Monday June 1st - 09:10
Summer starts today.
No it doesn't......... based on the fact I am sat here in a fleece and still feeling cold.
The fixtures are out for next season. More on this over the coming days.
Anyway, to news. It is official. My ability to forecast is now rated as ZERO. Bath were rubbish whilst Saracens were excellent and deserved winners of the Aviva title. Munster couldn't overcome a powerful and well organised Glasgow side. The Scottish outfit were the best of the PRO 12 through the season so it was gratifying to see them lift their first ever trophy.
Before I hang up my balls, crystal ones of cause, I have one last set of predictions. England will definitely win RWC 2015, Wales won't get out of their group and the All Blacks will finish bottom of theirs.
Moving on. The England XV were very impressive against the Barbarians on Sunday. Danny Cipriani certainly put his hand up for a RWC 2015 squad place. Young Josh Beaumont was impressive, as was Launchbury. Henry Slade should be considered but won't make it though. If England don't fulfil my prediction it won't be because of a paucity of talent. The Red Rose seems to have that in spades at the moment.
The Gloucester v Bordeaux-Begles was a cracker. What heartbreak for the cherry and whites. James Hook looked assured at #10 and is still worthy of a starting spot for Wales.
If you were ever in doubt about what the Aviva Play-off final is about you only had to look at the TV to see the mass of yellow Aviva branding around the ground. You can bet that not once did any of the power brokers at the RFU, the clubs or the sponsor think about player burnout and their health. The only thing on their mind was money, money, money.
I am glad to see Sepp 'the bung' Blatter is off the front pages but what a farce. To say he knew nothing about the corruption that is endemic in his organisation is akin to Stalin saying he wasn't aware of the gulags. The man is a despot with much to answer.
I see the RMT are still threatening to strike. Another right royal pain in the ass is our Mick 'money bags' Cash.
So Sir Clive didn't get the French job. Surprise, surprise it went to a Frenchman. The French are great aren't they. They decry us the Brits for wanting out of the EU at the same time as they flout all the EU legislation and put more barriers in place to doing business in France than the North Korean barriers to accessing to their country.
Thursday May 28th - 09:30
Three items of rugby of note: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
The good. What a fantastic game of rugby last night between Worcester and Bristol. It was fast, furious, open and hence thoroughly entertaining. Nicky Robinson will rue those missed kicks. Andy Robinson will be contemplating his future. Sad really as I am a big fan of Robbo. As an aside it highlighted that the inclusion of both sides in a closed shop Aviva would be an excellent idea.
The bad. The brilliant Jonathan Davies is out of Wales RWC 2015 campaign with a serious ACL injury requiring immediate surgery. This is a huge blow to the 'boyos' with JD being a star of the squad. Scott Williams has played well and will now move into the role of first choice centre.
The ugly. Dylan. He gets a four week ban for that ridiculous head-butt. He will miss England's warm up games and the opener with Fiji. Lancaster may even think about dropping him from the squad as his discipline remains a liability.
The Queen's Speech takes up many column inches this morning. Much to debate. Here is something to ponder. Immigration. Is it good or bad for Britain? Well, let me give you a view of Guernsey (where we spent last weekend). The island is full of Poles, French, Portuguese, Indians, and many other nationalities. Without these the Guernsey economy, especially the tourist industry would collapse. Those immigrants we came into contact with were fantastic; hardworking, pleasant, articulate and tax paying. Food for thought perhaps.
Blair resigns from his Middle East peace envoy role. Not before time and not sure how the lying tow-rag could live with the hypocrisy of it.
The papers, TV news and all other media is dominated by the FIFA scandal. The organisation is rotten to the core led by a despot. His mealy mouthed words yesterday about the corruption were incredible. The only words he should have muttered were: 'I resign as I have failed the sport, failed the people and lined my pockets during this period of abject failure'. The time has come for his bank accounts and financial affairs to be scrutinised. It is no wonder the report he commissioned was quashed. It included details of how far FIFA had fallen. Some likened the goings on, led by Sepp 'The Bung' Blatter, or 'Don' Blatter, akin to the racketeering of the Mafia.
No wonder Coca Cola is investing in RWC 2015. Soccer is a GREAT game but the time has come to wake up and smell the coffee. Money is the root of the evil. The main sponsors across the world should look at themselves, as should the TV companies. This affair should serve as a warning to our great sport.
Going for a lie down now. Back on Monday.
Wednesday May 27th - 09:30
A short blog today before I withdraw my labour again for another few days. The Len 'The Red' McCluskey training courses have been invaluable in guiding me towards strike action. Unlike most other ballots mine was 100% turnout with 100% in support.
