Sunday 23rd August - 10:30
Well, what did we learn from yesterday's game vs France and Scotland v Italy?
First and most importantly England are a long way from the finished article. They will have to smarten up their act if my prediction of them being in the final and possibly lifting the cup is to be realised.
Where did it go wrong?
Up front, both in the tight and the loose. If Dylan Hartley's abrasive game was ever required yesterday proved that point. With the exception of Dan Cole there was little 'dog' in the key contact areas. Tom Youngs' work at the lineout was poor and he along with Coles and Marler were up against it in the scrum.
In the loose England were second best to France's back row trio of Pape, Picamoles and Nyanga by a long way. The 'where is Steffon Armitage' question from Stuart Barnes wasn't long in the coming.
In the backs Mike Brown came through with credit but otherwise it was pretty average stuff. Sam Burgess and Henry Slade must be travelling home today with their hopes of making the cut considerably enhanced.
To compound matters the discipline of those wearing the red rose was woeful. Totally, totally unacceptable. Nothing more can be said on that.
Let us look at the few positives. The 10 minute fight back at the end was impressive. Cipriani was instrumental in the turnaround and he surely has secured his place in the 31 man squad. There was dynamic inter-passing between forwards and backs and Courtney Lawes finally made his presence felt.
Out of 10 I'd give England 4 / 10.
France have much to crow about and Michalak played brilliantly and Fofana and Bastareaud had that X factor missing from England's backs. Picamoles was also very impressive throughout.
The biggest embarrassment of the evening was that pitch. For an international stadium the pitch was a disgrace.
I have not seen any of the Italy v Scotland game but understand it was a close affair with 'uninspiring' being attributed to both sides. It was a typical 6 Nations encounter. Scotland are on the up and Italy can never be under-estimated. Italy won't get out of their group but Scotland have a good chance, if they can get past Samoa, to progress to the quarter finals.
It was great to see Billy Rohipa getting 15 minutes for Hawkes Bay yesterday in their clash with Otago. He did ok when he came on but to be fair the game was done and dusted by then.
Just want to mention Sean Taylor at Purple Pumpkin before I go. Sean put up a dinner for 12 as an auction prize at our Summer Ball. I, with 5 other couples, stumped up for this, and boy oh boy weren't we glad we did. Sean did us proud. The food was MAGNIFICENT and his service exemplary. We had a scream and I feel for Clarky's dustbin man collecting the recycled bottles. THANKS Sean. Simply fantastic.
Friday 21st August - 08:30
France have made 12 changes to the side to face England on Saturday. Their front line centres of Fofana and Bastareaud are back which will be a real test for Burrell and Joseph.
Stuart Barnes has identified hooker as a weakness for England and questions Lancaster's hard line over Hartley.
You've been 18 months in the planning, 6 months in the rehearsing and on the night you get the shepherds crook. This is what could happen to those taking part in the opening ceremony if it appears they are over-running.
Ex Wales captain Ryan Jones announces his retirement on the advice of doctors. Another good old Bassaleg boy.
RWC 2015 organisers are to provide fans with short films and ear-pieces to understand the game. In a positive way it will enhance the experience of spectators, and I've had a sneak preview at the films. They are pretty cool. On the negative side it highlights the high numbers of corporate guests and hangers on who will attend the games.
Now here is a shock. James Horwill is left out of Australia's final 31 man RWC 2015 squad. Didn't see that one coming.
BBC are asking can Wales get out of the group. Of course they can. So can Uruguay and Fiji. The question should be: will they get out of the group? No! SADLY!!!!!!
The Top 14 starts tonight live on SKY (other channels are available)
To other news......
In the absence of the Chilcot Report let me give you the concise version........
Tony Blair and George Bush LIED and DECEIVED the world thus killing many of our fine servicemen and many more innocent Iraqi civilians for a threat that DID NOT EXIST
In an equally concise way the RMT and Mike 'Loadsa' Cash are political terrorists. The strike over the introduction of new, faster, more comfortable, higher capacity trains on the FGW routes is a DISGRACE.
