Tuesday 6th June - 09:30
A quick nod to one the dates in history people can always remember: 6th June 1944. It was the begininng of the end for the tyranny that reigned over Europe as the brave troops of the Allied nations hit the beaches of Normandy and started their march towards peace.
In a strange way it is shame that Europe seems to be 'at war' in a different way right now what with Brexit, the issues in Italy and a resurgence of right-wing fascist politics gaining a hold in certain parts of our great continent.
Anyway on a brighter note the fixtures for London 3 South East for 2018/19 are out. We start away at Old Williamsonians. www.rfulondon.com/news and follow the link for the full schedule. I note that due to the fact Barking have opted to move into an Essex league has given Folkestone a reprieve from the drop. Good news as they are a good bunch. A long trip but always a warm welcome, one which we always reciprocate.
Elsewhere Mark McCafferty is getting his knickers in a twist over The Lions right now. The next tour is not until 2021 to South Africa but he is laying down a marker by saying the Premiership 'would be committing suicide' by sacrificing a week at the end of their season to accomodate/aid The Lions preparation. The Premiership is big business which he is paid handsomely to promote and develop. He has to protect his interests and I therefore expect no less from him. You could argue, playing devil's advocate here, that The Lions concept is somewhat outdated in the very intense professional world of modern day rugby. The counter to that is every four years there is a huge upsurge in interest in the game during that period.
The more I read about the views of McCafferty the more I am convinced he and Premiership rugby have one agenda and that is to rest control of the game away from the RFU and World Rugby. That is what they did, or tried to do with the European competitions but that is a busted flush with English clubs failing to perform despite the cards being stacked in their favour. He also rails on about too many games but this is the same Premiership that continues to encourage second rate tournaments such as Anglo/Welsh in order to fill their grounds.
Let us not kid ourselves any weakening of the international game and therefore a reduction of revenue to the governing bodies, in our case the RFU is a major threat to grassroots rugby. The Premiership clubs are interested in filling their gorunds and increasing their revenue. Growing the game at grassroots level is not a priority in any way. I can hear some of you screaming what about things like Summer Camps. Wake up and smell the coffee please. Who runs those? The clubs' marketing department. They are only interested in capturing the hearts and minds of kids to get them and their parents to games. They are NOT interested in improving skills to help local clubs. Yes that is controversial and I can hear fingers hitting keys in protest right now but that is my view and my concern about what McCafferty and Premiership Rugby have as their ultimate goal.
I did smile when McCafferty went on to say what a great state Premiership Rugby is in. Yeah just one club making a profit and even the mighty Saracens who along with Exeter filled Twickenham to the rafters will see Nigel Wray having to pour yet more millions of his hard earned cash into the club to pay off its immediate debts. Yep, really healthy!!
Moving swiftly on. Rugby is losing sight of its historical integrity and rapidly becoming a laughing stock, especially over international eligibility. I have long said the residency rules are a joke and I stand by that. The selection of Brad Shields for England makes a mockery of the game. Yes, yes, his mum and dad are English so by the letter of the law he is eligible but up until four or five weeks ago I bet Shields saw himself as a New Zealander. He is going to Wasps for the money. Fine! Let him make at least a tiny contribution to the English game before he gets selected. Augustine Pichot of World Rugby and the venerated reporter Mick Cleary hold the same opinion.
Team announcements for the weekends encounter will be hitting the news soon. I can stop being Mr Ffffnnn Grumpy by then........ I hope.
George North will move to the wing with Hadleigh Parkes coming in at centre. Parkes qualifies by residency which is a nonsense but at least he has made a significant contribution to the game in Wales.
Heineken become title sponsors of the European Cup again. No surprise there.
Must go. Blood pressure must be running high. Time for some juice, a coffee and some delicious Marmite and banana on toast.
Monday 4th June - 15:00
The sooner the weekend comes the better. Why? Simply because we can then read, write and talk about something other than Eddie Jones and Bruce Craig and move on from Wales v South Africa.
The bits that the coaches have said that I personally think are right.
Eddie Jones is right to say that club owners aren't always up to date with all things coaching and should probably butt out of that conversation.
Warren Gatland is right to say that it is a bit churlish for English clubs to stop players joining an international tour one week early. It does seem petty and it does seem driven by a political agenda.
Gatland is also right to say that whilst the US game was far from where the game should be he learnt a lot about his young fringe players and they in turn experienced some of the conditions they may face in Japan come September 2019.
Where the coaches are out of order can be summed up thus.......
Jones must understand that Bruce Craig, Mark McCafferty and the other owners are trying to protect their primary assets when they comment on injuries sustained on international duty. They plough millions into the game to prop up it up and therefore as stakeholders have the right to comment. If Jones continues on the path of confrontation all he will do is accelerate what I believe is Premiership Rugby's goal and that is taking control of the game in England away from the RFU and World Rugby. His Donald Trump jibe at Craig is totally out of order.
Where Gatland is wrong, but more importantly World Rugby have shot themselves in the foot is by agreeing to the US game being played outside the international window. That shouldn't have happened. As an aside the experiment to grow the game in the US is failing, and failing at a pretty high financial cost. World Rugby need to rethink their US strategy.
Steff Evans, as expected, is heading home to have what looks a serious injury assessed by the WRU medical team. Shame as he is becoming one hot prospect.
Well done to England's Under 20s following their convincing win over Italy. Wales were less fortunate at the hands of a very impressive New Zealand outfit. Scotland and Ireland also came second in their games against Argentina and South Africa respectively. Thursday next for round three.
Fiji were simply outstanding from start to finish in the 7s. Only caught snippets as we enjoyed the lovely weather yesterday but what I did see was of a very high standard indeed.
New Zealand have an injury crisis to contend with ahead of their games against France. They will still be way too strong for the French me thinks.
Ireland v Australia looks a tasty contest. Out of choice these will be the games to watch. Inevtiably I will also watch England and of course Wales, who I think have by far the toughest test and likely to be the biggest losers ahead of the Autumn games and then into world cup year.
Not long until the soccer world cup in Russia. England will be rubbish as normal and I seriously fear for the reputation of the game if the Russian thugs behave as I expect them to. Very badly!!
Loads of other sport around including the NBA play-offs. Got into the basketball whilst on holidays. Forgot what a fast and skillful game it is. Go you Golden State Warriors.
The trains are a major topic of conversation in the papers. What a complete and utter mess. Nationalisation is not the solution but something has to be done. Grayling should be ashamed of his performance and Network Rail might as well be run by Homer and Bart Simpson. Even they could do a better job.
Back on Wednesday with a look ahead to ........ whatever takes my fancy.
