Saturday 27th Apr: 09:30
Good luck to the boys travelling to Crawley today. Big match for them, sadly one at which due to a family commitment I won't now be able to make. I will be at the Awards Dinner tonight however. Never knowingly missed out on beer and wine with mates.
Yesterday our Under 12s left the club for their tour to Abergavenny. A nice market town north of Newport. It is my kind of tour. No games just fun and frolics with teammates. I mention this as today they will be at the home of the Grand Slam Champions, the Principality Stadium, for Judgement Day; the double header between Dragons and Scarlets followed by Cardiff Blues v Ospreys. What will make it enviable is that our Under 12s will be the guard of honour for The Dragons as they run out onto the pitch. Great stuff and well done the CRFC coaches who are making this happen.
Sadly, and here comes the whinge, none of us will be able to watch it unless you are willing to pay for Premier TV Sports package, which I am not. As I have said more than once this season I have lost all interest in the Pro14 as it has been syphoned off to yet another pay-to-view TV company.
The Friday Club were busy again yesterday. Tidying the place up as always but also the environs of the club. It is amazing how much rubbish the scumbags of Crowborough can throw out of their car windows or leave by the bus stops adjacent to Steel Cross. We don't mind clearing up but we would rather not have to. By the way the boys also mowed the grass around the bus stop thus sprucing up that little corner of our town.
The Friday Club are not getting any younger and as a consequence take their health & safety seriously. Anybody can be hit by a heart attack but as you get older and still try to exert yourself like a twenty year old the risks are heightened. It was prudent therefore for them to have training in the use of the clubs defibrillator (generously donated by Jarvis Brook Juniors FC some years ago) and in basic CPR. This was conducted by a team from East Sussex Fire & Rescue based in the town, thanks Trevor, Alan and Alan. It was a brilliant and most valuable way to spend an hour. The guys were great. People often think the Fire Service sit on their backsides all day waiting for the fire that happens once in a blue moon. Wrong, wrong, wrong!!! You'll be amazed at what else they do including the number of RTCs they are called to. What they did for us is a perfect example of the work they do around the community. Right now they are offering every household in the county "free fire safety advice". Prevention being way better than cure. If you are interested www.esfrs.org for more info.
I am pleased to say my insomnia has been cured. I sat and watched Sale v Bath. What a crock of shite. The skill levels were pathetic. I hope CVC can see beyond this one as it truly was forgettable.
Newcastle Falcons were shot down by Northampton Saints last night. Chris Packham will be kicking up a stink about that perhaps. Saints have been in fine form and therefore a Falcons defeat was to be expected. Isn't it interesting that the clamour for ring-fencing has died down as Leicester Tigers are looking much safer. I for one remain convinced it is the only way to go for the good of the game and having no professional outfit in Yorkshire and up in the North East is a higher risk to the future of rugby than ring-fencing.
My good friend Paddy O'Fez has brought to my attention to a piece by Ugo Monye who believes promotion and relegation should stay. He makes a very good observation that if ring-fencing were to come about it should not be used as a safety net for bad business practices and spending money the clubs cannot afford. He goes on to say ring-fencing must go hand in hand with restricting the number of overseas players, making it a breeding ground for young English talent and most importantly improving the quality of the game for the paying public to enjoy. I say "absolutely" to all of that. The full piece can be found in The Guardian..... not surprisingly as Comrade O'Fez only reads the left leaning Guarniad
Back to Judgement Day. Something else you won't see is the trial of flashing goal posts. The WRU are wasting time and effort trialling a gimmick that highlights if a kick has been successful. Perhaps trialling ideas to keep young people in the game would be better!!!
That'll do for today. I don't have the stomach for political comment........ but I do have the stomach for a nice bacon buttie.
Thursday 25th Apr: 09:30
Life is just one long round of partying motorways and hospitals. Much to look forward now I am back connected to the world but again I must say the NHS are doing amazing work in Shropshire. No complaints from me. The motorways on the other hand. When did Highways England put rails down the middle lanes of our motorways preventing cars from using the empty inside lane.
Haven't decided yet if its "destination Crawley" for me on Saturday. The 2s could seal the league title with a win so it should be well worth the journey. Kick off 15:00. No idea on team news but skipper Keith Brooker was hoping to field a full strength and genuine 2nd string XV. I only say this because for others there could be a temptation to load the side with 1st XV veterans. That would be a kick in the teeth for those who have got us this far with the 2s, AND it goes against Brooker's own personal ethos of how the game should be played.
The big boys are back in domestic action. Sale v Bath tomorrow evening could be interesting but it will be Newcastle Falcons fighting for their lives against Saints that most rugby people will be watching carefully. On Saturday Leicester Tigers v Bristol is the game to watch and on Sunday the relegation survival battle continues with Worcester hosting Gloucester.
It is the final round of the Pro14 on Saturday with much to play for, for some. The added spice of the final day is all the games are local derbies which is a great way to end the regular season. Can the Dragons beat the Scarlets? Who will come out on top in Scotland, Glasgow or Edinburgh? As the BBC website says "titles, home draws and European places on the line on final day". If you are vaguely interested then the permutations are there for your perusal.
Five standout players in the running for European player of the year, Alex Goode, Tadgh Furlong, Mako Vunipola, Sean Cronin and Gary Ringrose. Go on, give it to Alex Goode and then we can all call King Eddie and ask why Goode isn't in his England thinking.
In, out, shake it all about. Darren Cave of Ulster, the wonderful Topsy Ojo and the mercurial David Strettle will hang up their boots for good in just a few weeks time. Lood de Jager is the headline signing so far. The big South African beast will join Sale Sharks after RWC 2019. There are plenty of movers too such as Caleb Montgomery joining Worcester from Ulster.
By the way, how many more South Africans do we think Premiership Rugby will recruit? Gloucester for example is loaded with them.
Many articles cover the growing concern of drugs in Rugby. Four more players have been caught with cocaine in their system. It is a societal problem but as I have said on more than one occasion fit, young men with time on their hands and money in their pockets is a recipe for trouble.
