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Bleater's Blog
  1. The Grassroots Season Starts
  2. Not Long Now!
  3. Japan Still Beckons
  4. Japan Beckons
  5. Nearly Time To Look Ahead
  6. The Summer Break is Here
  7. The Final Countdown
  8. Yet another section of drivel
  9. The Season Continues for a Little Longer
  10. The 6 Nations Continues
  11. Six Nations and More
  12. It's RWC Year!!
  13. Its Definitely Winter
  14. Winter is here. Brrrr!!!
  15. Its the Autumn, soon to be Winter
  16. We Are Off And Running
  17. The New Season Approaches
  18. Still the Summer Tours Go On
  19. The Summer Internationals Plus, Plus
  20. The Season Climax Approaches
  21. Summer is Coming
  22. Another Section, More Drivel
  23. 2018 Already!!!! It'll soon be Xmas
  24. The Season Approaches the Half Way Point
  25. The Season Takes Shape
  26. The Season Starts
  27. More Pre-Season Build Up
  28. Pre-Season and Other Stuff
  29. The Lions Tested
  30. The Lions Roar
  31. We Are Still Counting Down
  32. It's All About The Lions
  33. The Countdown to Season's End
  34. The Season Continues Apace
  35. It's Time for the 6 Nations
  36. 2017 - Let The Fun Begin
  37. The Big Man Will Be Here Soon
  38. Let's Countdown to You Know What
  39. It's Time For Europe
  40. The Season Is Well Underway
  41. At Last Let The Competition Begin
  42. Not Long to the New Season
  43. Not So Much Rugby Now
  44. Still Plenty of Rugby to Debate
  45. The Summer Break
  46. Here Comes Summer
  47. They Think It's All Over
  48. Jones - A New Era
  49. It Was A Grand Slam!!!!
  50. 6 Nations - A Grand Slam??
  51. Six Nations 2016
  52. A New Captain, A New Start
  53. Welcome to 2016
  54. The Countdown to Christmas
  55. Winter Has Arrived
  56. November Movember
  57. The World Cup Is Over
  58. Rugby World Cup Quarters
  59. Rugby World Cup into the knockout stages
  60. Rugby World Cup Day 9 to Day 24
  61. Rugby World Cup Day 1 to Day 8
  62. Sept 9th to Sept 17th
  63. August 24th to September 7th
  64. August 11th to August 23rd
  65. July 16th to August 9th
  66. July 1st to July 15th
  67. June 17th to June 29th
  68. June 2nd to June 16th
  69. May 19th to June 1st
  70. May 7th to May 17th
  71. April 28th to May 6th
  72. April 22nd to April 27th
  73. April 13th to April 21st
  74. March 13th to Aprill 11th
  75. March 5th to March 12th
Bleater's Blog 35 of 75

35. It's Time for the 6 Nations


Sunday 19th Feb - 09:00

Yes, I know I said I would write some stuff yesterday. I know I didn't. I am sorry!! I was rather ashamedly very hungover so had a long lie in instead.

The Dan Carter drink driving story was top of the list. Silly, silly man. There is NO reason for drink driving other than stupidty. I hope the French legal system punishes him harshly.

Josh Strauss is out of Scotland 6 Nations campaign. Another big blow for them.

Sarries lose again, this time away to Gloucester. Sarries didn't play to their normal high standard and were possibly on the end of some poor refereeing decisions by Wayne Barnes......... according to Paddy O'Fez. Mako Vunipola returned and this must be a boost for Sarries, and of course Eddie Jones.

The role of the TMO is being tweaked for the Super Rugby campaign. With the exception of foul play the referee has to be more explicit about why he is referring a decision up stairs, and the TMO can't interfere where a referee has missed something. Good! We should fewer stoppages. I will look at this in more detail later in the week.

And so to yesterday.

What a splendid day at Steel Cross. The sun shone, the pitch looked great, the place looked a picture and lunch was excellent. It was the club's annual sponsors and advertisers day. 70 plus people sat down to an excellent pork lunch with a delightful bread & butter dessert. Thanks Jacqui, and well done Sandra and her team. Great stuff.

It was good to host the President Elect of Sussex Rugby; Gavin Ross. He highlighted his plans for a wall between Kent and Sussex, how he intends to go orange, and putting rugby first.

On the pitch, what a game, and what a result. Despite the defeat at Horsham there was a spring in the step of the boys in red & white, and more importantly a smile on their faces. Going down to two early tries and being under pressure from Old Alleynians well drilled pack was not an issue. Once that initial storm had been weathered the Steel Cross faithful were treated to to some dynamic attacking, great support play and outstanding commitment. When defence was required it was delivered, unlike Tesco online, in full and where it was needed most. With ball in hand Tom McMahon and his back line made sniping runs, with Chris Yates, a clear and dominant man of the match, marshalling the troops with great runs, laser guided kicks, and inch perfect passing. Yates' early penalty and wonderful drop goal settled his nerves and where he went the others followed. The old men of Hayes, Rosier, Tasker and Botterman were all superb. Ben Searle as incisive as ever, and youth shone through with Alex Purnell, Andrew Orchard, and Tom Kent all playing their part. A special mention for Mitch Malherbe, who sadly limped off with a nasty knee injury, who prior to that had been a one man wrecking ball, with and without ball in hand. If, as I suspect it is a bad one, Mitch will be sorely missed in coming weeks.

The new coaching team of Dan Moore, Pete Shillingford and Stuart Thresher can take a huge amount of pride in how the team performed and their contribution to the dramatic turnaround in form. The chances let slip in previous games are being converted. The game plan of 'just get on with it and play what you see' is working, and there appears to be a new found self belief. Look, it might still be too late for us to avoid the drop BUT it is clear if we do succumb to relegation then it will be with a rather large bang and definitely not a whimper.

Can't wait to read The Bard's match report. Mainly because, after plenty of Sauvignon Blanc, I am struggling to recall all the details of the game.

One other highlight of the day at Steel Cross was, thanks to the lovely John Wilmshurst, that we were able to host guests from Hay Barn. Hay Barn is a home where the those much less fortunate than ourselves, especially those with Downs Syndrome, can live as full and varied lives as possible. I was moved by the club's kindness in this matter, and how the club ties presented to them were worn with so much pride.

Our 2s were not so lucky going down to a dominant Midhurst 45-0.

Bath came back to beat Quins in what looked an intense game with Rhys Priestland running the show. Ospreys ended their unbeaten run with defeat at home home to a well drilled Munster side. I thoroughly enjoyed the Connacht v Dragons game. A cracker of a game (shown on S4C) with the Dragons unlucky not to snatch a late winner.

There is much in the news to bleat on about including Trumps unbelievable and bizarre rants at the press but I will close with the terrible news of Australian Dan Vickerman's death at the tender age of 37.

Vickerman played 63 times for Australia and had a short spell at Northampton Saints. Yet another fine exponent of our great game 'taken' way too early.

May he rest in peace and our thoughts and prayers this Sunday be with his wife and family.

Friday 17th Feb - 08:10

What a splendid day yesterday when our very own John Sayer was recognised by the RFU, along with c.50 others, for his contribution to our great game as a volunteer. In Damper's own words this is not just recognition for him but also for Dave Bristow and the amazing work he has done on the grounds, plus the work The Friday Club does, and of course ALL the FANTASTIC volunteers we have at Crowborough RFC.

