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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 50 of 75

50. 6 Nations - A Grand Slam??

Friday 18th March - 13:00

Tomorrow our boys take on Dartfordians, a difficult challenge as they are riding high and have had an excellent season so far. Kick off 3pm. The boys trained hard last night and as I have said over and over they will give of their best from the first whistle to the last.

On Sunday we host our mini festival. It should be a cracking day. As always brilliantly organised with the No.1 priority on the boys and girls taking part having fun.

Sadly I won't be at either, and there won't be a blog for a week I'm afraid.

All eyes will be on Paris from 8pm where England should, and in my humble opinion win their first Grand Slam since 2003. I cannot forsee any reason why the Red Rose won't triumph over the French Cockerel, even if France play better than they have thus far.

I am warming to Eddie Jones. I like his straight talking style and his honest and frank assessment of the situation. I disagree however with his comment about the WRU trying to disrail their Grand Slam bid. What a load of cock(erel). The fact some at the WRU have said Marler should have been sanctioned for his comments towards Samson Lee, a view apparently shared by World Rugby, should have no bearing on how they play.

Talking of Marler he has been relegated to the bench, as has Ben Youngs. Vunipola offers a more ruobust and consistent scrummage and Care, Young's replacement is more abrasive. Both good calls I think.

Sadly I won't be able to see the game but I go for England by 15 points.

Wales should destroy Italy, who have been poor and have subsequently been ravaged by injury. Don't CRFC now that feeling.

Potentially the best game will be the one in Dublin where revitalised Scotland take on a resurgent Ireland. I go Ireland purely on the basis of home advantage and man for man Ireland are slightly the better side.

Three players to watch on Saturday. Maro Itoje, Stuart Hogg and Rhys Webb. Can the first two maintain last weeks excellent form and can Webb justify his selection ahead of Gareth Davies.

Before I go what a game this morning between the Warratahs and Highlanders. An amazing game of rugby.

Wednesday 16th March - 20:00

Let me start with a round up of activity at home. On Saturday our 2s pulled out of the cup due to our injury problems. I am delighted to say The Crows got their game away at Hellingly II. Sadly they came second 19-3 but this is a great performance by a great bunch of guys who imbue the spirit of old fashioned rugby.

Why couldn't the Crows play as the 2s? Quite frankly the difference in standard is noticeable, and secondly whilst they want the competition of a league they don't want to be battered into submission and be canon fodder for sides of a much higher standard. To repeat myself this is a bunch of mates who want to have fun together playing rugby. Taking it seriously but at a level they enjoy playing against like minded sides.

On Sunday our Colts enjoyed an impressive 45 - 12 win over Hove. Great stuff. Our Under 15s enjoyed a narrow but well deserved win over Worthing 19 - 17. Our Under 14s lost narrowly at Lewes 12 - 7.

Also on Sunday our minis performed admirably at various festivals around the parish. Our under 7s, 10's and 11's all progressing to the finals.

In all cases I am less interested in the score than knowing that our boys first and foremost had fun meeting old and new friends whilst playing our great game regardless of result.

Well done all.

Joe Marler is free to play against France. Fair enough in my book. He has also been cleared over the 'Gypsy boy' comment. Sadly Eddie Jones and Warren Gatland have been criticised for calling it 'banter'. The politically correct Muppets need to get back in their box. If Samson Lee took it as banter then IT IS 'banter'. I had a discussion with my daughter about this and we used some of the derogatory ways the Welsh or the Scots or the Irish are referred to as an alternative starting point to this debate. Is this racism? If no why not? Let's move on before I rant about us living in North Korea where free speech is banned.

I see Dylan is being wrapped in cotton wool as England's hooker problem escalate.

Today my daughter and I went to Romsey for a break from the kids and for her to continue her recovery. Whilst there we called into the beautiful Romsey Abbey. As we walked in three people were setting up rugby balls, photos, a rugby shirt and other memorabilia in readiness for the burial service of Macaulay Campbell, a 20 year old player from Romsey RFC who sadly died in car crash on Feb 22nd. Yet again you realise how fragile life is and how important it is to remember that life is 'for the living'.

