Monday 27th Nov: 09:35
A dank and dreary Monday morning with very little rugby to discuss. I thank my mate PK for confirming my view that Sara Cox handled the Northampton v Quins game brilliantly. Perhaps some would say this is discriminatory, but I say “credit where credit is due”. It also highlights you don’t need to have ridiculous quotas in place, you use the very best person to do the job regardless of gender, race, religion or any other of the crazy descriptors people now use to describe themselves.
I watched Newcastle’s run of losses continue yesterday as Exeter finally got an away win on the board. It was an ok game: not brilliant, not terrible. Henry Slade made enough of an impact to suggest Steve Borthwick was wrong in not taking him to France for the World Cup. Whilst Newcastle tick the right boxes, and of course are shareholders in the Premiership, you do have to ask whether Ealing Trailfinders would make more of a fist of it. That said the North East would become a top flight rugby wasteland if that were to happen.
In the Welsh derby Ospreys put Scarlets in their place yesterday. I can’t tell you much more about that as it was only shown on Viaplay, and I’m not paying for that. The Daily Fail has waded into the Six Nations TV debate with its headline: “rugby in grave peril if it turns it back on Free TV”. I have access to plenty of rugby but between my daughter and myself that doesn’t come cheap. There are many who don’t watch the game because it is behind a TV pay wall and matters will only get worse if the Six Nations showpiece disappears. There were plenty of non rugby folk who watched and enjoyed the World Cup because it was accessible. Likewise there are many who have become more interested in cricket thanks to The Hundred being widely available via the BBC. The clowns running the game have to look beyond the coffers and think about the wider benefit of terrestrial TV.
It was a “spare” weekend so little grassroots rugby to report on. There were a couple of games so here goes. TJs won at Worthing in a high scoring game. TJs fine form continues, Worthing continue to struggle. Sevenoaks lost at high flying Dorking. Hove lost at home 27-29 to KCS Old Boys. Bognor also lost at home in a 36-37 thriller with Andover. In Kent 3 Hastings & Bexhill pulled out of their game with table topping Old Elthamians.
A full fixture list next weekend including Crowborough v Beccehamian. If you haven’t booked in for Xmas lunch yet I suggest you get a move on.
There’s a fascinating piece in the Torygraph about how the RFU have stepped in to rescue the academies of Wasps, Worcester and London Irish. The kids who have been identified has having the ability to move into the big time are being looked after. As they reach the last year of their schooling they can, with a few hoops to be jumped through, move from their current location to another club. I am not the greatest fan of the academy system as there are significantly more kids who get thrown on the scrap and leave rugby altogether than those who go on to play in the top flight.
Plenty of coverage of the spat between Owen Farrell and Luke Pearce. I for one think that Owen Farrell’s attitude towards the officials persistently oversteps the mark. That said based on what I have seen Luke Pearce didn’t manage it particularly well. WalesOnline if you are vaguely interested.
Elsewhere the F1 yawn fest came to an end yesterday with another Verstappen start to finish procession. Manchester United’s Garnacho scores a wonder goal. The New Orleans Saints lose again. The Mighty Foxes are back to their winning ways.
In the proper news the hostages held by Hamas are finally being released and the ceasefire has held. Will all the hostages be returned home and if so will that open the floodgates for more indiscriminate Israeli bombardments of Gaza. What do Hamas do next? Further mindless atrocities against innocent Israelis. I see no end in sight to this horrendous situation.
Should Ukraine and Russia see sense as the bitter winter approaches and strike a peace deal, no matter how unplayable it is for both sides. More mindless slaughter will achieve nothing.
Sunday 26th Nov: 09:00
With no rugby at Steel Cross yesterday this’ll be short Sunday morning missive. My rugby viewing started on Friday with Cardiff v Stormers. The much maligned Welsh outfit ultimately proved to be the “stormers” after twice coming from behind earning a late and well deserved victory. Whilst it wasn’t a game of the highest quality, it was a fascinating contest with plenty of young Welsh talent on show.
Then yesterday I caught up with Northampton Saints v Harlequins. This was a cracking contest with lots of tries, plenty of quality action, and the odd bit of controversy. Alex Mitchell brought his World Cup form to Franklins Gardens. Marcus Smith looked somewhat jaded.
Both games were beautifully refereed, coincidentally by females. Both Holly Davidson and Sara Cox were precise with their decisions yet refereeing with empathy. It was a joy to watch.
Then came the Gloucester v Leicester game. An error strewn arm wrestle in the first half, a better contest in the second. With they myriad of international stars back, especially Tommy Reffell and Handre Pollard, Leicester looked more like the side of years gone by. Despite their array of talent Gloucester looked bereft of ideas. Very lateral in the backs and unable for long periods to dominate up front.
Strangely, and this might be unconscious bias, I thought Tom Foley, the merry whistle blower, didn’t cover himself with glory. A couple of dubious cards, overly long advantage, and an over-reliance on the TMO.
Good wins for Sale over Bath, and reading the report Saracens overcame a stubborn Bristol outfit for their win.
Off the field the confusion surrounding the future of the Championship continues. Robert Kitson has perfectly summarised the lack of clarity and the lack of opportunity. The cabal that is the Premiership is not going to open the door to upstarts like Ealing Trailfinders, or Cornish Pirates, or dare I say it Ampthill. The RFU’s restrictive rules on ground capacity etc. are a serious impediment to advancement. What the article doesn’t state however is the aforementioned clubs are all bankrolled by a “loads-a-money” benefactor whilst those clubs at the bottom of the table are semi-professional or close to amateur. With such a divergence of financial clout alone the Championship is not necessarily in a place to be throwing stones. Glass houses and all that.
An article from New Zealand caught my eye as it resonates with the fear that the Six Nations could move off free-to-air TV. Despite what most of us might think, New Zealand rugby is not in the rudest of health. One solution that has been put forward is to move a significant chunk of top flight games from pay-to-view channels to free-to-air TV. It makes sense, of course it does. The dilemma, which is the same for the Six Nations, is money. The big satellite TV companies are the ones with the cash, and as you know all the unions across the globe are in need of cash.
Plenty of action in the URC with the Dragons being spectacularly brought down to earth by the Sharks. Leinster clawed their way to victory over Irish rivals Munster. Ulster fell at the final hurdle allowing Glasgow back into the game for a win. Ospreys v Scarlets this afternoon.
Plenty in the papers to get the blood pressure on the up. The pathetic witch hunt that is the Covid enquiry. People trying to post-rationalise their ill-thought through decisions or point the finger of blame away from themselves. Even the chuckle brothers, Vallance and Whitty, are at it.
Then you have the pathetic antics of Just Stop Oil. The legal system has final woken up to the fact that throwing soup at priceless works of art isn’t democratic protest, it is downright criminal vandalism.
The nightmares that are Ukraine and the Middle East continue. How either conflict is going to end is beyond my feeble mind. This here blog is finished for the day however.