I think it is fair to say that Damper's Twitter feed, and the communication with the RFU about the work we do, has brought the club more into focus at the home of rugby.

We had a long chat with the President Peter Baines and then enjoyed the company of Keith Kent, RFU Head Groundsman, over lunch. What a top bloke he is. Not only is he the main man for pitches at Twickenham, but was head groundsman at Manchester United, and before that would you believe, being a Leicester man, was head groundsman at Filbert St, the erstwhile home of the mighty Foxes. Oh how I loved chatting about some of the City players of the 60s and 70s who graced Filbert Street.

As a Welshman it was great to quaff as much RFU paid for wine and food as possible and boy was it good food and wine. Ian Ritchie, CEO of the RFU made a very motivating speech about the role of volunteers. He got it spot on. He did go onto talk about the growth of the game at grassroots, but I stick by my personal view that his understanding of how grassroots rugby is doing, and how I think it is doing, especially in Sussex, differ. Obviously as CEO of an enormous business he is delighted with the England's run of form and how that is keeping the tills ringing.

I was lucky enough to have a brief word with Tony Spreadbury, another top guy. Phil Bowers, one of the driving forces of Sussex referees was present as was Phil Holley from East Grinstead. I am glad to say EG are well on the road to recovery, and according to Phil, that is in no small part to the pre-season matches we had with them. For me the unexpected highlight was bumping into an old colleague from my work days, and ex Vigo stalwart, and another of those who have run out for London Welsh, a certain David Oliver. David is now the mover and shaker of referees in Kent, and doing a splendid job too. He fondly recalled the day we played against each other. A day when ALLEGEDLY I kicked him in the head. No risk of injury there then. Kicking an empty vessel is not dangerous. He reads this rubbish, so,....... only joking David. By the way my invite to you to one of CRFCs league lunches at my expense was heartfelt. I only hope Queen Victoria fivers are still valid currency.

The lunch was followed by a stadium tour which was great. Damper got to sit in Dylan's allocated changing spot, I got to see where JC appeared on the list of England internationals proudly on display in the very impressive changing rooms. This was then followed by a brief tour of the museum.

How did you get there I hear you cry? Well, by train of course. I have to say Southern were great. The trains were bang on time. I was very surprised to see how busy they were though, even during the off peak. Did this one off trip crystalise my thinking on the current dispute. Yes it did, and I stick by my opinion. Southern should recognise that on key routes and at key times it is sensible, in fact right, to have a second person in addition to the driver on the trains. However, I also stick by my view that it is untenable to insist there has to be a second person on EVERY train, and with some upgrades to cameras and screens at stations I don't see why DOO is not viable. At the busiest stations, eg. East Croydon, there are train dispatchers and this in most respects shoots Mike Cash's arguments down in flames. Equally, during the morning peak stations like Crowborough are manned so driver assistance is available via that route. In the evening trains are disembarking and this makes it VERY easy for a DOO train to be managed. With ASLEF drivers not accepting the recent deal and RMT entrenched this will run and run however.

There is actually lots of rugby news to comment on and I'll do that tomorrow morning. Friday Club beckons right now.

Thursday 16th Feb - 08:30

Let me start with an apology to our 2s. I completely overlooked their excellent and convincing win over Sussex Police last Saturday. Well done guys. Well deserved after the effort you have been putting in.

Greig Laidlaw is out of Scotland's 6 Nations campaign with that ankle injury. Ali Price, who did ok against the French when he came on, will deputise.

Newport Gwent Dragons have conceded defeat in the battle for who plays at the bog known as Rodney Parade on the final day of the Pro 12 season. Newport County will be playing there on May 5th whilst the Dragons will be playing elsewhere. The football league were intransigent and the County had the contract on their side. Sad, as Dragons v Cardiff is always a big one.

Alex Cuthbert has been released back to Cardiff Blues this weekend. Cuthbert shouldn't take any flak for the Elliot Day try at the death last weekend. He was pretty ordinary at best though during the remainder of the match. Several other players have been released, especially as the Ospreys have a make or break match v Munster on Saturday. (Live on Sky. 17:00). For the record 13 Welsh players in total have been released to play for their regions.

Steve Hanson has come in for some stick from Pat Lam over Hanson's comments about the Luatua move to Bristol. This one might run and run as Ryan Crotty is rumoured to be in talks with the West Country club. This is ONLY a rumour and probably bull........ but I thought I'd include it anyway.

Surprise, surprise the English clubs, who deep down really down give a damn about International rugby, are now trying to squeeze the 6 Nations into a five week window rather than the current seven. As a business you can understand why. Their prized assets are unavailable for seven weeks thus putting results at risk, and when they do return the rigours of the international game often means more downtime for players post tournaments. They do get compensated handsomely by the RFU for player absences and they shouldn't ignore that fact.

Brian O'Driscoll has come out strongly in favour of keeping the current Lions format. That is 10 games of which three are tests. Again there is a clamour to reduce this to five games, of which three would still be tests. If the SANZAR nations have half a brain they will be fighting to keep the format as is. It is a massive money spinner for them and their countries. The spending power of 30,000 high wealth individuals cannot be ignored.

Would you believe that Super Rugby is just around the corner. Great news. Saturday morning: a coffee, croissants, OJ and Super Rugby. Marvellous!

On the RBS 6 Nations website there is a nice piece about the RFU's head groundsman Keith Kent. Well worth a read. John 'Damper' Sayer and myself are dining with the President of the RFU this lunchtime and I belief Mr Kent will also be there. More on this tomorrow.

Former Wales scrum half Dwayne Peel is set join Ulster's coaching team. Good shout me thinks.

Following Leicester City you become immune to humiliating defeat and crushing disappointment. Well, you Arsenal fans out there; welcome to my world.

It took less than 24 hours for the RMT to announce their next strike on Southern. Feb 22nd is the date. The day before that the RMT will be striking on the Central Line in objection to London Undergound's moving of drivers to where they are most needed. I know you think I am seriously biassed against the RMT, and you are probably right, to a degree, but if you sit down and look at the facts in both disputes common sense, and the expectation that public transport is there to meet the needs of PAYING PASSENGERS is paramount, will tell you the RMT are Luddites stuck in the dark ages.

If the unions walked out over the (dramatic) rise in business rates they would have my full and unequivocal support. Town centres and local business are already being squeezed to death. This move is madness and instead of raising more revenue will more than likely end up reducing it. Just look at Crowborough; a town centre dying on its feet. What incentive is there for businesses to stay open? If more money is required cut our ridiculously generous benefit system, tax the wealthiest, penalise the tax dodgers AND tax avoiders, go after the global conglomerates, and cut out wasteful bureaucracy and unnecessary layers of management.

Must go. A shave and a shower before the train to Twickers dear boy. Yes I will be wearing my Welsh boxer shorts.

Wednesday 15th Feb - 08:45

The grandchildren are staying so a lie in is a pipedream so let's get straight into the news.

