Sunday 7th Apr: 09:15
As has been the case in recent weeks it is important to separate the occasion from the match itself. Yesterday at Steel Cross was a splendid occasion indeed. The traditional end of season President's Lunch was packed out; 107 smiling guests present. Excellent food, thanks Jacqui, excellent service, thanks JP and Nick and team, excellent company with many travelling from afar to enjoy the day. Thanks to the Friday Club the place looked a picture and the pitch as good as it could be at this time of the season. Being the miserable so-and-so I am I did comment that nothing breeds success like success as I wondered how many would be there if we were to be relegated. Clarky, our long standing President summed it up by highlighting how hard the club has worked to get where we are today always doing the right thing for the right reason in the right way.
Then you come to the filling in the occasion sandwich. The match was a tense, error laden affair. We again at times looked second best often making the wrong decision when it mattered. Old Williamsonians made us work hard and as in previous weeks exploited some weak tackling and sloppy handling. As has been the case it was our forwards, yet again led by the immense Matt Botterman, who got the show on the road with a try. Tom West, ever present this season, worked tirelessly to get the backs moving but all too often the moves broke down, in no small part due to the excellent defensive work of Old Willies. The visitors fought back and put us on the back foot. We also defended very well, a factor in our success throughout the season, but it eventually cracked allowing OWs to get on the score board with a good try of their own.
Another facet of the season came to the fore, especially when the going got tough was we found ourselves on the wrong end of the referee's decisions. The boys struggled with his interpretation of the tackle and ruck area and, in my opinion, got a raw deal with his management of the scrum. At one point we were down to 13 men.
As the game developed the two sides exchanged tries with Crowborough's coming via the excellent work of the forwards. Tom Kent, as last week, was in the mix of things, and when he came on Josh Groocock was also a dynamic factor. The versatile Lloyd Smith moving into the scrum half slot from the wing sniped away and we saw glimpses, but all too rarely of what the backs could do. Eventually the pressure told and we eased out to a 24-17 victory. The difference between the sides being the forwards and Crowborough's defensive abilities. Was the score a fair reflection of the game? Yes I think it was but OWs came to play and led by their "serem y gem"; the full back, played very well. Read The Bards match report for more details. A big thanks to him too for his great work.
The occasion then become the centre of attention. Pats on the back for the club's fantastic coaching team: Dan Moore, Pete Shillingford and Stuart Thresher, but also the team manager Ian Geering and club osteopath Callum Gaterall all ably led by DoR Paul Gray. In amongst the plaudits there were mutterings of frustration about the defeats and some of the sloppiness of recent games. Fair in some respects but all that needs to be put into the context of the final league table. We finished clear by 11 points scoring more points than anyone else, conceding fewer points than anyone else and earning more bonus points than anyone else. Basically the table doesn't lie.
How will we do next season? Let's keep that question for another day and just celebrate a season of great success for the 1st team, with the 2s still in the hunt for promotion too.
Well done all involved at this a FANTASTIC club.
The big boys season is some weeks away yet and it is clear some have a lot to play for. Leicester Tigers relegation fears were heightened yesterday when they were beaten by a thoroughly dominant Exeter Chiefs. Seven converted tries by the visitors and a Tigers' red card says it all.
I watched Leinster v Benetton, albeit through a red wine haze. A 27-27 draw. Good stuff.
Bath won the West Country derby and Wasps win over Worcester eases their relegation worries. I watched Sale beat the Quins on Friday. Sale played well, Quins didn't. Quins discipline being a factor in defeat. Scarlets lost at home again but the Ospreys won in South Africa. Looking forward to Saints v Gloucester this afternoon.
League round-up tomorrow.
Thursday 4th Apr: 19:30
Back in Crowborough, hopefully for something longer than five days. Being back means I have finally been able to catch up on Owen Slot's article in The Times about how the game is changing, and not for the better due to the largesse of sponsors or benefactors at some clubs. He highlights what we have known for some time. Ambitious clubs with money have no scruples about approaching players from other clubs, often in lower leagues to lure them away with the promise of cash per game. They have "scouts" on the look out for talent that they can poach. They are also readily able to attract players from overseas to bolster their squads. We have suffered as a consequence.
Let me be clear I have no problem with a young man wanting to play at a higher standard and to get paid for the pleasure. For him it makes sense. Where it all falls down is the negative knock on impact. Clubs lose players and their squads are weakened. They struggle to maintain their standards and end up being relegated, and worse having to cry off games. New players are inclined not to join a losing side. Worse those loyal players who have come up through the ranks of the minis and juniors often hit the ceiling as spots that should be available to them are taken by overseas players or new paid recruits. This gets worse when those not making the 1st XV squad get treated like second and third class citizens. They get disillusioned and leave the game, not for another club but leave the game altogether. Those with ambition, and we know who they are, are not fussed by any of this because their benefactor is only interested in success and possibly his or her own self aggrandisement.
