Monday 25th Jan - 08:30
On Friday we held our annual volunteers evening. I think it went well. The feedback has been good and the addition of the 'race night' has generally met with approval. Thanks to Dave 'Baloo' Bennett and Eddie Bridges for making this happen.
Sean Beamish is our Volunteer of the Year. A unanimous decision and a very worthy recipient.
Rick Howe, Ian Geering, Ash Trengove and Nick Radford were all mentioned in dispateches for their fantastic contribution.
Without volunteers clubs would implode so I THANK them all for their amazing contribution.
On Saturday our 1s were given a lesson by an excellent Sevenoaks side. Did we play badly? No! Sevenoaks were very well drilled, physically bigger, and some of their support play was simply superb. Our boys stuck at it with our only try being a cracker. Our injury / absentee list remains a major worry, especially as we take on league leaders Tunbridge Wells this Saturday.
Sevenoaks hosted a well supported pre-match lunch on Saturday with RFU President, the wonderful Jason Leonard, as guest of honour. I for one was delighted to hear they remain passionately opposed to paying players. I know some of their members read this so I say to them 'you have a very impressive set up, one for others to be envious of'. I do suggest that perhaps they should get their touch judge some kit / boots. Running touch in boat shoes doesn't seem right.
Our 2s came second at home to Seaford but feedback says we played well despite the score line. Credit to Dave Bristow and Damper for getting any games on after Friday's rain.
I laughed when I read the owner of Toulon wants to join the Aviva Premiership. A PR stunt by an enigmatic charachter me thinks.
Five English clubs through to the last eight of the Champions Cup. Saints performance against Scarlets was very impressive. Dylan WILL BE announced as England captain today. Exeter also impressed against a sluggish Ospreys.
Finally am I living in a twighlight zone or have I been transported into an Alice in Wonderland fantasy adventure? The mighty Leicester City three points clear of the Premier League. It cannot be true!! When I started watching Leicester Gordon Banks was in goal and Derek Dougan was up front. Yes the Doug did play at Leicester before moving to Wolves.
Just for Paddy O'Fez today's flight of choice is again BA2158 from UVF (St Lucia) to LGW. A Boeing 777-200. Currently in the stack between Burgess Hill and Haywards Heath descending to 7,000 ft before heading over Crowborough.
Thursday 21st Jan - 08:15
Damper Sayer sent me a fantastic piece of news of yesterday. Billy Ropiha, yes our very own Billy, is not only playing regularly for Hawkes Bay and pushing for a Super 15 berth but has now been named in the All Blacks 7s squad. What an amazing outcome for a thoroughly nice bloke who recovered from a horrendous ankle injury received whilst playing for us against Bromley some years ago.
Elsewhere Paddy O'Fez sent me an interesting piece from The Gruaniad. It challenges the perception that all is right in the world of rugby and questions whether the sport at the grassroots level is losing touch with modern day kids and young adults. Well worth a read
Elsewhere Chris Ashton gets a 10 week ban for his indiscretion whilst playing for Sarries against Ulster. I think it is right that foul play such as this is punished severely. The standards for fair play must be maintained if we are to keep young parents engaged with the game. If parents become disenfranchised then we lose the future players.
Conor O'Shea will leave Harlequins at the end of the season. He has done a great job at The Stoop. Was he pushed or did he jump? Will he take up the Italy job? The fascinating question though is about his replacement. Will it be Stuart Lancaster? I was going to write a disparaging piece on this idea but commentators much more quailified than me have put it forward as a realistic proposition.
Rory Best will captain Ireland into the 6 Nations. A good choice. The Irish squad is made up entirely of Ireland based players from the four Pro12 teams. I think this gives Joe Schmidt an advanatge and to a degree justifies Gatland's comments of yesterday.
I still think England are clear favourites. Jones is likely to announce Dylan as captain in the next few days. He has also drafted in George Smith, Ossie flanker, to help with the squad's preparation.
Those of you who follow the Red Rose, thick or thin, and boy it has been thin lately, might want to read the Staurt Barnes interview with Eddie Jones. skyport.com
The accusation laid against Ryan Wilson has been dismissed. He didn't grab the testicles of Lee Dickson afterall. What a load of bollocks.