George Ford rejoining Leicester Tigers has been trailed for sometime so this announcement comes as no surprise. Leicester have 'broken the bank' to get Ford back to Welford Road but is it the right move for him. With Todd Blackadder at Bath I would have thought staying at the Rec made more sense. If not, then a big money move to join his dad in Toulon was my bet...... this of course is why I don't gamble.

Wow! A Welsh player being signed up by a Welsh region. Jack Roberts leaves Welford Road to join Cardiff Blues. He is far from guaranteed a starting spot but this move makes sense.

Dylan is staying with England and not having a runout with his club this weekend. I am a little surprised by this after watching him get the shepherds crook after just 40+ minutes last Saturday. I guess Jones wants him around for his leadership qualities but also fears a repeat of him trying too hard to impress and getting into trouble.

Gareth Davies could be in trouble after a brawl outside an Aberystwyth night club last August. Silly boy!!!!!

Neil 'Jinks' Jenkins has voiced what many people have been thinking after two rounds of the 6 Nations: Warren Gatland has been given a selection headache with so many players putting their hands up with stellar performances. For example at #10 Finn Russell, Paddy Jackson, George Ford, and Dan Biggar have all played well. On top of this you have Owen Farrell and Johnny Sexton to consider. A nice problem to have.

I read with interest that the proposed takeover of Gloucester by Mohed Altrad, owner of Montpellier, is possibly a step closer after 'constructive' talks with European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) in Geneva. Me, I am not convinced it is right as surely there will be a conflict of interest at some point, and I am not sure what has happened at Montpellier (aka South African Barbarians) is right for the English game.

Paddy O'Fez has been in touch again. He is like a stalker at times. Firstly he made the sarcastic comment that Worcester beating Saracens was because the Warriors scored more points. I expected better. I expected some lame excuse about international call ups, about the feng shui of Sixways being all wrong, about the planets being badly aligned. No, all I got was sarcasm.

However, this morning he redeems himself by asking the question; when did the scrum laws change turning rugby union into rugby league. That is the ball being put into the scrum under the second rows feet. He is spot on with his observation that at the top level the ball is very, very, very rarely put in down the middle of the tunnel. Now this in part might be due to referees not wanting to reset scrum after scrum, or not wanting to see free kick after free kick, or possibly reduce the injury risk by removing the true competitive element of the scrum from the game. Either way he is right, it needs looking at.

I think the 6 Nations games so far have been terrific. The Wales v England and the Scotland v ireland encounters have been top notch. This in part is due to all four sides having tried to play open rugby, and in no small part in that the ball has been moved away from the contact area much more quickly than has been the case previously. All that said the one area of our game I think the blazers in charge of the laws need to look at is the offside line. Being behind the hindmost foot at ruck and maul should mean exactly that. There should be daylight between defenders and the ruck/maul. This extra millisecond of time for the attacker could open the game up further.... possibly??

Whilst I am at it why not change the pitch so we have a 20 metre line not a 22m. Reduce the defensive options.

Further to yesterday's drivel you can give me the Mars bars on Friday for forecasting that the talks between Southern and the RMT would go absolutely nowhere. This is about power. Nothing more, nothing less. The RMT concede on DOO and not having guards on every service they lose their power to bring the railways to a standstill. Southern concede to the RMT demands and they will never be able to run a full yet flexible service and will always be under the control of the RMT.

Kim Jong-un 1 - Kim Jong-nam 0. Talk about ruthless. Your brother criticises you so you have him assassinated. Wow! Forget about all those publicity seeking celebs you constantly have to hear about. Forget about the crisis here, there and everywhere Kim Jong-un is the man to fear. He is a long way down the road to having nuclear weapons and missiles to deliver them. We should be seriously afraid of this man....... and by the way I am serious about this point. This is no 'lets prattle on for the sake of it' item.

Why are we giving aid to India when they can afford to be blasting rockets into space. Just a thought!

Finally, is soccer doomed? A new study shows that heading a football from an early age can trigger early onset dementia. Life is full of risks. Don't eat this, don't drink that, don't do this. Life is also short. Get on with it, as long as you remember you reap what you sow, and common sense is your best friend.

Tuesday 14th Feb - 09:00

It only goes to show you can't believe a word printed in the press. Yesterday the Vunipola brothers were set for a return to the England fold. Today, not a sight of either in the squad. Anthony Watson does return thus bolstering an already strong back line.

Lions watch is well and truly underway and whilst in my view it is premature one name keeps popping up on many a pundits team sheet. That name is Ken Owens, the Welsh hooker. He has been a revelation and I tend to agree with the notion that right now he would be worthy of the starting berth. This especially as your friend and mine Stuart Barnes raises the question about Dylan's future and being England's hooker ahead of Jamie George, and therefore his Lions paticipation.

I am also pleased to see that Rhys Webb has got the recognition he deserves. Stay fit and he'll be on the plane to the 'land of the long white cloud', possibly as the test #9.

You can understand why the English clubs might not be so keen on the 6 Nations as the money making Unions themselves. Craig Laidlaw returns to Gloucester with a serious looking ankle injury for example. For the Welsh, Scots and Irish it is slightly different in that they are heavily funded by their Unions so injury is a risk they have to bear with a little more humility.

Bristol sign 15 times All Black capped Steven Luatua for next season. The Bristol support base and their financial backer is more robust than London Welsh's was, but you do have to ask whether this is a sensible move. Bristol coash elect Pat Lam is clearly exploiting his New Zealand credentials already, much to the chagrin of the cheerful Steve Hanson.

Tom Arscott has been found guilty of 'espionage' by passing 'vital' information to his former team.

Former All Black Jono Gibbs takes over as coach at Ulster.

Japan are going to push RWC2019 by producing special RWC car number plates. Cool idea.

Rob Kearney is rumoured to be out of Ireland's 6 Nations campaign with an arm injury requiring surgery.

Is Trump a Russian asset? The red top papers will have a field day with this question as Trump's national security adviser quits. Michael Flynn is reported to have had contact with Russia which is deemed 'unacceptable'.

The RMT and Southern meet for talks today. How romantic!! I bet Mike 'Loadsa' Cash substitutes the obligatory bunch of roses with his own brand of left wing rhetoric. Of course GTR will be there saying how much they really want to get back together with the RMT whilst blatantly having an 'affair' with love rivals ASLEF. I am not a betting man as you know. Too mean. I will however have a Mars bar that RMT will continue to insist on a guard on every train (which remains an untenable position), whilst GTR/Southern refuse to move from the position of requiring felxibility and the need to operate driver only services when they want.

Two stories continue to get air time. The NHS and the prison service.

Can someone tell me what proportion of people using A&E should not have been there as their need was neither an accident nor an emergency. The supplementary question is how many times is the 999 ambulance used as a taxi service, or home visit service for 'the inconsiderate' thus preventing paramedics and technicians from attending proper emergencies.

With regard to the prison issues, is it not the case that it is understaffed? More importantly if you were locked up in a tiny cell for 20+ hours per day because of said staffing levels wouldn't you go stir crazy. Why then aren't the autorities looking at schemes to get low level criminals out in the community for say 5 hours a day doing community work. Litter picking etc., etc. This surely would benefit the prisoners and the community. Win/win me thinks.

