Sunday 3rd Feb: 10:30
The 6 Nations got off to a flying start this weekend. Were there shocks? No! Surprises? Yes! Quality and skill? Yes. Mistakes and errors? A good smattering. Excitement and tension? Plenty of that.
Let us start in Dublin. Was it a shock that England won? No it wasn't. It was a surprise that Ireland seemed to have no alternative to their plan A allowing England to win so convincingly. I had suggested that if England played with flair and imagination they could win and go on to lift the Grand Slam. I stand by that. England were excellent. Their defence put barriers and road blocks in the way of Ireland's possession game and they thwarted the Irish kicking game by countering with variation. In the past it would have been kick tennis but not yesterday. The men in white played what was in front of them. Sometimes looking to go wide, sometimes looking for contact, sometimes kicking the ball back but not aimlessly. The foundation for victory was built on defence where Mako Vunipola was immense. When in possession England played with skill and precision and the ball was moved when it was right to do so and kept tight when that was the prudent option. At long last they threw away the pre-ordained playbook and played with instinct.
Ireland were off colour. They had no idea how to counter England's oppressive rush defence and they had no plan B when their kicking game failed to produce results. Amongst this they also got rattled, at key times losing their composure. Johnny Sexton was anonymous for long periods. They also made mistake after mistake allowing England to ramp up the pressure further.
Let us not detract from the simple fact that man for man everyone of the England side was ahead of their Irish counterparts. It was not all sunshine and light. Elliot Daly's try was fortuitous. On a different day the tackle on Jacob Stockdale could have been ruled a tackle without the ball. Maro Itoje's pantomime attempt to catch a high ball whilst smashing Keith Earls to the ground could have been seen as more than a penalty. Itoje knew what he was doing and it wasn't trying to catch the ball. A visit to the naughty chair would have been an acceptable decision. Msr Garces could have taken a less lenient approach to England's persistent killing of the ball in the tackle, and arriving at the ruck and maul from the side. All that is somewhat churlish as England were excellent and very worthy winners.
Over in Paris it was the game of two halves. In the first France were magnificent. Their enormous pack providing the backs with good clean ball which they used with aplomb. It was the French of a bygone era playing with flair. Wales were woeful. It was very big men against the wimpy kids who'd prefer to be reading Latin prose rather than playing rugby. They couldn't catch, pass or tackle. Pretty important when playing our great game.
I have no idea what Gatland said at half time or what he put in the boys half time cuppa but they were transformed. They at last started to string passes together and put their French counterparts under pressure. The men in blue started to make mistakes and certainly George North's tries were gifts. You have to be a good player however to exploit those mistakes. The supporters of Les Bleus will be bemused by the turnaround. The Welsh will be relieved at the victory. It wasn't a classic in the purest sense but it was a classic because of the contrast between the two halves and the tension that developed as the game headed to the eighty minute mark.
Finally off to Murrayfield. The Scots overpowered the Italians for long periods, especially in that first half, but simply could not put them away. The Italians last ditch defence was excellent aided by some pretty poor decision making by the Scots. The second half was more of the same but this time the Scots converted the pressure into points. Some of their tries were things of beauty and highlighted the Scots potential under Gregor Townsend. The game also highlighted the Scots Achilles heel in that they couldn't put Italy to the sword. Instead they allowed the Azzurri back into the game. Blair Kinghorn was terrific and Scotland hard hit by injury are no longer seen as an easy win. Scotland top the table by virtue of points difference.
In addition to Kinghorn and Vunipola M. the players who stood out were Tom Curry, Johnny May, George North, Wesley Fofana, Ross Moriarty and my player of the weekend Ben Youngs. He was everywhere on Saturday. You watch the tape and see how much work he got through.
Can't wait for next weekend............ when I will be back on the M25, M11, A14, M6, M54 and A442 to Bridgnorth when England host France. Crowborough to Bridgnorth via Kettering. GREAT!!!!!!
Friday 1st Feb: 11:00
Addendum. I see Manu Tuilagi has been selected. Good news / bad news. If he plays with the flair he has shown in recent weeks then good news for England. If he is used as a battering ram has he has been in the past then bad news for England, good news for Ireland.
Well done Ken Owens. He will become Wales most capped hooker tonight. There are some ladies around Butetown that might dispute that however.
It is very unlikely I will blog tomorrow but please check the site out on Sunday. Hopefully back in Crowborough by then.
Friday 1st Feb: 10:30
As I type it is less than 36 hours to go before the 6 Nations kicks off. Who knows when I’ll be able to post this however. The tournament might even be over!
Another day, more direct contact with the NHS in yet another department. Again amazing service with wonderful staff. By the way outside this my mother saw the doctor on Monday and an appointment with a consultant has been confirmed for ten days time. That is what I call service.
I read with interest that Sir Clive Knowitall has England down to win the tournament with Ireland 2nd and Wales 3rd. I can understand where he is coming from but that will only come to pass if the shackles are undone and the English players released to play. If they continue with their “power defeats all” attitude then I am afraid Ireland will bore them to death with their possession game and England could be undone by Wales and Scotland’s flair. I said this in my last missive and the more I think about it the more I do feel England can regain top spot but only if the above happens.
Wales have made just three changes to the side that beat South Africa. Tomos Williams gets the nod ahead of Gareth Davies. This is the only tactical change but to be fair Davies was doubtful due to injury. France have selected 19 year old N’Tmack which signifies to me France intend to play a more open and expansive game than of late and that augurs well for the match but not necessarily for a Wales victory. Like in England the French clubs are all powerful and the Top 14 takes precedence over anything else, even the European Cup. Of late international rugby has been low down the pecking order but changes to the policies surrounding the Top 14 sides would suggest the French federation is trying to redress the balance. Friday evening could be an indicator, or maybe not?
If the weather is not as bad as expected I won’t get to see the Scotland game with Italy as I’ll be on the motorway network somewhere hoping to get back to Crowborough for the Ireland v England game. Obviously the opposite is true if the weather is bad then the weekend in Bridgnorth beckons. Anyway the point here is for many this might be the last time they see the 6 Nations live. There are strong rumours the tournament could move to pay TV such as SKY or BT. For me that is ok as I can access both but for many that is not the case. The Issue I have is the 6 Nations alongside the Rugby World Cup brings into the game lots of non rugby viewers and creates a hype and interest outside the normal sporting sphere. It would be a real shame if this was lost. For the unions the money will be useful but at what long term cost to the game. As an example I have watched just a handful of Pro 14 games as they are no longer on SKY or BBC. Some of the games are on S4C and that is where I have caught up with the Welsh regions. By the way the crowds are not getting bigger so you have to assume the interest in the game is on the wane. A short term cash injection for the clubs creating an issue out in the distance.
