With my lack of blogging motivation this week, i pass you over to another guest contributor, Clare Rigney

Honestly – Do you listen?

How can you honesty influence the game of rugby?

How can it affect the coach or the player?

When referring to the term “honest”, it is not categorized as the difference between lying about the reason you cannot attend training or not, or availability for match, or not.

It is only fair and just that the reasons or excuses for non-attendance are genuine and not misconstrued in any way.

When a player, or coach does not give the truth, not only will the truth eventually be found, but it creates a lack of belief in the person, the system and the environment becomes darkened with a shade of mistrust and disbelief for it’s future.

In saying this however, players and coaches alike must be open to accepting or listening to the truth as much as they are willing to share the truth. This is the key to being successfully honest.

Part of a coaches role is to relay feedback/constructive criticism to the player. This may not be easy to take for the player, but it is the truth in the coaches’ eye. The player must listen to this. The key, is that s/he takes it on board, or discusses it, or “thrashes it out” with the coach if s/he does not agree and figure a way around the obstacle.

In the same light however, how often does the coach willingly or openly accept or even stand to listen to feedback from the player?

Ask yourself these questions:

· When were the players asked what do they think of the sessions you have brought to the table – or rated them from 1-10?

· When did you last ask do they have anything they wish to focus on

· How would you react if they felt there were elements lacking to your game?

· What reaction would you give if a player did not like the way you handled a situation/coached a skill?

Would you even listen?

The key is to show the players, that if there is an issue, they can come to you. But in the same hand, if they don’t bring an issue to you, look to them, go to them, find it or just make sure there isn’t an issue.

Perhaps a quick end of session show of hands to rate the session from 1-10. Pre, mid and post season feedback forms which can be signed by the player, or not give them an opportunity to air their opinions, indiciating what is working, areas they feel need more attention, or highlight problems that you may not be aware of.

You will know your players well enough to know who to take with a “pinch of salt”. Equally you will be able to identify those who’s opinionis you need to take on board. So listen and learn how to react.

Players must take your feedback, your views, your opinions.

Are you afraid to look for theirs?

All Views Are My Own…

Mini Bio :- Clare Rigney – Former Rugby Player, now Rugby Coach, sharing experiences and tips on new blog clarerigney.wordpress.com – Keen to make it relevent for All Sports, Ages and Skill levels! If you have issues or obstacles in your team environment, as a Player, Coach or Manager on or off the field please Email or Follow on Twitter@RigneyClare

So follow Clares blog, or follow her on twitter, and leave some feedback!

We only had a couple of single tweet match reports (leave yours on twitter using the hashtag #Rugbyreport) this week, but as promised, i will print them on the blog!

@JohnMcLellan82
#rugbyreport England produced a gutsy display full of passion to earn draw with SA. Care try quick witted. Breakdown even meant a tight game

‏@Matt_Sports123
Wales left to rue handling errors and ill-discipline as the Wallabies win the battle of the boot to claim another 1-point win. #rugbyreport

I will write a blog this week, i promise, but for now, i hope you’ve enjoyed Clare’s blog, which, along with plenty of others can be found at clarerigney.wordpress.com

laters, taters!

RC-K

Much have been said and written about the fact that next year one South African team will make way in the Super 15 competition for The Kings. Many opinions have been voiced around the “braaivleis” fires of South Africa whenever this topic came up in conversation.

Let’s face it the topic is controversial, end of story. So let me indulge you with my 2 cents worth.

I don’t believe that we will see the Kings for more than one season in Super 15 competition. They have last played in the Currie Cup Premier Division in 2002.

The fact that in recent years they have only competed in First Division Rugby is likely to make them the whooping boys of next year’s Super 15 competition. Their highest honours off late has been winners in 2010 in the First Division and winning the Vodacom Shield in 2002.

They are facing an uphill battle of noted against the more experienced teams in the competition.

The Kings will have to adapt at lighting speed to the much higher level of rugby than in the First Division where they have been playing. In addition, traveling demands on the New Zealand and Australian legs of the tournament, which they have not yet experienced.

As if that is not enough they will also have the change to their head coach with Matt Sexton taking over from their very experienced Alan Solomons on 15 July 2012.

Sexton is currently the Academy Manager of the Tasman Rugby Union. Many of us will remember him from his playing days for the Crusaders and Ulster playing at hooker.

