Friday 18th November - 08:45
Eddie Jones delays naming his squad for Saturday due to injuries. Whatever side he picks will surely stroll past Fiji. Much has been said about the paltry amount of money the Fijians will earn vs the barrow loads of cash England's players will wheel home. This I am afraid is one of those unenviable facts of life and that is life is inherently unfair. In society there will always be 'haves' and 'have nots' and like society it is right the 'haves' do try and ensure that those who are 'have nots' through NO FAULT OF THEIR OWN get help. The RFU are giving the Fijian RFU £75,000 as a goodwill gesture. Based on the tens of millions they will rake in this autum alone this seems somewhat mean.
I did smile when I read that South African cricketer Faf du Plessis has been charged with ball tampering and then went on to read that Gloucester's George Robson has been banned for six weeks for testicle grabbing. Ball tampering by any other name me thinks.
Australian coach Michael Cheika has caused a stir by naming very much a weakened side to face France tomorrow. This is either because he sees the French as being an easier ride than either Wales or Scotland, although Wales were a push over, or he is prioritisng a 'grand slam' of wins over the four home nations. Only time will tell.
The Rugby Hall of Fame is no longer a virtual thing it is a tangible place you can visit in the home of rugby; Rugby. Search the internet for more details.
Much in the papers about the 14 year old girl who recently died of cancer who won the right to be cryogenically preserved. Wow. Sci-fi becomes reality. Well worth reading about this because of the huge implications for all of us going forward. However it is worth considering that the way the world is going that when she is brought back to this life Wayne Rooney will be British Prime Minister and Emperor of the Independent State of Liverpool with Lisa Simpson being President of the United States of America and Vladimir Putin President for Life in Russia, even though he is dead and lying alongside Lenin in Red Square. Sadly Kim Jong-un got voted out of the Big Brother house and will be living in a commune high in the desolate and isolated wastelands of the State of Sturgeonland formerly known as Scotland.
Must go. No Friday Club for me but rather a trip to Salisbury.
Thursday 17th November - 10:00
It's colder today but a wonderfully bright morning. A morning to be watching the heavy stuff come in over Crowborough heading for Gatwick.
Oh shut up and get on with it....... where's the rugby news?
Let us start with us. The Crows don't seem to have a fixture but then again what do I know. The 2s host Barns Green at Steel Cross and the 1s take on Beckenham at their place. It will be a tough day for both sides but as I continue to state; a) our luck will change at some point and b) the boys will give nothing less than 100%.
Lets jump ahead to 17:30 on Saturday. Ireland host the All Blacks in Dublin. I didn't see the Chicago result coming. I guess neither did many others. I am pretty sure the All Blacks will be at their very best this weekend and will not allow another 'L' go against them in the record books. The men in green will battle with all their might but whilst I see a great contest New Zealand will come out on top.
By the way tickets for this one are going for more than 10x the face value on the black market. Now there's another bunch of scumbags who roam the earth making it a worse place to be; ticket touts.
England will stroll past Fiji and there is not a lot more that can be said about that. The England players will walk away with £20,000 whilst the Fijians will walk away with less than the corporate Hooray Henrys will have paid for their tickets.
With Nathan Hughes and Semesa Rokoduguni playing for England it will be Fiji v Fiji at 'Twickers dear boy'. Whilst I object strongly to the inclusion of the former the latter has served in the British Army and therefore most definitely qualifies to play.
Wales will beat Japan. Depsite Wales' poor form of late they will be much too strong for the men from the 'land of the rising sun'.
Now Scotland v Argentina will be a game worth watching. Sadly it clashes with the Ireland game. I see Scotland winning this one and by a margin bigger than Wales achieved over the same opponent last weekend.
In other games Italy will lose to South Africa but not as heavily as they lost to the All Blacks.
Not sure we'll find it on TV but France v Australia should be good. The Aussies are on a roll and it will be interesting to see the state of French international rugby, especially as there is a full Top 14 program on Saturday. I go Australia but not by many.
The Aviva kicks off again on Saturday with Bath v Bristol a highlight. An old fashioned local derby. The Welsh regions play in the nonsensical Anglo-Welsh Cup.
Ireland launch their 2023 World Cup bid. Good luck to them. Seven years is a long time and rugby might be very different by then but the Irish will put on a great show.
Ben Ryan, recently Fiji 7s coach, is seeking ways to get Fiji into the Super Rugby set up. Great idea but good luck, especially as the Fijian rugby authorities seem to know nothing about it.
I understand the RFU have released the new rules regarding the paying of players. It sets limits dependent on the level being played and sets out what and what isn't considered a payment. A step in the right direction but totally unenforceable, unless of course the over-stretched HMRC and the RFU put sufficient resource behind it to police it......so nothing will change.
There is also much talk about making tackles above the waist an offence. Not sure this is a good idea as it would change the dynamic of the game totally. I 100% agree tackles are getting dangerously high but nothing above the waist..... I don't see it.
In the news I am delighted to see rules governing whiplash payouts after accidents is being cut. This will shoot down a few injury lawyer vultures from the trees me thinks.
England soccer players are being berated by sanctimonious arses for going on a 'bender' after beating Scotland. So what!!!! They are not Trappist monks for heavens sake. They are testosterone fuelled young men who need to let off steam now and again.
Finally if you want to a little warmth in your life. Find the story about the 4 year old girl who saved her mum's life by dialling 999 after the mum collapsed from an allergic reaction.
Bugger! Its clouded over. No planes to watch.
Wednesday 16th November - 09:30
Is rugby going down the toilet faster than Saturday's chicken vindaloo?
Why? I hear you ask.
In no order.......
The RFU are patting themselves on the back for the success of growing the game on the back of RWC 2015. Well, let me tell you, there is no evidence of that in Sussex. Clubs are pulling out of leagues, too many fixtures are being cancelled week after week and numbers of players available to play each week is on the decline. This comment smells of bullshit based on someone justifying an enormous spend and their role in life.
Damien Hopley, the professional players union's boss, has gone on record saying he'd like to see top English players earning a £1m per year. As the RFU announces another year of splendid profits I understand where he is coming from BUT...... every pound that goes into players pockets from the RFU is a pound less that can be ploughed into grassroots rugby. It is the players who put their bodies on the line, who pack the stadiums, and enable the unions (and clubs) to generate the incomes they do but we must think about the bigger picture and the future health of the game 'in the round'.
