Sunday 28th Feb - 11:00
Yet again I have failed miserably in my duties. I didn't make it to any of our games yesterday. The best laid plans shot to pieces as other demands on my time took precedence. I haven't yet read 'The Bards' report but I am guessing a very inexperienced side took on Hove and despite their best efforts couldn't overcome a well organised claret and blue outfit. My guess is based on the fact we again couldn't get a second XV out to take on Crawley. This is incredibly disappointing but is indicative of our unbelievable injury problems.
Having to be at home doing 'stuff' did mean I could watch the Italy v Scotland and England v Ireland games. The first game was seriously enjoyable with two sides playing some open rugby. I continue to fear for Italy once Sergio Perisse hangs up his boots. Scotland showed glimpses of their form from RWC 2015. Stuart Hogg and Greig Laidlaw showed their class and John Barclay was imperious.
At Twickenham England should have been out of sight at half time. They dominated the possession and territory but simply couldn't turn it into points. Part of the problem was the high penalty count turning positive attacking positions into mid-field defensive ones. To be fair Ireland defended well but England lacked, with the exception of Billy Vunipola, the 'je ne sais quoi' to take Ireland apart. The second half saw Ireland take a more positive role in proceedings, especially after Conor Murray went over early on. Ireland's desire opened the gates for Mike Brown and Anthony Watson to cross for well worked tries. Ireland went close when an amazing last ditch tackle by Jack Nowell prevented a Henshaw try after a superb break by Johhny Sexton. With England down to 14 men Ireland were robbed of a try thanks to the TMO rules. Josh van der Flier was denied a try thanks to the question being 'try, no try?' as opposed to 'any reason why I can't award a try'. It was a try!!!
Were England worthy winners? Yes! Should they have won by more? Yes! Are England on the right track to being where they should be in the world rankings? Yes! If Eddie Jones can get his team to emulate the excellence of Billy Vunipola then they have a chance to be world beaters. If Eddie Jones continues to give talent like Maro Itoje their chance, and picking form players like Elliot Daly then they will be world beaters.
Next up Wales. Wales will be a tougher proposition. The men in red will need to play better than they did against France if they are to overcome England. Conversely England will need to be more disciplined and more ruthless in execution if they are to beat a 'full on' Wales. Only time will tell.
Saturday 27th Feb - 10:00
Let's look forward before we look back. At 16:50 England will kick off against Ireland. At approximately 18:50 a new Messiah will have been found, the trophy cabinet being cleared for the 6 Nations Trophy and the planning for the RWC 2019 victory tour will start. All this on the back of a resounding England victory over Ireland. With my limited knowledge of the game I genuinely believe it will be a resounding win. This based on a) the English squad looks strong and well balanced, b) Ireland have suffered a number of injuries and key players are getting past their sell by date and c) it is long overdue for England to deliver.
There are two things England must do if they are to succeed. They must secure quick ball from lineout, scrum and ruck and then free up the back line moving the ball wide at pace. There you have it.
As a byline I see England are no longer going to walk through the massed ranks of supporters under the shadow of the West Stand. It will be off the coach and into the changing rooms. No comment required.
Let's now look at yesterday evening. What a game. Outstanding! Amazing! Thoroughly entertaining! The Cheetahs vs Los Jaguares. This is what rugby should be like.
Less satisfying was England U20s defeat to Ireland. England looked good for long periods but couldn't close out the game when they had the chance. Well done Ireland for sticking at it. Sorry Bro, another one gets past you.
Significantly less amazing was Wales v France. Tirgid is the best description of the first half. Wales, yet again, kicked away hard won ball and couldn't make a break to save their lives. France thankfully were even more clueless. They had no idea, yet despite this Wales couldn't get past Les Bleus. The second half was better with Wales showing a degree of expansive ambition. Gareth Davies was outstanding, as was Talupe Faletau. Wales defended exceptionally well but this won't be enough against England in two weeks time. Wales are tough to beat but that simply is not good enough. For me Ali Williams summed it up and I paraphrase: 'if the All Blacks had had that amount of possession against the French they would have scored at least two more tries'. On the bright side Wales are unbeaten, top the table and quite frankly that is what the Welsh want.
Liam Williams. An excellent player, but a player who couldn't stop a pig in a passage. How bandy legged is he?
Must go as the Reds v Warratahs is on the box.