Good piece in the Guarniad by Paul Kitson about the future of the European Cups. The empty stands at the Ricoh begs the question about the true appeal of the tournament. The high cost of travel, the ticket pricing, the neutral venue, it being Easter weekend, plus other factors all are reasons to explain the low attendance but the big question remains; are the European Cups a big enough draw to get the fans motivated. Newcastle is a great location for the finals but will the fans of La Rochelle and Clermont Auvergne want to travel to the North East or will they prefer the comfort of their local hostelries and the game on TV. can Sarries and Leinster fans pack out St James Park? Good question. It is sure to be a great day out but a long way to go when money is tight.
The piece asks the crucial question which is how important are the European tournaments for the clubs. With big money swilling around the English and French game and therefore the importance of staying in the top flight has Europe become an irrelevance. The tournament is weighted against the Welsh, Scottish and Italians so why bother. Only the Irish see it as important and I think that is about revenue rather than glory. With CVC now sniffing around the Pro14 what impact would that have if it came to pass?
As always with Paul Kitson it is a very erudite piece very well worth looking at.
If you are travelling today I would suggest you avoid the routes to the Cotswolds and the leafy shires of England. The climate change protesters are heading home today back to their comfy cottages and for some well paid jobs, for others the benefit offices. Emma Thompson will be rowing back to LA in order to save the planet. By the way, the Swedish girl. Very impressive....... but............. I bet there is a very pushy publicity hungry mother in the background snuggling up to her an even bigger publicity hungry vulture of a PR agent.
Today's quiz is a repeat of an old favourite. If Scotland and Nicky baby want independence and the Scots in the EU with rest of the UK out how can that be achieved without a hard border? Answers in less then 600 pages to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday Club tomorrow so back on Saturday.
Tuesday 23rd Apr: 08:15
Bridgnorth beckons in a few minutes so a quick advert for the Awards Dinner this Saturday April 27th. There are still just a few tickets available. Contact Ian Geering to secure your place.
Obviously you can go straight from Crawley after watching the 2s in their final league match to the dinner. That makes a lot of sense.
Back on Thursday, traffic and climate change permitting. I'll do my bit by driving economically and making sure the "eco" system is on and the twenty or so illegal migrants are well fed and watered as they hide in the boot.
The politicians are back after their Easter breaks. Bet we don't notice any difference. Snipe, snipe, lies, bullshit and more bullshit. Then of course the trenches will simply get deeper and the pile of rubbish coming out of those trenches will mean even bigger barriers to progress. We are doomed.
Council elections are on the horizon. You have a wide choice of candidates to choose from. The self-serving incompetents on the left. The self-serving incompetents on the right. The self-serving incompetents in the middle. Me, I'm voting for ............. hot cross buns to be available in our supermarkets all year round!
Monday 22nd Apr: 08:30
A big weekend of European rugby with all the games going the way the pundits had predicted. First up Sarries beat Munster with something to spare. It wasn't all plain sailing with the first half being a keenly contested affair. The men in black eased ahead in the second half when Munster's gritty defence finally cracked. Despite the intermittent booing Billy Vunipola led from the front sealing victory with a late try. Sad that the headlines are all about the idiot who came onto the field to berate Vunipola about his support of Folau.
Next up was Sale and La Rochelle. Many had the home side down for a comfortable win. It wasn't to be. In fact La Rochelle had to hang on at the end. Down to 14 men Sale were looking good for a surprise away. It wasn't to be. This was a seesaw affair with passages of great skill, passages of incompetence and plenty of niggle as both sides spent periods of the game down to 14 men.
Then it was Clermont Auvergne hosting Quins. Despite the scoreline this was a fairly routine win for the French outfit. Even though Quins played well and put on a remarkable late charge Clermont were simply too powerful. It was almost as if the home side had dropped down into third gear as they cruised to victory not expecting such a spirited fight back from their guests. Clermont Auvergne will now go head to head with Top 14 rivals La Rochelle for the honour of lifting the Challenge Cup.
Yesterday Leinster ground out a very workmanlike and professional win over high flying Toulouse. The French side's free-flowing style was stifled by Leinster's oppressive defence. Leinster were pretty dominant in the contact area limiting the opposition time with the ball. When Leinster had the ball they consistently turned the possession and territory into points. The Irishmen ran out worthy winners and have set up an eye-catching final against Saracens.
The other big result was London Irish strolling past Richmond on Friday evening to secure promotion back to the Premiership. From day one of the season this has been a foregone conclusion. The disparity in resources will, as has been said more than once recently, always result in the relegated side going straight back up.
A couple of other rugby soundbites.
Warren Gatland is favourite to lead the Lions to South Africa in 2021. Jason Leonard has been revealed as the Chairman of the British & Irish Lions. A great honour for him.
Channel 4 are trying to secure the TV rights for the RWC 2019 warm-up matches.
Irish great Rory Best will retire after the World Cup. He will be joined by many others I think including referees Wayne Barnes and Nigel Owens.
I for one have had a splendid Easter so far spending time with friends and today off to be with family. The weather has been fantastic which of course helps. It has been an awful, indescribable Easter for those who have been affected by the atrocities in Sri Lanka. Man's inhumanity to man. For what? As we go about our business today let us spare a thought for those grieving at this time.
Ukrainians have elected a comedian Volodymyr Zelensky as President. That's nothing new. We have 650 or so jokers in our parliament and clowns running our government.
Climate change is real and we should worry. Wildfires raging across Britain and Northern Ireland in this unseasonable hot weather are an indication of the problem. We are not alone. Western Australia has had snow for the first time in 49 years and Sydney and Melbourne have seen scorching temperatures. That said the protesters in London have not helped. The pollution around Waterloo Bridge went up despite it being closed. Thousands of plastic bottles, plastic bags and single serve coffee cups were in evidence. So much for caring about the climate. Then you have that self-serving hypocrite Emma Thompson flying from LA to join the protest. The US are one of the biggest climate criminals. Why not protest in LA?
Anyway I have an idea that is well worth considering. Do those who have brought our capital city to a standstill and vehemently oppose cars and aeroplanes and want us to go back to the dark ages need passports and driving licences? No I don't think they do. As they oppose the car and the plane then why doesn't the government cancel their passports and driving licences. Just a thought.