Thursday 23rd Nov: 12:15
Cost of living crisis, what cost of living crisis. I was in London yesterday to meet up with some old work colleagues, and a very nice evening it was too. The pub, as were most of the ones I walked past, was packed. The shops up and down Oxford and Regent Street were very happy: the tills were ringing. There were many other aspects of my few hours in our great capital that troubled me but as this is the club website I’ll keep those comments to myself…. Except maybe to point out that already this year the number of illegal migrants arriving exceeds the population of Crowborough.
The delay in writing this guff is nothing to do with my night out by the way. Just so much other stuff to do, like writing letters of complaint to a major supermarket CEO.
Anyway, to rugby. Don’t forget all the great stuff the club is doing between now and Christmas. Book early to avoid disappointment.
Owen Farrell has echoed my sentiment that moving the Six Nations away from free-to-air TV will be to the games detriment. Well said sir. The Guardian for the full story.
Eddie Jones has said he throughly enjoyed his time in England but wouldn’t contemplate a job with Ireland, Scotland, and in his words, or “that shitty little place” Wales. Good, because I’m sure none of those countries wouldn’t want a shitty little weasel like you making a mess of the game there.
Plenty more injury woes in the news. Taine Plumtree and Justing Tipuric out for several weeks, possibly months.
Richard Cockerill didn’t hang about did he? He’s in line to become the next Georgian coach. A good opportunity me thinks.
Peter O’Mahoney steps down as Munster captain. Is this the first step towards hanging up his boots altogether. I hope not, just yet anyway. He is an old fashioned protagonist on and off the field. The game needs a few of those.
Plenty of experts talking about what needs to change in our game. The scrum, without doubt. It is sucking the life of every contest. Penalties, turn most into free kicks which have to be tap and go. The TMO, except requests from the referee and serious foul play that warrants a straight red card, shut them up. Keep players on their feet at the ruck. Subs, reduce the number to three, but I’d accept five.
I apologise to all English fans for not mentioning yesterday it was the anniversary of the 2003 World Cup win. I will add that despite millions of hard earned British pounds, a huge amount of human resource and the biggest playing pool, England have pretty much done jack all since!!!
Just a reminder that the Vintage XV are at home on Saturday and our Colts on Sunday.
In the big boy leagues Saints v Quins and Sale v Bath tomorrow evening. Gloucester v Leicester on Saturday should be good. On Sunday the highlight is Ospreys v Scarlets. Plenty of Women’s Premiership Rugby too. Check on TNT Sports for which game is being televised.
OK that’ll do except to say “I told you so”. The Government are wetting themselves not because we the voters are having a hard time (or not, I refer you back to my opening paragraph), but because they are in fear of being thrown on the dung heap. Strange how money can suddenly appear.
As expected the most hawkish of hawks, Netanyahu, went on record to say how he will destroy Hamas. It therefore comes as no surprise the ceasefire hasn’t happened so the hostages are still held in captivity.
It really is troubling when you have nutcases like Netanyahu, Putin, Kin Jong-un, the Iranians and the doddery old twit Biden with their fingers on the nuclear trigger. On that note back on Sunday.
Wednesday 22nd Nov: 09:35
Hopefully the weather is going to stay dry for few days. Much to do on the Steel Cross pitches even though it is a blank weekend for the 1st XV. I understand our Vintage XV host Brighton Sea Serpents on Saturday and the Colts host Haywards Heath on Sunday. You’ll need to check the website for details.
While I am at it a couple of other parish notices. The Xmas lunch will be on Dec 2nd ahead of the 1st XV game v Beccehamian. I understand places are going fast so book early. There will be one of Jacqui’s lasagne specials ahead of the game with Heathfield & Waldron on Dec 16th. That will also be a popular event so again get booked in now. Finally Champagne, Cheese & Carols is the following day on Dec 17th. One of the marquee days in the CRFC calendar. All the details can be found on the website.
I have a busy day ahead so just a few snippets from trawling through the papers this morning. England have suffered a Six Nations blow with Sale’s Tom Curry out for the rest of the season. He requires hip surgery. Ben Earl on the other hand is scheduled to return ahead of the tournament following his knee operation.
Injuries are more prevalent both here in England and Wales where the salary caps have seen squads cut. Smaller squads mean more games, more games increase the risk of injuries. Dan Lydiate chomping at the bit to be back playing for the Dragons. One game and now out for a long period due to injury.
Louis Rees-Zammit after a fine World Cup and a blistering start to the domestic season is rumoured to be a target of Bordeaux and Montpellier. No surprise there. Thankfully he has the requisite number of caps that he remains eligible for international duty with Wales.
Wayne Barnes has said we need a shot clock for the lineout. They are taking too long. Not wrong but if we have a shot clock for everything we might as well be playing American Football.
One of the big bonuses for rugby, coming out of the World Cup was the interest it generated by being on terrestrial TV. The Six Nations does much the same for the game. How much longer that will last is open to debate. The BBC have gone on record, even though they now only cover a fraction of the tournament, to say it is becoming prohibitively expensive and they are considering their position. ITV might pick up the slack but the concern is the new Nations Cup that is on the horizon. One of the big pay-to-view players might want to pick up both the Six Nations and the new tournament as a bundle. This would be disastrous for the game’s exposure. With the same media players having to pay ever inflated prices for the football rights there might not be an appetite for a big rugby deal. We’ll know soon enough.
Richard Cockerill didn’t last long. A shake up at the top of Montpellier’s hierarchy by Msr Altrad saw Bernard Laporte arriving to front up the organisation and Cockerill being dismissed. Seven games and it was over.
Antoine DuPont’s decision to focus on the Olympics has caused quite a storm. It’s akin to treason, or that is what some of the media hype will tell you. These opportunities come around infrequently so you have to seize them while you can. Carpe diem and all that.
Elsewhere Wales haven’t qualified for the Euros. A 1-1 draw with Turkey wasn’t enough.
At last a ray of hope in the Middle East. The unnecessary slaughter of innocent civilians is being halted as a ceasefire has been agreed. Hostages freed and a four day cessation of hostilities while people take stock. Sorry to be pessimistic but I fear once the hostages are home the unbridled atrocities will recommence. I don’t see Netanyahu stopping until he deems Hamas exists no more. A forlorn hope as trying to cut the head of the hydra results in more heads I fear.
Aren’t our politicians a bunch of two faced deviants with only their interest at heart. I won’t be disappointed with tax cuts to both individuals and business but it was only week or so ago that tax cuts were out of the question because our debt mountain was too high and the economy was not stable enough. Now those in power are looking at being out of a job money miraculously appears from nowhere.