Closer to home at CRFC the Chapman family have been loyal members for more years than I care to remember. Not only have the boys played since the age of six with Harrison the elder son already playing for the 1st XV rugby with some distinction, they have also worked at the club in various wait staff capacities. It is 17 year old Ben who is capturing the headlines now though by being selected to play for London & South East England Under 18s. A great honour for him, his family and the club with perhaps with even greater things to come. Credit must go to “Big” Vern and “Ginger” Hicks our colts coaches who have brought Ben and many others through the system. In fact three of the colts are in the Sussex set up this season. The club is proud of its home grown talent.
As a point of interest when we played over at Bromley, our opponents next week, one of their members inferred we had imported a lot of new players since the previous season. The truth of the matter was yes there were changes but that was because we had some who had finished their university studies, one who had left the RAF and returned home, and several returning from injury. Off the 18 man squad on that day only two had not been through our mini or junior sections in one shape or another. Of the two who weren’t home grown one had tried a club near to us and didn’t like it and the other was a relative of one of our club stalwarts. I for one am proud to put these facts on paper.
I see Brexit is no further along despite what looked like some clear direction from parliament. The problem of course is the EU won’t budge. I fear we will end up crashing out without a deal with all the mayhem that that causes. The one positive aspect of crashing out is we get to keep £39bn and the economies of Germany and France will be stuffed too.
Finally I have been bleating on about how people abuse the NHS and how other options such as pharmacies are available for some time. The Organ of Truth leads with the proposal that those with non serious medical conditions will be directed away from the doctors and definitely away from A&E to alternatives sources of advice. Happy days!!
Wednesday Jan 30th: 12:00
Here I am back in Bridgnorth. Oh how I wish my mother had the internet. A long story why she doesn’t and right now not worth the hassle of getting connected. The local pub, The Black Horse, a mighty fine pub with top beers and super-fast internet is my destination. Have I ever had a better excuse to go to the pub?
Another week of interacting with the NHS. Another excellent experience. Fantastic service by great people. I have to say however that waiting in the doctors surgery and then again in the hospital where they have a GP drop-in centre next to the fracture clinic a lot of those waiting looked very well indeed making me wonder whether they could self-diagnose and simply get remedies from the pharmacist.
The hype around the 6 Nations has been ramped up a notch and the papers are full of updates. Wales have had an injury boost with three key players being declared fit. Ireland are talking about not being complacent as complacency is possibly their biggest enemy. Scotland, it is all about injuries for them with key players being ruled out. The loss of Hamish Watson is the headline. England need to deliver. They have the biggest pool of players, the biggest budget, and so on. Another poor showing might see serious questions being asked about the role of King Eddie. Italy will be Italy. Which French side will turn up? The lethargic, apathetic one or the flair laden, impetuous one? It all starts on Friday so we’ll know soon enough.
What is not acceptable is King Eddie and his sidekick John Mitchell starting up a war of words. Mitchell winding up the Irish is childish. It should be left in the playground alongside their IQs.
The referees have been given their instructions too. Tackle height and tackle technique are high on the agenda. The role of the TMO has also been clarified.
Things and people to watch out for. Farrell v Farrell on Saturday. Will it be son or dad who prevails? Will Scotland be able to replicate the good form of the two Pro 14 regions? Will it be a try fest or one arm wrestle after arm wrestle? Will it be Wimbledon with a rugby ball? One high lob of a kick after another. How many mistakes will the officials make? Will Kyle Sinckler finally come of age and show his world class potential. Will the Vunipolas last the entire tournament? How many times will Dan Biggarhead whinge like a spoilt child? What new ways of cheating have the French come up with? Will Johnny Sexton live up to his World Player of the Year crown? Who will come out of nowhere and make a real name for himself. How many of you will watch the women’s 6 Nations and the Under 20s equivalent?
The one question that I can answer in advance is: will the outcome of the tournament give any indicators for the World Cup. The answer is “absolutely not!”
Can’t wait. Bring it on. Oh, and my predictions. Ireland will be champions again but not with a Grand Slam. Italy will be bottom. Wales will be disappointing and Scotland will surpass expectations. France will be poor and England, well they will be England. Honestly, they can win it and with a Grand Slam but they have to play creatively and with a joie d’vivre so lacking in past games and keep the squad fit from start to finish.
Elsewhere I enjoyed the London Irish v Jersey Reds game last weekend. The Toulon v Stade Francais game was another exciting match up. Some of the officiating was sketchy to say the least which is unusual for Msr Poite.
If Newport County beat Middlesborough in the next round of the FA Cup they have Man City at home!!!!!!!
What about England in the West Indies. Boy oh boy they were rubbish.
Not on top of the minutiae of the news right now but I must applaud Piers Morgan. He was spot on calling Ross Greer a “smirking ginger turd”. The 24 year old Scottish MSP who branded Sir Winston Churchill a “white supremacist mass murderer” needs a cattle prod up his backside. An absolutely outrageous assertion by someone who probably still gets mummy to change his Pampers and has experienced nothing of real life except the odd the moment when kedgeree with avocado was off his breakfast menu.
I can take or leave Yvette Cooper but she hit the nail on the head by saying “it is time for Theresa May to stop worrying about the Tory part tearing itself apart and put the country first.”
Finally I think the Organ of Truth has come up with something worth supporting: The Great British Spring Clean. We at CRFC already keep the road around the clubhouse and the two closest bus stops tidy along with making sure our grounds are litter free on a regular basis. If rugby banded together and added a few hundred metres more to its tidy up regimes what a difference that would make. Alternatively the bone idle benefit cheats or petty criminals could give something back!!!!!!
More when I can.
Sunday 27th Jan: 09:30
As The Bard and I left Hastings yesterday we both had the same question in mind. "How on earth are Hastings & Bexhill at the bottom of the league?". I'll get onto our performance shortly but H&B played well. They have some very good players. Their outside half was excellent and their full back is a classy player with gas. Their forwards were pugnacious led by their very good back row. Did the 24-11 scoreline in our favour flatter us? Not really. I think it was a fair reflection of the game both in possession and territory.
Did we play well? In the main is my opinion. The forwards were excellent with the scrummage a thing of beauty. This was the one area where we did dominate. The defence was again solid with just a few lapses when the H&B back line moved the ball at pace and got in behind us. Our back three were excellent with young Marchesi playing very well indeed as did Bertie Boast and Angus Weir. Some of our rucking was very good as was the rolling maul. That said H&B defended well and kept us at bay for long periods.