Finally, pushed off the front pages by the Great British Bake Off, Kim Jong-un has decided to wage war on South Korea. What dear old Kim needs is the RMT. Mr Cash would soon bring a halt all that nonsense.
Friday Club beckons.
Before I go. Wasn't bread week on TGBBO good. That lion bread structure was amazing.
Thursday - 20th August - 08:30
According to my RWC 2015 app there is just 29 days before the big kick off.
I am bound by silence but I can flag the proposals for Fanzones and bringing the spectator experience to life are excellent. As your tickets drop through your letter box it is ok to get excited.
If you have more money than sense then hospitality packages for England v Australia are still available at an eye-watering £895 per person. Sod that, I'd rather have a weeks all inclusive holiday on Fuerteventura for that sort of money.
Yesterday saw the receipt of the first RWC 2015 prediction. Thanks Paddy O'Fez.
Here is my first stab.
Into the QF will go England, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, South Africa, Scotland, France, Ireland.
The other thing that is appearing is All Time Great XV, World XV etc, so I thought I'd pick a team of my own. These might not be the best ever players in their positions and some might be out of position but it would still be, in my very, very, humble view a great team.
1. Graham Price, 2. Sean Fitzpatrick, 3. Jason Leonard
4. Paul O'Connell, 5. Willie John McBride
6. Francois Pienaar, 7. Richie McCaw, 8. Sergio Parisse
9. Gareth Edwards, 10. Dan Carter
12. Jeremy Guscott, 13. Phillipe Sella
11. Jonah Lomu, 15. Serge Blanco, 14. Gerald Davies
Bench: Craig Dowd, Bobby Windsor, Fran Cotton, Colin Meads, Johnnie Wilkinson, Joost van der Westhuizen, Mike Gibson
There you have it.
Tuesday - 19th August - 09:00
I've wanted it, I've got it. The build up to RWC 2015 has finally got under way. Once the matches get going then we can really kick off with inspiring kids to get involved.
Before looking ahead to the weekend congratulations to Dylan and his partner on the arrival of his first child. Great news for him.
England announce a very strong side to face France in the second of their warm up games. This looks pretty much the starting side for RWC 2015. Is Haskell worthy of a starting spot versus Tom Wood. One to watch. Likewise Cipriani. He didn't start last week and misses out again this. A concern for him or he's a certainty in the final squad. Me? I think a concern for him. Other area to watch is obviously centre. I go Slade every time.
I've already touched on Hawkeye in use during RWC 2015. I've had some good feedback reinforcing the concerns that the TMO interventions are getting somewhat tedious. This could make it worse.
Teams at RWC 2015 have been told not to shirk their responsibility with regard to head injury. There are no short cuts. This comes in the wake of the sad news that 23 year old Sarah Chesters of Stoke-on-Trent died some weeks after suffering a head injury playing our great game an inquest recently heard.
World Rugby have made the sensible decision to look at delaying the draw for RWC 2019 to much closer to the tournament thus avoiding the situation Wales, England and Australia find themselves in this time around.
The same body are also looking at the eligibility rules and residency. Hoorah, hoorah, hoorah is what I say. This has been a nonsense.
Sam Warburton has been impressed with Wales' fitness levels of his team. Good, because they were rubbish against Ireland.
Richie McCaw has again been offered a knighthood, which he turned down after winning RWC 2011. He may reconsider if the All Blacks lift the cup again in October as this would be the perfect curtain drop for his glittering career.
If you are in London Coca Cola have sponsored the decoration of the London Eye in the flags of the 20 teams in RWC 2015. Worth a look.
Outside rugby there is much in the news about e:cigarettes. The club's view is these are still considered tobacco products and therefore are banned within the building.
Finally, and wait for it, the RMT are revolting again. This time they are objecting to the introduction of new trains on the First Great Western routes. Guess those assholes in the RMT worshipping at the feet of that idiot Cash want the return of steam. What is wrong with these people?
Tuesday 18th August - 15:30 ADDENDUM
Margaret Roberts funeral will take place on
Thursday August 27th
St Mary's Church, Crowborough
Only the family will attend the crematorium with all other guests being invited back to the Rugby Club.
