Tuesday 12th April - 09:30
Whilst we had a free league weekend there was still much rugby played on Saturday.
Up in the ether of the National London league both East Grinstead and TJs won at home against Wimbledon and Colchester respectively. London Irish Wild Geese dropped points at Hertford in a 25-25 draw. They remain favourites for promotion but TJs are still in the hunt just 3 points adrift, and this after a 5 point penalty. EG sit third but their status for next season is very unclear. Chichester lost narrowly at Shelford but are safely mid table.
In London 1 South Charlton Park's losing bonus point moves them above Twickenham and off the bottom. Medway lose at home to champions elect Sutton & Epsom. Brighton and Maidstone both enjoyed wins and sit 5th and 6th behind Medway in 4th spot.
In Sussex 1 Worthing III beat Seaford at wind swept Seaford.
In South West 1 East Salisbury go top on points difference after beating Leighton Buzzard. Last weeks table toppers Towcestrians game vs Trowbridge is down as 'abandoned' depsite on both websites Towcestrians seem to have won 63-0. This is worthy of exploration.
In Midlands 1 West Bridgnorth stay clear at the top after the crushing defeat of Walsall 52-7. I know many of you couldn't give two hoots about Bridgnorth but out of interest have a look at the geographical spread of this league. The travel is horrendous.
Elsewhere the headlines about Tipuric and Halfpenny's injuries jump out for Welsh readers. Stuart Lancaster wants to coach in Super Rugby. Interesting!!! As clubs and countries look south for their coaches why would a southern club look north? Not sure is the answer.
Did you know that England's top points scorer is Johnny Wilkinson with 1179 points. Of course you did. I bet you didn't know that France's top points scorer is Christophe Lamaison with just 380 points.
Outside the world of sport Cameron's tax affairs dominate the headlines. It was inevitable this was going to happen when he stumbled his way through the issue realting to his father. He should have come clean the minute the story broke. How he benefitted is unpalatable but not illegal. I offer up some other places to look for stories. Let's ask Mike 'Loadsa' Cash of the RMT union and Len McCluskey of Unite to release their tax returns. I'll guarantee both earn significantly more than most MPs and much, much more than the average UK wage. If they are like the late lamented Bob Crow and also live in council accomodation then for me this is a bigger story than Cameron and his tax affairs.
Finally I see that Wormwood Scrubs is rat infested. Yeah so.......??? As I was driving around the UK last week the amount of rubbish tainting our roadsides is horrendous. I continue to think that people who have committed crimes and are incarcerated at a very high cost to us the tax payer should be made to repay for their sins by clearing the roads of this detritus.
Monday 11th April - 09:30
Let me start with Friday. I walked into the clubhouse at about 08:20 and thought I had arrived at the set of some kids wildlife programme. Close to 100 kids and parents were dressed as jungle explorers or wild animals. It was VERY impressive. Fancy dress was the the order of the day as the minis set off on their tour: first stop Whipsnade Zoo. Well done all and as I haven't read anything about how it went in Amersham and then Windsor I guess the old adage of 'what goes on tour stays on tour!' is still true.
I am guessing the BIG story of Saturday is the fantastic achievment by Tunbridge Wells to reach the RFU Intermediate Cup Final at Twickenham. I congratulate Graham, Roger and all at the St Marks ground on the win. I understand that it wasn't all one way traffic with the Wells sneaking it in the last 10 minutes due to their superior fitness. When playing in Wales I played against Matson. They were then, and I understand still are, a very physical side, this synonymous with the area that Matson is.
The other highlight for me was the Dragons beating Gloucester in the Challenge Cup. A shock yes! A shock no! Yes as most neutrals will have looked at The Dragins lowly Pro 12 position and looked at Gloucester's in the Aviva. No if you have seen The Dragons this season. They have played really well often losing very narrowly.
Well done to Sarries, Leicester and Wasps on reaching the semis of Champions Cup. All great results and powerful performances, Wasps being the narrowest of wins.
The Sarries game also included one of the most insensitive and inept pieces of refereeing I have seen for some time. Why, oh why didn't Jerome Garces blow up as play approached the prone Saints player being supported by two medics. Another 6 inches and two players would have collapsed on top of the injured player. It could have been catastrophic!!!!!!