By the way, where is Melania? Has Donald chopped her up and put her through the log chipper? Google the film Fargo and find the log chipper clip. it is brilliant.
Sunday 3rd June - 09:45
Yes I stayed up to watch it. Of course I did. It was Wales v South Africa afterall. For 30 minutes watching paint dry would have been more exciting and technically more interesting. What did we learn in that first 30 minutes. A. the scrum issues still haven't been resolved and re-set after re-set is a terrible advert for the game. B. Actually I can't think of anything else we learnt. It was quite simply awful.
The game did finally come to life (of sorts) in front of a bigger than expected crowd. A couple of players from both sides put a marker down for inclusion on the biggest stage; RWC 2019. Tomos Williams at #9 and Ellis Jenkins at #7, where Wales already have an abundance of riches to name two. Wales took their first try well and at last we were watching something vaguely resembling rugby union. Sadly we also saw Steff Evans being carried off the field with what looks a nasty knee injury.
South Africa started much the stronger in the second half much to the delight of new Boks coach Rassie Erasmus. He can go into the England series with a degree of confidence that South Africa now have a pipeline of talent awaiting their chance. Having got themselves into a winning position he will be disappointed that they threw the win away in the last moments of the game. Gatland on the other hand will be pleased with how his men defended, especially when down to 14 men after Owen Watkin saw yellow. He might be less pleased with how George North went at centre and how the normally reliable Hallom Amos looked insecure under the high ball at full back.
Wales move on to Argentina, which will be a very tough test and South Africa will host England next Saturday. For both will travel prove to be a negative?
Elsewhere the HSBC 7s threw up some classic matches yesterday and continues today. Castres shocked Montpellier by taking the Top 14 crown. The All Blacks face an injury crisis ahead of their series against France.
If the beautiful weather doesn't lure you out of the house then Under 20s rugby is available via the World Rugby website, or in the case of Wales via S4C. Wales take on New Zealand at 15:15. England play Italy, whilst Scotland play Argentina. Finally Ireland tackle South Africa.
Today the UK remembers the victims of the terrible London Bridge terrorist attack whilst the G7 criticise Donald Duck's Trump's decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium. A decision that has the potential to hurt Britain and Europe badly but bizarrely to screw his own country as prices will rise in the US and supply might not meet demand.
The shambles that is Brexit rumbles on and scumbags continue to fleece the country of money that should be going to people who really need it. Three more lowest of the low have been caught fraudulently claiming to be victims of the Grenfell tragedy. B'st...... you know the rest.
Saturday 2nd June - 08:00
The Eddie Jones v Club row is not only rumbling on it is escalating. Jones bites back with some fairly pointed, in fact sarcastic and snide comments about Bruce Craig. He is right that owners don't necessarily understand or even know modern training methods. What Jones does need to understand and understand pretty quickly if he is to avoid a road crash with Premiership rugby is that owners are ploughing millions of pounds into the game often to keep clubs afloat. They are entitled to a view and entitled to protect their primary assets; the players. Bath have had five players injured during England training so Bruce Craig has a point I think.
Premiership's head honcho Mark McCafferty has waded into the controversy saying the clubs are extremely concerned about injuries in the game and this latest spat highlights the roadblock the professional game has hit with regard to relationships with Eddie Jones' England. He also reinforces Craig's point that players are not centrally contracted to the RFU (which is not the case for IRFU, WRU and SRU where top players have dual contracts) and therefore players are relased 'in good faith'.
This is going to run and run. Why? In essence because of vested interest and money. I am pretty sure McCafferty and the clubs would rather international rugby withered on the vine so Premiership Rugby (and French club rugby) could take control of the game. McCafferty has been vociferous about The Lions for example. What he also needs to remember is England pay handsomely for the release of players so International rugby withering on the vine might be a self-inflicted shot in the foot.
McCafferty is head of Premiership Rugby NOT World Rugby so he should keep his comments to the English game, which by the way is pretty dull fair with enourmous guys smashing into even bigger guys for little gain. Yes the Wales v South Africa game is a farce worthy of the London stage. No it should never have been agreed. Yes it is outside the international window and the latest twist is World Rugby has had to bail the USA Federation out as they lose millions over this fiasco. This is not in McCafferty's remit so butt out........ or should he. Actually a window should be a window and this game in theory shouldn't happen. Wales though are playing just three games, the same as England, they just start a week early. McCafferty was instrumental in the decision of English clubs not to release their Welsh players for this game. A petty minded, self-interested decision, especially as players were released to play in an equally non-sensical England XV v Barbrians game at Twickenham last weekend.
Let me close this one down by suggesting that Mr McCafferty wakes up and smells the coffee and starts to address the appalling financial state of the clubs in his pervue and the pretty ordinary fair that they serve up week after week.
Elsewhere there is a good piece on BBC website about volunteers in sport. At CRFC we have lots of BRILLIANT volunteers without whom the club would not be where it is today.
Scott Wisemantel is to support Eddie Jones. Sad that there aren't any English coaches that are good enough to support the national side. That said Shaun Edwards has been amazing for Wales. He has been drafted into support Dragons and Ospreys next season as well as Cardiff. A good move probably supported by the need to give him more money to keep him in the Wales set up.
Back tomorrow with a rating on the farce that is Wales v South Africa.
Thursday 31st May - 17:00
Let's start at home. As many of you know your brilliant Exec Committee have been working closely with the RFU over the possibility of CRFC having an AGP installed at Steel Cross. Nothing has been decided yet and there are hurdles ahead. In order for the membership to be updated on the current situation there will be a meeting at the club on Friday 15th June at 19:30. Don't guess what's happening, know what's happening.
I use BBC, SKY, BT and a rugby app for stories for this blog. Strange then it was only by accident that I found out that Under 20 World Cup is happening right now in France. S4C are covering the Wales games, which is where I discovered Wales v Australia last night. It is somewhat disappointing not to have seen more in the papers as generally Under 20 rugby is pretty good fare. Certainly Wales v Australia last night was thoroughly enjoyable. Wales winning 26-19. Both England and Scotland also enjoyed opening day wins. The next round is on Sunday. ITV are streaming some of the games as is the World Rugby website.
World Rugby will use future Under 20s competitions to trial new tackle laws aimed at reducing further the tackle height. Hard to see how this will work but anything that helps reduce the risk of head and neck injuries needs to be supported.
Eddie Jones has defended his approach to training in the wake of criticism from Bath owner Bruce Craig. I think Craig has a right to express his view afterall it is his assets such as Anthony Watson being put in the firing line. I have heard from several quarters and in fact those lucky enough from CRFC to attend a recent England training session also felt the sessions were pretty brutal.