Monday 13th Feb - 10:00

Scotland's bubble was burst yesterday in Paris in another enthralling game of rugby. The Scots must have felt like extras in an episode of Casualty as player after player left the field with injuries, mainly bangs to the head. France were simply enormous with Scotland often coming out second best in the contact areas. Once again Louis Picamoles led by example and was clearly 'serem y gem'. Stuart Hogg continues to enhance his credentials as a top flight world star scoring a well worked try. The error count of the Scots was what beat them ultimately. Cut those out, and three more wins they could still end atop of the table.

The big question is of course; what the fffffff was Finn Russell doing with that conversion? Hey ho!

Before we get to our leagues those at Sandy Park got their money's worth. Exeter 35 - Wasps 35. A cracker.

The result of the day in our league was Bromley beating our friends The Greenies. Bromley move 11 points clear of us and are now only 1 point behind Deal & Betteshanger and 2 points behind Heathfield & Waldron. Deal & Betteshanger continued their poor run losing away at Beckenham. Medway put 70 points on Old Alleynians but the hosts did manage 17 of their own. Against the champions elect that is no mean feat. We host OAs next Saturday. (Don't forget to book for lunch). Charlton Park beat Dartfordians and Old Colfeians comfortably beat Hove. The race for second is a tight one with OCs still hanging on to 2nd....... for the time being?

As a league Sussex 1 is a shambles but right now Burgess Hill are top after beating Brighton II. Crawley didn't play and now have three games in hand on the Sussex All Blacks. Seaford and Hellingly were the other winners.

Up to London 3 South East where Thanet Wanderers are still top on points difference despite losing away at Haywards Heath. Pulborough keep the pressure up with a fine win over Eastbourne. Lewes lost ground after conceding an AWO to Folkestone. Mmmmm!!!! Why? In the other games Aylesford Bulls beat botton placed Ashford, Gillingham Anchorians lost at home to Old Dunstonians and Sheppey beat Park House.

Above us in London 1 South Sidcup continue to march on towards promotion but Havant slip up at Tottonians. The men from St Marks move 5 points closer to Havant after their fine home win over CS Rugby 1863. Sevenoaks and Brighton both had home wins. Brighton now sit two off the bottom with a 10 point gap between them and Dover.

High in the clouds of South East rugby TJs hold sway over the rest with their 18th consecutive league win. Guildford being the vanquished this time. Wimbledon are the only team within touching distance of TJs after their away hammering of Amersham & Chiltern. Depsite Chichester losing they look pretty safe in 11th spot. For the record Westcombe Park beat Dorking.

Elsewhere Worthing lost again, this time away to Bishop's Stortford. They are slipping into serious relegation trouble. Bridgnorth, who I know you are keen to hear about, lost away at Derby. Salisbury lost away at Lydney.

The promotion and relegation battles are becoming clearer but all is not lost for those at the bottom and much to play for at the top.

It's terrible when you read about former All Black Sione Lauaki dying at the age of 35. Rest in peace young man is all I can think off under these circumstances.

England supporters will be buoyed by the news that the Vunipola brothers are on they way back to full fitness.

Will Jamie George get the nod ahead of Dylan when England face Italy in two weeks time? Jones would be a fool not to rotate a few of his squad for this one. No disrespect to Italy of course.

Sir Clive 'Knowitall' Woodward backs England for RWC 2019 glory. Bit early yet Sir Clive. After all the Red Rose has wilted in both the previous tournaments.

Elsewhere, oh my oh my!!! What is happening with Leicester City. Our friends took great delight yesterday afternoon of berating The Foxes crap season so far.

Rugby League has kicked off so summer is on its way. Actually today is a nice one.

Must go, not had breakfast yet and the grandchildren will be here soon. Back tomorrow.

Sunday 12th Feb - 09:00

I am glad to say it wasn't as bitterly cold over at Horsham as expected but it was still cold enough. Despite the weather a good number from CRFC turned up to support the boys and that was great. Did we deserve to lose? I am not sure we did to be fair. It was definitely a game of two halves. The first dominated by Horsham with some excellent support work, an impactful lineout and some good work out wide. With their hands being frozen it came as no surprise that too often the final offload or pass out wide went to ground. We defended well for long periods and made some dynamic breaks to clear our lines. Horsham took their chance well and ultimately that was the difference.

There was one controversial moment late in the first half where the referee was somewhat premature in blowing up for a Horsham knock-on thus denying Conor Hands a try. He should have played advantage me thinks.

The second half saw the boys in red and white put Horsham on the back foot. Mitch Malherbe, Tom McMahon and Hands all making an impact. The green defence held firm. Hands could have gone over late on but for a despairing dive to make the ball dead by the home wing. Even when down to 14 men we couldn't breach the home defence so on that basis a narrow home win 10-3 was just abour right, but I don't think anyone would have disagreed that 10-10 probably reflected the balance of play.

All our boys continue to give 100% even though the 'R' word looms large. I for one am proud of that. I will pick out Matt Botterman however. He was head and shoulders the best man on the field yesterday. He had an immense game. A 'Borough boy through and through and I salute him for his showing.

My good friend Richard Ordidge, one of the movers and shakers at Horsham had to leave early to take his son Johnny to hospital with a dislocated shoulder. I am sure you will join me in wishing Johnny well.

After the game it was a quick sprint home for the Wales v England game. Yet AGAIN I had been talking nonsense. Biggar played, and was outstanding. George North didn't, being replaced by Alex Cuthbert, who was pretty poor. I genuinely had expected England to let rip and take Wales apart. They didn't. In fact Eddie Jones summed it up; 'they played another get out of jail card'. Wales were the better side showing ambition and dynamism putting England on the back foot. Rhys Webb and Biggar orchestrated the back line with Jonathan Davies and Scott Williams both playing well. Moriarty at #8 was a one man wrecking ball, although the hit on Farrell was a bit naughty. When England had the ball they played well enough but the Welsh defence was brilliant.

Both sides left points 'on the table' with Alun Wyn Jones failing to exploit an overlap choosing instead to try and run over Ben Youngs. England were sloppy in some of their work early on, taking the wrong option too often. One thing I am certain about; it was a cracking game of rugby. You can never write off a good side with Elliot Daly proving that in the dying minutes. If only Jonathan Davies had found touch!!!!!!

I agree with the choice of Joe Launchbury as man of the match, being certain however that Dan Biggar would have had that accolade if Wales had won.

Player watch.......

Winners: Launchbury, Farrell, Moriarty, Biggar, Webb

Losers: Dylan, Cuthbert, Cole

Not much can be said about the Italy v Ireland game. Ireland were simply magnificent and Italy weren't. The men in green will be supplying many of The Lions during the summer and in my opinion are now favourites for the 6 Nations title. Sexton 'who?' by the way. Paddy Jackson was very good indeed. England will replicate this demolition of the Italians leaving us to hope for an England v Ireland 'shoot out' in the final game.

France v Scotland this afternoon. Actually for me it will be tonight as we have ten for lunch today.

Can't wait to hear Paddy O'Fez's excuses for Saracens losing to Worcester. This is the Sarries who have brought in yet ANOTHER overseas player on a short term contract. A Samoan I think.

Back tomorrow to reflect on today's game and the league results.

Don't forget to book your seat at next week's league lunch. Old Alleynians. Contact Baloo.