Tuesday 21st Nov: 09:05
Not a great deal of rugby news in the papers this morning. Sadly what there is makes depressing reading. The racial abuse hurled at Ugo Monye leads in most cases. It seems there is CCTV footage of the incident which is being followed up by the police. What compounds the matter is it is alleged there was a scuffle in the stands at the same time as the abuse was heard. Both these are, in my opinion, indicative of how society is breaking down. Parts of the country are like the Wild West, crime goes unchallenged and unabated, and people have no respect for anyone else other than themselves. Common sense and common decency are things of the past I’m afraid. People’s views become entrenched and it is “my way or no way”. Wokery, political correctness, misinformation and an ever present sense of entitlement are all contributing.
There is an ever growing fear that the appalling behaviour you see at football matches is creeping into our game. Scuffles at matches, match official abuse, lack of respect for the opposition are all indicative of the slide down the slippery pole. Only last night I was on a call with the RFU where some of the counties are proposing in junior matches parents of the teams playing are to be separated due to poor pitch side behaviour. This cannot be right.
Match official abuse is definitely on the increase. In part it starts as referees allow more and more players to question their decisions. You read my blog on Sunday where this was mentioned. By the way Crowborough weren’t blameless. It isn’t a big step before that questioning turns into something much more unpalatable.
If all that wasn’t bad enough the legal cases relating to historical head injuries are starting. This will begin to dominate the news as the hearings are reported, I fear in more and more lurid detail. Rugby has gone a long way in terms of managing head contact and other than reducing the tackle height at the top of the game I can’t think what else can be done. Rugby is a physical, dynamic game so inevitably head injuries will occur, as they do in many other less dynamic sports.
It was sad to read of the death of 1995 South African World Cup winner Hannes Strydom dying in a car crash. The 21 times capped 58 year old died following a collision with a minibus. When your time is up, sadly your time is up.
The controversial Hamish McLennan has been ousted from his position as the head of Rugby Australia. The Aussies now have a blank canvas to get things right ahead of the 2025 Lions tour and the World Cup in four years time.
With the salary cap being enforced will the RFU have to bite the bullet and introduce a change to the selection policy. Will regulations like in Wales and Australia where you can play overseas and still be eligible based on the number of caps previously earned be introduced. There are plenty who are now suggesting it has to come, especially in the light of the Maro Itoje situation.
Sorry but there isn’t much else to write about this morning.
In other news what we already knew is being confirmed. We were misled during Covid and many of the actions we were forced into taking were unnecessary driven by political need rather than scientific fact. Likewise the ULEZ propaganda published in many papers was inaccurate at best and downright false at worse. Is it no wonder anarchy is becoming more prevalent when we are being, dare I say it, lied to.
The Stop Oil morons continue their inane activity, as much driven by the desire for social media popularity as it is highlighting their misguided convictions about climate change.
Right, that’ll do. It is all too depressing. Off for a swim to relieve the tension.
Monday 20th Nov: 10:30
First up a thank you to those who got in touch about yesterday’s missive. Much appreciated. I can confirm that based on the regulations as they stand now Canterbury II cannot be promoted into the regional leagues, which as suggested makes a mockery of the league structure. Thanks Liberty.
Anyway, moving on. Saturday’s well deserved win puts them 9 points clear of Dartfordians who enjoyed a very fortuitous win over our friends The Greenies by scoring with the last play of the game. 15-20 that one. We are now in 3rd spot ahead of Beccehamian who beat Charlton Park and Bromley who won at Ashford. We all have 35 points. Thanet Wanderers and Dover fought out a 22-22 draw. Cranbrook beat Deal & Betteshanger. Sadly Charlton Park prop up the table with Thanet just above them.
Surrey/Sussex 1: in the game of the day Eastbourne beat East Grinstead 26-24. Hove enjoyed a fine win over Kingston 27-12. Teddington remain perfect at the top with Old Cranleighans bottom. Eastbourne are 5th, Hove 9th, East Grinstead 10th.
In Hampshire 1 Bognor enjoyed an excellent win at Portsmouth. They are in 7th one place below my old club Trojans. It is disappointing to see Eastleigh HWO with Alton pulling out. Table topping Petersfield dropped their first points drawing with Havant II. (No, I don’t need to say any more!)
In Sussex 2 Pulborough beat Haywards Heath in the big game of the day and stay top. Uckfield beat Worthing III moving them to mid-table. Crawley lost at home to Shoreham. Burgess Hill lost at home to Seaford. Crawley are somewhat adrift at the bottom.
In Kent 3 Hastings & Bexhill beat New Ash Green. Old Elthamians top the table with a perfect record, and two games in hand.
Moving up in to the Regional leagues, 2 South Central to be precise, we find Jersey RFC clear at the top with a perfect 10 from 10. Chichester are finding life difficult losing at Tottonians. Salisbury lost at home to Wimborne. Chichester are now 11th, Salisbury 10th. Up a league in 1 South Central it was a better day for Horsham beating Marlborough 12-5, they are now 10th. Brighton beat CS Stags with an identical scoreline. Tunbridge enjoyed a much more comfortable win over Maidenhead putting them into 3rd spot.
Up in the rarified and very expensive National League 2 East Canterbury came away from Guernsey with a 34-10 win. TJs beat Wimbledon and Sevenoaks beat Worthing. Dorking are top. TJs are 7th one place behind Canterbury, ‘Oaks are 10th, Worthing are one place off the bottom in 13th.
Before we look at the big boys Bridgnorth lost at home to Stoke-on-Trent.
Plenty of action in the Premiership and the URC. The Bath v Bristol game was a cracker on Friday night. Listening to the second half in the car on Saturday its sounds as if Leicester v Saints was controversy laden. Quins were put to the sword by a rampant Saracens. The Exeter v Gloucester contest wasn’t bad either. I think Exeter can count themselves very lucky indeed.
In the URC the Dragons beat the Ospreys. Hoorah. It was a pretty good game actually with a number of the Welsh contingent playing well. Scarlets were put in their place by an outstanding Leinster side. Cardiff could only draw against the Zebra.
To scan through the papers and read about the appalling, outrageous racial abuse that Ugo Monye was subject to at Sandy Park yesterday is disturbing. We cannot allow rugby to go down the same path as much of society where common decency and goodwill to all has pretty much gone out of the window. There is no place for racism in society and certainly no place for it in rugby.
The other story that caught the eye is the Maro Itoje v Owen Farrell debate. Saracens find themselves between a rock and a hard place in that one of these two players will have to accept a massive pay cut in the near future. One of them will no longer be able to be classified as a marquee player within the salary cap regulations. At the moment that is looking increasingly likely to be Itoje, especially as moves to France or Japan were circulating pre-RWC. George North is likely to find himself in a similar position at the Ospreys.
Australia won the ICC World Cup beating a well below par India. Max Verstappen won the Las Vegas F1 jamboree. Yawn!
Sunday 19th Nov: 09:10
There is only one place to start and that is over at Canterbury. As I’m doing the match report as well I’ll give you an opinion piece here and the blow by blow account in the report. Right up front none of what is to come is a criticism of Canterbury RFC, they are a very well run, very successful club who play whatever is put in front of them.