Wales and South Africa have as expected named scratch sides for the test in Washington on Saturday. The upside is key players knackered after a long season are getting a well deserved rest. Additionally it gives coaches a chance to look at fringe players ahead of RWC 2019 (which I have committed to be at by the way). The downside is it makes a mockery of the test scene and does nothing to promte or enhance the games appeal, especially in the US. Wales have their eyes on Argentina for a real test and South Africa eagerly await England.
Joey Carbery leaves Leinster for Munster. A blow for the Dublin outfit but a bonus for the Limerick men. He played really well in his cameo appearance against Scarlets last week (which I watched this morning).
Mark McCall agrees to stay at Sarries, as does Alex Sanderson. Whilst McCall can be somewhat abrasive you cannot avoid the fact he has done an amazing job for them.
The RWC 2019 qualification row rumbles on. The hearing of the appeals by Romania and Spain happens this Friday. One to watch out for.
HSBC 7s at Twickenham on Saturday. Always a good day out. The weather is set fair to boot.
Sir Knowitall Woodward says it is time to scrap the Barbarians game vs England. In today's high pressure, high cost, results driven era I can understand why the RFU would want to maintain such a fixture. Revenue! I can also understand why Sir Clive would scrap it. The players are already exhausted and about to be put through the ringer in South Africa. You are not sweating your assets in this case you are killing them. I think for once I agree with him. The Organ of Truth online for the full article.
Friday Club tomorrow. Yeah!! Really looking forward to it. Seriously, I am looking forward to it.
Wednesday 30th May - 06:00
Finally back on UK soil after a fabulous North American adventure. Whilst away I understand the weather has been beautiful. As we flew into LHR we hit a thunderstorm only to be followed by the journey from hell around the M25 back to Crowborough. C'est la vie.
Finally managed to watch the Exeter v Saracens game in a bar in Vancouver with a couple of pints of Red Truck lager followed by a couple of glasses of house white. It was 'happy hour'. I concur with Paddy O'Fez's assessment of the game. Exeter had plenty of possession but either were far too lateral or straight down the middle like a mis-firing bulldozer. They lacked inventiveness and were very predictable thus enabling Saracens to defend with impunity.
Saracens on the other hand used their possession wisely at pace and with width. They kept Exeter guessing and took their chances well. Without doubt the better side won and deserved the accolade of 'Champions'.
I thought Wayne Barnes made a very positive contribution to game too. Well done sir.
Shame loyal Sarries servant Schalk Brits time at the club was marred by ten minutes on the naughty step. He will be sorely missed me thinks.
If the weather doesn't pick up and I intend to catch up on Cardiff v Gloucester, Leinster v Racing 92 and then v Scarlets.
Eddie Jones suffers another injury blow ahead of the tour to South Africa as Ben Te'o pulls out. No bad thing in my mind as this now forces Eddie to think outside the box in terms of selection. Thinking outside the box is definitley required as England again failed to win, this time against the Barbarians. It beggars belief that England with more rugby clubs in Yorkshire than there are in Wales do not dominate the game. The style of rugby played in the Premiership plus Jones inability to deliver an inventive game plan doesn't help. Add to that the high number of overseas players in key positions across the league, the high injury count and the weariness of players after intense league campaigns then it comes as no surprise England can't deliver.
Chris Ashton backed up his bold statement that he is still good enough for England with three tries in said Barbarians encounter. Alex Goode also continues to make a case for inclusiuon yet remains sidelined. The fact Brad Shields is selected continues to beggar belief. Hey ho!
Wales kick off the summer internationals with an unwanted and unnecessary match against the Boks in Washington DC. Nobody wants this. The teams don't. The fans don't. The Americans don't. One aspects of the game of note is the selection of Siya Kolisi as the first black captain of South Africa. Hoorah for this decision and a decision made on merit after Kolisi's fine captaincy of the Stormers.
Stuart Olding, will attempt to revive his rugby career in France with Brive. A complex and well publicised background to him moving abroad but good luck to him.
Finally sad news that Jared Payne has been forced into retirement after battling with recurring headaches.
On the club front don't forget your Summer Ball tickets.
Saturday 26th May - 17:15pt
Just got back from watching the Vancouver Whitecaps draw with New England Revolution 3-3. Some of it was thoroughly entertaining, some of it parks football. Great atmosphere though and a splendid stadium. Overall well worth the money.
Delighted to see the photos of the club's volunteer evening. Looks a great night and a splendid reward for all those who give so much, so freely for the club's cause. Well done Nigel Jarvis for pulling it all together.
Wow what a great day out for those who went to the England training session. Watching the training and then working with the women's squad must have been quite motivating. Yet another piece of recognition for the great work CRFC does for the game.
Reading the match report it sounds as if Exeter started well but once Saracens kicked into gear there was only one side going to lift the trophy. Clearly Sarries came into form at the right time. I stand by my personal view that the play-offs are a game too far. I guess Sarries fans would argue differently and I guess their argument would be that they lost both their games to Exeter during the international Windows which gave the West Country outfit an advantage. For me that is the only possible justification for the play-off system.
Again solely based on the match report it sounds, despite the relative closeness of the score that Leinster were worthy winners dominating Scarlets from start to finish. It sounds as if Johnny Sexton was at his imperious best and relentless pressure paid off in spades. I have this one on tape so look forward to seeing it for myself.
Couldn't believe the Liverpool v Real Madrid game. The Reds goalkeeper is on the plane to Coventry whilst his teammates are trudging their way back to Anfield. Gareth Bale's first was a thing of beauty.
Well done Fulham. Back in the Premiership. My mate Derek will be over the proverbial moon.
F1 tomorrow. Yawn.
Donald Trump what a plonker. Need I say more.
Off to the pub for a few beers and some healthy Canadian food........ Burger and fries actually.
No blog tomorrow. Anniversary day. Not sure who needs the sympathy the most.
Blog back on Wednesday morning when Bleater and his better half will be back in good the good old UK.
Friday 25th May - 17:20pacific time
I know you are not vaguely interested in my holidays but tough. We are having an amazing time and yet again the weather is sensational. Vancouver is brilliant and like you we count down to the big one.......... Vancouver Whitecaps v New England Revolution at the BC Stadium which happens to be over the road from our hotel. Yes we have tickets.
The bar we have got to love..... Thank you happy hour ..... Is staffed by lovely Irish folks. Keen Leinster fans. They can't see beyond a Leinster masterclass tomorrow (today for you guys and gals). I know it sounds jingoistic but I really do believe Scarlets are going to win this one.
You know my views on Exeter v Sarries. For the sake of the game I hope it is a cracker. Lost of tries. Open, running rugby, and lots of talking points post match. Positive of course. Farrell has much to proves as he will lead England and I do expect he will rise to the occasion. I doubt whether we will see any of this will so read the match report in the morning.
