Friday Nov 2nd: 15:20
Quite rightly The Friday Club were feeling a bit smug this morning after winning the IOG award. The smugness lasted as long as it took to realise jobs needed to be done. Pitches to be marked, the kit shed to be sorted, litter to be picked, holes to be filled. There was an addition to the normal 10:30am coffee and biscuits, a small glass of bubbly. Nice!
The Crows game is off tomorrow sadly but the 1s and 2s go ahead. I'll see you at Hellingly. Yes the SKY box is set to record the big game........ Wales v Scotland.
A few first choice players absent but a strong looking Welsh side nonetheless. Luke Morgan makes his debut. A star for Wales 7s and some excellent performances for the Ospreys has earned him the call up. Not the biggest of wings but a real livewire. Lets hope he gets to see plenty of the ball.
He's in the squad. Oh no he isn't. Of course I'm talking about Manu Tuilagi. Some have asked if it was too soon to be selected and so it has come to pass. A training ground strain prevents him from taking his spot on the bench. Chris Ashton is the beneficiary. Ashton's inclusion reduces King Eddie's options but I am sure Ashton himslef won't see it that way. He'll be rejoicing that his move back to England has been rewarded with a recall to the colours.
Farrell gets the nod at 10 with Te'o and Slade in the centre. I worry about Te'o lasting as he like Tuilagi has very little rugby under his belt this season.
Jones has selected a very inexperienced back row, inexperienced from an international point of view but with bags of top flight games to draw strength from. I would have taken a chance on starting Zac Mercer but I'm not England coach.
South Africa are without two stars in De Klerk and Le Roux but the Boks still look a mighty powerful outfit.
I go Wales and, and, and South Africa, just.
Back on Sunday with my views on the 1st XV game and hopefully feedback on the internationals.
*** STOP THE PRESS ***
Last night in Birmingham Crowborough RFC were awarded the very prestigious Institute of Grondsmen.........
Volunteer Sports Grounds team/person of the year 2018
Every sports club thinks they are the best, well in terms of looking after our grounds Crowborough RFC really are the best!
The team led by John "Damper" Sayer along with lead groundsman Drew Pratt, and the bunch old farts who do the work known as The Friday Club can feel rightly proud of themselves. They work tirelessly on behalf of the club to ensure all players from 6 to 60 have the best facilities to play on. Not only that they keep the building and all other aspects of facilities management in great shape too.
As one of the old farts I am puffing my chest out with pride. How Damper, Simon Davies and Peter Johnstone felt being at the awards dinner last night and collecting the award I am yet to find out.
A great achievement. VERY WELL DONE GUYS!!!!!
It doesn't end there......... more exciting news on Sunday.
Thursday Nov 1st: 09:00
It is the lull before the storm. Team announcements today then the big contests. Ireland v Italy is another contest that should be marked "6 Nations Only" but hey ho. Wouldn't it have been good to see Ireland and Wales playing 2nd tier sides like Georgia, Fiji, Tonga, Canada etc, etc, and see them being played say at Thomand Park or Rodney Parade. Then again what do I know. England v South Africa is the big game of the weekend. A game that could see some redemption for embattled King Eddie or could see another bucket load of strife heading his way.
Australian News Corp veteran journalist Mike Colman (never heard of him) has written an autobiography about King Eddie and at first glance it is not all sweetness and light. There are many criticisms of his "it's my way or no way" attitude, his unshakeable belief that hard work alone will bring results, his unsubtle and often rude and demeaning way of handling players and staff. Obviously there are many plaudits too and many quick to praise his caring side and unquestionable knowledge of the game. If you want to read more before spending your hard earned cash then go onto Fox Sports Australia and search "Eddie Jones Rugby Maverick". Me, I'll wait until it is free on Kindle Books.
Wales GREAT, and I emphasise the word "great", Gethin Jenkins will hang up his boots after Sunday's Cardiff Blues encounter with Zebre. 129 tests for Wales and five Lions caps. Not the most ebullient character but what a stalwart of the game. Take a bow sir.
Sara Cox will become the first female referee to take charge of a senior game between two Premiership sides; Northampton and Wasps. Why the fuss? Simply because she is a woman. Me, I say "brilliant, another young, fit, ex player coming through and taking up the whistle". Being a female is irrelevant.
This weekend we take on Hellingly at their place. Kick off 14:30. The 2s travel to St Leonards CP whilst the Crows host our friends East Grinstead III at Steel Cross.
If it had gone on any longer they would have turned it into a mini series: The Lozowski Affair. It sounds like a cold war spy thriller. It isn't, it is a tale of ineptitude and indecision. I can imagine Paddy O'Fez being incandescent with rage as the Sarries favourite is banned for four weeks. Banned not because of the original "dangerously entering a ruck" charge but because of his dangerous tackle on Glasgow's Ruaridh Jackson. Obviously with lots and lots of video and all angles covered the panel must have been convinced of the severity to accept the citing in the first place and then to deem it "mid-range". Once that had been resolved it is clear the process has been followed and the six weeks was reduced to four based on his clean record and his remorse. Quite rightly it has been back dated meaning he is now free to play from Nov 12th. That said I am unhappy that the fact he was in Portugal with England was not taken into account meaning in my view he shouldn't be available until the 19th. I'll let that go on the basis that an extra week reduction for the ineptitude seems fair.
At last a police chief saying the police should stop investigating inane and spiteful claims of hate crimes being committed and should focus on real crime. Hoorah!
Flying Ryanair? Check the baggage rules as they have changed again. No matter how cheap Ryanair is I won't fly with them. Easyjet all day long for me.
The minority spoiling it for the majority again. A few idiots who can't handle their drink will cause airports to stop selling alcohol on a 24/7 basis. Hey ho.
Finally a thought. Mrs Bleater, daughter and grandkids have just got back from Menorca. They were lucky in that they had a great time and missed the trauma a massive tornado caused on parts of the island. Now some tourists had their holiday disrupted as a consequence and complaiend bitterly even though they were moved from 2* star self-catering accomodation into a 4* fully inclusive hotel. Apparently while they whinged and whinged not one person was heard to spare a thought for the thousands of locals who have had their homes devestated by the tornado and will face months, if not years of misery. A sorry state of affairs when "me, me, me" is the only thought people have.
Wednesday Oct 31st: 09:00
There is only one place to start and that is Faro airport and the departure lounge. That is where Mike Brown found himself yesterday having been discarded by King Eddie ahead of Saturday's test vs South Africa. Until now Brown had been a stalwart of Jones' team and a name you would have expected to see on the team sheet for Saturday. With Elliot Daly in such fine form and Jack Nowell, Johnny May and Chris Ashton still in the squad Jones has plenty of options at his disposal. With Ford, Farrell, and Slade also in the squad there is plenty of footballing talent to call on in an emergency. Brown was one of the few who wore his heart on his sleeve in South Africa so will probably feel somewhat let down by the decision.
