Tuesday 17th Sept: 08:30
Can you believe that 15,000 Japanese turned up to watch Wales open training session yesterday. 15,000 young and old, men and women not only turning up but queuing for hours to watch the men in red train. If you haven't seen it then go on line and watch the same 15,000 sing the Welsh national anthem perfectly and belt out a classic Welsh anthem Calon Lan also perfectly. It truly warms the cockles of your heart.
Talking of watching go and line and search for the Lego world cup short sketch. Rugbydump.com then look for Friday funnies and Lego. It is not laugh out loud but I guarantee there will be a couple of bits that will make you smile.
England are ready according to Maro Itoje and Johnny May is suggesting they will peak once the tournaments gets going. The more I think of it the more I believe England are serious contenders. Where will it be won? Reproduce the form that we saw against Ireland in the 6 Nations and again in the warm up. Play like they did against Scotland in the first half of the 6 Nations. Give it a real go as they did against the All Blacks then they are definitely right up there. Where will it be lost? Playing by numbers will make them predictable. Losing focus during any game and getting despondent when things don't go to plan. Missing tackles in the back three and not dominating the breakdown could be Achilles heel. Injuries, injuries and more injuries is the spectre that constantly hangs over England. All that said, serious contenders? Yes indeed!
Talking of spectres the one of Israel Folau hangs ominously over the Australia camp. He was an inspirational player for Australia and has often turned games with a single moment of magic. Dropping a player of that quality is bound to affect the team and the coaches. There is also a view that a number of the South Sea Islanders in the Wallaby squad who by nature of their religious beliefs have a high degree of sympathy with Folau's comments. This must also be unsettling. That said I for one remain convinced Folau could not stay in the squad after his outrageous statements. Bret Harris of The Guardian has produced an excellent piece on this subject.
"Selling your soul to the devil" is an oft spoken mantra. Perhaps this is exactly what the 6 Nations committee is about to do with their globally prestigious competition. They have announced they are entering into an exclusive period of negotiation with CVC. The Times are claiming a 15% stake is up for grabs. If the deal goes ahead CVC would effectively take control of 15% of the unions collective commercial arm. You can guarantee that CVCs first move would be to review the TV rights which could see the tournament moving from terrestrial free to air TV onto a pay TV channel. A retrograde step in the pursuit of money in my mind.
I loved the headlines of yesterday with the Buffoon turning from the Hulk to the Sulk. Not facing the press after his meeting in Luxembourg was a massive own goal. It left the stage free for little old Luxembourg to ridicule the Buffoon and British politics and by default us the British proletariat. Sadly they are right. Our PM is a bumbling yet manipulative self-serving twit. Xavier Bettel was right when he and other EU leaders say show us something and we might make progress. Stop saying we the UK have solid and realistic proposals when no-one has seen anything vaguely like a constructive proposition. Likewise it is right that this fuss about recalling Parliament is just that: a fuss. All the MPs will do is go back to Westminster and bicker and argue about what: what they don't want and not a single suggestion on what they do want. By the way I find it somewhat hypocritical that the protesters who caused Boris to bottle the press conference were mainly British ex-pats. Basically fat cats with a self interest to preserve and that sums up this whole ffffnnnn mess: too many self interests.
Today's quiz question is: when did boys stop being boys and girls stop being girls? It is madness that schools are insisting on gender neutral toilets and school uniform. Even more crazy is parents keeping their child's sex secret until the child can decide. Some overhyped pop star claiming he is gender fluid and now wants to be called "they" not "him" is bonkers. This is madness personified and the fact people pander to these ludicrous politically correct ideas makes matters worse. Let us accept there are some in this world who a genetically mixed up with regard to their sex and lets respect them and support them but let us stop the bullshit that makes it fashionable for publicity seeking, self serving twists to jump on the bandwagon.
No blog tomorrow. A very busy day listening to more politicians like the arse who is on Radio 4s Today not answering a single question and talking complete boll....
Monday 16th Sept: 09:00
Having now read The Bard's excellent match report I am somewhat bemused by his description of the decisive dying minutes of our game against Dover. He describes a situation where the scrum has not ended yet the Dover backs have joined it to add weight for a pushover try. The scrum collapses and Dover are awarded a penalty try. As I understand it the scrum is made up of a maximum of eight players with all non participants (excluding the scrum half) having to remain 5 metres beyond the back foot until the scrum is over. Based on this it sounds as if Dover got away with one. Hey ho!