Tuesday 15th March - 19:30

No matter what others may think my view is Thomas Francis and his eight week ban is spot on. It sends the right message that violent conduct, even if it isn't premeditated is not acceptable.

Wales will face Italy with a changed side forced upon them in the main by injury. Alun-Wyn Jones, Sam Warburton and Alex Cuthbert are all injured. Gareth Davies can feel aggrieved at his relegation to the bench but an in form Rhys Webb is the best in this hemisphere...... in my opinion. Cuthbert would have been at risk of the axe so his injury saves his embarrassment. Lydiate will captain the side.

If you ever wondered how precious life is then read about former Fijian and Leicester back Seru Rabeni who has died at age of 37.

Marler will know his fate tomorrow about the striking. He then will be subject to further review - the insult to Samson Lee.

The Leicester City bandwagon keeps rolling on. A 1-0 win over Newcastle keeps them 5 points clear. Hoorah!!!!!! Crystal Palace away next.

Another big day in the USA presidential race. Trump for President???? I guess if a psychopath like Putin can be President of Russia then who knows what is possible.

How did you do on University Challenge? Me, I got a few actually.

Monday 14th March - 20:00

Weather-wise a fabulous day today. I spent a good few hours strolling with the kids along Bournemouth beach. Absolutely gorgeous. In those quiet moments like when they were fast asleep exhausted on the way home I mulled over Saturday and Sunday.

Let's look at Sunday first. France are not great. I think we know that but they did show some flair and a joie de vivre against the Scots. The Scots were pretty good and deserved to win. Stuart Hogg is maturing into a world class player and with most of the side playing in Scotland in the Pro 12 they could improve further.

Ireland was a stroll in the park. Nothing more can be said. Italy will remain the whipping boys due to the lack of funds and the shortage of quality talent. Perhaps they should do what the Scots have done which is trawl the world for players with a grandmother or grandfather whose heritage fits the bill. They must be out there somewhere.

So back to Saturday at Twickenham. I still cannot get my head around how bad Wales were for 60 minutes. Let me again state that in part this was down to England's fine performance but not all by a long way. Stuart Barnes sums it up nicely: Wales waste the fantastic talent they have in the back line and they will get slaughtered if they don't come up with a Plan B in New Zealand. (I paraphrase of course). Thomas Francis has been cited: good. Joe Marler has been cited: good. Rugby is a physical game but with all the bad PR going round at the moment we need to cut out the unnecessary acts of violence. It was good that Marler apologised for his outburst towards Samson Lee. That behaviour is also not acceptable. Rugby is a game for all. Marler is actually a really nice bloke so let's not go overboard on either count.

One thing I meant to mention was what happened to me in the toilets at Twickenham. Yes it is important to know. I bumped into Tom Noott, former Crowborough star and thoroughly nice bloke. Nooty is no longer playing due to some injury and health complications, this despite him looking as fit as a butchers's dog to me. He is also a few months away from being a dad and that too has focussed his mind. He spoke fondly of his time with us and that speaks volumes of the club we are.

Whilst in the car park sharing a few glasses of red wine with friends, thanks Geoff & Clare, Mark 'Splash' Llewellyn came up with an idea worthy of consideration. His idea is based on the terrible abuse soccer referees get. Basically get rid of that stupid white pitch marker they carry round and give them tasers. Next time someone is in the ref's face a few thousand volts in the nether regions would sort the problem out. I like it.

Time to go University Challenge is on next. A) Can you understand the questions and B) do you answer more than three questions. If you've answered yes to both you are a better man than me.

Come on the Foxes vs the Toon Army tonight.

b]Sunday 13th March - 10:00[/b]

As The Bard was with me at Twickenham I haven't yet seen the match report for yesterdays 17 - 36 defeat to Old Colfeians. I am guessing based on the fact that we lost another couple of key players to injury we must have put out a very junior side. So this result therefore is a great testament to the quality of the boys coming through and their commitment to our great club.