Also on the flight of misery back to the UK is Ben Morgan. Much talked about as a shoe-in for the test spot it seems that Zac Mercer will get the nod ahead him. Morgan is in fine form but by comparison to the more agile and more versatile Mercer Morgan looks ponderous.
The two uncapped players in the squad alongside Mercer are Ben Moon and Elliot Stooke. We will find out tomorrow if they make the final 23. No place for the South African Michael Rhodes. He can now sit at home and cheer for the men in............ green and gold ??? Alex Lozowski was also on the flight home with his fate still in limbo. It truly is unacceptable that he still doesn't know what the heck is going on. European Rugby...... you are a joke!!!
Whilst I strongly believe Wales v Scotland should not be an autumn international there is at last some good news coming out of this fixture. After original acting like scrooge where neither the WRU or the SRFU were willing to give any of the revenue from the game to Doddie Weir's charity they have finally relented. The game will be played under his name and thankfully both unions will give a combined six figure sum to the charity that is researching motor neurone disease; My Name'5 Doddie Foundation. Weir finds himself in a terrible situation battling the disease so good luck to him in his efforts to raise money.
It's a miracle. Connor Murray rising from his sick bed to play against the All Blacks on November 17th. I'll believe it when I see it. Let's move on.
Nice piece in WalesOnline about the 1989 fixture between Newport v The All Blacks. The story centres around how Newport tried, albeit in vane to ignore the haka. I only mention this as Bleater's brother played in that game. The middle brother. The really, really good player. The one who should have gone on to get a stack of caps except for a horrendous training ground knee injury.
Poop. I write and talk it all the time. There has been much written in the Welsh press about councils taking a hard line on dog owners walking their dogs and allowing them to foul sports pitches. We at CRFC take a hard line with dogs, not because we don't like them but simply because no matter how diligent you are about clearing up the dogs mess traces will be left behind. As we have found dogs mess in a wound is a serious issue. One such incident some years ago left one of our players in ICU. That is not accept and as we own all our grounds it is a risk we can eliminate from Steel Cross.
Much in the press about the budget. Somewhat galling when you look at the graphs at how much the already better off will benefit by versus what the lower paid will enjoy through a tax reduction. Doesn't seem right. Perhaps those already enjoying good salaries should forgo the tax increase so that money could be put into fighting crime.
Talking of fighting crime the police are taking a tougher line with shoplifters. Actually they are taking a tougher line with supermarkets and petrol stations. Don't expect the police to chase shoplifters or deal with drive-offs at the pumps when shops have introduced self-service tills and reduced staff numbers and when it is easy enough to get people to pay in advance for their fuel a la the US.
Before moving on can I again thank CRFC for allowing me to use this blog to at times air MY PERSONAL views on life. This wonderful world of ours and this, at least for another few months, great country of ours is losing sight of reality. We pander to every whim and every complaint no matter how frivolous. Come on, man up, woman up, trans up, Klingon up. Life is a rat race and the more "snowflake" we become the worse we will be for it.
Tuesday Oct 30th: 10:00
Much in the papers about the build up to England v South Africa. Who will play ten for the men in white. Will Manu Tuilagi start but if he does is it too early. How will the back row shape up with all those injuries. Much pressure will be heaped on the Boks at the end of a long season. Their talisman Faf de Klerk is missing so in comes rookie Embrose Papier. Will they be able to raise their game again after the gruelling Rugby Championship. Will the Boks see the absence of players like Lawes, the Vunipola boys and Joe Marler as an opportunity to heap more misery on King Eddie and his charges. Time will tell.
Many see this opener as an hors d'oeuvres before the England v New Zealand game a week later. The only true heavyweight in world rugby versus the perennial underachievers (except in 2003). There have been some who have questioned why it has taken four years for this match-up to occur when the mighty All Blacks have played Wales, France, Ireland and even Samoa much more frequently. Good question. Yet again the vagaries of World Rugby!!!!! Of course England have not been great for some time so this match no longer has the aura of a title decider for the heavyweight championship of the world. Lets see how Saturday goes and then reassess this one.
Talking of underachievement as you do. There was piece done by the BBC asking why England aren't and haven't been the dominant force in the world game. They looked at the number of registered players across the top nine rugby nations and England has almost as many players as the other eight added together. 2.1m for England against 155k and 94k in New Zealand and Wales respectively. The stats were part of an article asking whether England players should have central contracts as many other nations players do. Obviously Mark McCafferty of the Premiership screams "No! The clubs own the players". There for me lies the problem and I have bleated on about this before; the clubs have the ultimate say and they want to run the game. I also find it sad that with so many players at their disposal England still have to exploit the pathetic residency rules to get a team together. South African Michael Rhodes being the latest.
I did smile when the much vaunted new English season was criticised by some of England's top players; Marler and Vunipola the minute it was announced. They, like me, believe this will do more harm than good and an eleven month season is not going to protect players, it is going to harm them.
King Eddie has recruited Will Carling as a leadership mentor. Carling was a top player and led England to success on many occasions including beating the All Blacks. That was in the 90s, nearly 30 years ago. I am not sure how involved he has been in the game since so what he can add to England's new breed of young men is questionable in my mind. You can guarantee he won't be cheap and that will be yet more money that can't be spent on the grassroots game.
Christian Wade sounds a little bitter as he heads off to the States to try his hand at the NFL. I am Mr Pessimistic but I see it as a forlorn hope against giants who have been brought up with that game since they could walk. He makes a very good point, and I think this is one of the reasons why England underachieve, they seem obsessed with size. The bigger you are the better you are. Wrong! For the record another reason is there are far too many overseas players in key positions stopping the development of English talent. Strangely Sarries have gone from villains to heroes in this respect.
Elsewhere I have read that it is ALLEGED that Peter Hain who "outed" Philip Green is employed by the law firm working for the Daily Telegraph. The same Daily Telegraph who had the injunction placed upon them. If this ALLEGATION has the smallest scintilla of truth in it then Hain has abused his position and should be brought to book accordingly.
I see a group of women protestors tried to disrupt the budget speech yesterday. They were angry about the women's pension age going up to 66. Are these the same women who have been screaming about equality? Equality means exactly that. You want the same pay for the same job then you retire at the same time. You cannot have it both ways.