As far as coaching goes, he was the Academy Manager at Canterbury (coaching the development squad, the Canterbury Knights). The Tasman Rugby Union and also on the coaching team for the New Zealand team in the 2009 IRB Junior World Championship.

What Sexton does bring to the party which no doubt will be valuable for the Kings will be his knowledge of playing in both New Zealand and Australia and the fields, as well as his traveling experience.

How he manages his young chargers during the overseas leg of the competition as well as during the local games will be interesting.

The Kings does not have the financial backing that the bigger unions have, so their ability to atrack “bums on seats” players will be hampered.

Question remains with the “free ride” that the Kings have been handed by SARFU for next year at the expense of the bottom of the log team for South Africa in this years competition, where is the fairness in all that?

Would a play off between the Kings and the team in question not have been a fairer option? What impact will not playing in next years competition have on the team making way for the Kings have, currently it appears that it might be the Lions?

All I can confirm at this stage of the game is that next years competition is going to be interesting.

By

Ancia Potgetier

 

If anyone would like to contribute a guest blog, please contact me Rich_RugbyUnited@Mail.com

I know, before i even write this blog that parts of it will be controversial, and people won’t agree with it, but this is MY blog to showcase MY opinions, so please respect that if you feel the need to argue or comment negatively on it, you won’t change my mind on what i believe.

So with that in mind……

The threat has been made by the Premiership clubs that they intend on withdrawing from the Heineken Cup unless changes are made to the format of the tournament.

I believe the English and French clubs feel that the qualification should be 6 from the Aviva, 6 from the Top 14 and 6 from the RABO league alongside the defending Heineken champs and the winners of the Amlin cup, making up the 20 best sides in European rugby.

I’ve seen a lot of press coverage going into the reasoning behind the call for change, this is my take on some of the main points i’ve seen.

1: The Italian clubs. Now, in fairness to the Italian sides, they are at the beginning of the steep climb to being competitive. The fact Aironi have already dropped out of the RABO says a lot about how far they have to go. So the fact that Italian sides are guaranteed HC spots at the expense of better teams, both on the pitch, and off, is surely wrong. The last thing sides want mid season is an expensive weekend in Italy to walk over an uncompetitive side. If the 6 sides from each nation rule was bought in, then the Italians would have to finish top 6 to qualify. They’d still have the chance to improve, and they’d still play in the Amlin cup, so their development wouldn’t be compromised.

2: RABO Pro12 league. The way qualification works at the moment, 10 out of the RABO league sides can qualify for the HC. This is a league where there are only really 6 or 7 sides that stand a chance of winning it. Leinster, Ulster, Munster, Ospreys, Scarlets, Blues and possibly Edinburgh, the other sides are NOT Heineken standard. The fact that 8 to 10 of these sides will qualify for the HC takes away the competitiveness of the league, OK, they slog it out for the playoff berths, but one of the highlights of the Aviva premiership season was the battle for the HC spots, which involved 5 clubs fighting for the last 2 spots. The fact that the Provinces can rest players without any real consequences has helped both the Irish and Welsh national sides develop as they always have the best players fresh for big games. This also shows with the attendance of league games, and has affected the Welsh sides especially, which is now showing by the amount of players being released to the French clubs. The Top14 and the Aviva Premiership are far tougher leagues in the respect that you don’t get ‘down’ games, each game is fought for, tooth and nail, the way a league should be. There is relegation places, playoff places and European cup places up for grabs, so each game carries importance. The RABO just doesn’t get that. There is no relegation worries, no realistic Euro worries (the weaker sides will not budget for HC places, so qualification is a bonus) so some games are absolute non entities.

3: Provinces vs Clubs. Is it fair that the provincial sides should play club sides anyway? With English clubs also hamstrung by a salary cap, they simply can’t have a squad with as much talent in it as say Leinster or Ulster. Even the top English clubs are trying to build with a lot more youth, George Ford, Owen Farrell and co are coming through the ranks, whereas the Provincial sides, especially in Ireland, seem to have 3 or 4 internationals in most positions standing between a youngster and a starting spot. The French sides, with no salary cap, can sign who they like, so they are buying up a lot of the talent. The Welsh sides are slightly different as financial restraints have meant they have had to put in youngsters, and its worked tremendously for them as they can play with almost no pressure in a lot of their league games. Also, the fact that these youngsters can be called in from any of the Welsh premiership clubs to the Provinces shows the depth of the talent pools the clubs have. Far more than the Aviva or the French sides.