Again, based on the match report it is clear we were very poor in the opening stanza shipping four tries in the blink of an eye. Resolve, tenacity, fitness and a hint of luck shone through and we clawed back the deficit to even up the game 33-33. This would have been an excellent result and putting aside the situation described above I personally think coming away from Dover with both a losing point and a try bonus point is still a good result.
Elsewhere it is Old Colfeains, our next opponents who top the table after demolishing Maidstone 57-12. The other impressive winners were Beccehamian who beat Deal & Betteshanger 39-17. Our friends from Sussex, Haywards Heath and Hove enjoyed wins. The former coming home from Gravesend with a narrow victory and the latter keeping out Old Alleynians. In the other game our good friends from Charlton Park enjoyed their journey home from Thanet Wanderers after a 9-17 victory.
Boy there is some travelling to be done in this league!!
In London 3 South East not a great day for our Sussex friends. Uckfield lost 17-3 at Folkestone, Heathfield & Waldron lost 21-37 at home to Aylesford Bulls, and Pulborough lost at home to Ashford by a single point 28-29. In the other games Vigo lost at home to Bromley, Park House went down at home to Old Dunstonians with Gillingham Anchorians winning at home against Old Willies. Bromley are top, Vigo are bottom.
In Sussex 1 East Grinstead were the big winners beating Ditchling followed closely by Crawley who beat Barns Green. Eastbourne and Burgess Hill also started their campaigns with wins as did Haywards Heath II and Hove II. Hellingly, Plumpton, Seaford and Lewes all being on the wrong side of the accounting sheet.
Moving up into London 1 South Horsham got off to a great start with a fine 32-22 win over Beckenham. Chichester on the other hand went down 41-19 at Havant. Our friends over at Medway started with a win away at Thurrock and Westcombe Park hammered Dartfordians.
Onwards and upwards into the Premier division Tunbridge Wells fine start continued with a 30-15 win over Dorking. Sevenoaks didn't fare so well losing by quite a bit at home to Sidcup. Brighton would have enjoyed the experience of the away trip to Guernsey but not the result losing 22-7. Rochford Hundred, who??, lead the table.
In the national leagues Canterbury lost by one point at home to Blackheath. In National League 2 South TJs excellent start continued with a crushing 14-74 away win at Sutton & Epsom. Worthing also enjoyed an away win beating Bournemouth. Early days but TJs enjoy second spot in the table.
For the record Bridgnorth lost at Bournville and Salisbury suffered another beating this time at the hands of Old Centralians.
It is a marathon not a sprint so I am encouraged by our result and look forward to a fascinating season.
In other rugby news it sad and somewhat worrying to read that Scotland forward David Denton has been forced to retire at 29 due to a long term battle with concussion.
Owen Farrell has been working on his tackling technique. Not before time and in the nick of time. The directive to the referees officiating in Japan is very clear in that poor tackle technique is no excuse for head high tackles and not using the arms. Farrell et al beware!
Warren Gatland might already be ruing the fact he took a chance on picking Cory Hill despite him being injured. With Adam Beard now unlikely to be ready for Georgia Gatland only has two fit locks at his disposal. Hey Ho!
Wales are taking the conditions seriously training with baby oil soaked rugby balls to emulate the humidity they will encounter during the tournament.
Scotland flanker Jamie Ritchie will miss the crucial opener with Ireland thanks to him still recovering from broken cheekbone against Georgia. He has had a titanium plate fitted. What? He is going to be fit after that short space of time. The miracles of modern medicine!
Excellent weekend for me in the fantasy football. Say no more. The cricket was fascinating. The New Orleans Saints were poor and losing inspirational quarterback Drew Brees is a massive blow.
In politics yet another weekend of bluster and bullshit. The Buffoon has morphed into the Hulk growling at anyone and everyone in his way, Comrade Corbynov has morphed into Comrade Stalin purging anyone who dares not to fall into line with his views, Jo Swinson has morphed into the Pied Piper having all sorts of rodents switching to her party and following her into oblivion.
