Thursday 27th April - 08:45
Many of the rugby pages have features about the inquest into the very sad death of Lily Partridge. It was some 18 months ago she died following a knee to the head during a training clash. She collapsed as she left the field and suffered a cardiac arrest. A really tragic story that highlights the risk rugby players take when they play our great game. Whilst this case heightens the calls of those who are concerned about head injuries it has to be said this is a very rare case and should be seen in that context.
I am sure there will be many more 18-25 year olds who are tragically killed in road accidents in a week than players who suffer catastrophic rugby injuries in a year.
Can I confirm that Tunbridge Wells do have a play-off game this weekend. They travel to Chingford.
Bath and Leicester have most to gain/lose in the final weeks of the season. They are fighting for the final play-off place. Leicester have the advantage right now.
In the Pro12 Scarlets are in the box seat but have tricky games away at Connacht then a winner takes all clash at home to the Ospreys. The Ospreys are at home to Ulster and a win could clinch them the fourth spot. Time will tell.
If you haven't seen it Sky Sports are running a series on their website about the 50 best ever Lions. Some interesting names on the list.
Wales Online is probably not on your must read list. It might be worth taking a look at the article headlined 'Jumped-up English clubs have taken control of world rugby and it has to stop'. It is a really fascinating piece that reinforces my view that the English (and Franch) clubs have the chase for cash as their number one priority. Player welfare is a smoke-screen and the desire to cut the Lions tours on those grounds is rubbish. The article goes on to highlight why English clubs are so cash focussed; with the exception of Northampton and Exeter all the other Aviva clubs are reporting multi-million pound losses and are up to their eyes in debt. In the case of Saracens that is £45m. Please have a read.
Talking of money New Zealand rugby announce a $6m loss despite a record revenue of $161.7m. They claim to have invested heavily in advance of the windfall the Lions will bring to the union over the period of the 10 week tour. I bet the Southern Hemisphere Unions are delighted with Mark McCafferty's proposal of a cut in the Lions schedule. This cash cow is important to them too. What the NZ situation highlights is player and club costs are spiralling out of control. An extra $3.8m going to the Super Rugby franchises to 'better reward our players and coaches'. Very positively there is a 54% increase in funding to the provincial game(grassroots) albeit in 2015.
If you had carte-blanche to change the laws what would you do? Me, I would reduce the 22m down to 20m. The put in at the scrum MUST be down the middle and heavily policed. I would go back to old style rucking; no hands and the use of the foot allowed. Any player actively ducking into a tackle is penalised in the same way a high tackler is penalised. There must be a clear gap between the back foot at ruck and maul and the defenders. Extend the policy that advantage is over when a side decides to kick in open play to penalties as well as technical infringements.
In other sport the Foxes slip closer to the drop zone after losing to the Gunners.
Fascinating piece on the pressures on GPs on TV this morning. People are more demanding and expect to see a GP as a right. The UK population has grown faster and to levels not imagined when the NHS was originally established. Too many people are seeing the doctor when a pharmacist could help. I still believe that fees are the only way to solve the problem. A £5 appointment fee to be charged IF the appointment is deemed unnecessary.
Back to football. Bad Boy Joey Barton is banned for 18 months, effectively ending his career, for infringing the FA's rules on gambling. Hypocrisy or what? Soccer clubs up and down the land are happy to take the money of the betting organisations for shirt sponsorhip and advertising and you can't watch a game without at least three different betting companies shouting the odds at you before, during and after the game.
Bet you disagree with all of this. 2 to 1 says you do.
Wednesday 26th April - 08:15
Another fun filled day with the grandson yesterday. Swimming always being a highlight. Today it is the turn of my granddaugther Verity to take centre stage. It's her 3rd birthday. Where does the time go?
Some big games this weekend. The stand out fixtures are the Ospreys v Ulster; the money spinning play-off spot at stake in this one, Bath v Gloucester on Sunday; West Country pride and for Bath a chance of the play-off berth here, and Worthing v Exmouth; crucial for Worthing to win and win big and fingers crossed Barnes lose out to Bishop's Stortford.