I go back to my earlier exertions; this is a worthy cause but handled badly by white middle class, middle England hypocrites. When you live a comfy lifestyle it is easy to talk about turning off lights and cutting back on travel and car usage and switching to more expensive eco-friendly farmed foods. There is no mention of those who don't turn on the lights, or are unable to travel or can't afford to switch to more environmentally viable foodstuffs because they live on the edge of poverty.
Thursday 18th Apr: 09:00
A massive weekend for European rugby coming up. Four games, four interesting contests. Saracens hosting Munster starts it all off. You never write the Irish sides off but I really can't see anything other than a Saracens win. Yes they lost to Worcester last weekend but that was a weakened side and they have been outstanding in Europe thus far.
Then we have the two Challenge Cup games. First up La Rochelle v Sale. As I much as I'd like a Sale win La Rochelle at their place is a daunting task. Sale's away form has been pretty poor at best and I expect them to struggle down there on the edges of the Bay of Biscay. Clermont Auvergne is "mission impossible" for Quins I think. The French outfit whilst not setting the Top 14 alight have been excellent in Europe. The Stade Michelin is a cauldron of passion and for Quins to come away with anything the crowd will need to be taken out of the game early on.
Sunday gives us probably the game of the weekend: Leinster v Toulouse. Toulouse in fine form and having beaten Racing 92 in the quarter-final will arrive in Dublin in a confident mood. Leinster at home in the European Cup are always going to be a difficult opponent. Packed with international stars not over played this season, Leinster will be ready. Some of the Irish are nearing their best before date and this might be a factor. Toulouse are resilient. Unlike many French teams before they don't crack under pressure and don't fade away if the scoreboard is against them. I go......... Leinster........... just.
The only other game of note is Richmond v London Irish. The Irish will be promoted back to the Premiership with any sort of win.
With the weather promising to be fantastic I intend to be outside but there is also plenty of Super Rugby to watch if you decide being inside is best for you.
Todd Blackadder is to leave Bath. He's done ok but not quite enough to get Bath back to where they were during the glory days. He's off to Japan chasing the big bucks.
Manchester City v Tottenham. What a game! What a result! Money can buy you lots of things but clearly not the European Cup.
Following on from my comments about rugby clubs going to the wall isn't it fascinating that soccer has its problems too. Bury and Bolton Wanderers at serious risk of going bust. Players and staff have not been paid. Councils threatening to stop games because of safety concerns due to staff shortages. Not a great advert for professional sport.
Whilst the Notre Dame fire is a tragedy nobody died. At least 29 people have been killed in a horrendous coach crash on the island of Madeira. A terrible, terrible way to go into Easter for those affected. Cathedrals can be rebuilt. Lives lost are lost forever.
Climate change is a reality. Pollution is a reality. The Earth's fragile ecosystem is at risk from human devestation. Rainforests are being hacked down in the pusuit of wealth. I could go on. We need to be aware and we do need to act. Protest is fine but these clowns have gone way too far and are now at risk of losing their argument through anarchy and hypocrisy. Thousands upon thousands of commuters were forced to use their cars yesterday because of the disruption to the tube. Thousands and thousands of pounds that could be pumped into vital services for the vulnerable will now have to be ploughed into clearing up their pollution. Millions of kilowatts of energy will be needed to power the tools to remove grafitti, and that ignores the millions of gallons of water that will be wasted in the clean up operation. From everything I have seen this is a bunch of well-heeled "do-gooders" who live comfortable if not very comfortable lifestyles thanks to the well paid jobs they do or the excellent pension pots they have accrued or worse do nothing thanks to the generosity of mummy and daddy. Muppets with good intentions but no idea of the real world. By the way it is the wealthiest in society who can absorb the costs of more eco-friendly policies. It is the poorest and most vulnerable in society who can't. I've not heard any mention of them during this protest.
Mind you I did have a little chuckle when some of them chained themselves outside Comrade Corbynov's home. They should have had a sit in at his (dacha) allotment. He might have paid more attention to that than he did otherwise.
Can I wish you and yours a very pleasant, relaxing and thoughtful Easter. I'll be back on Easter Monday with a review of the weekend's results.
Wednesday 17th Apr: 09:00
The Israel Folau saga rumbles on. He intends to challenge Rugby Australia's decision to sack him. I bet that has nothing to do with the $4m AUS he was reportedly earning. Sadly it will also give him another platform to express his beliefs. As I say I have no problem with free speech but there must come a time when a line shouldn't be crossed and when you are being paid handsomely you have a duty to honour your employers code of conduct.
As expected The RFU has achieved a reasonable balance in reprimanding Billy Vunipola for his support of Folau. It was accepted the comments were not meant to cause offence but intended to support a fellow Christian. The fact South Sea Islanders hold strong Christian beliefs was also taken into account. The RFU have made it clear any further transgression will be dealt with swiftly and will be less sympathetic.
Sarries sponsors have all come out and condemned the statements, as any big corporate machine is likely to do, but will continue to support the club on the basis Vunipola (and others) respect the code of conduct dictated by the club and The RFU.
Money, money, money. Perhaps I am missing the point and that could be because I am tight-fisted bugger but I find it bizarre that New Zealand Rugby appear to be happy with a $1.4m NZ loss and a deficit of $30m NZ looming on the horizon. It is a fascinating piece in stuff.co.nz from Liam Hyslop. Interestingly enough the loss was less than budgeted and according to the article a lot of that was due to the British & Irish Lions tour brining in much needed revenue. Cuts loom which explains why the Southern Hemisphere nations are so keen on the Nations League idea. By the way The RFU have voted against that as the 6 Nations is such an enormous money spinner for them.
The Bard kindly brought my attention to an article in The Times written by the excellent Owen Slot. "Closed shop is killing Yorkshire rugby". It highlighted the lack of a top flight club in Yorkshire, the biggest rugby county in England* and how those who are chasing the dream are simply not able to compete in terms of revenue and expenditure. Yorkshire Carnegie, once known as Leeds Tykes have done their best but it seems they have come to the end of the road. They have had to slash their player budget with only eight players being retained for next season. Only a £400k injection of cash prevented a player revolt meaning they can finish this season but what of next season. Slot goes on to highlight the clubs that have followed the dream of Premiership rugby now see their trajectory as very much downwards. Yorkshire Carnegie were part of the Premiership cabal** at one point but sold their stake to Exeter and this is part of the problem. The article also makes the very important point that even if you make it to the top table you are destined for failure as you will not reap any of the benefits the 13 shareholders will enjoy, even if two of them are in the Championship. The dice are loaded in fact. The final element of the article highlights the negative impact on grassroots rugby in the county with interest in the game on the decline, but that is a problem everywhere. It's an excellent piece well worth reading.