Friday 26th Feb - 10:00
Time is a blur right now but I think Wales play France tonight, the Super Rugby has kicked off, and much more importantly our boys will get some games on Saturday and our fabulous minis and juniors will play on Sunday.
The 1s are away at Hove. A crucial clash for both clubs. The 2s are away at Crawley.... I think. The Mighty Crows are either at home to Burgess Hill II or away in the cup against Haywards Heath or are taking on Ireland A in Newcastle. Except for a trip to Newcastle I will try and get to one of the matches.
Cardiff will be buzzing tonight with the French in town. The trains might not be so active however. This being the biggest bugbear of games in Cardiff, especially on a Friday night. Wales need to keep possession tonight. Aimless kicking will be gift wrapping the game for the French. Whilst there are very few names on the French teamsheet I recognise you can rest assure that they will play an expansive game. Guy Noves will expect nothing less. Gatland will need to change his mindset and think, attack, attack, attack. They have the fire power in the backs. USE THEM!!!!!!! I fear a Wales loss simply because I don't think Wales will change their game plan.
I will preview the England game tomorrow as I now have to dash to the station to get the train home from Salisbury. Into Waterloo then across to Waterloo East for the T Wells train. Based on the ticket price I think I must now own part of the network. It is daylight robbery. If the Europeans get one thing right it is train fares. They are so much better value than the UK.
The BBC scandal is the main headline but I see there has been yet another random shooting in the US. hey ho! Immigration is up again. Hey ho! On a brighter note the practice for Scaletrix 2016 has started. Summer is on its way. Hoorah!!!
Wednesday 24th Feb - 20:00
Another very long day of child care and domestic duties here in Salisbury. It is challenging but great fun. Now, before I get onto the weekends big games let me tell you I have been called some names in my time and most have not been pleasant. Tonight has been a first........ someone who shall remain nameless (Mr Geering) has called me Mary Poppins. Let's move swiftly on.
Warren Gatland has made a couple of changes with Dan Lydiate and Alex Cuthbert restored to the starting line-up. Tom James is out altogether but Justin Tipuric remains in the match day squad. Bradley Davies starts instead of the injured Luke Charteris. This is a blow as he's played well to date. Jonathan Davies being fit is a bonus.
Guy Noves has also shuffled his deck and I think Les Bleus will start as favourites. They have nothing to lose as many have already written them off despite two wins from two. Guy Noves will allow them to play with flair and gay abandon. This might be a cracker.
Eddie Jones has been forced into a number of changes due to injuries and one way or another Elliot Daly will make his debut. The Wasps man deserves his spot based on current form. Jones has also played the 'everyone hates us' card thus upsetting the Irish. If the statement is true then it is because of the 'everyone hates us' attitude which cause everyone to hate you.
Never write the Irish off despite the injuries they have and the ageing squad. They were stung in Paris and will be up for this one. I go England by a reasonable margin IF England keep ball in hand. The quote of the week comes from Danny Care: 'we owe the fans a win'. Too damn right you do after the RWC 2015 debacle.
Apparently the other game is Italy v Scotland. I go for the Scots by a narrow margin.
Schalk Brits gets another ban, three weeks this time.
It continues to worry me that there are so many injuries to report. Cory Allen out for the season with a broken ankle is an example.
Before moving off rugby there is a good piece on BBC Sport about the Friday night 6 Nations games. Well worth a read.
I haven't assiduously been following the news as I normally do but two stories have caught the eye......
Donald Trump scores another stunning win in the latest Republican primaries. I always knew the sceptics were mad. The man is a bigoted fool.
The other story is the North Wales dog story. I wonder if there would have been such a kafuffle if a 40ft articulated lorry had swerved to miss the dog and ploughed into a family car killing its six occupants. Yes it might have been drastic to drive over the dog but the alternative is unthinkable....... in my very humble opinion.
Complaints on this can be sent to the NRA or the Donald Trump campaign...... no extreme view too extreme.
Must go. Time for a lie down in a darkened nappy free room.
Tuesday 23rd Feb - 14:00
Much later than I hoped due to child care and patient care duties anyway......
The bad news is we slip to bottom but one after our postponement and Thanet Wanderers fine win over Old Alleynians. The good news is we are on the same points as the Wanderers and with three games in hand.