I also think Tunbridge Wells have their play-off game this weekend. If yes good luck to them.
Much in the press about future Lions tours being reduced from 10 games and by one week. As I thought Ian Ritchie was pandering to the Premiership Clubs as it has now come to light that it is them who are pushing this agenda forward. In all truth I don't blame them. Their biggest assets are their players, and their top flight players especially. To have them go through the Autumn Internationals, the 6 Nations and then a Lions tour is high risk. A) not having them for the domestic tournaments is bad enough. B) Having them back tired and ineffective post international duty is poor. C) The worst case of course is seeing them injured and therefore domestically unavailable for a long period. On the other hand from a grassroots perspective any watering down of international rugby that reduces the revenue of the governing bodies is not great, and with regard to the Lions every four years interest in our game is heightened significantly, even more so than a World Cup I think. The Premiership clubs will win this battle sadly. They hold the power.
Mark McCafferty, who is becoming the Mick Cash of rugby, has said player welfare is his big concern and that is why they are worried about a 10 month domestic season, and Lions tours of 10 games, and 6 weeks of Six Nations rugby. Yet the same Mr McCafferty is suggesting two South African teams could join the Anglo-Welsh Cup. If you were ever in doubt whether player welfare is at the top of his agenda or money then here is his quote on the matter; 'There are four big things for us: attendance growth, audience growth, the appeal of our brand, and then making sure we have it all financially sustainable'. In essence it's ALL ABOUT THE MONEY! (bbc.co.uk for the full story).
This is another reason why the RFU must remain the strongest voice in our game as clubs will not be vaguely interested in supporting grassroots rugby.
Worcester retain Gary Gold as Director of Rugby. He has certainly turned their form around since arriving.
Coventry, formerly a powerhouse of English rugby, have set their sights and stated their intention of moving up from National League One with the signing of Sam Tuitupou from Sale Sharks.
Wales have announced a mouth-watering Autumn International schedule for 2017. First up the Aussies, followed by Georgia. This one will give an indication of Georgia's claim to replace Italy in the 6 Nations. Then it is New Zealand followed by South Africa. You really can't get better than that, other than Tom Jones and Katherine Jenkins live at the Principality Stadium. Mrs Bleater's and my challenge will be finding ways to watch the games as we will be in Oz for a friends wedding whilst all this going on.
I read a piece this morning about how a fellow blogger was proud at how his son's under 14 side had performed. He started by talking about the results before going on to talk proudly about how they had grown as a team. Results first is, my opinion, one of the many reasons the game is in decline. Kids are playing rugby too competitively too early. It should be about fun, and friendship and teamwork and growing as children thus preparing them to be good citizens. Yes, any game is about the result but come on, let's make it the least important part of what the kids are getting out of rugby. His team does seem to be delivering against that by the way but sadly all too often coaches and parents think they are involved in an international contest and lose sight of everything bar the result.
Here we go again. More money for this, more money for that but no mention of how the money will be raised, except maybe from the labour camp who suggest those earning over £70k per annum will be hit. Bet Mick and Len will be happy with that and all those London Underground drivers who take home £70k a year. Nice one.
Can you believe it has been a year since the Muppetts at the RMT took on the Clowns at Southern Rail. It's neither been a comedy nor an entertaining circus. It's been a farce with two sides lead by intransigent generals who have total disdain for the people who actually pay their wages; the commuters.
After the United Airlines debacle with overbooking they are now hit with the 'dead bunny scandal'. Depsite assurances for said bunny's welfare it managed to leave Chicago very much alive and kicking only to arrive in London very much, there is no easy way to put this, a stiff. I bet our Jacqui could turn it into a beautiful rabbit stew. She's very clever like that.
Arsenal v Leicester tonight. A draw for the Foxes would be a good result.
Monday 24th April - 09:40
If you ever wanted an antidote to the negative news and views about rugby then you had them in yesterday's two European semi-finals. Stade-Francais vs Bath was a cracker. Down and out after the first half and then bang; what a fight back. A fight back that was then thwarted in the dying seconds by Jules Plisson and his amazing drop goal.