Following my forecasts for the play-offs I have been offered a job with MORI.
Wrong, wrong, wrong.............. Sarries overcame Saints. Paddy O'Fez is ecstatic.
Wrong, wrong, wrong.............. Ulster failed to beat Glasgow
Bath and Muster did come through but I guess a 50% accuracy rating is not good enough. Both start as favourites in the finals.
The self-destruct button for Messrs' Bush and Blair would be great. In the hands of Dylan Hartley it is lethal however. Having missed the Lions 2013 tour he is now at risk of missing RWC 2015. Sorry Dylan but you are a plonker at times.
The England XV to face the Barbarians at Twickenham this Saturday Sunday has been announced. Some like Launchbury will have the opportunity to test their match fitness, others like Cipriani have the opportunity to cement a squad place for the big one.
London Irish are contemplating a trip to New York for a St Patricks Day game. This is a great example of how money is driving activities, and at no time will players welfare be considered. So much for resting top flight players.
If you were ever in any doubt why Steffon Armitage is playing in France then read the Organ of Truth on line. I'll say no more.
Land Rover are certainly going to milk their RWC 2015 investment for all its worth. Lots of stories across the press about the super size ball floating down the Thames.
Moving to the round ball game. Well done the Foxes............. and generally where there are foxes there are chickens. Well, for FIFA the chickens are finally coming home to roost. Sepp 'the bung' Blatter hasn't been arrested ........... yet but some of his acolytes have. I have been banging on for some time how 'something is rotten in State of Denmark FIFA'. The organisation lives in the dark ages and is full of self serving crooks. Like those other slippery eels Blair and Bush, Blatter well slither his way out of trouble again....... but oh I hope not.
More chickens are marching towards the law courts as Tom Hayes, thieving banker is in court for rigging the Libor Rate. A VERY long prison sentence, if of course he is found guilty as according to British law he is innocent until that point, must be the outcome.
Finally a little self serving of my own. Today is mine & Mrs Chairman's wedding anniversary.......... 37 years............. 8 of them happily.......... bugger, where is that ambulance.
Thursday May 21st - 09:00
A couple of club matters first.......
The Summer Ball - a bit like RWC 2015 we have been able to release some extra tickets. It WILL BE A GREAT NIGHT. Excellent food, great company, great wine, great prizes and a real fun night. Go on...... contact me or Graysey for your tickets.
The 500 Club. A great way to support your club. Numbers have recently become available. Janet Martyn is your person. Give her a call. Don't forget it is a monthly draw with bumper year end prizes.
The AGM is set for June 26th. This is your chance to have a say on how the club is being run, put yourself forward to volunteer, to ask those awkward questions, or simply to be updated on where we are and where we are going. We are far from perfect and we know there is much to do. Why not help us shape that direction. Watch your inbox for details.
The curtain has well and truly come down on the season. The awards have been handed out. The injuries are now in recovery mode. The final curtain call was the tour to Hamburg. The boys were counted out and counted back in again. The game was played in good spirits, mainly schnapps, despite coming second to a Hamburg regional XV. Our hosts were excellent and the boys had a good time. Can't say more than that as what goes on tour stays on tour........ and I wasn't there.
The England squad has ruffled a few feathers. Much of the squawking is about the inclusion of Sam Burgess ahead of Abendanon and Armitage. Dewi Morris is leading the clarion call. Dewi being a Welshman who played for England let's not forget. I have to admit that Burgess is an interesting call but to say a true Yorkshire man should give way to a mercenary Kiwi who only came to the UK because he had zero chance of playing for the All Blacks is somewhat a flawed argument. Thomas Waldrom is who I describe by the way. I admire Lancaster and I know principles can often bite you in the bum but his refusal to select those who have turned their back on English domestic rugby is right.
Am I being hypocritical when the Welsh expats are still selected for Wales?ABSOLUTELY YES. YES money plays a big part but playing in the French or English top flight is a step up from the Pro 12.
George North is out of the play-off semi as his recuperation continues.
Gavin Henson breaks his ankle in the thrilling Bristol v Worcester championship decider first leg. What a cracking game of rugby, and yes my prediction was about as accurate as MORI's election poll prediction.
Watching that game last night did make me realise what a poor state of affairs exists in the Welsh regional game when you see both these English sides littered with Welsh talent.
Well done to England's starting #10 George Ford for being player of the season.
The Sarries will be in the wonderful city of New Orleans to play a pre-season friendly against the Canterbury Crusaders. If you've not been to the Big Easy then you should. One of the most dangerous cities in the US but at its heart is one of the very best cities in the world, especially if you like jazz. The Superdome is something else. We were lucky enough to see the Saints v Falcons when we were there. Nah, nah, the nah nah.