Tunbridge Wells are all but guaranteed to be promoted now after their VERY impressive win over high flying Dartfordians, and Sevenoaks slipping up at Deal & Betteshanger. Graham, I hope I am not putting the mockers on you by saying that but you deserve it based on your fine season to date. Hove are not safe after losing at Beckenham. We face Hove next Saturday. Having said the wheels had come off Horsham's season they only go and thrash Ashford 62 - 7. Hey Ho!
In Sussex 1 our 2s enjoyed a rare but much deserved win away at Chichester III. We are off the bottom but a long way from safety. Lewes remain top on points difference to Haywards Heath but do have a game in hand. Lewes beat Brighton II away whilst the Heath enjoyed the dreaded HWO over bottom placed Midhurst. Hellingly stay third after beating Crawley by a single point.
In London 3 South East The Greenies enjoyed the trip back from Pulborough after a fine 0-24 win keeping them top. Eastbourne lost to second place Bromley by a margin. Burgess Hill v Uckfield was off due to the weather. Cranbrook, Gillingham Anchorians and Old Dunstonians were the other winners. All at home.
In London 1 South Brighton enjoyed a narrow away win over Chiswick and sit comfortably in fifth. Our friends at Charlton Park slipped deeper into trouble losing at home to Havant. Maidstone came second to Medway in the local Kent derby. Sutton & Epsom sit top but Guildford are hot on their heels.
In the ether of the National London league East Grinstead continued their fine run of form beating Colchester. TJs also enjoyed a win, this time away at Shelford. They remain third and second respectively. The Mad Irish birds are clear at the top and destined for promotion me thinks after beating Westcliff. Chichester snuck past Bracknell by a point and would have enjoyed the long trip home as a consequence.
Salisbury enjoyed an easy win at home vs High Wycombe and stay second. Bridgnorth enjoyed their trip to Kenilworth and are now looking favourites for back to back promotions.
Back late tomorrow (busy day ahead) for a look at the 6 Nations news. Wales make three changes.
Monday 22nd Feb - 14:00
Imagine my frustration when I read on Sunday evening that our home games had been postponed on Saturday due to the weather. It is driving me mad that our hardworking team are constantly thwarted by the rain. It is easy to say that we should just get on with it. In today's H&S conscious society putting players welfare at risk is not acceptable. That said if things were marginal I would take the risk but they haven't been marginal, the grounds have been flooded and totally unusable. I have just written to all our members on this subject and as you can guess I share their frustration.
Lets move on before I get wound up again.........
The big game this weekend is Cheetahs vs Los Jaguares. Who? This is South African Cheetahs vs the new Argentinian franchise in the Southern Hemisphere Super Rugby Championship. Basically the Argentina national side. Its on Sky. Well worth a watch.
Newcastle beat Northampton. Wow. Andy Goode is making a difference then.
Injury stories are filling the column inches ahead of this weekend's games. Wow! That comes as a surprise ....... NOT!
France select Castres' David Smith only to find he is ineligible. Muppets!!
Wasps continue to improve and will only get better as the money they have at their disposal starts to talk.
So, we now have a date for the EU referendum: June 23rd. This is a massive decision for this country and the lines are being drawn. Nicola Sturgeon continues to want her cake and eat it and have a cherry on the top. Boris has jumped to the 'out' campaign. Only because he has his eyes on No.10. Self serving pr...! Me? I have no idea yet which way I am going to vote. I might just up sticks and go to New Zealand away from it all.
Another random gun attack in the US. When will they ever learn.
Must go. Grandson just back from his swimming lessons.
Thursday 18th Feb - 08:00
There is probably much to write about today but on hearing of the death of Mike Richardson I feel it right to dedicate today's blog to him. Some of you will know Mike, many of you won't. Mike was a stalwart of Sussex rugby, Hove rugby and the referees society. He managed the Sussex leagues, including the Colts league, he was a referee in his day but more latterly a coach / mentor / advisor, and he was a loyal supporter at Hove RFC.
Mike could be a pedantic bugger at times but he never shirked his responsibilities and those people who have worked with him will recognise his sense of loyalty. I got to know Mike when I started refereeing. He helped me improve and was always available if issues needed to be addressed. Over the years we have bumped into each other at county events and he was always good company. I, along with many across the county will miss him.
Thankfully his illness was short and I hope this is of some comfort to his friends and family. On behalf of CRFC, and from me personally, our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time.
Thanks Mike. You'll be sorely missed. May you rest in peace my friend.
The blog may be hit and miss over the coming weeks as I return to child care duties in Salisbury.