4: Financial. This is one that i’m not so sure actually has that much of an effect on the English and French clubs, but is the one being touted by a lot of the press. Articles saying that because the English sides went out early this season, that they lost the financial input of the cup. There are three main reasons i don’t agree with this.

1) Heineken prize money isn’t THAT great. its a prestige tournament, but the prize money is better for winning the LV=Cup (or at least it was in the 10/11 season) so the potential for increased gate receipts is the only real bonus on offer, but then take into account, Leicester, Saints, Exeter, Bath and Quins out of next seasons Aviva qualifiers will probably draw sell outs for 90% of home games anyway. 

2)Having a more accessible opponent in the pool stages would allow more revenue for the club from their club travel arrangements. For example, more people would travel from Sale to Cardiff than would travel to Rome. Also you would be more likely to have a local ‘grudge match’ which would increase revenue for the home and away games. 

3)Less travel expenditure for the clubs. for example less air fare, less hotel expenses (as most sides would stay 2 or 3 nights on a long distance away trip, whereas it’d likely only be 1 if it was British Isles opposition) Lets not forget, a side could draw Toulouse and an Italian side in the same pool, thats 2 blooming expensive away trips for fans and club!

 

5: Jealousy?  I saw Dean Ryan claim this as a reason, that the English and French clubs are jealous of Leinsters success. But even after the re-jigged qualifications, Leinster would STILL qualify, so they’d STILL be the team to beat. So again, this isn’t something i agree with.

6: It wouldn’t mean any extra English clubs would qualify anyway.It was only the top 6 from this season (Quins, Tigers, Sarries, Saints, Exeter and Sale) that are in the tournament, but there would be 7 French clubs (Clermont, Toulouse,Montpellier, Castres,Metro, Stade and Biarritz as Amlin champs) and 7 from the RABO12 (Ospreys, Munster, Glasgow,Scarlets, Ulster, Blues and Leinster as HC champs) So no Edinburgh, Treviso, Zebre or Connacht. Now Edinburgh had a good cup run this season, but seriously, could ANY of those sides win the tournament?And for the record….. Zebre? Who? Did they win a place in the cup in a raffle? (3 of the teams that wouldn’t qualify under the proposed qualification criteria are in the same group in the cup draw, the 4th team, Harlequins…. again proof that its not being suggested to make it easier on the English clubs!)

If the Heineken were to be boycotted by the French and English, it wouldn’t be the greatest thing to happen to Northern Hemisphere rugby, but you can bet there’s a contingency plan in place for an Anglo-French competition, maybe involving the second tier sides as well,but obviously it wouldn’t be the same as the Heineken cup, but i honestly think there is a point to be made, so i agree with the respective parties that something needs to happen.

The English and French are trying to make the competition elitist, which i agree 100% it should be the elite clubs. If they were trying to devalue the competition, i could understand some of the criticism i have read, but this is an attempt to give the best sides a chance to prove their mettle.

I can see the reasoning behind the Italian involvement, they are trying to improve the profile of the sport, it gives another market share for TV revenue, etc, but really, Aironi are NOT better than Toulon or Biarritz, yet they were both in the Amlin last season. Same with Connacht, they are a smashing side, and a great bunch of fans, but the reaction to beating Quins should say a lot about their chances. It was greeted like they’d won the Heineken cup, and without checking my facts, i think it was their only tournament win this season. They KNOW they are huge underdogs. And even though it was a great thing for their fans, surely competing, and beating, the minnows in the Amlin would provide just as much enjoyment for the fans. As a long-suffering Gloucester fan, i can assure you that winning the LV cup in a crowd 20k is JUST as satisfying as winning the Powergen cup as part of 80k!

 

As i said at the top. This is only my opinion, so feel free to disagree, but if people are going to get abusive or argumentative i’ll just block/ignore you. All comments are pre approved before appearing anyway

 

Anyway. its 2 am and i was going to bed an hour ago, but i got bit by the urge to blog, so as i have work in the morning, i’d best skidaddle!!

 

take it easy, chickens!

