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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 4 of 75

4. Japan Beckons


Wednesday 17th July: 07:00

What a Sunday of Sport. I know this is a rugby club website but have you ever seen a game of cricket like that. New Zealand on top, England fight back, New Zealand look to have sealed it, England wouldn't lie down. Up steps Ben Stokes a New Zealander by birth to rescue the home side. Some tremendous batting and that unbelievable stroke of luck as the ball ricochets off his bat for four. It's a draw. What the heck happens now? A "super" over.

Fifteen runs scored, sixteen to win. New Zealand crack a six into the stands. It's all over. No it isn't. They need two off one ball. They get just one and England win solely on the basis of having scored more boundaries. The stuff of fairy tales.

Well done England. Great stuff.

That said I got a repetitive strain injury as I was constantly flicking between the cricket and the tennis. That was another unbelievable spectacle. 12 apiece in the final set and a tie-break. From what I saw and have subsequently read it was brilliant.

Before all that there was the British Grand Prix. Hamilton obviously bought the lucky ticket and was rewarded with that safety car. There was plenty of action including that crash between Verstappen and Vettell. Did the German deliberately drive into the young Dutch driver. You could argue he did.

Then came the rugby. For me this was an anti-climax. Having enjoyed the England v France game I was expecting more of the same. Sadly it was a bruising encounter lacking width and flair. New Zealand's defence was ruthless helped by England being one-dimensional lacking any sort of back line creativity. Sadly there was also way too much aimless kicking. The better side won which for England must be a concern. A lot of money has been thrown at the women's game, both by the clubs and especially by the RFU. To come second to a semi-pro team should be cause enough to ask serious questions about return on investment.

I see Mike Brown has been brought back into the England training set-up. They have been team building in Newquay with some challenging sea based tasks to complete. Danny Cipriani, Anthony Watson and Sam Underhill have been released from the camp to get additional and personalised extra fitness training. For the latter two who have been out for some time with injuries it makes sense, for Danny Cipriani I think it is a sign that he won't need his Japanese phrase book during the coming months.

Talking of the World Cup, Wales group just got more interesting after Fiji beat the New Zealand Maori XV 27-10 in Suva. The return fixture in Rotorua, Dylan Hartley's home town, will be interesting. By the way the locals often call it "stinky" Rotorua because of the sulphurous geysers and hot springs that are a big feature of the town. It does take some getting used to.

The netball World Cup is in full swing. Some of it according to management has been one sided but there have been the odd classic such as yesterday's Barbados v Zimbabwe encounter. Had no choice but to watch it. Loved the atmosphere created by the Zimbabwean supporters.

Just seen that Dominic Day is leaving Saracens for the burgeoning MLR in the USA. He is joining San Diego Legion, probably the best rugby side in the US right now. That said they lost to Seattle Seawolves in their grand final just a few weeks ago. I watched that and it was pretty good. Players like Day will only help to improve the standard further.

I see that Germany's equivalent of Failing Grayling; one Ursula von der Leyen, has been elected to the Presidency of the EU. I guess the German's will breathe a sigh of relief. The EU might rue this day.

What else can be said about Donald Trump. His assertion he is not a racist nor a misogynist is confirmation that the man is certifiable. Telling US born ladies of colour to "go home" is outrageous. To deny it is madness as it is as clear a case of racism and misogyny as I have seen. To think he is in charge of the biggest arsenal in the world is terrifying.

Is the Buffoon planning to suspend Parliament to get Brexit through? I think he might be and if that is the case then man the barricades as the revolution will surely come.

Back tomorrow with more rugby news and another look ahead to RWC 2019.

Sunday 14th July: 08:30

Let me confirm something you already know: Bleater is such a plonker.

England Roses v New Zealand women is tonight. Sorry for the confusion.

There is a great day of sport ahead.

F1 from Silverstone

Wimbledon Men's Final

World Cup Netball

and

England v New Zealand from Lords, the home of cricket. The World Cup Final

I'll be glued to the ............... M23, M25, M40 as I head to Bridgnorth. Back on Wednesday.

Have a great day of sport. Yours Bleater.

Saturday 13th July: 10:00

Busy day at the club yesterday. The place really is looking good. The main pitch is looking in great condition considering the lack of rain and come the start of the season we'll have something to be very proud of.

England Women take on New Zealand tonight. If I can get the TV remote out of Mrs Bleater's hands then I'll be watching this one. It should be good. England have won all their games without really showing their full potential. New Zealand will be smarting after the defeat to France and they have had an eight day rest. SKY at 21:00.

The Daily Torygraph are reporting that the CVC deal to take on a 15% stake in the 6 Nations for a reported £500m is back on the table and under serious consideration. I am not sure about this in the same way I am not sure about the deal with the Premiership. The big concern is the tournament moving off terrestrial TV onto a pay-per-view platform. That in my mind would be disastrous. Lets see what transpires.

Brad Barrett is to leave the Hurricanes for the Auckland Blues. Great for the Blues not sure about the Hurricanes though. No player is bigger than the club so I am sure the Wellington franchise will have a decent replacement up their sleeve.

Les Kiss, London Irish Head Coach, has defended the signing of Paddy Jackson. It is a tough one. Jackson was acquitted of rape but sacked for the lewd and derogatory remarks/texts towards women. There will be opposition and protests but if the player has shown remorse and learned a valuable lesson from this situation let him play. I am pretty sure that once the season starts and he shows his undoubted rugby talent on the field many of his indiscretions will have been forgotten. After all if Donald Trump can be elected President of the USA and be in with a very good shout of four more years then perhaps Paddy Jackson should get a second chance.

Why is Mrs Bleater hogging the remote? Is it because she has had her fill of sport?

No! The Netball World Cup started last night and with wall to wall coverage on SKY and BBC (iplayer) then what chance do I have. England beat Uganda last night in their opener. For a non contact sport it was aggressive and ill-tempered so much so that we saw a Ugandan player being shown the equivalent of the red card. This in netball is rarer than a politician answering a question honestly, that is VERY rare indeed.

F1 qualifying today from Silverstone.

Ladies final at Wimbledon. I go for Serena, or maybe Simona Halep. What a player that Federer is. He is the All Blacks of tennis; ruthless, relentless and determined to win. You simply can't write him off and how he keeps going is amazing.