Finally the budget. The end of austerity, or is it? You put your own slant on it please. There was a lot of populism like mending pot-holes. There was bullshit like more money for schools. The money will go nowhere to fill the gaps in teaching numbers. There were winners like the NHS. Each party will praise or criticise we know that. I would say you simply cannot spend what you haven't got. You must live within your needs and prioritise accordingly. I am sure within the NHS there is a huge waste of money and large areas of poor spending and even fraudulent activities. This must be tackled but the extra money is great. The police definitely need more funding. Crime is spiralling out of control. Even in the sleepy backwater of rural Gwent, or is it Monmouthshire now, crime is increasing at an alarming rate. This anarchy cannot be allowed to continue. Dear George, find the money for these please. Cut back on the bloated House of Lords and lets get more taxes out of the super rich sports, TV and music stars as well as going after the Net giants. Yours Bleater.
Must go. Must check my bank balance and work out how many days to go before I get my state pension. It will be a long time as I am a man. For those who live in Lily-liverland that is a creature with two..........
Monday Oct 29th: 09:30
Let's get straight to the league review. Obviously the boys at Steel Cross are delighted to be top of the table after their win against Old Dunstonians. They cannot rest on their laurels as this remains an unpredictable league and they cannot continue to slide in the second half as they have done in their last two matches. ODs slip to 4th with Pulborough now in 2nd after a comfortable looking win against Hastings & Bexhill 51-17. Old Willies move into 3rd after their 32-12 victory over Beccehamian. Vigo continue their roller-coaster ride in London 3 South East with an impressive 39-29 win over Bromley. They are in 6th and just three points behind Pulborough who in turn are six points behind us. It was very disappointing to see Hellingly failing to get a side out against Lewes. A HWO is not what you want to see in our league. Having worked so hard to earn promotion I hope this isn't a sign of things to come for Hellingly. In the only other game Folkestone rediscovered some of their mojo beating Park House 33-12. These two are just ahead of Hellingly in the relegation danger zone. It is far too early to be talking about relegation....... in the same way it is way too early to be talking about Christmas.
In Sussex 1 the top of the table clash must have been a nail-biter with Burgess Hill going down to visitors Uckfield 6-7. Uckfield are now 6 points clear. Crawley beat Seaford and Eastbourne beat Plumpton. Sadly East Grinstead earned the dreaded AWO as Ditchling failed to get a side out in that one. Despite the cry off I still remain convinced the new format for this league is the right one.
Leap-frogging into London 2 South East one can assume it was another long and difficult day for our friends at Heathfield & Waldron. Thanet Wanderers is a heck of a place to get to and to come away losing 44-0 makes it a very trying journey home. Horsham continue to go well with a fine 34-15 win over Deal & Betteshanger. Haywards Heath returned to winning ways coming home from Old Colfeians with a 14-26 victory. Excellent day for Charlton Park beating Gravesend in Gravesend. Beckenham thrashed Ayelsford Bulls and are top. Maidstone beat second place Dover to move further away from The Greenies who are now sadly rock bottom.
Upwards and onwards into London 1 South. Brighton continue their excellent form beating Westcombe Park away. They are in second behind Medway on points difference, Medway having come home from Cobham with a win in a very tight high scoring game. Hove remain rooted to the foot of the table following another heavy defeat at the hands of their visitors Camberley. Chichester lost by a single point at Thurrock in another high scoring game. Our friends at Sevenoaks had an easier day thrashing Tottonians 62-6.
In the exclusive Business Class lounge of London & SE rugby Tunbridge Wells move up the table to 10th after beating Tring 20-14. Westcliff are top with Wimbledon hot on their heels. Shelford remain bottom losing this time to Sutton & Epsom.
In the national leagues a mixed bag this week for the two we follow. Worthing lost at home to Old Albanians whilst Tonbridge Juddians beat Guernsey. TJs move up into 6th with Worthing nicely mid table in 9th. The Rams top this table.
What about Bridgnorth and Salisbury I hear you cry. Bridgnorth lost away at Lichfield and slip to 3rd in their league. Salisbury also lost this time at home to Wimborne in the pithily named Wandsworth 6X South West 1 East.
Not going to comment on the Premiership Cup or the Pro 14 this week. Haven't seen any of it.
What a game in Japan. Despite the result I say write Australia off at your peril. Some of the stuff they produced was sublime. Against anyone else I could see that level of skill and commitment being hard to stop. Against the ruthless and relentless All Blacks it is simply not good enough. Their skill and pace and support play and speed of thought is simply head and shoulders above anyone else in our sport. I see Steve Hansen is downplaying his sides chances in the upcoming tours. Nonsense! The current standings are also misleading with Wales in 3rd. They will not be third after this round of games I am pretty certain of that. Ireland v New Zealand will be the real test of North v South. England v the All Blacks is almost irrelevant by comparison. If you want to make comparisons then how about going through the team sheets and counting the number of players actually born in England or in New Zealand.
Moving on. My good friend Paddy O'fez simply won't let the Lozowski affair go. I stick rigidly to the assertion that the disciplinary panel were right to adjust the time period to make him miss meaningful matches. Where I wholeheartedly agree with Comrade O'Fez is that the "is he, isn't he" banned debacle is unedifying and makes the game look inept. He appealed the original decision and won. The EPCR appealed that decision and won so poor Lozowski is left in limbo. That state of affairs is truly pathetic and should not happen. If he is banned follow the process. If he isn't then let him know now so he can play.
Well done Lewis Hamilton. F1 World Champion for the 5th time.
That'll do for today. Back tomorrow.
Sunday Oct 28th: 09:30
As a lifelong fan of Leicester City it would be wrong of me not to start today with my personal condolences for the friends and family of those who have perished in yesterday's helicopter crash at the King Power Stadium. When you read of such tragedies sport itself seems somewhat irrelevant. Sport is a great healer and the owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha will be forever immortalised as the man whose shrewd investment enabled The Foxes to claim the ultimate crown in English football. May their souls rest in peace.
At Steel Cross and elsewhere there was sport so let me turn my attention to that.
I must congratulate the club on the sponsors lunch. The place looked brilliant, the food was excellent, the atmosphere vibrant. It was a good omen for the main event; Crowborough versus Old Dunstonians. For many who were at Bromley last week this was a "deju vu" scenario. Old Dunstonians started the stronger before Crowborough got their well oiled machine into gear. The visitors prodded and probed but couldn't break through. The Steel Cross boys worked their way through the gears and via a bullocking run by Matt Botterman got the scoreboard ticking over in their favour. The 'Borough were then relentless driving ODs back almost at will and before long the scoreboard had us comfortably ahead. I hope it is not exaggerating to say that some of the tries were superbly well worked. Excellent set pieces to set up the attack. Accurate and dynamic support play to take ball forward. Power and precision to finish the attack.