Tuesday 16th Feb - 08:00
For once it is great to be up and at it early, I know not as early as most but early for a laggard like me. The weather is great; crystal clear blue sky, very cold but dry. Just the weather for the beach, and that is exactly where me and the grandchildren are heading today.
Ok, let's get on with the Tuesday round-up. Sevenoaks sit atop of the table after their convincing win over Horsham, who most definitely have gone off the boil after their new year beating of us. Tunbridge Wells sit second after their away win at OCs but do have a game in hand. In my humble opinion the only obstacle between them and promotion is the return fixture with Sevenoaks. They are having a great season. Dartfordians continue to be the surprise package and enjoyed another fine win at home against Old Alleynians. Like us Hove are not enjoying the best of seasons and lost at home to Deal & Betteshanger. Thanet Wanderers still lie 13 points ahead of bottom placed Ashford and 5 adrift of us after their bonus point loss to Beckenham.
I understand we blooded yet more youngsters against Ashford making our win even more impressive, and boy we needed a win.
In Sussex 1 Lewes remain top on points difference but didn't play on Saturday. Haywards Heath are second after beating Worthing IIIs. Hellingly, Chichester III and Seaford were the other winners. By virtue of not having had to concede as many games as Midhurst our 2s lie one off the bottom.
In London 3 South East The Greenies stay top after beating Eastbourne with Bromley second on points difference after their home win against Cranbrook. In the all Sussex clash Uckfield were narrowly beaten at home by Pulborough. Burgess Hill didn't enjoy the trip back from Park House after their loss. In the other games Old Dunstonians triumphed at Folkestone whilst Aylesford Bulls beat Gillingham Anchorians. With games running out Uckfield look doomed to the drop.
Above us in London 1 South our friends at Charlton Park lost at Brighton. Embattled Medway lost at home to Sidcup, whilst Maidstone narrowly beat Dover.
In the National London League the crazy London Irish Geese are now clear at the top after TJs were docked points for an 'admin error' during a recent game. East Grinstead would have enjoyed the flight home from Guernsey after their 11 - 25 win. They are now just a point behind TJs. Beautiful island Guernsey. If you've not been you should go. Chichester also enjoyed a win at home to Wimbledon and are now looking safe from relegation.
Further afield Salisbury, which is where I will be for the next ten days or so, came away from Trowbridge with a narrow win. They sit second. Bridgnorth suffered from a waterlogged pitch so didn't play. They remain top though, now with two games in hand.
In other news Cipriani is on his way back to Wasps, the Toulon of English rugby. Sean O'Brien will miss the England clash on Feb 27th due to injury. The BBC headline says 'Dementia linked to head injuries'. Of course that could be the case but come on BBC there are SADLY many hundreds of people who suffer from dementia who have never been near a rugby field. Let us not make the genuine concern for head injuries in rugby worse with spurious links.
Stuart Barnes's Tuesday round-up on sky.com is worth a read. Some interesting points; the 6 Nations to date has not been great, I agree, and rugby referees are not as bad as we think by comparison to some of their soccer counterparts, I wholeheartedly agree.
Got to go, the kids want their breakfast but not before telling you that aeroplanes are landing towards the east this morning so it should be quiet over the 'Borough. Next to land is EasyJet from Copenhagen. Currently on final approach.
Monday 15th Feb - 08:00
The good thing about being the eternal pessimist is that you are never disappointed. Leicester City losing in the dying seconds was no surprise. They stay top and now have a decent run towards the finish line. Arsenal must now be favourites for the title......
Bugger....... I forget this is a rugby website........ let's move on quickly.
Well done to the Crows. They beat Newick on Saturday with a solid performance. Yet again we managed to host an away game at late notice. Great stuff.
If you the supporters of the Red Rose are clearing the trophy cabinet for the 6 Nations, or even worse heading to the bookies to put money on England to win RWC 2019 then you are misguided.
Yes, this was a fine win. A ruthless performance. A good team effort. It must be put into context however that Italy were not beaten by any stretch of the imagination until the last 20 minutes. In fact if it hadn't been for some wayward goal kicking they could have led going into that period.
Let us look at the negatives first. Dan Cole was poor. Paul Hill may be worthy of a start. Some of the decision making was indecisive and the ball didn't get to the backs often enough or quick enough. The ruck ball was too slow, and when it was quick it was often wasted by simply being off-loaded to one of the wrecking balls in the pack. The penalty count was way too high.