England v Barbarians coming up. Another money making waste of time. Players need a break....... That is until the paymasters can milk then for every cent they are worth.
The RFU have been accused of sexism. I for one think that is very unfair. The amount of time spent on the women's game and trying to get women into leadership roles is admirable. Move on.
Shaun Wane was the name I couldn't recall. I reckon Shane Warne would be a good shout.
Slipper banned for using cocaine. I rest my case on this subject. Young, testosterone fuelled young men with time on their hands and money in their pockets. It was bound to happen.
Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday...... Yawn
Play-off for the premiership tomorrow.
Champions league final. Love to see Liverpool win but doubt they will. Will be watching from our hotel bedroom. The stadiums external big screen is directly opposite our bedroom. Brilliant. On the other hand the bar over the road have invited us over for early happy hour. No brainier me thinks.
I doubt many are reading this crap right now but to you are have a great weekend. We intend to. 40 years of married life on Sunday!!!!!!
Wednesday 23rd May - 17:50
The adventure continues as we arrived back in Vancouver this afternoon. The weather is brilliant. So sunny and so hot. The scenery is breathtaking. We are so happy and I am racking up brownie points by the hundred.
Happy birthday to my daughter for tomorrow.
The countdown continues towards the finals on Saturday. I still say the Aviva play-off is a nonsense but hey ho. Is he fit or isn't he. Billy Vunipola that is. Will the hamstring hold up? I know Paddy O'Fez and I don't always see eye to eye but as time has gone by I can't but help to agree that Saracens are coming to the boil at the perfect time. It is difficult to see past a Sarries win IF they throw the ball around and give width to their game. That said never write Exeter off. I would like to see Exeter triumph for a range of reasons, especially how they are run, and how Baxter continues to deliver as a coach but I go the Barnet crew by a few.
It is likely Farrell will lead England in South Africa (if that hasn't already been announced and I've missed it).
Whereas the Aviva play-off is a nonsense with two conferences a play-off was inevitable in the Pro14. Leinster v Sacarlets will be a great game IF both sides play with gay abandon. The Scarlets took Glasgow apart whilst Leinster only just scraped past Munster. Leinster will be keen to put the Champions Cup behind them so a Pro14 title would do just nicely. I have a suspicion the West Wales outfit might just sneak this one.
I read that the Scarlets were unhappy with the Glagow AGP. That said they also complained about Cardiff's pitch. Another game they won with ease.
Shaun Edwards has committed himself to Wales. HOORAH!!!! England had their chance many years ago and blew it. I see the guy from Wigan Warriors is in the frame to replace Gustard. Time will tell.... and I'll have his name by then.
Wales trip to the USA has been thrown into chaos with Luke Charteris, Thomas Francis and Josh Adams all being denied a place on the plane by their clubs. The season is over so this is petty mindedness in my view but hey ho English rugby is so poor they have to keep their best players, most of whom are from overseas fit and well.
The Wales v South Africa game in the USA is a pathetic marketing stunt wanted by no-one. I anticipate the lowest crowd for a Tier One international ever. That said we have met two people from Penarth who will be at the game. Money is driving the game into the abyss.
Chris Ashton says he could still play for England and in fact he reckons he should be on the SA tour. He's had a good season again and if that had been delivered in the Uk he would be on the plane. Sorry me old mucker you made the decision to go to France. That said Brad Shields is going. NONSENSE!!!
Back before Saturday. Must go, the Mariners are playing the A's and it is live on ESPN.
Sunday 20th May - 18:56
So it seems as if Gustard is heading to Quins. Good luck to him. He'll need it.
I see Ulster secured the final Champions Cup after leaving Ospreys in their wake. Four tries to three is not that convincing so it looks as if the Ospreys penalty count was the deciding factor.
Finally found some rugby. The Seawolves are playing the Warriors here in Seattle. It's not bad stuff actually and the crowd is bigger than what you'd see at Rodney Parade on a wet and windy Friday night. Lots of Southern Hemisphere sounding names as you might expect. Also as you might expect they have TV time-outs during the games.
For those who are interested the brochures for RWC2019 are out. Both Gullivers and Venatours are taking bookings.
Won't bore you with our day except to say we were horrified to come across an NRA rally protesting about the imposition of gun free zones in the metropolitan borough of Seattle. Madness!!!!!
Must go, this game on the TV is not bad at all.
Saturday 19th May - 17:15
Have finally reestablished contact with the modern world after having been cruising the Southeastern coast of Alaska. It is breathtakingly beautiful especially when you have been blessed with unusually warm and bright sunshine. Simply stunning and unforgettable.
I have only just caught up on the not surprising result of Leinster beating Racing 92. It sounds as if it was much tougher than many expected and not the greatest spectacle in the history of our great game. I'll reserve judgement until I have seen it next week.
The Aviva final is much as everyone expected with Sarries blowing Wasps away in what sounds a cracking game and a very powerful performance from Saracens. Vunipola B made yet another seemingly successful return from injury. Based on what I have read the fez heads will be putting money on a comfortable win in the final, and who can blame them.
Exeter might have something to say about that after their demolition of Newcastle. Exeter were simply too good and this game was probably one too far for the Falcons in what has been an excellent season for them.
Next Saturday should be a cracker IF both sides go for a win rather than adopting a defence first approach. Only time will tell.
Leinster sneak past Munster to set up a mouthwatering rematch with Scarlets who put Glasgow to the sword on Friday night. I'll be setting the Sky box for this one. Scarlets seem to have lost John Barclay to injury which is a massive blow, and what a sad way to end your Scarlets career.
I'd like to catch the games live but a) the 8 hour time difference to West Coast North America is problematic and b) rugby gets zero air-time. What makes me smile is we all think of rugby as a global game. It isn't. Last Friday sat in a bar in Seattle we watched cornholing on ESPN sport. What is cornholing I hear you cry. It is two teams of two blokes who throw small bags of corn kernels into a small hole in a box some 20ft away. Watching paint dry was more exciting but the Americans were glued to their TVs as the team's battled for, yes you guessed it, the World Series.
Great to read that lots going on at the club at home. The mini and junior awards. They deserve all the credit we can give them. Players, coaches and volunteers alike. The annual dads vs coaches went ahead and it sounds as if fun was had by all.
Elsewhere Deano picks up an award for his contribution to Falcons success. Quins want Gustard as coach. Ulster host Ospreys in the Champions Cup play-off.
Yes we've caught up on all things wedding....... Yawn!!