Margaret, a proud Welsh woman, set out her wishes before passing one of which was for attendees to wear red; proudly and loudly.
No flowers please. Donations to Cancer Research UK.
Tuesday 18th August - 11:00
It is with tremendous sadness that I announce that Margaret Roberts, wife of Ken, long standing friends of Crowborough RFC, passed away after a battle with cancer.
I have given my personal condolences to Ken and the family, and the condolences of all at CRFC.
The details of the funeral have not yet been finalised so please look here for more information.
May Margaret rest in peace and her wonderful achievements as a mother, wife and school teacher be in our thoughts at this sad time.
Monday 17th August - 09:30
Much to review today with plenty of rugby taking place over the weekend.
Lets start at Twickenham. A workman like performance by the men in white is my view rather than the over-hyped glorification from some quarters. At times they played with flair and young Anthony Watson took his chance with both hands and two tries. Some of the early back play was good and the expansive game plan thrilled the large crowd. On the other side of the coin the Red Rose scrum creaked and groaned under the pressure exerted by an experienced French pack. The French backs were disappointing and only on a few occasions did they go wide. The English defence therefore had an easier time of it than expected.
The key 'players to watch'; Henry Slade and Sam Burgess, did their chances of remaining in the squad for RWC 2015 no harm at all. Henry Slade had a fine game in deed with great vision, deft touches and excellent decision making. Burgess's contribution was more powerful but nonetheless impressive as a result. For Stuart Lancaster it gives him a very nice headache: selection. Me, I would put both Slade and Burgess ahead of Twelvetrees. The other winner was Alex Goode who also put up a good showing. His cross kick to May was sublime. Goode was aided by the French lacking a truly cutting edge in attack and maybe had more of an armchair ride than those in front of him.
Over the Irish Sea Ireland secured another win, this time from a much better opposition in the form of Scotland. The oft maligned Scots played well and showed some real quality in their play. Their pack looked well drilled and their backs opened up the previously fortress like green defence with ease on a couple of occasions. Ireland showed their real class however coming back to win with an unbelievable kick across field for Fitzgerald to run onto at pace.
The Scots will be buoyed by their win and Vern Cotter has a great opportunity to build on this display. Whilst Ireland played well enough there were plenty of errors and a few lack-lustre performances for Joe Schmidt to ponder.
I still see Ireland as a real RWC 2015 contender.
Moving 12,500 miles to Eden Park you can only admire the power of the All Blacks with their demolition of the Australians. The Ozzie scrum was good and the early encounters were dominated by the men in gold. Once the All Blacks got into gear it was one way traffic. Richie McCaw again was excellent as was Ma'a Nonu. Aaron Smith at #9 kept the ball moving from scrum, ruck, lineout and maul. Despite the scoreline this was pretty turgid stuff at times with aimless kicking dominating the tactics of both sides.
South Africa got back on track with a solid, if not overly impressive win over Argentina in Buenos Aires.
Whilst wales didn't play they certainly made the headlines with Gatland cutting Hook, Phillips and Hibbard from his RWC 2015 squad. The first two failed to impress against Ireland and with options available to 'Gatts' that was the easier of the decisions to make. Whilst Hibbard's form has been patchy at best quality front row forward for Wales to choose from is limited so his axing was a bit of a surprise.
The final word on the weekend was the Met Police's encouragement for pubs in Twickenham to close early on Saturday. The marketers at the RFU were quick to jump on this announcing that the stadium bars would remain open until 11pm. Great stuff.
Thursday 13th August - 08:00
Firstly let me thank the Friday Club; Rick Howe, Eddie B, Max Martyn and the mad Irishman Sean Beamish in particular for the FANTASTIC job they are doing repainting the clubhouse interior. It is nearly complete. The place is looking great. THANK YOU!
Thank heavens for a bit of rain. The pitches are looking good but the training area was in desperate need of water. It's certainly had some over the last few hours. Dave, our new groundsman, is doing a sterling job.