Sale is being sued by a former player based on a historic injury. I can see the injury lawyer vultures perched high on the branches licking their lips in anticipation of this one.
Nathan Hughes, a Fijian, is playing for England solely based on the stupid three year residency rule, and by his own admission solely for the money. I have been lucky enough to go to Fiji. It is a beautiful country with wonderful, wonderful people, sadly many of whom live in what you might describe as abject poverty. I get why Hughes wants to do this, and why it will set him and his family up for life after rugby. There is nothing wrong with that BUT surely representing YOUR country at sport must have some meaning of heritage otherwise we might as well scrap any qualification and just find as many mercenaries as we can and play as England's Barbarians.
Whilst sawing away at timber last Friday I nearly took my fingers off when I heard that allegedly some players at a level 5 club nearby is picking up £500 per game after tax. That is £13,000 a year if every one of the 26 games is played. I am afraid to multiply that up for a full squad but surely that can't be sustainable.
Everyday another overseas player is joining one of the top flight clubs. You know my thoughts on this, especially about the possible impact on international rugby, and therefore the long term ability to invest in greassroots rugby, because you can bet your mortgage that the clubs are not vaguely interested in investing in that. Please don't fire back at me and talk about partnerships with say Harlequins. That is about increasing their fan base and filling their coffers.
Finally London Welsh teeter on the edge of finacial collapse. Jersey have had to raise £1.2m to survive. Plymouth Albion are on the precipice to oblivion and I could go on.
I again ask the question; is rugby going down the toilet. Discuss!
On a brighter note some great names have been inducted into rugby's Hall of Fame. Shane Williams, Jonny Wilkinson, Lawrence Dallaglio, Brian O'Driscoll and Maggie Alphonsi to name but a few.
Tomorrow I will wake up with my (once a year, every year) positive head on and look ahead to this weekend's games.
Before I go I mentioned abject poverty above. There are many who claim to be living in poverty in the UK, some of these are bone idle benefit scroungers. They should see what real poverty is such as those in Fiji or the slums of India or the townships of South Africa.
Finally the RMT have announced industrial action on London Underground. I don't know what to say really except Mike 'Loadsa' Cash is an anarchist who would prefer to see all but his members suffering hardship and pain and Britain dragged back into the dark ages. Tosser.
Must go. Anger management classes at 10:00
Monday 14th November - 11:00
No league fixtures this weekend but a plethora of cup games. Sadly, and even more sadly we were one of them, ten of the fixtures were either 'HWO' or 'AWO'. 33% of London & South East Cup fixtures were called off. There will be a range of reasons; injuries and other unavailabilities, the clash with the internationals, travelling distance etc but 33% cancellation??? That is nearly as bad as Southern Rail.
Of the games played Burgess Hill enjoyed a home win and Hastings & Bexhill and away win. Pulborough, Eastbourne and Seaford missed out unfortunately. Other notable winners were Charlton Park and Old Colfeians.
I understand the wonderful Crows enjoyed an away win on Saturday which is great news. Our Under 14s cruised past Jersey 52-12 on Sunday. The result is irrelevant in my view. It was great the boys got a game, and on the A Pitch, which is looking pretty damn good.
Excellent news for England as Maro Itoje and Sarah Hunter win awards at World Rugby's annual jamboree. No surprise that Beauden Barrett scoops up the men's 'player of the year' award. (bbc.co.uk for more)
Rochelle Clark breaks Jason Leonard's record earning her 115th cap in the 12-10 win over Ireland.
I am glad to say pundits much more qualified than me are saying well done England on a fine performance BUT much still to be done and South Africa really are poor right now.
The number of Boks playing in Europe is a major factor and the number whose minds are on playing in Europe is another. I see Scotland have drafted in Cornell du Preez as he now qualifies after serving the PATHETIC three year qualifying period. The quota system leaves Coetzee hamstrung in terms of selection. Pick the best players... end of!!!
Wales will blood 18 year old Keelan Giles in the test vs Japan next weekend.
Well done Lewis Hamilton on winning the Brazilian round of the Scaletrix. Actually, in the absence of any other sport this was gripping stuff. More than could be said for the tyres. Crash after crash and death defying manoeuvres in zero visibility.
Some pretty good NFL action last night but yet again the Saints (literally) threw it away in the dying minutes. Like the NFL? Hate all the ad breaks? Watch the SKY NFL Red Zone. No ads just wall to wall action from every game.
Same old guff in the papers so time for a lie down.
Sunday 13th November - 10:00
Let's start at Twickenham. I would urge all you supporters of the red rose to put back the polish and hold off a while from making room in the trophy cabinet for the Webb Ellis Trophy. This was an accomplished performance with some very positive signs for the future but we must remember this is a very poor Springbok side.
The positives first. Farrell and Ford linked well and kept the game moving forward at pace. Launchbury was a very worthy man of the match. The scrum looked solid and the lineout was good, especially against the enormous opposition. There was an openness to England's game and a clear 'play what's in front of you' attitude.
The negatives. The penalty count in the opening quarter was unacceptable. There were still too many basic mistakes. 21 points were conceded, and one of those at the end of the game when England should have been putting the Boks to the sword.
Ben Youngs appeared to have been given the freedom of Twickenham but let's not forget he was up against a 6' 7" second row in Pieter-Steph du Toit playing out of position as a flanker. Yes, much of his work; passing, running and kicking was as good as we have seen but against say Sam Kane or Pocock & Hooper of Australia it will be a different kettle of fish altogether.
An excellent result nonetheless and another step in the right direction for England.
It appears the best game of the weekend was at Murrayfield. Scotland were VERY unlucky not to beat the Aussies. From the bits I have seen the Scots were positive in defence and dynamic in attack. The Aussies were under the cosh for long periods, showing how seriously bad Wales were last weekend. Some of the link up play by the Scots was as good as we have seen, especially from Huw Jones, but never write any Aussie side off. They struck back at the death robbing Scotland of a deserved win.
Over the bridge in Cardiff Wales restored some pride with a solid win over an excellent Argentinian side. For long periods they dominated territory and possesion and battered at the Pumas line. Some of the decision making was poor during this period when going wide would have been much more productive. Pounding up front with 'one out' rugby was not the right option. Wales did play with a more open approach and it was refreshing to see the ball move wide at the earliest opportunity rather than seeing Roberts charging headlong into waiting defenders.
