Wednesday 13th Jan - 09:30
The countdown to the big announcement continues. Just five hours to wait. It looks as if Danny Cipriani will miss out....... again. Does this mean the end of his international career? Maro Itoje is being touted as the big surprise. To many it won't be a surprise.
It looks as if Alex Corbisiero's career is over following incessant injury problems. Shame.
Andy Farrell's departure from the England set up doesn't seem to have done him any harm as he becomes an adviser to Munster. Munster who in recent weeks have have slid rapidly and surprisingly down the games rankings with some unexpected defeats.
Does England need its own anthem? It would make sense. As much as our royal family are wonderful...... the top tier anyway, not the hangers on, God Save The Queen is a bit of a dirge. Jerusalem would make a much better alternative.
The French Rugby Federation are thinking thinking of adopting God Save New Zealand or Nkosi Sikelel Africa.
Yet another terrorist atrocity, this time in Istanbul hits the headlines. What is the matter with these people.
What a magnificent morning. Cold, blue sky, BA 2158 from St Lucia (UVF), flying at 6,500ft on route to Gatwick for a 09:31 landing. Marvellous.
Tuesday 12th Jan - 10:30
The first Tuesday review of the new year. As far as London 2 South East is concerned it is no change with our friends from St Marks still top and still unbeaten after a home win vs Deal & Betteshanger. Sevenoaks remain 2nd after a narrow away win to Thanet Wanderers. Dartfordians continue their fine run with a comfortable home win over Ashford. Beckenham narrowly beat our next opponents Old Alleynians and Old Colfeians beat Horsham, a result that has surprised me for one. Ashford are bottom we sit third from bottom.
In Sussex 1 only three games went ahead. Our 2s got well beaten by Brighton 2s, Lewes reinforce their position at the top of the table with a win over Horsham 2s. Finally Hellingly beat Midhurst at Midhurst which puts them bottom. We sit just above them.
In London 3 South East Heathfield & Waldron's fine season stuttered on Saturday with a 7-7 home draw with Park House. Bromley go top with a home win against Aylesford Bulls. Eastbourne beat Cranbrook, Pulborough beat Old Dunstonians, Uckfield came second against Gillingham Anchorians, as did Burgess Hill away to Folkestone. The Greenies are the best placed of the Sussex clubs in second spot.
Above us our friends at Charlton Park lost away to Gosport & Fareham. Brighton also came second on their travels to Sutton & Epsom. Medway and Maidstone were unsurprisingly called off due to waterlogged pitches.
In the national league TJs excellent season continues with a comfortable win over Wimbledon to stay top. Chichester lost by a single point away to Colchester. East Grinstead lost narrowly away to Westcombe Park and slip to fourth. The demented Irish birds stay hot on TJs heels with a good win over Gravesend.
I know you are desparate to know how Salisbury did. Well, they came second away at Towcesterians and lie second in the table to Towcestrians. In the Midlands Bridgnorth had a fine away win at Worcester Wanderers and go back to the top of the table with a game in hand.
All eyes are on the sports pages as England fans eagerly await Eddie Jones first squad announcement. It comes as Martin Johnson states he has doubts over Dylan as England captain. Well Johnno it would be easy to slag you off for your record when you were coach but there are many who share your concern.
Gatland is being tipped as Lions coach for 2017. Makes sense. Stuart Lancaster is definitely not in the frame.
If you were ever in doubt that English rugby was slowly following French rugby into an international abyss then the announcement that JP Pietersen is to join Leicester is another sure sign.
Finally I read with some disgust that the rail unions are again determined to bring London to its knees. They want even more money, even fewer hours and a four day week. They are hypocritical economic terrorists. The people most affected are those hard working Londoners on low wages struggling to make a living.
Must go. Time to take my blood pressure.
Monday 11th Jan - 09:30
Is it ever going to stop raining? This is so depressing.
I am sorry I didn't make it to Brighton to watch the 2s against Brighton 2s. I was on a mission for my son and daughter-in-law. It seems I missed us getting a lesson in rugby sadly.
There was some pretty good rugby over the weekend though. Ulster's recovery to beat Oyonnax was excellent. Scarlets snatching a last ditch win over Connacht was also a good game. Leicester v Northampton was a classic. Bath losing to Toulon reinforces their dip in Aviva form. Finally Sarries have lost their unbeaten record to Quins.
The above reinforces the view that rugby at the top level is in good shape but................ is it in good shape down the pyramid?
I know the summer seems a long way off but Wales play England in a meaningless test on Sunday 29th May. If you are interested in tickets please contact Simon Davies.