Saturday 11th Feb - 09:40

As I type a light snow is falling over Crowborough. The ground is lightly dusted with the white stuff making for a picturesque winter scene....... but not one that inspires you to go and stand on the touchline and freeze your butt off for two hours.

I am sure many of you will have made Bath v Northampton your game of choice last night and you will have enjoyed a cracking game of rugby, so the papers seem to indicate. Likewise those Up North in Salford would have been relieved at Sale's win over Newcastle. (A certain relative of mine is working with Sale a few days a week now).

Me, I watched Wales Under 20s v England Under 20s. Despite Wales losing this was a thoroughly enjoyable encounter. England were the better side and deserved their win BUT, and it is a BIG BUT, Wales could have, and should have snatched it at the end. With a one man advantage due to a cynical infringement to prevent a Welsh try why oh why did Wales kick away possession in the closing minutes? They had momentum, they had a man overlap, they had England on the back foot. It was naive at best, stupidity at its worst. Sadly it is indicative of the preponderence of kicking in our game. An automatic reaction rather than a considered option. If you get the chance look at the long range England try. Just superb.

France were big Under 20 winners over Scotland and Ireland only just, by a single point, snuck past Italy, IN ITALY.

I caught the last 20 minutes of Glasgow vs Scarlets. Two sides shorn of they front line players put on a fine spectacle. James Davies was excellent. Sadly for him Wales isn't short of good back row forwards.

Back in the Aviva well done Tom Varndell for becoming the top try scorer. Sadly for him it was the only bright spot in a thumping by Harlequins.

I was quite surprised when chatting to the relative referred to above as he thinks Wales might sneak it later today. Hmmmmm!!! I am not changing my view; England by plenty. Eddie Jones took a dim view of Wales and the shenanigans of previous years and expects the same today. I think the big story will be neither Biggarhead nor George North starting.

Over the next few days here are the players/match ups to watch.

John Barclay, Scotland - I think he is the most underrated flanker in international rugby. He will go well against France tomorrow

Stuart Hogg, Scotland - can he maintain his stellar form

Jonathan Davies/Scott Williams vs Jonathan Joseph/Owen Farrell - Lions centre pairings at stake

Rhys Webb vs Ben Youngs - Their performances could be a deciding factor in who wins the match.

Justin Tipuric - will he be man of the match.

The snow continues to fall making that warm fire and a nice bottle of red watching Italy v Ireland very appealing. No! I will be at Horsham with my Artic thermals on. (By the way I have been inside the Artic Circle. It was -42c the two days I was there....... and yes that is cold with a capital 'F')

Friday 10th Feb - CORRECTIONS / ADDENDA - 13:50

That'll teach me to be a smart ass and thank you Paddy O'Fez for quickly pointing out my deficiencies which are aplenty. I won't be writing the blog at 11pm again. My mind needs to be ........... fill in the blank

Of course Ireland are playing Italy in Rome and not in Dublin.

Mr O'Fez also correctly points out that we do pay through our taxes for the NHS but the perception remains it is free. My challenge about following the German system remains valid though.

Finally our own Matt Eyres played for the Royal Engineers against the Royal Artillery last week. Army rugby is very competitive and a very good standard. Well done Matt. 'Sappers Rugby' will get you to the website.

Friday 10th Feb - 07:00

Hoorah it's Friday and Friday Club........... on a cold, damp, freezing Friday. Hey Ho! What needs to be done, needs to be done.

Rob Howley has thrown a curve ball into the mix for Saturday. Dan Biggarhead appears to be fit and starts. A surprise? You bet. I wonder, just wonder, if there isn't a little bit of kidology going on here. England's Paul Gustard says 'we'll finalise our defensive plan once we know whether Biggar or Davies is starting'. Hmmmm! Howley then makes the big call but with the caveat that Biggar has until Saturday morning to prove his fitness. We'll see. I would have gone Sam Davies regardless but what do I know.

George North has been declared fit too. Now that I can understand. Whilst dead-legs take a while to heal being ready for Saturday is more likely for him than Biggar and his bashed up ribs.

The other changes were expected. Taulupe Faletau comes into the squad but on the bench. Thomas Francis and Rob Evans get the nod ahead of Samson Lee and Nicky Evans. Good call in my opinion. Francis in particular will do well as he knows the England forwards from playing against them frequently in the Aviva Premiership.

On paper it is a strong looking Welsh squad missing only Charteris from the perfect 23. That said, I go England, and I go England by plenty. I think Wales might need to reflect on it being time for radical improvement if they are to emulate the highs of the last two World Cups. That is if my prediction comes to pass.

The roof WILL be open. I think England might regret that decision. It could back fire as Cardiff's pitch can cut up easily and that might negatively impact on England's more open style.

A couple of injuries has forced a change to the Irish line-up. Donnacha Ryan and Cian Healey come in for Iain Henderson and Jack McGrath. That strengthens the side me thinks, not weakens it. Italy will find it a long and painful afternoon in Dublin. Rome you muppett!!! as Ireland want to right the wrongs of last weekend against Scotland.

Scotland will arrive at the Stade de France in a confident mood. Gregor Townsend is predicting a first win in the French capital since 1999. Yep, just like Nicola 'the queen of Scotland' Sturgeon, I think the rose coloured glasses need to be changed. France looked solid against England and I expect a strong performance from them on Sunday. France by a few.

If you are not at the Comedy Night tonight then on channel 971 on Sky you can watch Wales Under 20s take on their English counterparts. This is often a better game than the 'big one'.

Got to get going in a minute but just wanted to add a few words about the NHS. There is a lot in the news about people waiting in A&E more than four hours. What they don't say is how many of them shouldn't be in A&E as their cases should be dealt with by a GP, or even by a pharmacist. I stick by my idea of charging those who use A&E when they shouldn't.

The other thing is there has been many comparisons with how wonderful the German system works. Well, if you have been watching the news you'll know that every person pays into health insurance schemes costing 7% of a persons salary, and their company paying a further 7%. Now if we want to emulate the Germans let's see how many people in the UK vote for the same way of working. Very few I bet, and that is part of the problem. The NHS is perceived as FREE (even though our taxes contribute towards it) so why does it come as a surprise it is overburdened. Food for thought me thinks.

Thursday 9th Feb - 11:30

You're late!

Yes, I was out with former work colleagues last night for a very nice curry thank you, and what business is it of yours anyway?

Actually, wanted to be sure I had the England team to face Wales as a minimum. So let's start there......

Jack Clifford gets the nod ahead of Tom Wood who drops to the bench. Whilst Wood has been declared fit there must be an element of caution in Jones' thinking. I thought Wood was ok against France but Jones' obviously sees the younger Clifford as a more dynamic option around the park and a foil against Wales excellent back row.

Jack Nowell is recalled to the fray ahead of Jonny May. I think that is a harsh call on May but Nowell was very impactful when he came on, and strangely his unpredictability might give England an edge. Farrell and Ford retain their places and I expect both to be the primary target of Wales back row.

Elliot Daly keeps his place thus adding a long range goalkicking option to England's armourary.

There is no place for Mako Vunipola so perhaps he isn't as ready as the press would like us to think.