Alun-Wyn Jones was excellent from start to finish, as was Liam Williams. Halfpenny is gettinmg back to his best and Gareth Davies again showed his class. I see him ahead of Youngs for Lions selection.
Not a lot to be said about Italy v New Zealand other than 'I told you so'.
Canada put up a brave show against the 'emerging' Ireland side but simply didn't have enough in the armoury to cause an upset.
It is too early to start talking about Lions selection BUT Alun-Wyn Jones is a shoe-in, as is Farrell. Stuart Hogg and Halfpenny have again put themselves in the frame as has Gareth Davies. Dylan as captain is looking more and more the obvious choice.
Elsewhere in sport Wales again threw away a winning position with their draw against Serbia. What is it with football that one of the great ocassions; England v Scotland at Wembley has to be marred by mindless idiots fighting.
The Scaletrix continues today with Hamilton on pole.
The Trump story continues to dominate the headlines and doesn't it worry you that the first overseas politician to meet the President Elect Trump is Nigel Farage and Marine Le Pen is hailing Trump's victory as a positive thing.
On this Remeberance Sunday can I say how priveleged I was to stand alongside fellow Friday Clubbers as we paid our respects at 11am on Armistice Day.
Friday 11th November - 09:00
Today is Armistice Day. We shall remember them. Those who gave up so much for us, and those who continue to put their lives in danger to protect us.
Wear the poppy with pride.
I was going to start with our clash with Portsmouth tomorrow but our injury list and player unavailability has beaten us. We have very reluctantly withdrawn from the contest as a consequence.
Let me therefore open with some club advertisements. The club is holding a comedy night next Friday Nov 18th. All the details are on this site. I believe there are some tickets still available.
Also the club continues to develop the girls side of our great game. Again all the details you need to get involved or encourage girls and ladies to get involved are right here on the website.
The teams for Saturday's internationals are now confirmed. Daly and Wood start. The former is a tactical selection, the latter out of necessity. I see the home grown (not) talent of Ben Te'o and Nathan Hughes are on the bench. Great!! Interestingly Eddie Jones has been bold and picked both Ford and Farrell to start. With the pace of May, Yarde and Brown in the back three this is a good move........ as long as the pack can overpower the enourmous Springbok forwards and supply them with ball.
For the Boks both Lood de Jager and Eben Etzebeth start and I see these as key to the visitors if they are to have any chance of beating England. They are huge, good in the set piece, disruptive at ruck and maul, deceptively quick around the field, and not afraid to wind up the opposition.
Despite that I really can't see anything other than a comfortable England win.
If Sturgeon has her way the soon to be independent Scotland being on an equal footing with the US and China on the global stage face Australia. Congratulations to Ross Ford earning his 100th cap and Allan Dell who makes his debut.
With the rematch vs New Zealand just 8 days away Joe Schmidt rings the changes to the team to face Canada. 15 changes to be exact. A number of youngsters get their chance and despite this being an 'emerging' Ireland side Ireland will win this and win it by at least 20 points.
Wales take on Argentina but in Wales most eyes will be on the clash between the masters of the round ball game and Serbia which kicks off at 19:45. Those who are at the Principality will be rushing to the bars post match to watch but I am guessing the resurgence of Welsh soccer will have a negative impact on the attendance for the rugby. Roberts drops to the bench which is no bad thing. Scott Williams and Jonathan Davies start in the centre. I see this as a possible Lions pairing. Argentina fresh from an easy win in Japan bolster their team with the return of Juan Martin Hernandez and field an awesome pack. I see it being a long day at the office for Wales and another humiliatingly large defeat.
On my way home from my debut on the Sussex disciplinary panel I listened to Radio 5 Live. They were looking ahead to the England v Scotland world cup qualifier. What struck me was the demise of international football for both countries was put down to a number of factors such as poor facilities at grass roots level, an over-dependence on kids who play to win rather than focussing on skills and skill development, and the dominance of overseas players at the top of the game. To me you could easily change the word 'soccer' for 'rugby'. The RFU have been great in terms of supporting clubs in improving their facilities so I think this is less of an issue. The fact the RFU still sanctions leagues for any form of rugby below Colts continues to frustrate me, and you all know my biggest gripe; overseas players. Time will tell if rugby goes the same way.
There was one comment that resonated with me during the debate. 'The obsession with the kids winning is about the coaches ego and is probably the biggest reason home grown talent isn't as good as overseas talent'.
Time to go. Its sunny, its Friday, its Friday Club
Thursday 10th November - 10:00
Well done to England Women beating France in a tight affair 10-5. The Women's game has come on leaps and bounds and is thoroughly enjoyable to watch. The tactical awareness is good and the kicking is less prolific than in the men's game.
England's men take centre stage on Saturday when they take on South Africa. England, despite some injury issues, especially in the back row, will start as clear favourites. Northampton's Tom Wood and Courtney Lawes are both in the headlines; Wood being recalled and Lawes return to fitness and form. Many column inches are also dedicated to the strong possibility that Elliot Daley will win his first cap as a starter, his previous caps coming from the bench. Let us not lose sight of the fact that the Bokke have been poor of late and there isn't much to indicate that that has changed following the 31-31 draw vs the Barbarians.
In my view the Boks are in disarray with players having no respect for the coaches, the coaches being hamstrung by not always being able to choose the best players because of the quota system and some players having more than half an eye on moves to Europe to ply their trade.
Depsite the All Blacks fielding an 'emerging' side to face Italy they will still have way to much fire power for the Italians.
In Cardiff I expect an Argentinian win in a half empty Principality Stadium. Last week the atmosphere was flat and I expect that to be the same this weekend. Wales limited resources are are at full stretch through injury and the Pumas are 'on a roll'. The return of Warburton and Alun-Wyn Jones will help but I fear another tough evening of viewing in the Bleater household.
Scotland take on Australia and I expect them to fare much better than Wales did. That Nicola Sturgeon is driving me nuts so in truth I don't give a damn about Scotland.
Ireland have an easier task this weekend than last with Canada being the opposition. Ireland by plenty.
I am sure some players will be looking ahead to possible Lions selection. I hope this doesn't distratct from the task at hand.