There are many positives though from which England can build. The Red Rose back line looks good. The Ford / Farrell axis seems to be working and in Anthony Watson they have a genuine speedster. In Jonathan Jospeh they have a clinical finisher with an eye for the slimmest of opportunities to score. Ben Youngs was a worthy 'man of the match' but Danny Care will certainly push him for that starting place. Maro Itoje has got to start ahead of Haskell, who I thought wasn't that good, and Jamie George is chomping at the bit for a start. The final and crucial positive is how England played in that last 20 minutes. Instead of sitting back and coasting to the end they exploited every chance as Italy tired, and they did so with aplomb. Their game was expansive and some of the off-loading sublime.
It is time for coming back down to earth. England are two for two but this against the two lowest ranked nations. Ireland, despite their poor showing in Paris, will be a sterner test in two weeks time. Secondly if you look at Jeremy Guscott's team of the week only Jonathan Joseph and George Kruis make the team...... this opposed to four Welsh players being included.
Elsewhere Wasps hammered table topping Sarries. Rhys Webb made a positive contribution in his Ospreys comeback...... only to go off at the death with a head injury.
The weather has suddenly got very cold again. Be careful out on the roads.
Sunday 14th Feb - 08:00
Not long now until the big one kicks off.......... Arsenal v Leicester City of course. IF Leicester come away from this one with a win then the title might just, and I say 'might' be on the cards.
Great result for our boys away at Ashford yesterday. Despite Ashford's lowly league position this was a tough challenge for us, especially in the light of our horrendous / absentee list. Well done boys and sorry I couldn't make it.
Unfortunately we again have had to pull out of a 2nd XV fixture, this time against Crawley due to a lack of a front row, and our many other injuries / absentees. This is frustrating as Dave Bristow et al worked so hard on Friday to get the pitches playable.
As I was unable to get to Ashford I was able to watch the 6 Nations. The French were very physical, verging on the violent at times. There seemed to be a clear 'hit list' of Irish players that they had targeted. On the other hand the French did play with the élan that they have historically been known for. They looked to go wide and there didn't seem to be any restrictive game plan they were playing too. Ireland looked tired and lacked the cutting edge they had against the Welsh six days earlier. France ran out narrow, and in my mind deserved winners. Guy Noves might just be the saviour of French international rugby if he can get his charges to cut out the silly mistakes and sharpen up the incisive running of the back line.
The Principality Stadium (previously known as Prince...... Oh that was something different) saw a 'Curate's Egg' of a game. Good in parts and pretty rotten in others. Us one eyed Welsh fans can be pleased with the result, and might argue the result flattered Scotland but that is papering over the cracks of Welsh rugby. The aimless kicking is a major worry. Why after turning the ball over kick it straight back to the opposition? Time after time the ball was hoofed down the field with no real idea of why. Jonathan Davies in commentary was growing more and more exasperated about this lack of structure and the waste of talent out wide. If Wales play like this against France and England they will end up with their backsides being well and truly spanked.
There were some bright spots though. The Gareth Davies opening try was a superb piece of quick thinking and decisive running. Some of the set piece play was solid and provided a good platform for the back line, which makes the endless kicking away of ball even more annoying. Jamie Roberts was again immense and Biggar's fitness was a relief. The George North try was amazing.
Let us not write off Scotland though. They played well for long periods and if they had used the gifts presented to them by Wales more effectively they could have won this one. Sloppy tackling at the death allowed them a late try to make the score look very respectable.
Finally before I get back to nappy changing duties a word on the referees. I thought both Jaco Peyper and George Clancy had good games. Consistent and decisive.
Good luck to England this afternoon and the target must be to exceed the winning margins of the Under 20's and the women.
Thursday 11th Feb - 08:00
So Eddie Jones thinks his players haven't been fit enough. Maybe a bit harsh if talking about physical fitness. If referring to fit for purpose then certainly during RWC 2015 they were far from that.
Kvesic is already back at Gloucester but Beaumont and Itoje remain in the squad. I think both might get their chance against Italy. Lawes and Vunipola might get the nod in the starting line-up. Only time will tell.
Wales have given Biggar until today to prove his fitness. I think it is a risk when Matthew Morgan and Gareth Anscombe are available and Priestland played well enough against Ireland.
Wayne Smith to replace Conor O'Shea at Quins?? Wow, that would be a coup.
Liverpool back dwon over ticket pricing. Not surprised as it was a PR disaster.