Whilst for 20 minutes we looked the better side playing some superb rugby, with a solo effort from young Jonte Fraser that would grace any ground, we were always going to be up against it. Why? We were up against a 2nd XV of a National League 2 side, level 4, or three levels above us. I am led to believe eight of their side yesterday had played national league rugby this season. The gaps between the leagues are wide as Dartfordians found out when they were promoted and subsequently relegated, and dare I say it, what Horsham are finding out this season. You can then add in a senior squad of 55 players to choose from many of whom will be on some form of contract where you get paid to play. All this adds up to a mis-match, not just yesterday, but for the last 9 nine games. Nine wins all with a bonus point, a points difference of +254, and nine points clear of second place Dartfordians. Hence my ongoing challenge: why has this been allowed to happen?
I repeat this is NOT a criticism of Canterbury RFC or any other club, like Tunbridge Wells 2s and TJs 2s who are playing in Kent 3, it is a criticism of the blazers who have allowed this to happen. There is no benefit to the big clubs other than possibly as scouting missions for new talent. There is no benefit to the other clubs, many of who struggle to keep a 1st XV on the field. There is (potentially) another complication which makes a mockery of the system when you consider Canterbury RFC II can’t be promoted into the regional leagues. NB this is my understanding as I type. To be confirmed.
The solution is to have a 2nd XV league for these clubs that mirrors their 1st XV. The quality of the competition would be better. Both sides could play at the same time and in the same place. A great way to build squad team spirit.
For those of you who read this guff on a regular basis know I have bleated on about this from the moment it was decided. This is NOT about us losing. We actually played extremely well. This is about the integrity of the game, and to a degree player welfare.
I’ve made my point so lets move on.
As already said we started very well indeed. We played with confidence, skill and determination. Backs and forwards linked superbly and we had our hosts on the back foot. Their defence was excellent. We opened the score with that Fraser special and for much of the first half that was how it stood; 7-0. A couple of sloppy mistakes from us and before you knew it they were on the board. Their passing and support play was excellent and some of their technical work was better than ours.
In the second half they continued to seize their opportunities either through individual brilliance or excellent teamwork. Despite us losing three key players to injury our heads didn’t drop. We stuck at it and tackled and tackled, and when we had the ball we tried to play positively. We had them on the back foot in the scrum and we matched them in the lineout. There were times when we dominated but unlike Canterbury we couldn’t turn that into points.
The better team won, and deservedly, but from a Crowborough perspective if we play like we did for a decent portion of the game we will put someone to the sword. As I drove home the injuries to Will Creasy, Andy Kidd and Alex Purnell troubled my thoughts but I was immensely proud of how we performed. How we stuck at it, even down to 14 men. Well done Crowborough RFC.
I thought the man in the middle did well: consistent and generally unflustered. I will criticise our hosts as I found some of their sniping at the referee unnecessary and unedifying. I was asked why the referee kept his cards in his pocket after three consecutive penalties at the scrum. I don’t know but that is his prerogative.
No game next week, a chance to rest weary bodies. Tomorrow will be the league round-up.
ICC World Cup final is on as I type. The F1 rerun is on shortly. Exeter v Gloucester this afternoon. A nice pork roast dinner later too. Sod vegetarianism.
Saturday 18th Nov: 09:15
I haven’t heard to the contrary so please work on the basis that the kick off today is 14:30
Thursday 16th Nov: 09:50
Good morning, on this grey and overcast start to the day. First up is an update on Canterbury II v CRFC. There is some confusion about the kick off time. At time of writing yesterday the information in the blog was correct. I understand the game may now kick off at 14:30, 30 minutes earlier than announced. Please check here tomorrow/ Saturday morning for confirmation.
Not a great deal in the rugby pages but here is what I have found. Johnny May gets a three match ban for his dangerous clear out at the ruck. I understand Ollie Lawrence broke his nose in the incident. May has the opportunity to reduce the ban to two matches if, after his long and glittering career, he attends tackle school. It really is pathetic!!!!!
There is talk Henry Arundell is being looked at as a possible NRL recruit. Wow, that would be quite some move.
Antoine Dupont is unlikely to take part in the Six Nations as he eyes up a surprise move to join France’s 7s squad ahead of the Olympics. That would be a shame for the Six Nations but a once in a lifetime opportunity for Dupont. Three other first choice French stars are rumoured to be considering the same move. WalesOnline carries the story.
The Fail tells us after his omission from the World Cup squad Australia’s Michael Hooper is considering the same move. Representing Australia in the Olympic 7s tournament would be a marvellous way to bring the curtain down on a wonderful career.
Steve Borthwick is considering Richard Wigglesworth’s future within his coaching team. There are rumours the new coach at Leicester Tigers, Dan McKellar, might be tempered back to Oz. If that were to happen Wigglesworth could be the ideal replacement. It has already been announced that Kevin Sinfield is being replaced by Felix Jones. One of the failings of the Eddie Jones era was the constant changing of the guard in terms of coaches. Let’s hope Borthwick is not going down the same road.
Burglars decide to leave the Rugby World Cup behind after they break into South Africa’s rugby HQ. They opt instead for whisky, signed shirts and laptops, obviously all easily turned into cash.
As much as I trawl through the papers that is about it for rugby news, unless you want to hear the sordid details of Stuart Hogg leaving his wife, and James Haskell’s split from his. No, nor do I. I’ll leave that for those who read The Sun.
Big weekend of sport ahead. The F1 hits Las Vegas. Millions invested into the event but all it will be will be another procession with very little action and way too much razzmatazz. Max Verstappen will win.
The second ICC World Cup semi-final is on as I type. Yesterday’s contest between India and New Zealand was a cracker. Right now South Africa are 24-4.
International football is back. Make or break for Wales, Armenia away on Saturday, Turkey at home on Tuesday.
I see David Cameron is getting his trips in early as he arrives in Ukraine for talks with Zelensky. We need to keep the Ukraine conflict on the radar. It would only take one moment of madness from Putin and we are all doomed.
The Middle East remains a tinderbox. The Israeli PR machine is in full swing with plenty of as of yet unverifiable claims about Hamas control and command centres. Hamas continues to commit atrocities but I for one still cannot understand why a ceasefire is not possible. Why does more innocent blood need to be shed.
Finally, can you help me understand how the hypocritical, multi-travelled big mouth Greta Thunberg can be in London one minute, Germany the next, back home in Sweden shortly after that and still claim to be concerned about the environment. I bet she isn’t cycling between each destination. I see she is now pontificating about Palestine. All she is is a troublemaking, publicity seeking young lady.
Wednesday 15th Nov: 09:20
I said it a few days ago and I’ll repeat it now, I have no idea how I ever had time to work, hence the absence of a blog yesterday. Anyway, less of the woe is me, I’ll leave that to Suella Braverman. What do they say; “there is nothing worse than a woman scorned”.