Having watched some of the Andrew Marr show yesterday I have come to the conclusion if you were in a room with Priti Patel you would want to keep her where you could see her. Et tu Brute comes to mind.
And finally is exactly what David Gower and Sir Ian Botham said as they were "retired" as Sky commentators yesterday after the Oval test. Ageism, is it alive and well?
Sunday 15th Sept: 09:20
Shortly The Bard will post his match report after our defeat at Dover yesterday. I understand we were four tries down after 25 minutes but came back to 33-33 as the final whistle approached. A very satisfying draw was snatched away from us when the referee awarded Dover a penalty try taking the final score to 40-33. I await the match report with some anticipation.
Having recently been on the motorway network for more hours than I care to remember plus wanting to honour an invite to a friend's son's 21st birthday I didn't make it to Dover. If I had I would have arrived with trepidation expecting Dover to be too strong for us. They came down from the very tough league above and whilst we won the league below to earn promotion there were times when we failed to impress. A losing point and a try bonus point against a team like Dover augurs well perhaps, especially as last seasons CRFC player of the year and the supporters player of the year were both absent.
I'll do a full league round up tomorrow using the results service of the revamped England Rugby website which is absolute rubbish in my mind. Some smartarse newby has come in and changed something that worked more than adequately for something where the navigation is harder than crossing the English channel in a rubber boat at the dead of night with nothing more than a candle for light.
Injury has already hit New Zealand with Luke Jacobson heading back home due to the late onset of concussion.
Ireland have indicated they could be without Robbie Henshaw for the crucial opener against Scotland. Reading between the lines the injury could be quite serious keeping him out for several games.
Wales Adam Beard didn't even fly out with the team as he was struck down with appendicitis. Amazingly post surgery he has already rejoined the squad and is expected to be fit. That is a massive step forward since I had my appendix out some 56 years ago.
England will be without Joe Cokanasiga and Mark Wilson for the game against Tonga as both struggle with knee injuries.
Gareth Thomas has revealed he now faces the biggest fight of his life as he has HIV. Reading the articles it is clear he has been battling the illness for some time contemplating suicide and worrying about having to reveal the diagnosis to the world.
The organ of truth carries some good analysis of the forthcoming World Cup. Many are now predicting England to at least make the final and with New Zealand going through a mixed run of form lately some are suggesting they could go one step further and win it. Strangely, dare I say it, I am falling into that camp too.
Many of the papers have included articles that build toward the World Cup kicking off on Friday. Most carry fascinating insights into Japan and Japanese culture. Well worth reading.
As Mrs Bleater and I get even more excited about our forthcoming adventure the one thing that has surprised us is the weather. We had expected it to be similar to a good old British Indian Summer: pleasantly warm. It actually will be very hot and very humid so we are digging out more pairs of shorts and taking out some of the jumpers.
More on Japan next week and how you can help me during the tournament.
Finally a word on David Cameron. He has slithered out from behind the woodwork to sell his book. He makes some valid points about the lies and deceptively vague promises made during the EU referendum campaign. He doesn't make reference to the simple truth that he bottled it when the result went against him and ran like a chicken to the safety of the hen house rather than facing the music. Where is the "mea culpa" Mr Cameron?
Thursday 12th Sept: 08:15
I am sure it is not too late to book your place on the coach to Dover for our season opener. The wonderful Ian Geering is your man.
Likewise check your inbox for the invite to the league lunch on the21st when we host Old Colfeians. The menu looks great, the place will look great and the boys I am sure will be up for it. Contact JP to secure your place.
This weekend I fear Bridgnorth beckons for me hence missing the Dover game. I won't be at the OCs match either but for an entirely different reason; Japan beckons. More on this next week when I will ask for your input.
Yesterday it was Danny Care decrying his luck at not being in Japan right now. Overseas players and the residency rule was his gripe. Today it is the turn of Mike Brown, Danny Cipriani and our own Dylan Hartley to be in the news.
Mike Brown, a Salisbury RFC man by the way, claims he is still the best full back in England. He was in fine form for Quins last season but his England form had dipped which is why he lost his place to the likes of Elliot Daley and Anthony Watson (who I think is the best full back in England). Brown has justifiably earned his 72 caps but has a reputation for being a fiery character and as we know King Eddie is a stickler for discipline and rather than dealing with those have a tendency to stray from his path of enlightenment he dismisses them. Brown was most recently involved in an altercation with Ben Te'o but I for one don't think that was the reason for Brown's exclusion. There are better players in the squad.... just!