The influx of overseas players continues with Namibia's Renaldo Bothma joining Quins. It won't be long before another 'I told you so' moment arrives.
I will look at our games tomorrow with Portsmouth awaiting the 1st XV.
Without question one group of people who won't be giving a damn about Donald Trump's stunning victory are the friends and family of those who tragically lost their lives in the Croydon tram accident yesterday. My thoughts will be with them today.
Now call me cynical, because I really am a cynical miserable bugger, but doesn't the news that a driver only Southern train was able to roll a whole carriage length with doors still open seem convenient for the RMT. Hey Ho!
Wednesday 9th November - 13:00
I am extremely grateful that CRFC allows me to express my personal opinion about rugby and many other topics on this website. Ostensibly my comments are about rugby but today it would be wrong not to comment on the (amazing, that is in a negative way) news that Donald Trump will be the next and 45th President of the United States of America. Despite the platitudes of world leaders on this news this is an earth shaking decision. In my opinion it is another example of the masses rising up and voting against the establishment regardless of the ultimate outcome. Much as we saw with Brexit. A protest vote without understanding the implications. Of course only time will tell. One knock on effect will be the encouragement for those in Netherlands, Germany, France et al to work harder to topple the establishment in those countries.
Let's move on to rugby.
Good news for England if Courtney Lawes is fit to face the Boks. England will start clear favourites and with Farrell getting back to his best this increases their chances no end. The Boks are not playing well so I envisage an easy enough win.
Wales on the other hand will start as underdogs against Argentina. Fresh from some fine performances in the Rugby Championship it will be a very tough ask for Wales, especially as they have been plagued with yet more injuries. One of the beneficiaries will be 18 year old Keelan Giles who could be set for his first cap.
Congratulations to Rochelle Clark who is set to pass the great Jason Leonard's record number of caps. Well done Rocky!
The story that has caught my eye is about Jersey having to sell assets to see out the season. Jersey are 'technically insolvent'. I know, I know, I bleat on about money being the downfall of our game and it gives me no pleasure to say I told you so but this news reinforces my view that the current 'modus operandii' is unsustainable. The fact this is happening to a club such as Jersey with the backing they have had over the years should again send a message to clubs at all levels to think about what they are doing. You know, and I know there are clubs close to us who will be incurring playing and coaching costs from between £50,000 and £250,000 per season. My questions is; who will be next?
The situation above is against a backdrop that China has just signed an $100m deal with World Rugby to grow the game in the country. Full story on bbc.co.uk.
Connor O'Shea takes his opening bow as Italy's head coach. Couldn't be easier really; Italy v New Zealand, and this after the All Blacks losing to Ireland. Good luck Connor.
Finally two rugby snippets; England won't be playing home internationals anywhere other than at Twickenham, and the Pro12 expansion into the US is dead in the water.
Monday 7th November - 09:30
Oh what a day! The only place to start is with the fantastic mini festival at Steel Cross yesterday. No losers, just winners and the biggest winners of all are Tracey Radford and her army of great volunteers, and of course the club staff who worked tirelessly to make this a great day for the budding senior players of the future. Well done all.
Well done also to our 2s and Ditchling who put on a high scoring classic on Saturday. Ditchling coming out 42-50 winners.
In London 2 South East the stand out result and well done to Heathfield & Waldron for overcoming high flying Dartfordians. It will come as no surprise that Medway got their juggernaut back on track with a 61-7 win over Beckenham. Horsham had a fine away win at Old Alleynians and move into the comfort of mid-table. Hove snuck past Bromley by a single point in another high scoring game; 24-23, leaving Bromley, like us, winless. Our friends at Charlton Park would have enjoyed the trip home from Deal & Betteshanger after their win. Medway remain 8 points clear at the top with OCs leading the charge for second spot. We are rooted to the bottom of the table and now somewhat adrift of the Greenies in 10th.
In Sussex 1 Uckfield are on a mission beating Shoreham 89-7. Seaford lost at home to Crawley, Hove II beat Brighton II and Burgess Hill suffered the HWO. Uckfield lead the way just ahead of Hellingly.
In London 3 South East Pulborough keep up their fine form and remain unbeaten and atop the table after their win at Ashford. Lewes strolled past Sheppey at home whilst Haywards Heath had an easy win away at Park House. Sussex's other side Eastbourne lost by a single point away at Old Dunstonians. Folkestone beat lowly Ayelsford Bulls, the latter winless at the foot of the table. Thanet Wanderers remain second after their home win over Gillingham Anchorians.
In London 1 South Tunbridge Wells suffered their second defeat of the season away at Chobham and now sit third. Sevenoaks lost away at second place CS Rugby 1863. Brighton sadly suffered another defeat, this time away at Dover. Only Gosport & Fareham have a worse record after a resounding loss at table topping Sidcup. Maidstone lost away at Cobham and slip into the lower half of the table.
In the ether of National League 3 London TJs would have enjoyed the trip home from Guernsey after a comfortable 14-47 win which takes them to the top of table. Chichester came second at home to Westcliff. Westcombe Park are second and Hertford are third after a win at home vs Sutton & Epsom and a loss away at Dorking respectively.
Worthing would not have enjoyed the journey home from Taunton after a 59-19 loss.
To round up the weekend Salisbury lost at home to Cleve and Bridgnorth had an easy win against Longton.
Bristol sack Andy Robinson. Not great news!!!
Leicester City, normal service has been resumed.
Well done Andy Murray. World No.1.
Clinton has been cleared of wrong doing so Trump cries foul. Just two days to go before we know the winner. Neither is appealing.
The RMT will be on strike again soon, this despite 96% of guards accepting the new contracts. This saga will run and run and I don't see any resolution soon.
Time to Brexit. That's exit for BReakfast.
Sunday 6th November - 10:15
Woeful, woeful Wales. Wonderful, wonderful Ireland. Let's start at home however. Old Colfeians, a side on the verge of beating high flying Medway with just 7 minutes to go last weekend were always going to be a tough challenge and so it proved.
The 70 - 10 scoreline doesn't necessarily do us justice though. For the opening 20 minutes we were very competitive and our defence was excellent. The defensive line moved as one and no tackles were missed. When we had the ball we looked threatening but simply couldn't deliver that cutting edge.