The RFU are trying to change things but the weapons at their disposal are limited and the penalties they have come up with are weak. I can bleat on all I like as change will be difficult to make as money talks. All I hope is those spending have East Grinstead, London Welsh and many others in mind and also aware that the tax man might be sniffing around.
Finally I read with interest that the Scarlets LOST £643,000 last season. Perhaps the promised land isn't all that it is cracked up to be!!!!!!!!!!
Money. World Rugby has extended its deadline for any decision on the Nations Championship. Rugby has extended itself and now is willing to sell its soul to the devil as a consequence.
I was horrified to read that four scumbags had used lasers at the Worcester v Quins match. Find them and ban them for life from any sport. Hang them out to dry and hope their bosses are as disgusted as I am.
Premiership rugby is back and Bath v Bristol is the headline act. Another Twickenham spectacular. Tigers v Chiefs is another one to watch out for. Relegation, will it get closer for the Leicester outfit? Saints v Gloucester could be a cracker. Pro 14, not sure if I'm bothered.
Lots of injury news including those incurred by Josh Navidi, Rory Best and Brad Barrett. There'll be more I'm afraid to say.
I was horrified to see the four Paras using Comrade Corbynov's image for target practice. Yeah horrified. Horrified because there are another 650 others that could be added. Come on though, Comrade Corbynov would close down our armed forces if he had his way and would totally ignore the fact the four are putting their lives on the line day in day out to protect those in other countries who are in danger. All that whilst Corbyn is happy to cosy up to terrorist organisations who have no compunction in murdering innocents..... allegedly! It wasn't great to see but let's move on.
I need help. Please can someone give me the heads up on what would happen if we had a second referendum and the country voted "leave". Would Anna Sourface throw herself on the proverbial sword. Would Yvette Cooper drive over the preverbial cliff. Answers to...
Wednesday 3rd Apr: 10:00
Here we go again. Bridgnorth library: you are heaven sent, as is Bridgnorth hospital where today and tomorrow I’ll be spending some of my time.
Having reflected on Saturday’s win against Folkestone I don’t think we were lucky. I think we came of age. This mainly young team finally worked out how to combat adversity and grind out a result against possibly a better side. They also, at long last, worked out how to protect a lead. The one thing I didn’t mention but on reflection was important was fitness. As the game wore on I think it is fair and accurate to say our fitness stood the test of time. Our ability to keep going was crucial when things were finely balanced. The other point to note for any team is the value of a good kicker. Connor Hand kept us in contention with his kicking at goal. To be fair we could have lost if Folkestone’s otherwise immaculate kicker hadn’t missed the penalty at the death. As a neutral it was a cracker. As a Stone it must have been hugely frustrating. For the “faithful” it was a huge relief to win.
Irishman Daniel Leavy is to miss the rest of the season and certainly much of the next after his horrendous knee injury sustained playing for Leinster against Ulster. Missing the World Cup: what a blow!
I read that Owen Farrell was pleading with Mark McCall to pick him to play against Glasgow even though he was in the maternity ward with his wife awaiting the arrival of his first child. Now that is commitment. Talking of Farrell there is a piece in one of the papers saying he will make a good captain. Yeah, I agree but I think it will take time. He is highly motivated but sometimes petulant. He can be quick to complain and not always in the right way. He can get frustrated with himself and lose the plot. I personally think that picking your best player as captain is not always the right thing to do. Let him play while a more statesmanlike character steers the ship. Ireland have Rory Best who might not be the best player on the field but he has qualities that make him a good leader. Farrell has time on his side and I do think he will become a great England captain and possibly a leader of Lions but he has much to learn.
Spurs play their first game at their new stadium tonight. It looks magnificent and will become the envy of many. It is set to host NFL already and thankfully not in a way that means the pristine carpet for soccer is turned into a morass of white paint and logos. It comes as no surprise that Saracens have signed a deal to play their showcase games at the new White Hart Lane.
Gareth Anscombe is out of contract at the end of the season. I am certain plenty of clubs will be considering him as an option but I for one think his best bet is to stay in Wales. He has the opportunity to become the poster boy for the Welsh game and to soak up the riches that would go with that.
Danny Cipriani is staying at Gloucester after signing a new contract. Good for him, good for Gloucester and potentially good for England.
Thanks to the wag that advised me that there are now more Fords at Leicester than there are in Dagenham.
Thanks also to our newest Friday club member William for reminding us old farts that “you need to be fit to be old and disabled”.
Monday went well for our politicians; another day when we found out what they don’t want and nothing about what they do want. Can you imagine it……….
“Oh hi darling, another long day debating? Let me get you something to eat. Would you like a nice salmon steak with vegetables?”