* I believe it still holds true that there are more rugby clubs in Yorkshire than in all of Wales
** Regular readers would know I have previously stated a 14 team ring-fenced Premiership including Yorkshire Carnegie would make a lot of sense.
I see Premiership Rugby's CEO Mark McCafferty is to step down to be replaced by Darren Childs currently at UKTV. McCafferty, a firm advocate of breaking away from the RFU and ring-fencing the Premiership will work with CVC who he did the deal with recently. He "joins" them as an advisor, basically because he knows where any skeletons are hidden and quite clearly as he is one shrewd operator. The Mr Pessimist in me continues to say there is only one winner here and that is CVC. I fear for the game as a whole, especially grassroots and I fear for the Premiership who have allowed a virus into their network.
Big weekend of European rugby coming up. I'll focus on that tomorrow.
The protests around Britain are much in the news. I find it fascinating that many of those featured are middle class, middle aged or even elderly. In one respect that is good news as they are fighting for the future of their children and grandchildren. On the other hand I bet they all go back their cosy cottages in the Cotswolds and elsewhere thinking they have done well, not a thought for those less fortunate who are having their lives severely disrupted, and not a thought about the cost to the taxpayer of their actions.
Have you noticed the absence of Brexit in our papers? It is madness that our politicians who see Brexit as either the best opportunity since the wheel was invented or an Armageddon in waiting are all on holiday. Maybe's out walking. Corbynov is throwing out populist soundbites like confetti. The others are who knows where. Hey ho! Why worry about Brexit when you can put it off until October!!
Tuesday 16th Apr: 09:15
Sussex RFU held their annual club planning forum last night. It was very well attended with representatives from all the clubs in county being present. Plenty of smugness about promotion, plenty of despair about relegation. Obviously we at Crowborough were in the former category which could be enhanced when the 2s play Crawley on April 27th.
We as a club had an extra reason to be smug with one of our own having played at the Principality Stadium last week. This person not only played at the home of the Grand Slam winners but in front of a large crowd and it being shown live on TV.
The Welsh Varsity is a day of sport between Cardiff University and Swansea University culminating with the ladies and men's rugby final. Our very own Becky Eyres, daughter of Jacqui our catering guru, wore her Cardiff Uni shirt with pride and got the opportunity millions around Wales can only dream of and that is playing at The Principality. Sadly Cardiff came out second best on the day but who cares. Well done Becky.
I am led to believe that she now also knows the Welsh national anthem Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau. If Nathan Hughes is English can we now claim Becky as Welsh.
Back to last night's meeting. It is good the county are trying to tackle the decline in the game and having an open forum is the right way forward. In my very humble opinion those present are missing the point by tinkering at the edges. The game simply isn't sexy enough for today's young men and women. When the Khardashians tweet how good the game is we might see change. Tinkering with league structures is not going to change anything. We are not an island. Sussex need to be working with Kent and Surrey as well and whilst this is happening it needs to be more structured and proactive.
The Sussex CB do a great job and are led very well by Gary Henderson but when I looked around the room I was horrified to see the demographic. Except for Marylyn who does an amazing job doing the counties admin it was exclusively white males with most of those my age. If change is to happen we need team captains there. We need ladies who are playing the game right now to have a say. We need some ethnic diversity. Sorry to be critical but if change is required, and it is, then change needs to be radical.
Sarries have given Billy Vunipola a slap on the wrist and warned him about his future conduct following his support for Israel Folau's recent comments. I expect the RFU will do much the same. We should not condemn Vunipola or Folau for having deeply held religious beliefs but as Sarries have said there is a time and a place for sharing them and if they are contrary to your employers ethos then problems will surely arise.
Gareth Anscombe is to stay in Wales. He will leave Cardiff and join the Ospreys after the World Cup.
Former Aussie captain James Horwill is to retire at the end of the season after a splendid career.
Shaun Edwards is definitely not joining Wigan Warriors as head coach. There will now be a scramble for his signature...... perhaps!
Also at last nights meeting we heard about England's financial woes. The grassroots game has been hit with the moratorium on AGPs an example. Cuts are to be made to travel allowances and other expenditure for clubs levels 3 to 6. I have no problem with this. Those clubs are generally the ones throwing the cash at players so they can absorb the additional costs me thinks.
It was also stated that the top echelon of the game including the international side have not been faced with cuts. The reason being much of the cost is contractual. Fair enough, but window dressing such as bringing in Will Carling is a luxury that could easily be done without and in fact wouldn't be missed.
It would be remiss of me not to mention the Notre Dame. It is only a building you cry. No, it is symbol of France and one recognised around the world. This is a world heritage site of great importance. We should be saddened by the damage.
Extinction Rebellion. I applaud their cause. People take climate change way too lightly. It is a serious issue which is easier to ignore for economic reasons than to tackle head on. Protest can be a way forward but stopping people going about their daily life is not acceptable. Being the miserable so-and-so I am I do wonder how many of them are saving the planet by claiming benefits rather than working. Quite clearly they are not available for work now so the benefits should be stopped. Also isn't it ironic that a significant amount of energy will be wasted on removing their graffiti and litter and repairing the damage caused. Hypocritical or what?
Monday 15th Apr: 08:45
Plenty to chew over today so lets not waste any time. The Crows fought to the end on Saturday but it wasn't enough against a very good Eastbourne 2s. Final score 19-35. I am sorry I couldn't make but thankfully it looked as if many others could to support this band of brothers.
In the play-offs Crawley narrowly missed out on promotion from Sussex 1 being beaten by Gillingham Anchorians 23-21. Looks a tight affair. Shame for the Sussex outfit as they deserve some reward for their efforts over recent times.
Better news for Horsham as they had an easier day of it beating Farnham 44-17 to earn their place in London 1 South next season. What with the AGP, and the new changing rooms it has been an excellent season for Horsham. I wish them well for next season. With both Beckenham and Horsham going up from our side of the league ladder but only Hove coming down it will be interesting to see how the leagues are restructured next season.