Back tomorrow with who knows what.

Thursday 11th July: 09:45

Fifty! Fifty is no age to be passing away. Sadly that was the news that broke yesterday when World Cup winning 47 times capped Springbok James Small passed away after suffering a heart attack. Life is not a rehearsal for something to follow. It is a one shot process. Small achieved a great deal in his short life. May he rest in peace.

I watched the England v France Super Series match last night. It was pretty reasonable fare. Some of the skills on show were excellent and technically it was good. Significantly less kicking than in the men's game and no less committed. Considering England are full time professionals with amazing resources at their disposal France outplayed them for long periods. Defensively the French were excellent, especially in the second half and going forward played with freedom and pace. It looked as if England were going to go the way of New Zealand and suffer a defeat at the hands of a lower ranked team. That was until Emily Scarrett stepped up and took the game by the scruff of the neck. First she pounced on a mis-field by France then she leapt high in the air to steal another pinpoint cross-field kick before slotting a long range penalty to go ahead in the closing minutes.

New Zealand up next on Saturday. Live on SKY k.o. 21:00

Wales head out to the Swiss Alps for an intensive two week training program. It was the same base and methodology used before the 2015 campaign. Training hard above sea level and recovering at an even higher altitude dramatically improves a players ability to use the available oxygen effectively. According to the article on the BBC Sport website it is a brutal regime which the players dread but they accept if they are too live up to the hype about being finalists then you have to be not only physically fit but mentally tough too.

The Premiership fixtures were announced yesterday and what a mouth watering opener on Friday October 18th; Bristol v Bath, noting this is six weeks later than usual due to the World Cup. London Irish open up away at Wasps on Sunday October 20th. On the Saturday Sarries host Saints, Sale host Gloucester and it is Exeter v Quins plus Worcester v Tigers completing the opening week line-up.

Twickenham will again host a number of big games including Quins v Tigers straight after Christmas and Bath v Wasps in April. Sarries will host Quins late March at the amazing new Spurs ground. The unnecessary play-off final will be 20th June.

Watched the highlights of India v New Zealand last night. Great game of cricket. What about those run-outs. Dead-eyed Dicks or what?

England v the Aussies today. Lots to do so will dip in and out of the TV coverage but hopefully glued to the radio coverage.

In other news the Buffoon has thrown our US Ambassador "under the bus" is the headline in many papers. To an extent Sir Kim Darroch was the architect of his own downfall by committing his feelings (which in my mind are mostly very accurate) about Trump to e:mail. However he has been shafted by some self-serving oik leaking them to the press/public and then Boris going overboard to defend Trump and his lies and deceit and devious management of his countries government. This all when the Buffoon is defending his girlfriend Carrie Symonds over mis-use of expenses. It is claimed she was "kicked out of her Tory HQ job for fiddling her expenses".

Sorry but the Labour Party's stance on Brexit and a new referendum will have to wait. This in part because like many in politics Comrade Corbynov is saying one thing and secretly supporting the opposite. The Great Leader has always been anti the EU so must have had his fingers firmly crossed behind his back when discussing his and the his party's new position.

Finally we have some reality. Finally a politician has fallen off the fence. Wee Jimmie Crankie Sturgeon has at last admitted whilst vehemently opposing Brexit and talking volubly about the Irish backstop and the possible betrayal of all the people on the Island of Ireland admitted there might need to be a hard border between Scotland and England if the Scots ever got independence. I've spoken to Donald and he as agreed to send his best wall builders over and I have been through the old Stasi files and found about gun towers, tank traps and mine laying a la the Berlin Wall. I'm slowly coming to the conclusion that they can have independence but that means true independence not the "all the benefits and none of the pain" independence Sturgeon wants. Having the British pound backed up by the Bank of England is NOT independence for example. Mind you that might change as the pound plummets to the depths of despair!!!!!

No blog tomorrow. Back on Saturday for a quick review of.......... whatever!!

Wednesday 10th July: 08:50

The big news, if you're Welsh of course, is Alun Wyn Jones signing a new contract to stay at the Ospreys. It has been a long running saga with several English clubs, particularly Bristol Bears courting him for that coveted signature. The 134 times capped hero of Wales has signed a two year extension thus making it possible he could be in contention for The Lions tour of South Africa. By staying in Wales on a dual contract he can manage his playing time and therefore his body which will give him a shot at even more international glory. A move to England would have seen his new club expecting their pound of flesh and thus making physical harm more likely.

It sounds as if Joe Marler is embracing his opportunity to return to the international fold to the full. According to reports he has enthusiastically thrown himself into training and is raring to go. No one man is bigger than a team but in my mind Marler's return strengthens England's chances at the World Cup considerably.

England Roses play France tonight (k.o. 21:45). They have made nine changes to the side that scraped past Canada on the weekend. A win tonight will put them top of the table and a shot at a clean sweep on Saturday.

WalesOnline are reporting that World Rugby have made an immediate change to the scrum laws to protect front row players. The Law Review Group were sufficiently concerned about the serious risk of neck injuries to hookers in particular as there has been a growing number of instances where tremendous pressure "axial loading" has been exerted at the "set" phase of the scrum. The "bind" phase will be changed so front rows have a clear gap between each other no longer being able to place their heads on the opposition shoulders before the scrum is set.

World Rugby are also considering a number of other changes:

- A reduction in the number of permitted substitutes (hoorah)

- 50:22 kick proposal. An opportunity for attacking kicks to be rewarded with put in at the lineout. This akin to Leagues 40:20 rule.

- When off their feet at the ruck players must leave the ball. Not sure what that means but it is intended to speed up the ruck and ball availability (hoorah)

- Delaying the movement of the ruck defensive line to reduce defensive line speed. (Why not just move them all back a metre from the hindmost foot?)

- Lowering the permitted tackle height.

- Allowing reviews of yellow cards for dangerous play

None of these will be implemented quickly but some look very positive.

Elsewhere Johanna Konta folded under pressure yesterday. Feisty press conference though.

Andy Murray and Serena Williams continue their Wimbledon adventure.

New Zealand v India continues today after a rain interrupted day yesterday.

Still early days in Le Tour but Geraint is finding it tough already. A hard day in the saddle today with a tricky stage ahead.