The French club determined to prove their worth as a club and to win over the hearts and minds of their fans and backers after the controversial idea of merging (being taken over) by Racing 92 did exactly that. They were unstoppable for long periods and then imploded under the Bath onslaught. Compelling stuff that also proved that by keeping the ball in hand rather than kicking it away and expecting the opposition to counter-attack is a positive game plan. You simply couldn't blink as you'd miss something. Plenty of well written match reports around for the fine detail.
Whilst George Ford played well once Bath got into gear I think the evidence was there as to why Dan Biggar got the nod ahead of him. Basically when under pressure from big men when he had ball in hand made him a little flaky. Defensively he was also suspect at times. Finally, based on Farrell and Sexton's goal kicking this weekend he was a clear third against that measure too.
If that wasn't enough we flew from Paris to Lyon for another cracker. Clermont Auvergne with their generous sprinkling of non French imports vs the Irish galacticos of Leinster. In a mirror image of the first game the French dominated the first half with the Irish on the back foot. The second half saw a magnificent Leinster come back with some scintillating passages of play. Gary Ringrose showed why many had him in their Lions squads with a brilliant solo try. The turning point without doubt was the try that wasn't. Leinster showed some tremedous skill and superb support play when Dan Leavy crashed over for what would have been a confidence boosting (sapping for Clermont) try. It wasn't to be as the TMO quite rightly pointed out to the excellent Nigel Owens that Aurelien Rougerie had been held back at the ruck thus preventing him from making a crucial tackle and halting the attack. The fact the resulting penalty was converted was like a dagger to the heart of the Irish.
Sexton's kicking and all round play was excellent and if he and Farrell aren't the 10/12 axis for the Lions I'll be amazed. Other Lions didn't necessarily impress which reinforces the point this could be the tour from hell. Each of the teams the Lions will face are head and shoulders above anything, except maybe Sarries, that we saw in these European semi-finals.
Talking of Lions, Brian O'Driscoll makes an interesting point; he believes the lack of a Scottish coach in the Lions setup was detrimental to the Scots chances of selection. He could be right but to be fair Gregor Townsend was Gatland's first choice to join the Lions. He turned it down. Other than Finn Russell I struggle to see who else would have made the cut.
Well done Chichester. A fine win against Westcombe Park. I think they are safe from the drop and that is good news for Sussex rugby with Colchester and Amersham & Chiltern dropping into London 1 North (note my point of yesterday and the pyramid).
Worthing drop into the relegation zone after losing away at Redingensians and Barnes beating Clifton at home. Worthing face bottom place Exmouth at home and Barnes travel to champions Bishop's Stortford in their final game so all is not lost.
Bridgnorth finish mid-table despite losing away at Sheffield. Salisbury look doomed after a hammering away at Bournemouth.
Outside sport the French elections hog the headlines. The traditional parties of power have been swept aside. Whilst Marine Le Pen came second to Emmanuel Macron she is still firmly in the running for the presidency. This will be sending shock waves through Brussels with her anti EU and anti Euro stance. It is her stance on immigrants and immigration that makes her an odious individual however.
Tony 'the lying towrag' Blair is back in the papers. Anybody who believes a word he says is a fool. Remember all those brave soldiers returning from Iraq in body bags thanks to his and George Bush's lies.
Two things to watch out for. The new speeding fines come into force today. If you get caught be ready to fork out a sizeable amount in fines. The RMT and Southern meet again today to try and resolve the long running dispute. I'll wager nothing will change.
Sunday 23rd April - 11:00
It was a good decision to go and watch the 2s play The Greenies yesterday. The game was keenly contested. There were passages of brilliant play, there were moments of madness, there was ineptitude, there were some minor scuffles, there were plenty of tries but best of all there were 30+ guys having a game of rugby and thoroughly enjoying it too. Heathfield & Waldron took the spoils but so what. A good old fashioned local derby with plenty of banter, most good natured, from the clubhouse balcony to boot.