Let me right up front correct one important fact. We have NOT achieved 20 consecutive wins. We have however gone 20 consecutive games without defeat. I had overlooked the epic 3-3 draw with our good friends The Greenies. Thanks Liberty for bringing this to my attention. As we are playing table topping Canterbury II at their place on Saturday I wonder if that run will come to an end. We’ll know soon enough. NOTE: this game kicks off at 15:00 and will be played under lights. Also NOTE: there is a coach to this one. See website for details.
In other news most of the rugby pages lead with the report into the appalling state of the WRU and the many changes that are required, and required urgently. It makes horrendous reading even for someone like me who lambasts wokery and the snowflakes on a regular basis. Mind you the report comes as no surprise with the WRU having allowed dinosaurs to roam unmolested. There is an appetite for change at the top but as we have seen with the proposal to restructure the league pyramid self-interest and narrow-minded pedantry will still get in the way.
Robert Kitson has reviewed Wayne Barnes recently released autobiography, that didn’t take long did it, and he gives it a very favourable review. It lays bare some of the things that are going wrong with the game especially respect and decency going out of the window, plus the pressure the referees are under as the blazers add ever more points of minutiae to the law book. Apparently it is very humorous too. Kitson highlights how Joe Marler approached Barnes pre-match and told him he was a twat. I paraphrase: “best to get it out of the way now”.
The Torygraph brings us 10 tweaks to make the game flow, which apparently Barnes alludes to in his book. I won’t go through all but pick up on the three I have bleated on about for some time. Stop giving penalties at scrums is right up there. Free kicks only and from a free kick you cannot opt to take a scrum. Next up is the role of the TMO. It has gone too far now. We have to rein in these chinless wonders. Serious foul play and when asked to help with a decision by the referee. Nothing else. Then we have the ruck which needs tidying. Keep players on their feet is the answer. This jackling nonsense is slowing the ball and all too often results in a penalty. If the game is to survive we have to stop forensically analysing every bit of play. If a pass looks forward it is forward for example.
Will the Kiwis ever stop moaning? They are now saying Aaron Smith’s try should not have been disallowed. In theory they are right. The knock-on picked up by the TMO was too many phases back to be reviewed according to the guidelines. It was reviewed and the try was chalked off. This is the perfect example of where the game has got it wrong. If a knock-on was so insignificant that it has taken a Silent Witness level of analysis to spot it then the game should continue. If the three officials missed it then so be it. That said the volume of vitriol coming from the keyboard warriors is totally unacceptable. Unlike in the Middle East nobody died. It was a game of rugby. Move on.
World Rugby has taken the interesting step of engaging with a hi-tech institution to analyse the social media accounts of the World Cup referees and where the abuse has been deemed to overstep the mark the information has been disseminated out to the relevant police authorities. Fat lot of good that will do in the UK as the wokery of the police and their inability to solve even the most heinous of crimes is plain for all to see.
Johnny May could be in a bit of bother. He has been cited for a dangerous hit in the early minutes of the game versus Bath. As I read it, it seems a slam dunk.
If you read the Daily Fail you’ll see that Rugby Australia is tearing itself apart. Massively over budget, NRL on the prowl for players, the Super Rugby franchises in disarray. They better get their act together as the Lions and the RWC are heading their way.
Plenty of rugby action this weekend. Another West Country derby sets us up for the weekend ahead. Bath v Bristol on Friday. Dragons v Ospreys on Saturday.
What a shambles. The government tearing itself apart. I thought it was April Fools when I read David Cameron was back in government. As mentioned Braverman isn’t going to go quietly. When you are in an organisation you don’t have to toe the line, you don’t have to be a yes man/woman/person of indeterminate sex, but you do have to respect the direction and objectives of the organisation, especially in public. Going off piste is not a good idea. I did think she talked a lot of sense however.
Monday 13th Nov: 10:25
Autumn is definitely here and winter is on its way. It is difficult not to be gloomy when you look out at leaden skies and rain soaked ground and the forecast of more storms on the way. When you flick through the newspapers there is nothing there to cheer you up either; the Middle East situation, the Ukraine conflict, the protests, the strikes, the Government tearing itself apart. There is of course rugby, so on that note I’ll move on.
Did you know that the win against Ashford was our 20th consecutive victory, furthermore it gives us the same number of points as we earned through the entirety of last season. Now that is something. I also have to say there is quite a buzz around the squad; great camaraderie. We remain second in the table behind Canterbury who are 8 from 8 after beating Charlton Park, yet again with a bonus point. Sadly Park continue to prop up the table. Cranbrook lost heavily at Dartfordians, and our friends The Greenies didn’t do well at Bromley. 45-5 the score there. Deal & Betteshanger beat Thanet Wanderers quite comfortably. In the final game Beccehamian won at Dover but only by two points. Dartfordians are 3rd, Beccs 4th. The Greenies are in 9th. As we know only too well there is a long way to go yet and fortunes can be turned around and teams can slump.
In Surrey/Sussex 1 another mixed bag of results for the Sussex teams. Hove lost heavily at Old Tiffinians, Eastbourne enjoyed their win at Old Walcountians, sadly East Grinstead lost at table topping Teddington. Eastbourne in 7th are the best placed of the Sussex teams.
In Hampshire 1 Bognor lost at New Milton and find themselves in 8th spot. Petersfield lead the way with a perfect 7 from 7.
In Sussex 2 Pulborough stay top after giving Worthing III a thumping at Worthing. Brighton II beat Crawley, Haywards Heath strolled past Burgess Hill, Shoreham beat Uckfield in the game of the day 33-32.
In Kent 3 Hastings & Bexhill’s difficult season continues losing at Faversham. Surprise, surprise, Tunbridge Wells II and TJs II both won. Sorry, but I find it difficult to come to terms with 2nd XVs of the stature of TWells and TJs being allowed to play this low down the league pyramid.
Moving up into the Regional leagues, 2 South Central to be precise, Chichester lost at Farnham, Salisbury won at Reading. Chi slip to 11th, Salisbury leap frog them into 10th. Jersey RFC lead the way beating Winchester pretty comfortably.
In Regional 1 Tunbridge Wells fine season continues winning at CS Stags. Horsham lost at Camberley and Brighton lost at London Welsh. Sadly Horsham prop up the table, Havant lead the way. For the sake of completeness TWells are in 3rd, Brighton in 8th.
Up in the National leagues it was another mixed bag of results. TJs lost at Esher, Worthing lost at home to Henley, albeit narrowly. Sevenoaks had the best of it coming home from Wimbledon with a solid 19-27 win in the bag. TJs remain the best placed of the clubs I follow, they are in 6th.
It wouldn’t be a league round up without knowing Bridgnorth beat Old Halesonians. As a matter of interest Bridgnorth’s new clubhouse development has ground to a halt as it is rumoured the escalating costs is causing considerable financial difficulties.