Watch the blog and website for forthcoming activity at Steel Cross.
Saturday 9th Jan - 09:00
The weather, as expected has beaten us, and many other clubs in the area, this weekend. It goes without saying that it has not been without a significant effort by Dave our groundsman and The Friday Club to get the games on. It was akin to King Canute trying to prevent the tide coming in however.
OK what is the status
1st XV game vs Hove is OFF. Their pitches are unplayable (dictated by the council)
The 2nd XV game is ON however it has been switched to Brighton to be played on the all weather pitch. Kick off 3pm
The Crows game vs Hellingly is OFF. Their pitches are under water.
All Sunday activity at the club is cancelled I'm afraid.
The rearranged game dates will be advised in due course as will be a plan to open the club on days where games are postponed going forward.
In other news I watched the Ospreys get well beaten by an impressive Leinster side last side. The injury to Jamie Heaslip looked bad. Johnny May is out for the rest of the season further reducing Eddie Jones choices.
Back tomorrow morning.
Thursday 7th Jan - 08:45
I guess the headline rugby news this morning is Andy Farrell joining Ireland as defensive coach. Not sure what to make of this. Farrell is a strong character so I hope Joe Schmidt is ready. Farrell is a good coach and knows his stuff but I think it was his overbearing style that made England overly cautious with too high a focus on defence at the expense of attack. Ireland are currently 6 Nations Champions so there can't be too much wrong with their set up.
Leigh Halfpenny will not be joining Wasps. For us from Wales this could be good news with a return back to the principality back on the cards.
Alex King isn't joining the England set up. Eddie Jones will lead the attack coaching himself. So the fuss made by Jim Mallinder was exactly that. A fuss.
The influx of overseas players into the Aviva continues. London Irish have signed James Marshall from the Hurricanes.
The Friday Club meets tomorrow as normal. There is much to do if we are to get any activity on at Steel Cross this weekend. If you can why not join us.
There is much in the news to discuss but not here. Moving exams is one such topic.
I will say that I find it horrifying that the new shadow defence spokesman is allegedly in the pockets of a law firm who is hounding our wonderful troops with legal claims against them.
Got go. I have just reached the bit in the papers about Prince George and his first day at nursery school. So much more interesting than reading about what not to eat and drink by the nanny state we live in.
Wednesday 6th Jan - 11:30
Without sounding like the lovely Carol Kirkwood it was nice to wake up to a blue sky and strange yellow thing shining down on us this morning.
That said Damper and Dave walked the grounds yesterday and surprise, surprise the grounds were absolutely waterlogged. Even the newly drained D Pitch is struggling. It will take some good weather from now until Sunday to guarantee games going ahead at Steel Cross this weekend. On Saturday our 2s v Brighton 2s is the only home game. The 1s travel to Hove and The Crows are away at Hellingly, which I fear is also waterlogged. Watch this space for updates.
I read that injuries are already hitting England's 6 Nations chances with Slater and Attwood being the latest to be ruled out. Wales on the other hand have been rewarded with the return of Cory Allen and Rhys Webb on course for a return very soon.
The hunt for the latest British Jihadi is on. Perhaps the satellite images will pick up his bouncy castles as a pointer to his whereabouts.
Barack Obama cries as he announces his latest attempt to curb gun crime in the USA. Good luck sir, I support you, but I fear the gun toting rednecks will have their way. This view is enhanced when you read that a heavily armed white militia has taken over a remote Oregon wildlife centre and Texas is now allowing its citizens to openly wear sidearms in public.
Those M16 and Glocks will count for naught when Kim Jong-Un looses his new H-Bomb off in the direction of USA. Don't underestimate the importance of this news if it is true.
I might overstep a line here but I say to Angela Merkel that 'you reap what you sow'. I read with horror the story about the attacks on women in and around Cologne main railway station during the New Year festivities. It is terrifying to think how things like this can happen in Europe.
Finally I ask is Schengen dead as Sweden closes its open borders, especially the Oresund Bridge between Denmark and Sweden. If a very liberal country like Sweden is taking this action the rest of Europe needs to sit up and pay attention.
Must go. I need to find some decent rugby stories to write about. By the way I know a number of you may be looking at The Lions Tour 2017. DO IT! We won't be going as our next target is Japan 2019 and its not cheap but it is a BRILLIANT trip.
Tuesday 5th Jan - 10:30
I have been involved in rugby since the age of 11, the age at which I first went to Bassaleg Grammar School. My association with the game has lasted untested since then. Recently however I have been asking myself is this great game of ours really in good shape. Do you know what? I'm not sure.