Worcester Warriors are going to 3G. It is the way forward for those that can afford it. Interestingly this is a version with a natural crumb as the base rather than the rubber crumb.
O'Driscoll backs Gatland for the Lions to NZ. Don't even think it should be Eddie Jones or Stuart Lancaster!! The latter who is still trying to come to terms with the RWC 2015 debacle.
Spare a thought for the family of former Gloucester centre Martin Roberts who has passed away suddenly aged just 48. Another clear message that life is too short to waste.
In other sport well done Danny Willett, Masters Champion 2016.
What about those Foxes. A 2-0 away at Sunderland. Another step closer to the impossible dream.
Must go the washing machine has just finished.
Friday 8th April - 07:45
Congratulations to our minis who performed admirably in the county festival at Chichester last weekend. All three squads: 7s, 10s, and 11s made the final with our 7s coming out victorious in theirs. Great stuff and well done. I know I will incur the wrath of our mini section but whether we made the final or not or whether we came first or last is not the key point. What is important is did all the boys and girls who took part have a great day, make new friends and want to play again this week and the week after, and the week after that? I know they did so the results are the icing on the cake.
Our minis go on tour today. Another adventure for our kids and the fact they are continuing a great rugby tradition makes me very proud indeed.
As I caught up with mail yesterday I thought of a few things. A song came to mind that made me think that the RFU might be 'blinded by the light'. As they sit in their offices and count the revenues from the 6 Nations, watch the full stadia as the Aviva games kick off, listen to the TV companies upping the stakes for TV rights they could easily believe all is good with our game.
Me, I tend to think of Hamlet and 'something being rotten in the state of Denmark'. At the grass roots level last weekend just in Sussex far too many games were cancelled, including our 2s and 3s against Lewes 1s and 2s. I won't go into detail about the specifics of this but basically at least 45 men were left without rugby. This cannot be right. I believe the league structures have a lot to do with this issue. There are also many other reasons such as family prorities, injuries etc, etc. We also read about the plight of clubs being relegated due to admininstration deficiencies, and others facing huge challenges because of the witdrawal of key backers. Something needs to be done I think.
The RFU are investing heavily in the infrastructure which is BRILLIANT, especially as we have benefitted, but without players playing regularly and having great fun doing so even the best facilities count for naught.
Plenty of European rugby to keep us occupied this weekend including some tasty English match-ups.
Sunday my attention will be on Sunderland vs the Mighty Foxes. It is still a dream.......... Leicester atop of the league and seven points clear. This weekend could define the rest of the season. An away win for the men in blue and Spurs and Arsenal falling short could just see the Foxes get one hand on the title.
Finally best wishes to Tunbridge Wells as they look to take another step closer to Twickenham in the regional final of the RFU Intermediate Cup. I personally am delighted the Wells are doing well as they have obviously found a formula that works which when I next share a beer with Graham I will shamelessly try and steal pointers.
Time to go Friday Club beckons.
Thursday 7th April - 11:30
Finally back in touch with the world. Kettering on to Bridgnorth before going to Salisbury all without WiFi, hence the delay in blogging and not answering e:mails. I'll come back to Salisbury and WiFi shortly but first some one liners by way of catch up.
I see we were well beaten by Deal & Betteshanger last Saturday. I'm not surprised but most definitely not despondant. I know the 18 fit players we scraped together gave 100% against a very good side. That's all you can ask.
Congratulations to Tunbridge Wells who have all but secured the title and therefore promotion following their fine away win at Sevenoaks. Well done to Graham, fellow Newport boy, and all at St Marks.
Thanet Wanderers narrow defeat has set up a nail biter vs us at Steel Cross on 16th April. Why not book for lunch for this one. Contact Martin Cooper.
The Summer Ball gets closer. Have you got your tickets yet. If not, why not!
Joe Marler gets banned for his 'gypsy boy' comment. I can understand the logic but how we have got here is wrong.
Wilson and Kruis are cleared of gouging and biting respectively.
Six Nations should introduce relegation according to the head of World Rugby. I quite like this idea, that is until Wales are at the bottom of the pile.