Where I have criticism it centres around decision making and ball retention. There were times in the very cold and windy conditions the simplest and most sympathetic pass was the only option but no we went for the miracle offload or the long raking kick. Too often we tried to offload when we should have taken the ball into contact. Also when we did go into contact we often saw H&B rip the ball and counter-attack. It is was far from all doom and gloom. Individually all of the 18 man squad made a very positive contribution. It was just that team cohesion slipped and sometimes a less selfish approach would have reaped greater rewards.
I guess when you are eleven points clear at the top of the table after another try bonus point win it is a luxury to be able to criticise. Both The Bard and I as we thawed out after enduring that biting wind for nearly two hours believe there is more in the tank and better to come. A couple of call outs. Matt Botterman (MOTM) was excellent ably supported by Callum Main and Josh Groocock. Tom West was a live wire keeping the ball moving and getting Crowborough onto the front foot.
As it is unlikely I'll be able to Blog tomorrow a few words on the rest of the games in our league. The biggest shock was to hear that Pulborough had pulled out of their trip to Vigo. Wow! I had not expected that. I am sure Vigo would have wanted to play and on recent form would have been confident of a win but they will accept the 5 league points as a consequence of the HWO and move into second spot. Bromley hammered Lewes who have slipped to 10th behind Park House. Bromley remain in 10th but 68-10 will be a real confidence boost. They play us next. Park House beating Beccehamian was a surprise and does us a favour. Old Ds beat Old Ws in the other game. There is still much to play for and nothing can be taken for granted based on this set of results.
Elsewhere there were wins for Horsham and Haywards Heath but The Greenies, Hove and Brighton all lost. Brighton were beaten by Sevenoaks thus closing the gap at the top of the table. Chichester and Tunbridge Wells won as did TJs. Worthing lost.
Well done to our 2s scoring an excellent win over Hellingly 2s. Sadly The Crows came second to Uckfield 2s. Nevertheless it was great The Crows got a game and I understand in defeat played well.
Bridgnorth beckons so blogging will be erratic. Keep watching though.
Saturday 26th Jan: 09:30
Firstly thank you for all the kind wishes for my mother's speedy recovery. It is very much appreciated.
Steel Cross is ready to host two games today. The 2s host Hellingly 2s and The Crows host Uckfield 2s. If you are not travelling down to H&B RFC then Steel Cross is the place to be.
The RFU have halted the tackle height trial. There is conclusive evidence that the change has actually made matters worse not better as the tackler is increasingly being injured in the tackle. The trial was only in The Championship so the change doesn't affect the vast majority of the game. The trial has brought a different benefit in that the stats have clearly highlighted areas where injuries are occurring and the lawmakers can now look at these. Good news.
As expected Elliot Daly is leaving Wasps for Saracens. How Saracens can afford the plethora of stars they have is a conundrum to be pondered. Wasps have vehemently denied that Joe Launchbury will be next through the door. Launchbury himself has stated he is staying put. So he's off then!!!!!
One of the UKs most famous clubs, Neath RFC have been handed over to a finance company as their trials and tribulations continue. It is a sad indictment of the state of rugby across Britain with grassroots Welsh rugby in a particularly dire state. It is not the end of the club and like a phoenix they could rise from the ashes, but I wouldn't hold my breath, especially as The Gnoll is in a prime real estate location.
I didn't see any of the Pro 14 last night as it is not on terrestrial TV, Sky or BT. It is an additional cost to watch and as much as I love the game I am not paying whatever it costs to watch dross. Dross is how the game between Glasgow and Ospreys was described. Leinster v Scarlets was a better game with Scarlets again coming second. Benetton continue to defy the pundits expectations by holding Ulster to a 17-17 draw. In fact it was only a last gasp penalty try that prevented a shock home loss for the Ulstermen.
Interesting debate going on in Wales about Rhys Webb's availability for RWC 2019. Gareth Davies injury has opened up the possibility that the WRU could compromise their principles and allow Gatland to select Webb for the World Cup. That said the back ups to Davies such as Tomos Williams are in fine form and will certainly hold their own in the 6 Nations.
What is the matter with people. Whoever it is who thinks it is right to vandalise monuments to war heroes must be found and brought to justice. The people who put their bodies on the line in our name, often fatally need to be honoured and never forgotten. They ensured the freedoms we enjoy now as opposed to living under the jackboot of tyranny.
Venezuela. What a mess. Certain of this countries politicians have in the past praised the Venezuelan regime. Something to think about as we potentially head towards a general election.
See you later at H&B RFC.
Thursday 24th Jan: 15:30
"Where have you been? We've missed reading your drivel!" If that is vaguely true you must be mad.
I've been in Bridgnorth. A mad dash up on Monday after finding out my mother had had a fall and broken her wrist. Not just any old break quite a complex one. Those who are regular visitors to this nonsense know that she doesn't have the interweb so "bleating" is not easy. Actually that is not true. The "bleating" is easy, it is the publishing on the website that is difficult. I'm back in Crowborough now for a few days, with mother in tow. Blogs from Monday might by patchy in terms of posting as I go back to The Midlands.
There is much negative stuff written about the NHS. Let me tell you about my (mother's) experience. The immediate treatment was fast and professional. The subsequent treatment in Telford General Hospital was fantastic. The staff were amazing in every sense. The time we spent at each point in the process was minimal. I have nothing but praise for the doctors, nurses and admin staff we came into contact with.
Subsequent to that I was exposed to the local GPs practice and Bridgnorth hospital (equivalent to Crowborough's hospital). Yet again the service, the staff, the doctors were amazing. Nothing seemed too much trouble even though they were busy.
The NHS. I applaud you and say THANK YOU!
To rugby. We travel to Hastings & Bexhill on Saturday. We need to get our train back on the tracks travelling at full speed as we did before Xmas. H&B at home are always a tough proposition so nothing can be taken for granted.
I am not sure of the 2nd XV or The Crows fixtures I am afraid. Sorry!
The big boys have a few weeks off now in preparation for the 6 Nations. Actually there is the Premiership Cup but that is about making money so I'm not bothering with it.
The 6 Nations news has been littered with injury updates. Leigh Halfpenny, Hamish Watson, Brad Shields Iain Henderson et al are in the news as either out or doubtful. Better news is Owen Farrell and Johnny Sexton look set to go head to head. As expected Jonathan Joseph has been called up.
The coaches are in the news too. Lots of speculation about Gatland and Schmidt and O'Shea. This is possibly the last 6 Nations for all three but only time will tell.
The ignoramus who abused Simon Zebo has been banned for life by Ulster Rugby. Well done them.
France will lose one of its stars after the world cup as Wesley Fofana announces his retirement after the tournament.