I digress here for a second. Do you remember as a kid when you lined up in the playground tallest to smallest. If we had done that yesterday then 11 of the OCs players would be counted before you got to a Crowborough player. That physicality told eventually and once the OCs machine got going it was one way traffic for long periods. Some of their off-loading was excellent and with plenty of support players on hand the score board started to move relentlessly forward.
We are marooned at the bottom of the league but from what I have seen to date no-one can accuse a single 'Borough player of throwing in the towel, or not giving of their best. This was no better epitomised than with the result in no doubt Connor Hand and then Rob Horsfall-Turner scored tries late on bringing the loudest cheers of the day.
I will pick out two Crowborough players for special mention. The diminutive Sam Kisbee and Ben Searle, both last in the line above. They tackled like demons and made searing breaks. Both were excellent throughout.
I'd also like to mention the OCs #4. He was so tall I had a crick in my neck after talking to him and it was a genuine pleasure to talk to him too. It was refreshing to hear that the OCs ethos of sticking to true amateur values is the same as ours and a significant proportion of their 23 man squad were genuine old boys.
Ok, what happened next. We left to watch the Wales v Australia game 'as live'. Australia were good but Wales were awful at best and pathetic at worst. They lacked any defensive quality and going forward were predictable. The opening 20 minutes was as one sided an affair as I have ever seen, and I have seen some rugby in my time. The Aussies were excellent with some magnificent support play and exciting angles of running. Wales were so bad I thing OCs would have given them a run for their money and might even have beaten them. Yes, Wales lost Jonathan Davies before kick off and several other first choice players were absent but that is no excuse. Woeful. If Wales don't buck up their ideas I see the wooden spoon heading our way in the Spring and Lions representation being negligible. The injury to Rhys Webb added to the gloom.
Wow, what a game in Chicago. What a result, what an atmosphere (something totally lacking in Cardiff). The men in green tackled everything and anything that moved in front of them. They stifled the All Blacks at every turn. When they had the ball they used it effectively and took the sensible attacking options. The referee kept the All Blacks in check too. All too often the men in black get away with the dark arts. It is fair to say the Anthony Foley factor had an impact. Facing the haka in the shape of a number 8 was inspired and set the tone. It wasn't easy watching on the iPad but gripping. You couldn't take your eyes off the screen though. Well done Ireland and I now know Chicago is one of the Irish counties.
Finally it is such a relief that the weather is great today. Regardless of weather we always put on a great festival. With the sun shining it will be spectacular.
Friday 4th November - 08:15
Bleater is back from a splendid break in St Lucia. Bit of a shock to the system landing at Gatwick yesterday with the temperature down to zero. Lots to discuss so less about me and more about rugby.
Disappointing to see the boys suffered another 1st XV defeat at Old Alleynians last week. Tomorrow will be tough too with Old Colfeians the task ahead. Kick off at 2:30pm. Based on The Bard's excellent report it again seems as if it is just the tightening of a few areas and a bit of luck going our way and things could change for the better.
As we kick off so do Wales v Australia. The men in red, without Alun-Wyn Jones, Taulupe Faletau and Sam Warburton, like us, have a tough challenge in front of them. Leigh Halfpenny makes a welcome return. This is not Wales strongest side by a long way but there is enough talent in the starting XV for a win not to be dismissed.
Ireland on the other hand face the all conquering All Blacks in Chicago. Chicago. 'Be jeesus where in Ireland is dat?' Ireland name an experienced side but the All Blacks will start clear favourites.
Whilst all that is going South Africa, England's next opponents, take on the Barbarians at Wembley.
Lots of Pro12 action this weekend, along with plenty of LV cup action. A veritable cornucopia of games to watch.
Surprise, surprise Andy Robinson has been suspended by Bristol after their poor start. It comes as no surprise to me, in fact I think I fortold of this when he signed his three year deal. Rugby is getting more like soccer every day....... sadly.
To reinforce that England players will get a pay rise ahead of next week's game potentially picking up £20k per game.
OK, and so to the BIG ONE. It is Crowborough's mini festival on Sunday. As always it will be meticulously planned and executed with hundreds of boys and girls enjoying our great game regardless of the result. Car parking will be at a premium so please share cars and dogs, except assistance dogs, are banned from the grounds. Good luck to all.
Whilst on holiday we caught some US TV. The baseball world series was fascinating stuff, especially if you like statistics. The news is dominated by the battle between Trump and Clinton. Two tossers in my humble opinion. The coverage is horrendous....... it is ALL mud raking, abuse and insults. Not a single word about policy or the way forward. I fear for the world if Trump wins but Clinton is likely to be a disaster too. We'll know by this time next week, by which time the club's nuclear bunker should be complete.
Back tomorrow and all next week.
Monday 24th October - 08:30
Let's get straight to it. Sadly we sit firmly at the bottom of the table with the sort of perfect record no-one wants. I must reiterate however that on Saturday the boys showed real spirit and a high degree of skill at times against a very good, well drilled Horsham side.
At the top of the tree sits Medway with their perfect record. The 73-14 win against Old Alleynians reinforces my view that relegating Medway was far from a punishment. In fact the other 11 clubs in the league are the ones being punished. I don't blame Medway one bit. They can only turn up and play what's in front of them.
Old Colfeians sit second after their away win at Hove. Dartfordians continue their fine form with a win over our friends at Charlton Park. Deal & Betteshanger lost out at home to Beckenham in a high scoring game whilst Heathfield & Waldron enjoyed a win at home in a low scoring affair with Bromley. Bromley sit one place above us and The Greenies lie 9th.
In Sussex 1 Uckfield had the dubious pleasure of a HWO. They remain top. Burgess Hill beat Brighton II. Hellingly and Seaford also enjoyed home wins against Hove II and Shoreham respectively.
In London 3 South East the eye-catching result is Pulborough coming away from Eastbourne with a 45-17 win to stay top. Lewes would have found the journey home from Folkestone a long one after their loss. Haywards Heath on the other hand would have had a more pleasurable trip home after a narrow win at Thanet Wanderers. Ashford, Park House and Old Dunstonians were the other winners, all at home. Ashford remain bottom thanks to their 10 point penalty for misdemeanours last season.