We have sadly pulled out of the Bob Rogers cup tie against Heathfield & Waldron on Saturday. With an unprecedent injury crisis and the Thanet game on the horizon we had no choice. It is a shame as we see this as a prestigious cup to win but league survival is more important. Pointless beating about the bush on this one. That is it.
The Friday Club are truly amazing and last week the County recognised their contribution. Whilst Sean Beamish was announced as county volunteer of the year this award is for everyone one of The Friday Club. CRFC would be a lesser place without their unseen input week in week out. For the first time in weeks I might just be able to make it.
Ok, back to WiFi and Salisbury. Normally my daughter has a good service via BT but right now it is playing up. Based on what she told me and what I picked up listening to her calls to the call centre the service by BT is AWFUL. An engineer came out pretty promptly but with none of the tools or parts to solve the problem. One week later and several hours on the phone to India still no satisfaction. No engineers available until this Friday. This despite driving into Salisbury and seeing three BT engineers vans parked up in the rugby club car park with the drivers chatting merrily and drinking their coffee. The rugby club is 1.5 miles from my daughters and if they are that busy then the service must really be crap.
This compares with British Gas. On getting my mum home to Bridgnorth from Kettering we discover her boiler has gone out and won't relight. On the phone to the call centre and straight through to a very nice Welsh guy in Cardiff. Despite not being on a British Gas service contract I manage to get something sorted within 30 minutes. No hard sell, a good service contract and an engineer due to arrive before 9am the following am. 08:45 the engineer arrives, services what he can on the boiler, orders new parts despite the boiler being 27 years old and then checks the whole of the central heating system and gas hob. The following day the parts arrive and the job is completed. 24 hours later Mum gets a call to check all is ok and to ask if she was happy with the service. You bet she was.
Finally before signing off. Two whinges. For once I agree with The Organ of Truth. Perhaps the £172m overseas aid we wasted could have been better spent at home. Secondly spending £9m on a document supporting staying in the EU* could have been better spent on filling pot holes, or investing in care for the elderly. The message could easily be spread electronically, except in Salisbury of course.
* I am still very, very undecided by the way.
Thursday 31st March - 11:30
The 1st XV have the unenviable task of travelling to Deal & Betteshanger for their league fixture on Saturday. Always a tough ask down there but when you have the injury problems we have the challenge is multiplied exponentially. What is clear though is that whoever is picked will do their very best. That is all you can ask.
The 2s are due to be at home v Lewes. Another exacting task but with the positive weather forecast our pitches shouldn't be a problem.
The Crows are also due to be at home and also against Lewes.
Good luck to all. Sadly yet again, as my priorities are dictated by others, I will be en route to Bridgnorth and won't get to any of our games.
A number of our minis are at festival finals on Sunday. Good luck to them too. Please remember it is NOT about the winning, it IS about having fun and making friends.
Not much in the papers this morning of note. Nigel Owens will make history this weekend when he referees in Fiji making him the most 'capped' international referee; 71 tests.
Talking of Owens I thought he made a very positive contribution to the game in Paris last weekend. Keeping players informed, decisive, and consistent. I also liked the way he put the TMO back in his box when Cole scored and didn't need to refer to the TMO again.
Watched the T20 yesterday. Great stuff. That is what cricket should be about.
Can you help please? Does anyone out there have the vaguest idea about what staying in or leaving the EU would result in. The campaign is very short on fact and very heavy on shock and extremism. I wanted to use bo!!oc4s but felt it inappropriate despite being more accurate.
Must go. Off to mow the grass. Not yet a lawn. That's what posh people have.
Wednesday 30th March - 13:00
Whilst away we tend to shut ourselves off from technology including TV but especially e:mail and telephone. We did however pick up on the horrendous events in Brussels and Lahore. In the week of the holiest of Christian celebrations it is impossible to comprehend why people wish to murder decent human beings who have done nothing other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. May these innocent souls rest in peace and the perpetrators rot in hell.
There is a really good piece on bbc.co.uk/sport by Tom Fordyce on England's Grand Slam. Well written and well balanced so well worth a read.
The professional players body is shouting loudly that Joe Marler is being 'hung out to dry' about the 'Gypsygate saga'. I agree. He made a huge mistake in the heat of battle. He apologised. The person who was the target accepted his apology. The RFU and his coach have told him in no uncertain terms this is the first but definitely the last indiscretion that will be accepted. Please let's move on. No-one was killed.