I like Danny Cipriani's comment that he would have had to "turn water into wine" to convince King Eddie to pick him. As I have stated in the past on balance I think it is the right decision. Cipriani comes with risk. Risk on the field and risk off the field neither of which Jones is comfortable with. It is his way or no way. There is a clique within the England squad despite what the press say about the teams unity and that clique has an enormous amount of influence. Recent performances and the way the team are playing sort of reinforces the view that England sans Cipriani will do very well indeed.
Dylan's situation is very different as he was one of Jones' trusted lieutenants and despite dips in form of which there have been plenty and moments of disciplinary madness Jones stuck by him. Dylan has struggled with injury, most recently a very troublesome knee problem. Every time a comeback was planned he missed the deadline due to a setback. Whilst Jones has taken a massive risk taking Jack Nowell and Mako Vunipola to Japan taking Dylan was simply not a viable option, especially as the alternatives are in fine form. Sitting on 97 caps must be in some way frustrating but Dylan must not lose sight of the fact most would give their eye-teeth for just one cap.
Wales are faced with a slightly different conundrum in that two players who I would have in my squad are not injured, in fact they are in fine form, but not in Warren's squad. Rhys Priestland is ineligible as he has played less than 60 times for Wales and is now earning his living in Bath. Rhys Webb is in France and is excluded for the same reason. Fair enough as it is crucial to try and keep the very best talent at home in Wales but in the case of Priestland and Patchell's recent HIA I am sure Warren Gatland is pouring over the rule book to see if there is a exclusion clause making Priestland eligible.
As I sit here watching the sun rise up into the azure blue sky this morning I think all is well in the world, and actually for me it pretty much is. Is that a selfish position to take? Probably but there again everything I have I have worked for and I should be able to enjoy it.
Everything is not right in the world however. There is a divide between the haves and the have nots. Climate change is a reality and we can no longer ignore that. British politics is broken and those who are less fortunate will according to the leaked documents become even more disadvantaged with a no-deal Brexit. Likewise, if you believe sensible commentators not just the loud mouth publicity seekers, the divide in the UK will get smaller in the UK under a government led by Comrade Corbynov. Those sensible commentators say we will ALL BE poorer rather than the currently disadvantaged seeing dramatic improvements.
I caught a headline in last night's Evening Standard stating that Mick "Loadsa" Cash and his RMT have voted unanimously in favour of strike action because of noise on the London Underground. The noise is intolerable according to "Loadsa".
Dear pain in the ass, if your extremely highly paid members who earn way above the national average and therefore are certainly in Comrrade Corbynov's firing line don't like the noise then of course they can always get a job in Green Park, or Hyde Park, or in Pyongyang's Leader for Life Free Speech Park where I am sure it is much quieter. Yours Bleater.
This is complete anarchy and could be a taste of what is to come if Comrades Corbynov and McDonnell get into power. Collective bargaining by the unions led by people like Cash would bring this country to standstill as an example.
Is the ruling on the closing of Parliament by the Scottish judiciary bias. Let us not be PC here. It could well be. Anyway, move on.
The warmth of the sun, the birds chirping in the trees, the gentle breeze through the hair, and a nice cup of coffee and bacon sandwich. I'm off. Back on Saturday.
Wednesday 11th Sept: 08:30
9/11, a day that will go down in infamy as US soil was attacked by Osama Bin Laden inspired terrorists. Close to 3,000 people lost their lives with friends and families being permanently blighted. Let us consider them as we go about our daily lives today.
Not long now before we kick off against Dover. A new league, a league which is very tough, and a long bus journey might not be the best way to start your campaign. The boys have trained hard and the warm-ups have gone well enough. I understand that last weekend's game was a scrappy affair from both sides and no more than a training run. As has been the case of late I won't be travelling to Dover as it is likely I'll be heading north west towards, yes, you guessed it, Bridgnorth.