The second half started with Crowborough scoring first but that was to be the turning point. As with last weekend I can't put my finger on whether we took our foot off the gas or ODs realised that cruising along in third might see them get a spanking. I feel it was a little of both. The latter because ODs are clearly a fine side. Big forwards and skilful backs turning opportunities into points. Their big No.3 is some player and their outside half a livewire. The men from Steel Cross were now on the back foot and for long periods had to defend, and defend well. ODs kept battering away and soon it was their side of the scoreboard that was ticking over. They found the key to open the 'Borough defence and scored some well worked and well deserved tries. The big prop scored an excellent solo effort showing him to be a handful in the set piece but quite some footballer with ball in hand. As the clock ticked down and the gap between the sides narrowed there was some nervousness amongst the faithful but as it happened a twelve point gap was probably a fair reflection of the game.
We now sit six points clear at the top but no-one at Steel Cross should be resting on their laurels. It is still early in the season and there are many tough games ahead. Full league round up tomorrow morning.
Well done to our 2s who came away from Lewes with a well deserved albeit narrow win against a very good outfit. I am guessing it was probably a game played in front of a big crowd as their first XV game was pulled at the very last minute and it was the VPs pre-match lunch.
Our thirds weren't so fortunate coming a distant second against a well drilled Uckfield 2s. On a personal note it was good to see some of the Uckfield faithful choosing a trip to Steel Cross over the journey to Burgess Hill where their 1s were playing.
Mrs Bleater is in Menorca at the moment with my daughter and grandkids. Yep, you guessed it as a consequence I spent too much time with one of my other friends; Rioja. Nothing wrong with that I say on what I echo was a brilliant day on and off the field. Once again a WELL DONE to all involved in making it thus so.
Good luck to Lewis Hamilton who will certainly secure the title today.
Whilst I have much to say about new revelations about Peter Hain I will finish by adding my condolences for those affected by the appalling events at the Pittsburgh synagogue, what is the world coming too, and my thoughts for Glenn Hoddle's family as he hopefully makes a full recovery from a heart attack.
Pittsburgh and Leicester joined in different but nevertheless tragic events. Lets think of those who've lost so much.
Friday Oct 26th: 16:00
With Bledisloe III on TV early tomorrow morning and then the sponsors lunch at the club I thought I'd commit a few words to paper this afternoon.
A busy day for the boys tomorrow with the 1s taking on Old Dunstonians. This will be a titanic battle with both sides having made an impressive start to the season. The 2s will travel to Lewes and the Mighty Crows host Uckfield 2s. All games kick off at 15:00. I'll see you at Steel Cross.
Last week one of the Bromley faithful commented that we had a new look side. There was no malice in the statement but it could have been implied that we had imported new talent to bolster our squad. We have made one change from last week for tomorrow's game and I can say without fear or favour that of the 15 players who will run out onto the Steel Cross turf tomorrow all but one has come through our mini and junior system. That is an amazing testament to the work the junior coaches and support teams do for CRFC. Interestingly the one player who has not graduated through the junior ranks lives in Crowborough but initially went to a team nearby. He didn't get on there so joined us and loves it. His own words by the way. It is also a testament to what we are doing that they have all paid their subs to play.
Well done Waikato beating Otago in the Mitre 10 Championship final. The Premiership final is tomorrow between Auckland and Canterbury.
My good friend Comrade Paddy O'Fez has been on to me about recent disciplinary cases. Being a Saracen he not only has the fez he also has the highly prized Saracens eye-patch. He has criticised me for praising the panel for banning Cipriani for three weeks where as Alex Lozowski's ban he sees as ludicrous. Ok so let me clear things up. Cipriani's ban follows the process and he will miss three games. O'Fez reckons that is nonsense. We might agree that the Premiership Cup is nonsense but the RFU, the clubs, the sponsor and therefore the paying public see the games as "meaningful". The panel cannot double guess whether Gloucester would pick Cipriani or not. If it wasn't for the ban he could play therefore they are meaningful matches. Here lies the difference. Lozowski's ban was extended so that he is ineligible to play for England. Right now he is in Portugal so Saracens could not pick him for tomorrow's game so for Lozowski tomorrow cannot be counted as part of his ban hence the extension to cover a second meaningful match. This is an accepted policy which works. It stops the possibility of players being banned for a number of weeks but actually not missing any games. What punishment is that.
Talking of meaningless, Wales v Scotland. That should NOT be an autumn international. It is a 6 Nations match-up and only a 6 Nations match unless the sides meet in a RWC or agree a pre-RWC warm up fixture.
So the tycoon at the centre of the bullying/sexism/harassment/arrogant tosser storm is Philip Green. I stick by my concern that if you have accepted money and signed a non disclosure order then you've missed your chance. I also disagree with the fact Peter Hain could make the revelation under parliamentary privilege. A court injunction, whether we like them or not is exactly that. We all should abide by the rule of law otherwise there is no law.
For the record I think Green is a slippery eel and that some of his business dealings have been questionable. The BHS debacle and the enormous pension deficit remains a cloud hanging over him. Being a slippery eel his money is not actually his money it is all in his wife's hands so it is out of reach of the courts. Trying to hurt him financially will not work, that is unless she sees her chance to slip the net and slither away. She strikes me as a.............. I'll keep that view to myself just in case.
I did smile when I read the RMT are going to bring three major underground lines to a standstill because industrial relations have broken down. What he actually means is his arrogant, anarchistic and greedy attempts to increase his members eye-wateringly good salaries even more have been met by a refusal by TfL and an expectation that those on amazingly good wages should actually do some work for the pay they get. I'm with TfL on this one.
See you tomorrow at the club. I'll be sure to have a good supply of smiles and cheery words for all. Believe that and you'll believe anything............. Donald Trump is a top bloke for example.
Thursday Oct 25th: 11:30
Slightly later than normal as I have just got back from Uckfield. More on this in a moment.
I see Danny Cipriani has ended up with a three week ban. That is good. Why? Simply because the process has been followed to the letter. No favours for the big boys and for those like the guys who will be appearing before the panel tonight in Lewes they can be assured of a fair hearing and a punishment where required based on the process. Yes you can continue to argue Cipriani's red was harsh but as said yesterday "short term pain for long term gain".
Yokohama is the location of Bledisloe III on Saturday morning. The stadium will host the World Cup final in just over 12 months time. With good luck and a fair wind Mrs Bleater and I will be there for that. The All Blacks have rung the changes. TJ Perenara and Damien McKenzie get rare starts. The Ozzies have named a strong side with many of those in the squad making their feelings known loud and clear that Michael Cheika must stay. They believe he is the right man for the job.
Mystery continues to surround the absence of Connor Murray. His injury is being kept very much under wraps and therefore gets more attention than it should........ perhaps. How serious is it? What is it? Why the secrecy?