Brexit, Brexit and more Brexit in the news but otherwise I'm behind on the latest goings on except that is for Alex Salmond's arrest and the arrogance of Jack Shepherd who is awaiting the outcome of the extradition hearing in Georgia.
Here is today's conundrum. Internet connectivity. Whilst waiting for my mum to see the doctor at the GPs surgery I tried connecting to their internet. Strong signal. Into the website where you sign in. Great so far. Then you get the message "we have sent a sign in code to your email address to enable you to use this service". Great but I CANNOT get my ffffnnnn email because I am not connected to your fffffnnnn internet. Have a nice day.
So next week when I return to Bridgnorth I will be using the internet at The Black Horse. It is very fast and you don't to go through hoops to connect and I can have a beer as I post the blog. That is my excuse and I am sticking to it.
Friday Club tomorrow so back on Saturday.
Monday 21st Jan: 10:00
Sport is about fine margins. A game can turn on the slightest slip, the blink of an eye, the width of a fingertip, an error of judgement. Sport is also about players and officials. Both sides of that divide are expected to get it right. It doesn't always happen and so it came to pass last night.
In one of the worst officiating decisions ever New Orleans Saints were deprived a place in the Superbowl. You could argue on the balance of play they didn't deserve to go through but that is besides the point. Over the last 20 something weeks NFL officials have called "pass interference" for the most innocuous contact. Last night Saints wide receiver Tommylee Lewis was poleaxed late on by Rams safety Nickell Robey-Coleman. It wasn't subtle. He was torpedoed from distance when the ball wasn't even close. An outrageous miss by the officials that stopped Saints winding down the clock to victory. Anyway, move on.
The Rams now face New England in two weeks time in Atlanta for the NFL crown.
What last night's decision highlighted in a strange way is how good rugby referees are. At our level on their own managing a complex fast moving game and getting most things right first time. Well done to them is what I say.
There were some games to comment on so lets get to it. Tunbridge Wells came second to Guildford 12-29. Whilst Shelford languish at the foot of the table with just three points in total there are just four points separating the next four clubs and the boys from St Marks are one of them in tenth spot with 37 points. Sutton & Epsom are now top with Westcliff and Wimbledon in the mix.
London 1 South also had a full program of games. Brighton remain top after their away win at Dartfordians but they can't shake off Sevenoaks who came back from Cobham with a 21-37 win. Hove got another point on the board after losing 26-46 to Westcombe Park. They are stranded at the foot of the table. Chichester got a vital 19-28 win at Havant. They are still ominously close to the drop but that win helps. Medway won at London Cornish and stay in third.
A couple of catch up games in Sussex 1. Burgess Hill beat East Grinstead in a high scoring game. Seaford claimed the honours over Plumpton. The league now splits into two for the final push for promotion.
In the national league Worthing had the arduous journey back from the Midlands after losing to Birmingham & Solihull 18-0. TJs had an eye catching win 12-57 away at Old Albanians. They move into 5th as a result. They are now 22 points behind runaway leaders The Rams.
Elsewhere Bridgnorth lost at Burton but Salisbury overcame bottom placed Stratford Upon Avon for an important win.
The Toulouse v Bath game was pretty enjoyable. Plenty of good action and a determined Bath fightback that fell just short. Rhys Priestland played well as did Jonathan Joseph on his return to action. Good news for King Eddie. Leinster beat Wasps to earn that all important home play-off spot against Ulster. Toulouse travel to Racing 92. In the other ties Saracens host Glasgow and Edinburgh host Munster.
As I type Gregor Townsend has been forced to bring four players into his Scotland squad as cover for those injured on the weekend. The injured include star man Hamish Watson.
England are not without their injury worries as Wasps' Brad Shields drops out of yesterday's clash with Leinster.
Could Warren Gatland coach The Lions in South Africa. It is rumoured he is talks with The Lions hierarchy about the opportunity to go for a third term. I am not sure it makes sense as we don't know where he will be coaching post RWC 2019.
I'll leave the political comment for another day as most of it starts with "B" often ending in "cks".
Sunday 20th Jan: 10:30
It was sad to arrive at the club yesterday to find that with just nine players Brighton conceded the cup tie to the Mighty Crows. To be fair to the nine who turned up and the Crows the players divided themselves up and got a game. Something like ten-a-side. Well done to them.
I was torn between staying and leaving but chose the latter as it became an opportunity to spend some time with my grandson and granddaughter. Shame on me you might say and that is fair enough. There were plenty who did turn up, especially first and second XV players and that was very positive.
Yet more meetings take place this weekend to try and find ways of solving the terrible decline in playing numbers and the ever increasing number of games that are cancelled.
Having endured Leicester City losing 4-3 at Wolves I was hoping Racing 92 v Scarlets might brighten the mood.......... and it did. With nothing to play for both sides threw the ball around with gay abandon and produced a marvellous open game with lots of great tries. The Scarlets were back to their imperious best and Racing 92 showed why they are one of the top seeds for the Champions Cup. That ground is something else isn't it?
The Munster v Exeter game was a more cagey affair. It started lively enough but then turned into a cat and mouse game with far too much kicking and way too many silly mistakes. Why Exeter didn't go for the points when they were on offer beggars belief.
The eight to progress are now confirmed with just home advantage to be decided. It is likely to be Leinster but if they lose and Toulouse win that could change...... I think.
It should be noted that despite the English and French clubs some years ago demanding the tournament format be changed England only have one club through, the French two. Sadly no Welsh presence this year.
English clubs faired much better in the Challenge Cup with five sides in the last eight including Sale and Quins.
King Eddie obviously had an eye-patch for Christmas. His accusation that Johnny Sexton has a "bat phone" direct to the referees is nonsense. He feels Sexton gets preferential treatment. Well King Eddie if you took the eye-patch off and got your head out from under your backside you might occasionally spot one Owen Farrell getting away with preferential treatment as he constantly barks at referees who then seem to at will ignore is awful tackle technique.
It appears lots more overseas players are lined up to join Premiership clubs. Move on before I blow a casket.
The Championship sides have complained the Premiership is run like a cartel and are bitterly opposed to ring-fencing. Sorry guys it is a cartel that is why they are getting c.£250m from the RFU and around the same amount from CVC. Suck it up. Right now only London Irish, part of the cartel, are capable of coming up. None of the other grounds have the capacity and infrastructure to support the premiership game and whilst some have unbelievable generous benefactors could they afford to come up. They would have to move grounds and look at what happened to London Welsh when they did that. This argument is like Brexit; two opposing camps with entrenched views.
By the way Scarlets v Leicester and Racing v Scarlets, neither game had anything to play for but pride but both were excellent games. An argument for a ring-fenced Premiership.??? Get rid of the fear of relegation???????