It went down to the wire in London 1 South with Sevenoaks coming out on top. Their 10-26 win at Thurrock and Camberley losing at home to Brighton 24-26 was enough to secure promotion. Medway faltered at the end losing by a single point 29-28 at Havant. It is therefore Brighton who sit second and go into a play-off where they face Colchester away in two weeks time.
In the Premier Inn Tunbridge Wells ended their season with a 33-32 defeat at Hertford to leave them in 7th. A top half finish must be seen as a good season me thinks. Sutton & Epsom's win at Bedford Athletic secures them promotion with Westcliff taking the play-off spot when they will host Barnstaple.
In the national leagues TJs excellent season continues with a fine home win over Clifton. They remain in third but barring an admin cock-up can't now catch Canterbury in second. Worthing's win away at Dings Crusaders secures their place in the league for next season. Just pride to play for in two weeks time as everything else has been decided.
Bridgnorth finished their season with a comfortable 42-8 win over Sheffield and end the season in 5th in the Midlands version of the Premier Inn. Salisbury didn't fair so well losing away at play-off bound Old Centralians 50-28. They still finish a creditable 7th.
Before moving onto the big boys it is fascinating that Ampthill recently featured in The Times are likely to be promoted into the Championship. They play bottom place Loughborough students in their last game. It is amazing what a generous benefactor can buy you. I wish them luck for next season and hope the pockets that fund them remain deep and bountiful. One to watch next season me thinks.
I got to watch three games this weekend and all three were pretty enjoyable. Albeit not live I enjoyed the Gloucester v Bath game. Some good skills on display and a see-saw of a game. Bath dominant only to allow the cherry & whites back into it. Danny Cipriani and Ben Morgan were again excellent. Then yesterday I thoroughly enjoyed Exeter v Wasps. Where has that quality of play from wasps been all season? They stifled Exeter's game plan perfectly and in the end ran out very worthy winners.
Elsewhere I am certain Sale rested many of their front line stars ahead of their trip to La Rochelle. Worcester won't be complaining as they ran out 39-17 winners. Josh Adams being the star man. Bristol beating Saracens is another where the visitors priorities are next weekend. Bristol and Worcester winning would be a frustration for Newcastle and drags Leicester back into the danger zone.
In the Pro14 Leinster losing at home to Glasgow was no surprise. Leinster another side already in the end off season jamboree so their focus clearly is now on Europe.
Didn't get to see it but Toulouse 47 - Clermont Auvergne 44 looks a cracker, as expected!!.
Also as expected Israel Folau has had his Rugby Australia contract terminated. It is a tough call as freedom of speech and the ability to be open and honest about your beliefs and principles should be a given. That said his contract demanded a level of conduct which he has breached thus justifying the termination. Folau has said if he can't play then so be it.
What next for Billy Vunipola who was booed when he came off the bench against Bristol. Whilst I personally am unhappy that he has so openly supported Folau's comments I don't think it is fair or right that he should be booed in that way. He is set to meet both his club and the RFU over the issue.
The French votes are in and it is "non!". A foreign coach of the national team. Sacre Bleu!! The French junior clubs have said it is not acceptable meaning Warren Gatland is now out of the frame. It is funny though that the French game at the top two levels is packed with foreign players and coaches. Hey ho and Gallic shrug of the shoulders before moving on.
A story to watch. Shaun Edwards could stay with Wales post RWC 2019. Happy days??
Elsewhere well done Tiger Woods. What a great victory. What a comeback from horrendous injury and personal trauma.
The F1 was yet another procession from start to finish. Except for one crash, one attempted overtake and a brilliantly efficient double tyre change by Mercedes it was boring with a capital "F".
I read that someone in Crowborough has made the national news by rescuing a piglet and now keeps it in her council property. The council have said the pig must go as it is contrary to the tenancy agreement. Makes sense. Pigs are farm animals not pets me thinks. Mind you it is a nice looking thing. I could easily see it served roasted on a silver platter with all the trimmings. Come on you vegans, make a fuss about that. Yet another minority group gaining support only because it is fashionable. Eat meat. Live well.
Bugger, where did that aubergine come from? Must go, I'm under attack.
Saturday 13th Apr: 10:15
Just because the curtain is coming down on the season doesn't mean The Friday Club have taken their foot of the gas. Steel Cross is looking a picture ready for The Crows when they host Eastbourne 2s later today. Well done guys.
They did enjoy an added bonus yesterday. As the minis departed for their annual tour so The Friday Club hoovered up the remaining bacon butties that the mini parents had left behind. Thankfully no minis were left behind. They were all safely packed away in the coaches luggage hold.
Yes Steel Cross looked great yesterday even if the pitch was a little hard. With the possibility of CRFC getting an AGP moving away into the distance as the RFU struggles with its finances the club needs to think about next season and pitch maintenance. Recently we have had a "quadraplay" on loan. Basically it is the Swiss Army Knife of pitch maintenance. The club has decided to go for it and try and raise the necessary funds. This was kicked off last weekend at The Presidents Lunch. Thanks to Damper Sayer and old stalwart of yesteryear Nick Instone getting up and loosening people's wallets a big inroad was made into the appeal for funds. More is needed but what a great start. Thanks to all who have committed. Thanks to Damper and Nick too. If you want to make a contribution contact me email@example.com.
The headlines say it all: "Leicester ease their relegation fears". It wasn't a classic but it was better than watching the Foxes lose to the United version of Newcastle. George Ford played well whilst Toby Flood was targeted. I still think that hit on him in the ruck was deliberate with the shoulder aimed at his head. No action by the officials. Bizarre. It does highlight why the jackal is extremely dangerous and needs to be changed. Johnny May's try was superb but the two Falcons tries were of equal quality. The Falcons could have and should have snatched it at the end. They didn't and now languish at the foot of the table.
Billy Vunipola has voiced his support for Israel Folau's recent comments. Unsurprisingly the RFU have been quick to call a meeting with Vuniploa as the comments are not in keeping with the RFUs values and those of clubs up and down the country. By default Courtney Lawes could be dragged into the mire as he has come out to defend Vunipola. You can't read the drivel I write without a firm understanding that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and should be allowed to air it. However, there are lines not to be crossed and we must, unlike our moronic politicians accept that others views, lifestyles and opinions are as valid as our own.