There is a coach going to Ashford on Saturday. If you wish to book a seat get in touch with Ian Geering.
If you ever doubted that America was in a mess you can now add to Trump being a contender and the ridiculous gun laws that the Supreme Court has scuppered Barack Obama's plans to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
You might think that Jeremy 'the bumbler' Corbyn refusing to allow hardworking and dedicated Jack Straw a peerage because of his role in the Iraq war decisions draconian then think again. Kim Jong-Un has had his Chief of Staff, Ri Yong Gil summarily executed. Wow!!!!!!!
Before I wrap up the skies are perfect for aeroplane spotting today. The transatlantic flights are due over shortly. BA 2202 from Cancun is over the Isle of Wight right now
Finally I watched PMQs yesterday. For me it confirmed that these overpaid, over inflated egotists have no idea. Not a single question on the worsening migrant crisis across Europe and Turkey and not a peep about yesterday's junior doctors strike. Muppets.
No blog tomorrow. A busy morning managing the grandchildren.
Wednesday 10th Feb - 08:00
There is only one place to start today and that is the retirement due to injury of Paul O'Connell. A giant of a man physically and metaphorically. He has had a glittering career which sadly won't now come to a conclusion with one last hoorah in Toulon but instead with memories of him being stretchered off the Millennium Stadium pitch during RWC 2015.
Thank you sir. An amazing contribution to our great game.
All eyes in Wales are on the state of Dan Biggar. There is a degree of confidence around him being available for Saturday. That said Priestland did well.
Eddie Jones is keen for England to improve at the breakdown. It comes as no surprsie therefore that Kvesik and Beaumont have been brought into the squad.
One story caught my eye and that is the injury to Andre Pollard. A freak training accident. A similar training accident ruined my brother Nigel's chance of an England cap. Having captained England Colts he was in line for a partnership with Barnsey only for this to be snatched away whilst training with Newport. Hey Ho!
Closer to home our boys face a challenging trip to Ashford on Saturday. In my 30 years of being associated with the club I have never known an injury / absentee crisis as deep as we have now. Whoever travels will be ready and understand the importance of this fixture.
In the wider world of sports news have I mentioned the Mighty Foxes..........
Well let me add to the success of boys in blue. My fantasy football team, the Absolut Foxes, are also top of the league. Happy Days.
I read with some horror that Donald Trump triumphed by a decent margin in the latest Republican Primary. The world is becoming more extreme in its views and this has to be a worry, understandable but a worry.
The train crash in Germany is horrendous. Please let it be an accident, even if that is due to human error, and not something more sinister.
I see Liverpool fans are protesting about a hike in ticket prices. Put to one side the fact Liverpuddlians know how to protest, it does beg the question of why the hike. There is more money flooding into the game now than ever before and some of the players wages are beyond the wildest dreams of most. Get rid of the parasitic agents to start off with and pass this saving on to the fans, and not just at Anfield.
The waste of space story this morning is about horses being able to distinquish between happy and angry faces. So what? The important question when it comes to horse is Dijon or English mustard.
Too cloudy to see the areoplanes this morning but heading our way this morning is the Aurigny flight GR600 from Guernsey. The Embraer ERJ-195 is at 7,000 over the 'Borough right now.
Tuesday 9th Feb - 09:00
Let me start by congratulating our Colts after their fine win against Hastings & Bexhill on Sunday. The win takes them into the cup semi final on April 10th. Well done boys.
On Saturday our 2s travelled to Hellingly and back to Steel Cross for their rearranged fixture on Saturday. What are you on about? Our boys travelled to Hellingly on Saturday to find that their pitch, sadly, was still unplayable. Some very quick phone calls, some pleading, and some magic work by some of our people (you know who you are) and we managed to switch the game back to Steel Cross for a 3pm kick off. An amazing response by CRFC. Another reason to be proud of what we do. THANKS to all involved.
On the pitch, which was also heavy but playable.... just...., the boys went down 29 - 7. Well done to Hellingly on a well deserved result. I have been exposed to some of the difficulties they have been faced with over recent months, what with the flooding, but also exposed to some of the things they are doing for our great game, especially with the kids. I like what they are doing and I am glad the county are supporting them.
The analysis of the first round of 6 Nations continues. I think it is fair to say that England are now clear favourites for the Grand Slam. France away being the only possible banana skin. Eddie Jones men should be too strong for Italy on Sunday.