I'd like to be at the club this morning as three of our junior sides are at home. Guess what? As soon as this drivel is published I'm back on the A27 to Salisbury.

Congratulations to Tunbridge Wells, Sevenoaks and Heathfield & Waldron who all enjoyed cup success yesterday. Great stuff and good luck in the next rounds.

So to Twickenham. A splendid atmosphere pre-match albeit the scrum to get a train was a challenge. The RFU have cut back on the parking to get more and more sponsorship / hospitality into the car parks and more and more entertainment to keep the hoardes spending their hard earned cash in bars and food outlets. It is a good day out and a good reason to get there early.

To the match itself. Let me say up front that I haven't seen such a lanquid, disjointed and amateurish 40 minutes from Wales in a very long time. This, plus Wales woeful discipline in the contact areas contributed to England's dominance in the first half. I do not underestimate the fact that England played very well and in turn were a cause for Wales performance. The men in white played with a vibrancy and cohesion so lacking for so long. There was an 'entrepreneurial' spirit with players taking more calculated risks than we've seen before. Ford, Brown, Watson all making good ground. Vunipola and Itoje making a mockery of Wales defence and disrupting Wales limited ball. All is not rosy as England should have been further ahead, not because of the tries that weren't, and they weren't tries, but because of some poor decision making.

Moving to the second half thankfully Wales decided to join the party. The ball was moved wider more quickly, the discipline improved and the set piece started to deliver some decent ball. England still tried to play but the attacks were thwarted more quickly and they had to prove their defensive metal. Wales two tries were well worked and a nervy England were relieved to hang on.

Maro Itoje was EXCELLENT and deserved the man of the match award. Vunipola was strong and Dylan led from the front. I thought Watson, Brown and Nowell all played well going forward but at times were caught out of position in defence. For Wales Faletau was ok, Gareth Davies battled hard, and Liam Williams stood out. On the negative side Cuthbert was poor, and the question about George Ford's future has been raised now Tuilagi is back.

James Haskell has got to improve his discipline. He could have endured another 10 minutes on his backside for another neck-roll tackle. For Wales Thomas Francis was a lucky boy to stay on. It will be interesting to see how this develops in coming days. My view is........ I really don't know but I would prefer to see some sort of ban as any thought of gouging has to be removed from our game.

More reflection tomorrow but the RFU can get the space for Grand Slam trophy ready. If England don't beat France next week then I'll eat my hat Easter egg.

Friday 11th March - 18:00

Here we are on the eve of the 'big one'. Crowborough v Old Colfeians of course. This is one of our games in hand and therefore an opportunity to creep up the table. It won't be easy and no-one is expecting it to be. In fact it will be tough but rest assured our boys will give it their best whoever is playing and that is all we can ask.

When you talk of giving their best I am continually blown away by the commitment of The Friday Club. I missed out this morning for a range of reasons...... being knackered and with a seriously painful knee being just two...... but the faithful were there preparing the place for the weekend. Thankfully the pitches have dried somewhat and the clubhouse is looking good. Thank you all.

Obviously at 4pm all eyes will turn to Twickenham and the other 'almost as big one'. The mind games have started with Eddie Jones breaking the vow of silence and claiming Wales scrum is illegal and putting pressure on Craig Joubert to referee it harshly. In turn Robbie McBride has said the finger should firmly be pointing at Joe Marler and his suspect technique. Me, I say 'get on with it!!!'. The last thing we want is reset scrum after reset scrum.

I thought Dylan spoke well today about the game. He described eloquently how England have put the fripperies to one-side and the focus is on the game and only on the game.

Where are the key head to head battlegrounds? Faletau v Vunipola is top of the list. They are key players and need to be on top form. The scrum half contest will be intriguing. Gareth Davies will need to be watched carefully. The battle of the centres is key. Whoever makes the most ground, misses the fewest tackles and frees up the wide men the best will be crucial.

Where will Wales win or lose the game? Ball retention! If Wales kick hard won ball away to England's back line then they might as well as concede the game now. If they retain it and release George North they could sneak this one.