Many a positive line has been written about Thomas Waldrom and his retirement. Yes he contributed to the clubs he played for and to England. I still say it would have been good if post his playing days he found a way to put back into the English game some of what he took out, and by the way I bet that was a lot of money.
Rumour has it another overseas mercenary Nathan Hughes is poised to move to Bristol for £500k a season if Wasps fail to match the offer. It is madness. Rugby cannot sustain this level of player wages. The game is nowhere near as big as soccer and the revenue streams are much more limited. It is only the largesse of clubs benefactors that make this possible. Despite their very deep and well stuffed pockets it is not sustainable and you can guarantee that every pound that will go into Hughes bank account will be a pound less spend on developing youngsters in and around Bristol or working with local clubs to grow the game.
The big boys don't give a damn about local rugby in my opinion. What about summer camps I hear you cry. Again in MY humble opinion that is another revenue stream for the big boys. What about the free tickets to games? Yeah! What about them. That is a marketing ploy to get bums on seats in the hope that those going return for more. If the big boys had an interest in grassroots they'd be helping with useful stuff like helping improve pitches and facilities. Helping to market the game to get players back into rugby and so on.
Let's move on.......
My car is in the garage in Uckfield so I got the train back to Crowborough. I was appalled to see despite the fact there were plenty of litter bins placed strategically along the platform the tracks covered in detritus. Coffee cups, beer, cans, food wrappers and so on. It is unacceptable. At this point I'd like to address those at CRFC and our guests who visit. To you I say THANK YOU. Thank you for using the bins dotted around the place. It is so refreshing on a Friday to find very little litter other than that in the bins. Now to those who use the road outside the club. You are scumbags. Please take your Red Bull cans, your Subway wrappers, your KFC boxes home. The verge outside the club, and around "our" bus stops are not litter bins.
I read with some interest about the business tycoon who has successfully got a gagging order to prevent the press from releasing his details in relation to sleazy allegations. I am torn on this because the power of money should not be a protection against criminal activity. On the other hand those making the allegations have already signed away their right to go public by signing non disclosure agreements and taking a sizeable pay-off. You can't have it both ways. Either go public and fight for justice or take the money and keep quiet. This by the way is about getting even more money and you can bet your bottom dollar there is a sleazy scumbag lawyer trying to line his or her own pockets with cash as a result too.
Finally Brexit. We are at an impasse. There are only two possible routes forward now. We leave and stick two fingers up at the EU and let them sort the mess we leave in our wake. Or, my preference is we bite the bullet and stay and be the biggest pain in the bum until things change. We have allies. Italy are about to get tough with the EU as Brussels refuses to accept the Italian governments budget.
Must go. Need time to absorb the machinations of game two of the World Series between the Dodgers and Red Sox.
Wednesday Oct 24th: 10:30
Player welfare or money, money, money. What is really behind the change to the schedule of top flight English rugby. I can't quite get my head around a season that will now span 11 months and in some years 12 months versus the concept of improving player welfare. On the plus side players are now guaranteed more rest by playing fewer games, mandatory rest weeks for England internationals, guaranteed gaps between tournaments. In order to achieve this the season has been spread over a longer period of time with the summer international tours moved to July. It is awfully complicated so you'll need to read it for yourself to understand the ramifications. If Mark McCafferty is happy then it can only mean the clubs have a chance to make more money by stretching the season out, playing more of the "important" games when the weather is better (no bad thing), and putting an even greater squeeze on the international game. The Lions are the big losers as the next tour is reduced by one game and England's players will still not be able to join the tour in time for the opening week of training.
If player welfare was truly the top priority you would scrap the new Premiership Cup, you would get rid of play-offs, you would reduce the European tournaments to fewer clubs, you would scrap one of the Autumn internationals. Reducing the number of games makes sense, extending the season doesn't. If clubs are to be playing for eleven months then they are going to be training all year round. Where is the rest period. Clubs are not going to make training easier because the season is longer, it will be the same high intensity.
This is about money. I for one struggle to see how the top clubs will maintain the interest of the paying public over a longer period. Hey ho! What do I know.
It will be interesting to see if post 2021 The British & Irish Lions will survive. Yes it is an outdated concept but it is arguable the biggest brand in rugby across the globe. It will be a travesty if it was to be phased out due to the financial ineptitude of the Premiership game and the desire of Mark McCafferty and the top clubs to run the game. Look at soccer. International football outside the world cup is nothing. It is the clubs that dominate.
Warren Gatland flies home to New Zealand to be with his family following the death of his father. The autumn internationals, The Lions, the extended season, nothing is as important as family. Our thoughts are with him.
That'll do for now. Back tomorrow with a quick preview of the weekend.
Tuesday Oct 23rd: 10:30
Oh how I love Crowborough Rugby Club. A pitch needs marking. No note to the groundsman. A quick note out to the old farts and the next thing you know six of them are there ready for action. Two measuring and sorting the dimensions, one following behind on the mower, two stringing and finally a man on the linemarker. Not only was the job done but a very pleasant way to spend a few hours with mates on a gloriously sunny afternoon. While all that was going the groundsman, one Mr Drew Pratt was quietly getting on with the other pitch maintenance projects.
A big weekend ahead for the boys at Steel Cross. For the first time in a good while competition for places in the 1st XV to face Old Dunstonians is fierce. First vs second, a game that could shape the rest of the season for both sides. A game that will be played in front of our very generous and loyal sponsors and advertisers after they have enjoyed one of "our" Jacqui's great lunches.
Elsewhere Australia host New Zealand in the meaningless third leg of the Bledisloe Cup. Only pride and tour preparation to play for. Another win for the All Blacks me thinks but by how many. A good showing by the Ozzies could mean danger for those facing the green & gold in coming weekends.
King Eddie has dissed South Africa saying they are easy to beat. Mmm! Not sure you should be saying that Eddie. I fear you might find those words come back to haunt you.
Interesting piece in the Organ of Truth about Cipriani's sending off. Owen Slot makes a very sensible point that whilst many would argue it was very harsh and potentially spoilt the game red cards for high and tackles perceived dangerous is the only way to change behaviour. He says short term pain for a long term gain. I tend to agree. If you have a law that is not punished then behaviour doesn't change. Take using a mobile phone when driving. People know they will be VERY unlucky if they get caught so they continue to use the phone. If the risk of getting caught and the penalties were higher then behaviour would change. It is the same with the high tackle. Red cards will change behaviour. I also agree however there is inconsistency in the application. Billy Twelvetrees was very lucky not to see red in the same game and up in Newcastle Vunipola had ten minutes in the bin for something that was never a high tackle. Food for thought!