“No, I don’t want salmon”
“Ok what if I do some pork chops with vegetables”
“No I don’t want pork”
“Ok what would you like? I’m happy to put together anything you want, after all it has been a busy old time for you”
“I don’t know what I want. Surprise me”
“Of course darling. Do you want vegetables with your surprise?”
“No I don’t want vegetables”
“No wonder the country is a ffffnnnn mess. Get your own fffnnnn dinner you miserable, ungrateful, useless clown”.
"and by the way I'm off to have an affair with the old bloke next door"
Monday 1st Apr: 09:15
What a weekend of European rugby. It simply didn't stop giving. That is for later however as it is league round-up day.
In London 3 South East we finally got over the line as a league champions by beating a very good Folkestone side. In fact Folkestone have been the form team of 2019 in this league. When we got our act together and the Stones started to blow a little we managed to get our noses in front and from then on we did play very well to lift the trophy.
Folkestone are not out of the promotion race but Beccehamian's 31-24 win over Hastings & Bexhill RFC keeps them in 2nd spot and favourites to go up with us. They travel to Bromley next week with Folkestone at Vigo. The result condemns H&B to relegation I am sorry to say. Vigo lost at Park House 35-29 which might come as a surprise to many but having seen the resolve and fire of Park House against us last week it wasn't such a surprise for me.
In the game where just pride was at stake Pulborough came away from Old Dunstonians with a 33-39 win. Pulborough will finish no lower than 5th but could finish 4th. The big disappointment of the weekend was to read Old Williamsonians earning the dreaded HWO over Lewes. There could be a raft of reasons for Lewes to pull out and that is for them to manage but disappointing nonetheless. They are bottom and that sadly is where they will finish despite hosting Pulborough next weekend. Bromley had the bye week and sit in the problematical 9th spot. A problem as there is a chance that four teams could be relegated due to cross league realignments.
No Sussex 1 games so lets get straight to London 2 South East. If my maths are correct Beckenham's 0-59 demolition at Maidstone means they are promoted. Horsham remain in 2nd after a high scoring 38-62 win away at Old Colfeians. Only Charlton Park who came away from Dover with another high scoring win can thwart Horsham from making the play-off. They host Haywards Heath next week with Horsham hosting lowly Maidstone. Haywards Heath thrashed Thanet Wanderers so won't be an easy side to get past. Deal & Betteshanger stolled past Gravesend and in the battle not to finish bottom Aylesford Bulls beat Heathfield & Waldron 32-7. Both are relegated.
Upwards into London 1 South and it is advantage Medway who beat promotion hopefuls Brighton 31-38. Brighton's two points keeps them in touch with Camberley in 3rd who beat Tottonians and Sevenoaks who won away at Dartfordians. Just four points separate this group so much to play for. A big pat on the back to Hove. No wins from 24 games and many heavy defeats but they still turn up and give their all. This weeks battering was at Thurrock 80-31. Chichester lost at Cobham but are safe from the drop. In addition to Hove Chobham who lost to London Cornish are also down.
In the Premier league Tunbridge Wells came home from Dorking with fine 18-23 win. Upper mid table is now the Wells target with two games to go. Sutton & Epsom are now eight points clear at the top after beating promotion rivals Wimbledon. Westcliff are still in the hunt for the play-off spot.
In National League 2 South TJs beat Worthing in tight high scoring affair to keep the Kent side in 3rd spot. Worthing are far from safe and need to put some positive results together with just three games to go. Rams are all but promoted needing just two points to confirm that feat. London Irish Wild Geese prop up the table and look doomed.
So to Bridgnorth and Salisbury. The former lost at home to Sandbach with the latter losing away at Marlborough.
For many the future has been decided. For many there is still much to play for. Bring on next weekend.
What a cracking weekend of rugby. I have said the Northern Hemisphere game was inferior to Super Rugby. This weekend disproved that. Racing 92 (what a stadium by the way) v Toulouse was a great. The red card being a talking point and fair play to Luke Pearce he looked every which way to reduce the sentence but the evidence was condemning. La Rochelle v Bristol was very good. Lots of tries and plenty of action. Then came Clermont Auvergne. Tremendous stuff. Some amazing skills. An almost crazy comeback. Just brilliant stuff. Add to that full houses across the board...... Super Rugby eat your heart out.
Mike Ford is to join Leicester Tigers coaching team in their attempt to avoid relegation.
Surprise, surprise relegation and ring-fencing has bubbled its way to the top. "Wow is me we can't let Leicester Tigers be relegated so let's ring-fence, and oh, by the way, we'll bring in London Irish and make it a thirteen team league because we are the thirteen who own the league!" This is about to be the big story and will be rugby's Brexit moment.