Leap-frogging into London 1 South I see Tunbridge Wells suffered their first league defeat away at CS Rugby 1863. They slip to 3rd as Sidcup continue their unbeaten run to stay top and CS Rugby go 2nd. Brighton sadly lost away at Chobham but Sevenoaks enjoyed a fine away win at Gravesend. Maidstone beat Chiswick at Chiswick. Gosport & Fareham sit last with the unenviable 7 defeats from 7 games and not a single point to their name.
Up in the ether of the National League 3 London TJs enjoyed a fine away win at Colchester. They stay 3rd as both Wimbledon and Hertford enjoyed wins. Chichester lost at home to Southend Saxons. Westcombe Park had an easy win over Dorking. A little side note; I bumped into Nick Oldham yesterday at the club and he said the TJs performance was one of the best to date with some great rugby being played.
For the record Worthing lost at home to Bishop's Stortford.
To complete the round up Salisbury lost by a single point at home to Lydney whilst Bridgnorth enjoyed a fine home win over Derby.
Elsewhere the Toulouse v Wasps looks a cracker. I didn't get to see it as a) it was on BT Sport and b) the grandkids took priority. Leinster battled hard to finish within a bonus point of South Africa B Montpellier. The best result of the day was Leicester beating Racing 92.
Eddie Jones England worries mount as Maro Itoje injures his hand.
At last Leicester City showed some form with a fine win over Crystal Palace. Hoorah.
What do you think of American Football at Twickenham? Not a seat to be had. A pretty open game. A cracking atmosphere. If it swells the RFU coffers allowing more money to filter down to the lower levels then great. I guess the Twickenham residents weren't so happy though.
The jungle is burning is a very poignant headline and a very disturbing image in many papers. Why don't the migrants want to stay in France? Benefits possibly. With the forecast for GB Ltd post Brexit being dire and a will to stop migrants automatically getting benefits this should be enough to deter those wanting to come here shouldn't it. But then again...... ?????
Not wishing to defend the obnoxious and odious Donald Trump but isn't it strange that all these women coming forward are accompanied by the same lawyer. I don't doubt what the women are saying but sadly the only person who will come out of this with a smile is the money grabbing lawyer orchestrating the claims.
As it is half term there will be no blog after today until next week. Even the bone idle like me need a rest now and again.
Sunday October 23rd - 09:30
Let's start with the occasion. What a splendid day. 100 people sat down for an excellent lunch. Three really tasty courses, some great banter and lots and lots of wine. My head is testament to that this morning. It was great to meet up with many players from days gone by and to see some faces who sadly haven't, due to work, family and geographical constraints been able to get to the club for sometime. Without question the day was enhanced by Sandra and her team, and Jacqui and hers in the kitchen.
As I type this I have thought about what sort of side we could have put out from the attendees.
1. Moore, R. 2. Brookes, N. 3 Noone, D. 4. Godfrey, R. 5. O'Sullivan, P. 6. Hicks, J. 7. Dawson, S. 8. Forster, C. 9. Simpson. F. 10. Howe, R, 11. Martin, D. 12. Callard, G. 13. Dagwell, G. 14. Llewellyn, M. 15, Gray, P.
Plus many others who would be pushing for starting places. Way too many to mention and no insult intended for those not selected.
Moving on to the game itself. On balance I think Horsham deserved to win but I also hope that even the most one-eyed of Horsham supporters would agree that a) we gifted them three of their tries (albeit after concerted pressure from them) and b) for good periods of the game, especially in the second half we played the better rugby.
In a sentence, without the sloppy mistakes and with the fire shown in the last 20 minutes being delivered throughout the result could have been so different. I was heartened by our boys efforts and proud that their heads didn't drop. Horsham were well drilled and when a chance was presented they took it. They are also a good bunch with a like minded approach to ours.
I thought the referee had a very good game. Unobtrusive, not fussy, yet decisive when he needed to be. If there was one thing worthy of exploration it was the period of uncontested scrums coinciding with the sin-binning. A bit like my spelling..... it didn't look or feel right.
Shame about the result but a thoroughly good day. THANK YOU!
In Europe the Scarlets were brought back to earth with a bump with Sarries teaching them a lesson. In a moving encounter Munster did Anthony Foley proud with a fine win over Glasgow. Castres strolled past hapless Saints but the game of the day looks to be Edinburgh v Quins. 71 points scored with just the 1 point separating them at the end. The Dragons lost in Russia. The Ulster v Exeter game was another cracker..... from a tension viewpoint rather than the quality of rugby. Toulouse v Wasps looks the pick of today's games.
Must go, the grandchildren are demanding their breakfast.
Saturday October 22nd - 10:30
Bit deflated yesterday as the balloon flight was cancelled due to the poor wind conditions. We all know what that is like don't we, especially after a chicken madras.
What a load of rubbish!! Bath v Bristol. The highlights were none, or being politically incorrect perhaps there was one; the referee's assistant. Yes the one with the long legs and the long blond hair.
Toulon made it past Sale last night but maybe not as convincingly as many would have expected.
I have just watched the All Blacks break the record for the longest winning streak. They simply are sensational. That said I think Nigel Owens disallowing the Aussies try early in the second half was a mistake. Yes Savea was impeded but would he have caught Henry Speight? We'll never know.
Two injury stories catch the eye.
Francois Hougaard returns to Worcester from duty with the Boks with a nasty shoulder injury. Reading between the lines Worcester would rather their players didn't play international rugby and focussed on the club. This remains my concern that eventually the club v country battle will be won by the clubs.
England's George Kruis will miss the autumn internationals after ankle surgery. Interesting that the surgery, which was minor was planned for this time. Another indication of club priorities perhaps?
Looking forward to today's lunch and today's game v Horsham. They start firm favourites. What I know is the boys will give of their best and Steel Cross is looking great.
So Selasi is out of The Great British Bake Off. Shame! His laconic style and laissez-faire attitude to the tasks will be missed. Sadly I think Candice will triumph but it would be good for Andrew to come through as he has been precise in his work throughout.
I see Theresa May is having a hard time in Brussels. No surprise as Britain winning concessions would see the EU collpase like a house of cards. The big hitters; France and Germany, have to take a hard line. It is funny however that all the EU rhetoric is shot down in flames by Walloon, the small region of Belgium. A landmark Canadian deal is about to collapse thanks to 3.8m French speaking Belgiums. Fascinating....... or maybe not.