The shirt fiasco rumbles on. Champions Cup organisers apologise for the cock up with the clash of colours in Cardiff. Yes they should for sanctioning it. However Cardiff's training ground is just 15 miles away so with teams arriving hours in advance a solution could easily have been found prior to kick off. What makes it laughable is both Cardiff and Glasgow have plenty of different kits in order to make money. It is not as if it was the 3rd XV of two cash strapped valley sides playing each other. It was pathetic.
Edinburgh could be playing on an AGP in a new compact 8,000 seat stadium adjoining Murrayfield next season. Makes sense as playing in Murrayfield in front of a couple of thousand makes no sense at all.
Well Done Nigel Owens for yellow carding a player for taunting the opposition and for having stern words with Simon Zebo for doing the same when scoring for Racing 92 against Munster last weekend. It is a growing feature of the game and needs to be nipped in the bud. Maro Itoje, a fine, articulate, well mannered young man normally has been increasingly the instigator of such bad behaviour. Not good.
It still drives me mad when a try is scored and you see the entire bench who have been warming up in the dead ball area rush on to the field. Not acceptable. It looks unedifying.
The Gunners shot down the Foxes last night. Didn't watch it. Quiz night with Only Connect and University Challenge. I was good with the first and rubbish with the second. Hey ho!
Finally a word for Mick "Loadsa" Cash and his RMT anarchists. Your strike on South West Trains is another example of you trying to hold back the tide of progress and holding hard working commuters to ransom for a cause that is not justifiable. The guard for the most part is superfluous to requirements. Don't come back and say it is about safety. It is about job protection and your power. Going on strike over the four weekends of the international games is a cynical ploy and will cause serious mayhem for those with tickets. By the way I have NEVER seen a guard on a train going to or departing Twickenham on a match day. If they are present then they are cowering in the cab away from the place where potentially they could be needed. Respond to that you .........
Monday Oct 22nd: 09:30
Before we get into the league round-up please indulge me with a public service announcement. The game needs referees. The ones we have are doing an amazing job but we need more. We need referees across the game from minis to seniors. Graeme Pratt is co-ordinating a training course to be held at Beacon Academy, Crowborough. Spaces are still available. Please urge any from your club, our club and any other club to think about taking up the whistle. It is very rewarding. Contact Graeme on email@example.com
Ok, to the leagues.
London 3 South East remains very unpredictable. After last Saturday there are five of the twelve teams all with a played six won four record. After our win over Bromley and Lewes sneaking past Old Dunstonians 29-33 there is a bit of daylight between us and ODs at the top. We play them next week at Steel Cross. Beccehamians were the big winners beating Folkestone 61-19. It is only Hellingly who lost at home to Old Willies 12-40 that keeps our friends from Folkestone off the bottom. Park House lost at home to Pulborough 12-28 leaving Park House two off the bottom and the visitors in the "six and four" pack. Vigo continue their topsy turvey journey with a good away win over Hastings & Bexhill 17-21. Vigo being another in the "six and four" club. We are happy to be top but this league will continue to be tough until the end so we cannot rest on our laurels
In Sussex 1 Uckfield took over at the top of table after a narrow home win against Eastbourne. Burgess Hill going down by one point to Seaford saw them slip to second. Crawley beat East Grinstead a little more comfortably whilst Ditchling had the easiest day beating Plumpton 17-41. Ditchling stay bottom however.
Up into London 2 South East and our good friends The Greenies had something of a spanking with our other county friends Horsham winning 5-63. Haywards Heath lost at home to Gravesend leaving them mid-table. Beckenham won at Deal & Betteshanger to stay top with Dover on their tail after their home win over Old Colfeians. Our friends at Charlton Park beat Thanet Wanderers by a single point and Aylesford Bulls beat local rivals Maidstone by two points. Thanet are bottom with The Greenies just one point above them.
In London 1 South Brighton took the spoils in the all Sussex clash beating Chichester 44-21 to stay second in the table. Hove continue to find life tough in this league as Hove went down to table topping Medway 85-15. Hove are winless at the bottom. Medway undefeated at the top. Our friends at Sevenoaks enjoyed a fine 7-19 win at Westcombe Park and sit fourth behind Camberley.
Up there in the Premier Inn the boys from St Marks came home from Sutton & Epsom with an excellent 18-32 victory in the bag. Wimbledon continue to lead the way beating Chingford and poor old Shelford lost again, this time at Brentwood and prop up the table.
Up further into the ether now where TJs found The Rams difficult to round-up losing 33-18. Worthing found it no easier away at Henley losing 31-22. Both remain nicely mid-table with TJs 7th and Worthing in 8th spot.
It wouldn't be Monday without knowing that Bridgnorth had an excellent home win over Doncaster Pheonix 43-5 and go second in the league. Salsibury enjoyed their trip to Trowbridge coming home with a 29-33 win.
In Europe what about those Newcastle Falcons. Thirty nine phases and an extra time try for the win over the South African exiles aka Montpellier. Then what about the fiasco at Cardiff. Why oh why did the referee, the TV company, the supporters not demand one of the sides change their kit. It isn't as if both sides don't have several alternatives to choose from. It was pathetic and embarrassing for the game. It was also a shame as it detracted from an excellent performance by Glasgow. Down in Toulouse another late try secured the home side a win against Leinster.
I see that Thomas Waldrom has retired from the game. The New Zealander who came here for the money playing for Leicester, Exeter and England has finally hung up his boots back home in Wellington. So another mercenary comes over here and takes, takes, takes then puts nothing back into developing the game here in England post retirement. Guess where Nathan Hughes and Brad Shields will head when their bank balances are sound. Not to any English club to support the game here I bet.
Next week the Pro 14 takes centre stage as there is no European match-ups. There is of course for those Premiership clubs who continually scream about player burn out and welfare the meaningless Premiership Cup. Why not have a week off? Money of course.
Hamilton wasn't quite good enough yesterday so the 2018 Scaletrix is still to be decided.
The New Orleans Saints beat Baltimore Ravens 23-24 if you are interested.
The big match-up after Arsenal v The Foxes tonight is Theresa Maybe in the heavyweight contest versus .................. just about everybody in Great Britain & Northern Ireland. If she wins that she goes on to the rematch with the French Slugger Barnier the Toad.
Sunday Oct 21st: 09:00
Nothing like a cliché to start the day with........ yesterday at Bromley was a game of two halves. The first saw Crowborough purring like a finely tuned Porsche. The second was like watching an East German Trabant, all noise and smoke but very little forward momentum.
During the opening fourty minutes the boys in red and white played sublimely. The pack was dominant in both set piece and the loose. The backs played with width when they had the ball. Backs and forwards linked together like a well oiled machine. Line breaks were well supported and the off-loading precise and productive. With just four penalties conceded it was no surprise the half finished at 29-0. It wasn't all forward momentum. When required the defence was solid and Bromley had little to show for their valiant efforts. Matt Botterman and Josh Groocock were the stand out men with young Tom West and Graeme Francis gluing it all together. Conor Hands was a handful out wide and young Lloyd Smith was calm at the back.