I think it will be a benefit not a negative, especially if all involved in the game wake up and smell the coffee that the money being thrown at the minute possibility of replicating Exeter and Worcester is unsustainable. I understand Owen Slot of The Times has written a piece on this subject. More when I get my hands on it.
Another big day for Bre...
No blog tomorrow as I am in Bridgnorth. Back on Wednesday around 10am (the library opens at 09:30!!!!!!).
Sunday 31st Mar: 10:00
Despite coming away as runners-up The Crows did Crowborough RFC proud yesterday. Losing 31-28 to Bognor is no disgrace, especially as I have heard you could argue we were the better side and if it wasn't for two tries "gifted" to Bognor we could have won. It matters not. Losing is never great but over 40 social rugby players put on a fantastic show on the AGP at Horsham. Thanks to Horsham for hosting by the way. Well done Bognor. Very well done and THANK YOU The Crows. You are great ambassadors for rugby and CRFC.
So to Folkestone. The Bard and I plus our senior management team enjoyed a fine lunch in Hythe prior to this one. Having lost to Vigo, Beccehamians and Park House in the previous weeks it is fair to say that confidence was not high, especially when you consider Folkestone's fine form of late. Confidence was hit further when we were met with the news that several of our front line players were missing due to injury.
The ground was hard, the sun was shining, Folkestone were on fire and we were fast asleep. The opening 15 minutes or so caused the "faithful" present to fear the worse. Folkestone cut as apart with their powerful forwards releasing their well drilled backs. The pressure built and we simply had no answer. Before we knew it the boys from Steel Cross were 14 points adrift. It wasn't porous defence that was the problem it was non existent defence.
Then, as has been the case previously, the giant that is Matt Botterman led from the front dragging his troops along behind him. 'Borough's technical ability in the maul got us moving forward and eventually we crossed the home whitewash to close the gap. Sadly Folkestone saw this as motivation to get their act together and again cut us apart. We were not playing as badly and some of the work by Tom Kent, Will Creasy, Bertie Boast and of course Botterman was excellent. Even after Folkestone had gone 31-14 ahead there was still a sense of optimism that a win wasn't beyond us. Two things need to happen; the defence needed to be rock solid and the ball retention needed to be perfect, and that was pretty much what happened.
Bodies were put on the line, the 50/50 calls went our way, the slightly wayward pass still found the right hands. Connor Hand was released to cross for a brace. Prior to that Andrew Orchard made a galloping run to score wide out. (Mind you those on the side wondered why he aimed for the corner and not the posts when he broke clear!!) Connor Hands kicking also made the difference. With ten minutes to go we found ourselves 33-31 and now it was all down to game management, something in previous games and previous seasons has been so sadly lacking. We controlled the game well but with 4 minutes left on the clock Folkestone were awarded a penalty. Silence fell as the kick was taken. It sailed wide left and that effectively was that. A five point win for 'Borough and the league title in the bag. For any neutral present this was a cracking game of rugby; end to end stuff, some excellent scores, no quarter asked no quarter given. For the "faithful" it was a nerve racking adventure with a very pleasurable outcome.
See the website for The Bard's match report. Full league round-up tomorrow.
I was back home in time to watch the most of the Leinster v Ulster match-up. What a game of rugby. Fantastic stuff. You have got to feel for Jacob Stockdale. He could have sealed it for Ulster but his failure to ground the ball could arguably be the difference. The full house were entertained royally.
Quins beat Worcester but I fell asleep at half time. The game wasn't great and the exertions of the day caught up with me.
Sarries strolled past Glasgow as I guessed might happen. It sounds as if Edinburgh were unlucky to lose to Munster but as has been the case in previous seasons you never write Munster off.
I really am looking forward to Racing 92 v Toulouse. It could be a cracker.
Let me close with a tribute to the guys and gals at CRFC. The 2s didn't play yesterday but they have been brilliant this season. The Crows are a great bunch and do us proud week in week out. The juniors and minis are simply amazing. Win, lose or draw they have a smile on their face and the opposition always go away happy with our hospitality. Finally the 1st XV squad; they showed their true colours yesterday. Despite a sloppy start the togetherness and determination got us through this one and lifting the league title is a great credit to them and a great credit to our amazing senior coaches. THANK YOU ALL!!!
Saturday 30th Mar: 09:00
As I type I have half an eye on a brutal encounter between the Blues and Stormers. Sides packed with internationals crashing into each other at pace. It is skilful stuff though.
Last night I watched Sale beat Connacht. It was ok. The first half Sale played well but the second was disappointing. They had an opportunity to put their Irish guests to the sword but they missed it. Instead their decision making and accuracy went to pot and they ended up having to defend for long periods. After a long absence due to injury AJ MacGinty returned to make a very positive contribution. Denny Solomona played well but it was Faff de Klerk who yet again caught the eye. He was Will o' the Wisp. Here, there and everywhere. If they are to progress to the final they need to replicate the first half performance for the whole 80 minutes.