I couldn't bring myself to watch the Johnson v Hunt knockabout last night. They will realise as soon as one of them steps over the threshold of No.10 that nothing has changed. The "Remainers" will continue to block every possible move to leave the EU. The Irish question will not have gone away. The EU will be even more intransigent, especially as the Italian economy is in serious danger of collapse. The Labour Party have finally come to some form of consensus so will be a more incisive opposition on the question of Brexit. On top of that of course the issues of police cuts and crime, the NHS, the international challenges such as Iran have not gone away.

Comrade Corbynov has finally bowed to pressure and agreed that Labour will fight for a people's vote within which will be the chance to vote "remain". More on this tomorrow as I digest the machinations further.

So the EU have chosen Christine Lagarde to be the next head of the European Central Bank. A women with no banking experience and not an economist by training. A women who when France's Finance Minister was embroiled in a scandal that saw her convicted of negligence and facing up to a year's imprisonment. Despite the severity of the charges the judges ruled the conviction would not constitute a criminal record.

It was a dubious behind closed doors agreement approving a £340m award to a Bernard Tapie out of public funds for the disputed sale of Adidas where he was a major shareholder. It was argued the deal was to ensure Tapie would help shore up Nicolas Sarkozy's flagging government in the midst of the global financial crisis. Lagarde avoided the more serious charges of corruption but was convicted of negligence. Is this someone who should be heading one of the world's most important central banks?

Depending on the rugby news I believe tomorrow should be "have another go at Sturgeon day". A bit like valentines day but all the roses have very big and very sharp thorns.

Tuesday 9th July: 08:45

I attended the Sussex RFU AGM last night on behalf of the club. It was different in so much as the new head of The RFU, one Bill Sweeney was present. Being the cynical old bugger that I am I was looking forward to hearing a load of old twaddle wrapped up in corporate bullshit where the tough questions were avoided. Well, that didn't happen. Clearly a rugby man through and through and keen to make a positive impression on the game. I liked the way he talked about how the game seems very split: the elite game from Premiership upwards and the grassroots game, and he wants that to change. He wants to ensure the game thrives with talent flowing upwards and the riches flowing downwards.

I specifically asked about the payment of players and the flouting of the new guidelines. The RFU recognise paying players is an issue affecting the game and also recognise they (might) need to tighten things up a little more.

Whilst he didn't rehash the many reasons why the RFU finances are in a mess (my word) he reiterated that like any business tough decisions were having to be made. That means cuts across the board to get the business finances back under control e.g. the reason our AGP pitch project is "on hold". He made it clear the top of the game has had to face cuts too and he alluded to the fact some things that outsiders (like me) would argue should be cut are contractual so can't be.

In terms of priorities it was clear the growth in women's rugby is something that has helped the game and will continue to be a priority but there is an urgent need to find ways to prop up the 15-a-side men's game at grassroots level. To do this you need money and that money in part comes from having a full Twickenham and a successful England side.

I also asked that with the rift between the RFU and the Premiership clubs getting wider and the flood of overseas players into the top flight wouldn't having a successful England game become much harder. I was very impressed with his reply which basically said the RFU holds more cards than you think and with the clubs continuing to make bigger and bigger losses something will have to give. Sensible negotiation is the way forward with compromise such as what is being discussed now about relegation and promotion between the top two leagues being an example.

I felt somewhat smug when he mentioned that meaningless cups the Premiership have introduced being all about cash generation and are contrary to the clubs statements on player welfare and burnout.

As I say whether the comments were about mini& junior rugby or player retention or touch rugby or club facilities he listened, he considered and gave what I thought were honest answers.

Finally Crowborough got a mention. Apparently Bill played in a charity game in the 80s, a game yours truly might have played in.

The rest of the AGM was an AGM. Need I say more.

Elsewhere the successful Crusaders boss Scott Robertson is hoping he will get the nod to take over from Steve Hansen post the World Cup. Makes a lot of sense based on a) his track record and b) the number of All Blacks in the Crusaders team.

Warren Gatland has spoken out about Eddie Jones consulting for Suntory Sungoliath. It transpires that the Japanese outfits coaching staff spent a week inside the Welsh 6 Nations training camp without Wales knowing of Jones connections. Is this underhand or what? It doesn't matter as Wales still won the Grand Slam so if information was passed on it counted for nothing.

An interesting snippet from The Guarniad. Japan, the country, are having to rethink their views on tattoos. With many nations including players where tattoos are part of their culture enforcing some of the bans on tattoos in public e.g. in bathing areas such as hot springs, would be contrary to good international relations. Full article by Justin McCurry is well worth reading as it gives an insight into how powerful Japanese culture is.

So Coco Gauff has left the stage. She'll be back I am sure. Well done Johanna Konta through to the quarter finals.

Geraint Thomas is there or there about in Le Tour but retaining the top prize is going to be tough. He lost five seconds on the leader yesterday.

Can you believe the Champions League qualifying rounds start today.

That'll do for now. Christine Lagarde is on tomorrow's hit list.

Monday 8th July: 09:30

Finally got to catch up on England v Canada in the Super Series. It was a pretty good game; open, fast pace, skillful and closely contested. Canada's second try was great. England were carved open and it was a 60m sprint to the line. England were very impressive and very resolute in their fight back. Clawing their way back into the game from 14-0 down and snatching victory at the end shows the Roses class. France on Tuesday and New Zealand on Saturday are next up for this England team.

The RWC 2019 referees were announced some weeks ago. Nigel Owens will be at his 4th World Cup before he retires. I'm sure he will be the No.1 referee. Wayne Barnes will also be in Japan before retirement and quite rightly so. These two have been the leading whistling blowers in the game for some time and Japan will be a fitting occasion for them to hang up their boots. France provides the tournament with four referees: Garces, Poite, Gauzere and Raynal. Luke Pearce of England makes the cut as do Peyper (SA), O'Keefe (NZ) Williams (NZ) and Gardner (AUS).

There are seven assistant referees including Matt Carley, Karl Dickson and Andrew Brace and four TMOs led by Graham Hughes. Kitt, Skeen and Jonker are the other three.

One name missing from the list is Glen Jackson. I rate him so am somewhat surprised he didn't make it onto the list even as an assistant referee.

With a total of 48 matches spread across the six weeks of the tournament the officials will have their work cut out. The TMOs in particular will be on parade most days.