Danny Care has voiced his frustration about the pathetic residency rules that has seen him excluded from the England squad as a result of New Zealander Will Heinz qualifying on residency rules. Devon Toner's plight is also highlighted. Regular readers know my views on this and I agree it is wrong. What makes matters worse is players are fast tracked at the expense of home grown talent only for them to spectacularly fail only to return to their home country or move to say France adding nothing to British rugby. The rules are being changed but not until the end of this season and even then extending it to five years is still not enough.
When you read the press there is a consistency in the concern that Wales lacks a cutting edge. There is also an underlying consistency that part of the blame for that lies at the feet of Rob Howley. With just two weeks before the Georgia game has the time come to throw the coaching manual away and simply play what is in front of you moving the ball wide at pace.
Based on the above comments it may surprise many that Rob Howley has been linked with the soon to be vacant Italy job. Mmmm? I for one am not sure about that idea.
Sam Warburton has rattled a few French trees with his comments that French rugby doesn't take concussion seriously. I can't comment on that but I think Warburton is right to be a campaigner for better awareness of the risks in our game. Let us not turn it into touch rugby but there are things that do need to be addressed and certainly concussion is one. Interestingly it is the tackler at most risk as we saw with Rhys Patchell last Saturday.
I have nothing but praise for the NHS after two spells of them dealing with my mother. From start to finish and whether it was the local GP or the intensive care team, the fracture clinic or the physiotherapy team, or the foot clinic to occupational team, ALL have been amazing. Dedicated hard working staff in very trying conditions. We should stop sniping at the NHS and start praising more frequently and be loud and proud about it. Here lies a problem. Foreign health tourists who take advantage of this wonderful asset potentially causing "queues" in the system to form and then leaving without paying is simply just not good enough. In my mind health tourists are welcome but they must pay and they must pay in full. In a recently well publicised case a health tourist left behind a bill in excess of £600,000. That simply cannot be right?
On closing once again I draw your attention to the date: 9/11. Acts of terror in the name of what? Perhaps contemplating peace and harmony and compromise might just bring the world back to a better place than it appears to be in right now.
Tuesday 10th Sept: 08:30
Just a quick missive today as there are no warm-up games to look forward to. Most teams head off to Japan this week. Let's hope they don't face the same chaos England faced after landing in Japan. Whilst they missed the worst of typhoon Faxai and landed pretty much on time they got caught up in the aftermath with the environs of Narita airport gridlocked by traffic and closed roads. Not a great start but one according to King Eddie they have prepared for.
Talking of preparation there is a fascinating piece on the BBC sports website about Scotland's preparation and planning for the World Cup. It talks about the sheer volume of gear, the logistics of ensuring the enormous players all have beds that are big enough and to meeting the dietary needs of the modern player are just a few areas of planning. I was impressed by the micro-management such as having a rota on the long flight within which each player has an allotted time to move around the aircraft and loosen muscles and freshen up the body. It is a fascinating read.
The teams will be faced with the same travel challenge as supporters when they use the trains between key destinations. Japanese trains are fabled for their punctuality but the space for luggage is limited. Many like us will have the bulk of their luggage collected the day before they travel between different destinations for it to be transferred overnight by lorry whilst we travel by the bullet train the following day. Apparently it works like clockwork.
For those travelling to Japan there is much to look forward too such as typhoons, earthquakes and North Korea firing missiles in the general direction of Japan. Marvellous.
Not much else in the rugby papers. I expect to see a flood of team reviews which I will also do over the next ten days.
Outside of sport there is only one story in town and that is the pantomime that is British Government. You might not like my politics but I am sure you have to agree this is a complete and utter shambles.
Boris the Buffoon is acting like a tin-pot dictator with the closing down of Parliament even though it is massively exaggerated as the MPs rock off to their annual knees up at their conferences. What a clown. He has no idea whether he is on his arse or his elbow and is being controlled by truly devious and dangerous megalomaniacs behinds the scene.
You then have John Bercow acting like some fame hungry reality star where anything to get in the papers is acceptable, even outrageous bias. Cheerio, cheerio, cheerio.
Then the hypocrisy of Comarades Corbynov and Beria McDonnell beggars belief as they now demand Theresa Maybe's much hated Brexit plan is brought back to the house. Seriously! Having been so vehemently against it you now think it is a solution. These two Marxist marauders are only interested in getting into power and bringing the country to its knees and will do and say anything no matter whether it is true or not for their own ends.