Where will England win or lose the game? Discipline! If they continue to concede penalties at the ruck and tackle situations then Biggar might just turn the screw to a point where there is no return. If they are discipliend and use the potency of the white back line then start clearing the cabinet for the Grand Slam trophy.

It feels if I now own part of Twickenham based on the ticket price so all I hope for is a good game........ but I'd accept a rubbish game and a Welsh win. Sadly I go for an England win and I fear it might just be a convincing win at that.

Thursday 10th March - 07:00

What a day yesterday (actually today as it is Wednesday pm, the kids are in bed and I am taking some 'me time'). It must have hammered down and blown a gale. The roads en route to the nursery school were flooded and several large branches were across the road (one of which I cleared to the gratitude of all the mums keeping warm in their vehicles behind me). Anyway to rugby news..........

Cockerill is still unhappy with Tuilagi being selected to play for England. Handle him with care he says. Yeah sure....... put him head to head with Jamie Roberts. He'll be safe that way.

Jamie George is out injured. That is a blow for the Red Rose as many have stated he should start ahead of Dylan. Luke Cowan-Dickie is no slouch but...!!

History will be made in New Jersey on Saturday as London Irish take on Saracens at the Red Bull Arena. Kick 20:00 GMT.

In other news Maria Sharapova dominates the headlines. Read into it what you will but for me the telling aspect is she claims to have been taking the drug for ten years when the manufacturer and doctors say it would only be prescribed for a maximum of 10 weeks. Mmmmm!!!!

Elsewhere as Donald Trump continues to march relentlessly towards the Republican nomination my daughter came up with a great one liner: having Trump as President would be like having Herod as your babysitter.

I thank our great Club Ambassador John Wilmshurst for bringing to my attention the latest EU Directive. From May 31st UK citizens will no longer be able to use the phrase 'spending a penny'. Instead they must refer to it as 'Euronating'. The European mandarins hope this will come as a relief but are available for advice if not. Just give them a tinkle.

As I sat waiting for my grandson to finish nursery I caught a story on Radio 5 Live (other stations are available) about a barrister by the moniker; The Cycling Silk who has taken a motorist to court because he nearly ran him down whilst cycling to chambers. What an absolute dick. No wonder the legal profession gets a bad press when idiots like this rise to the top. Can you imagine it....... you walk into Waitrose and before you have even got your trolley two burly policemen whisk you off to court just in case you might shoplift. As it happens the barrister is now fighting the courts allocation of all £28,000 in costs to him. Ha! Serves you right.

Finally, I am no saint on the road. My driving can be erratic but some of the driving you see beggars belief. Only this week I saw a mother taking her child to school with a mug of hot coffee (it could have been tea) and her phone in her hand. I swear she was texting as she was driving. Aaaarrgghhhh!!!

Wednesday 9th March - 07:00

Let me start with Wales who have picked the same XV that started against France to run on against England. Luke Charteris returns to the bench, as does Rhys Webb. The latter's selection is tough on Lloyd Williams but Webb is a class act. Gethin Jenkins has suffered a recurrence of his calf strain so is out of the squad. The front row is Wales Achilles heel but this looks a pretty squad all the same.

Courtney Lawes has been replaced by Ed Slater. Good call. I thought Lawes looked disinterested when he came on against Ireland. Tuilagi is in the squad and looks set to play a part, much to the frustration of Richard Cockerill who says he is not ready. Of course Cockerill is going to say that. He would rather none of his players played for England but especially not Tuilagi. To be fair I understand his viewpoint...... to a degree. Wales Robert Howley on the other hand is saying he should start, he is a class player and looked sharp against Exeter on Sunday.

If Wales kick away hard won possession like they have been doing then England will win and win well. I think England have the edge and the hurt of RWC 2015 defeat to Wales will spur them on.

Craig Joubert returns to Twickenham this Saturday after his embarrassing exit after the RWC 2015 Scotland v Australia game.

James Haskell has stated he thinks showing slow motion replays on the big screen is swaying referees decisions. He has a point but your tackle was high. Get on with it.