As is always the case all you ask from your officials is consistency. Consistency within a match and consistency across the matches, the latter being the more difficult to achieve. There is sometimes a clash of style and interpretation between the two hemispheres so teams will be eager to know who will be in charge for their games especially the big head to heads. More on this as the tournament gets closer and of course during the six weeks of Japan 2019. According to the app it is now just 74 days away.

Wimbledon is back today.

Well done the USA in winning the Women's World Cup.

What can you say about England's women cricketers. What a woeful showing yesterday in Canterbury.

Le Tour team time trial threw up some interesting results. Geraint Thomas's team Ineos came in second with Jumbo-Visma's leading the way meaning Mike Tenissen keeps the yellow jersey.

The netball world cup starts on Friday. Now that is something to look forward to..... perhaps!!

It is no wonder people are keen to leave the EU when you read about the stitch up in terms of new EU senior team. Ursula von der Leyen was not even on the ballot paper but there she is ready to replace Donald Tusk as President. A staunch federalist who made a complete mess of being German Defence Secretary has come from behind closed doors to take the role. She is the daughter of Ernst Albrecht a former senior EU civil servant and is from the German aristocracy. She will not shed one tear when we leave as her dream of a Federal Europe will be more likely to come to fruition with Britain out of the way. The UK can expect an even tougher line making a no-deal Brexit more likely with her at the helm. That is of course if that hasn't happened before she is sworn in on Nov 1st.

The whole thing smacks of cronyism and highlights how rotten the EU is when it comes to the gravy train and looking after "your own".

Sunday 7th July: 10:45

A bit late and little bit blurry eyed this morning. Spent yesterday evening with The Bard, the lovely Mrs Bard plus others at Bard Towers. A splendid occasion: great food, great company, amazing hosts and a little vegan, non alcoholic wine to boot. Scratch that last bit as our good friend and man of the peerage Cotes de Rhone was there too.

Albeit some weeks late but many congratulations to 1st XV skipper Matt Botterman and his wife Ali on the birth of their baby daughter. All are doing well and the extended family are overjoyed.

As expected the Crusaders beat Los Jaquares in a gladiatorial contest. Some of the rugby was not pretty, it was brutal but I found it enthralling. The Argentinians played the more expansive rugby having more possession and territory throughout. In the first half they had the Crusaders rattled but it was in the second half where the game was won. The Canterbury outfit simply strangled the life out of Los Jaquares with oppressive defence and turning their limited chances into points as and when they arose. As with all New Zealand sides but especially this Crusaders team it doesn't matter what number you have on your back you play what is in front of you. Sam Whitelock steaming down the wing then giving the perfect inside pass to Codie Taylor to score was a thing of beauty.

Will the game be watched again? No, once you've seen it then it is ready for the "delete" button. It has raised some interesting points. To state the obvious Steve Hansen has an abundance of riches to choose from thus making the All Blacks clear favourites for RWC 2019. The game reinforced my view that either France or England or both could come a cropper against Argentina in Japan.

New Zealand surprisingly came up short against France in the women's Super Series. Losing 25-16 was not a result I had expected to see. Nothing is certain in sport and that was reinforced when a much changed England Roses side squeaked past Canada 19-17. I haven't seen it but it sounds as if it was a really tight affair with England having to come from behind to win. In the absence of anything else on TV today I might try and catch up with this one. Despite the defeat New Zealand still top the table by virtue of having played one more game.

Several papers carry the story about King Eddie looking ahead to Japan but Gerard Meagher captures it best in The Guarniad. Jones has taken a pretty relaxed attitude to how the players will conduct themselves off the field in Japan. He is sure this group will have learnt from the mistakes of the 2011 squad and will avoid embarrassment such as dwarf throwing and diving off harbour ferries. He is not planning to impose curfews but has laid down the law with regard to the use of social media and is insisting his players go through a cultural immersion program. Japan is quite complex culturally so the players will be expected to know the do's and don'ts about things like eating etiquette, respecting others space, not being raucous in public, and other things like not having holes in your socks and carrying lots of toilet paper with you. You take your shoes off a lot in Japan and most public toilet facilities do not provide you with the all important toilet paper. The article concludes with confirmation that the England squad were sent on a RAF survival course in Cornwall. Stripped of their phones they were sent off on an overnight program of building their own shelters and living off the land. Apparently they did well despite a lack of sleep.

Elsewhere Le Tour de France started yesterday. It can be boring but strangely compelling viewing.

England will face Australia in the cricket world cup semi-final. That should be good.

The tennis continues but not today.

The Lionesses came up short losing to Sweden last night. USA will win it tonight. Yawn!!

The Tory leadership race continues. It is important but that gets an even bigger yawn!!

Things to look forward to next week, if you can stomach reading this drivel any longer, are a review of the new EU officials. That is a look at how secret deals and cronyism gets you a top job despite you not having any experience of the job and/or you have made a complete shambles of the job you held previously (yes that is the German equivalent of Failing Grayling). Then on a more serious and significantly more important note will be a look at who's who in terms of referees at RWC 2019. Then I might discuss the christening of baby Archie. OH NO I WON'T!!!

Don't forget it is bleater@crowboroughrugby.com for your praise and positive suggestions. It is Chris@failureingovt.com for complaints.

Saturday 6th July: 08:45

A very Happy Birthday to my grandson Austin. Seven today. Where has that time gone?

A busy day at the club yesterday. The Friday Club hard at it getting the place looking a picture. The hot dry weather is great but not helping the grass grow. That said the pitches look good.

The big story of the week is the fact Joe Marler is coming out of international retirement and now hopes to make King Eddies final squad for Japan. The 40 man squad is pretty much as predicted. For me the scrum half position is interesting with Ben Youngs being challenged by Willi Heinz and Ben Spencer. The inclusion of Ruaridh McConnochie of Bath is a nod to the future, as are Lewis Ludlam and Jack Singleton. The exclusion of Robshaw, Hartley and Care are the big names missing out. The one name everyone is talking about is Danny Cipriani. Sadly I expect he will miss out on the final 31 (which will be pretty much as we have seen for the last 6 Nations). Jones has already said Cipriani will need to shine in training if he is to be on the plane. Only time will tell.

