Monday April 27th - 13:00
Slightly later than planned. Busy, busy, busy.
What a great day yesterday. The minis coaching in full swing ahead of two fun packed weekends on May 3rd and 10th.
The Under 14s again took centre stage with a tri-team tournament vs TJs and Basildon. Three excellent teams with some classy young talent on show. Our boys ran out victorious but that wasn't important. What was important was the fun they all had, expertly refereed by our very own Milgi Norman, along with the banter amongst the relevant coaches and parents from all three teams. The Basildon guys were excellent company and would be most welcome anytime they are in this neck of the woods.
We also took the opportunity to present Istvan Ballint, the Romanian walker with a club shirt and a club tie. I am certain he enjoyed our company, as did the Town Mayor.
My thanks go to Nigel Pooley and Dave Shortland in particular for making the walk happen plus the BT Rugby Tonight event. Great job.
In other rugby news Wasps beat Exeter in a thrilling game yesterday. The big news is Wasps plan to become the richest club in the world as they launch a retail bond on the London Stock Exchange. Good luck to them and I hope it brings them happiness.
On Saturday it was Judgement Day in Wales. The regional double headers at the Millennium Stadium. This format emulates the Big Four games at Twickenham and is proving a great success. For the Welsh readers amongst you I felt the skill levels in both games was very good and the array of talent on show augurs well for the future.
As an aside haven't they done, at last, a great job with the pitch.
Not long now and the campaigning will be over. We'll soon be back to normal...... politicians reneging on promises, expenses scandals, lies and more lies, and childish bickering. Lovely. Can't wait.
Sadly Nicola Sturgeon will be assigned to the subs bench as Alex of Bannockburn Salmond will take the centre stage. She'll be a bit like Theo Walcott at Arsenal really. A good player but only making a cameo appearance now and again.
Talking of Arsenal I watched yesteday's game. Three British players in the starting 22? Great. What was noticeable was how unstable these guys are on their feet. The slightest touch and they collapse into a writhing heap. I wonder if that happens when they get pushed in the nightclub?
Finally I succumbed to daytime telly this morning. Isn't it great the different advertisers are getting themselves linked together. It was good to see QuickQuid advertising their pay day loans, followed by Tombola Bingo advertising how the pay day loans can be spent, with Luma Credit Card following up advising those with a dodgy credit rating they too can get ready cash, with Bet 365 bringing up the rear giving the perfect opportunity to spend it. Excellent planning.
Must go. Something about a donkey sanctuary coming on now. Oh sorry, it was another party political broadcast.
Sunday April 26th - 08:00
After the sad news about Rod it was difficult to get back into the swing of things yesterday, especially as a number of people were unaware of his sad passing. I will update everyone with the funeral schedule as soon as I have the details.
The Crows completed their league program at Steel Cross with a tough encounter vs Hellingly 2s. On a hard pitch they managed a narrow 19 - 17 win in what sounds a cracking game. What an excellent way to finish the season.
The 1st XV took on what was described as Lewes 1st XV. It was impossible to believe this side lost most of their games during the league season and were subsequently relegated. The side was young, fast, with a high level of skill. I guess the unfamiliar faces to the Lewes 'faithful'...........
The game was a very close affair with both sides running the ball at every opportunity. Our boys, many of whom were 18 or younger, played with heart. The older heads brought cohesion and steel. Together we managed to weather the storm.
With a few minutes left it was looking like a comfortable win 24 - 12 but Lewes scores two late tries after the 'yellow peril' had reduced us to 13 men.
Extra time was nail-biting but with no further score we went through as the away team.
With yet more injuries and the next round set for Thursday evening at Brighton we may need to blood yet more of our youngsters when we face Haywards Heath.
Today we welcome Istvan Ballint to the club and our under 14s play in a three way match up at 11am.
The Australian RFU have amended their rules to allow for overseas players to be selected for the national side. Whilst any knee jerk reaction by the RFU and a change to policy would be crazy, in my opinion, I think the way Australia have approached it could be a template for the future......
You need to have played a significant proportion of your rugby at home at the highest level and have a specified number of caps to your name. This prevents the drain of talent to distant shores whilst ensuring the most talented players looking to fill the coffers before retirement can still represent their country.
Friday April 24th - 15:00
It is with a very heavy heart and significant sadness that I have just heard that our good friend and long standing club member Rod Stapley has passed away.
Rod was one of the youngest players ever to play for the club and has been a loyal fan missing very few home games over a very long period of time.
He will be missed.
The thoughts of all our club members are with his family. May his soul rest in peace.
Thursday April 23rd - 10:30
Get your red roses out for St George's Day.
I hope our club members are already aware of 'Steps for Rugby'. If not then a very quick snapshot.........
Istvan Ballint, a rugby fanatic based in Romania is walking 1000km to raise awareness of rugby in his home country. The objective is to return rugby to the glory days of the communist era (when it was fully funded by the state). He wants to get kids playing in schools, reawaken dormant clubs, get rugby back onto Romania's sporting agenda.
What has this to do with us?
Through our connections with Romanian Rugby via 'Big Vern' we are coordinating an English leg of the walk. Istvan will be at Lewes watching our 1st XV take them on in the Bob Rogers Cup on Saturday before walking to the club for minis training on Sunday. The objective is to get film of how 'local' clubs in England are developing the game and then use that to motivate his compatriots.