Finally I am getting fed up to the back teeth about being told what is good for you and what isn't. Don't drink this, don't eat that, don't do that. Drugs and tobacco are definitely NOT good for you, in my humble opinion. Everything else is about moderation.

Must go..... my bacon buttie is ready.

Tuesday 8th March - 07:00

I'm still smiling after Saturday's fine win over Horsham. It was without doubt a great result and more importantly much needed. As mentioned on Sunday Tunbridge Wells stay unbeaten and their excellent season goes on. Sevenoaks are the only side with any realistic chance of catching the men from St Marks and a fine 34-5 win over Beckenham keeps that chase going. Ashford languish at the foot of the table with Deal & Betteshanger being the victors this week. Dartfordians v OCs looked a cracker with one point out of 51 separating the two sides. Finally Hove moved another step towards safety beating Old Alleynians 12 - 10. Whilst the rest of the league rests next week we take on OCs at home.

In Sussex 1 we are now bottom after having to concede to Haywards Heath who in turn stay 2nd behind Lewes who beat Worthing 3s. Hellingly, Horsham II, Midhurst and Crawley were the other winners.

In London 3 South East The Greenies had a HWO against Uckfield keeping them on top by points difference over Bromley who beat Pulborough. Eastbourne enjoyed a fine, but narrow win away at Folkestone but Burgess Hill lost heavily away at Gillingham Anchorians. Our friends at Aylesford Bulls beat Cranbrook and still are in the hunt for promotion....just. Old Dunstonians were the other winners away at Park House. Sadly Uckfield remain marooned at the foot of the table.

Above us Brighton, Medway, and Maidstone all won but our friends over at Charlton Park suffered the narrowest of defeats away at Chobham. Sutton & Epsom head this league by 10 points over Guildford.

In the ether of London National League the G-Force suffered a rare defeat but it was against the table topping Demented Irish Flying Things (aka London Irish Wild Geese). TJs are the only side who realistically could overtake the birds after another home win, this time against Hertford. Chichester are looking increasingly safe after a home win against Westcliff.

Ok, here it is........ as I type I am less than two miles from Hudson's Field, home of Salisbury RFC. They enjoyed they trip to Swanage & Wareham and stay 2nd. Bridgnorth, which is where I will be in April sit comfortably atop the table after their away win over Silhillians.

That'll do for now. Tomorrow I will look ahead to England v Wales but do note the loss of Courtney Lawes and the return for Wales of Rhys Webb. Tuilagi remains the big ponderable.

Finally I throw a question out there....... when will they be asking for heading the football in soccer to be banned? Let us not underestimate the importance of due care and attention but we don't yet live in a totalitarian nanny state.

Sunday 6th March - 10:00

First and foremost thank you to Dave Bristow and The Friday Club for their efforts to get yesterday's game on, and what a game it was. On a heavy pitch two sides played some great rugby. Certainly the few neutrals in the large crowd would have thought so. The standard of handling was high, the defensive qualities of both sides immense and the desire to play open running rugby to be applauded. I think it is fair to say we managed the conditions the better and our defence was brilliant for long periods as Horsham battled valiantly to get the upper hand. We held out and earned a much needed win which takes us ahead of Thanet Wanderers. The Wanderers coming second to the juggernaut powering its way to promotion, namely Tunbridge Wells.

I must say the referee played his part in the quality of the game by being consistent throughout, calm and collected in his decision making and fit. Well done sir.

It would be remiss of me not to mention the contribution the youngsters made. Yet again our conveyor belt of young talent coming through is excellent. It was some of the older players who stood up to be counted though. Damien Hayes, Nick Hill, Chris Yates were all excellent. Skipper Sean Derrick, despite playing for a long period with a very painful jaw, as always lead from the front. Well done guys.

I'll look at the rest of the league's results on Tuesday as normal.

Sadly we had to pull our 2nd XV game due to a lack of a front row and The Crows game was pulled by Burgess Hill as their pitches were unplayable.