Plenty of rugby action yesterday. The Saints v Exeter contest was pretty good. As expected Dragons lost to an outstanding Leinster side. Taine Basham didn’t cover himself in glory with a blatant and totally unnecessary elbow to the head of Ross Byrne. Newcastle’s woes continue losing heavily to Saracens. I read that Henry Arundell scored a hat-trick of tries in his Racing 92 debut yesterday.
The Just Stop Oil morons are at it again. Other than us all going back to live in caves I am not sure what they hope to achieve. The genie is out of the bottle with regard to oil and gas. Stopping it is not the answer.
I see Suella Braverman has been sacked. I’m not sure I’m happy about that. At least she says it as it is and isn’t pandering to whatever mantra is topic of the week. Knee jerk management will get us nowhere.
Sunday 12th Nov: 09:35
The 11th of the 11th yesterday, a day of reflection and thanks. Thanks to those who made the greatest of sacrifices in the battle to protect our freedoms. The two teams and the sizeable crowd stood in perfect silence to honour the fallen. Prior to that 30 of us enjoyed a wonderful lunch with much merriment amongst friends, one of whom was my mate Mal Bec.
The pitch was in amazing condition and the sun came out to play too. We started strongly taking an early lead through a well deserved penalty before they got their game going. Despite a couple of changes due to injury and unavailability we still were able to slowly but surely take control. We kept Ashford’s big and abrasive forwards at bay, and their hard running backs under pressure. The youngsters were playing with freedom with Sam Marchesi and Jonte Fraser at #9 and #10 controlling things like 15 year veterans.
We got back into the game with a penalty, then came a Will Pitman try which was a thing of beauty. Ashford continued to play and we needed to have our A game defensively in full working order. We weren’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination making basic mistakes when it mattered. We did keep the scoreboard moving with a another penalty then a Harry Marchesi try when they were down to 14 men. Our visitors closed the gap with an excellent team try finished off wide out by their pacy winger.
The second half was controlled by us but Ashford also played some excellent rugby. Their lively scrum half and powerful No.8 kept us honest and kept their powerful backs supplied with ball. Our defence was immense and thwarted most attacks. As the game wore on we added the try of the game from Pitman wide out. A superb training ground move executed with perfection. The referee was not shy in brandishing his cards, Ashford saw yellow for a cynical killing of the ball when ‘Borough were on the attack and our Sam Edwards spent 10 minutes on the naughty step for a high tackle. Will Creasy had powered into the Ashford defensive line from minute one and finally got the well deserved reward of a try to give us the important bonus point as the clock slowly ticked towards the 80 minute mark. Final score 28-8.
This was a good game played for the most part in good spirit and wonderfully well refereed. We stay in second behind Canterbury II who we play next weekend. Ashford are in 7th. I’ll do a full league round up tomorrow.
Oh, and as a foot note Richard Tasker was named player of the month for October.
Top flight rugby is back, so are defeats for the Welsh regions, Cardiff lost on Friday, Scarlets threw away a win yesterday evening, Ospreys were beaten by Glasgow, and being a pessimist Dragons will lose at home to Leinster this afternoon.
The Gloucester v Bath game was throughly enjoyable. Some great rugby from both sides in the first half, and a dominant Bath in the second half. Quins go top after a hard fought win at Leicester Tigers. Sale are on the march winning at Bristol. Two games today with Saints v Exeter being the pick of them.
I understand the Ulster v Munster game was a cracker on Friday night, which augurs well for Ireland’s hopes in the upcoming Six Nations.
That’ll do for now as I now have to write the blow by blow match report as The Bard is on the beach.
The Remembrance Day service will be held at the cenotaph at 11am. I will, as I did yesterday, stand in silence and quietly say thanks for the sacrifice of the fallen, and thanks for those who continue to keep us safe, and spare a thought for those who are suffering hardship in the conflicts happening around the globe.
As the sun goes down we will remember them!
Thursday 9th Nov: 10:20
How did I ever have time to work? Slightly later than planned due to a raft of family and rugby matters to attend to.
Wayne Barnes has opened up about the abuse he and his family have received from the cowardly keyboard warriors. A team has lost a game of rugby. No-one has died. It hasn’t changed the world forever. Therefore there is absolutely no place for abuse. It is fair for people to comment on mistakes, or have an opinion on decisions, after all freedom of speech isn’t quite dead yet. It is fair to criticise if that criticism is justified. Threats and other kinds of abuse are not. The issue of course is the platforms over which the abuse is transmitted are owned by huge conglomerates making millions as a consequence. They also want to defend the right to free speech. It is a minefield, but I agree, something needs to be done.
I’ll be in my 70’s come 2028 which is when we might see the inaugural World Club Tournament. There is much talk about a global competition between the very best club sides/franchises. Of course it is all about money with no regard to the fact the game across the globe, except maybe in France and Japan, is run on a shoestring budget, nor any regard for player welfare. Just this week Pat Lam has said how crazy it is that his club has 16 games on consecutive weekends. With squads now limited due to the reduced salary cap it increases the workload of those lucky enough to be included. There is no regard for the long suffering fans who already part with hundreds of pounds, dollars, rand, euros each week to follow their club without considering the horrendous cost of global travel. The Torygraph carries the story.
The same paper brings us the news that TNT Sports have secured the rights to show live one Women’s Premiership game from each round of the competition. This is great for the women’s game and hopefully some of the TV money will help grow the game as a whole rather than inflate the wages of the players. After all the women’s game is pretty much a non profit organisation.
It seems England Saxons (A) are to be resurrected. On the one hand this is a good idea as a stepping stone for aspiring internationals. If as planned the first game will be against Portugal that too offers a benefit. On the other hand this is not a cheap exercise and with the RFU already having to cut its cloth accordingly it means the money will have to come from savings elsewhere. Shame that isn’t from a reduction in those who are on the RFU gravy train.
Talking of money, despite the WRU revenue increasing they announced a £4.3m loss last season. Much of this went on paying off Wayne Pivac and his staff and paying off the previous WRU Chairman. £1.9m in total to be exact.
Gloucester fans have had mixed news this week. Zac Mercer is out for some time following ankle surgery. Louis Rees-Zammitt is back in training. Don’t forget it is Glos v Bath on Friday evening.
Is the Ospreys deal with the Toyota Cheetahs a model others could follow. Three quality players not getting game time in South Africa are going to the Ospreys thus filling gaps left by departing players and unable to be filled due to the severe salary constraints the regions are faced with. The upside is young Osprey players on the fringes of the first team squad will be sent in the other direction to get game time in the South African set up. I’m not 100% convinced it is a good idea but I’ll reserve judgement for now.
A full grassroots league program this weekend. You know who we are playing. Keep an eye on this here blog, or the news page of the website for updates due to the current less than positive weather forecasts.