If you look back at RWC 2015 you would argue that it is. 48 fantastic matches, 20 teams, 13 brilliant venues, millions of tickets sold and billions of global TV viewers. It really was a superb tournament.
Then you counter that with England's abject performance and the impact that had on clubs across the country.
Move on to France and the Top 14. Full stadiums, a glittering array of international stars and good rugby.
Then you counter that by looking at the impact on French international rugby, the power of the money involved, the slow down in developing the game locally and therefore growing local talent.
Look at the Aviva Premiership. Some great games, brilliant experiences, full stadiums, improving facilities.
Then you ask the question is their success filtering down into the grassroots of the game. It isn't. They have acadmeies that suck away the best young talent. They do summer camps but that is more about getting kids motivated to support the team and swell their attendances than securing a long term future for the game. They are buying in more and more players from overseas reducing further the opportunity for home grown talent.
There are still hundreds and hundreds of local clubs in the UK making a good go of it. The standard of rugby is excellent, the facilities are improving, mini rugby is thriving.
But is it really? How many clubs continue to get more than one side out week in week out. How many clubs are now paying players to play and what is the impact of that on local talent and clubs who can't compete financially. How many clubs operate on a knife edge when it comes to finances? Is it still fun for all?
I don't have the answer to any of these questions. I have plenty of opinions but as always they are irrelevant. What I do think is true is that anyone who says rugby is in great shape might just have their head in the sand waiting for their backside to be smacked.
I will leave you to ponder these points before I go.
England rugby is desperate to resolve the absence of quality of back row players. The Robshaw question. So what has the leading club in England announced today. They are bringing in an ageing back row forward into their squad.
Get a spreadsheet and enter 18 x £ sterling amount. Then mulitiply that by say 24 and you will arrive at a figure that clubs have to raise if they pay players to play.
Finally I KNOW that we at CRFC are doing our very best to make rugby fun for all and a place for players of all ages and abilities, a place where people are always welcome and a club that is trying hard always to do the right things for the right reasons for the benefit of all but it ain't easy.
Monday 4th Jan - 11:30
A VERY happy new year to you all. I hope Christmas and the new year festivities were good and you are now ready for whatever 2016 has to throw at you.
Like me, I am sure you are fed up with the persistent rain, however as I type it has stopped and something resembling a blue sky has appeared.
Let me start where I left off before Christmas with a huge thank you to The Friday Club. They worked tirelessy on Saturday morning getting the place ready for our game vs Horsham. Sadly it was obvious early on that getting a pitch playable was never going to be achievable so the game was switched to Horsham. The guys did complete a huge number of much needed repair tasks following the battering the grounds took over the holiday period. Thanks guys and girls (Sandra & Jacqui).
Thanks also go to Horsham for being able to put the game on. It was a little touch and go but they did a splendid job. Before writing about the result let me send my best wishes to Rob Horsfall-Turner who suffered a dislocated ankle and a double fracture to his leg. Nothing else matters other than his full and speedy recovery. Good luck mate.
Being very competitive accepting defeat is hard and should never be taken lightly. On Saturday we lost 31 - 0 to a very well drilled, well organised and determined Horsham side. They deserved the win. Did we deserve to be 'nilled'? Most definitely NO! Our boys stuck at it throughout. Yes there were some missed tackles, some questionable decision making but no-one can fault the commitment, and after all it has to be fun.
As a postscript to the game the four of us travelling home counted off eight players who would be considered as first choice alternatives to those selected. This highlights how hard we have been hit with absentees, but MUCH, MUCH more importantly how well those who are stepping up to the plate are doing. Well done to all.
Sarries continue their very impressive run. They look very good indeed. I personally enjoyed the Welsh Pro 12 derbies. The Dragons throwing away victory at home to Cardiff still beggars belief but otherwise four cracking games.
I watched some of the Top 14 last night. It was pretty poor fare overall but what an array of international stars. At one point you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching a Super 15 contest. French international rugby....... RIP.
Finally it wouldn't be a new year without a new year whinge. I see the slugs known as injury lawyers are now turning their attention to our armed forces. They want to take them to court for putting their lives at risk and having to take tough decisions when fighting murdering thugs in the most horrendous of conditions on OUR behalf. I am sure there will be boundaries that might have been crossed on some occasions, and this should not be condoned, BUT when it comes to kill or be killed what would you do?
Oh what a Happy New Year.