Having spent an excellent week cruising around Alaska I've learnt a lot about the Americans. Many of them make me look like Kate Moss. Even my good friend Baloo would look slim amongst some of them. Secondly their attitude to life is worrying. Mrs Bleater and I enjoying three glasses of wine with dinner is like hell and damnation to them whilst at the same time saying the only answer to the mass murders of innocent in school and other shootings is for teachers and others to get more and bigger guns. Whilst the gun and knife problem in the UK doesn't make us paragons of virtue the Americans obsession with guns is terrifying.
Must go, happy hour in the bar down the road kicks off in 20 minutes and they are showing the under 14 high school softball live on ESPN.
Friday 11th May - 15:20
Finally arrived in Seattle via Vancouver. Wow its great.
Anyway less about me being a smartarse so to the rugby.......
It sounds as if it was a classic. Three tries apiece and Cardiff coming back from the brink to win by a single point. I have it on video so can't wait to watch this one. Josh Navidi going off with his arm in a sling sounds bad.
Gatland may have to rethink his options for the upcoming tour. Cory Hill and Ellis Jenkins as co-captains is a bold call. George North to play in the centre is another tough call. Time will tell but let's hope against those massive South Africans and leviathans known as Pumas he comes through it unscathed.
Eddie Jones has made the boldest call by recalling Danny Cipriani. Not because Cipriani has played badly but because he can be a loose cannon off the field. Jones has also included Brad Shields. I still think this is a nonsense after all he has done NOTHING for English rugby. ABSOLUTELY nothing!!!! It is a very experimental squad which is good. His attack coach is another Aussie. Is English rugby that shit that there is no English coach worthy of the role. A sad state of affairs, as highlighted by the NZRU with their views on the Brad Shields situation.
The big one tomorrow with Leinster v Racing 92. Carter on the bench. I would have started him.
Paddy O'Fez is very confident that Sarries will progress to the play-off final and beat Exeter to lift the Premiership crown. I still think Exeter.
O'Fez also says my team of the year should be Newcastle. Not a bad a shout actually but I still go with Exeter and in part that is due to the fact they are the only club who are in profit.
Finally a nod to public transport. Vancouver buses and trains. Spotless, cheap, SAFE and on time and best of all on the Metro NOT a driver or guard in sight. RMT eat your heart out.
Tuesday 8th May - 09:30
All eyes now look ahead to the Pro14 and Aviva semis and finals plus the conclusion of the European Cups. Cardiff v Gloucester up first then the big one; Leinster v Racing 92. I go Cardiff and Leinster to be the victors but hope both games produce some good open rugby rather than a slugfest based on defence.
Several clubs now face a period of review. Where did it go wrong and how do we put it right. Quins fall into that camp. How do we build on this seasons success and go one better. Falcons epitomise that position.
Whilst it is not over my team of the year is Exeter. Well managed, the only top flight club making a profit, and well coached. Some of their rugby has not be spectacular but workmanlike but what they do they do very well without the show ponies some of the other clubs have in their set up.
The duffers of the season are the Dragons. They simply have been awful. It can't get any worse.
My biggest I got it wrong statement was how the Pro14 wouldn't work with the addition of the South African franchises. Not only has it worked but it has been so successful some of the Super Rugby franchises are eyeing the Pro14 with envy, so much so it is rumoured two might apply to join in 2019/20. The conference system has been pretty succesful too. Stuart Barnes thinks exactly the opposite so for once we will disagree.
The new scrum management laws seem to have made some improvement. More needs to be done.
Anyway as the season draws to a close many players look through the holiday brochures while some eagerly await the call from their national coaches. Warren Gatland has the easier decisions whilst Eddie Jones needs to consider what the purpose of the tour is. I believe that it should be a learning objective. Learn about fringe players and learn about tactical options. One thing is sure he will be without key players such as Dylan, Billy Vuniploa, George Kruis et al. He has already bitten the bullet by announcing he will add an attack coach to his coaching team.
Elsewhere well done Cardiff City. Automatic promotion back to the top flight. Good luck Swansea. Make or break tonight against Southampton.
Well done to Welshman Mark Williams for winning snookers world championship, and for keeping his promise to appear naked at the news conference if he won.
The usual fodder in the news; Brexit, Trump, Iran. One story that caught my eye is the fact Air France is about to collapse. Massively in debt and facing a series of strikes over pay the French government who owns c.15% of the stock have said they will not bail out the airline. They are no longer going to be the backstop for poor management and unreasonable union demands. France have been very clever by giving their Government a stake in many businesses and having state control over others. This makes foreign take-overs nye on impossible. On the other hand it doesn't make for a robust business when the Government is always there as a safety net. Msr Macron has said enough is enough. The unions are up in arms and the country is grinding to a standstill. This is worth keeping an eye on.
Over the next three weeks the blog will be a seriously hit and miss affair as Mrs Bleater and I celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. Thank you to the smartarse who sent her an 'in sympathy card'. Be patient and keep popping back.
Two things before I go can I remind you to get your summer ball tickets. Also I want to congratulate CRFC's mini and junior sections for another AMAZING year. The volunteers have been tremendous, the number of kids playing and playing with smiles on their faces has been superb, the quality of the rugby, win or lose, has been great. I believe all their activities are now finished so I will do a more detail review of their wonderful season in June.
Sunday 6th May - 08:30
Munster eventually got past a dogged Edinburgh side to set up a mouth-watering clash with Leinster in the Pro14 semi-final. Munster looked a little off colour but that was as much about resurgent Edinburgh's determination than it was about Munster's tired legs after a long season. Simon Zebo played his part in the home win much to delight of the fans. His final bow at Thomond Park was applauded to the rafters as he weaved his magic throughout the game.
It was then off to Parc y Scarlets for the other semi. This was a more convincing affair going the way of the West Walians. The Scarlets moved the ball with pace and skill and had the Cheetahs on the back foot from the start. They were aided time and time again by the visitors inability to retain possession. Some of the home play was excellent but this has to be measured against the sensible question about how good or bad their opposition were. Hadleigh Parkes was immense but this was a fifteen man effort. Steff Evans showed why he is in contention for a regular Welsh spot and yet again James Davies was like a terrier around the pitch. The biggest cheers of the day came late on when coach Wayne Pivac had the luxury of taking off at regular intervals three Scarlets stars who are heading to new challenges next season. First it was John Barclay to get the standing ovation, then Taidgh Beirne, and as the game headed to a close the longest and loudest ovation was for local boy Scott Williams who heads down the M4 to the Ospreys next season. The Scarlets now travel to Glasgow for what should be a titanic battle.