Harry Redknapp for PM I say. Roly-polys for all and some good old common sense and straight talking.
Life is being distorted by fake news, self interest, bullshit social media and the need to fill a myriad of 24 hour news channels. Take the recent story about people being dragged off aeroplanes because they were drunk and disorderly. Don't get me wrong this sort of behaviour is totally unacceptable but this story was a lie made out of statistics. The headline screamed 80 people had been hauled off aircraft at Gatwick in the last two years. One person is too many but that is just 40 people per year which is less than one per week. How many aircraft take off from Gatwick per day? Yes, hundreds. How many people per aircraft?Let's say between 150 to 180. Get your calculators out and do the maths. 40 people per year is a drop in the ocean. The story was driven by a self interest group trying to ban drinking on aircraft and in airports. Basically fake news.
Off to the club after breakfast to help with some jobs that need doing as the season gets going.
Finally did ok last night watching University Challenge. Not only did I understand many of the questions I actually answered some of them.
Monday 9th Sept: 09:00
As I look over the league results from Saturday I still feel a little guilty about not making it to Steel Cross to see the boys host Heathfield & Waldron in their final pre-season friendly. Priorities and other commitments is all I will say.
National League 1 kicked off with Canterbury, a side we will follow this season, losing away at Old Elthamians. When you look at the geographical spread of teams the Kent side have some travelling to do e.g. Hull Ionians and Plymouth Albion.
National league 2 South also got underway with wins for Tonbridge Juddians beating Leicester Lions fairly comfortably and Worthing sneaking past Old Redcliffians in a much tighter affair.
In London SE Premier a mixed bag for the three teams we will follow as the season develops. Sevenoaks came home from Bedford Athletic with a fine win. Our friends from St Marks also enjoyed their travels with a win at Guildford. Brighton didn't enjoy their debut at the Premier Inn as they lose at home to Hertford.
We start next week away at Dover. There is a coach so please contact the wonderful Ian Geering if you want to secure a seat.
In the Midlands Premier League Bridgnorth got off to a losing start against Sheffield as did Salisbury who got hammered by Marlborough 66-13.
Out of interest I wonder how many of the clubs in these leagues have plundered the smaller clubs for new players? I know we have suffered again. Is it time for the RFU to really clampdown on the payment of players? Yes please but virtually impossible to police. As an alternative why not introduce the concept of a transfer fee. If club A plunders club B for a player then why shouldn't club B be recompensed especially as club A is paying players very generously indeed, so much so that it is impossible to see how it is within the RFU guidelines. Let's move on.
England headed off to Japan dodging Typhoon Faxai which hit the country yesterday. Australia weren't so lucky as their departure was delayed by 24 hours due to the ferocity of the typhoon. Some of the sports pages carry pictures of the damage and details of the disruption caused.
Interestingly England have agreed that WAGs will be allowed to join the England team whilst in Japan. I think this is a good policy as players do miss their loved ones BUT I ask who is paying. I'll have a wild guess that it is the RFU thus reducing the funds available for the beleaguered grassroots of the game.
Ireland will leave this week in a buoyant mood but Wales have much to ponder. There are mixed views about Rhys Patchell's fitness. Some say he is a serious doubt and some say he is going to be fine. Only time will tell, especially as he will be subject to an additional independent assessment by a World Rugby nominated doctor.
The loss of Taulupe Faletau and Gareth Anscombe are big blows but it is the loss of form and the inability to break sides down and get in behind them that worries me the most. I have no concern that Wales will get out of the pool but whether they can go any further than the quarters is a big question now.
In other sport England lose the Ashes after another woeful first innings leaving them in an impossible position. They tried and tried hard but it was always going to be a journey too far.
The Italian Grand Prix was entertaining for a change. Plenty of incidents and some controversy. How Lance Stroll managed to avoid Vettell after the latter spun off the track beggars belief. Likewise Lance Stroll was nearly wiped out after he too dangerously returned to the track. Some close racing as well.
The NFL returned last night. The "redzone" on Sky is compulsive viewing with wall to wall action across all games and no adverts. Lots of serious looking injuries, some already being declared as season ending injuries. Kansas got off to a good start as did Washington. The mighty New Orleans Saints have to wait until tomorrow before they get going.