Finally, there is a very depressing article on The Roar website that says “possession rugby is on life support”. In essence there is way too much possession kicked away, and this is true across all levels of the game. If you read The Bards report from last week you will have picked up on his comment about the amount of kicking. I can defend that to a degree due to the weather but we are seeing more kick, kick, kick without doubt.
Ok that’ll do. It is Friday Club tomorrow and Armistice Day on Saturday. A day when the snowflakes and bleeding heart lily-livered liberals should shut up and join the nation in thanking those who made the greatest of all sacrifices in defending our freedoms, the very freedoms that allow the snowflakes to live the lives they do currently.
Oh, and whilst it is NOT funny, a guy in Panama decided to take matters into his own hands when environmental protesters blocked the road. He got out of his car and shot two of them dead. On that note, back on Sunday unless anything of note crops up between now and then.
Wednesday 8th Nov: 08:25
“Don’t mention the war Pike”, or more recently don’t mention the “C” word; no not that one but Covid, Christmas and cockup. Actually in my case don’t mention the “M” word; motorways and more motorways. Yes, in about an hour I’ll be on Britains motorway network heading home from a miserably damp Bridgnorth morning. As a consequence just a few snippets this morning.
Mrs Bleater was on a zoom call with the RFU this week and it seems that the new tackle height law is working. Fewer head contact issues measured by a reduction in red cards, anecdotally fewer injuries all round and more free flowing, high scoring games. That is good news. What is less pleasing is the growing number of match official abuse cases. Thankfully this is the lower end, disrespect rather than out and out abuse, but nevertheless a worrying trend. It also appears the growing use of Veo technology (filming of games) has brought with it a plethora of citing cases as coaches analyse the footage in minute detail, and a greater number of “not guilty” pleas as video evidence becomes more readily available. This is no bad thing as it should improve player, and of course referee behaviour.
Wayne Barnes has opened up about the online abuse which quite clearly has crossed the line. I know I can be classified as a keyboard warrior but I hope my criticisms and opinions don’t cross the line of acceptability into the world of unacceptability.
Bongi Mbonambi has claimed England were “unprofessional” over the alleged racial slur. I am not sure England Rugby, nor Tom Curry were “unprofessional”. I think they conducted themselves with integrity and common sense. What Mbonambi has to remember is the panel didn’t completely exonerate him as they had “insufficient evidence” to substantiate the allegations. That is quite different from saying he didn’t abuse Curry.
There is an excellent piece in The Guardian about the challenges that lie ahead for the Premiership. It is the same story: benefactors are not the answer, excessive player wages against insufficient revenue is the problem. Added to this is the significant lack of joined up thinking with regard to fixtures, plus England v club, marketing failures etc, etc. In essence the top flight business model is a busted flush”.
So the sleaze bag, closer to fact than abuse by the way, Eddie Jones, confirms his interest in the Japan job. You draw your own conclusions, but in my mind it stinks.
Yet another player has revealed he will be out of action for some time due injury following the World Cup. Yes, the injury prone Manu Tuilagi is out with two broken bones in his hand. He has said despite the ever present fear of injury he isn’t planning on retiring anytime soon.
Plenty of rugby this weekend with CRFC v Ashford the pick. Before that on Friday evening we have a West Country classic: Gloucester v Bath.
I still haven’t cleared up the Ashford v Charlton Park abandonment yet. The England Rugby website has it as abandoned, Ashford’s website has it as a 20-3 win.
That’ll do for now. I’ll be back tomorrow with more barrel scrapings and maybe for the first time ever some decent insight into our game!
Tuesday 7th Nov: 09:00
Here I am in Bridgnorth with much on the agenda hence the paucity of a blog today. The Daily Fail are reporting that Eddie Jones has said he will be back in rugby very soon. If that happens to be Japan then it conforms what we already know, the man is a devious, possibly lying, piece of work. If it is Cwmbran RFC under 9s then I’m sure he might be able to help with some little bits of the coaching program, but even then I’m not sure!!
Former Wales fly half and a pivotal member of Wayne Pivac’s coaching team at Scarlets and Wales is off to Super Rugby. Jones will join the Moana Pasifika ahead of the new Super Rugby season.
Rassie Erasmus is back fully in charge of the Springboks with Jacques Neinabaer heading to Ireland. This comes as no surprise because he was pretty much in charge anyway.
One bit of left over World Cup business was resolved yesterday with Sam Cane receiving a three match ban, one of which will be the useless tackle school. This comes as no surprise.
After a brutal World Cup several players are now suffering injuries post tournament. RG Synam is off to have surgery, Dan Biggar has buggered up his back, and Louis Rees-Zammitt is out amongst several others.
Lots of Six Nations talk already but there is plenty of water to flow under the bridge before then. Talking of which Bridgnorth rugby club grounds have been flooded again, this alongside the news the new clubhouse development being behind schedule, possibly due to funding challenges, is not good news.
A big shout out for the CRFC Head Groundsman and his elves. Drew and team have done an amazing job. Just a few years ago Steel Cross pitches would be unplayable after the deluge of rain we have had recently. Over the weekend, even with biblical volumes of water descending from the sky two games were played on both our main pitches and they have come through it relatively unscathed. A remarkable achievement. It isn’t only work, it is funding too. The club exec have been bold enough to invest in the grounds over the last couple of years and that investment is now paying off. Oh how I love this club!!
We host Ashford on Saturday, kick off 14:30. There will be a pre-match lunch so why not come along. Louise or Jacqui to book your place.
It has been pointed out to me that I didn’t mention Leicester City’s result against Leeds. Yes, they lost 1-0 but optimism about a quick return to the Premiership remains high.
Max Vertsappen wins the Brazilian Grand Prix. He is an extraordinary driver in an extraordinary car. Bloody boring however!!
Outside of this the issues in the Middle East are mounting. More hotheads want to join, and the carnage continues. The Ukraine issues are not going away either. The world is a mess.
For the life of me I have no idea what those Stop Oil morons hope to achieve by vandalising priceless pieces of art, or spraying orange paint over buildings. Thankfully the police are now clamping down on their mindless slow marches, but not before time. Finally to highlight the hypocrisy of these middle class, privileged idiots, one of them had the brass neck to ask the judge to postpone their hearing so they could go visit India. That for me sums it up. Complete asses.
Don’t get me wrong climate change is a massive issue and we have to find ways to solve it. Reducing the reliance on fossil fuels is one aspect but not the only solution. Strangely no-one talks about population control. On that controversial point…….. I’m off!!
Monday 6th Nov: 09:05
It’s Monday so a quick look at how the leagues are shaping up is the order of the day. Being in 2nd spot and still unbeaten is a great position for us to be in. Our 14-10 win against Bromley was a hard won result against a very good side in difficult conditions. Our next opponents, Ashford, saw their game against Charlton Park abandoned. I’m unclear about the reason but will endeavour to find out. Canterbury II stay top after beating Dover easily enough. Cranbrook and our friends The Greenies played out a 15-15 draw. Beccehamian strolled past Deal & Betteshanger by a lot to very few. Thanet Wanderers lost at home to Dartfordians who move into 3rd as a consequence. Charlton Park remain rooted to the foot of the table.
