring in the experience of players like Kieran Read who was rested for the game against Argentina. Despite Herschel Jantjies great performance I expect we'll see Faf de Klerk back in the Boks line-up.
These two teams will go head to head in Japan. They are in Pool B alongside Italy, Namibia and Canada. It is also the first game of the pool played on Saturday 21st September in Yokohama. It would be unwise to bet on anything but these two progressing to the knock-out stages but Italy could be a banana skin waiting in the wings. I see Italy's best chance of upsetting the apple cart (notice how I'm giving you plenty of your five a day) when they play South Africa on October 4th in the Shizuoka Stadium. They don't play the All Blacks until the 12th of October by which time the Italian resources could have been stretched to their limit.
Interestingly Shizuoka is according to my guide book a sprawling urban centre and the city in Japan most likely to be hit by an earthquake. If you travel east from the city you get amazing views of the iconic Mount Fuji making it well worth a visit for this reason alone.
Le Tour de France continues today in the Alps. I have been saying this for a few days now but is today's stage the day when Geraint Thomas seizes the yellow jersey from Julien Alaphilippe or the day when he sees it ride off in the distance. I am sure he won't let yesterday's crash affect him but with just three gruelling stages left this is his last chance.
England host Ireland in a one-off test starting at Lords today. As a warm-up to the Ashes series is it a tough enough test. Only time will tell.
Hockenheim is the venue for the German Grand Prix on Sunday. As the schools break up for the summer so the Crowborough street circuit closes until September. Hoorah.
Before I go I fear the Buffoon's first move will be to name a politically correct cabinet. In these unbelievably trying times I would want to see the cabinet table full of the very best people for the job regardless of race, creed, colour, religion, sexual orientation or how far they can get their tongue up Boris's backside. We need the best people doing an amazing job. The very last thing we need are self-serving morons who will applaud the emperors new clothes whether he is wearing them or not.
Finally, isn't it a sign of the times that the second story on Sky News website states " There's a chance Johnson could be shortest serving PM in history".
Have a great day and do be careful and do worry about climate change.
Tuesday 23rd July: 07:45
I am no Mystic Meg sitting in a Romany caravan stroking my balls, crystal ones that is. Common sense guides me in most of my opinions and I think that common sense has obviously hit the RFU. The nonsense that was England v Wales outside the 6 Nations has been scrapped. Good!
Common sense also told me that Danny Cipriani will not be in Japan with England. His exclusion from the 35 man training squad that headed out to Italy yesterday is the clearest indication yet that that prophecy is about to be realised. Cipriani was the stand out player in England last season but did not feature in King Eddie's plans. Cipriani is a maverick on the pitch and can be a loose cannon off it. Neither of these sit well with Jones. Jones wants players to conform to his norms on and off the field. In my mind this has been one of England's weaknesses in as much as they play to Jones's playbook often lacking flair and imagination and when things don't go to plan they are clueless on what to do next.
Mike Brown has been retained and as expected both Anthony Watson and Sam Underhill are both recalled. A number of youngsters are also retained; Lewis Ludlam, Ruaridh McConnachie, Jack Singleton, but I expect these to be excluded from the final 31 man party.
The squad will be very much the same as the 6 Nations. The debate then becomes should George Ford or Owen Farrell start at #10. Jones will go with his trusty lieutenant Farrell. Me, I would consider playing them both with Farrell at #12. In my mi