More on this next week perhaps.
I watched England v South Africa netball yesterday evening with Mrs Bleater. I thought netball was a non contact sport. Boy those girls were rough. Netball is a splendid game with mass participation and walking netball is taking off with those of a more advanced age. Great stuff.
I read with interest that Chelsea's boss Maurizio Sarri complained his players are difficult to motivate. Well Maurizio have you thought it might have something to do with earning upwards of £300k A WEEK win or lose, play or not play, and any contracts they have appear to be not worth the paper they are written on. Try "you only get paid when you play, and only then when you win". That said one game a year at £300k a pop is still not bad.
How did you get on with last weeks quiz?
Here is a question to ponder. If there is a second vote on Brexit (which is being pushed forward to try and stop Brexit) and the result is overwhelmingly to "leave" what happens? As this is a complex question I will accept answers that extend to more than 500 pages........ but they should be sent to email@example.com
By the way please add your vote to Phillip should hang up his car keys. Yes or No?
Back tomorrow. My brain hurts.
Saturday 19th Jan: 10:30
Just a few quick comments this morning.
As at right now The Crows host Brighton 4s at Steel Cross today. Kick off 14:00. The place was readied yesterday. The pitch will be a bit claggy but nevertheless it will be a game well worth watching. I hope to be there to support the boys.
King Eddie has announced his squad and on paper it is one of the strongest he's been able to select with a lot of returnees. In fact of the six nations it is probably the strongest on a man for man basis. Having the Vunipolas and Joe Launchbury back is a big boost in itself. Players like Jack Nowell and Henry Slade are in fine form and pushing for starting spots. He has as expected gone with the tried and tested rather than form but there are four uncapped players in the set-up: Jack Singleton, Ben Earl and the very much in form Ollie Thorley and Dan Robson. Two notable absentees due to injury are our own Dylan Hartley and Chris Robshaw. I'd go as far too say that neither would have been instant choices even if fit. Farrell leads the side.
I was out with friends last night who are not rugby people but do like the 6 Nations. I gave them my view on why England might have the best squad but can't win. The answer was fairly simple. Tactically they are not good. King Eddie is a work harder not smarter guy and when change is needed it is slow in coming. The other countries out of necessity have to be smart tactically. Simply trying to bludgeon the opposition into defeat will not work for them. Time will tell but to be fair this is a very impressive England squad.
The other consequence of being out is I missed the Edinburgh v Montpellier clash. I can't comment on the game but this is a great result for Edinburgh and Scottish rugby as Edinburgh top the table and progress but so do Glasgow as a consequence. The other consequence is the Munster v Exeter match-up is now becomes even more important. The second place team in this group is very unlikely to go through, however that is based on the assumption Toulouse will not lose to Bath tomorrow.
Finally we wish Prince Phillip well. Boy that was some accident.
Thursday 17th Jan: 10:00
We are still a couple of weeks away from the 6 Nations but interest is on the rise as the squads are announced. King Eddie will announce his squad later but Joe Schmidt and Gregor Townsend have shown their hand. In both cases it is very much the tried and tested where available but they have included uncapped players by necessity. Connacht's fine form this season has been rewarded with three uncapped players, Caolin Blade, Jack Carty and Tom Farrell included in the Irish squad. Despite the injury list Schmidt's squad looks mighty powerful. The one area of concern would be at nine where Connor Murray's usual back up of Luke McGrath is missing.
As you run your eye down the Scottish squad man for man it is less impressive than the Irish or Welsh squads. Due to injuries Townsend includes seven uncapped players in his 38 man set up. Whilst on a man for man basis you might think: "nah, they ain't going to win" you must remember the two Scottish Pro 14 sides have outperformed many in Europe and are playing some great rugby. In Townsend they have an inspirational coach who seems to get the very best out of his men.
It is a sad indictment of our game that each announcement is preceded by a long list of injury absentees.
As the 6 Nations approaches so does the end of season roundabout with the coming and goings of each club. Wasps have announced the imminent arrival of All Black World Cup winner Malakai Fekitoa from Toulon. Bet he isn't on a minimum wage zero hours contract. Shame Wasps are in such a dire state that they have no-one coming through from their academy. Another overseas player. It is getting like soccer but you've heard me say that over and over before.
The European Challenge Cup has been very much overshadowed this season but from the games I have watched there have been some good quality encounters. As said yesterday progress to the knockout stages is very much up in the air and outside Clermont Auvergne who are in, the other seven spots are up for grabs. In the mix are Saints, Worcester, Sale, Connacht, La Rochelle, Bristol, Quins and Benetton. Mathematically Ospreys and Zebre are still in with a shout (I Think). We'll know by Sunday evening.
Obviously for us it is a free weekend. An opportunity to reflect on the post Christmas results and the challenge ahead. I understand that our injury list has got shorter which is good news and now the pantomime season is over the one club stalwart who missed last week as a result can return. "What are you talking about?" One of our long standing players, a real nice guy and top player cried off last week because he was in panto. He has asked me to not name him so for now I will call him "Mark". Yes, being in the Rotherfield players "Mark" also known as "Rosie" meant he was unavailable. Have you ever heard such a lame excuse. Anyway he'll be back next week.
I am led to believe The Crows may be playing catch up on Saturday so Steel Cross should be your destination for that one. Give this great bunch of guys your support. The Friday Club will be getting the place ready but they have their work cut out as the grounds looked rather soggy yesterday. The flock of seagulls was a bit of a giveaway.
Plenty of soccer this weekend too but for me the highlight will be the Saints v The Rams in the Superdome. My family over in New Orleans are very excited by the prospect of winning the NFC Championship and thus progressing to the Superbowl.
My good friend Paddy O'Fez was quick off the mark with some alternative solutions to the Brexit impasse. An impasse which no sooner had Theresa Maybe weathered the No Confidence vote became blatantly clear again. There is NO easy solution as the views of both sides are so entrenched. O'Fez asked is it time to put party politics to one side and form a National Government. Good question.
What is clear is Comrade Corbynov shot himself in the foot by refusing to meet with Maybe with criticism coming as loudly from his own side as the Tories. His alienation was compounded by not agreeing to a people's vote to break the impasse.
I am fed up with it and it makes me depressed when my cousin in New Orleans tells me what a laughing stock we've become over the Brexit issue.
Let's move on. I have some questions for you.......
What is the capital of Ecuador?
Who was the 8th President of the United States?
Who was the British Prime Minister between David Lloyd George and Stanley Baldwin?
Which chemical element is No.42 in the table with the symbol Mo?
What does the Jewish Holy Day of Rosh Hashana celebrate
The tie break question in no more than 50 words is..........