It must be noted that the young lad who refereed the game was EXCELLENT. A couple of minor things to tweak but otherwise a job really well done indeed. He will go far me thinks.
Sarries were definitely at their best yesterday. They weathered the early Munster storm through their defensive excellence and then in the second half put on the afterburners to tear away from the men from the emerald isle. It is no wonder Sarries are supplying so many Lions, a lot more than Scotland in fact, when they can play like they did in the second half. George Kruis looks a Lion through and through and Maro Itoje will be ranked amongst the world's greats very soon. Well done Fez heads.
One question? Would Connor Murray have made a difference to Munster. Don't think so....... which is why I'd have Rhys Webb as my starting #9 for the Lions. Yes, yes, I know I am bias. Get back in your box!
Well done to Richmond Gloucester, please stick to cherry & white, for a fine win over high flying, big spending La Rochelle. Another excellent all round performance with Gloucester's defence being the difference. Sorry to be biased again but Richard Hibbard and Moriarty played well and it was good to see young Greig Laidlaw return from injury.
Looking forward to this afternon's games now.
It all went to plan for Tunbridge Wells with them cruising past Maidstone and Havant losing away at promoted Sidcup. The Wells now face Chingford in the play-off for promotion alongside Sidcup into the ether of National League 3 London.
Old Colfeians beat Camberley to secure promotion to London 1 South. Personally I think the right team has gone up. OCs were certainly the best team we played......... in my humble opinion.
Sadly Uckfield will remain in Sussex 1 next season after losing their play-off to Old Williamsonians (Rochester). Our new league is therefore looking like Aylesford Bulls, Bromley*, Crawley, CRFC, Folkestone, Hastings & Bexhill, Lewes, Park House, Old Dunstonians, Old Williamsonians, Sheppey, Thanet Wanderers.
* I remain very unsure of how the waterfall down will work as many of the clubs being relegated from above are not from our side of the pyramid. Bromley MIGHT, and it is a BIG 'might', dodge a bullet and someone like Warlingham comes across into the London 3 South East league instead. As OCs won the play-off this could well be the case. There are people out there who will let me know if I have that wrong, which I probably do.
I will look at the other results tomorrow.
There is a disturbing and rather negative headline on bbc.co.uk that reads 'Rugby becoming virtually unplayable'. A well respected concussion expert Dr Willie Stewart states that the current HIA protocols are not working and not fit for purpose. He cites the cases of Connor Murray and Dan Biggar as examples. I don't disagree with him about those cases and I have said before that someone going off for a head assessment should stay off regardless..... but that is just an opinion based on my view of common sense. The rest of the article focusses on the need for much tighter control of HIA and an even greater emphasis on removing contact with the head. My view is the article is quite derogatory about our game and possibly the underlying message is that rugby is too dangerous and should be banned. You read it and draw your own conclusions.
Must go. My good friend Ken has given me the second exam paper on welfare and the benefits system. In all seriousness once you get passed the headlines and into the facts it is very enlightening, so much so it can change your opinion.
Saturday 22nd April - 09:00
Just to confirm that as at 09:00 this morning the game at Steel Cross today, k.o. 14:30 is ON.
As I have said before the views expressed in this blog are mine, and mine alone. They are not the views of CRFC as a whole. Can I again thank the club for allowing me this platform to air my opinions and views.
I don't always get it right, in the case of spelling and grammar all too often it is wrong, and when I do get a fact wrong I am happy to be corrected. So was the case yesterday at Friday Club when I was taKEN (deliberate spelling) to task about my assumption that on your tax summary 'welfare' equals 'benefits'. About 25% of your tax take goes on 'welfare' but I now know the benefit element of this is not 25% it is much smaller. A large proportion is for old age benfits such as winter allowance and nurses, police and fire officers pensions plus long term care for the elderly, sick and disabled. That said, in 2015 c.£125bn was spent on various benefit categories. Interestingly a tiny proportion goes on unemployment benefits.
I am sorry I got that wrong and am now much more enlightened. However......
