Archive for the ‘youth rugby’ Category

Bare with me, this is an off the cuff blog, so it may ramble, but what it WILL do is RANT!

With the Olympics coming up, i felt the need to rant on a subject that riles me for roughly 8-12 weekends a year…. fairweather, know it all fans who only watch rugby when its on the BBC (6 nations) or ITV (Rugby World Cup).
How do these tie in? The Olympics and fairweather fans that is….

well…..

Anytime a sport is overkilled on TV, it instantly draws the crowds of know it all fans, who are experts during the TV run, and usually a month afterwards.

For example….
Go to any tennis court at the moment….. full of teens to mid 20’s, mainly males, new raquets, new balls, and absolutely no skill in the world. Whats just been on TV? Wimbledon. Now i know a few people who play tennis every summer and take it seriously, this isn’t aimed at them. Its not even a dig at people trying out a new sport, its just the example i use to how stop/start exposure to sports damages participation levels.

Yes, Aviva Premiership and Heineken rugby is on Sky and ESPN. I have neither. I watch the ITV4 highlights. Usually its easier to find Bin Ladens bunker than to find the highlights show in the listings, and its on a minor channel that many people don’t have! Plus when you cut out Craig Doyles waffling and the ad breaks, its about 35 minutes worth of highlights.
Match of the day is the football equivalent. Its on between 10-1030 every Saturday, MOTD2 is on at 10 every Sunday, plus morning repeats of MOTD on a Sunday morning, football focus at lunchtime on a Saturday, final score at 430 every Saturday, it even has a kids spin off and there is total football saturation on Radio 5, TalkSPORT and local radio all weekend every weekend. Actually, with TalkSPORT, the name is misleading as it 99% talks about football all bloody week. Brian Moore guest hosted last week and i barely heard rugby get a mention, and since when were former international cricketers Darren Gough and Ronnie Irani doyens of football punditry???

Imagine the fanbase that could be built in any sport with that kind of market dominance, especially with the impressionable and lucrative early teens to late 20’s market.
Rugby has the fanbase, bigger Premiership sides aren’t far off of lower end Premiership football attendance figures. Most big games are sold out these days and even lower league teams are getting decent crowds these days. come on ITV, give Rugby a decent shot. Put the highlights on ITV2 at a peak time, instead of the only way is f*****g Essex, then repeat it on ITV at a reasonable hour (instead of the usual 1am slot!)

That rant is actually off topic of the rant i was planning.

My rant was going to be about the people who watch half a dozen or so rugby matches a year ( normally the 6nations and an Autumn international or 2) and then make out they are some kind of expert by repeating word for word what Jeremy Guscott or Brian Moore says about a player and tries to pass it off as a fact.
EVERYONE knows someone like this. I unfortunately know loads.

There are many local clubs that would love to have these peoples money in the coffers at every home game, I mean granted, I’m from Coventry and I’m a Gloucester fan, so it may sound hypocritical, (family circumstances dictated that one….) but people should support the local sides. Coventry nearly went bust. I was gutted by this, i’ve been to the old Coundon Rd and the new Butts Park to watch them on many occasions over the years, and i used to play for them as a youth.
Not even just the big local sides, Barker Butts, Coventrians, Broadstreet, Nuneaton…. there are many clubs that would love the support, so instead of buying the England shirt (usually when sports direct have it cheap)and telling the world that ‘Chris Ashton is the best support runner in rugby’ (or whatever Guscott said to Inverdale on the last broadcast!) get off your arses and support rugby, from grassroots up!

Advertisements

You may have noticed (but probably didn’t) that i didn’t blog last week, this was because it had been pretty much a rugby free week for me. This week, however has been full of rugby so far!!

Last Friday, i flew to Belgium (Brussels) to support my stepson and his teammates in the 40th Annual Tom Morris rugby tournament, which involves teams from Belgium, France, Holland and England and is held at the  Kituro Schaerbeek rugby club. This years teams (i will try to remember them all!!) Kituro, Red Star, Den Haag, Noisy le Sec, GTO, ASUB Waterloo, Boitsfort, Luxembourg, Dover, Dudley Kingswinford and ‘Team Europe’ (and also one side that didn’t turn up!)