If the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland is so problematical in the Brexit negotiations how would it work if Scotland declared independence and stayed in the EU. You can include in your answer a reference to a wall and if you feel so included tank traps and gun emplacements. (Note Paddy O'Fez will be the judge of your answers but he is a soft hearted pacifist. Aka snowflake!)
Wednesday 16th Jan: 08:30
Let me surprise you by starting with rugby. The permutations for who progresses and who doesn't in the Heineken Champions Cup is complex to say the least. As I see it Sarries are through and barring some sort of mathematical calamity will be at home. Leinster and Racing 92 are pretty much guaranteed to progress. For them it is about topping the group and getting a home tie. Munster are favourites to go through from pool 2 but even with a bonus point win against Exeter they might not get a home tie. Pool 5 is the most intriguing. Edinburgh will progress and possibly with the crucial home advantage if they beat Montpellier on Friday night with a try bonus point.
Who else is in the hunt. Exeter will need a bonus point win and other results to go their way when they travel to Munster on Saturday. Unlikely scenario. Toulouse are in with a shout if they can beat Bath at home. A distinct possibility. Glasgow are at Saracens and they need to get something out of that game and other results work for them, such as Edinburgh beating Montpellier. A Montpellier win will see them progress and Edinburgh then hoping for other results to go their way. Finally Ulster are in with a shout of progressing as they travel to out of form Tigers.
Don't ask me to predict the outcome but hopefully that gives you a flavour of the complexity.
The Challenge Cup is no less complicated. The only guarantee here is that Clermont Auvergne are through with a home tie. Unlike in the senior competition more English clubs might find their way into the knockout stages.
Isn't it strange how the English clubs changed the format of the two European tournaments to their advantage yet they still fail to impress. Money obviously can't buy you success (in Europe at least).
Talking of money as expected Nathan Hughes is leaving Wasps. He is heading to Bristol on a reported £500k a year deal. So much for the CVC money not inflating wages further. Wasps will also lose Willie Le Roux and an announcement about Elliot Daly is expected soon.
I wrote yesterday about how life must be great for Joe Schmidt. What I hadn't realised was Johnny Sexton was injured and Luke McGrath was hit with a knee injury on the weekend. There are other key players missing too. I still think the Grand Slam is theirs for the taking however.
Warren Gatland announced an extended squad yesterday which surprisingly included Ross Moriarty and Leigh Halfpenny, both being managed under the HIA return to play protocols. In my view they are unlikely to make the 6 Nations. Thomas Young might however, as could Jonah Holmes. Whilst their club sides are struggling both have stood out recently and could easily be in contention for a place in the 23 man squad.
It might only be me but I felt democracy and common decency took a nose dive yesterday. For sometime I have held our politicians in contempt and see them (in the main) as a bunch of jumped up, self-serving clowns who have totally lost touch with the people they are supposed to be representing. The deal might not be perfect. In fact it might not be that good BUT it is a deal. For Labour politicians in areas who voted "Leave" to vote against it is diabolical. Welsh MPs should hang their heads in shame. Albeit misguided in my opinion the Welsh voted to leave and we now find ourselves in a situation where we don't leave at all. Comrade Corbynov a long time Eurosceptic voted against for his own ends and we took a step closer to that last night. His reason is to get into power and turn the UK into a Marxist waste land (in MY humble opinion). Strangely I can support the SNPs and the DUPs opposition because they are founded on reasonable arguments. In both cases however it is not the tail of the dog holding the country to ransom it is the tail of a small dog holding a whole pack of hounds to ransom.
I was also appalled at the TV coverage last night. The BBC was acting like a cheerleader for the Marxist revolution and not only wanted to see heads on spikes but see bodies drawn and quartered too. Only in one interview was there a question of substance about this fiasco. That question asked those in opposition to the deal what is your alternative proposal. In 95% of the answers there was no sensible or plausible alternative just political rhetoric. In the few instances of someone coming up with a proposal it was either to stay in or to leave with us even more tied to Europe than the deal that was voted on.
Brexit has been hijacked by Remainers and has been used by others to fulfil their own personal objectives. If Boris the Clown in Chief becomes leader of the Tory party heaven help us. If Corbynov wins a general election heaven help us. If Theresa May stays in power heaven help us. Basically we are screwed. Whichever way you look at it the Monster Raving Loonies are in power
Before I go well done to Nusrat Ghani, MP for Wealden. A keen Brexiteer in a constituency that voted "Leave. She voted for the deal. No self interest here. A pragmatic acceptance that her voters wanted to leave the EU and this deal did deliver that despite its rather ugly warts.
Tuesday 15th Jan: 09:30
Much in the papers about the final weekend of the group stages of the Heineken Champions Cup. Sarries are through and I believe there are ten teams in with a shout for the other seven spots. Some are pretty much guaranteed but want the home quarter-final others need a win and results to go in their favour for them to progress. It should be fascinating. I'll try and get the permutations sorted out before the games kick off on Friday but Edinburgh v Montpellier looks a tasty dish indeed to start the weekend off.
The other news in many of the papers surrounds the 6 Nations squads and the dilemmas the coaches will face. Warren Gatland's celebratory pint after the return of Taulupe Faletau tasted pretty awful rather quickly. Faletau has again broken his arm and will therefore miss the upcoming tournament. It was not long ago that I was eulogising Wales strength in depth. Well, that is going to be tested to the full quite soon as Wales injury list has become very long indeed. In the vaunted area of back row we are down to just a few fit players but those who are fit are thankfully top notch. Justin Tipuric to name but one.
North of the planned new Trump Wall on the Scottish border Gregor Townsend must be hoping he can translate the form of Glasgow and Edinburgh into a dynamic and competitive Scottish side.
If Ireland's players remain fit Joe Schmidt will have nothing to worry about other than who to leave out. His players look in fine form and with all four Irish regions firing on all cylinders don't bet on anything other than a Grand Slam.
Eddie Jones will be buoyed by the form of some of his returning stars. He will also be delighted by the number of newcomers putting their hands up for selection. Alex Dombrandt at Quins being one such player. Jones' concerns centre around the few games ahead before the tournament begins. It is true the English players get less rest and have many more games of "intensity" than the other home nations. Despite both the concern and the opportunity he is likely to stick with reputation over form. He like Gatland will avoid the temptation to experiment ahead of the World Cup. They want wins and they want momentum. More on this in the weeks to come.
It is sad that an Ireland great in Simon Zebo was subjected to racial abuse in Ulster last weekend. There is no place for racial abuse in society and most definitely not in rugby. Why oh why would anybody want to abuse one of your own. Someone who has worn the green of Ireland with great skill and dedication.
Another day another Premier League sacking. It is madness but I guess the managers don't care. They are quite happy with their big pay-offs.