Brexit bloody Brexit. As opposed to U2s Sunday Bloody Sunday Brexit is every minute of every hour of every day of the week. Aaaaarrrrgghhhhhh!!!
Another day of "stuff" with the "no deal" bill becoming law today meaning the Buffoon will try and force an early election. What makes me so annoyed despite the dire situation is our politicians have their heads firmly up their backsides. None are looking at it from the EUs point of view which is increasingly becoming one of "we don't care what you want any more, just go!" The other frustration is the politicians and others when asked a question that requires a simple yes or no answer simply waffle on and on. The dilemma is these people are more concerned about themselves than us the proletariat. Finally there is still a clamour for a "peoples vote" but no-one has answered the question "what happens if the people vote resoundingly leave?"
If that wasn't bad enough just spare a thought for those who were due to fly with BA today.
Sunday 8th Sept: 10:30
Embarrassingly I don't know how the boys got on yesterday in their final warm-up game before they travel to Dover next week.
What I do know is Wales have slipped down the rankings after another defeat at the hands of the Irish. The predictions of Ireland's demise are way off the mark as they were pretty impressive yesterday, especially in the second half. As the papers say they strangled the life out of Wales and secured another morale boosting win ahead of their departure to Japan next week.
It wasn't all wonderful as their set piece, especially the lineout, faltered in the first half. Defensively they looked a lot better and the return of Robbie Henshaw was without question instrumental in that. In the second half it was all Ireland. Wales excellent defence kept them at bay for long periods and Joe Schmidt will need to reflect on that. The scrum improved and the driving maul from the lineout began to make an impression. Tries from Tadgh Furlong and James Ryan being the reward. Ireland will top the group based on this performance but with either New Zealand or South Africa awaiting them in the quarters that could be the extent of their World Cup campaign.
Overall Wales lacked any form of cutting edge. The Hadleigh Parkes try was a piece of magic but quite honestly that was it. Wales tried to play an expansive game and had the Irish on the ropes only for passes to go awry and opportunities to be wasted. The scrum being demolished in the second half, the high penalty count against them and shipping two tries are all signs that Wales lofty status in the rankings could be is misplaced. For me the lack of a cutting edge in attack is the biggest concern. This was a very strong Welsh side so Warren Gatland and his coaching team will need to raise their charges spirits if they are to get anywhere need the World Cup final.
Both Wales and Ireland will be looking carefully at the medics' reports with Rhys Patchell, Cian Healy and Keith Earls going off injured.
Based on Australia's lacklustre performance in the second half against Samoa Wales could still go into the quarter-finals as pool winners. The Wallabies were pretty impressive in the first half but then faded away in the second. Samoa raised their game and this will not have gone unnoticed by Scotland and Ireland but it was the way Australia's game fell away so markedly in the second half that caught the eye.
There is much to play for. Bring it on.
King Eddie has highlighted a big concern about the World Cup in Japan and it isn't early exits or injury it is actually the weather. It is typhoon season with one expected to hit Tokyo sometime in the next 24 hours. The organisers have put contingencies in place but that doesn't remove the risk to live especially to the travelling spectators who wouldn't normally be exposed to such extreme weather. The power of typhoons cannot be underestimated so yes it is something to be wary of.
In another piece widely covered by the press is an extract from Sam Warburton's autobiography where he expresses his concerns that someone is going to get killed in the professional game unless the powers that be do more to protect them. It was noticeable in both of yesterday's games covered on TV the ferocity of collisions and the high level of danger players put themselves in at ruck, tackle, under the high ball and in the scrum. One worrying aspect of the game at this level is how referees are allowing scrums to continue even when front row players bodies are in unnatural positions after the scrum has collapsed. As a spectator there is nothing more frustrating than reset scrum after reset scrum but I think the officials desire to get the ball out and keep the game moving is adding another layer of risk which is (in my mind) unacceptable.
That'll do for now as I am a tad fragile. It was my birthday yesterday and we had friends round for a BBQ and a few lots to drink. One of the reasons I wasn't at the club amongst others. Having got into a very heated debate about Brexit and other things I am going for a lie down and will leave the news until tomorrow.