While all that was going on a number of outstanding agenda items were put to bed in the Aviva Premiership. Wasps travel to Barnet to face Sarries in the play-off after beating Newcastle. The Falcons now have the unenviable task of making the long journey to Sandy Park to face in form Exeter. Leicester shook off Sale to secure Champions Cup rugby next season and with Gloucester being hammered by Saracens Bath's convincing win over the Irish saw the men from The Rec securing their place at the top table. Gloucester obviously with one eye on the Challenge Cup clash with Cardiff. Quins woeful season came to a sad end with another crushing defeat.
The other sports headlines are dominated by the news that Sir Alex Ferguson was rushed to hospital with severe brain haemorrhage. We wish him well.
The local election results continued to be poured over but all they highlight is the clowns remain to left of us and the jokers to the right.
Have a great Bank Holiday. Back on Tuesday.
Saturday 5th May - 09:15
The anger management course didn't go too well so I didn't make it yesterday. Instead I went for therapy with the Friday Club. I find the litter picking so rewarding it is almost theraputic. Who needs anger management anyway........ you ask that question again and you'll find out!!!!
Lots of stuff to cover off.......
The CEO of relegated London Irish says the RFU would benefit from having a strong second tier of top flight rugby and they should plough cash into the Championship. Yes of he course he would say that, and only weeks after his retiring captain Paice said the Premiership should be ring-fenced. Except for Bristol and possibly Yorkshire Carnegie the following of Championship clubs is woeful. Ealing Trailfinders and Jersey for example have been fantastically successful but only because of the largese of VERY generous benefactors and not the size of their crowds. That is not a sustainable model and the RFU throwing money at it at possibly at the expense of grassroots rugby is not the answer. A 14 team ring-fenced...... you know the rest so let's move on.
No sooner is he back but is back on the medico's table. Big Billy Vunipola suffers another injury blow possibly ending his season and any chance of a trip to South Africa with England.
Sale, or more accurately the main sponsor of Sale AJ BEll have said no to Ulster's two miscreants (actually according to law totally innocent of course, just naive).
As Matt Banahan dons the Bath shirt for the final time so Taulupe Faletau commits himself to the West Country outfit for the longer term. Shame. He would have been amazing back at the Dragons. (His communte from his Newport home will be a lot cheaper from January as the bridge tolls are scrapped).
Channel 4 and not BBC Wales will show Wales test against South Africa and their short tour to Argentina.
Harlequins have announced ambitious plans in terms of redeveloping The Stoop as their search for a top-flight 'hands on' coach continues.
Western Force are going to push the boundaries of our game with revolutionary new rules to be applied in all their home games in what is to be the World Rugby Series. There is going to be a 7 point power try signified by flashing goalposts. There will be rolling substitutions. Lineouts can be taken as quickly as you like and scrums will be timed out after a minute. World Rugby have sanctioned it as a 'closed' trial but have agreed to look at the outcomes 'very closely'. You'll need to read the full details for yourselves.
The RFU are going to have a battle royal as they try and take total control of all hospitality at Twickenham. As their much lauded new hospitality project goes £30m over budget they could add to the problem by many millions as they go head to head with the current hospitality providers. Clubs who provide tickets to hospitality providers (with the RFU blessing) could get caught up in the firing line.
OK, ok, yes there are games today and games worthy of comment. The only Aviva game of any importance is Newcastle v Wasps. The winner avoids a trip to Sandy park in the play-offs. The loser goes to Barnet. European places are still up for grabs so for many there is still much to play for.
The big games though are Munster v Edinburgh and Scarlets v Cheetahs in Pro 14 play-offs. Both should be worth watching (but the weather is gorgeous so I'll probably watch as recordings).
Back tomorrow with reviews of the games.
Tuesday 1st May - 08:30
Firstly thanks to my old mate and top bloke Peter K as I can now put the Newcastle thing to bed. They are in the play-offs courtesy of their higher number of wins. I should have known that. Even if Leicester and Newcastle somehow finish on the same points it doesn't matter. There is the possibility of Wasps and Newcastle changing places but more of that on Friday. (No blog until then)
Understanding the qualification to the Champions Cup is way above my pay grade but it seems there will be no Italian side in the competition for the first time in its history.
Money, money, money. The Pro14 mandarins have been blinded by it and lost sight of the reality of the game, from the fans perspective anyway. The Pro14 will no longer be available on terrestial TV as it moves to little known Premier TV. The upside is the Pro14 sides will receive a dramatic increase in TV revenue and for those willing to subscribe the £9.99 per month every game will be live on TV. Every week one game will be shown on Free Sports the free to air subsidiary of Premier TV. The downside is the fan base is small anyway and with limited TV coverage for the average Joe and Joanna I expect interest to wane. If you can't watch it on TV what incentive is there to go and watch mediocre rugby live on a cold and miserable night in Newport for example. None. What will make matters worse is in order to show every game live kick off times are at the behest of the TV company. This will make going to games if that is the only option even more complex. Only time will tell but I foresee troubled times ahead for the Pro14.
Not that Leinster need any help to win the Champions Cup but Racing 92 losing the inspirational Maxime Machenaud to injury can only aid their quest for glory.
The Home Office. The bastions of our safety via the police, the border force of this great land, and of course the law courts. I recently, partly because I was bored, wrote to the Home Office with two very sensible suggestions. You may disagree with the ideas but I personally think they are sound.
1. Anybody who uses up valuable police, ambulance or A&E services as a result of being intoxicated due to over indulgence on the alcohol front should be charged at least £250. These people are filling ambulances and A&E at the expense of say youngsters who have been taken ill and need urgent attention.
The mealy mouthed Home Office response was to say the NHS and its services are available free to all and charging drunks would not be acceptable. So the politically correct Home Office is not willing to countenance any form of charging for fear of voter backlash. They would rather see drunks put the lives of genuinely sick people in need of help at risk and are happy for drunks to take up space in A&E causing others to wait on trolleys.
2. Anyone caught using their mobile phone without hands-free should have their phone impounded for a period of time.
The Home Office said this would be an infringement of the offenders civil liberty and would not be a sensible way forward. So the politically correct Home Office allow the police to confiscate the cars of those who are uninsured but not people's phones. I see no difference. People are surgically attached to their phones and only more drastic action will stop the plague of accidents caused by people on the phone whilst driving. In essence the Home Office are happy to see your child or mother, or wife mowed down by a self obsessed tosser using his or her phone because the incentive not to use the phone is pathetic.
It is no wonder the Home Office is in such a shit state when the mandarins in the background are ham struck by political correctness and fear of upsetting anyone. This is in my mind at the expense of doing sensible and easy to implement rules that would benefit the wider society and upset just a few selfish b'stards.
Back on Friday after the anger management therapy.
Monday 30th April - 09:40
Not wishing to be typically British and go on about the weather but I've just got back from taking the car to the garage and it is like the bleak mid-winter out there. It is so cold we've had to put the heating back on.