In Surrey/Sussex 1 a mixed day for the Sussex sides. East Grinstead had to endure a HWO as bottom placed Old Cranleighans cried off, Hove v KCS Old boys was postponed, at the last minute I believe, and Eastbourne drew 27-27 at Kingston. Unbeaten Teddington top this league.
In Hampshire 1 only one game went ahead with the others all succumbing to the heavy rain that part of the world has endured.
In Sussex 2 all four games went ahead. Our good neighbours Uckfield strolled past Crawley, Pulborough beat Shoreham to go top, Burgess Hill lost to Worthing III and Seaford lost to Brighton II. Crawley slip to the bottom of the table. Haywards Heath are in second with a game in hand.
In Kent 3 Hastings & Bexhill v Old Elthamians was postponed. Tunbridge Wells II lost at home to Old Alleynians II. TJs II won away at Whitstable.
Moving up into Regional 2 Chichester drew 23-23 with Wimborne. Salisbury beat Witney 17-14 in what I am reliably informed was a keenly contested game. Jersey RFC remain top.
In Regional 1 not a great day for Horsham losing at Bracknell and dropping to the foot of the table. Brighton lost at home to Hammersmith & Fulham. Tunbridge Wells beat London Welsh in a close game. Wells are now 3rd, Brighton in 7th.
Up in the rarified atmosphere of the National Leagues Sevenoaks lost to Esher, Worthing lost at Bury St Edmunds, and unsurprisingly TJs v North Walsham was postponed. ‘Oaks and Worthing slip closer to the foot of the table, TJs are 6th.
To round things off Bridgnorth lost at Derby. They couldn’t have played at home as the Severn has burst its banks again and their grounds are under water, as I’ll find out in a few hours time.
In yesterday’s Premiership action Exeter beat Bristol and go top. Still early days yet but its looking like a long season for Newcastle.
In the URC Connacht and Munster lead the way, the former unbeaten. The Dragons languish one place off the bottom after three consecutive defeats.
In other rugby news I’ll start with the immediate retirement of Wayne Barnes. Without doubt one of the best referees of all time. To have refereed so many high profile games, including the highest profile of all, the Rugby World Cup Final, speaks volumes of his prowess. Whilst he argues his decision wasn’t all about the recent abuse, it is totally unacceptable that abuse should be part of the decision, full stop. Sadly social media is a vehicle used by those not brave enough to stand up and express themselves in public. It would be hard to top the experience of refereeing a World Cup Final so the time is right. Albeit many years ago now, as a former referee I applaud his contribution to the game and wish him well going forward.
Congratulations to England Women who lifted the inaugural WXV trophy by beating New Zealand. A great achievement but no real surprise with the investment put into the women’s game in England.
Leigh Halfpenny is off to play for the Crusaders in NZ. He has signed a one year deal. Sam Costelow has suffered a double injury; shoulder and hamstring, throwing Wales plans for the Six Nations into chaos. In years gone by outside half’s came off the rugby conveyor belt like rain in Crowborough, very consistently. Right now following a raft of retirements and an exodus to foreign climes Wales find themselves bereft of quality 10s.
Eddie Jones is in the news, I’ll bring you the latest on that clown tomorrow.
Sunday 5th Nov: 09:20
What a contrast between Friday and Saturday. The Friday Club expected the worst as they arrived at the club following Thursday’s high winds and deluge of rain. What they found were pitches in excellent condition, the grounds free of any damage, and a warm autumnal sun under which to carry out their weekly tasks. Saturday morning was an altogether different matter. The drainage ditches were flowing like rivers and the pitches very wet indeed. After a lengthy and thorough pitch inspection those present stuck their necks out, and despite the forecast of more rain, said “we go”.
It was the right decision as both sides on the A pitch served up quite a spectacle. Down on our D pitch our 2nd XV and Uckfield 2s got a game too, and whilst we ran out comfortable winners no-one went home disappointed.
Prior to kick off 70+ plus people sat down for our Ladies Lunch, a day to celebrate the contribution our girls and their mums make to this great club. Lunch was superb and wonderfully well organised. Thank you Sharon, Louise and Jacqui. Much fun was had with the quiz by the way. Plenty of the old farts were there as usual, helping to swell the bar takings, but based on the simple fact many of the mums didn’t move from the warmth of clubhouse they too did a fine job.
Anyway, so to the 1st XV game. We ran out 14-10 winners and whilst I watched through red wine tinted glasses I think we deserved the result. Both sides, despite the wet conditions, tried to play open rugby. It wasn’t always possible with plenty of handling mistakes as the bar of soap slipped from rain soaked hands. That said the game ebbed and flowed with backs and forwards linking up well and when all was lost the ball was cleared deep into the opposition half. Bromley took the lead with a well struck penalty after some excellent attacking pressure, and equally excellent defensive work by the boys from Steel Cross.
The scrum was evenly contested but we had the edge at the lineout, and when we got it going our rolling maul was technically excellent. With young Sam Marchesi and Jonte Fraser linking well at 9 and 10 it wasn’t too long before we broke down Bromley’s stubborn defence. The dam finally burst allowing Ollie Clinch to crash over to put Crowborough ahead 7-3. Whilst the scoreboard remained inert for long periods and the drizzle kept coming and going this was an enjoyable match. The forwards with Dave Bennett, Andy Kidd and the evergreen Mark Rosier leading from the front, and the young back line with the ever-willing Rob Lester in the centre looking for work Bromley had to continue to defend resolutely.
It was far from one way traffic and with their outstanding, slippery as a Thames estuary eel full back weaving intricate running lines ‘Borough too had to be at their best in defence. Deep into the second half we put some daylight between us and the visitors when Andy Kidd went over under the posts following some excellent interplay between forwards and backs. Bromley were not in 3rd by accident and they came back strongly. It was amazing how the pitch had held up allowing the visitors to put together arguably their best rugby. As the clock ticked away, probably about 3 minutes left, they scored a superb try wide out which with the conversion narrowed the score to 14-10. Crowborough, unlike previous seasons, managed the final minutes well and eventually kicked the ball off the park for the win. We stay in 2nd behind Canterbury II. The Bards blow by blow account will be on the website.
An excellent day at Steel Cross. With the clubhouse packed post match, two wins under the belt and the ladies still drinking with aplomb the decision to go ahead was more than vindicated. Once again THANK YOU to all who made it such a great day.
A full league round up tomorrow. It was then home to watch Wales beat the Barbarians. Nothing at stake but pride and the need to say a fond farewell to Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric and Leigh Halfpenny. All three of whom made a superb contribution to the spectacle. It was a shame the game clashed with Scarlets v Cardiff and disrupted the Ospreys preparation for their game against the Sharks on Friday evening.
The experiment of the playi