It continues to worry me the number of injuries in our game. Sharples out, Tipuric out, Cuthbert out. All season ending injuries. I do fear that the ongoing headline grabbing injury count is doing the game an injustice but it is a worry nevertheless.
The other worry is the increasing number of overseas players heading to the UK. Exeter could have eight Aussies in their squad next season. When you read of clubs just a few leagues above us having EIGHT overseas players in their starting line-up it does beg the question where our game is going. It becomes an even bigger worry if a key benefactor walks and the players walk too.
One aspect to this situation can be explained by the fact that the top flight clubs are having to play league fixtures whilst they have been stripped of their key players for international duties. Nigel Wray has been bleating on about this this week in fact. I have a degree of sympathy with his viewpoint. However, I think Mr Wray should be more focussed on the £40m+ debt his club is shouldering at the moment. Whingeing about losing players for internationals whilst carry that burden of debt seems wrong. Hey ho!. What do I know about anything?
Finally let us put recognise the Muppet of the Year to date: Seif Eldin Mustafa, the Egyptair hijacker. The man obviously has something mentally wrong with him but still....... 'what a plonker!'
Tuesday 29th March - 09:15
I hope everyone enjoyed the Easter break despite the weather. I know many of you are still enjoying well deserved breaks from work and other tasks. Mrs C and I enjoyed some very pleasant sunshine in Fuerteventura arriving back on Saturday night just as the weather was taking a turn for the worse here in the UK. Whilst away much has happened which only now are we catching up on.
Obviously disappointed that we lost to Dartfordians but immensely proud of the boys who are stepping up from Colts rugby to 1st XV rugby. They are performing admirably and this is great to read about. I am equally proud of the stalwarts of the team who continue to put their heart and soul into each and every match regardless of result and how they are helping the youngsters intergrate into senior rugby. This feeling can be applied to all our squads from age 6 to The Crows. Commitment and desire to do the best for CRFC is a given. THANK YOU.
The Crows played this weekend earning a stunning win over Cinque Ports. Well done you guys.
The THANK YOU's continue for Tracey Radford and ALL the MANY, MANY volunteers who organised, prepared and implemented the Mini Festival on March 20th. It is heart warming to open e:mails from other clubs complimenting us on events we have organised. Great stuff indeed!
The joy is dampened however when we had no option but to cancel a long standing tournament across many ages with Kettering RFC, a splendid club where one of my nephews plied his trade as a junior. The pitches were waterlogged, the grounds unsafe, so much so that trees had come down and more looked unsafe. We had NO OPTION but to cancel.
Congratulations to Wales Under 20s for their fine Grand Slam win. We didn't get to see the Wales v Italy game live as we were in the air but having watched it now Wales played well against an under-strength Italian side. Shame they didn't adopt this open style against England the week before.
We have also watched the England win over France. England, deserved Grand Slam winners, played well against what was a resurgent and creative French side. They played with a flair so absent during RWC 2015. There appeared to be no strict game plan but clearly a strategy based on playing what 'is in front of you'. It worked and some of the decision making was as good as we have seen in a while from England. Can I suggest those of you supporting the Red Rose don't get carried away however as there were plenty of examples where France took England apart. Some wide open gaps in defence were exploited and some of the defensive work looked flat footed. Overall a very solid win and worthy champions.
I haven't seen the Ireland v Scotland game so comments on that later.
As we were heading for our trip the East Grinstead stories were breaking. I am saddened by the news and hope that they get through the challenges ahead quickly. For the record I have always enjoyed, playing against, coaching against, and refereeing at East Grinstead. They are a great club and deserve our best wishes.
East Grinstead's challenges should serve as a wake up call for all clubs however.
As I have said on many occasions 'life is for the living' and is very fragile. The death of former Canada and Wasps Norman Hadley at the tender age of 51 reinforces this point.
Coming back to my holiday can I refer to our friends at Charlton Park. I know some of them used to read this drivel and if they still do then they will be reassured that it is not only Bernie who looks hideous in 'budgie smugglers'. There are far too many men who think they can wear these skimpy bathing trunks and look attractive. For the record Bernie now looks like a super model versus some of what we endured.
Must go, the thought............