Our win set up the evening perfectly for a Crowborough - Leicester City double. The Mighty Foxes continued their remarkable run with a fine away win at Watford and what with Spurs and Arsenal drawing the dream continues.

Time to go. Vegetables to peel. I am back in Salisbury from tomorrow morning so the blog might be a little hit and miss.

Friday 4th March - 07:00

Actually I am cheating a bit in that its actually Thursday at 21:00. Please let us hope that the rain (again more rain already) does not put Saturday's game in jeopardy. The games are........

1st XV Home v Horsham
2nd XV Home v Haywards Heath
Crows Away v Burgess Hill 2s (again??)

Please try and get along and support the guys.

I've been at the club tonight, and yes it seems a long time since I was there, finalising our league lunch plan for the rest of the season. Watch this blog and e:mails from 'Coops' for details.

Whilst there Andy 'Bones' Barker had a chat to me about a contact of his who wanted to talk about the bump on the head her son had last Sunday. She was delighted with the promptness of the care her lad received, the way we briefed her on his status, the subsequent follow up by the club, and the briefing of the school and other relevant people. In essence we followed to the letter the RFU protocols and they work. At a time when some outside our game want it banned it is gratifying to know the system works.

Some might argue but he got injured and that is the whole point. Yes, but I would counter that by saying there is no guarantee the lad is not going to bang his head elsewhere and I can guarantee wherever that is the protocol used would be nowhere near as good as the one the RFU has in place.

Lots of Super Rugby on TV tomorrow.

Wasps are hoping to sign Kurtley Beale. Wasps the Toulon of English rugby.

Finally, if I don't see you at Friday Club I'll see you on Saturday. By request I will have my Plane Spotters Monthly and my Leicester City, The Filbert Street Years with me.

Thursday 3rd March - 08:30

I know the Organ of Truth is a crap newspaper full of right wing propaganda and cannot always be counted on for its accuracy but I do think they have capture the mood of the rugby fraternity on the safety of schools rugby issue: Turning children into couch potatoes is not a cure for sports injuries.

Yesterday must have been a slow news day allowing Prof Pollock's own version of propaganda to be touted across the news media. Let's move on and await the latest news of the next tragic stabbing in East London or Nottingham or Bristol, or read about the issue of obesity in schoolchildren, or the problem of anti-social behaviour amongst teenagers lacking in direction and family support.

The hype about England v Wales on March 12th is lacking the verbal bric-bats of Jones and Gatland but there is a interesting piece (BBC Sport) on the battle between Faletau and Vunipola. A titanic clash of behemoths.

I read with interest that The Ospreys have made their first profit since 2007; £143k. To me this is reassuring yet on the other hand it does beg the question how clubs can survive in the current climate of increasing wages, declining pool of talent, tough economic conditions and so on. How some of the aspiring clubs will ever get to the top table is beyond me. I grow increasingly convinced a 14 team top flight franchise system is the way to go thus (potentially, but not guaranteed) relieving the pressure on clubs below to spend, spend, spend to achieve greatness.

Brazil beat the USA in a recent test match. Wow! Sad the Americans can't get a team together who are more competitive with the immenese pool of sporting talent to draw from but marvellous that Brazil are upcoming.

The 1st XV take on Horsham on Saturday. Kick off 3pm. I have lost track of all the fixtures due to the rearrangements so a fuller preview tomorrow (before Friday Club).

As soon as I hit the 'publish' button so the weather changed yesterday. Lunchtime saw us hit with a Siberian snowstorm. Pretty impressive. Today is much brighter. Let's hope so as our pitches simply cannot cope with any more rain. A plague of locusts might be preferable.

What a night of football. A night that saw Spurs, Arsenal and Manchester City all fail to gain ground on the Mighty Foxes. At some point I will wake up and realise it is all a dream.

Wednesday 2nd March - 08:00

A brighter day today enhanced by the successful launch of our Player Development Programme (PDP) on Monday. Paul 'Graysey' Gray has been driving this initiative forward and it came to fruition on Monday night. 60+ youngsters outside under lights improving their understanding of the game, improving technical skills with a focus on preparing them for the transition from junior to senior rugby. A number of our coaches also took part improving their coaching skills and enhancing the evening.