Watched the opening stanzas of the Southern Kings v Ospreys game. Finally the Welsh outfit showed what they are capable of. Too little too late and against a very poor side. What a pathetically small crowd. How can that be sustainable?
I read that Wasps are under investigation for financial irregularities. The FCA have called them in to explain why their accounts are "suspect". It centres around £1.1m of overstated earnings in 2017. Watch this space me thinks. The club is also in a bitter dispute with the owners of Coventry City FC who have effectively been evicted from the Ricoh. Watch that one too.
Being a chairman of a rugby club is a great honour but let no-one kid themselves it is hard work requiring an huge commitment in terms of time. I know. I've got the T-shirt to prove it. Our good neighbours Tunbridge Wells are losing their Chairman John Crees. He is standing down after many years at the helm and 27 years in total at the club. We at CRFC wish him well for the future. The article can be found online in timeslocalnews.co.uk. It is well worth reading as it highlights the many challenges faced by those who generously give of their time, often unrewarded and unnoticed.
Before I go my good friend Robert who is a regular reader of this nonsense has taken me to task. There is an implied criticism that I might have been a tad hypocritical in Wednesday's blog. He refers to my comment about those who want a second referendum being akin to living in North Korea and then stating I want to revoke Article 50 and stay in. Yes I was very unclear and can understand why Robert asked for clarity.
Here goes. I voted "remain" and I am still convinced that is the country's best option. The vote was to "leave" and that was democratically arrived at. I 100% support the democratic process and believe we should honour the referendum which is why I have said on a number of occasions that warts and all Maybe's deal is the only deal in town that gets us out with some safety nets. It is also why many of the alternatives on the table are more akin to us staying but staying in with all the pain and no gain. My point therefore is in order to honour the democratic process let's get on with it. "LEAVE". If as is the case desired by our politicians we don't honour the democratic process and stay in then my view is we should revoke Article 50. Clear now I hope.
On that note isn't it great that Parliament gets an extension from the EU to solve this mess we are in. What is the first thing they do? Go on holiday. It is a farce with a capital "F".
Thursday 11th Apr: 12:00
Slightly later than usual as I had business to attend to. A quick update on CRFC first. The 2s game away at Hellingly has been conceded by Hellingly so we are awarded a five point win taking us closer to the league title. The 2s face Crawley on the 27th April in their all important final game. The Crows v Eastbourne at Steel Cross is still on.
Tom Youngs has been hit with a three week ban. Basically six down to three in accordance with RFU guidelines. I am happy with that. He misses the must watch Friday night encounter away at Newcastle. Bizarrely the mighty Leicester City host Newcastle United on the same night and both are on TV. Come you Foxes!!! Come on you Falcons. Long story for another time!
The suits at Premiership Rugby are scrutinising Saracens managing of the salary cap. No smoke without fire is what I say. It is not in Premiership Rugby's best interest to rock the boat right now so don't expect anything dramatic. I know where I sit and that is I believe Sarries might not have broken the rules per se but have been devious in how they have kept their dealings totally secret until being exposed. I have no intention of reading the minute detail of the regulations but it strikes me that the players involved are getting a significant "added" benefit out of playing for Saracens and ONLY because they are PLAYING for Saracens. It is a way around the salary cap.
Israel Folau is fully entitled to his beliefs as we do generally live in a world where free speech is tolerated. There is a big caveat to that and that is he has over stepped the mark by inciting hatred, especially on the issue of being gay. Nobody likes thieves, drunks or liars but in a modern multi-cultural society we need to be tolerant of others views and lifestyles. I express mine freely and know there are many who dislike them but there are limits beyond which I won't go. Rugby Australia are likely to sack him which some might argue is harsh. I for one think it is the right decision.
One man who has also incurred the wrath of his union is Guy Noves. He was sacked for serious misconduct. Noves had the last laugh as he was awarded a million euros for wrongful dismissal. Bet the FFR are now very reluctant to get rid of Jacques Brunel.
Some good match-ups on the weekend when Gloucester host Bath and Quins host Saints. Connacht v Glasgow might be a good one in the Pro14. Toulouse v Clermont Auvergne in the Top14 on Sunday is the best game of the weekend after Falcons v Tigers.
Julian Assange has been arrested after Ecuador revoked his asylum claim. The Met Police took him away this morning and he now will face a magistrate who will determine his immediate future. Good is what I say. Not because of what he has or hasn't done but because it will be a news story to follow other than Brexit.
Theresa Maybe came home last night with a Brexit extension to October 31st; Halloween. Many, many, many fingers are pointing at her and yes she has a lot to answer for but in my mind she is in a no win situation with none of the current options palatable. Forget "leave" or "remain". It could be Buffoon Johnson or Comrade Corbynov leading the country next. How does that help? It doesn't. We'd either be out of the EU doing deals with those mighty economies of The Gambia or Lesotho on WTO terms or we'd be tied to the EU having all the pain with none of the gain. A rock and a hard place. It is a monumental mess and all a six month extension gives us is another six months of childish bickering.
Can you imagine it on October 31st. You ring your MPs door bell and when they answer you scream "trick or treat".
Rather than offering you some nice sweets or maybe a juicy apple all you would get would be "I haven't decided yet. I think I need to ask my neighbours which is best. I have campaigned for treats to be banned so would want to give you a trick. I haven't decided yet what that trick should be so could you come back in say three months time and ask me again. In the meantime here are some leaflets about my re-election campaign. Can you give them out whilst you are knocking on doors in the neighbourhood?"
Your reply would be: answers to firstname.lastname@example.org
Msr Macaroon didn't get his way. More on him next week. Now for the love song. Nus Ghani, our MP. A staunch Brexiteer. Her constituents voted out. She has done the right thing throughout. Voted with her conscience with her voters "leave" wishes in mind but with the sense to recognise the Maybe deal is probably our best shot at happiness. Stephen Lloyd of Eastbourne. A remainer who resigned the Liberal Party whip because in all conscience he couldn't vote against his party's manifesto and couldn't betray his voters desire to "leave". An honourable decision me thinks.
Back on Saturday.