The other story that caught my eye is Maro Itoje saying the lack of education of football fans is a reason why racism is more prevalent in that sport than in rugby. I think there is an element of truth in that as rugby tends to be followed by a more middle class supporter with the players coming through the "better" schools. Many, many, many of the big state schools especially in the big conurbations do not play rugby. That tends to be the preserve of the Grammar School system and the private sector. That is very much a generalisation but directionally accurate. Of course soccer is a massive sport by comparison to rugby and therefore captures more of the population and therefore more of the rotten apples. Racism exists in rugby too but thankfully, like homophobia is a rarity. Neither has a place in society and most definitely not in sport but sadly it exists and we all need to fight hard to stop it.

Christian Lealiifano's return to Australia has been rewarded with a recall to the international squad.

England unveil their RWC 2019 kit. It looks like an England kit. I do like the "away" version.

That'll do for now. Crusaders v Los Jaquares is about to kick off. Crusaders will win but I hope for a Coco Gauff style shock. That girl is something isn't she. Go, go, go Los Jaquares!!!

Thursday 4th July: 08:40

Happy Independence Day. A day for ....... mmmmm........ worrying about the Big Orange starting World War III with just about everyone. Iran, China, Russia, North Korea, and even Mexico are in his sights. Today the Big Festering Boil will see a military parade in Washington akin to Russia's VE Day celebrations, and France's July 14th showpiece. Basically a show of might, or as some might say a penis extension for an already big dick. To the vast majority of you, the peace loving Americans I say "have a great day you'all"

In the Super Series New Zealand thrashed USA 33-0 and Canada beat France 36-19. England play again on the weekend. Against who and when I don't know but I intend to find out despite it appearing to be a well kept secret.

Super Rugby comes to its conclusion on Saturday. Regardless of the weather I'm watching this one. The Crusaders must start favourites as they have home advantage over Los Jaquares. They are also by a reasonable distance the best team in the competition loaded with All Black stars. That said the side they face is pretty much the Argentinian international squad so they will be no push over. I hope Los Jaquares arrive with a "nothing to lose attitude" and give it a real go. I am sure they will with Augustin Creevy leading from the front. Its on SKY k.o. 08:35.

King Eddie will announce an extended training squad later today, I think. The key talking point will be Danny Cipriani. Is he in and if yes will he go to Japan. I think he will be in the extended squad of 40 but won't make the final cut.

Harlequins are fast becoming England's home for overseas waifs and strays. Don't bother taking an England flag to The Stoop as soon there won't be any English players to support. Fijians Vereniki Goneva and Tevita Cuvabati join from Newcastle. In truth they are class players that will light up The Stoop. Yet more CVC money being spent on players rather than infrastructure or local talent development!!!

Newcastle despite the departure of several high profile players will still be too strong for The Championship. The money alone will allow them to maintain a big squad but the loss of players like Mark Wilson will make it slightly tougher.

By the way England play Canada on Saturday in the Super Series. It will be live on SKY.

Very good piece in WalesOnline about rugby's biggest earners. No new news there with Dan Carter heading the list and Maro Itoje and Owen Farrell in joint 4th on a reported £750k per year (plus of course the money they ALLEGEDLY get from being directors of a spurious Nigel Wray company). What is interesting is the fact post RWC 2019 many high profile players are off to money spinning opportunities at new clubs. Kieran Read, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick are all of to Japan, as are David Pocock, Will Genia and Bernard Foley. Others are off to Europe Ben Smith heads to Pau and Argentinian Tomas Lavanini will join Tigers (groan!!). France will be the destination for Eben Etzebeth and Handre Pollard. In essence you can see why the Southern Hemisphere nations were so keen on a global league: they simply cannot compete financially with the North (and Japan where much of the funding is from the big global companies such as Panasonic and Toyota).

It is well worth a read. Written by Andy Howell and titled "The highest paid rugby players in World Cup year....". WalesOnline.co.uk

In other sports news England crushed New Zealand to reach the World Cup semi-finals. They were pretty impressive from the snippets I watched but did have a sprinkling of good luck thrown in. They could just go all the way now.

What about that Coco Gauff. That was some win at Wimbledon yesterday. This is a young girl with the world at her feet. She'll need good advice and someone to keep the vultures at bay. If that happens we could be seeing the rise of a true global superstar.

Its raining promises. Promises which neither the Buffoon or the other Buffoon will ever be able to keep. Something has to be done about the glib way this bullshit can be trotted out with impunity. Lets have some detail such how are they to be funded, what is the cost going to be, what are the timescales. If that is not acceptable then fight on your track record and credentials. That rules both these clowns out straight away. Only Failing Grayling could be worse.

Back on Saturday as its Friday Club tomorrow.

Wednesday 3rd July: 10:00

Following yesterday's blog Brenda has been back in touch. I can't print all of the expletive laden e:mail but the gist of it goes something like this. "Ee Bleater lad, not only are you a soft Welsh Muppet but you're a (lots of words removed here) moron." This came about because me saying England were playing New Zealand at cricket yesterday was wrong. It is today. The mail goes on to say "my Darren was in right state when he couldn't find it. He put off clearing out pigeon loft thinking a day slobbing in front of TV would be great".

Brenda also berated me for my constant anti-Corbynov sentiments. "We love Jezza up here. He's promised us and Scotland independence. My Darren's not happy about being called Peoples Independent Territory of Yorkshire (PITY)" She does goes on to say "Darren will live with that as its right better than Peoples Independent Socialist Scotland"

A few snippets of rugby news.

Mark Wilson joins Sale on loan from Newcastle for next season. That is a very good acquisition. The England test forward will hook up with his new teammates after the World Cup. James O'Connor is leaving to return to Australia. Sale have released him from his contract thus allowing O'Connor the chance to get into the Australian World Cup squad.

Talking of signings Leicester Tigers have snapped up three new players. No, don't be silly, not from their academy. Two South Africans EW Viljoen and Hanro Liebenberg, and an Irishman Jordan Coghlan. All three have bags of experience from Super Rugby and Pro14 respectively.

Another South African Travis Ismaiel is on his way to Quins from the Bulls. The once capped Springbok has a proven try scoring record in Super Rugby so should be a good asset for the London outfit.

I could bleat on about the influx of overseas players but I won't. You know my opinion. It's NOT great for the English game and by default for the success of the national side and therefore ultimately the grassroots game.