Folkestone beckons for me so I won't see the European games this afternoon but I go home wins for Edinburgh, Saracens, Leinster. The game I might get to watch and it should be a good one is Worcester v Quins.
As stated above I have half an eye on the Blues v Stormers. Just watched a red card for a pretty horrendous contact with a player in the air. The Stormers player could have broken his neck as he hit the ground so it was red all day long.
Fed up with the referendum and its fall out? French rugby are going to ballot all amateur clubs on whether to appoint an overseas coach. What is interesting is the article is littered with images of Warren Gatland.
Talking of coaches I read with interest that Michael Cheika has been linked with Leicester Tigers. Mmmmmm!!!! Not sure about that but what do I know.
The F1 is back with the second race of the season. Summer is on the way. In fact I sat in the garden yesterday enjoying a pie and a pint. MLB is back too. The MLB is so helpful if you have sleep disorders such as insomnia.
Here we are and another day of Brexit madness. Madness to put the same plan forward over and over again and expect a different result. Madness that our politicians try to thwart the will of the people. I fear any concept of leaving the EU without a deal but that's what the people wanted and that's what the people should get now. That said, and please don't howl at me, I still think Maybe's deal is the best option for leaving. Anything else I've read about customs union etc, etc in my mind screams "you might as well stay in as opposed to leaving. You get the pain and none of the gain".
To break the impasse the thought of a general election fills me with dread. A change of government could be good. A cross party national government might be very good. Again don't howl at me because it is MY VIEW but a Marxist government led by Comrade Tvarich Corbynov with the devious Leon Trotsky McDonnell in charge makes me shudder at the thought. Some say it will never happen. Well people thought Donald Trump as President would never happen and look what joy that has brought to the US.
Before I go please answer today's poser. How can the odious Anna Soubry and Professor Plum Rees-Mogg fight so vociferously for "remain" and "leave" respectively when their constituents voted for exactly the opposite. I don't get it so please help me out here. By the way if you live in Wealden our MP, has in my mind stuck to her strong Brexit credentials throughout but has seen the wisdom of leaving with a deal that rids us of the most despised elements of membership so voted for Maybe's deal. Well done Nus I say!!!!
See you at Folkestone. Go The Crows.
Friday 29th Mar: 07:00
Want to follow the boys tomorrow. If yes you have two choices. A. Going to Horsham to cheer on The Crows in the cup. B. Go to Folkestone to see if we can finally clinch the title.
If the answer is yes to either then you have can go by coach. There are still a few places left.
Horsham coach leaves at 10:30 for a 12:30 kick off
Folkestone coach leaves at 11:30 for a 15:00 kick off
£10 gets you a seat.
Contact Ian Geering or Paul Gray to reserve your spot.
Thursday 28th Mar: 10:00
Let me start at the RFU. When I reread yesterday's drivel I wondered if I had been a bit hard on Twickenham. I came to the conclusion "no I haven't". The RFU are a big business but have been run at times in a very amateur way. I worked in business all my life personally overseeing millions and millions of pounds of budget. There was a major inquest if any of my markets went over budget and any planned spend hadn't thoroughly been assessed on a cost v benefit basis. Sadly at the RFU there appear to be too many blazers on the gravy train and in the past not enough forensic accounting. We are where we are.
In the interest of balance however I must say we at CRFC have been the recipients of fantastic support from the RFU, both in terms of finance but also in terms of guidance and support in other areas. Thanks Rick, thanks Keith, thanks Mal. This is the very reason why I get on my high horse. Grassroots rugby is not in great shape despite what people might think. Any reduction in support, both financial and otherwise, will be detrimental to the game and make an already challenging job more difficult. Yes you could argue I should not be biting the hand that feeds us but on the other hand we cannot all be shouting how wonderful the king's new clothes are when he is stark bollock naked.
A massive weekend for local league rugby. A review of our game against Folkestone and all other matches on Sunday and Monday. Good luck to The Crows on Saturday when they take on Bognor III in the cup final at Horsham. The Crows epitomise all that is good about our game so lets hope for a great game, a great day win or lose.
European rugby takes centre stage this weekend. Edinburgh v Munster and Racing 92 v Toulouse are the stand out fixtures. Saracens v Glasgow will be a one sided affair as I suspect Leinster v Ulster will be. In the secondary cup Sale v Connacht will be my viewing tomorrow night. The all English clash is interesting. Will Worcester be focussing on their relegation battle. Will Quins be more interested in making the Gallagher play-offs? Clermont Auvergne v Saints could be a cracker on Sunday evening.
I did smile when I looked at the BBC website and saw a piece asking the very same question about why the Welsh regions are so poor yet Wales can win the Grand Slam. I can assure you I was there first before the BBC. Unlike our useless politicians it is a common sense question hence it is no surprise many are asking it. The answer is much more complex but really hinges on the strength in depth of each region. Combined the player quality and quantity is fine but when spread so thinly across four regions it becomes less so.