Then came the second half. What changed I have no idea but it was now Bromley to show what they had in the locker. We couldn't get any momentum whilst they did. Their excellent No.7 and creative No.10 got things going with the scrum half darting around like annoying wasp. It was our turn to defend and defend relentlessly. In some respects being under the cosh was good for us because a second half as easy as the first would have served little purpose for the rest of the season ahead. Our defensive line stood firm for long periods often seeing the attacking side go backwards rather than forwards. Yet again Callum Main was at the forefront putting his body on the line for the cause. As our penalty count rose, well over 15 conceded, the referees patience cracked and Adam King took one for the team. Ten minutes on the naughty step.
Bromley eventually broke us down scoring two well deserved and well executed tries much to the delight and relief of the home support. With the score at 29-14 I think both sides and supporters would have accepted it as a fair result. Crowborough did have the last word with a late try by Groocock to put us out of reach and with the five points in the bag keeps us at the top of the table.
Despite the contrast of the two halves Crowborough can be very satisfied with their performance. Going forward they looked sharp and delivered when it counted. In defence they looked disciplined (in the sense of alignment and productivity of the tackle). The coaches and players will need to reflect on the second half penalty count and work out what changed. Did they get on the wrong side of the referee. Was it the pressure Bromley exerted forcing us into wrong decisions. Was it a lack of control. The boys need to look at that.
Back at Steel Cross the 2s had a fine win over Crawley. A BIG "well done" to Crawley. Turning up with 14 men and no front row but determined to have a game regardless. All too easy to cry off. They didn't and we need to recognise how good that is. For us the game played in front of Head Coach Dan Moore proved we have at long last some strength in depth and with experienced players like Keith Brooker, Mitch Mulherbe and Andy Walters bolstering the team things are looking good.
The Mighty Crows also got a game, this time away at Eastbourne but sadly coming second in that one.
All in all a good day for the Steel Cross Band of Brothers.
Full league round up tomorrow.
In the European games Bath and Wasps 35 apiece. Wow. Sadly it means neither side have realistic chances of progressing to the knockout stages but what a game. Sale beating Connacht stands out with Chris Ashton getting the beers in after his hat-trick of tries. Toulon really have hit the buffers after being soundly beaten by Edinburgh. Cipriani sees red after a high tackle in the game against Munster. King Eddie must have had smug grin on his face when he read about that. More games today all live on BT Sport but with the weather as gorgeous as it is I see the garden beckoning and nice glass or three of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc beckoning, Marlborough of course darlings, as we watch the world, or should I say A319s, A320s, Boeing 737s and the occasional Embraer 145 go by.
Brexit and the plotting against Theresa Maybe is in all the papers today. Paddy O'Fez made a very good point yesterday (for once.... only joking). The plotters could oust Maybe today, we could have a general election sometime soon but the country is so divided over Brexit nothing would change. He also made the very good point that those arrogant smug posh boys baying for a hard Brexit are ignoring the impact such a move would have on the masses because in their rich "I'm all right Jack" world of the elite they would be impervious to the downsides of Brexit. Smug toss.........
Must go. Blood pressure is rising.
Saturday Oct 20th: 10:00
Steel Cross awaits Crawley 2s today. The grounds look amazing. I have been at the club since 1986 and I have never seen the pitches looking so splendid. "Damper" Sayer, Drew Pratt and team deserve all the praise that is being heaped on them. The worst of the winter is ahead of us but right now they look great.
The 1s are away at Bromley, another pitch that is always immaculate. The boys are ready for the challenge, and rest assured Bromley are always a tough side to beat, home or away. I'll be there.
Neither game can go ahead without a referee. I have been very pleased with all the guys in the middle this season but the game needs more. You don't have to travel if you don't want to. You don't have to be super ambitious. You simply need to love the game and be keen to put something into it, possibly after you've finished playing. I did exactly that and loved every minute of it. Graeme Pratt is organising a training course at Beacon Academy. Places are still available. His details are available via this website. Please get in touch with him and find out what's what. The game needs referees for all levels: kids to seniors.
Didn't see it as I was out with some former Kimberly-Clark colleagues last night, yes the MANSIZE tissue people. The Tigers v Scarlets game that is. Quite surprised at the result despite Scarlets fielding a strong looking side. Five tries and a dominant forward performance sounds as if it was a fairly clear cut result.
What wasn't a surprise was Northampton coming away from Rodney Parade with a win. The Dragons are still a work in progress but it is disappointingly slow progress.
Two other stories catch the eye.
Christian Wade quitting rugby to try his hand at American Football. He has the speed and the courage but is he big enough and will the complexities of the NFL game make it difficult for him to break into a franchise quickly. I think so sadly.
RGC's Maredydd Francis is banned from playing for four years for failing a drug test. The Welsh Premiership player was found to have taken a cocktail of performance enhancing drugs and now suffers the consequence. He is not the only one found guilty in Wales and won't be the last. With the riches now available at the top of the game taking drugs to get there is a risk some players seem willing to take.
Bruce Craig is demanding his clubs game against Toulouse is replayed due to the referees negligence after two French players were subsequently cited and found guilty of foul play. Dear Mr Craig, with respect sir that is nonsense. The man in the middle made his judgements in the heat of battle and we need to support him for that. If there was any negligence it was Freddie Burns showboating and his inability to kick that was to blame for your defeat. This request makes you look an arse. Yours Bleater.
Thankfully Steel Cross only has a neighbours unruly goats to worry about. A school in the Forest of Dean has had their entire playing fields destroyed by a herd of wild boar. The Times for the full story.
Finally many a pundit are concerned that King Eddie's exclusion of Danny Cipriani confirms that England will rely on "rugby by numbers" to win the world cup next year. As was proven when England crashed out in 2011 and their pathetic showing in 2015 you need more than brute force and super fitness to win a world cup. In there somewhere needs to be some guile, some finesse and some UNPREDICTABILITY. Jones refusal to find a spot for Cipriani worries many. For the record I believe the omission is based simply on the fact Jones doesn't like him as a man. It has nothing to do with rugby.
Thursday Oct 18th: 10:30
"And another one, and another one bites the dust". Mako Vunipola and Nick Isiekwe both miss out on an England call up due to injury. Not only a blow for England but for Saracens too..... or is it? Dependent on the severity of the injuries a nice opportunity for key Saracens players to have a break........ or am I a becoming a conspiracy theorist?