Your role? Obviously turn up in numbers to support the 1st XV but more importantly come along to the club on Sunday. Draft bitters on offer at £3 per pint for those who fancy a beer. Bar open at 10am.
Before that you can watch Rugby Tonight on BT (Friday 24th) where you will see Istvan and many of our members talking about the event.
Patron's Board. The response has been good so far. Don't delay!!! When the Patron's Board is full, it is FULL.
RWC Tickets. More tickets are going on sale on April 28th, including tickets for Brighton. Let me tell you that the Brighton games will be excellent. The venue is superb and the atmosphere will be top draw. (NB Buy tickets only from official sources).
As we look forward to the beach and our summer holidays I am going to look at some of the laws of our game starting with the ruck.
When did you last see a ruck where the law was fully applied, that is players ON THEIR FEET in physical contact over the ball trying to win the ball by use of their FEET. I guess very rarely as players seem to playing some form of rugby Twister with bodies everywhere on the ground rather than on their feet.
The problem is the tackle area allows for players to put their hands on the ball but quickly other players arrive forming what isn't a ruck but a wrestle for the ball on the ground. This then means slow ball and a greater opportunity to cheat.
Perhaps this should be looked at with a much greater emphasis of keeping players on their feet and hands off the ball in the tackle area. Thoughts?
The second aspect is the offside line. This being the hindmost foot. How often do you see clear space between the hindmost foot and the defenders? Very rarely?
Perhaps referees might want to consider insisting there is a discernable gap between the hindmost foot of the ruck (and maul) and the feet of the defenders. The extra milliseconds might allow the ball to be released to backs more quickly. Thoughts?
Wednesday April 22nd - 10:30
Let me start with a few adverts......
Geoff 'Daggers' Dagwell is running in the London Marathon on Sunday. We wish him well and it is not too late to sponsor him. Go to JustGiving website and you'll find his details there.
A few weeks later Jeremy 'The Don of Maesteg' Evans is running in the Whistable 10k, again for a very good cause. His details are on the same website.
Men's Awards - May 9th
The EXCELLENT Minis Fun Day - May 10th
Junior Awards #1 - May 15th
Junior Awards #2 - May 16th
Please give them your support. Tickets for May 9th are going fast so contact Ian G or Graysey soonest for your seat.
Embarrassingly and sadly I can't attend any of them due to family commitments the first weekend and RWC commitmemts the second weekend.
The Summer Ball - June 20th
Tickets for this, a highlight in our social calendar, are GOING FAST. Don't miss out. Contact me or Graysey for information.
Injuries in our game continue to dominate many of the rugby news pages. It is well documented that we at CRFC have suffered more than our fair share this season. There were a couple at the Sussex minis festival. Only this morning news broke of Mike Brown missing the rest of the season as he continues to show signs of concussion following the England v Italy game. It was only yesterday I wrote about the sad death of Nick Tooth. This leads us to ask two simple questions: a) why is this happening and b) is the game becoming too dangerous?
I think the 'why' is driven very much by the increase in size, strength and speed of the players. There is also a change in technique where players seem to be leading with their head more often and are much more upright in the tackle. In a strange way I think the improved quality of pitches is another factor. Those of my era will remember when those sloppy, mud laden pitches were more likely to give way long before your ankle or knee did. Today it is often the other way round. As I think back to my broken fingers, cracked ribs, stitches and a three night hospital stay with a suspected ruptured spleen (thank you Tunbridge Wells) there is a much better system of recording and reporting injuries now. I also think, and this is reflected in the pressure on A&E and GPs generally, that people are more likely to seek treatment for the most minor of injuries.
Does this make the game too dangerous. Professor Allyson Pollock thinks so. She believes the Governments / RFU initiative to increase the participation of rugby in schools is wrong and will lead to an even greater number of serious injuries. We have heard from this Pollock before but let us look at some of the statements. 1 in 8 participants will suffer injury severe enough to prevent them from missing 7 training sessions or matches. Whilst injuries are on the increase there is no evidence to support this claim. She claims injury reporting is not good enough. The RFU have a robust system in place which we at CRFC support and cooperate with fully. Schools, as my son and Mrs Chairman will testify to, in this litigious day and age, record all injuries assiduously. She states the scrum and tackle should be banned, basically turning rugby into a form of netball with a bit of kicking (the ball that is). Banning the scrum and the tackle is a ridiculous suggestion BUT I think there is a lot of merit in significantly improving tackle and scrum technique.
I share her concerns about injury but the game is not too dangerous and should be encouraged. Encouraged for the physical benefit (as other sports) but equally for the unquestionable social benefits that are often NOT delivered by say soccer. These points are notably absent in her missive. The one undeniable FACT in all this is that her son some eleven years ago aged 14 suffered a ('severe') facial injury. This is clouding her judgement I think.
There is one other small factor that comes out in the report and that being the references to rugby being a middle / upper class game only played in independent schools. Perhaps this perception is also clouding the minds of some of our more left leaning academics.
Moving on to lying tow-rags Messrs Blair and Bush. I read with dismay that the Chilcot report is likely to be delayed until 2016. This 'WHY?' is easier to answer than the question about rugby. Answer: there is much to hide from us the taxpaying public.
Finally, and I feel guilty about this as I meant to write this a few weeks ago. Young Matt Eyres, a quality player, a loyal clubman, and a thoroughly nice lad has left us to serve Queen and Country with the Royal Engineers. Good luck to him. We at CRFC are proud of you and your career choice.