Tuesday 21st April - 08:40
Outside the playoffs this is pretty much the last league round-up of the season so let's go................
Maidstone rounded off their unbeaten season with a 28 - 45 away win over Old Colfeians. The league positions had already been decided and we know that Medway face London Cornish in the play-off.
A full day of fixtures in London 1 South sees Wimbledon promoted after a comfortable home win versus Sidcup. Chobham face Eton Manor in the play-off after beating Havant. Brighton rounded off their season with a win against our friends at Charlton Park to finish 6th and 8th in the league respectively. Hove suffered another loss at the hands of Gosport & Fareham so sadly are relegated along with Basingstoke.
Hove face Horsham in the Colts county cup on May 3rd. A game we host at Steel Cross. Based on their league standing they have a fantastic crop of Colts coming through so will be a force in our league next season. Be sure of that.
In the National London League East Grinstead had a comfortable win on their travels to bottom placed CS Rugby 1863. Tonbridge Juddians were less successful with a loss at Tring. Chichester also faced a gloomy journey home after losing to London Irish Wild Geese. Bury St Edmunds secured promotion with a home win against Gravesend. Barnes have the unenviable journey to play Exmouth in the play-offs.
The only other play-off game of note is Burgess Hill vs Sheppey. Good luck to Sussex's All Blacks in that one.
No need for a play-off for Bridgnorth. They strolled past Mosely Oak and remain unbeaten with one game still to go, Tamworth next weekend.
Salisbury rounded off their season with an away win against Frome and now face a tricky play-off tie against Aylesbury. They have home advantage though.
There is much irrational and sometimes hysterical stuff written about how dangerous rugby is. Much of it is ill-informed and often simply wrong. It is very sad however when you read of the tragic death of 25 year old Nick Tooth of Australian Club Narrabri Blue Boars dying after a clash of heads in a recent league game in NSW. I am sure the rugby world, like us, will spare a moment to think about his family and friends and their sad loss.
For once I disagree with Barnsey. Stop blathering on about Steffon Armitage. He is not that good, and definitely not that good right now.
In other news I was outraged to read that some FIFA executives are comparing Sepp 'the bung' Blatter to Nelson Mandela and Winston Churchill. This is like saying Charles Manson is on a par with Martin Luther King or Moira Hindley is comparable to Mother Theresa. Blatter is a pompous ass, who heads up an organisation full of dinosaurs whose sole principal for some is to line their pockets with bungs.
In a genuine search for enlightenment on all things political can someone explain to me how you can reduce this countries massive budget deficit by borrowing and spending more. I have an economics 'A' Level but am struggling to square the circle on this one.
The manifestoes are now all out there to ponder. The BBC has produced the best summary. Go on line to read it. Most are full of fatuous, difficult to comprehend and impossible to cost promises. My vote winner........ turning water into wine........ is missing. The most ridiculous proposal is to reverse the ban on smoking in British pubs and clubs. No it wasn't the Loonies it was UKIP, although it is often difficult to spot the difference.
The garden beckons for sunshine, physical exercise and stress reduction.
Monday 20th April - 10:15
It is good to be back in sunny Crowborough after a flying visit to Wales. It is gloriously sunny this morning too.
From what I read our minis acquitted themselves well yesterday at the Uckfield festival winning more than they lost, and based on the coaches' e:mails having a great laugh too, regardless of results.
Congratulations too to our Under 14s who beat Bognor in the league grand final. 'Big Vern' and 'Ginger' Hicks have a fine squad of players and did the club proud yesterday.
The club gets good coverage in this week's edition of The Courier. There is a nice piece on our Colts trip to the Netherlands and how well they performed. For me though the proudest aspect of this trip was to read a mail from fellow tourists Cwmbran RFC. (I used to live in Cwmbran. It was so long ago though that dinosaurs were still roaming the earth). The mail thanked our boys for being great company, a good laugh, a credit to the game and a pretty good side on the field to boot. All from CRFC can puff their chests out with pride at this point.
The new format European tournaments delivered on their promise of excitement. Edinburgh, as expected strolled past the Dragons in the first of the Challenge Cup semis. Gloucester deservedly beat Exeter but made hard work of their victory in the other game. Johnny May in particular butchered one of several gilt edged scoring opportunities. He has some way to go if he is to get back to first choice England winger.