King Eddie has announced his squad and as expected it is full of unfamiliar names thanks to the longish list of injuries. Zach Mercer and as expected Ben Morgan are included. Dylan and Owen Farrell are named as co-captains. Chris Ashton's decision to return to the UK and play for Sale has been rewarded with a recall. In addition to Mercer there are seven other uncapped players in the squad including Bath's Joe Cokanasiga. The noticeable absentee is Danny Cipriani. I am guessing form has nothing to do with this decision. I would hazard a guess that Jones simply doesn't like Cipriani as a person and doesn't like him as a player. Too much of a maverick. I would also hazard a guess that Cipriani's attitude makes him unpopular amongst his peers, especially those with the ear of Jones. Alex Lozowski is included despite being handed a two week ban following incidents in the game versus Glasgow.
Another absentee from the sqaud is Nathan Hughes. The disciplinary panel deemed that the original offence of punching Gloucester's Lewis Ludlow in the head had to start at six weeks. Quite rightly and based on all the factors any panel takes into consideration he was given a two week reduction. That all changed when the big Fijian decided to take to social media and criticise the work of said panel by calling it "a joke". The panel took offence to this and decided the reduction in sentence was no longer justified so he is now banned for six weeks.
The disciplinary process works and players, especially those at the pinnacle of the game earning substantial salaries must accept and respect the work that they do. It has never been acceptable to punch someone in the head so why did the big Fijian (yes I am labouring that point) think it was such a joke to find himself on the naughty step.
All Black great now plying his trade in France with Toulouse Jerome Keino is another who will spend time on the sidelines. He has been banned for five weeks after striking Jamie Roberts in the head with his shoulder. Haven't seen the incident but as it was a citing there must have been conclusive evidence to warrant the ban.
I read that some top flight players such as James Haskell, Danny Care, Cipriani and Joe Marler are charging up to £80 to appear in "personal shoutout" videos. I think I might jump onto that bandwagon. I will actually give a 100% discout to give a shout out to a certain T. Maybe...... "hey Theresababes. This is Bleater. Go tell that Msr Barnier to shove his French tete up his derriere. If you can't then stand aside and let me do it."
In the women's game Katy Daley-Mclean is in line to win her 100th cap in their autumn series. Wow! What a fantastic achievement. Well done Ma'am.
Lewis Hamilton could seal the F1 championship this weekend in Austin, Texas. The Americans are not fans of F1. Why? It is SOooooo boring that is why? Hamilton's grandfather lives in Grenada and it was a pleasure to drive past his house last week and see him on his veranda. (Yeah, it took me a while to work that into the blog but I got there).
The papers lead with the EU fiasco. Theresa Maybe has finally realised what was always going to be the case that no matter how painful it will be for Europe they were never going to give us a deal. It is not in their interest to do so. We have dug ourselves into a massive hole by allowing the referendum to be binding but also being so eager to trigger Article 50. I could bleat on about this for hours but you already know my view.
I see one of my former employers Kimberly-Clark is being forced to remove the name "mansize" from their tissue because of gender stereotyping. The world is going mad. We are becoming a world of lily-livered, soft centred, mediocre morons. There are much more important things to worry about than this that is unless you want to live in a truly grey world. If "mansize" on a box of tissues is unacceptable why is it acceptable to have our newspapers and other media plastered in female celebrities (so called) parading around half naked in skirts the size of belts and see-through blouses that hide absolutely nothing. I'm just glad they still have cheerleaders at the American Football.
Wednesday Oct 17th: 09:00
As the song goes "and another one bites the dust". Chris Robshaw is the latest injury blow to Eddie Jones plans. King Eddie is possibly in a better place as a result but to many that might be a moot point. Over recent seasons and certainly during the last 6 Nations and the tour to South Africa England's back row were ponderous, lacking dynamism and quite simply out-thought and out-muscled. With Zach Mercer and Matt Kvesic he might have two players who would add a dynamism around the park and be much more lively at the breakdown. England would lose some beef up front but in my opinion the gain outweighs the loss.
If fit another option would be Maro Itoje. He is not a stranger to the backrow and has played at No.8 with some degree of skill during his Under 21 days. Time will tell as they say.
Warren Gatland has announced his squad. A couple of uncapped players with Tigers Jonah Holmes being the surprise, Ospreys Luke Morgan being the other. Holmes qualifies through a grandmother and can be included although he doesn't play in Wales because he is as yet uncapped. Once capped he must play in Wales after his current Leicester contract ends. A bit strange when Rhys Webb can't be included but them is the rules.
Gatland had the opposite dilemma to Jones based on which backrow forward to leave out. Aaron Shingler, James Davies, Josh Navidi, Taulupe Faletau (all injured), Thomas Youngs and Ollie Griffiths all miss out for various reasons.
Of the backs Scott Williams and Halom Amos are absent due to injury and Sam Davies misses out like Youngs and Griffiths because there is an abundance of riches ahead of him.
With a busy and physically intense European weekend ahead all could change. Leicester v Scarlets looks good on Friday. Wasps v Bath and Munster v Gloucester catch the eye for Saturday and then on Sunday the all Pro14 clash of Cardiff Blues v Glasgow looks interesting. With BT Sport pulling out all the stops to show live as many games as possible the choice will be wide. I'll be at Bromley on Saturday.
For those wanting a further choice our 2s will host their counterparts from Crawley and the Crows hopefully will be travelling to Eastbourne.
The English Premiership continues to be courted by investors after CVCs bid for a majority stake was rejected. There are claims that minority investors are being lined up but in my very humble opinion I see this as madness. If you are investing in a business losing money with no signs of a turnaround in financial fortunes why would you. You would want to be in control. You would want guarantees of decent returns on your investment. With all bar one club losing money that couldn't be forthcoming right now.
In other sport Wales beat The Republic of Ireland last night. Well done Ryan Giggs men.
Mixed bag of front pages today' Lots about last nights travel chaos at Victoria. Some of the electronic media highlight the chaos at Paddington this morning. Brexit is always there as Maybe heads to Brussels for a fruitless meeting with the EU heads. We are screwed. Trump has his head in the sand over the murder of Khashoggi in Turkey. What is that man on?
Just said "yes" to a coffee so back tomorrow.
Tuesday Oct 16th: 10:30
The headline news in the UK is the injury to Big Billy Vunipola. Yet another arm break will keep him out of the Autumn internationals and some of Saracens crucial European and domestic games. Vunipola B has been plagued by injury and you do have to ask yourself if he should consider his long term health and follow Sam Warburton into retirement. It adds to King Eddie's selection headache with Joe Marler hanging up his England boots, Mako Vunipola and Maro Itoje being assessed this week and the idiot Nathan Hughes likely to be given a ban that will keep him out of action for