Whilst that was going on 32 aspiring coaches were doing their 'Rugby Ready' course in the warmth of the clubhouse. Brilliant stuff.

With more and more clubs, in my very humble opinion blindly and shortsightedly, going down the route of paying players we have to work even harder at growing our own fruit. These steps are epitomised by the great work done on Monday night. Thanks Graysey, Siggsy, Peter S and Tracey and all others involved for your efforts.

The other rugby story is the call to ban tackling and scrums in rugby at school and junior level.

At the forefront of the campaign is a certain Professor Allyson Pollock. Ms Pollock has featured in my blog before so I make the same comments as I have before. Prof, you are NOT objective in this matter. Tragically your son suffered an injury playing rugby and therefore this is a personal campaign which gets mired in your subjectivity on the subject. Rugby would not be rugby without contact.

Ok let me give you my personal view. I think the rugby authorities are not ignoring the issue. In fact head injuries are very high on their agenda and this has been very well cascaded down through the game. As highlighted by Monday's activities there is a drive on improving the technical skills of players with a strong focus on player safety. That said there is still more to be done.

One of the drivers of injury is not the boys and girls playing at junior level it is the increasing size of players at the top level. I am not sure what you can do about that but I do know the emphasis on removing high tackles, depowering the scrum, seriously penalising the tip tackle, managing the ruck etc, etc are all steps in the right direction.

I 100% agree that making rugby as safe as it possibly can be is crucial but turning it into a non contact sport is NOT the the answer.

Before I move off the subject I make two further points........

I find it interesting that amateur boxing is stopping fighters from using headguards. Their research shows that this move will lessen the risk of head injuries and not heighten it. This is fascinating. I have often thought that headguards in rugby give a false sense of security.

My second point relates to life in general. In the newspapers today are stories of youngsters being stabbed to death on streets DAILY all over the country. One high profile case being the stabbing of 16 year old Bailey Gwynne after a row over biscuits. Surely this needs more urgent attention than the focus Prof Pillock is putting on rugby.

As I say injury management and reduction is CRUCIAL but come on. Dumbing down the game to turn it into netball doesn't make sense. By the way the attrition rate of netballers is very high. My daughter's knees and ankles are a classic case in point.

There is much in the papers I'd like to rant about: Trump, the EU, immigration, the weather but I won't. Not today anyway. One story did catch the eye and that was the rants of a leading A&E doctor fed up with the timewasters using the ambulance service as a taxi service and A&E as a drop in centre for the most minor injuries.

Ok, my view is simple. If you could more easily get an appointment with your GP then people wouldn't see A&E as a drop in service. That said I think that cases deemed to be trivial and timewasting should incur a charge. People would think twice if there was the chance of having to pay say £25 per visit. Likewise this could be applied to spurious and timewasting calls to the ambulance service. The dilemma being who decides on what is trivial. The one area I passionately believe this should immediately be applied to is where any A&E visit or ambulance call out is alcohol related.

One wheel off the Leicester wagon last night but not a total derailing. Must go..... the 'biggies' are on the way over. Thomsons Dreamliner from Punta Cana........

Tuesday 1st March - 09:30

A very happy St David's Day to you all. Appropriately for the patron saint of Wales it is a depressingly gloomy, grey, dank day with rain falling from the leaden skies. Carol Kirkwood eat your heart out.

Last weekend was predominantly a cup weekend with a few 'catch up' league fixtures being played. Having read the report and chatted with The Bard it seems our 'kids' played pretty well on Saturday despite the scoreline. From what I hear we had stage fright for much of the first half but finished very much the stronger in the second. I am proud of how the boys are sticking at it, especially those who are still technically Colts and were making their debuts for the 1st XV. Well done all.