Sarries put up a sterling effort against Clermont Auvergne. Although just a single try was scored this was an enthralling encounter. It could have been so much different if the TMO hadn't wrongly ignored Chris Ashton's no arms tackle and awarded a penalty try. A cracking game played in a cracking atmosphere. What about those yellow shirted fanatics. Their support for their team from the first whistle to the last was magnificent.
In the other game the Galacticos of Toulon finally broke down Leinster in extra time. For 80 minutes this was an error strewn game but gripping nonetheless. The extra 20 minutes was tremendous with Toulon scraping through.
In the Challenge Cup I go for the cherry and whites. In the Champions Cup I think Toulon will win but I will be cheering for Clermont.
Outside rugby the news is dominated by the election. The closest of races with much to concern ourselves with as a result.
Reading about the two young men tragically killed in Crowborough 8 days ago was sad enough but to find out the driver didn't have a licence makes it worse. The recklessness of youth I guess. For the sake of their families and friends I hope the tragedy will serve as a valuable lesson to others and in turn may serve to save lives.
The story that got me hot under the collar was the couple insisting the state pays for their wedding. WHAT!!!!!!!! Yes, their lives might be difficult because of their disabilities but to say you would lose weight for a wedding but not to get a job is taking the p*55.
When you drive through the Welsh valleys as I did this weekend you realise how lucky we are to live our comfortable lives in leafy Crowborough. There are many people out there in genuine need of help, and where the case is justified for that help it should be given. In the case of people who can afford tattoos, are too lazy to get of their backsides to get a job, and then have the bare faced cheek to put their hand out for money for a wedding is a disgrace.
Thursday 16th April - 11:40
As I sat in our clubhouse last night with Peter Johnstone I glanced at our Patron's Board. I realised that there are just 13 places left with no possibility of adding more once those spots have been taken. A Patron is a lifetime member and going forward we intend to offer added benefits to our Patrons. It is £1000 to join this elite group. Go on! Give it some thought. When you've decided to go ahead give me a call.
Not much in the rugby news today except the fact that English based Welsh players won't be released for Wales' RWC 2015 training camps, or the first warm up game. This despite England's players being released.
I know rules are rules and deals are deals but this seems bloody minded in the extreme.
This is the global show piece event for our great game with everyone saying an opportunity to recruit and retain. Then why not bend the rules so that the elite players who will be our recruiting sergeants during the tournament arrive in the best condition to deliver a great spectacle.
You who read this drivel are 'inside' the game and therefore will have a watchful eye on rugby news. You know about RWC 2015. How much do those 'outside' the game know? I am guessing very little. Where is the ITV hype about their coverage? Where are the big PR campaigns? Where are the marketing stunts to get RWC 2015 on peoples agenda now? We at CRFC are doing our best but without the bigger umbrella campaign underpinning our efforts we have no chance.
Lets move on.
I've been thinking about the Greens proposal to ban the keeping of rabbits in hutches. What about all those cheesy grinning, hypocritical, baby crushing politicians who seem to be free to pull rabbits out of hats like confetti at a TOWIE wedding. FYI My grandson loves his rabbit.
I did ask Mrs Chairman if it was alright to keep a nice beaver in a cage............
........ I'll be back from A&E shortly.
Some great stuff in the Metro on-line this morning. My particular favourite is the photo of Sturgeon as Wee Jimmie Crankie alongside Wee Jimmie Crankie as Nicola Sturgeon.
The UKIP 'Believe in Britain' manifesto document was printed in Germany. Hypocrisy is alive and well in U KIP through most of their nonsense.
Finally with just a few games left for CRFC of all ages one of the things that has impressed me most this season is, win or lose the team spirit and camaraderie has been EXCELLENT. A lesson Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg might want to learn. Long live Scaletrix.
Wednesday 15th April - 10:30
Let me start with an extract from a note received from Sussex RFU regarding Sunday. It needs no further comment........
Our thanks are due to Crowborough Rugby Club who organised a magnificent day. There were many positive comments on the arrangements and facilities made by coaches, parents and supporters on Crowborough being a ‘perfect host’.