Ireland face France but the battering they took against Wales may be a factor with the French having the luxury of an extra days rest and not having to travel.
Wales entertain Scotland. This is a tough one to call. On paper Wales should run out winners but Scotland are a good side. Lets see what the teams are later in the week shall we before we start worrying.... that's if you are a manic-depressive Welsh person.
Stuart Barnes echoes my view about the immensity of Sergio Parisse's performance against the French. He makes a very good point though that Italy won't grow whilst they rely so heavily on one man. Interesting.
I read that error prone Craig Joubert is in the news again. He missed the fact that New Zealand had EIGHT players on the field when they scored their crucial winning try during the Sydney leg of the World 7s Series. Hey Ho!.
As I was scrolling through the rugby news I picked up on Jack Carty of Connaught who has ruptured his spleen whilst on holiday in Dubai. It brought back memories of me being in hospital for three days with a suspected ruptured spleen after playing against our friends at St Marks. Thankfully it wasn't ruptured but a painful experience / memory nevertheless.
Lots in the papers about the EU vote, the weather, immigration and Beyonce at the Super Bowl. The story that caught my eye was the one about the high risk of skin cancer from being in the sun. Whoever has written this story hasn't been in Crowborough for the last few months where it feels as if the sun is a fairy tale. Once again this morning I awoke to a leaden sky and rain. It is depressing............ however Beyonce, despite making a very pointed political statement during the Super Bowl half time gig, does look hot, hot, hot. Time to move on me thinks.
Monday 8th Feb - 09:30
Honours even in Dublin yesterday but I'm guessing the Welsh will be the more disappointed and the Irish more relieved. That of course with my one-eyed specs on. Trying to be objective, if that was a boxing match then Wales might just have edged the judges decision.
What is not in dispute is the fact that this was the best of the three games by a margin. How Jamie Roberts was not named man of the match defies all logic. He was immense.
Defensively Ireland were excellent not allowing a single line break in 80 minutes. That said for long periods they were camped in their 22 having to put their bodies on the line. Wales showed more adventure than recent times but failed to exploit their opportunities. Scott Baldwin dropping the ball at a crucial moment being a perfect example.
Positives for Ireland were their ability to split the normally impenetrable Welsh defence and their own defensive quailities from start to finish. I think they will give France a tough time six days from now.
Positives for Wales is the form of Roberts and the return of Jonathan Davies. This combined with the much improved scrum will put them in a good place against Scotland.
Negatives for both sides are the injuries to their fly halves: Sexton and Biggar, and the short turn around after such a brutal encounter.
The other negative for me was the performance of Jerome Garces. I thought he was poor at times. The management of off-side at the ruck was poor and his interpretation at the tackle was a little hit and miss but hey ho what do I know. Let's hope next week that Barnes, Owens, Jackson, Poite and Clancy are on show.
Well done to Saracens on a fine win away at Exeter. From the snippets I saw this looked a cracking game.
Likewise well done to the Denver Broncos. I had the Carolina Panthers down as comfortable winners with Cam Newton as MVP. WRONG!...... as usual.
You are not dreaming!!! Leicester City are five points clear at the top of the Barclays (better banks are available) Premier League. What a result on Saturday against Man City. 52 years I have waited for this moment. Truly being able to gloat about how well the Mighty Foxes are doing. My days as a 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11 year old stood on the terraces at Filbert Street are still fresh in the memory. Being there on this very day in 1964 when they beat a star studded Manchester United side 3-2...... priceless.
Finally be very afraid when you read that Kim Jong-un has launched, actually North Korea to be precise has launched, a long range missile capable of reaching the USA. When combined with their alleged nuclear capability this becomes a horrendous proposition. A fruit loop with his finger on the button.
Sunday 7th Feb - 10:15
A lot of fuss about the 6 Nations being out of this world yesterday. It was always going to happen with Major Tim Peake hurtling around the globe in the International Space Station allegedly glued to his TV. I bet he had fun explaining to the Septics and the Russkies how a woeful side like the French managed to scrape past a very good Italian side, and why we all get so excited about what was a pretty ordinary affair up in Murrayfield.
First to the Stade de France. Sadly many seats went unfilled as fans fearful of a repeat of the Paris atrocities stayed away. The French started well but it soon became apparent they were clueless in attack and fragile at times in defence. Yes the Vakatawa try was well taken, and the quick tap to free up Chouly to cross was well done, but otherwise the adventure shown by the French often came to naught due to shoddy skill levels.