Wednesday 10th Apr: 09:30
It isn't all over for many and that includes The Crows and our 2s. Both have games this weekend. The Crows are at Steel Cross against Eastbourne 2s and the 2s are away at Hellingly 2s. Both games have something on them in terms of league points and status for next season. I cannot get to either I'm afraid; a family commitment, but if you can that would be great. Kick off at 15:00.
Fascinating piece in the bbc.co.uk/news website about the growth of women's rugby. Sutton & Epsom ladies are the team featured. More and more women are coming into the game for a range of reasons: health and fitness, camaraderie, personal self confidence and the physical challenge and the thrill of pushing oneself to the limit. There is an underlying positive that no matter the shape and size of the player they are part of a team of equals. They are not having to worry about what Kim Kardashian is doing and trying to keep up with her. HOORAH for that I say!!
There is one concern that I have and that is the article talks about a steady stream of injuries and regular visits to the club's medical team. Even in the women's game the speed and impacts are getting faster and heavier. It is well worth reading.
Leicester Tiger's Tom Youngs will hear is fate later today after Saturday's red card. It looked pretty malicious to me and I expect a ban that could see him miss most of the remaining games this season. He can join brother Ben in the stands. He is out injured for the rest of the season and could be a doubt going into next season.
Young Sale player Jake Pope is in the news as he fails a second drugs test. I am sure the use of "recreational" drugs in the game is much more widespread than we would wish to admit to. Young fit men at the top of the game with time on their hands and money in their pockets is a recipe for disaster at times. Don't underestimate the widespread use of performance enhancing drugs, especially in Wales. With the riches available at the top of the game the incentive to "cut corners" to get there is immense.
My late mother-in-law lived in Crosskeys for many years just a stones throw from Pandy Park where Crosskeys ply their trade. They have a long and illustrious history which could soon be coming crashing down to earth. I eluded to it yesterday; the money being spent in rugby is not sustainable and unless clubs and the unions wake up to the fact many more clubs will suffer the same fate as Neath, London Welsh, et al. Crosskeys need at least £20,000 to get them to the end of the season. Only time will tell whether they make it or not.
Airmiles Maybe has been smooching with Macaroon and Angela in order to garner support for a delay to Brexit. I think she will be offered a delay but not to June 30th but to some time early 2020. I dread the thought so is it time to say "up yours" to the EU and go it alone. Many say it is. I have been resolute in my view that staying in is the best option for this country's prosperity and the long term future for our children and our children's children. What has consistently got my back up is the inability of our MPs to move from their entrenched positions even where their vote is contrary to the wishes of their constituents. Anna Sourface and Professor Plum are perfect examples of the duplicity of that. Finger pointing is useless, even at Comrade Corbynov who would vote against anything offered unless it results in a general election, but he is not solely to blame. Collectively their all are. The ostriches with their heads in the sand are possibly the worse. Abdicating responsibility by saying it will be all right without any basis for fact and contrary to all sensible and common sense logic which says it won't beggars belief. I still think the worse of all the clowns are those who want a second vote. Not one of them has said what they will do if that happened and it came back a resounding "leave". I would have a guess that they would demand a third and a fourth and a fifth vote. That is not democracy. We might as well live in North Korea if the will of the people is asked for then ignored. The SNP have been consistent about remaining and that is what the Scots wanted. However I still haven't seen one coherent argument that explains how in the case of independence the Scots could remain in the EU if the rest this glorious country wasn't. (Scottish independence. That is entire weeks worth of blogging material on its own. Independence means independence is my slogan so pis. ...).
Where does all this leave us? If it was me I would revoke article 50 and stay in. I am not for a delay if it means this circus full of clowns prevaricating over and over and over again. If we are not staying in for good then lets just leave. (There are some good apples in the barrel and I'll try and give them a shout out during tomorrow's love song segment).
By the way Macaroon has a nerve. The streets of Paris are ablaze with rioters, youth unemployment is at an all time high, the unions are refusing to move one iota on antiquated working practices, and the government is stymied from introducing any tax reforms of any description. Yeah bonne chance mon ami.
Tuesday 9th Apr: 09:45
Up and down the country whether it be in England, Scotland, Ireland or Wales clubs will be reflecting of the season just finished or about to finish and thinking about next season already. Club treasurers will be sweating about how well the club has done off the field and can they pay the bills about to come in and what about the summer? What revenue earners do clubs have to tide them over until September when the whistle goes on another season. Every club is different and the challenges they face will be different but rest assured money will be somewhere in the discussion.
This leads me on nicely to The RFU. If their financial woes weren't bad enough then hearing the roof is about to collapse in on you must be a devastating blow. I exaggerate of course but the roof at Twickenham is about to reduce the investment in grassroots yet further as the mandarins at HQ hear the news that two thirds of the Twickenham roof needs replacing and/or significant repair. The cost is certain to run into the many millions and potentially cause the double whammy of reducing revenue by disrupting games whilst the work is completed. Inevitably the cost will need to be covered from somewhere and the easiest hit is the grassroots game. They could cut costs again via headcount reduction but you can bet the senior set up is not going to be affected, which is where a significant cost lies. Sleepless nights ahead for the CFO me thinks.
The story was broken exclusively in the Daily Torygraph but interestingly quickly picked up by WalesOnline. The Welsh never slow to gloat have suggested the news is bad for The RFU not because of the roof but because any dream of luring Warren Gatland into their fold will have dissipated as the funds dry up.
Talking of funds we today hear the news that surprise, surprise Exeter remain the only Premiership club in profit. Of the other 12 clubs who own the Premiership not only were they in debt but the deficits increased. Revenue has generally increased but losses have spiralled to £50m in total. Saracens, who are still under suspicion of fudging the salary cap, have also been clever by using financial trickery and turning £48m of debt (loans) into equity thus removing it from the balance sheet. Of the losers Leicester Tigers and Sale were the best performers with losses less than £2m. No wonder the clubs have been quick to sell their soul to CVC. Full story in The Guardian.