Loved the story about the kid who confused living in a 'terraced' house with living in a 'terrorist' house. Easy mistake.
Finally good news for commuters. Next weeks tube strike is off. Still doesn't mean the RMT and ASLEF have turned into saints. You can bet money, money, money has been put on the table.
Wednesday 20th Jan - 08:30
Warren Gatland hit the selection roulette wheel yesterday and some interesting numbers came up. Tom James has grabbed the headlines with his return to form for Cardiff Blues and therefore his inclusion. Aled Davies of the Scarlets is the only uncapped pick and the third scrum half. Much to the chagrin of Bath Rhys Priestland is in the squad. From a Welsh point of view, with the exception of Leigh Halfpenny and Scott Williams, it is good to see most of the RWC 2015 injured back, albeit only just. I think the first choice 23 is fairly obvious but there is still time for a surprise or two.
Guy Noves has also been in the casino and rolled his dice. The former Toulouse mastermind will get the very best out whatever team he picks but the squad looks very green. In years gone by it would be easy enough to name at least twelve or thirteen players. I recognise eight names, one of which is South African and the other is Fijian.
After Scotland's good performance during RWC 2015 they must have a good chance of picking up the 6 Nations this time around. Their squad is predominantly from Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh. This has to be a bonus for Vern Cotter, another canny New Zealander.
Ireland are yet to announce their squad but some indifferent Pro 12 form for Leinster and Munster must be a worry for Joe Schmidt. That said Gatland has stated he thinks the Irish will start as clear favourites.
My track record of forecasting is rubbish but here goes..........
I think England will head the table IF they get past Scotland on the opening day.
Ireland will be there or there abouts but France away is their toughie.
Wales will struggle despite being the best of the 6 Nations during RWC 2015. England and Ireland away make their task most difficult.
Scotland might be the surprise package. Sadly I think Italy will again be the whipping boys.
I was delighted to see that Kolelishvilli has been given a 14 week ban after the push on Wayne Barnes. This is 50% of the originally recommended ban. It is right he has been banned but does throw a questionmark over Barnes' decision not to dismiss him from the field in the first place.
So tennis has been fixed for years and is an open secret. Sad state of affairs but as I have said on more than one occasion..... money, money, money.
Not a great state of affairs for Port talbot after Tata Steels announcement yesterday. Another blow to Wales' economy.
Finally Donald 'The Muppet' Trump has gained the backing of Sarah Palin, the outspoken, guntoting, Governor of Alaska. What next Kim Jong-Un offering up his support.
Tuesday 19th Jan - 10:00
Its Tuesday so here we go........
Once again well done to our boys. It really was a gritty and well deserved win. The boys from St Marks are certainly blazing a trail towards promotion. They are having a great season and their 8-23 win at Beckenham cements this view. We face them in two weeks time. Sevenoaks are also having a great season and are hot on the Wells heels. A comfortable win at home to Hove keeps them well clear in 2nd spot. After beating us Horsham's season seems to have dipped as they lose at home to 3rd place Dartfordians. Ashford are still rooted to the bottom as they lose to Thanet Wanderers. In the other game Deal & Betteshanger beat OCs
In Sussex 1 Lewes march relentlessy on after a fine win away Crawley. Haywards Heath's challenge took a hit after losing to Brighton 2s. Hove 2s and Horsham 2s were the other winners with Seaford enjoying the dreaded HWO. Even though we didn't play we move off the bottom as Midhurst hit the basement.
For the record The Crows lost away to Seaford 2s 53-5. As always the boys played with spirit and had a few laughs along the way against a very strong Seaford second string.
In London 3 South East both Burgess Hill and Pulborough's games were postponed due to the weather. Uckfield lost heavily away to Old Dunstonians whilst Heathfield & Waldron came away from Gillingham Anchorians with a 18-18 draw. With Bromley losing by a point to next door neighbours Park House by a single point The Greenies go top. In the only other game Aylesford Bulls also drew 18-18, this time with Folkestone.