There were two Women's Super Series games last night but for the life of me I can't find the results. I did find an article titled "A Bag of Crap". Basically the facilities from the pitch to the changing rooms and the spectator experience are awful. The five teams are supposed to be the very pinnacle of the women's game but players are having to change in tents and use portable loos. Dear World Rugby, why not use Steel Cross next time. We have great facilities.

New Zealand rugby have revealed their RWC2019 shirt. There is a lot about traditional Maori and Japanese culture included in the blurb. I think its just All Black. Hey ho!

Talking of Japan, it is a nation made up of a myriad of islands. The four largest from north to south are Hokkaido, Honshu (this the biggest with Tokyo at its centre), Shikoku and Kyushu. You get the freezing cold in the north during the winter and balmy tropical weather all year round in the south. Japan is a country of c.127m people (at times millions of whom are to be found following a woman with an umbrella going around the world's major cities). The country sits atop three tectonic plates and therefore is one of the most seismically active countries in the world. Shinto is the oldest and considered the native religion to Japan but Buddhism is a powerful force too. Modern Japan sits alongside deeply held cultural values and traditions. It is truly a country of contrasts.

Wales open up their campaign on Sept 23rd in the City of Toyota Stadium against Georgia. Toyota City is near Nagoya which is where Mrs Bleater and I start our adventure. The stadium has capacity of 45,000, and is a wonderful piece of architecture with is cleverly designed retractable roof. It will host four games including Japan v Samoa on Oct 5th.

Wales are in a group with Australia, Georgia, Fiji and qualifiers Uruguay. On paper Wales and Australia should get out of the group but Georgia might be a formidable hurdle, especially for Wales as they have them first up.

Before I go I know England lost to USA last night but in defeat they can hold their heads high. A fraction of an inch and VAR would have said goal. On another day the penalty would have gone in and who knows what would have happened. Competition is about winning and accepting second should not be the norm. Yesterday however the England side did their very best and I say "well done"

Must go England v New Zealand cricket up next!!!!! Yes Brenda, it really is on today.

Tuesday 2nd July: 08:00

I have had an e:mail complaining bitterly about yesterday's blog. It comes from Brenda somewhere near Wakefield.

Bleater, you soft southern Muppett. I was ont way to shops to get my Darren's fags, four cans of Tetleys and his Ferret Fanciers Weekly when I heard you'd said there was no rugby news. I had to stop, tell whippet to stop barking and readjust my onesie I was that shocked. Up here in M62/M56 corridor there's lots of rugby. St Helens, but they're not Yorkshire so don't count are top after 20 games. The mighty Wakefield Trinity are 8th and those soft southern shites the Broncos are bottom. We've even got some Frogs from Catalan in our league. Dragons they call 'emselves.

Rugby Union. Soft game played by posh blokes and a bunch of foreigners. Rugby League hard game played by real Northern men. Only just last week Hull FC's Joe Westerman dislocated his kneecap. Did he go off. Nah, he gave it good thwack, got it sorted, got up and carried on. He even took his ferret rabbiting post match he's that hard.

That'll do for now as my Darren don't like to be kept waiting for his Tetley's of a morning and I'm having me roots done.

e bah gum lad cheerio for now, Brenda

There you have it. That's me told. St. Helens are top, eight points clear of Warrington Wolves after 20 games. London Broncos are bottom on 14 points but Leeds Rhinos are also on 14 points in 9th.

Back to the 15 man-a-side game. Sean Fitzpatrick has praised the Chiefs bold move of acquiring Warren Gatland has head coach, even though he will miss a season to prepare for the Lions tour of South Africa. It seems unlikely that Gatland will take-over from Steve Hansen post RWC 2019 as he has signed a four year deal.

The Crusaders suffer a blow ahead of their Super Rugby final with Scott Barrett and Ryan Crotty both ruled out with broken bones in their hands. Both could also miss the entire Rugby Championship.

Big day of sport ahead. More Wimbledon. What about 15 year old Cori Gauff beating the many time champion Venus Williams. Brilliant. Then there is the cricket. England's make or break game against New Zealand. Once that is done we have England's Women taking on the USA in the World Cup semi-final. Go, go, go the Lionesses!

I like the baseball so have enjoyed the two games in London. Watched the second game on catch up yesterday whilst I was on the exercise bike. It is therefore sad to read that at the tender age of 27 LA Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs has been found dead in his hotel room in Texas. 27 years old. What age is that to pass away for heavens sake. May his soul rest in peace.

What a mess left behind in Glastonbury. I wonder how many of the climate protesters clogging up London recently were at Glastonbury contributing to climate change and leaving mounds of waste.

John McDonnell's idea of capping the amount of money parents can give to their kids over a lifetime is nonsense. He wants to cap the amount so he can share the wealth around. In essence that means you are prudent during your working life in order help your kids but now that can't happen and you now have to give it to someone else's kids. Kids of people less prudent than yourself, who have probably milked the benefit system for all its worth. Well Comrade you are not screwing me over. I am going to spend what little I have on holidays and when I need care the money that was going to my kids for that purpose will now need to be found by you, you Marxist clown.

Don't write to me about my anti Labour Marxist stance. I worked damn hard for what I've got. I've saved when I had the chance. I've paid my taxes in full. I've been prudent with my spending. I've planned ahead. I've done right by my kids. Why should I now be penalised? I shouldn't. Some of the ideas being thrown around are actually a disincentive to do the right thing. By doing the wrong thing you'll be looked after by those who have been sensible. Sadly the number of people doing the right thing will decline and so no-one gains.

A Japan 2019 instalment tomorrow, after I've had my blood pressure tablet and my anger management therapy.

PS Hurry up and get this Tory leadership nonsense sorted. I want to balance things out by having at go at Boris, or Jeremy, or Boris, or ???

Monday 1st July: 09:40

Virtually no rugby to report so lets talk cricket. Cricket is in the same state as rugby at grassroots level. Clubs disappearing altogether, clubs previously running three sides struggling to run one, sides who seem to be surviving are the ones either poaching players via the inducement of cash or working very hard at making the club the best around for a real grassroots cricket experience. Sound familiar? The reasons are much the same. Young people's approach to life and commitment is very different now to say my generation. There are lot more things to do leisure wise and the pressure of work and family life is much more complex.