I stick by my opinion that our benefits system is still too generous. I also stick by my opinion that there are some (A LOT, LOT LESS THAN I THOUGHT) bone idle wasters out there who can't be bothered to get a job. I also stick by my opinion that there are people who are milking the (housing and disability) benefits system, and worse fraudulently thieving from it. These people are scumbags as they are taking from people who genuinely deserve help through the benefit system, many of whom we should be helping more not less.
On firmer ground my assertion that we should be much more resolute in chasing tax dodgers and tax avoiders is correct. There is a lot of money to be had that could be channelled into the NHS, the police and education. Perhaps Theresa Maybe might want to be a little bit more aggressive on this me thinks.
That's enough of that..........
Well done to Munster A beating Jersey by a single point to hoist the British & Irish Cup. Would have liked to see Jersey win but it wasn't to be.
Even bigger WELL DONE to our friends at Charlton Park who can now look forward to a cup final at Twickenham in the Intermediate Cup after beating Truro in the semi-finals. Delighted with that news.
Ian Ritchie wants the Lions tours to be reduced from 10 to 8 matches to help with preparation. I can see merit in this argument, especially when you look at this tours timetable. Not an easy game amongst them. I wonder however wether Mr Ritchie's comments are yet more pandering to the demands of the Premiership clubs.
Mr Ritchie also defends the selection of Denny Solomona. I am sorry but you cannot give unequivocal support for changes to the elegibility rules based on residency then go against that support because it suits you not to. That's a bit like not bothering to stop at a red light because it doesn't fit with your needs. That is a road crash waiting to happen. I'll ask the question...... if Castleford had offered Solomona more money than Sale where would he be playing now? I'd wager it would be in Castleford. That is what makes the decision to select him such a disgrace.
Finally what awful news. Ugo Ehiogu passing away after a heart attack at the age of just 44. A great footballer, and it sounds like a very good coach in the making. None of the above is important by comparison. May he rest in peace.
Friday 21st April - 08:00
Tomorrow at Steel Cross. NO Politics, NO Brexit, NO Scottish Independence, NO Trump, NO North Korea!!!! Just good old community rugby. Crowborough 2s v The Greenies 2s. K.o. 14:30. It's ON!
So Ian Ritchie gets on his high horse and declares England Rugby will support the world's governing body's initiative to sort out the ridiculous residency rules on eligibility. That was some months ago. So let's not call him a hypocrite because that mercenary, disloyal, money grabbing Denny Solomona is named in England's squad to tour Argentina. Why we bother to follow rugby I don't know. This selection is outrageous. What does is say to young players sweating away in academies for years only to be passed over by mercenaries. So Christian Wade gets overlooked but Solomona is in. It isn't good enough. In fact it is bullshit. I will be cheering loudly and unashamedly for Argentina when they play their two tests. I hope England are given a bloody nose by the Pumas and England come home with their tail between their legs.
Well actually it isn't. Jim Telfer; a fine player in his day, a brilliant coach in his day, a great motivator but right now another whining, whinging, downtrodden Scot. Jim, it is what is. Two players is all it is. Would you put one of the Gray brothers ahead of George Kruis for example. No! Would you put Finn Russell ahead of Dan Biggar? Possibly, but not ahead of George Ford. Scots are a team of good players who play brilliantly as a team. The Lions are a squad of exceptional players who need to be moulded into a team. Just shut up and join that other whinging Scot Sturgeon on the campaign trail.
I am rapidly coming round to the view the rest of Britain should vote to see if we want to keep Scotland as part of the Union. Let them go. They'll be sorry.
As an alternative to Nigel Owens as Speaker of the House perhaps we could have Wayne Barnes. Brilliant! PMQs 20 minutes longer every week.
Plenty of great rugby on the TV this weekend.
Good luck to Jersey who travel to Munster to face Munster A in the final of the British & Irish Cup tonight.
The litter doesn't pick itself up so must go. It's Friday Club.
By the way, is there a Subway, or a McDonalds, or a Greggs in Crowborough? No! Then why I am picking up litter from these outlets that I find strewn across the verges outside the club? I'll tell you why, because bone-idle, good for nothing scumbags can't be bothered to take their litter home and dispose of it properly. They'd rather throw it from their car windows. Assholes.