Thursday October 20th - 09:30
It was very remiss of me yesterday not to mention the 50th anniversary of the Aberfan disaster. I was 10 at the time and living in Leicester. My grandfather was a bus driver in Neath with the Western Welsh Co. He drove volunteers, many of them miners, from the Neath area to Aberfan to help with the rescue and recovery efforts on that tragic day.
With that in mind it is difficult to move on but move on we will. On Saturday our 1st XV face yet another tricky encounter, this time with Horsham. Steel Cross will be rocking as it is the Past Players Lunch. Many of the old farts of yesteryear will be eulogising about how good they were and tries long forgotten. I am sure the boys of today will put on a good show.
The 2s are also at home taking on Midhurst in the league with The Crows enjoying some seaside air down at Hastings & Bexhill.
It also should be noted that the minis and juniors also have big weekends planned so why not pop down on Sunday and see the senior players of the future in action.
It is another weekend of European action with Bath v Bristol in the Challenge Cup, live on SKY tonight, catching the eye.
It looks as if Dylan is set to make his season debut when Saints take on Castre on Saturday. This could be Dylan's first step towards the Lions captaincy.
Having been released from the hotel lift (bbc.co.uk/sport) Sale host Toulon tomorrow.
Other notable games are Munster at home to Glasgow for very obvious reasons. Saracens v Scarlets is another of note after fine wins for both on day 1.
Exeter, after their surprisingly heavy defeat to Clermont Auvergne face another daunting task away at the Kingspan Stadium. I go Ulster in this one.
New Zealand host Australia in the final round of the Bledisloe Cup on Saturday. The All Blacks will win, win comfortably and achieve a record breaking 18th consecutive win over tier-one nations.
Yesterday I said 'time will tell' with regard to the release of Welsh players playing in England for the Australia test on Nov 5th. Well it seems my finger had only just hit save when Gloucester and Northampton indicated the release of Moriarty and North respectively was in question.
England suffer another injury blow with Luke Cowan-Dickie suffering ankle ligament damage.
I see people like me who have questioned the age of some of the migrants coming into the UK yesterday have been branded racist and a disgrace. Let me tell you I am not racist and I find that accusation insulting. We should be bringing CHILDREN into the UK who have a right to come to the UK and doing so as soon as possible. What I find intolerable is grown men masquerading as children coming here on false pretences and possibly at the expense of more deserving cases, and after all it is OUR tax contributions that is funding all this.
Finally I hope to be up, up and away in a bright red baloon tomorrow so possibly no blog. More on this on Saturday.
Wednesday October 19th - 12:30
Somewhat later than planned but after a three day round trip to Harrogate via Bridgnorth covering c.800 miles I assume that is OK. As nobody reads this rubbish I guess it is.
Rightly the rugby stories still focus on Anthony Foley. 42 years of age. That is the bit I am struggling to come to terms with.
Dan Carter has been cleared of any wrong doing. Good, but don't assume that rugby is clean. As stated several young Welsh players have been suspended for taking banned substances.
Toulon is in talks about a takeover. The crazy Mourad Boudjellal is in advanced talks about relinquishing his grip on the French club. A film producer and a lawyer look to be the new owners in a deal that could cost £8.9m.
Talking of Toulon they could have Owen Farrell in their sights. Time and money will tell.
Robert Howley has announced a strong looking squad including the injured Taulupe Faletau. No surprise that Rhys Priestland misses out as Howley picks in form Sam Davies, Dan Biggar and Gareth Anscombe. Priestland also misses out on the basis as he chose to play in England and the overseas quota in the squad had been filled.
I think Howley and the WRU might have their heads in the sand regarding the Novmeber test vs Australia. As it is outside the window I think the Premiership and Top 14 clubs with players in the Welsh squad will say 'No!' or 'Non!'. Time will tell.
The Foxes might be rubbish in the Premiership but what about their Champions League form. Top of their league with a perfect 3 from 3.
The terrible murder of Elizabeth and Katie Edwards by two teenagers catches the eye in the papers. Terrible, terrible, terrible!!
The arrival of migrant 'children' from Calais also catches the eye. Look, I don't want to get into the immigration issue but those children are not children. I expected 10, 11, 12 year olds. The people shown in the photos look older. Much, much older. I'll leave that debate there.
The RMT are on strike again. Sorry, but I really must be thick as I fail to see how Mick 'Loadsa' cash can tell his members to accept the new contracts yet still go on strike. Guess what? He is now ballotting his drivers on strike action. This is not a strike now, this, on both sides of the argument, is a crusade.
Must go, the weekly knock about and political farce; PMQs has just started.
Tuesday October 18th - 11:00
As I was driving to Bridgnorth on Sunday I heard of the death of Munster's Anthony Foley. On Monday I sat listening to the wonderful words about my sister-in-law's mum who passed away suddenly two weeks ago. I saw the pain the family were going through. Chris was 77. It made me realise the depth of sadness Foley's family must be going through with him being just 42. A sad, sad loss to them and to our great game.
May he rest in peace.
Sunday October 16th - 10:00
Sadly I didn't make it to Steel Cross yesterday, or to Edenbridge. Domestic, grandparent and other family duties prevailed I'm afraid. It looks as if the game against Mayfield was enjoyable with the boys from Steel Cross coming out winners. The Crows were less fortunate coming a solid second at Edenbridge. I am sure everyone had a great day.
Across the county border TJs beat Tunbridge Wells by a single point in the cup. Close considering their respective leagues and league positions.
Scarlets rounded off a great weekend for the Welsh regions with a win against hapless Sale Sharks. The men from Llanelli were excellent so let's not make excuses about Sale being undercooked.
Northampton Saints v Montpellier was a cracker but overshadowed by an amazing game in Toulon. Saracens were simply unstoppable in the first half with the Toulon All Stars playing superb rugby in the second.
Well done Connacht. Another fine result. Not so well done Worcester losing to Enisei-STM in Russia. Could this be a Worcester side with one eye on Aviva survival.
Fascinating story about the possible shake up of domestic and European schedules. Sky.com. Lots and lots about maximising revenue and filling stadiums. Not a single word about growing the game at grass roots level. As the clubs become stronger and stronger and the money flows more into their coffers so International rugby and the national unions will suffer. It is the national unions who grow the game with investment in clubs at all levels. Time will tell.
I see Leicester City have returned to being the Leicester City of old. Frutsrating and disappointing in equal measures. It won't stop me supporting them.