Conversely at the very top of the game things look rosy. Full houses for the T20 and ODI competitions. The international game, even the oh so boring five day tests still draw huge crowds. The dilemma is the game, even less so than rugby, is not on terrestrial TV and up until recently the England sides (T20, ODI, Test) have not been that good. Not a great recipe for encouraging participation.

Right now England are on the precipice of failure or the springboard to success. Yesterday's win over India was a cracker. Thank you BBC for the amazing radio coverage which enabled us to enjoy the glorious weather and to pop in to watch the TV whenever a wicket fell. Not a cheap way of enjoying it but hey ho! One more win and the semi-finals beckon.

Couldn't quite believe that crowd. I thought the game was at Edgbaston not in Mumbai. We truly are a multi-cultural country.

Moving on. Wimbledon starts today. I like all sports including tennis but it does feel a little upper class to me. It feels all so posh at times but in the absence of anything else I'll watch it.

The F1 was a little better from the briefest of snippets I saw and the reports I have read. Max Verstappen did well to recover from a poor start to win. Lewis Hamilton was off the pace but that helped as Mercedes dominance has become somewhat boring. A lot of fuss about the Verstappen overtake on Leclerc in the final laps. Surely that is what F1 is about and we have definitely not seen enough of it.

The Tory leadership race continues...... sadly. One Buffoon and one very rich posh bloke. Or two very rich posh blokes. Or two Buffoons. Both throwing promises out there like confetti promising to solve everything from the plight of chewing gum on our high streets to the large festering boil often seen on Melania's arm. The truth is once in office all we'll get is the same prevarication and lack of progress that one Mrs T Maybe struggled with.

Talking of prevarication Len McCluskey was on the Andrew Marr show yesterday. It was classic TV. Basically Red Len believes come the revolution and Comrade Corbynov is in power the Brexit issue will be solved at a stroke. The Politburo will negotiate a deal whereby the UK will leave the EU yet keep all the benefits of membership without any strings attached. It is thought the EU will fall over themselves to allow the newly named People's Republic of Islington & Liverpool to have all these benefits whilst making no contribution to the gravy train that is Brussels..... soon to be renamed KatyaAdlertown. Talk about living in cloud cuckoo land.

There are only three options. Leave without a deal. Leave with Maybe's deal. Stay in. Wake up and smell the coffee.

Time for me to brush up on my Marxist speak and work out how to fill my spare bedrooms before the revolution.

Don't forget bleater@crowborughrugby.com for abusive mails to me.

Sunday 30th June: 10:15

So it is Los Jaquares v the Crusaders in the Super Rugby final. The Argentinian outfit beat the Brumbies 39-7, a result that reinforces my view that Argentina will be a force to reckon with in Japan in about 84 days time. Los Jaquares topped the South African conference scoring more points and tries than ever before and the emphatic win over the best of the Australian sides more than justifies their place in the final.

So what do I know? The Crusaders v Hurricanes will be an arm wrestle will it? Far from it. It was a great game to watch with tries aplenty, some amazing skills on show and some outstanding teamwork both in attack and in defence. Watched by Hansen and his coaching team many of the players on show will be shoe-ins for the up coming Rugby Championship series and if they stay fit the World Cup. Based on this game alone I wouldn't bet against the All Blacks lifting the trophy for a third consecutive time.

By the way, and if you watched it aren't those three Barrett boys something? What a family of superstars and apparently dad was quiet a player in his day.

Whoops, should have mentioned the final is next Saturday at 08:35 live on Sky.

New Zealand women beat Canada 35-20 in their Super series and are second behind England. England have the bye on Tuesday before facing Canada next Saturday.

Elsewhere the F1 qualifying wasn't as crash laden as hoped for but has thrown up some interesting grid positions with Vettell way back in 9th and Hamilton being sent back to 4th because of an infringement. The start might just be worth watching before they get into the regimental line astern to the finishing line.

Pakistan beat Afghanistan in a tight game but it was the pre-match brawl between rival supporters that makes the headlines. Yet again tribal and religious differences getting in the way of human decency and the unifying spectacle that is Sport. Shame on them.

England will be under immense pressure to beat India today at Edgbaston. The ground will be packed, most of whom will be supporting ........ India. The messiah that is Jason Roy is set to return but will it be enough. If England do win and then beat New Zealand to reach the knockout stages I suggest a few rupees on England to win the whole thing might not be a bad idea.

Did you watch any of the baseball. Having roasted in the garden, consumed way too much, drunk way too much I thought the soporific nature of the game from the London Stadium between the Yankees and the Red Sox would do the trick: sleep before you could say Boris is a buf....zzzzz! Wrong! What a spectacle, albeit dragged out for hours, of hitting. Tremendous stuff. Well done London..... again.

The kids at the G20 are having fun. Theresa Maybe giving Uncle Vlad the cold shoulder. Donald sending secret love notes to Big Kim. Mr China himself being all sweetness and light to the smaller kids because teacher is watching. Oh such fun.

Out of interest when did Ivanka Trump become US Secretary of State. Must have missed that announcement?

Comrade Corbynov rubbishes claims about his health. Quite right too. He is a very fit and healthy Marxist ready to march into all our homes and take away everything we have worked so hard and saved for. His health is robust enough that he will be able to redistribute such gains to the bone idle, the scroungers and the anti-semites of the country thus making us all equal. Equally poor and destitute. That is a healthy proposition indeed.

Boris and Jezza. Oh what fun. I think it is a real shame Harry Redknapp didn't throw is hat into the ring. I'd vote for him, especially if we all got free Harry's Roly-Polys

Must go. The Stasi are at the door demanding I withdraw my negative comments about out future illustrious leader. I should focus on the horrific spectacle of a bumbling buffoon running the country. My answer to that is "WHICH ONE?"

Saturday 29th June: 08:00

Isn't the weather wonderful but it does beg the question about climate change. More on this later.

England's women got off to a reasonable start in the Super Series in the USA. You might argue that a comfortable 38-5 win over the hosts was just what the doctored ordered. Fully professional England were always going to be too strong for the USA but it could have been a lot better. England didn't take all the chances that were presented to them and their discipline was lacking at times. Add to that the USA were the architects of their own downfall throwing away good opportunities. Ultimately it was England's power that told but if they are to go through the series unbeaten then they will need to up their game and improve their discipline.