Must remember the blood pressure tablets tomorrow.
Thursday 20th April - 09:15
Still some local rugby to be played. Our 2s are at home to Heathfield & Waldron 2s, or they were the last time I checked. A definitive answer on that tomorrow after the old farts of The Friday Club have strutted their stuff. The men from St Marks Recreation game could clinch the play off spot in London 1 South. Worthing have a crucial game to cement another season in National League 2 South. Plenty to look out for.
Thierry Dusautoir, a true great of French rugby is to retire at the end of the French season, which bizarrely drags on to the end of June. Another retiree is Quins Nick Evans. Nine years at The Stoop and a tremendous contribution throughout that time.
Despite indications that the various governing bodies were going to allow Montpellier's money man Mohed Altrad to take over Gloucester the English clubs (PRL) stopped it dead in the water by saying he couldn't have a controlling interest. He has since walked away totally. Shame for Gloucester but they'll survive. They have a ferociously loyal fan base and have (mostly) been very well run. It does smack of hypocrisy that the PRL voted against the deal when Wasps and Sarries, and even relegated Bristol have money men willing to splash the cash. I am not sure Altrad's track record at Montpellier is that wonderful however with a significant proportion of the team being South African and much French talent discarded on the scrap heap.
The rugby pages are dominated by yesterday's Lions announcement. Barnsey's piece on Skysports.com is worth reading. He, like me, (wow I'm a smug b'stard) thinks you can't sit back and rely on tackle count to defeat the Lions, you have to take the game to them. He touches on Dylan's exclusion too.
On the same sky web page there was a piece about 'winners' and 'losers' in terms of selection. I was frustrated by that. The players who missed the cut are not 'losers' they are all fine players and in most cases the pundits would be nodding sagely and pontificating about their strengths if they had been selected. 'Lucky' and 'unlucky' would have been a better description. Biggarhead; very lucky. Ford; very unlucky. All that said the pundits are pretty unanimous that this is a very strong, well balanced squad with the comfort that some of the players on standby would fit straight in.
Yesterday I made the suggestion that Davies and Henshaw were the obvious starting centres. On reflection this is wrong. If everyone is fit you go Murray, Sexton, Farrel at 12 and Davies at 13. By the way I still think Webb will be knocking loudly, if not banging with a sledgehammer on the door for that covetted test spot at scrum half.
Sad there is some whingeing from the Scots about the lack of representation but that's the Scots for you. Go on, pick Nicola, probably a good hooker, or wide out on the left wing. Not a team player though. Wants to do too much on her own and all too keen to change the game plan at a whim.
Big European weekend. The semis. All way too difficult to predict. Munster v The Fez Crew is the toughest to call. I go the men from Barnet in what should be a classic, but I bet will be a turgid affair.
Good luck to anyone running the London Marathon on Sunday.
So the politicians are on the campaign trail. The pollsters will be out making up their reports. Definitely fake news there. No TV debates for Theresa. Is the BBC lurching even more to the left and is Laura Kuenssberg a Corbynista at heart?. Brexit will be a key battleground and so will schools and the NHS. The latter always are. So.............
Today's political question is; if we are to increase spending on schools and the NHS where is the money to come from. Increased taxation? Further austerity measures? Transference of money from other budgets, e.g. defence. As someone who has lived his life by the principle of; you cannot spend what you haven't got, and debt is the road to ruin, I struggle with this question.
You with larger brains than mine will probably have plenty of answers to this so your supplemental questions are.....
Why the f**k are we sending overseas aid to North Korea?
How do you stop thieving wastrals from milking this country's (OVER-) generous benefit system?
Finally to tax your grey cells further who would like to see stand for Parliament and why. Me, I think Nigel Owens, and make him Speaker of the House. The whistle would be out and he'd have them behaving like the statesmen and women they should be rather than overpaid and overinflated schoolchildren that they are.
Wednesday 19th April - 13:30
Well, there you have it. The Lions squad to tour New Zealand has finally been announced and you and I and all the pundits can stop the guessing games and turn our attention to the possible outcomes.