RC_K

I feel that the few blog readers that I have, have been with me throughout #RugbyUnited fledgling 6 months or so. But its almost time to take it off of the internet and make #RugbyUnited an entity in its own right, whilst still sticking to our principles (giving everyone a chance to participate, being fun and different, helping the disadvantaged etc).

Some twitter friends, and now fully fledged #RugbyUnited members, James Hoddy and Emily Barrett, approached us with the idea of a fundraiser for Multiple Sclerosis,more specifically, the Multiple Sclerosis Society,and we saw it as a chance to put ourselves out there and raise our profile, whilst helping a fantastic cause.

The fundraiser was decided as a day of touch rugby, its a chance for regular players, first timers, injured old men (otherwise known as me) to get together and have a run out. We originally (and quite coincidentally) decided the games would take place on the 10/6/12 (yes, today.) but due to a few issues, we postponed it to July 7th. This is great news for me, as it gives me a little longer to get back in game shape.

The event will take place at Chosen Hill rugby club in Gloucester and will involve Mens and Womens games (and we need players, should you be reading this and fancy a run ) as well as a pretty awesome raffle which contains the following prizes,

  • Signed Gloucester Rugby Ball
  • Signed England Rugby Ball
  • Signed Nottingham Rugby Shirt
  • Family Voucher for 10 seats to a Saracens Wembley Stadium Match
  • Two Tickets to a Bristol Rugby Match
  • Two Tickets to a Plymouth Albion Rugby Match
  • Cornish Pirates Book ‘Pirates Pirates!’
  • Signed Cotton Traders England shirt
  • Kukri Polo shirt
  • Family pass for Westons Cider Mill tour and tasting
  • NEWLY CONFIRMED!! Signed Cardiff Blues and Llanelli Scarlets shirts!

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(Further prize donations will be gratefully recieved as well!!)

I will be working this week so we can figure a way to do some online raffle ticket sales, so watch this space!!!

We are also awaiting confirmation of our intention to break a world record on the same day, I won’t give too much information away on this just yet, but its a pretty easy one to beat, in my opinion, so we want #RugbyUnited to SMASH it!!! (thats not a clue, by the way!)

If you are interested in coming along,even if its just to laugh at my feeble attempts to roll back 12 years and play rugby on 1 semi functioning knee, i will post the details on here, but they will also be on our website (http://www.rugbyunited.info/), our forum (which is free to join! http://rugbyunited.freeforums.org/ )  on our various Twitter pages ( @RichC_K @TrevorLarge @NickLewisno8 or search the #RUTeam hashtag!), we also have our very own Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/104979119626529/) so PLEASE join us and help us in any way you can!

Its a great cause and we want to raise a lot of money and have a lot of fun, it will also be the first of many of these kinds of fundraisers, for various charities, nationwide, in fact, if Trevor gets his way, it’ll be WORLDWIDE!

Watch this space!!

RC-K

Edited to add:-


Due to our prizes covering so many geographically varied rugby clubs, we would like to offer online raffle sales so that fans of the clubs can get involved. Unfortunately, we would need either a specific bank account or some kind of funding to pay for software or online hosting, which we don’t have.

The only way i can think of being able to do this would be if people sent us/me money for the tickets, i will then print your numbers on our forum and ensure the money ends up in the charity fund. Its not the ideal way to do this, but its the only feasible way i can see us being able to provide the opportunity for everyone to be involved. If you are interested in having the chance to win one of our prizes, email me (rich_rugbyunited@mail.com) and i will let you know my details.

 

I’m in a hotel room and a bit bored, and realised i never did my full season review!

the BOLD type will be the full season review, the normal type is what i wrote at the 13 game mark of the season…..and because i’m lazy, they won’t be listed as their final league positions. 

Harlequins :- Started brightly, took advantage of not being overly disrupted by World Cup call ups. Evans is a REAL star, he would walk any team in the Premiership. Clegg as his replacement needs improve fast if he’s to fulfil his potential. Couple of bad results recently, but will be delighted with the first part of the season. I will give them an A

 The A at half season is a big fat A star now! Conor’s boys were fantastic, recovered from a mini blip to deservedly take the crown. I admit in Care, Marler and Brown, the Quins have 3 of my least favourite players, but i cheered them on in the Prem finale and was delighted for them, and their fans! A**

Saracens :- Some big injury losses, especially at scrum half led to Peter Stringer being brought in on the ever rotating Saracens squad list, still possibly not hit their peak, which will worry the rest of the league, although with a lot of international calls for their key players during the 6 nations, they may be content to finish top 4 and push through the playoffs to defend their title. I think they will be a tad disappointed at being 2nd, for this reason, they can have a B+

Still an odd side to call. Never seemed comfortable as defending champs and were left wanting at the seasons end. Never hit their potential, and with the money being ploughed into Sarries, the owners will NOT be pleased! Their grade in my eyes, C+.