Andrew is in the process of moving to Devon so we will be thanking him for his great work hopefully at the first league lunch of the season. As we will others who are moving on from various roles in the club.
On a sadder note former Crowborough player Alan Brunsdon has passed on following a long battle with illness. Many of you from the 60s will remember him and along with me wish his friends and family well at this sad time.
At last the message the Rugby World Cup is rolling into town is getting through. ITV are 'giving it large', SKY are hyping up their coverage of the pre-tournament friendlies and pubs (in London at least) are highlighting their intentions to show games. Watch out for our ads around the town soon. (Well done Baloo with this initiative).
Lots in the papers about England's game with France. Focus on who has much to play for will only heap pressure on them, Alex Goode who blows a little hot and cold is one such player. He needs to stand out to get ahead of Cipriani in the pecking order. We have talked about Burgess and his challenge. Time will tell as the final cut of squads to 31 gets ever closer.
According to the papers France will be ready. After their disastrous recent form they have much to prove.
Many pundits have picked up on Australia's fine win over the All Blacks and the turnaround in their scrummaging. Well worth watching the game this weekend to see if it was a 'one hit wonder' or something to worry about (for Welsh and English fans alike).
'Hawkeye' is to be used during RWC 2015. I am fan of the TMO system BUT it is getting used too often in my view. The introduction of 'Hawkeye' will bring more reassurance about the accuracy of decisions BUT will add another reason to stop the game. It won't be long before our 80 minute game takes two hours to complete.
The 'good news', 'bad news' stories from the Welsh camp is the absence of three key players; Halfpenny, Cuthbert and Phillips from training with injury but George North is fit and raring to go. Depending on your allegiance you can work out which is 'good' and which is 'bad'.
In other sporting news the only story in town is that arrogant ****er Jose Mourinho's attitude to the Chelsea team doctor and his total disregard to one of his star players health. This is no win Jose. If the player was injured, and all but you Mr Arrogant thought he was, then quick treatment is essential. If he wasn't injured then he should have been booked for being a drama queen and time-wasting.
And finally, talking of ****ers I see the Chilcot report into Tony 'the lying toe-rag' Blair's role in the Iraq war has still not been published. A farce of the worse kind. The Friday Club would have completed it years ago.
Tuesday 11th August - 09:00
I have now seen the highlights of the South Africa v Argentina game. The Boks were not as under strength as I had first assumed. The Pumas were good and deserved their win, despite some dodgy refereeing from Roman Poite.
'Dodgy' might not be the right word. I personally thought he was wrong to allow the Argentinians to take that quick penalty for the try in the corner. He had clearly asked De Villiers to talk to his team which put the Boks at a disadvantage.
He was spot on in disallowing the Boks try from their quick tap BUT he was very unclear in his communication about where the original penalty was.
Finally on this game what is going on with Brian Habana's hair. He's obviously been watching too much 'Wayne Rooney and my life after premature baldness'.
Crunch time for England's World Cup hopefuls. Burgess gets his chance at centre against Les Bleues. This is very much a second string side which interestingly has Cipriani starting on the bench. I am delighted Henry Slade has been given his chance to start and therefore shine. Ben Morgan being fit and starting is disappointing .............. for Wales and Australia as he is a star man in my view. Rob Webber gets his chance to pressure Tom Youngs for the starting berth at hooker. Kick off 20:00 on Saturday. It'll be shown at the club.
Our preparation continues at a pace. On the field the boys are working hard to be ready. Fitness levels look good. Off the field we started the repaint of the clubhouse yesterday - thanks Rick and Eddie. Sponsorship and advertising is looking great for this year HOWEVER we are still looking for position sponsors. There are just a few left; 3, 4, 11, 13 & 14. Contact Graysey or me if you want to sponsor a position.
Off to London on the train in an hour or so. Am also on the tube at some point. Part of my job research. That £50k a year and all those holidays are so appealing I'm after a job.
Just one footnote about the Boks. I see John De Villiers has broken his jaw. A severe blow to his RWC chances having only just returned after a long layoff.