Anyway it's Monday so let's look at what happened around the leagues. Bognor and Worthing flew the flag for Sussex on Saturday with mixed results. Bognor who finished 2nd in Hampshire 1 lost at home to Old Georgians 52-7. OGs are now promoted to London 3 South West whilst Bognor face another season in Hampshire 1, soon to be renamed Hampshire Premier me thinks. Worthing on the other hand enjoyed a fine 26-19 away win at London Irish Seriously Annoyed Geese. In the same league TJs also finished on a high beating Bury St Edmunds 38-26. TJs take the bragging rights finishing 6th with Worthing in 7th. Interestingly Broadstreet, home of Wasps training ground are relegated finishing bottom.
London & SE Premier side Guernsey triumphed over Bournmouth to secure promotion to the National League 2 South.
As expected Saracens strolled past London Irish to guarantee the home play-off spot. Sarries were simply too good and with Big Billy returning it was inevitable the Barnet Crew would triumph.
The Wasps v Saints match was reasonable fare for a Sunday afternoon. Cipriani and Haskell made their mark in front of the watching Eddie Jones who has effectively thrown both onto the international scrap heap. Saints were again the architects of their own downfall coughing up the ball at crucial moments but Wasps need to be more ruthless in closing down a game if their tilt at the title is to continue.
A couple of asides came out of Saturday and Sunday. George Kruis will miss England's summer tour as he is to have ankle surgery. Haskell has claimed the game is going soft after he was pinged for a high tackle. It did look harsh but sadly in today's litigious world player protection is paramount. After a long hard season I continue to see no merit, other than marketing and money, in the play-offs. Exeter have been the best side throughout. They top the table. Finish it there. You can't talk about player protection and then flog them to death with marketing stunts. Go to 14 sides in a ring-fenced league and scrap the play-offs.
Can someone help me out here please. I know it is a long shot but Leicester do still have a very slim chnace of making the play-offs don't they, or am I missing something? Which is highly likely.
Tomorrow is May 1st. Reading a story that Warren Gatland is in the frame to replace Eddie Jones makes me think it is April 1st. Joe Schmidt is in that position too. Both good coaches but what is wrong with Rob Baxter? Not my call but Gatland...... really not sure.
Well done Saracens Ladies lifting the inaugral Premiership title.
The RFU are planning to follow the WRU and have alcohol free zones at Twickenham. I am in favour of this as it can be really annoying when some Hooray Henry keeps jumping up in front of you to go for a beer and then spills most of it on the way back.
Going back to England Eddie Jones has approached Sarries Michael Rhodes a South African through and through who is now eligible under the PATHETIC residency rules.
In other sport Hamilton lucks out and wins the very eventful Azerbaijan Grand Prix. F1 is normally a procession after the first lap but loved the Red Bull stock car challenge and what about Grosjean putting his car into the wall even though he was following the safety car. French Muppet.
Amber Rudd finally gets the joke and falls on her sword. You cannot mislead the people when you are representing the people. The Home Office is a farce.... the story tomorrow.
Finally it is terrible to read that even our lovely town is not immune to serious crime. The murder of Fiona Fisher is pretty awful. Inevitably some of you will know the victim and the perpetrator so I'll leave it at that.
To frame expectations blogs will be somewhat intermittent over the coming weeks for a range of reasons. Keep reading though.
Sunday 29th April - 08:15
A veritable cornucopia of rugby yesterday. Am I ashamed to say I gorged on it all day? No! The weather was uninspiring, the shops unappealing, the garden too wet. TV it was then.
Los Jaquares beating the Blues kicked it all off. Brumbies v Crusaders up next before catching some of Toulon's demolition of Castre. It was then on to the Scarlets and Dragons. The much lauded Scarlets were off colour for most of the first half with the very young Dragons side putting up a spirited fight. The second half saw the West Walians class finally coming to the fore, especially as the Dragons young legs tired. Like so many games of late not the finest rugby ever but I enjoyed it, in a masochistic way.
Whilst that was playing out Gloucester were serving up the simplest of opportunities for Bath to exploit. Gloucester's play-off hopes well and truly scuppered. Didn't watch this one but good to see top flight rugby on terrestial TV.
Up next for me it was over to S4C for Cardiff v Ospreys. This was like a final trial for the outside berth on the upcoming Welsh tour. Gareth Anscombe and Dan Biggarhead strutting their stuff in style. Both scoring lovely tries and playing with assurity and skill. This game ebbed and flowed and was a much more enjoyable encounter than the earlier Welsh derby. Cardiff lost at the death to a Biggarhead drop goal but they had rested a number of players ahead of their Bilbao cup final.
Whilst Biggarhead did play well he still irritated the hell out of me with his petulance and constant childish moaning. One day someone is going to give him a slap.
After the hors d'ouvres came the main course: Edinburgh v Glasgow. I had expected this to be good, and I wasn't disappointed. The two Scottish sides played with a high degree of skill and played expansively when the opportunity presented itself. Richard Cockerill got the tactics spot on and the more experienced Glasgow side found themselves on the back foot for long periods. Finn Russell lit up the game with his skill and vision but it was the collective effort of Edinburgh that won through.
Elsewhere London Irish's fate was sealed as Worcester strolled past the hapless Quins. Exeter secured top spot in the league by beating Sale at Sandy Park. Sarries are certain to beat London Irish today and secure the other home play-off berth. Wasps will surely beat Northampton to ensure they are in the top 4. If my maths are correct the fourth and final spot will be decided next week with either Newcastle or Leicester in the mix. (Those Tigers eye patches might be needed after all.... but I doubt it)
More rugby today but I might pop to the club to have a look at our Colts who play at 13:00.
In other sport Leicester City are back to their imperious best worst. Losing 5-0 to Crystal Palace. Ouch!
F1 from Baku today. Another slug fest between Vettel and Hamilton.
Women's Rugby grand final today. Sarries v Quins. Its on SKY if you are so inclined. As much as the women's game has improved I'll give this one a miss.
Back tomorrow with a look at today's games and a review of the final round of the local leagues.
Saturday 28th April - 09:00
Just a few bits today; a comment on Leicester v Newcastle, a comment on the state of affairs at Wasps, a response to criticism of yesterday's blog and, and, and anything else that comes into that vacuous mind of mine.
It was far from a classic. In fact at times it was pretty turgid stuff. When you have centres and wings the size of Sherman tanks what do you expect. It is no wonder English rugby is struggling. On the other hand it was gripping fare. The neutrals, and I include me in that were desperate for a Falcons win, and that is exactly what we got. I for one was quite surprised when the Falcons were awarded the winning score but overall I thought the officials did a pretty good job in what was a heated contest. George Ford played very well and as an individual the best player on the field. Good to see Ben Youngs back. Newcastle played as a team and after suffering early injuries stuck to their task admirably. Well done Falcons. Bad luck Tigers. You Tigers fans can put your eye patches away for another season and hope for better luck next time.