With our 2nd string unable to muster 10 fit players, let alone 15 we had no other option than to scratch our fixture with Crawley. The Crows were able to get a side together and they took on Burgess Hill 2s. The Crows, made up of anyone who can manage to tie their laces, have learnt left from right, know the alphabet and can get through 80 minutes without the use of an incontinence pad took the field at Steel Cross. For the record most would be totally out of their depth in the 2nd team, prefer the comeraderie of the Crows and have no desire to put themselves at risk of being in A&E and missing out on valuable drinking time. They did the club proud with a fine 22-20 win over Burgess Hill actually playing some good rugby. Well done guys. Quite rightly BH walked away with the 40 - 0 win according to the regulations. Mike Richardson will be there at heaven's gate with a smile on his face at that news.

For the record those playing for the Crows are a great bunch. I hope they forgive my artistic licence......... I doubt it.

Elsewhere Tunbridge Wells and Sevenoaks continue their fine seasons with wins in the RFU Intermediate Cup. London Exiles and Fullerians were the other winners.

Well done to to our good friends at Heathfield & Waldron and Aylesford Bulls who now face each other in the regional final of the RFU Senior Cup.

In the Junior Cup both Seaford and Burgess Hill got knocked out sadly.

Full day of fixtures in the Midlands with Bridgnorth beating Leek to remain top.

So Manu is back in the squad and no action to be taken against Mike Brown. I got something right for a change. Wow!!!!!!

The Mighty Foxes play West Brom tonight. I am convinced the wheels will come off the wagon at some point and I fear it will be tonight.

The goings on in Calais lead the news this morning plus more negative campaigning about Brexit. The latest being 'Brits could be stranded abroad if UK exits Europe'. To get into Europe you need a passport as we are not in Schengen. That passport is valid to exit the country and unless the EU is immediately going to ask for visas then this story is nonsense. Can you imagine Spain saying Brits are not welcome in their holiday resorts. It would wipe billions off their economy overnight. What a load of utter nonsense.

The bigger and more realistic fear is France telling the UK they will no longer allow Britain to manage border controls in Calais. It has to move back to Dover. Mmmmmm!!!! That is interesting.

Monday 29th Feb - 09:30

Much talk following Saturday's games about Mike Brown being cited for his reckless use of feet during the dying minutes of the game vs Ireland. Let me give you my humble opinion on the subject. Firstly Conor Murray was hanging on to the ball illegally: penalty. There is nothing illegal about using the foot in a ruck. In fact I wish proper old fashion rucking was brought back. It might stop this persistent killing of the ball. Conclusion: there is no case to answer. Move on.

In the Aviva Premiership Saracens stay top despite being held by Sale Sharks. Exeter and Wasps are on a charge and any slip by Sarries could see them lose that top spot. Manu Tuilagi is back for Leicester and rumoured to be back in the England squad to face Wales. Tough on Elliot Daly who is likely to be dropped if that happens.

In the Pro 12 Connacht, the surprise package that they are, top the table. The win against Ospreys on Saturday cementing their position.

Eddie Jones and Warren Gatland have entered into a trappist vow of silence ahead of the clash on March 12th. Shame really as it adds to the build up and as long as it doesn't cross the line no harm is done. That said Jones did cross that line with some of his remarks about Johhny Sexton pre Saturday's encounter.

Clive, I've never knowingly missed an opportunity for self publicity, Woodward has said that Jones should speak up. You would wouldn't you Sir Clive.

Elsewhere what about those Foxes. 89 minutes and wham in it goes from Ulloa to stay top. Brilliant.

At last someone else is shouting loudly that Tony Blair is a lying b's....
Our brave servicemen and women went to war on the back of outrageous lies from Blair and that other deceitful ass George W. Bush. They should forever be ashamed of their murderous acts.

Are you any clearer on the EU debate. Sadly it will be dominated by one issue: immigration. Sadly this means the wider benefits of EU membership, or the broader disadvantages of EU membership will be overlooked.

Must go. Need to catch up on the news of the Oscars......... NOT!!! Much more important things to do like checking on the progress of UA984, a United Airlines Boeing 767 on route from CDG to SFO. Currently at 30,000 over Ashford.