Which leads me nicely onto Leicester Tigers, relegation and ring-fencing. Regular readers will know my view on the subject. I think it is the best way forward. It allows the big boys to alter their business model as the fear of relegation disappears. It stops those below throwing millions at what has now become a pipedream. It allows the game as a whole to take a breath and think sensibly about how money is not the only answer to the games prosperity. There is another obvious reason why I believe ring-fencing will happen and happen possibly in the next few weeks. Why? Leicester Tigers is why. CVC who have ploughed £250m into the top flight have done a deal (I believe) that gives them 27% of all revenue from the game in return for a lot of things but 27% of revenue is key. Which club is the best supported and therefore by default has the highest revenue? Leicester Tigers of course. This is why CVC would be mad to let them slip into The Championship and see that club's revenue decline as a result. If it were Sale who have the lowest revenue then the debate would be different. The closer the Tigers get to relegation the noisier the debate about ring-fencing will become. That is my view at least. By the way I am not privy to the exact details of the CVC deal but I cannot believe they have agreed to take 27% of the profit (losses) so can only assume my information is reasonably accurate.
It is not only in the North where money is at stake. Super Rugby are in serious discussions about a major shake up of their competition. Ideas revolve around soccer's Champions League format with a few big sponsors across the piece, a single broadcaster, a neutral venue for the final, set time slots for each game each week. There is also talk of changing the format of the four nation Rugby Championship series and making it more TV and spectator friendly in terms of timing. Finally the southern hemisphere nations are also concerned about the drain of talent to the UK, France and Japan. They are considering allowing players to move across the franchises in the Super Rugby arena without risking their international status as is the case now. I found the article on stuff.co.nz.
That'll do for now. Let me make it a Brexit free day. Tomorrow however I will be delighted to review Maybe's visit to France and her discussions with Macaroon and Angela, everybody's favourite German grandmother. I will also be having a go at the duplicitous and the ostriches.
Don't forget you can get in touch at email@example.com.
Monday 8th Apr: 09:00
Unlike our beloved politicians let me get straight to the point of Monday and that is the league round-up.
As stated yesterday the table doesn't lie. Yes we lost five games across the season but against all the measures we were the best side in the league. Beccehamian might have a case against that as they did beat us twice and we made hard work of it at other times, like on Saturday. Crowborough RFC are champions and now can look forward to the significant challenges of London 2 South East.
Beccehamian's narrow 12-13 win over Bromley kept them in 2nd and therefore promoted alongside us. Bromley finished in 9th and will be keeping their fingers crossed that any cross border league re-alignments doesn't affect them. Folkestone did what they had to and that was beating Vigo away but sadly they finished 3rd with Vigo in 5th. If you consider Folkestone only stayed in this league as a consequence of Barnet not coming down into it and Vigo were only promoted last season so both clubs should be applauded for excellent seasons. In the all Sussex game Pulborough left bottom placed Lewes with the spoils to finish in 4th spot. Hastings & Bexhill RFC will be in Kent 1 next season with Park House and ODs who also didn't play this weekend all staying in London 3 South East.
I know several people from across our league read this nonsense so I thank them for a great season and all the best for next.
No Sussex 1 games but Crawley now know they will be playing Gillingham Anchorians away next Saturday in the play-off for promotion.
In London 2 South East our friends over at Heathfield & Waldron lost again but oh boy that must have been a cracker. Going down 42-45 to Dover must give real hope for next season. As expected Beckenham were promoted as champions after beating Gravesend. Horsham secured second spot after strolling past lowly Maidstone 76-12. I think they go into a play-off for promotion but can't be certain. Haywards Heath ended their season with a loss at Charlton Park. In the other games Deal & Betteshanger beat relegated Aylesford Bulls and Thanet Wanderers beat Old Colfeians. Looking at the league some long journeys for us but meeting up with some old friends.
The top of London 1 South remains as tight as ever. It is advantage Sevenoaks as they beat Chichester to go top. Camberley dented Medway's hopes with a fine away win over there in Kent. Camberley are on the same points as Sevenoaks but sit 2nd. Brighton beat Chobham at Chobham to go 3rd. Medway are now 4th but only four points off the pace. Camberley host Brighton, Sevenoaks travel to Thurrock and Medway are at Havant. We'll know what's what at 17:30 next Saturday. Hove drew their penultimate game 33-33 against London Cornish. They didn't get a win all season but thanks to that draw they didn't lose every game. Hove could get the win they deserve next week at Chobham who are also relegated.
I for one stand and applaud Hove. They haven't pulled out of a single game. They have played with heart according to my sources and never once conceded defeat. Others before them have taken the easy option. Hove didn't. Well done guys.
In the Premier League Tunbridge Wells beat Sidcup and guarantee Premier rugby next season and with one game to go are aiming for a top half finish. Sutton & Epsom blew the opportunity to sew up promotion after losing at home to Tring. Wimbledon's win at Hertford and Westcliff's home win over Chingford keep their slim hopes alive. Shelford beat Dorking which is great for them. They too despite having had a dismal season have battled from start to finish.
In the national league TJs came home from Redruth with a fine 23-37 win. TJs are still in 3rd behind Canterbury and promoted Rams. Worthing eased their relegation fears with a home win over Old Redcliffians. London Irish Wild Geese are relegated. Two games to go and it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that TJs could make the play-offs.
Finally Bridgnorth lost away at Scunthorpe with Salisbury losing at home to Newbury Blues.
Whilst our 1st XV are done and dusted our 2s and The Crows still have matters at hand. For others elsewhere there is still much to play for. Good luck all.
What a cracking game at Franklin Gardens yesterday. Gloucester are looking a good side with Cipriani pulling the strings. A worry therefore to see him limp off. Saints played well and will be safe from relegation.
Had some good feedback about my views on the paying of players. I think it is fair to say that the pitfalls and negatives are generally accepted but for those with money to pay they believe it is the only way if they are to maintain or improve their league status. Fair enough as long as it is sustainable and done properly. Again, and as is the case at one club they are doing it by the book; taxes paid and pensions set up, fair play. However I got to hear about disquiet elsewhere. Players and coaches being paid handsomely yet hardworking volunteers being screwed over by being expected to do more and more for no recompense. No I am NOT going to name the clubs but it highlights the challenges that face clubs the higher up the leagues they go and the higher up they want to go.
I'll leave the politics until tomorrow but I did listen to Priti Patel on Pienaar's Politics yesterday morning. Talk about a view so entrenched that like an ostrich she has her head in the sand and is talking through her backside.