Friday 7th Sept: 07:50
It would be wrong not to start with the very sad news that South African rugby legend Chester Williams has passed away at the very tender age of 49. Williams was an icon of the game playing for the Springboks from 1993 to 2000. He broke the mould of rugby because at that time it was seen as just a white man's sport in a still divided South Africa. The excellent film Invictus which highlights the role of Nelson Mandela in uniting the country through rugby during the 1995 World Cup quite clearly depicted the importance of Chester Williams in Mandela's plan.
He leaves a wife and children behind so our thoughts will be with them and his wider sphere of friends and family at this sad time.
I did smile this morning when I read Sir Knowitall's assessment of England's chances in Japan. "England can dream of glory after ideal preparation for the Rugby World Cup" (Daily Mail). Where I concur is there does seem to be a unity and a bond between the players both on and off the field. Where my view diverges is about the quality of some of the performances on the field. With regard to last night's game I am more inclined to side with The Guardian in that "England lose nothing but gain little with final warm-up in Newcastle".
I thought they were pretty ordinary in the first half and for long periods the Italians were the more exciting. If it wasn't for the high penalty count against the Azzurri the half time scoreline would have been very unimpressive for a side now being tipped as World Cup winners.
They came alive in the second half when King Eddie's early substitution of the front row paid off. Kyle Sinckler and Ellis Genge were much more dynamic around the field versus the ponderous Dan Cole and Joe Marler. The Italians were tiring and England exploited the gaps with an excellent try by Joe Marchant who I still think will feature in Japan. I liked the way Anthony Watson took his try but Ben Youngs and Genge's efforts were the result of brute force which others in the tournament will have thwarted.
After poor recent showings Youngs was impressive, as was Jamie George. Sorry to say "I told you so" but with Ford at #10 and Farrell moving to #12 England looked a far more dangerous attacking side.
It could be argued that keeping Italy to zero on the scoreboard was impressive and to a degree I have to agree but Italy lacked imagination and trying to bludgeon a side of England's defensive quality was a folly. Others will have more ammunition in their arsenal than blunt weapons.
Joe Launchbury, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Kyle Sinckler all left the field gingerly with Launchbury looking the most serious. The England camp are still very reticent to comment on the condition of Henry Slade and Jonathan Joseph but it has been revealed that Mako Vunipola is unlikely to appear in the group stages.
Bottom line is England have to be considered genuine contenders for the World Cup but there are still some chinks in the armour and I think the biggest risks are their ability to come back after early setbacks and to maintain the intensity for the full 80 minutes.
In the other games a late burst by Scotland allowed them to get past a stubborn Georgian side 36-9. The reports indicate that yet again Scotland were patchy in their performance with too many basic errors but it must be noted that many of Scotland's big hitters were rested. The Scots have improved during the course of the warm-up games but will need to step up another level and eradicate the copious amount of errors if they are to progress beyond the quarter-finals.
New Zealand 92 - Tonga 7 says it all. I bet the Tongan try was the biggest cheer of the night.
A Makazole Mapimpi hat-trick helps South Africa to a 41-7 win over Japan in Japan. This will be a morale boosting win for the Boks and a disappointment for Japan who would have been expected to have been closer on the scoreboard. The success of Japan's campaign rests on getting out of the group. Do that and you can applaud them for a good World Cup.
Australia v Samoa up next today. That could serve as a warm-up to our last warm-up when we play Heathfield & Waldron at Steel Cross this afternoon.. Yet again it is unlikely I will be there so I wish the boys good luck.
The minis and juniors kick off tomorrow and I wish this most valuable membership grouping all the very best for a successful season. We at CRFC are VERY proud of the conveyor belt of players who have graduated through our minis and juniors into our senior sides.
The Friday Club BBQ was an excellent affair yesterday afternoon. Wives and partners joined the old codgers and celebrated the work completed over the summer. The place looked great with the A pitch looking in immaculate condition. Thanks Jacqui and JP for your contribution to the day too.
Before I go our good friends over at Worthing RFC have shot themselves in the foot. A sponsorship deal with a Brighton strip club has backfired spectacularly with club members up in arms over the pitch side advertising hoardings. As you would expect there were some wags who saw the funny side. Worthing RFC cancelled the deal within 24 hours of recognising the error of their ways. (The Sun carried the story).
Back tomorrow with a review of today's Ireland v Wales clash which based on the teams selected will be a full on test match.