Brighton's game was pulled due to the weather. Medway were nilled by Guildford. Maidstone held table topping Sutton & Epsom to a 17-17 draw. In the other notable result our good friends at Charlton Park suffered a home defeat to Dover and now prop up the table.
In the national league TJs season is getting better and better as they enjoyed an away win to Bracknell and remain clear at the top. Those mad Irish Geese remain in 2nd after an away win at Chichester. East Grinstead are still just about in touch in 4th with a solid home win against Shelford.
You'll be delighted to know that Bridgnorth remain top despite their game succumbing to the weather. Salisbury enjoyed a fine home win against Maidenhead and sit 2nd. I know you'll be pleased to hear that news.
Finally I am delighted to say our Under 13s beat Hove in the snow on Sunday. Apparently it was a cracking game.
Elsewhere I read that Ryan Wilson has been cited for grabbing Lee Dickson's testicles. The funny part of this story is that BBC's Sally Nugent couldn't bring herself to say the word 'testicles' on the news. Politcally correct bollocks in my view.
Chris Ashton has been cited for making contact with the eyes of Luke Marshall. If proven he will certainly miss the 6 Nations. Silly boy.
It doesn't stop there as The Dragons Rhys Thomas has been cited for biting Castres's Thomas Caballero.
Leigh Halfpenny has signed a new contract with Toulon...... sadly... but hey ho money talks.
In the news I see Jeremy Corbyn has suggested our nuclear submarines go to sea without any weapons on board. Brilliant idea along with the chocolate teapot and the Donald Trump for President campaign.
There is a piece in most papers about immigrants being able to speak English if their application to say in the UK is to be ratified. Whatever the colour, creed, nationality of those wishing to come to the UK I am firm believer of the 'when in Rome do as the Romans principle'. The way it has been put forward is sloppy but the principle feels sensible.
Two other stories caught the eye. The thieving benefit cheat dcotor claiming to be crippled by a hip problem caught taking part in very physical army recruitment tests.
Then the furore about the Oscars being lilywhite with no black nominations. Perhaps, and just perhaps, regardless of colour, creed, religion, or sexual persuasion the films and actors nominated are the best of the year. Anything else smacks of 'quotas' which is belittling in the extreme.
Monday 18th Jan - 09:30
So the games were on were they? Well at 11am they were but sadly when the teams and referees arrived they had other ideas. The area in front of the clubhouse was a little too crusty for it to be safe so we had no option but to move the 1st XV down onto the lower pitch and postpone the 2s. I will be apologising to Hellingly for the incovenience but if players are unhappy then it was the right call.
The game that did go ahead was a nail-biter. 11-10 was probably a fair reflection of the game with us being marginally the better side. On a heavy pitch both teams played some expansive stuff. We scored a cracking try starting deep in our own half. Yatesy cracked over an excellent drop goal and slotted a penalty. They got two tries. The boys dug deep and with many regulars still missing this was another huge compliment to our youth system. Unlike many games previously where we have failed to close out a game the defensive work was spot-on on Saturday and the decision making much improved. A great performance.
Prior to the kick off we hosted many of our advertisers and sponsors for lunch. This was a small token of our appreciation for their contribution. Jacqui and Sandra and teams did an amazing job. THANK YOU.
A splendid day all round.
Sadly the minis training was cancelled as we woke to a covering of snow yesterday but I believe our under 13s game still went ahead. Mmmm!!!
No news on The Crows trip to Seaford sadly.
Some cracking games in the European Cups. Quins v Cardiff was a game of two halves. Wasps were beaten in injury time and the Scarlets were mauled by the international XV a.k.a. Racing 92. The Ospreys and Dragons flew the flag for Wales on Friday with two fine home wins. Well done to Sarries and Saints, two fine results for them.
So Johnny Wilkinson might be joining the England set up. Good move? I think so.
The big talking point of the weekend was the push on Wayne Barnes by Viktor Kolelishvili. Should he have seen red. Yes in my view. No matter what the circumstances pushing a referee in that fashion is simply not on.
The Mighty Foxes remain in second place in the Premier League after the 1-1 draw against Aston Villa. Should have been a win but hey ho!.