The soap opera that is Leicester Tigers is also featured heavily. They have spent big on developing the ground, they have attracted top flight players like Jonny May and have managed to keep Manu Tuilagi on board so money might not be the problem. I think it is because the others, especially those like Saracens who seem to have deeper pockets than the rest despite the salary cap, and Exeter who seem to have maintained that "old village club" mentality have simply caught them (and Bath) up.
Super Rugby continues this weekend. I personally think the quality of rugby is way ahead of the Northern Hemisphere. It is quicker, more skilful and more entertaining. Have you noticed however despite that assertion how empty some of the stands are at some of the games. Woeful. Yes they are playing in big stadia but it is troubling.
Yes I know you are sick and tired of Brexit but it is important. It is important to our lives and for our youngsters future. We know what staying in the EU would mean and yes a lot of it is unpalatable. We don't know what leaving would be like and yes that could be unpalatable. Either way it is important. Yesterday summed up the shambles we are in. Eight different options and not one of them secured an overall majority. I did smile about those wanting to go back to the people. Why did I smile, because I thought of the vote to name the amazing new exploration vessel now named after Sir David Attenborough. The makers asked the people and the people came up with Boaty McBoat Face. Yeah asking the people is a great idea.
I am not going to go on about what happens next because who knows. I am going to leave you with a poser. The SNP and the DUP are pretty key to blocking Maybe's deal. So here goes............
Scotland has a population of 5.1m, of which are 1/3 are ineligible to vote because of their age. Of the 3.4m left let us say the turnout in the EU referendum was 78%. That is 2.7m people voting. Of those I think 62% said "remain". That means 1.64m people. Now use a similar calculation for Northern Ireland with a population of 1.9m people and come to a number. I got to about 500,000. So is it right that just over 2.1m people are holding the government and the country to ransom. Discuss!
My head hurts so I will leave that thought with you.
Answers to firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday 27th Mar: 10:00
Not such a beautiful morning today but I guess being alive and well with the grandkids is definitely something to smile about.
Despite my continued doom-mongering with regard to our great game it does go on, and it goes on in no small part in thanks to the brilliant referees we have. I was delighted to read about the recent referees course held at Beacon Academy and the number of guys who got through the program. Well done to our guys: Keith Brooker, Mark Wilson, James Crouch, Ash Ludgate and the juniors Sam Eyres, Tom Waterman and Dan Young. Well done to club stalwart Graeme Pratt for organising and Phil Bowers and his team at the Sussex Referees Society for delivering the program. The challenge now is for them to pick up the whistle in anger and add their newly acquired knowledge to those already doing a sterling job.
I'll tell you who is not doing a sterling job and that is Eddie Jones. Today I read he is sniping at Warren Gatland by making derogatory remarks about leading The Lions. For the players it is seen as being part of the best of the best, therefore coaching these elite players must be an honour. I have said before King Eddie needs to stop his puerile mind games and focus on getting his own house in order. Perhaps it is his way of diverting attention away from his and his teams failings.
The RFU are obviously concerned as they have a Plan 'B' in the case of England performing badly in Japan and Jones either getting kicked into touch our leaving stage right. Part of that Plan 'B' appears not to include Warren Gatland.
Whilst I am at it the RFU have put on hold some major investments into the grassroots game such as AGPs in order to reassess their budgets and priorities. With a new man coming in to take the helm it makes eminent sense but let us not kid ourselves it is also a self-inflicted wound to be healed. A massive spend overrun on the East Stand, the £250m peace offering to Premiership rugby and the allegedly rocketing and equally allegedly out of control spending by King Eddie and others on the elite game: men, women and 7s.
Money is also at the heart of the RFUs refusal to accept the idea of a global Nations League. Relegation is part of the deal for that league and the thought of England crashing out and losing the cash that goes with it worries them greatly. Doesn't it worry the followers of the red rose about the RFUs mind-set appearing to be one of planning for failure? The richest union in the world by a mile and they are planning for a poor World Cup and possible failure in other tournaments. Actually contingency planning is the right thing to do but all the same. I bet the biggest worry the NZRFU has is whether they need a new trophy cabinet.
Regular readers know how I bleat on about the game becoming like soccer. I was therefore horrified to find out that video and pictures have emerged of a women being punched whilst watching the Bristol v Worcester match up. There are also reports of a boy getting a black eye during the same game. The alleged hooligan was apparently a Worcester supporter. I found the story in the Organ of Truth. I have been to games where people in the crowd have been irritating almost to the point of distraction but this level of violence, no matter the provocation has no place in our great game. The perpetrator if found guilty should be named and shamed and banned from all aspects of the game for life.