I hadn't realised the regional finals of the Intermediate Cup had taken place. Well they have and Bridgnorth play Maidstone at Twickenham. A very well done to both sides. As much as I would want a side in our league to win, my loyalties on this occasion are with Bridgnorth.
Billy Vunipola has been cleared to play against Clermont Auvergne after the citing against him had been dismissed. This should be a cracker. I go for the French side. This will please most Sarries fans as my predictions are notoriously rubbish.
In the other fixture I go for Toulon, despite Leinster resting many of their front line stars last weekend when they were beaten by Newport Gwent Dragons.
The Dragons take on Edinburgh on Friday in the Challenge Cup semi. Come on you Dragons. Sadly Edinburgh will win.
I am sure many of you have read the excellent article in the Daily Torygraph by Mick Cleary on rugby and professionalism. If you haven't please do so. It is illuminating and highlights he shares many of the views I have expressed on money killing many aspects of our game and not enhancing it.
Going back to a truly amateur game below elite level would be impossible to police but he suggests the RFU should work harder to encourage a self regulated move in that direction. I am led to believe that HMRC and the FCA are looking at the issue. One from the viewpoint of undeclared income and the other from the viewpoint of contravening CASC regulations. Anyway, it is a really interesting piece, well worthy of a read.......
Scotland have secured a £3.6m shirt deal with BT Sports. Wow!!
Sensible people are pushing for Lancaster and the RFU to scrap the rule preventing players such as Armitage and Abendanon from playing for England. If you are looking only at England's chances of winning RWC 2015 then of course it is the right thing to do. Likewise if you are happy for the French clubs, most of whom are already massively in debt by the way, buying up all the English talent then scrapping it is also a good idea.
Leicester Tigers are to play a landmark game in the US to launch professional rugby in the States. Interesting! Playing at a soggy Gloucester on a Friday in January or sunny San Diego? Mmmm! More incentive for British talent to be lured away.
WRU warn that headguards are not a solution in preventing concussion. They suggest a headguard could heighten the risk as players develop a sense of false security.
The non rugby news is dominated by the election lies, false promises and the downright bullsh!t of our mealy mouthed politicians. I wish I could conjure up the billions of £££s they seem able to do at a whim. I did smile when I read the Greens headline manifesto promises........... banning rabbit hutches, stopping horsewhips in horse racing and releasing hens from cages. Fantastic news as I queue up to get a doctors appointment or struggle to understand why my gas bill has gone up by so much despite falling energy prices.
The story that caught my eye is the increase in abhorrent and totally unacceptable race attacks on public transport. Mick 'Loadsa' Cash of the RMT believes it is a result of staff cuts and transport chief complacency. Trying to exploit the, and as always this in my very humble opinion, the continuing fall in standards of behaviour of the great British public is demeaning and does the RMT no good when they have real grievances. Cash my good friend, no number of staff could stop a group of moronic football supporters chanting anti-Semitic or racist bile.
Tuesday 14th April - 09:45
Before we go into the details of last weekend's results let's ponder the decision to put back by one season the league restructure. The Daily Telegraph reports that following a rebellion by over 100 Northern clubs the RFU had no choice but to postpone the implementation of its proposals.
I think this is the right decision for us, and possibly many others, as many of the changes were far from beneficial and the consultation, in my opinion, left a lot to be desired. Obviously many other clubs will think differently, especially those whose travel costs are incredible due to the long distances involved in playing e.g. Canterbury vs Launceston, and those who may have received a leg up in playing standards without the challenge of fighting for promotion.
There is a view that the restructure might just fade away into the 'too difficult' bin. Time will tell.
So to last weekend. I have congratulated Maidstone on their promotion. Zero defeats in the season and still chasing a place in a Twickenham final means their promotion was no accident. I think Medway were the best team we played and they rounded off their season with a convincing home win vs Tunbridge Wells. Good luck to them in the play-off. OCs beat Ashford at their place and Thanet Wanderers ended their season with an equally comfortable win at Aylesford Bulls. In the only other game Sevenoaks overcame Beckenham in a high scoring encounter to reinforce their third spot in the table. 6th spot for us is an excellent result following an injury hit season.