Must go, I need a laugh. Off to the read the Organ of Truth.
Saturday 16th June - 11:00
Two games at home today are ON.
The ground is a little hard in places but the games can go ahead.
Kick off 2pm.
1s v Old Alleynians - Pitch A
2s v Hellingly - Pitch D
Well done Dave Bristow and the Friday Club
Friday 15th June - 12:30
The Friday Club have been working hard to get the pitches and the clubhouse ready for tomorrow.
RIGHT NOW the A Pitch and the D pitch are playable.
The plan is to hold the 1st XV game on the A Pitch, and subject to confirmation also host the 2s v Hellingly on D. (Sadly Hellingly is still under water).
HOWEVER the forecast is for a heavy frost tonight and into tomorrow. If the A pitch becomes unplayable we will switch the game to the D Pitch and sadly the Hellingly game will be postponed.
It makes sense to bring wellies to cover for all eventualities. Further update tomorrow.
Damper sent me this link. I think it summarises the issues the game is facing with more and more clubs paying players to play. Well worth a read
Tonight the Ospreys v Claremont Auvergne will be worth watching.
Still much in the news about the England selection. The more I look at it the more I think it is an exciting squad.
What a fantastic sight this morning at 07:28. The International Space Station flying over Crowborough. It looked like a fast moving star but nevertheless brilliant.
I see Donald Trump has attacked Ted Cruz over being born in Canada and therefore not being eligible to run for the US presidency. Cruz resisted the temptation to challenge Trump on being a dickhead and a disgrace to the human race.
Today's aeroplane of choice is Norwegian SA Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Currently over Hartfield at 2,800ft.
Did you know the whine you hear when an Easyjet Airbus 319 flies over, and there are lots of them, is not from the engines. It is from a design flaw where the air travels rapidly across the fuel filling cap. It is akin to blowing across the top of a bottle to make a sound.
Thursday 14th June - 9:30
Like a Las Vegas gambler Eddie Jones has rolled the dice on itsarugbygamble.com. Out goes Tom Youngs, Brad Barritt and Tom Wood. In comes Josh Beaumont, Maro Itoje, Jack Glifford and Ollie Devoto, these four of the seven uncapped players named. Not yet in the squad is Manu Tuilagi, but clearly in Jones' thinking and fitness permitting he will be back for the Wales game on March 12th.
What was noticeable to me was not the selection, it was always going to be a new broom with a focus on new young blood, but the amiable way in which the press conference was managed. Jones was to the point yet humourous and warm. Something lacking from the dour Lancaster. It is clear the players will do it 'his way or not at all' but that said the game plan will be more expansive with a focus on how to beat an opposition and not on how to stop the opposition winning.
The captain debate made sense. Why announce a captain now and be hamstrung with your selection later. Name a captain once you have your starting 15 for the first game. If he does well and deserves selection for the next keep him as captain. There is a clamour for Dylan to be named as captain and I for one think he will do a good job despite the risk but he has got to get fit and get in the side, and that isn't guaranteed by a long way yet.
For once I fear England will deliver in the forthcoming 6 Nations. This seems like a well balanced squad but still with one eye clearly on the future and RWC 2019. I think the selection is also a testament to the Under 20 system where players can learn their trade in that set up and then easily transition into the senior squad.
Time will tell.
Talking of 6 Nations I didn't realise until last night that ITV now have the rights to air this great competition. I prefer the Beeb but ITV did a good job with RWC 2015. Its on terrestrial TV which is good.
I see the Ospreys have joined the import business with JJ Engelbrecht joining them until the end of the season. With the Opsreys mid-field injury list, and the likely absence of key players for the internationals, it makes sense.
The Mighty Foxes keep up their fine run with an excellent win at Spurs last night.
This weekend. Another beautiful morning, Aurigny's ATR 42-500 about to go over at 6,000ft on route to LGW, with the forecast being dry yet cold. The boys will be working flat out tomorrow to get two games on at home. The torrential rain last night will make it a challenge but we are determined to deliver. Keep your eye on this blog and the news section for updates.