Shaun Edwards heaps praise on Eddie Jones and his style. Is it mind games or is it genuine? Genuine without doubt. Jones has brought a straight talking and pragmatic approach and a more approachable style than his predecessor.

I see Danny Cipriani is in the news again. The boy is a rugby talent but has the brains of a rocking horse at times. He needs to be less of the playboy and more of the playmaker.

Rory Best has rubbished claims Garry Ringrose should be compared to Brian O'Driscoll. Best suggests Ringrose is a young lad with a great future ahead of him if he continues to improve his game and keep his feet firmly on the ground. Wise words indeed.

Closer to home CRFC 1st XV face Horsham at their place on Saturday. The 2s are at home to Sussex Police and the 3s are away at Cinque Ports. All games kick off at 14:30.

Was hoping to bring you the Wales team but that announcement has been delayed until 13:00

Go you Foxes. At last something to cheer about.......... Not really. They could do with focussing on Premiership survival which is looking seriously in doubt at the moment.

In the news news Theresa Maybe was well and truly ambushed yesterday by Jezza at PMQs. The Surreygate saga will run for a while me thinks, and if it is proven a secret deal was struck then it is a disgrace. When are the SNP going to wake up and smell the coffee: Scottish independence would mean leaving the EU.

The NHS situation is dominating many peoples thoughts. It is over burdened because the population has increased significantly, the population is living longer and the people are using it as a first option rather than the ultimate resource. Money is a solution but where does it come from. GB PLC has maxed its credit cards and overdrafts so either new revenue has to be found; TAXES, or CUTS have to be made elsewhere. Over to those cleverer than me to solve this one.

Wednesday 8th Feb - 09:15

In my rush to comment on the 6 Nations I overlooked two vital comments in The Bard's match report of this week. Firstly I understand both Hove and Heathfield & Waldron were on standby to host our game if our pitches had been unfit to play. Thank you both. The esprit de corps is still alive and kicking in rugby. More importantly, despite the heavy rain of last week, our A pitch was in great condition. THANK YOU Dave Bristow, an amazing job, and thank you all the forkers of The Friday Club who assisted Saturday morning.

Can I remind you it is Comedy Night this Friday. I believe there are just a few tickets left. See this website for details.

So the mind games commence ahead of Saturday's clash between Wales and England. Sam Warburton has said it is perfectly fair to compare the current record breaking England squad to the All Blacks. I can see where he is coming from...... to a degree. They are unbeaten for 15 games, they have strength in depth, they can play badly and win (as proven by last week's performance), nothing in their preparation is left to chance and there is an arrogance about them on and off the field. Would they beat the All Blacks right now? No! They are not that good....... yet????

Ahead of Saturday's clash Tom Wood is a doubt suffering with a shoulder problem. Eddie Jones will be buoyed by the news that Mako Vunipola is fit and could feature. Jones will also have a selection dilemma in the backs. I think we will see Farrell revert back to #10, with the foreigner Te'O coming in at centre. Nowell will replace Daly on the wing.

What do Wales do if Charteris and Faletau are fit. In the case of Charteris he starts alongside Alun Wyn Jones. Faletau on the other hand shouldn't. I thought the back row of Tipuric, Moriarty and Warburton all played well enough to keep their spots. In the backs it will be 'as you were' with Sam Davies keeping his place at #10.

Let's see the teams before we start making predictions....... but England by plenty. They really can't be as rubbish as they were against the French..... or can they?

I like the story that the top flight referees are learning French to help with communication when managing French games. The domestic referees are learning Afrikaans, Fijian and English to help their communication. French is not required in the Top 14.

So there was a bug in the All Black meeting room prior to the clash with Australia last year. Allegedly it was placed there by someone the All Blacks had hired as a security consultant. Adrian Gard is his name and apparently he has worked for Bill Clinton and Paris Hilton (a match made in heaven!!!!!) amongst others. The Aussies are unhappy of course. This is a story about nothing. Let's move on.

There was local rugby last weekend with the big game and big result being TJs beating Wimbledon 19-17 to put a little daylight between them and their promotion rivals. Chichester had a fine away win over Sutton & Epsom easing their relegation fears somewhat.

It is 'as you were' in London 1 South with leaders Sidcup, Havant and Tunbridge Wells all winning. Sidcup are looking more and more like champions elect as the weeks go by. Our friends at Sevenoaks beat Tottonians and Brighton comfortably got past CS Rugby 1863. A result that many wouldn't have predicted.

In our league Bromley lost at home to our friends at Charlton Park but did pick up a vital four try bonus point. They are 7 points ahead of us but 5 behind Deal & Betteshanger.

For your info Worthing lost at home to Clifton and are now one off the bottom. Bridgnorth lost at home to Towcestrians. Salisbury had no game.

I read with interest that the RMT have called the ASLEF deal with Southern a 'betrayal'. No it isn't. From what I have read it is a sensible agreement full of common sense arrangements for managing driver only operations and ensuring the safety of the public is maintained. The RMT and Mike 'Loadsa' Cash are talking to Southern but I bet there will be no movement from their entrenched position about guards, which is untenable, as they do not want to lose the ability they have in causing mayhem on the railways. I applaud ASLEF for what they have done. It is good for their members and good for the travelling public. The RMT leadership are anarchists and don't give a damn about the public at large.

A mixed bag of news in the papers today so let me throw this out there. On the bridge connecting the river Avon and the canal basin in Stratford there is a plaque. It commemorates the completion of said bridge built by prisoners from Wormwood Scrubs and HMP Birmingham. Instead of allowing prisoners to fester away in front of the TV, playing on the internet etc, and then feeding them three square meals a day at our expense, why don't we the taxpayer ask for something in return. Our road verges are a disgrace; full of litter. There are many labouring jobs councils have cut because of budget constraints. Let's get these people out of the prisons and doing some 'payback' time.

Must go coffee is ready.

Monday 6th Feb - 14:45

Have just got back from Bridgnorth and I had planned to start with comment on our boys' marvellous win against Hove on Saturday. That changed when I read about the very sad, and very premature death of Joost Van der Westhuizen. He was just 45 for heaven's sake. Way to young to be taken from his family and friends. He had been battling motor neurone disease for some time and succumbed to the illness today.

He was a combatitive scrum half winning 89 caps. He had many fine moments to reflect on but in my opinion his finest was in 1995 when South Africa won the Rugby World Cup. It wasn't the winning of the cup that counted but the fact he was charged with stopping the loviathan that was Jonah Lomu, which he did with aplomb, and with no small sacrifice to his body.

Joost Van der Westhuizen - 1971 to 2017 - R.I.P.

Being the inveterate pessimist that I am, when I clicked on to the RFU results service I was expecting a narrow, but hard fought defeat to again be the outcome of Saturday's game vs Hove. I nearly fell of my chair spilling my glass of Merlot when I read 43-10. I had to look twice. What an excellent result, and based on The Bard's excellent match report seems like a thoroughly well deserved win too. I understand, at last, we were able to bring back into the side some long term absentees, but not only that, some of the pretty lacklustre tackling against Medway was turned into determined and accurate tackling against Hove. It sounds as if everything clicked with Andy Walters, Matt Botterman, Chris Yates, Mitch Malherbe, Ben Searle all making a difference. That said those who have battled in vain over the many previous weeks were also outstanding. You know who you are so WELL DONE GUYS! We are still deep in relegation trouble and the drop is still odds on BUT if we go down it will be with a bang not a whimper, but more importantly there are still a lot of points up for grabs so never say 'never'.