As an aside I paid particular attention to Ellis Genge, a frequently touted player for England inclusion. At times I think he justified that opinion of him. At others I was appalled by his snide off the ball stuff and constant sniping at the opposition and to a lesser extent the referee. There was one incident that had me off the sofa screaming at the TV. A scrum collapsed, which he caused. Despite the whistle going and players being in a dangerous position he deliberately continued to drive into his opposition number lying twisted on the ground. Outrageous. Thankfully the Falcons prop was ok but his own hooker suffered a badly twisted elbow as a result. If Genge is to make it he needs to focus on the good bits and stop trying to be the 'East End hard man'.
Following the concerns expressed by many about the financial robustness of the Premiership I read with great interest about the mutiny that is brewing at Wasps. The move to Coventry was sold as the 'big one'. Wasps to dominate the game with a great stadium, great training facilities and well paid players. Well it appears the big money backers of Wasps have been dragging their feet on two of those. Wasps brand new training facilities are still a figment of the imagination as they continue to train at Broadstreet RFC, and Wasps stars are still owed thousands in image rights... it is ALLEGED. As a consequence stars like Elliot Daly, Joe Launchbury and Christian Wade are threatening to leave. Launchbury and Daly would be on the radar of many clubs as true game changers. Wasps can't afford to lose them me thinks. Organ of Truth online for the full story.
Yesterday I made reference to that car crash that is Amber Rudd, or Rudderless as some call her. I am surprised based on gaff after gaff after gaff that she hasn't been given the boot. That isn't the point though. One of the readers of this nonsense who shall remain nameless has like any good supporter of the Russian Foreign Ambassador Tvarich Corbynov has twisted the message. As a consequence let me be clear.......
I stand by my personal view that tackling ILLEGAL immigration is a policy this country needs and it is right, again in my view, to have targets against the objectives of the policy. Where perhaps I wasn't clear enough is the fact that those of the Windrush generation have wrongly been caught up in this and that is totally and unequivocably unacceptable. Those people are LEGAL immigrants and they have been treated appallingly. That is not in question and that has to be resolved. We cannot however use the failings of the clowns at the Home Office to allow what once again in my view is a sensible policy, and a policy used widely across the world with regard to ILLEGAL immigration to be watered down.
How utterly and mindblowingly stupid is it for us to refuse entry to highly qualified doctors from India into the UK when our NHS is desperate for more staff.
If I remember I will regale you of a tale of the nonsense the Home Office spews out. I have personal experience of it.
Before I go it was brilliant to see the pictures and read the comments about the meeting of minds in Korea. We have seen the same rhetoric in the past but please, please let it be deliverable this time and let it serve as an example of how things can be managed elsewhere.
Friday 27th April - 07:45
Just a reminder that the county fixture at Steel Cross tomorrow is OFF.
What is on tonight is Leicester v Newcastle game. Can Deano put one over his old club. Having basically sacrificed the Challenge Cup last week by resting players Richard's side will be under immense pressure to deliver.
Gloucester v Bath is always tasty but with Bath off the pace at the moment this one should go the way of the Kingsholm outfit.
It is derby day in the Pro14. Dragons v Scarlets. No contest. Scarlets by a lot. Cardiff v Ospreys harder to call. The Irish derbies are always worth watching but the game of the day will be Edinburgh v Glasgow, SKY at 19:45. Cockerill has been winding everyone up, especially his opposite number Dave Rennie so worth watching just for that.
Moving on to Sunday we might see the return of Big Billy for Sarries when they travel to Reading for the clash with the Irish Exiles.
Plenty of Super Rugby on TV too so if the weather is as miserable as forecast a cold beer and the remote seems a good option.
Forgot to mention the retirement of two GIANTS of the game. Adam Jones and Tommy Bowe. Two men who have done it all and done it all with great aplomb. Take a bow for what you have given us.
Wales clash with South Africa in the US could be in jeopardy after the news that US Rugby's marketing arm Rugby International Marketing is on the verge of collapse. Harlequins could be up to their necks in the brown and smelly stick stuff if that happens. Full story in the Organ of Truth.
The Lions are to give out a commenerative cap to all those players who have ever crossed the white line in anger for The Lions. Relatives of those who are no longer with us will alse receive one. Nice touch and a great honour me thinks.
Brad Shields is focussing on the Hurricanes right now as the tussle between the RFU and NZRU continues. He's only coming to the UK because he can't get in the All Blacks side. Yes I know he qualifies BUT.....
Have the RFU been reading this rubbish. CEO Steve Brown has voiced his concerns about the state of the finances in the Premiership. BBC carry the article but in essence it echoes much of what I have been saying for some time plus an insight into how the financial reltionship works between clubs who provide internationals. He also states James Haskell WON'T be picked if he moves abroad. Yeah OK but why then are you picking Brad Shields who has not made one single contribution in any way to English rugby at all. Madness.
Barnsey makes a good point this week. If England are going to relax their selection policy then young Olly Robinson, son of Andy, playing brilliantly at Cardiff is worth a look. He says Robinson will learn more about back row play in Wales than he will with any of the English clubs. Wow. A sad indictment on how English clubs play at the moment.
Only one news story in town today. Fat Boy Kim meeting with his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in. Is there a glimmer of light in this world of madness. Let's hope so.
Israel and Palestine having face to face talks and coming up with a peaceful solution to their woes. Come on guys. If Fat Boy Kim can do it so can you.
I find it amazing that Theresa Maybe will come out and criticise the potential buying of Wembley by an American but allows France to print our passports. WRONG. Let him buy Wembley but our passports should be printed here.
Finally if Amber Rudd was a soccer manager she would have had the Chairman's 'vote of confidence' last week and sacked this week. That said I agree with the illegal asylum policy. It has simply been very badly implemented. In business if you invest in a policy you develop a process, objectives and outcomes for that policy. You will have measurable targets against the investment. I personally see nothing wrong with the immigration policy having targets. In fact I want them to have a target so I know my tax pound is being spent effectively and the tossers in Whitehall are not sitting on their backsides getting something for nothing.
Thursday 26th April - 09:00
Let me start with some 'breaking news'. Sadly Saturday's county U/20 contest at Steel Cross between Sussex and Essex is cancelled. Essex are unable to raise a side due to club commitments and injury.
It is a shame for us as it would have been another opportunity to show the rugby world how we do things. In fact how well we do things. On the other hand it comes as absolutely no surprise. County fixtures are a thing of a bygone era in my mind. In t