The Italians on the other hand played with commitment, passion and a sense of togetherness. Two albeit very, very difficult chances went begging as the ball bounced foreward off fingertips rather than be caught for a simple run in. The winning French kick came from a dubious penalty awarded by JP Doyle. I felt he was a little pedantic at times and sometimes wrong in his interpretation of law. It would have been fitting if the MAGNIFICENT Sergio Parisse had slotted the drop goal. It wasn't to be.
In my humble opinion there is only one player that can rival Richie McCaw as World Player of the Year every year and that is Parisse. Once our £5m player budget has been signed off he will be joining Crowborough RFC.
I did smile during this fixture when Eddie Butler said that Guy Noves had resisted the temptation to select many players from Toulon. Eddie dear boy. There aren't any French playes playing for Toulon. (I exaggerate for effect)
We then travel to Murrayfield for the Calcutta Cup. The game was verging on the dire at times. For England Billy Vunipola was a shining light and head and shoulders above the rest as man of the match. I thought Anthony Watson played well, always looking to go forward, as did Mike Brown. Jack Nowell (get that ponytail thing cut off please) was also positive in his approach. Dylan, although not notably in the midst of the action, led from the front. You could see himn cajoling, encouraging and urging his side on. Like the above mentioned McCaw he was also quick to be reminding the referee Mr John Lacey about the laws. Ford was poor in my mind and Danny Care has got to stop whinging like a spoilt child. There is much for Eddie Jones to build on and I stick with my predicition; England will win the tournament unbeaten.
Scotland were unlucky. They are a good side with Stuart Hogg and Greig Laidlaw leading the challenge. England's defence resisted all Scottish attempts to cross the whitewash and I think this is where Vern (isn't he a miserable bugger) Cotter has to find improvement from his side. The turning point was Finn Russell not releasing Hogg after that interception. A try at that point could have changed things.
Not a classic but gripping all the same.
Today all eyes turn to Dublin. Whilst Ireland are injury hit and Wales look a settled side I still go for an Irish win by plenty.
Before I go a quick thank you to all those who sent me the piece about Medway and their predicament about the mis-registration of players. I have a strong view on the overt payment of players at our level and will expand on that later in the week. What I find intriguing is that the Medway situation came about as a result of another club approaching one of their players. Whatever your view I hope that clubs that are able to operate this way have their houses in order. HMRC is on its way.
Breakfast beckons so must go but before I do can tell you that the DY1314 from Bergen to LGW is at 6,000ft above Crowborough. The Boeing 737-800 is due to land at 10:18
Friday 5th Jan - 09:00
Well what a week. Thankfully my daughters experimental knee surgery has gone well. She is in a lot of pain but all is looking good. The piece of kit that moves the screws inside her leg is amazing. Everyday she is opening a split in the bone below the knee by 0.6mm and it is all done by magnets.
Me, I am knackered. I forgot how exhausting managing 2 and 3 year olds can be. Even when they are in bed there is no time for rest. When rest finally comes it is straight to sleep...... Hence the lack of a blog.
Anyway, in between shitty nappies and the run to nursery I have spoken to the The Times, The Torygraph and BBC South East. No not about my world record breaking nappy changing skills but about Dylan. Thankfully my conversations have been about how proud we are to have him as part of our history, what a great guy he is and how he still keeps in touch with the club. Sadly I think there are many who are hoping he fails. Muppets. Yes there is always a risk but me, I think he will be great.
The England team doesn't look that different to the clowns who played in RWC 2015. There are three new caps in the squad, which is good: Jack Clifford, Paul Hill, Ollie Devoto. Farrell at 12 makes sense, as Ford is the more mercurial of the two. Interesting to see what happens when Tuilagi is back. Lawes on the bench is a risk. If that hamstring is dodgy why pick him at all when Itoje is playing so well and if you are going to risk then start with him.
It is going to be close. Scotland are good side. I go the Red Rose by 5 points
Wales is much as expected. The in form Tom James on the wing. Anscombe at full back. Me, I would have picked Matthew Morgan. The not so much of a surprise is the inclusion of Rob Evans ahead of Gethin Jenkins. Gatland says he was influenced by the choice of referee, Jerome Garces. Stating this publicly is a high risk approach. Msr Garces might see it as a criticism, which of course it is.
This won't be close. I go Ireland by plenty.
In the other game I go France also by plenty.