I see Neil Warnock is in trouble with Cardiff City's owners after expressing quite strongly his personal views on Brexit. On that point let me state that the views expressed by me in this blog are MY OWN. They are not the views of CRFC. I am VERY grateful for the opportunity the club allows me to write this stuff. I know and they know there are some topics I will not comment on but otherwise I have been given a licence to "bleat".
The 6th of June 1944 known as D-Day. A day of great importance in history and one we should never forget. Nowhere near on the same scale but today the 15th of January might also become known as D-Day. "D" as in "disaster". No matter which side of the argument you are on today's so called "meaningful vote" could trigger the explosive timer and this wonderful country of ours could spiral into oblivion.
What hacks me off more than anything is the simple fact that some of the biggest noises in this whole fiasco couldn't care less about what happens next. Take Anna Soubry, Dominic Grieve, Kier Starmer. All barristers able to pick up their robes and return to work elsewhere with impunity. Boris Johnstone and Jacob Rhys-Mogg. Independently wealthy and untouched by the rigours of real life. They have no concept of what its like in the real world.
To be fair I read John McDonnell's biog (because I wanted to "have a go") but he can stand up and speak for the masses. He has experienced the real world. Don't like the politics he brings with him but nevertheless he is one who will understand the fears and problems of the hardworking everyday people of this country.
I like to think despite my crusty and negative exterior I am a decent soul but if this does go belly up I hope some of these MPs on the parliamentary gravy train who voted for their own self-serving reasons lose their seats and find out what it is like for those in the real world.
Monday 14th Jan: 09:15
As I left Steel Cross on Saturday I knew we would still be top of the table but I had rather anticipated the gap closing from eleven points to seven. It wasn't to be as 2nd placed Beccehamian lost 29-22 at Pulborough and Old Williamsonians lost at home to a revitalised Bromley 17-23. Becchehamian have a game in hand on us above them and Vigo and Old Willies below them in3rd and 4th respectively. All three are on 40 points. Folkestone beat Old Dunstonians to go 5th on the same points as Pulborough. By the nature of the eleven team league Pulborough also have a game in hand. Lewes lost at home to Hastings & Bexhill 10-26. There is only one league point now separating them towards the bottom of the table. Park House had the bye week and prop up the table but do have a game in hand. A win for them and other results going their way could see them jump into 8th spot.
There are still seven/eight games still to go so nothing is certain at the top or the bottom of the table. With the possibility of up to four teams being relegated this season there is much still to play for and I for one believe there are no easy games ahead and any team who thinks there are is in for one mighty shock.
In Sussex 1 the headline game was Crawley narrowly beating Burgess Hill. Both are safely into the crucial 1A league so this was about putting down a marker. Eastbourne hammered East Grinstead, Ditchling beat Seaford and table topping Uckfield beat Plumpton. Our neighbours down the A26 must be favourites to go up but again nothing can be taken for granted.
In London 2 South East thankfully a much better day for Heathfield & Waldron. They came away from Maidstone with a 25-27 win in the bag. They are off the bottom with that dubious honour now going to Aylesford Bulls who lost 29-0 to Haywards Heath. Horsham had a fine 42-14 win over lowly Thanet Wanderers. Table topping Beckenham came unstuck as our friends Charlton Park left there with a narrow 27-29 win. Beckenham remain 8 points clear of Park in second and eleven points clear of Horsham in third. In the other games Gravesend beat Dover and Old Colfeians beat Deal & Betteshanger.
In London 1 South Brighton remain top after a close encounter with Cobham. 39-37 being the score there. They can't shake off Sevenoaks however as they beat bottom placed Hove 45-7. Chichester had another difficult day going down to Camberley 38-11. Medway beat Thurrock to remain in the hunt for the play-off spot. Hove have a mountain to climb if they are to survive.
In the Premier division Tunbridge Wells lost away at Westcliff. The men from St Marks look comfortable in 9th but with just seven points separating them from Bedford Athletic in 13th nothing is yet certain for them. What is certain, barring a miracle is Shelford are doomed being 27 points adrift at the bottom. Leaders Wimbledon put 74 points on them on Saturday.
In the rarefied atmosphere of National League 2 South TJs beat Henley but Worthing lost at home to Clifton. The Rams are looking good at the top with a 15 point margin of comfort. Guernsey are bottom
It would not be Monday without mention of Bridgnorth and Salisbury. The former lost at home to Broadstreet (the home of Wasps training sheds), and the latter won away at Witney.
I thoroughly enjoyed Exeter v Castres. The West Country side were mightily impressive. King Eddie will be delighted with the performances of Henry Slade and Jack Nowell. The Glasgow v Cardiff Blues game was quite enjoyable with the scratch Cardiff side fighting back late on. Good stuff. Well done to Sarries. Their win over Lyon guarantees their spot in the knockout stages.
Rugby at the top level is a professional game with plenty of money sloshing around. Why then is it run in an amateur way so often. Clermont Auvergne having to change their shirts at half time because the kit clashed. Pathetic. Likewise yesterday the Exeter and Castres kit was far too similar. It is a nonsense that this happens. It lacks foresight and makes the game look stupid.
Wall to wall sport for me as I squeezed in some of the United win over Spurs before the NFL. Weren't the Patriots impressive. A masterclass of American Football. Go Saints. Nowhere near as impressive but a win is a win and we are now just one win away from the Superbowl.
Shame Andy Murray is about to retire but isn't the coverage excessive. At one point I thought he might have passed away.
Well done to out juniors. We hosted Jersey yesterday. I am certain they would have appreciated our hospitality and facilities but not so much the scorelines. It is only a game and the winning or losing for the kids should not be a factor in having a great day.
Must go my toast is ready for the Marmite and the banana. Delicious.
Sunday 13th Jan: 10:15
I fear it is going to be one of those days. Not because of having to write about our defeat yesterday but because this is my third attempt of the morning to get the blog completed. PC crash, restart, pc freeze, restart. Fingers crossed and here goes.
The hard work of Friday clearly paid off. The place looked great, lunch was EXCELLENT and our friends from Vigo were very good company indeed. On top of that my good friend Merlot was on fine form too. Lubricating the day as only Merlot can.
Let me cut to the chase and state loudly and clearly we were well beaten by a very good side. In some respects the scoreboard at 12-13 to Vigo does not reflect the possession and territory stats, especially in the second half when we were on the back foot for pretty much the entire 40 minutes.
We went into the break with a lead having scored two good tries but the writing was on the wall. Vigo's pack was very well drilled and for the first time in a long time our scrum was going backwards and our regular supply of ball from the lineout was cut off. In the contact areas Vigo were dynamic securing good ball for their speedy and sizeable backs and cutting off our supply of ball. Their No.7 was a thorn in our side and the visiting centre partnership always took the right option releasing their speedy wingers.