It would be wrong not to mention yet another banking scandal. Some of these bankers need to be put in their place. That place is in prison alongside the benefit cheats. It is the only way to get the message across that crime doesn't pay. It has been suggested that Sir Clive could be the Governor of said prison. What!!!! A chocolate fire guard preventing a fire. No way!!! Alex Salmond was another suggestion. Perfect. A lunatic in charge of the asylum. I love it.
Finally I see Virgin Trains are cancelling all West Coast services on Monday and Tuesday even if the strike is called off. I wonder why? Of course......... it is more cost effective NOT to run trains over a Bank Holiday me thinks.
No blog for a few days. I am out in sympathy with RMT, ASLEF and all my other comrades of the far left.
Wednesday May 20th - 14:00
Somewhat later than usual as I've been waiting for the England training squad to be announced.
No real surprises as most of the names were well trailed. Sam Burgess and Maro Itoje make the list. Paddy O'Fez will be delighted to see Ashton and Strettle back in the frame after their fine form, and the pundits will be relieved to see Henry Slade included.
The two French based players Abendanon and Armitage are not included. Let's hope this is the end of that debate.
The England XV to play the Barbarians on May 31 will be announced after the play-off finals. This will give an indication who might be cut from the final RWC 2015 squad.
The Welsh squad gets announced on June 8th.
For all squads there is no rest for the those who get selected. England's preparation includes two training camps, one in Denver, Colorado and three warm up games. Wales have a similar program with a trip to Poland instead of the USA.
Big weekend ahead.......
The Eurovision Song Contest. I have my sequins and pom poms ready.
The play-offs. I go for Bath v Saints and Munster v Ulster to be the finals.
Tonight I go for Bristol to beat Worcester. I think Worcester will win the second leg but Bristol will go through on aggregate.
I see Raheem Sterling got booed at Liverpool's award ceremony. Good. Money grabber.
The police have made arrests in the Hatton Garden raid. I'll have a Mars Bar that this was an inside job and it will be a film soon.
I have been taken to task about my attack on the benefits system. Let me put that right now. The current cap is £26,000 which equates to £34,000 before tax and yes in my very humble opinion based on what teachers and police officers earn this is too high.
Tuesday May 19th - 07:45
I smiled when I read the story in this mornings papers that vicars are holding a seminar today on how to tell jokes to liven up sermons.
Obviously they've got straight into the task with the very funny joke about Sir Clive 'I know everything about everything' Woodward being in the running to be coach of the French rugby team.
So a joke could be in charge of a joke. It's a cracker.
Despite what many may think Sir Clive is not the messiah, as was proven with his disastrous management of the Lions. During the 2003 World Cup period the one thing he did was to allow the players to take charge of their own destiny. They did, and so it became clear that Johnson and Dallaglio and Hill and Greenwood took charge and made it happen, not Woodwind.
As Greenwood reminded everyone at the recent RWC 2015 volunteers day this was no better highlighted when after the 80 minutes of the final the team got into a huddle around Martin Johnson before extra time. Woodwind turned up and was told in no uncertain terms to 'bugger off'. There was nothing he could add. (I paraphrase for impact here!!)
Clermont Auvergne International XV gained revenge over Toulon Global XV on Sunday. A game, which was pretty turgid, that I turned off at half time.
Plenty of jockeying for England selection with Sam Burgess again being pushed forward.
Jamie Roberts has signed on the dotted line for Quins, a deal which ensures his availability for Wales at all times.
How impressive was the USA 7s win in the London 7s. Boy they were fast. Does this mean the USA could finally put out a winning 15. Doubt it is my view.
In other sport 'go you Foxes'. In sporting terms their avoidance of relegation was the greatest of great escapes.
Liverpool's Raheem Sterling says he's off, despite being offered £100,000 a week. He says he is not chasing the money elsewhere but trophies. Yeah, sure. It's all about the money, isn't it you money grabbing sports agent sitting in the background like those other vultures; the injury lawyer.
Loved the story about Collins Injera celebrating his 200th 7s try by signing a camera.................. that's planning......... but £60k of damage isn't funny.
In other news there was much in yesterday's letter pages about the benefit cap being reduced from £34,000 to £23,000. It is no wonder there are so many scroungers out there when you get more than a teacher, or a police officer for sitting on your backside eating pizzas and playing Donkey Kong on your Xbox. It is WRONG.
Talking of wrong it appears we have been sitting on the toilet wrongly for all these years. If you don't believe me go online and read today's Metro. I wouldn't look for the story in The Gruaniad as they have more highbrow cr.. to write about.