Brexit and Sturgeon feature heavily in the papers. Right now I really can't be bothered to comment on either. Both are a shambles.
I travel to Bridgnorth today before going on to Harrogate tomorrow for a family funeral. Nothing is more important so no blog until Thursday.
Saturday October 15th - 11:30
As The Friday Club were beavering away yesterday so the local health people made a surprise visit to the club. VERY WELL DONE SANDRA & JACQUI; OUR 5 STAR RATING FOR HYGIENE AND KITCHEN MAMANGEMENT HAS BEEN MAINTAINED. Great Stuff.
The Friday Club again worked miracles with the pitches looking great and the pop-up bar almost ready for the grand reveal. Well done guys.
Glasgow Warriors put the Tigers to the sword. (Please note no animals were hurt during the writing of this blog). Not sure how strong a side Cockers put out but that is quite an impressive result.
Equally impressive was Ospreys thumping of Newcastle. This was very one sided and might just vindicate my comments about clubs like Newcastle focussing on Aviva survival.
The most notable of results was the Dragons slaying Brive. This was very unexpected based on the Newport boys' current form. The French however have never taken the lesser of the cup competitions seriously with success in the Top 14 being No.1 priority.
Not surprsingly Cardiff beat Bristol. Good news for Cardiff and Wales was the return of Alex Cuthbert.
The demise of Welsh rugby has obviously been exaggerated.
Good news for Sarries as Owen Farrell makes his first bow of the season.
Finally what a cracker; Wellington v Waikato. Splendid viewing this morning.
Look out for details of the Comedy Night on November 18th.
Friday October 14th - 09:30
Let me start with the bad news. London Nigeria have cried off so the 1st XV game is cancelled.
The good is news is aplenty. Crowborough Vets take on Mayfield Vets at Steel Cross at 12:30. This was to be a curtain raiser but is now the main event. Get over there and enjoy the fun. The Crows are away at Edenbridge. This should also be be a fun game. I met some of the Crows at training last night. Actually warming up in The White Hart type training. The other good news is the 1sts will be in the draw for the 2nd round of the cup. Hoorah!
I believe TJs and Tunbridge Wells go head to head in their cup competition tomorrow. Allegedly there has been some mud slinging over this one so don't expect much fun.
So the Premiership clubs whinge like hell about Eddie Jones training camp then five, yes five of them can't be bothered to turn up for the meeting with the man himself. This confirms to me that the clubs don't give a damn about England and international rugby. I too was in the pub last night and debated the parless state of English soccer with my mates. The more we discussed the issues the more the comparison with where English (and French) rugby is going became clearer. Hey Ho!
The Quins got off to flier last night with an impressive win over Stade Francais. It sounds a cracker with seven tries to three. By the way Quins were at the meeting.
If you want to move beyond the game go onto Sky.com and read the piece about Christian Lealiifano's battle with leukaemia. Puts everything into perspective.
According to Joel Stransky South African rugby is 'rotten'. Another interesting read. It reinforces some of the points I have made that clubs are dominating proceedings but this is having a negative effect on schools rugby at the bottom and international rugby at the top. Basically there is not a holistic approach to the game but lots of self centred interests who are chasing their own dream, and of course the cash.
Must go. I'm late for Friday Club.
Thursday October 13th - 10:00
It must be Europe, it's nearly winter. Q. How do I know? A. I'm wondering when the heating needs to be switched on.
The European tournaments kick off tonight with a tasty looking match up in the Challenge Cup; Harlequins vs Stade Francais. Quins have selected a strong team and appear keen to go one better than last season i.e. losing finalists. Qualification to the Champions Cup for the winners of the Challenge Cup is not guaranteed so the incentive to field strong sides might diminish markedly as this tournament progresses.
Bristol v Cardiff will be interesting, especially as Bristol must prioritise their Aviva campaign. Ospreys V Newcastle is another interesting match up. Again the focus will be on selection with league status being the priority and for the Ospreys protecting many of their dual contract Welsh players. Some good French v English contests to watch out for too.
The Champions Cup gets going tomorrow night with in form Glasgow taking on Leicester Tigers. Two contrasting sides led by the amiable Townsend and the growling, grumpy Cockerill. As already stated Toulon v Sarries is the big one. Sarries in fine form, Toulon in not so fine form. Plenty of other good match-ups to watch out for including Exeter v Clermont Auvergne late Sunday afternoon. This one live on BT Sport 2.
For much more info BT Sport, BBC Sport and SKY Sport websites have lots of detail and of course the all important TV schedules.
I'll look at our fixtures tomorrow but the 1st XV take on London Nigeria in the RFU Intermediate Cup. Kick off 14:30.
The drugs issue hits rugby with Dan Carter and Joe Rokocoko having to attend a French rugby anti doping hearing. The outcome will be interesting as French clubs are all powerful but also what message will come out of the hearing. For info drugs is an issue in the lower levels of Welsh rugby. Far too many players chasing the dream of PRO12 regional rugby are turning to banned substances to help them bulk up and build power and speed. Sad really.
No sooner had I written it the Etzebeth deal goes out the window. Hey Ho!
Craig Laidlaw is to join Clermont Auvergne next season. A huge blow for Gloucester but a huge boost to Clermont and Laidlaw's bank account.
England has a back row issue due to injuries which might mean Maro Itoje running out at No.7. No problem there. He is a magnificent player and will do well at 7. The issue for me though is aren't there are other 7s available. Probably not as the position is filled with overseas players in many clubs e.g. Picamoles at Saints, Burger at Sarries and to reinforce my point Leicester are bringing in Argentinian Tomas Leornardi to replace the injured Mike Williams.
It doesn't stop there of course. Look at No.10s as well.
Ever feel as if you are falling out of love with rugby??
Plenty of speculation around Dylan as Lions captain. He is struggling with a back injury so lets hold on that until he returns but if fit that is a good shout. I also feel that Alun-Wyn Jones is an excellent candidate.
Must go time to read the non rugby news. Bet there is plenty on Brexit. I'll be looking out for stories on The Great British Bake Off. Another great show last night with a cog-wheel of pies and a pheasant centre piece fit for a king..... or queen of course. Great stuff. The big question of course is, is Paul Hollywood going to squeeze more than Candice's pies or is he going to go after her buns?