A big weekend in Europe ahead. Notable due to the absence of any of the Welsh regions in either of the tournaments. Ireland have all four provinces playing. How can Wales win the Grand Slam yet be so poor domestically that not one region has made it through to the knockout stages? Bizarre.
One game that jumps out for me is the Edinburgh v Munster game. Not because it could be a cracking game but due to the fact ex Leicester Tiger's coach Richard Cockerill has turned the Scottish outfit into a force to be reckoned with. Is Leicester's impatience for success one of the reasons they are now failing. Perhaps patience with Cockers might have paid dividends in the end? Who knows?
It was going to be a Brexit free blog today until I read that smarmy Michael Gove could become PM. This the man who made up facts and figures based on who the &%£! knows what during the referendum campaign and is one of architects of the bullshit we are in now. The second sleaze bag is that pompous, plum in the mouth Jacob Rhys-Mogg. "I will oppose with my very last breath anything to do with Brexit unless it is a 'no deal', clean break Brexit". Dear Professor Plum, I guess that fight was blown off course when you realised that you might be faced with a general election. A general election where people with a modicum of common sense would realise you are just a self-serving politician feathering his own nest. Is that why you have done a complete U-turn. Yours Bleater.
Tuesday 26th Mar: 09:00
Another beautiful morning here in Salisbury. Yes I do get about a bit. Family, family and family. That is what is important.
Rugby is important too but we might be seeing the death of our great game quite soon. No, not because of declining participation, or the disappearance of any trace of it from terrestrial TV, or because the Premiership and Top 14 have won and nothing else matters. It is because the vultures continue to circle and once they get their teeth into the game then it is curtains. You've only got to look at the stripped carcasses on the banks of the river Niger and other African rivers to understand what I mean.
Bleater, what the heck are you talking about? Jamie Cudmore former Clermont Auvergne and Canadian star, now coach at Provence has won the first and crucial round in a battle with his club about concussion. He, with the help of the injury lawyers (aka vultures) has successfully argued that Clermont allowed, in fact he argued made him play on with concussion and has left him with recurring and permanent brain problems. It is a very sorry state of affairs and yes there is a very, very strong argument that says if true should not have happened. The problem for rugby is by its very physical, hard hitting nature injuries will have occurred in the past and will certainly happen in the future. If the injury lawyers become involved clubs from the very smallest to the very largest will take the route of least resistance and that is to avoid injury at all cost leaving the game no more than a cross between tag rugby and netball. The game will be dead!!!!
I reiterate that if what is alleged is true then that is a terrible situation but like many things in life you cannot redefine history by modern standards. What happens now is totally different with different protocols and much more stringent legislation. Slavery is a terrible thing and is now seen as abhorrent but it happened in the past when times were different. You can't change that but you can learn from it. Getting lawyers involved muddies the water as their ONLY objective is money. They have NO regard for the game itself. In fact the more damage they can do the better for them. Why do you think you get ten calls a day about PPI?
Talking of damage, what carnage would ensue if Leicester Tigers were to be relegated. The row would make Brexit look simple. Leicester's stars, including recently resigned Manu Tuilagi have no get out clauses in their contracts and nor should they. You can bet two things will happen if it was to pass that Tigers end up at the foot of the table: ring-fencing would be accelerated, and if that failed those star players would find a way to leave.
It is terrible to read that Newcastle's Calum Green has been cited for biting. I thought those days were over.
Danny Cipriani's contract is soon to expire. Gloucester would be mad to let him go. He has been the glue, the catalyst, the inspiration behind Gloucester's recent form. Resign him now I say.
The "jackal" is under review. Not the jackal that picks up the scraps of the vultures but the killing the ball at the tackle. I have argued it slows the game down, it favours the defence and worse puts players in a position of high risk of injury. I understand World Rugby is looking at this very closely with a view of keeping players on their feet. Let's see what they come up with.
Now I know my politics is not everyone's cup of tea and I do ham it up a bit for the sake of readership but this week could be one of the worst for Britain .......... ever. Brexit has broken this country. The lunatics took over the asylum last night Maybe will go and we will be left with a stark choice of someone else holding a baton covered in S1 or we go into a general election. Some would argue, and argue strongly that austerity needs to end and social inequality needs to be reduced. If you think Comrade Corbynov and his devious acolyte John McDonell is the answer then I fear the country will be plunged into the darkness, potentially worse than Venezuela, an oil rich state. Increasing spending on the police, the NHS and education has to come and hitting those high earners avoiding tax hard are all the right thing to do BUT Marxism is not the answer. Read the history books if you disagree. Democracy as we know it will be dead. It will be democracy of the iron fist.