It was an Year 12 tournament (u17’s), and the lads from Dudley are u16’s/year 11 so they turned up with a challenge ahead of them!!

I can’t remember scores and results, they played 8 ‘mini games’ (7 mins a half) over the 2 days so i have no chance of remembering all the various permutations but I do know that the Dudley lads came 4th in the top tier Cup competition, which was won by Den Haag.

Dover rugby club won the second tier Plate competition, and if memory serves me correctly, Red Star of France won the Bowl contest.

It was Team Europe that will be the inspiration to this post. They are the embodiment of the ideals behind RugbyUnited. They are basically the guys from all the participating sides that aren’t going to get gametime, mixed with a base of 4 or 5 from the Kituro club, obviously, language was an issueas the players were from 5 nations, couple that with the fact the majority of the squad were changed game by game and you’d think these boys were cannon fodder. Indeed they lost every game, 2 of which were to the last play of the game, but they scrapped for every second of every game.

My stepson, Pat, was one of the lads who was asked to join Team Europe, which at first he wasn’t overly excited about, but once he realised he’d get plenty of game time (only missed 1 and a half games all weekend, one because it was against his ‘parent’ team and less than half because he was late for the start of one game) he also could play pressure free, and thrived on that freedom and played fantastically well!!

He played so well, in fact that he was made captain for the last game, an honour he has never had (according to his mother!) at Dudley Kingswinford. His big moment of the tournament actually started in the penultimate game. Losing 12 0, Team Europe scored a try in the very last minute and in a moment of comedy, the fly half asked Patrick, a tighthead prop, to convert…. (all kicks were dropgoals to save time!) Now Pat can kick… the lads from his team weren’t to know this and he missed a tricky conversion by about 10-12 inches.

In the last game, with all the pressure gone and the captaincy of the side, Pat flourished. He was comedy gold, asking the ref on 2 occasions to go to the non existent video ref for the 2 dubious tries that were scored by the opposition. Again they were 12-0 down in the last few seconds, a penalty was awarded to Europe, and with the win impossible, Pat decided to re-try his kicking heroics, this time putting it short and low, his chance seemed to be gone, however he got a reprieve when the defending team knocked on and Europe recovered it and managed to get a penalty 5 metres out, which was converted to a penalty try when someone took out the player going for the quick tap and go…. Pat held on to the ball from the various players who wanted to take the kick, and pulled out the captains card to ensure it was his shot at goal….. and he slotted it straight through the middle, causing his teammates from Dudley Kingswinford to storm the pitch to celebrate with him like his kick had just won the tournament! It was a truly fantastic moment that caused his mother to shed a tear (and also one of his teammates dads to do the same…. yes, Martin Fowkes….named and shamed!)

The DK boys then cheered on their British comrades, Dover, in their Plate victory, again with a pitch invasion to celebrate at the end a game which saw Patrick earn himself more plaudits for wrestling the Kituro mascot (a big teddy bear) to the floor and causing a mass pile on!!

The Den Haag boys then played a fantastic game of old fashioned, bludgeoning 10 man rugby to hold on against the hosts, Kituro for a 3 0 victory (despite some dubious refereeing by the Belgian referee throughout the tournament AND the fact the Den Haag captain and unarguably the man of the match and tournament, had spent 12 hours in a police cell for drunk and disorderly the previous evening) to cause a mass 3 team celebration on the pitch. The sort of thing that you would only ever see in rugby. 3 teams that were banded together through having some dodgy decisions against them and ended the day celebrating together like old mates!

For the record, Den Haag and Dover are supposedly ‘arrogant’ as a Kituro official told me, i found them to be some of the nicest guys you could talk to and a credit to their clubs.

In fact there was a lot of respect between the players, in every game, there were no dust ups, on or off the pitch and everyone had a great time. There were a few injuries, our lads had to unfortunately have 2 lads rushed to hospital, thankfully both were released back to us by early evening, and we learnt that the Belgian red cross make St Johns Ambulance look like olympic sprinters.

Brussels itself is a strange place. Parts of it are beautiful, and parts of it are horrible and make you feel very unsafe….reminiscent of Birmingham town centre!!