Northampton :- A bigger squad than last season and some real star turns in Lamb, Dickson and Artemyev have took Saints to third despite their key players being away at the World cup. Another side that may suffer during the 6 nations. I think Saints may well end up as the team to beat this season. Sorry Saints fans. Thats usually the kiss of death! Its an A for Jim Mallinders boys!

Saints are an enigma, they have a conveyer belt of top quality players coming through, yet never seem to show up for the big games. A lot of international call ups won’t have helped, but another ‘growth’ season for Saints. Mallinder has signed a new contract, but unless they win something big and SOON, i can’t see him getting his next one. B-

Leicester :- Absolute wretched start to the season when injuries and World Cup absentees depleted their squad. Great recovery, as you would expect, and looking like they may be a little less hampered by call ups for the 6 nations than usual! Can you ever bet against the Tigers? They are certainly no toothless kitties this season, they are the dictionary definition of resilience! Bad start would have given them a D, but strong recovery, a well earned B

Resilient, i called them, and they were ALMOST the recovery story of the season. Few big names leaving Welford Rd this summer, but some decent looking replacements rumoured/confirmed to be signing so far, not to mention George Ford starting to look the part, but how they’d have loved to send Alesana Tuilagi off to Japan with another winners medal, Alas not to be. Because of the recovery, and the outright style they played in for the second half of the season. Tigers get an A

London Irish:- As an outsider, i can’t say i’ve really noticed the Exiles this season, apart from the game at Kingsholm when Nick Wood single handedly destroyed their scrummage, but apart from Delon’s dalliances with the powers that be, They’ve seemingly flown under the radar. That said, Joseph and Schingler may well become the top centre pairing in the league. VERY promising!! Due to league position i’ll have to give them a decent grade, so i’ll give them a B-

I stand by my half way assessment of Irish. Workmanlike and effective. Could struggle next season with some big players off and Toby Booth heading to Bath, but this season, they can have a B-

Exeter Chiefs:- The Devonians are suprising everyone again. Well, everyone outside Exeter! They seemingly have no star players, but they are so well drilled and experts in what they do, that they are right in the race for Heineken cup places! I’m really impressed with the Chiefs, and they can have an A because i feel they are over achieving and if they can qualify for the Heineken cup next season, that A will get a * by it!

No need to review the Exiles. AWESOME season. They are on the map now, and have the Heineken cup spot. As promised….. A+

Sale Sharks:- Odd one. MASSIVE turnover of playing staff and on paper a really strong squad, but they don’t have any consistency. Maybe this will come when they have had more time to gel, but i think they will be disappointed this season so far. B-

Heineken cup spot cemented, new home ground and a new coach next season, added to the signings of the ilk of big Richie Grey, pressure is on, the owner has backed his team, time for the faith to be repaid. This season, C+

Gloucester :- As a Gloucester fan, its certainly a roller coaster ride this season. Some great performances have been put in, they were arguably robbed against Sarries at home,(and got a draw away against them) but also some  lackluster displays have cost us points against the teams in the lower reaches, hampered by injuries in the second row, but buoyed by some fantastic performances by the young guns, May, Trinder, Sharples and Burns especially! Many prospects for the future, but Heineken qualification may be the best we can hope for this season! C

Think Glaws ended up with a 7 game losing streak, not good enough for the players or the fans. Redpath quit late season and made the highly UNSURPRISING switch to Sale and an exodus of top quality players didn’t really help, but things look bright with Ben Morgan, Jimmy Cowan, Billy Twelvetrees et al coming in. for this season though. No Heineken Cup place. awful. D. 

Worcester Warriors:- The Warriors seem to be at a turning point, a great, Andy Goode inspired win over Glos at Sixways may very well be the catalyst to pushing on to the hallowed Heineken cup. Tipped by many as candidates for relegation, but Richard Hill’s boys seem to be intent on proving everyone wrong. B+

MUST TRY HARDER. see me after class.