In London 3 South East the only game with anything riding on it was Heathfield & Waldron vs Old Dunstonians. Well, the Greenies secured third spot with an emphatic 80 - 7 win. After a slow start our friends have finished very strongly and will be a threat for anyone next season. Horsham smashed Hastings & Bexhill by 90 points and Lewes beat Uckfield, and whilst already doomed to relegation they didn't finish bottom. H&B will be in Kent 1 and Lewes in Sussex 1 next season.
In Sussex 1 Burgess Hill strolled past Chichester III to secure the play-off spot. Eastbourne did a lap of honour by putting 87 points on Hove II at Hove Park. At the bottom Holbrook and Rye go down, with us escaping the drop by the skin of our teeth.
In London 1 South Charlton Park beat Gosport & Fareham. Well done guys. Brighton beat Sidcup at their place but sadly Hove lost at home to Chobham in a high scoring game and are now relegated. Basingstoke gave table topping Wimbledon a HWO as they were already relegated. With one game left Twickenham, Cobham and Dover are still not safe (I think - TBC.
In the London National League a difficult weekend for Chichester, East Grinstead and TJs losing to Westcliff, London Irish Mad Birds and Guernsey respectively. Bury St Edmunds remain top but Barnes could pip them for promotion.
The play-offs are still not clear yet except for Medway who will play London Cornish with Medway at home. Advantage Medway I think.
Elsewhere Bridgnorth are promoted after beating Wolverhampton. They still have two games in hand and like Maidstone are chasing the Twickenham dream.
Salisbury cantered past Dorchester by 78 points to finish second and a possible (still to be confirmed) play-off spot. This is a remarkable turnaround for the green and whites ending up rock bottom and relegated last season and starting this season with a 5 point penalty. Well done to them.
Monday April 13th - 10:30
Well, I certainly ruffled a few feathers on Saturday with the views I expressed in Saturday's blog. The views ARE MINE and not those of the club as a whole, but as I use the medium of the club's website and in my role as Chairman this is a problem that perhaps needs to be reviewed. I accept some of the criticism fired at me yesterday and will put that right in a moment.
I do think however the horses head on my lawn and the effigy of me burning brightly were a bit over the top.
I am passionate about the game (and about the club) from top to bottom, on and off the field but do have some grave concerns about the continuing decline in player numbers, the increasing number of injuries, the number of cancelled games in the league structure, the role of money in the game, player and spectator behaviour, and so on. Many of these I have commented on and will continue to express my views on.
It is important that CRFC is an exemplar for how to do things and I know that our mini section is exactly that. We have a great reputation for high quality coaching, excellent facilities and for treating all our kids, regardless of ability equitably. The emphasis is on enjoyment and involvement and winning is not the be all and end all. This was no better highlighted yesterday with three age groups being represented at the Sussex finals and regardless of results all the kids involved had a great day, as I believe did all the teams present.
Yesterday was superb and the preparation work done on Friday, the advance planning and the outstanding contribution of our staff and volunteers from right across the club helped us deliver an exemplary Sussex mini finals day. I thank every single one of the people involved. Another example of doing the right thing for the right reason. The outcome: a thoroughly enjoyable day out for kids and parents alike, regardless of results through the medium of rugby.
There were a couple of injuries during the day and I wish those injured well and will try and get an update. I also must thank the ambulance service for their support. Their response was excellent.
As another example of how well we do things we had mini sides playing in the Tunbridge Wells and Lewes festivals. The feedback is consistent in that we played some from good rugby, acquitting ourselves very well and regardless of results having a splendid day out.
On Saturday the CROWS were outclassed by Cinque Ports. I understand that the result didn't accurately reflect the game and that our boys played fantastically well. This against a backdrop of only having 16 players after some late, and in my humble opinion unacceptable cry-offs. 16 players who still thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Well done guys.
The 1st XV lost 50 - 17 to a very professional, well drilled, streetwise Maidstone outfit. With three schoolboys in our side I think it is fair to say, with the exception of some weak first up tackling, we played exceptionally well and for periods were much the better side. Very few sides have scored three tries against the league champions and to my knowledge none at Mote Park. The fact we did, and nearly had two more speaks volumes for our performance on the day. I was proud of the boys contribution on Saturday and throughout the season. Congratulations to Maidstone on winning the league and good luck next season.
More on the leagues tomorrow but I will close with another HUGE thank you for the contribution of everyone yesterday. A job very well done.