I came back to blighty to see Gloucester finish the season with another loss in a game that involved a fair old punch up between Jim Hamilton and David Paice, and i bet Paice gets a lesser ban than Jim Hamilton even though he was the aggressor! Jims reputation precedes him in situations like this and the fact Paice ended up with 12 stitches and the London Irish coaches have squarely blamed Jim won’t help his case one bit.

The Union coaches merry go round continues. Gold and Booth to Bath, Edwards to Irish… intrigued to see who Gloucester’s new coach will be!!

about 5 weeks now to the RugbyUnited touch rugby match, so need to step up my training. Had a couple of runs, a really long walk and a trip to the hotel gym this week, so hopefully still heading into the right direction!!

Anyway….

This blog is easily better than my last pisspoor effort,(with 0 views in the last week, i don’t need a review on it!!) so hopefully you’ll have enjoyed reading this one and have forgiven me for the last one!!

til next time!!

R C-K

Does Rugby Union have  the best sports fans in the world?

Lots of good-natured banter, everyone looking out for each other, it’s a nice place to be. Yeah, we have our fair share of idiots, like every walk of life, but the majority of rugger buggers are all like-minded individuals (and yes, that’s kinda an oxymoron!)

A few months ago, I asked for help in pressurising the RFU and IRB over punishing Eliota Fuimaono Sapolu for tweeting, and bearing in mind it was my first ever blog, and only advertised by myself through twitter and facebook, i had over 1500 people read the blog and a good percentage helped with spreading the word. It was originally known to us Tweeters as #GlawsSOS and we had people jump on board from all over Europe, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the Pacific Islands. I had 2 negative comments over it. one that didn’t agree with our cause (who actually admitted by the end that the proposed 6 month ban was OTT!) and 1 that pulled me over punctuation. Wow. Like i care about punctuation. My Blog, my thoughts, punctuation has sod all to do with it!

This got me talking on Twitter to guys and gals that are too numerous to mention, the original #GlawsFamily, and becoming good friends with a fair few of them. The #GlawsFamily then grew, we had over 150 by Xmas. The players at Gloucester began to  tweet using that hashtag, a few players follow the fans, it’s a truly great fan experience, in my opinion. But its my blog, so my opinion is all that matters, right?

After a while of great banter amongst the fans of Gloucester on twitter, Trevor Large had a great idea. We were already followed and following fans from a few clubs, some who we ‘met’ through #GlawsSOS, so he decided we wanted fans from all clubs to come together, for banter, for a news grapevine, for fun, and created a hashtag called #rugbyunited. If i remember right it was originally #rugbyfollowback, a chance for rugby fans to follow each other. Simple, right?!

Well simplicity was the beauty . Since #RugbyUnited was born, I’ve gained fans from every Aviva Premiership club, all the Irish provincial sides, Cardiff and Osprey’s, Glasgow, Edinburgh…. then the Aussies, the Americans, The South Africans, Kiwis…. fans from EVERYWHERE have joined in. its only been a couple of weeks since the concept, we’ve already had people meeting up at games, I’m getting 10+ new followers every day, My timeline is nigh on impossible to follow, but 90% of it is about rugby, so I’m happy with that!

There is a website set up (http://rugbyunited.wordpress.com/)to showcase the events we have coming up, whether through individual clubs, or as part of the larger scale #RugbyUnited, there’s talk of #RugbyDate being set up, with events being set up to coincide with matches, hell, I’ve even been talked into having my legs waxed for charity through #rugbyunited. There are introductions to some of the fans, as there are also on http://poshtottyontour.blogspot.com/2011/12/rugbyunited.html which is a (much better) blog (than this one!) that is written by yet another of the #RugbyUnited clan!

Anyway, i’m rambling.

No change there.

Anyway. i’m impressed by the Twitter community of rugby fans, and i know that the non Twitter fans are generally awesome too. So to answer my original question, Does Rugby Union have  the best sports fans in the world?

You bet your sweet arse it does!

R xxx

 

 

NB:- edited to add, the NEW rugbyunited website is available at http://WWW.RugbyUnited.Info. you can also try http://www.rugbyunited.freeforums.org