Monday 25th Mar: 09:45
Let me start the league round-up at the top of London 3 South East. Whilst there is still much to be decided it is easier to summarise the possibilities here than the ones at the bottom. Our two points gained out of defeat to Park House means we are promoted and currently sit ten points clear of the rest. With two games to go Beccehamian's narrow 8-12 win away at Vigo means they can still catch, and pip us to the title. For that to happen we would need to lose by a lot in our last two games not gaining any points at all. If Beccs win both their games then they like us they will be promoted. Despite the defeat Vigo can still make it but would need to win both their games and Beccs slip up in one. Folkestone who beat Lewes 14-26 are in third and have the same challenge. Win both their next two games with Beccs losing one. They play us next weekend and then Vigo the week after.
At the foot of the table Lewes's loss means they follow Hellingly into relegation. At least one other team is guaranteed to drop out of this league. Hastings & Bexhill have just one game left and that away against Beccehamian. Defeat means they would drop back into Kent 1. If, as is very possible, four teams could drop out of the league then Bromley are in the firing line despite their 32-30 win over Old Dunstonians. Old Willies are not yet safe after their 52-19 loss at Pulborough but with two games to go they could easily survive. That leaves Park House. They were euphoric about beating us and quite rightly so. They played well. At times we didn't. The win allows them to climb to 7th with one game to go. If Park House lose to Vigo next week and Bromley and Old Willies earn themselves bonus point wins Park House could find themselves back in the danger zone if four teams are to drop down a division. All that said based on the fixtures I would put money on them staying up.
In Sussex 1 it is all about pride. Crawley go into the play-offs on the back of a thumping loss 59-16 at Eastbourne. Uckfield beat Burgess Hill. In 1B the surprise result was Ditchling 36-East Grinstead 30. How the mighty have fallen. The guys at EG are great and working their socks off to get things back on track but they also serve as the perfect lesson of how things go wrong when the money dries up!!!!
In London 2 South East our good friends The Greenies endured another tough day going down 13-31 to Deal & Betteshanger. They along with Aylesford Bulls who lost 57-11 to Charlton Park will make way for us plus one other in this league. In the big Sussex derby Horsham grabbed the bragging rights with a 41-17 win over Haywards Heath. It also puts Horsham in pole position for the play-off spot. Beckenham top the table after beating Old Colfeians. Maidstone lost away at Gravesend and Thanet Wanderers beat Dover in the Pas de Calais derby.
In London 1 South it remains incredibly tight at the top. Medway have the whip hand after coming home from Tottonians with a bonus point win. Sevenoaks are in 2nd spot after beating Havant. Camberley remain third after beating Westcombe Park 28-41. Brighton are 4th after their bonus point home win over London Cornish. Sevenoaks potentially have the easier run-in with the other three all playing against each other at one point in the final three matches. Things are a lot clear at the bottom with Hove down. They lost to Chichester 10-43. Chobham will also drop down a league after their home loss to Thurrock.
In the Premier division Tunbridge Wells are safe after their 26-5 win over Chingford. Brentwood are facing the drop with Shelford but Chingford are also in the mix for that dubious honour. Sutton & Epsom who beat Brentwood are favourites for promotion but they can't shake off Wimbledon in 2nd spot.
In the National League Worthing slip closer to the relegation fight after a heavy 7-53 defeat to table topping Rams. TJs fine season continues with another hard fought away win, this time at Taunton Titans. TJs are in 3rd behind Canterbury. Still four games to go so much to play for in this league.
Bridgnorth won away at Nuneaton 10-47. Good job they were away as their pitch was under water when I left the town on Thursday. The mighty Severn had burst its banks. Salisbury scored a fine home 40-31 win over "Damper" Sayers old club Chippenham. Neither Bridgnorth nor Salisbury are in the hunt for promotion nor are they in danger of relegation. By the way I am in Salisbury right now.
Thoroughly enjoyed Exeter's very impressive win over Bath yesterday. They played some great rugby and ran out deserved winners.
Well done Wales beating Slovakia 1-0 in the Euro qualifiers. England play tonight.
Massive week ahead for our useless politicians. It was all summed up for me yesterday listening to John Pienaar on the radio. The Tories want to oust Maybe without any understanding that the change will do nothing. Someone else picks up the toxic baton with the extremes of the party still at war. Other politicians vehemently spoke about what they didn't want without having a clue about what they did want. The Labour party spokesman finally confessed that his party is as divided as the Tories, their alternatives are pipedreams unless we accept we might as well not leave because the conditions that would go with the few ideas they have, and crucially they will vote against anything and everything no matter how sensible if it doesn't deliver a general election.
I am fed up to the back teeth with it.........
As I am with pathetic stories to fill the pages of our equally crap newspapers. Ben Te'o and Billy Vuniploa were told off by the headmaster for going for a drink after hours following the draw with Scotland. The tournament was over and you can guarantee that if England had won the tournament no-one would have said anything about after hours drinking.