Very appropriately with The Bard being able to write such a glowing and positive report Mrs Bleater and I were in Stratford for a couple of nights before heading to Bridgnorth. This is where we watched the 6 Nations. Forgoing the packed pubs we sat in our hotel room with several bottles of the alcoholic stuff and a bag of snacks before settling down to watch firstly a magnificent game of rugby, then sadly a turgid affair.

The Scotland v Ireland game was a cracker. End to end stuff. A game of two halves. A game that wasn't over until 'the fat lady' had sung. You couldn't take your eye of the screen for fear of missing something. Stuart Hogg can go get his Lions kit measured up. He was just brilliant. I thought Ireland in the first half looked a little tired but they certainly woke up in the second. The Scottish lineout try (never able to be repeated of course) was clever, but it was the Scottish defence throughout and their ability to recycle the ball quickly and move it to the strike runners that won the day. Rory Best cemented, in my view, his place as 1st choice Lion's hooker, and you could ask Johnny Sexton who? Paddy Jackson was great in the second half. What a game.

Are Scotland destined for the Grand Slam...... No!

Were the Ireland v All Blacks games false dawns..... No!

Then it came to the England v France game. Several bottles of beer downed and onto the Merlot. Thanks goodness as it dulled the senses. This was a dire game with only Louis Picamoles lighting things up. England were a shadow of themselves. Bereft of ideas and skill levels that left the crowd wondering what the hell had been going on in training. That said, France turned up and their enormous side performed well, and to the surprise of many played with that 'je ne sais quoi' so missing in recent years. For England Dylan was 'undercooked' and the forwards generally were sluggish. Whilst Owen Farrell did his best the players around him seemed like rabbits caught in the headlines for long periods. As the French tired James Haskell and Danny Care came on and made a positive impression. Shame the winning try came from a Kiwi, who played rugby league in Australia, before coming to England for the money, and only played because he qualified on residency. (Bleater, you really must let it go!!!!). I guess those supporting the Red Rose will be ordering their Grand Slam t-shirts, on sale from the RFU at exhorbitant rates, because 'if you can play that badly and win you must be a great side'.

On Sunday, after a splendid pub carvery lunch, Mrs Bleater and I settled down with dear old mum to watch Wales thrash Italy. Wrong!!!! Another pretty ordinary game to say the least until Wales woke up to the fact they could play if they wanted to. For long periods I didn't know if I was watching a programme on scrummaging or the Davies Cup tennis. Scrum after scrum, aimless kick after aimless kick. It was only in the last 20 minutes that the Dragon awoke from his slumbers and played some rugby. Scott Williams was excellent whilst those around him faltered. The George North try was a spectacle to behold and Thomas Francis will surely start next week against England. If Wales are not to lose their next four games they are going to have to play a more expansive game than they did for 60 minutes against Italy, and Scott Williams, Justin Tipuric, Alun Wyn Jones, and Sam Warburton have got to get the other players around them up to their level of commitment and skill. Sam Davies reinforced his claim to start and with Biggarhead injured that now looks certain. On the blue side of the tennis net I struggle to see how Italy will survive when Sergio Parrisse hangs up his boots.

I know many of you can't stand Stuart Barnes but can I recommend his summary of the opening week on skysports.com/rugby. It very eloquently sums up the three games and looks ahead to next week...... which I will do later.

Well done the New England Patriots. I went Atlanta Falcons.

Come on Leicester City. Pull your fingers out.

Friday 3rd Feb - 08:30

Eddie Jones' selection was predictable enough with just one surprise; Elliot Daly on the wing ahead of in-form Jack Nowell. Apparently Nowell missed a couple of days training this week for personal reasons and this may have been a factor, but for me, I think Elliot Daly is the more accomplished all round footballer. Nowell has a tendency to go 'ball chasing'. When it comes off it looks great but when it doesn't Nowell is often found out of position leaving his team exposed to the counter attack.

Hughes the Fijian, who shouldn't be playing in my very humble opinion, is at 8. The minute Vunipola is fit he will be out by the way. Going forward Hughes will be a threat but defensively he might come under pressure.

Player watch will centre around the front row. Dylan: his captaincy, discipline and fitness all under scrutiny. Marler: the miracle healer (thank you milk!!!), his fitness. Cole: the penalty count against him and his performance under pressure at the scrum.

France start with only six of players who played against England back in March. Several key players are missing, the most noticeable being the mercurial Wesley Fofana. Youngster Baptiste Serin makes his 6 Nations bow at scrum half and I expect him to do well. The French squad is a mix of experience, youth and Fijians. Aaaaaarrggggh!!!!!! Come on, this three year residency has to change.

I go England by plenty.

I know my Irish friends will already be chalking up the 5 points for a bonus point win up at Murrayfield. I don't think it is that clear cut. Scotland have a very strong looking side made up of players who regularly ply their trade together at Glasgow Warriors or Edinburgh. The backs in particular look exciting and with the Gray brothers in the powerhouse Scotland should get their fair share of ball.

Ireland also field a strong side despite some noticeable absentees. I don't think the loss of Sexton is an issue as Paddy Jackson has been in fine form. As said yesterday about certain England players I hope some of the men in green don't have The Lions on their minds. Getting through the 6 Nations is first and foremost, Lions selection will take care of itself.

I hope the referee's Afrikaans is up to scratch with the number of South Africans playing!!!!!

I go Ireland, but narrowly, in a high scoring affair.

Wales have nothing to prove and that is good for the men in red. Many of even the most one-eyed have written them off and expect a loss in Rome. The front row is the weak link by a long way, and with the Italian pack being their strength I expect a pausity of ball for the red backs, and ball being received under pressure. The Welsh back line looks strong enough but Jonathan Davies form has been poor and Biggar has not commanded the starting spot at Ospreys this season. The return of Rhys Webb is great news. A good 6 Nations could see him as the starting No.9 in New Zealand. The Welsh back row looks balanced, and if Wales are to win, it is the back row who will be the catalyst. Wales must play an expansive game if victory is to be theirs. The boring and predictable crash, bang, wallop will see red faces for Wales in those red shirts.

Italy will be strong. Connor O'Shea, ably supported by Mike Catt, will have prepared the team well. They will be technically sound and with the brilliant Sergio Parrisse leading from the front they will be a threat.

My heart says Wales but my head says Italy in a low scoring bruising encounter.

Facinating story about Luke Willmott of Derby RFC who has been banned from the game for four years for trafficking human growth hormone. (bbc.co.uk/sport). Good is what I say.......... but what about Ben Barba. That has to be looked at.

Outside of rugby three stories catch the eye.

Francois Fillon, the hoped for saviour of France, is about to see his reputation and presidential chances hacked to pieces. Like many politicians he is as corrupt as they come. Paying his wife, Welsh wife by the way, for a non-existent job, and compounding it by paying his kids for non-existing work in non-existing jobs. He portrayed himself as God fearing Catholic, above reproach for his saintly lifestyle and high morals. Yep, just like all the other hypocrits.