It wasn't all bad news as Josh Croocock battled from start to finish and our very young back three looked assured under the high ball and were keen to counter-attack at every opportunity. There were glimpses of the per-Christmas form epitomised by our two tries. There were sadly way too many times we got on the wrong side of the referee conceding penalty after penalty. All too often we found ourselves under pressure through ill-discipline. There were murmurings of discontent from the sidelines but in my humble opinion mis-directed. If criticism is justified it has to be directed at our players and not at the man in the middle.
The result can actually work in our favour. Recognise there are no easy fixtures in this league and if we are to stay atop the table then we must raise our game both in quality and in discipline. Additionally we must accept our good fortune that the losing bonus point keeps us eleven points clear as the other results in the league went in our favour.
Vigo will look at the table this morning thinking promotion is not beyond them and if not by winning the league then going up in second place is definitely within their reach. Yes we were without a couple of key players and yes we were somewhat "off colour" but we can have no complaints. Vigo won and won well. Read The Bards match report for the blow by blow account.
Full league round-up tomorrow as normal.
Caught the second half of Bath v Wasps yesterday. Not the greatest of games. Thoroughly enjoyed the Scarlets v Leicester game. Neither side had anything to play for except pride but pride is a powerful motivator. A splendid game ensued. That was eclipsed by the game that followed. Clermont Auvergne v Saints was an absolute cracker. Try after try and end to end to end stuff. Splendid in every sense. Haven't seen anything of it but well done Edinburgh. Beating Toulon is no mean achievement. Money is no longer buying success down on the South of France.
Dan Biggar limping off in France is not good news. Taulupe Faletau's performance is good news. Rhys Webb's availability for Wales remains a conundrum.
One of the biggest weeks in British politics is ahead of us. I am not a betting man but I will forecast a huge defeat for Theresa Maybe's deal followed by the government collapsing and us heading into a general election and thereafter plummeting into an economic abyss. It will be like turkeys voting for Christmas or lemmings eagerly leaping off the cliff with those who survive rushing back to the top to do it all again.
Finally to my good friend David Oliver of Vigo. Sad you couldn't make yesterday but when you do get to Crowborough the beers are on me.
Saturday 12th Jan: 09:30
A busy day at the club yesterday getting the place ready for today's fixture with Vigo. Jacqui was there getting lunch ready, the old farts were there getting the grounds ready, Nick was there getting the bar ready. We hope as always our guests and our members will appreciate the efforts made. Dan and Graysey were there and happy with the guys preparation. The guys will need to up their game from last week as I am reliably informed that Vigo are up for this one. As I said earlier they are a very good side and we will need to be at our best. We'll know in a few hours. I'm looking forward to it.
Munster were very impressive last night in dispatching Gloucester. They played with aggression and commitment and their attention to detail was better than Gloucester's. The cherry and whites made too many mistakes even when not under pressure. Joey Carbery was sensational and the lynchpin of everything that was good. Gloucester lacked imagination and relied way too much on brute force. Plenty of games today to keep an eye on.
Bath v Wasps becomes one such game especially for the Welsh. Taulupe Faletau returns which is great news for Bath and even better news for Wales.
A review of our games and all the other rugby news tomorrow.
I wasn't going to comment but I will. I find it sad that a 14 year old boy is mown down on the streets of London. That cannot be right. What is wrong is the fact that those around him have their heads in the sand about cause and effect. A 14 year old riding a new moped illegally with social media posts about his other dubious activities and then people arguing this is not gang or drug related is madness. If this slaughter is to stop then those closest to the victims and the perpetrators are going to have to stand up and make a stand. Having heads in the sand will only mean more crime and more tragedy.
Talking of standing up and making a stand we have Michael Gove. I personally think he is another self-serving politician blowing in the wind BUT calling out Labour and their lack of constructive alternatives to the Brexit debacle was at last common sense talking. The word he used was "bollocks" and he is right. This whole thing is "bollocks" and not just Labour should recognise that their behaviour is obviously doing the wrong thing for the wrong reason.
See you at the club later and if you mention Brexit expect something stronger than a cheery handshake from me.
Thursday 10th Jan: 10:50
Yes, yes, I'm late today. I had a lie in because I can. Get over it.
Across many of the papers the lead is about injuries and the latest RFU injury report. Concussion remains the headline worry but thankfully there appears to have been a marginal decline in the instances of concussion. There has been an increase in the number of days before a player returns to play but this is no bad thing. All too often players rush back or worse are rushed back to play well before they are ready. Interestingly for me the number of injuries incurred by the tackled player has been overtaken by injuries to the tackler. What this tells me is a) as you try and solve one problem you create another, and b) the tackler is increasingly putting his (the generic "his" of course you PC muppets) body in front of a runaway train.
As many better educated people than me have said it is not an easy one to solve. With regard to the concussion protocols they seem to be working. At the top of the game the management of this on the pitch has been taken out of the hands of the clubs. There are independents in the stands watching for signs of head trauma and instructing players to be taken off to be checked. The return to play protocols are much tighter too. At our level clubs have realised the importance of having qualified medical assistance on match days and at training. We have Callum at CRFC and he is excellent. The problem lies in the intensity of the game today, and the rigorous training regimes that players (at the top) are exposed to. Eddie Jones has had the finger pointed at him for his over-zealous methods.
What can be done to lessen the risk of injury. In no order reduce the number of substitutes and substitutions. Continue to focus on tackle height and contact with the head. Look at the ruck and the positions players put their bodies in and also here how defenceless / vulnerable they become as a consequence. The powers that be need to look at the length of the season and the intensity. Get rid of meaningless cups. Reduce the number of teams in the European tournaments. Have fewer international matches.
There is a piece on the BBC sport website about Ben Johns early retirement because of concussion. Its well worth reading. As you read it please remember that today or tomorrow someone will be killed as a result of knife crime, or in a motor accident. There are many, many more dangerous things in life than rugby and we must not forget the huge benefits the sport offers and delivers week in week out.
6 Nations squads are being announced with France leading the way. Five uncapped players are included. Romain Ntamack, son of Emile being the headline.
Plenty of European build-up in the papers.
Rugby coverage by comparison to the Brexit coverage is miniscule. John Bercow has over-stepped the mark many would say and I tend to agree. His act is almost one of treason. I watched PMQs yesterday and was appalled by how far out of touch these self-serving clowns are. Theresa Maybe's deal will be voted down next week and we will be left with nothing. Time and time again the opponents of her deal had no viable or plausible alt