Warriors fans want improvement year on year, and i’m not sure they are getting it. Need to kick on now and prove they are a good side. The lack of significant improvement, gets them a C-

Bath:- Ah….the old enemy! Lost Butch James, signed Stephen Donald as a replacement, got Olly Barkley back to fitness and shed the dead weight of Shontayne Hape, plus having Sir Ian McGeechan at the club SHOULD have made Bath strong contenders this season. Donald hasn’t set the league on fire, OB seems to be finding his feet again but the team are still struggling! definitely have the capacity to improve, but need a turnaround, and FAST! D-

BIG money going on next seasons coaching team, they have the players, the coaches could be the missing piece of the puzzle. Not a good season, and with the players and hype they had, i can only give them a D. Well. I gave Glos a D, so i’ll give Bath a D-. I’m horrible like that! 

Wasps :- Another side in unfamiliar territory. They are used to sprinting to the finish line, but will need to be Usain Bolt to hit the top 4 this season. Had a couple of real prospects emerge in Wade and Daly, but will be mortified with their current standings! D-

Awful season, on and off field. No money, almost bankrupt (yet have signed Stephen Jones for next season) but will want to see the back of the 11/12 season. F

Newcastle :- Hard to rate the Falcons. They are in the position most people will have expected them to be in, but showing no real signs of fight. Replacing the head honcho may provide a spark to set them off and running, but can they claw back the gap already formed, and will the teams above them continue to struggle? I personally can’t see a way back for them, and i honestly hope i’m wrong. F

Almost did the impossible, but looks like it doesn’t matter anyway as the RFU seem to be ringfencing the premiership. Dean Richards in as next seasons Head Coach and some big names on their way to Kingston Park. The Falcons will be a tougher prospect next season! D

 

so there ya go.

off for a swim!

 

byeeeeeee

 

RC-K

xx

This is a last minute, unplanned blog, so forgive me if it rambles on and is generally crap.

London Welsh have been told they will not be considered for promotion to the prem due to the fact, as i understand it, that their ground ‘doesn’t meet requirements’ and a projected groundshare with Oxford United would not give them ‘primacy of tenure’ at the Kassam Stadium.

This echo’s the Pirates plight, as their ground again doesn’t meet specs, and a groundshare hasn’t materialised (i think they were in talks with Plymouth Argyle, but can’t remember the facts)

Now i have no affinity to London Welsh, but i remember them being around when i was a kid and being a competitive side. They are looking to get back to the big time, Pirates are looking to give Cornwall a top flight team, over the years there have been several top flight Cornish players, but they’ve never had a ‘home’ club to play for in the Premiership!

The problem i have with this, is that Bath’s ground, The Rec, is doubtful that it would pass the criteria for promotion, yet they are allowed to be a premiership side. Saracens, Wasps, London Irish all share with football clubs, whereas Harlequins share with a Superleague team (though Quins are the primary tenants) and Newcastle can’t play home games on the same matchdays as Newcastle United due to policing issues and yet this is all fine and dandy with the RFU.

my theory behind this is…. in the southwest of England there is Gloucester, Bath and Exeter , in the Southeast there are Wasps, Quins, Irish, and Saracens, the midlands has Tigers, Worcester and Saints and the entire North of England has Sale and Falcons. If you were to take Falcons down and bring in Pirates or Welsh, that would leave just Sale north of Leicester, so is this ‘ring fencing’ to do with that maybe? Are the RFU worried that they will lose their ‘Northern Exposure’? I wonder if the RFU were hoping that Wasps would go down and avoid this issue…

Also, is it not slightly fishy that the Falcons sign on Dean Richards, Rory Lawson, Del Fava, MacLeod, Tuipolotu, Tomaszczyk, Higgins and Crockett, a mighty good selection of players for a championship club to sign, so either someone has done a GREAT job of upselling the club or they KNEW they weren’t going down.

I don’t really want to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but this has huge ramifications for players, clubs, fans and owners and it needs to be made clear what has gone on. There needs to be a level playing field, and if the championship clubs can’t go up, then surely the premiership clubs need to sort out their grounds to meet premiership specifications. I know Sarries and Bath have plans for their new stadia, but the rest seem content to stay put in half empty stadiums.

anyhoo….rant over!

laters

R C-K

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