Both Warren Gatland and Eddie Jones are in the news.

It has been announced that Gatland will become Waikato Chiefs head coach after the world cup. He will miss the 2021 season though when he takes charge of the British & Irish Lions. Moving home to Hamilton makes a lot of sense and there is a possibility that after the Lions he could become the All Blacks main man.

Jones will coach the Barbarians in November when they take on Fiji at Twickenham. This just two weeks after the world cup final. England could be home long before then though!!??!! The RFU have also agreed to allow Jones to continue his three weeks a year hands-on consultancy at Suntory Sungoliath and his remote advisory capacity. Money, money money!!!!

Scotland's Ross Ford announces his retirement. The most capped Scot of all time will take up a coaching role at the SRU. Will the one time capped Lion go down in history as an all time great hooker? Probably not when you compare him with the likes of Sean Fitzpatrick, Brian Mooore, Bobby Windsor, Phil Cairns. Will he go down in history as a fantastic ambassador for Scottish rugby, for rugby as a whole, and a thoroughly nice bloke? The answer is resoundingly yes.

The worry for all the coaches heading to Japan is injuries. England may have become the first to suffer with Kyle Sinckler leaving England's training camp with a suspected hamstring injury.

Not long now before the Crusaders host the Hurricanes. It should be a cracker but will probably turn into an arm wrestle.

The soap opera which is Rugby Australia v Israel Folau continues with Folau walking away from an agreement to have his day in court. I hope sense prevails and RA wins their case on the basis Folau's dismissal is not religious discrimination. In this politically correct world of bullshit who knows what will happen.

Well done England's Women in the round ball game. I didn't see it as I was having a great time in London with my former colleagues. Good win. Next up the USA.

Austrian F1 tomorrow. If there are as many crashes as in yesterday's practice then great but I fear another procession from gun to tape.

England's cricketers will be under the spotlight tomorrow with the first of two must win games. More on this on Monday perhaps. Hope bees don't stop play as they did in the Sri Lanka v South Africa contest yesterday

How was London? Unbelievably busy. Wall to wall tourists and I couldn't get my head around the sheer volume of traffic. Even with the congestion zone and the low emissions zone there was traffic everywhere spewing out their exhaust fumes. The city looked great and it is no wonder it attracts millions and millions of tourists every year and with the pound on its knees right now there is no better time to visit. For us £4.50 a pint might seem expensive but for the Europeans that equates to 4.50 euros. Boy that is cheap.

Finally, everywhere I went people had phone and camera in hand taking photos of anything and everything and the "selfie" being the most popular. People posing as if they were in a photo shoot for Vogue. Quite frankly some wouldn't make Horse & Hound let alone Vogue. People taking photos of people taking "selfies". I wanted to scream "stop this madness".

It was a huge embarrassment that I didn't make the AGM last night. A friend and neighbour called round needing a friendly ear during a complex time for him. That took priority.

Thursday 27th June: 09:45

Not much new in the papers today. England Women open their Super Series campaign against USA in San Diego on Friday. England should win that. We have entered the final stages of Super Rugby. Los Jaquares host the Brumbies and Crusaders host the Hurricanes. I go for the home side in both games. Both are live on SKY.

On Friday September 20th Japan will kick off the 2019 rugby world cup against Russia in the Tokyo Stadium at 19:45 (11:45 in the UK). The Tokyo Stadium is one of 12 stadia across the country that will be used for the world's 3rd biggest sporting event. It has a capacity of just shy of 50,000 and will host 8 games across the tournament including Australia v Wales, England v Argentina and two of the quarter finals. In terms of the pools England without doubt are in the toughest pool along with France, Argentina, USA and Tonga. England are the No.1 seed but you can never write off France and by the fact Los Jaquares are in the semi-final of Super Rugby Argentina will be no pushover when they face them on Oct 5th (k.o. 09:00 UK time). England v France on Oct 12th could be a winner takes all encounter (k.o. 09:15 UK time). England are also faced with the longest travel having to play in the colder north of Japan in Sapporo.

Sapporo hosted the Winter Olympics in 1972 and games in the 2002 FIFA World Cup. It is a popular destination for the Japanese and tourists alike thanks to its diverse culture, varied culinary delights, contrasting geography and geology and metrology to Southern Japan. Sapporo is the largest and northernmost city on the island of Hokkaido with a population of c.1.9m. For the travelling rugby fans the Sapporo Beer Garden and Museum will be a natural draw before or after they have been wowed by the Sapporo Dome Stadium which. hosts only two games: Australia v Fiji and England v Tonga.

More on the upcoming world cup from now all the way to the final game. My sources will mainly be World Rugby's official RWC 2019 app and the DK Japan guide book. As team news comes in I'll make that the priority and obviously once the tournament starts my own observations will be added.

In other news a big game for England Women tonight against Norway. Won't be watching as I'm in London at a work reunion but will be hoping for a Lionesses victory.

Watched the closing stages of New Zealand v Pakistan from Edgbaston yesterday. Seemed like a good contest and what an amazing atmosphere. You could have been in Islamabad or Hyderabad. It was terrific.

The race for No.10 is getting feisty. Bullshit and more bullshit. Un-costed promise after un-costed promise. Snide comment after snide comment. Where will it get us? Actually to exactly where we were before: either a horrendous "no deal" Brexit, a stalemate within Parliament and against the EU and worse a cataclysmic general election. Me, rather then immigration I am thinking of emigration, as I am certain many of our wealth generators are doing, both individuals and companies.

Just before I went on holiday I stated that as long as the most vulnerable and most needy of our pensioners can still receive a free TV licence I see no problem with scrapping it for the others. I stand by that. I firmly believe this generation of pensioners and the generation that I am probably the last of can afford to pay for their TV licence. That said as Glastonbury starts with millions being spent by the BBC on covering it there has to be fair play by the BBC. Its spending needs to be reined in and some of the over the top high cost coverage of events like Glastonbury must be reconsidered. Do we need all those expert summarisers covering sporting events. Do we need all those outside broadcasts from who knows where. Is some the talents salary excessive etc, etc, etc.

No blog tomorrow but back on Saturday. DON'T FORGET THE AGM TOMORROW NIGHT AT 19:30