ASLEF have finalised a deal with Southern. Hoorah, and not before time. The RMT led by their anarchist and economic terrorist leader Mike 'Loadsa' Cash haven't. A solution is not rocket science. It is common sense. Sadly when you have entrenched views and objectives not related to the dispute, i.e. bring down the Goverment or smashing the RMT then a solution will remain a pipe dream.

Finally some marvellous news. Phil Shiner that complete toe-rag of an injury lawyer has finally be found out. Yes he was a devious, money grabbing, lying, and trecherous b'stard who hounded our wonderful armed forces with false and completely fabricated claims of war crimes. The full weight of the law now needs to be thrown at him and let's see how he likes it. I can't imagine the mental and physical anguish some of these fine servicemen and women have gone through but I do hope the news yesterday brings some relief.

Just to let you know Bridgnorth beckons so blogs may be few and far between for the next few days. Monday pm normal service, like Southern ... rubbish.... will be resumed.

Thursday Feb 2nd - 10:00

Some Club news to start

Crowborough v Hove will be played this Saturday Feb 4th at Steel Cross. K.O. 2:15pm. Obviously England v France will be on immediately afterwards. When I say on, that's at Twickenham not Steel Cross...... but the way Dave Bristow is working on our pitches its hard to tell the difference!!!

Dragons Den. The excellent Sussex RFU initiative to give Sussex clubs a little extra cash to support them in growing the game locally was held at Worthing RFC last night. I am delighted that CRFC was awarded £1,200 towards its 'Social Media Package' aimed at finding new players, members, volunteers, sponsors and commercial users. Dave Shortland, the Club's Marketing Director Wizard put together a brilliant presentation enabling CRFC to walk away with the highest cash award possible. Thanks to Dave 'Baloo' Bennett for ensuring we were included. A BRILLIANT initiative, justly well rewarded.

It is no wonder rugby in Sussex is not in the best shape when club's cannot be bothered to put a little effort in to support county programs like Dragons Den, especially when there is FREE cash available. Well Done Chris Keeley of Sussex RFU for your part in making Dragon's Den happen and sorry it is so poorly attended.

Don't forget the Comedy Night on Friday 10th. A few tickets are still available. All details on this website.

It's been confirmed that George Kruis is out of Saturday's clash with Les Bleus. England have strength here so no dramas.

Thomas Young is likely to be on the bench against Italy. He is having a great season at Wasps and a first Welsh cap will be a fitting reward for his efforts thus far. By the way the Welsh pundits are calling for Sam Davies to start at #10 ahead of Dan Biggarhead. Good call too.

Garry Ringrose is expected to be the standout man for Ireland. The next B.O'D. is the view of many. One good game isn't enough to say that but the boy has talent that's for sure.

Two Scots to watch this weekend. Stuart Hogg and Johnny Gray. A good 6 Nations from them might see them on the plane to New Zealand.

As Leicester Tigers lurch from one game to another they have signed French centre Maxime Mermoz at least until the end of the season. What can I say...... the acadamies of the Premiership clubs really must be rubbish if they continually have to resort to importing players from overseas.

More 6 Nations team news tomorrow...... I hope.

I like my soccer, you really have to like it to follow The Foxes for 52 years. I also like to follow Cardiff City and Manchester United. The latter has the most arrogant, self opinionated manager in the world, and by the way he isn't that good. What a complete dickhead. Walking out of a post match interview because of a sensible question about why they couldn't beat Hull. He says rules are different for him. Yes Jose they are. The other managers don't have a protuberance sticking out of their forehead.

So Theresa Maybe got the result she wanted last night and can now move on to telling the EU where to stick their membership........ sadly...... as I'd prefer to 'remain'. When you see a highly paid MEP playing the fool behind Britain's No.1 fascist Nigel Garagesale then actually you realise it might not be a bad idea to leave after all.

I read the EU might send us a bill for £60bn when we leave to cover the hole in the budget as a result of Brexit. Mmmmmmm, perhaps the French might just have to cut back on the money their farmers get, and some of the smaller countries subsidised by Britain might have to get their houses in order and stop the high levels of corruption in government.

There is much in the Brexit vote news about MPs rebelling. As I have said before I believe where an MPs constituents overwhelmingly voted to 'remain' then I think there is a case for rebellion. What I find unacceptable is for MPs to vote against the will of their constituents. Whatever happens we should all now row in the same direction and fight on a united front for the best possible deal for GB PLC. If the MPs don't we'll end up with compromises of compromises and a deal that suits no-one.

A classic PMQs yesterday. May 7/10, Corbyn 3/10, Robertson SNP 8/10, Farron 1/10. The quote of the day; 'you can be there running a protest, I am running the country'.

Wednesday Feb 1st - 10:30

Where has January gone? I simply cannot believe how quickly the time passes.

The rugby pages are full of the latest injury news. For England it is mixed with the positive being Joe Marler's miraculous recovery from a broken leg, and the negative being the serious doubt over George Kruis. Kruis suffering a knee problem which will be assessed today. Regardless of this it looks as if Maro Itoje will start at No.6, a position he is more than capable of filling. If he stays fit I will stick my neck out and say a) he will be man of the tournament and b) on the plane to New Zealand with Gatland's Lions.

Many from the Red Rose supporters camp will have written off France and have already been to the bookies and staked a fiver on an England win with a bonus point. Do this at your peril. There will be some in the English camp pretty confident of their place in The Lions squad but some wanting to prove their worth. Often this a recipe for trying too hard and playing the 'me, me, me' game rather than the team game. Despite what some say France have improved from the depths of last year so beware. I still go a fiver on England with a bonus point win.

Wales suffer a double blow with Taulupe Faletau and Luke Charteris out of the opener against Italy. Wales has a shallow enough squad as it is so losing these two is an issue for Howley to come to terms with. Please don't say 'it is only Italy so get on with it'. Any team with Connor O'Shea as coach has to be feared, and this is in Italy where the Azzurri always start well.

Like Wales, Ireland suffer with two key players definitely out; Sexton and O'Mahony, but they also have a doubt with Ulster's Andrew Trimble suffering from a tight groin. Ireland have plenty in reserve so I am not so concerned for them, albeit I find it galling that two of the three back row will be South African who have qualified on the pathetic three year residency rule.

This leaves Scotland who seem to have dropped off the radar screen. No injury worries, nothing to report, low key expectations from the coaching team despite the fine Scottish Pro12 regions results to date. I expect Scotland to go well in their final 6 Nations before Nicola Sturgeon declares independence and claims Scotland's RIGHT to play in the Southern Hemisphere Championship because she says they can. Whatever Nicola says is gospel!!!

One story that caught my eye and is a disgrace and an embarrassment for our game is the fact that Australian Rugby League star Ben Barba could avoid a 12 week drug ban when he switches codes and moves to Toulon. The fact that Toulon are signing yet another overseas player is a joke in itself but for a cociane user who is banned from playing rugby league to be able to play union in France is WRONG. VERY, VERY WRONG. (Several websites carry this story)

Jim Telfer compares Eddie Jones to Donald Trump. Again many websites carry this story. It's not what you think but well worth reading. Jones had a birthday recently and some wag sent him a non slip bathmat as a present.