Sadly for him most of all, but also sadly for Crowborough RFC, Dylan didn't make the cut. Am I surprised? Yes and no. Even though Sam Warburton has said he is fit and the selectors must have faith that Alun Wyn will also be fully fit Dylan's leadership qualities could have added value. Additionally his more abrasive style on the field and his New Zealand background off it could have been of benefit. On the other hand the three hookers selected have all been in excellent form, and the selection of Jamie George is a recognition of his greater ability in a open game, which will be crucial if the Lions are to take on the might of the All Blacks in their own back yard.
Many of the names in the squad were bankers and the fact 16 English names appear is testament to England's performances over recent months.
Some names came as a surprise. Dan Biggar for one. His form hasn't been great and he is easily rattled often turning him into a petulant child. He is courageous though and has qualities that the smaller George Ford doesn't possess.
Ben Te'O makes the trip but I am sorry I disagree with that as he only qualified for England via the absolutely pathetic residency rule. Yes he has played well but........ let's move on.
12 Wales players, one more than Ireland, make the trip, one of which is Gloucester's Richard Moriarty. His form has been outstanding and that is a well deserved call in my book. Some would argue James Haskell should be on the plane but I disagree. He can be a liability with his high penalty count and sometimes fractious nature.
Another surprise to some, but not to me, is the inclusion of Kyle Sinckler. I would have liked to have seen him start for England as a reward for his meteoric rise at Quins.
Joe Launchbury missing out is sad for him but to be fair those on the list are all outstanding players.
Jonathan Joseph makes the trip as does Anthony Watson. Joseph will need to be shit hot defensively if he is to make the test squad. Jonathan Davies and Robbie Henshaw are your starters currently...... me thinks.
There is an abundance of riches in the back three and competition for places here will be immense. The two Scots in the party might end up only playing bit parts despite their excellent 6 Nations form.
There is a case for an all Wales starting back row, as there is for an all Irish back row, but who would leave out Billy Vunipola? Maro Itoje can also play 6, 7, or 8.
From Wales only Scott Williams can vaguely feel hard done by. Ireland's Keith Earls, Donnacha Ryan and Simon Zebo would have not looked out of place in the squad. It was not to be. As we saw in Australia four years ago there is still the chance that any of those missing out could still be called up. Keep your boots at hand and your passport up to date.
Finally, is Sam Warburton the best choice as captain? I would have gone for Alun Wyn Jones. As I have said more than once Warren Gatland is big on trust. He knows Sam, he trusts Sam and once Dylan was ruled out I guess he was the only choice.
Leaping ahead six weeks this will be the hardest tour for the Lions ever. It has the schedule from hell and not a single easy game on the list. If the Lions are to have any chance of a series win then three things need to happen. The squad needs to remain fit. The game plan must be to take the game to New Zealand. Take them head on from the first whistle to the last. A high Lions tackle count equals sure fire defeat. Then they must play for 90 minutes (no that isn't a typo) flat out. They cannot let up at any point during the game.
For those going this will be an amazing tour. New Zealand is a beautiful country. I am so jealous (but do have the RWC 2011 memories of New Zealand to fall back on). The people are brilliant BUT can be very one-eyed and just sometimes a little over-exuberant, verging on the aggressive when it comes to all things rugby. The weather in June/July can also be like Crowborough in the depth of winter; cold, wet and miserable.
Much to look forward to.
On the other hand Theresa Maybe, or as she is now known; Little Miss Decisive, has given us something else to think about. The country decides on June 8th. Whatever your politics this is important, but also it was great to see Wee Jimmy Crankie Sturgeon rattled yesterday. She is in a no-win situation and maybe, just maybe she might wake up to the fact that not all Scots want her to become Queen of Scotland, a destitute wasteland on the fringes of Europe.
Finally, Leicester City have exited Europe. They leave with their heads held high. The most unlikely of stories is coming to end. Let's hope for Premiership football next season, and perhaps money, luck and some friends in high places I will get a ticket for Brighton v the Foxes at the Amex.