Six Nations – A Call to Arms

With another big Six Nations weekend on the horizon, I challenge you to read this poem and not feel motivated to cheer on your nation with that extra decibel of gusto.

When the battle scars have faded
And the truth becomes a lie
And the weekend smell of liniment
Could almost make you cry.

When the last ruck’s well behind you
And the man that ran now walks
It doesn’t matter who you are
The mirror sometimes talks

Have a good hard look old son!
The melon’s not that great
The snoz that takes a sharp turn sideways
Used to be dead straight

You’re an advert for arthritis
You’re a thoroughbred gone lame
Then you ask yourself the question
Why the hell you played the game?

Was there logic in the head knocks?
In the corks and in the cuts?
Did common sense get pushed aside?
By manliness and guts?

Do you sometimes sit and wonder
Why your time would often pass
In a tangled mess of bodies
With your head up someone’s arse?

With a thumb hooked up your nostril
Scratching gently on your brain
And an overgrown Neanderthal
Rejoicing in your pain!

Mate – you must recall the jersey
That was shredded into rags
Then the soothing sting of Dettol
On a back engraved with tags!

It’s almost worth admitting
Though with some degree of shame
That your wife was right in asking
Why the hell you played the game?

Why you’d always rock home legless
Like a cow on roller skates
After drinking at the clubhouse
With your low down drunken mates

Then you’d wake up – check your wallet
Not a solitary coin
Drink Berocca by the bucket
Throw an ice pack on your groin

Copping Sunday morning sermons
About boozers being losers
While you limped like Quazimoto
With a half a thousand bruises!

Yes – an urge to hug the porcelain
And curse sambucca’s name
Would always pose the question
Why the hell you played the game!

And yet with every wound re-opened
As you grimly reminisce it
Comes the most compelling feeling yet
God, you bloody miss it!

From the first time that you laced a boot
And tightened every stud
That virus known as ‘rugby’
Has been living in your blood

When you dreamt it; when you played it
All the rest took second fiddle
Now you’re standing on the sideline
But your heart’s still in the middle

And no matter where you travel
You can take it as expected
There will always be a breed of people
Hopelessly infected

If there’s a teammate, then you’ll find him
Like a gravitating force
With a common understanding
And a beer or three, of course

And as you stand there telling lies
Like it was yesterday old friend
You’ll know that if you had the chance
You’d do it all again

You see – that is the thing with rugby
It will always be the same
And that, I guarantee
Is why the hell you played the game!

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Run out with ROBINSON?! #raise4matt

Yes you read that right! How would you like your child to have the chance to run out alongside Jason Robinson at Welford Road?

One of the auction lots for #raise4matt that has kindly been donated by The Matt Hampson Foundation is to make that very dream a reality! On the 21st of April two star-studded sides take to the pitch at Welford Road. The sides are already made up of legends such as Robinson, Betson, Freddie Tuilagi and MArtin Johnson and with more and more household names set to join them.

At the #Raise4Matt auction you have the chance to bid on a package that would see your child run out as the mascot on the day in front of what is set to be a big crown at Fortress Welford. as a rugby loving parent what could actually make you prouder than seeing your next generation run out with the heroes of ours. The package will also include tickets to the game for a select few and potentially a non catered box if we can make arrangements in time so you can really watch one of your proudest moments in style.

Below you will find details to the game.

http://www.matthampson.co.uk/news/news-69.html 

This lot will be taking bids in advance of the auction in order to allow as many people as possible the chance to bid on a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Do not let this pass you by folks!

For all details on the auction and this amazing opportunity follow @raise4matt on Twitter or get in touch with Tori at raise4matt@gmail.com

www.justgiving.com/victoria-chipp1

Matt Hampson Auction March 2013

A message from Tori Chipp

I am running a BIG auction for The Matt Hampson Foundation in the lovely City of London (date provisionally Thursday March 21st) at the No 1 Sports Bar. There will be some amazing lots as well as some drinks and pro rugby players (new and old) attending. So where the help bit comes in, it would be amazing if you guys could spread the word with me. The event is going to be invite-only as I want rich people there who will spend a lot of money int he auction and donate on the night too.I am also looking for donations, it doesn’t have to be rugby associated, just auctionable, rugby based is obviously very cool with me though too. Any donation of this nature will result in an invite to the event so pop your thinking caps on and see what you can come up with.

Furthermore we will be needing some help designing the invites and a digital flyer for the event so anyone that can help with that side of things will be hot property and again will be invited to the event.
Should be a great event guys and I am already really looking forward to it please spread the word!

 

Please do drop me an email if you can help on rugbydiary@gmail.com

A fall in standards for Wales

 

By Jorden Marvelley

After a stellar performance at the World Cup and a successful 6 Nations campaign this year, I had high expectations for Wales at the start of this year’s autumn internationals. Not for the first time, I was however left sorely disappointed.

The first 20 was pretty much as I expected, with both sides somewhat cautious still trying to suss out how the opposition wanted to play the game. I should clarify before I begin that I don’t dislike Rhys Priestland at all however, I think it was a big mistake starting him as he has been less than impressive all season and it more than showed on Saturday afternoon. I’m obviously not the only one who was unsure of Priestland’s ability; the coaches couldn’t have made it any more obvious than when they gave the kicking duties to Halfpenny. The pace and tactics of the game did improve to degree with the arrival of Hook but Wales were still very much asleep and failed to capitalise on even the half chances.

At halftime the score was a fair depiction of how the first 40 had gone, with the battle of the boot making all the difference. It was quite possibly the only aspect of the game where we were firing on all cylinders. Even the players you expected to add a bit of style and class (Roberts, Halfpenny, North and Cuthbert) seemed lost amongst the crowd. Even when we were going forward we knocked on, dropped the ball or simply gifted it back to Argentina.

It really was truly frustrating. Part of me honestly thinks that Argentina weren’t even playing at their best, had they been, we would’ve had an absolute hammering. As it is I believe that Argentina just made the most of what was a tremendously scrappy, ill-disciplined and lacklustre performance by Wales and the best team won hands down.

I couldn’t even end this by saying that on the bright side there were some bright individual performances, Scott Williams showed glimpses as did Cuthbert but simply not enough for me to say any more than that. Going forward I’d like to see Hook starting at 10 and Biggar on the bench and just for a fiercer performance all round from the lads. We are a world-class team and noticeably we got beaten by a team ranked below us yesterday, if we continue to play like that, teams like New Zealand and Australia are going to make it look more like a cricket score.

What a week for rugby events…

Written by Victoria Chipp

 

Well what a week for rugby it has been. The events off the pitch have been in full flow so we thought it would be great to bring you some news about what has been happening. Sorry to the guys not in London as this is where all the events have been.

We kicked off the week by attending The Rugby Business Networks event at The London Welsh centre on Monday. The primary focus on these events is to get business people who all have a passion for rugby to get together and gain useful contacts from other industries. Their events are put on for free and not just based in London but all over the UK and across the Globe. The guest of honour was Stephen Jones who was interviewed about all things rugby. He chatted through his very successful career from club rugby to playing for Wales and even his honours in a Lions jersey. He then gave the already hooked audience an insight to his plans for after rugby (plans which have already been set in motion). He has started up a restaurant in Wales that is already flooded with accolades and awards. Then came the networking part of the evening which for this event was informal and allowed for lots of people to mingle and potentially generate new business. For any queries about hosting your own event or attending the next one get in touch with Colm Hannon or Ian Kench via http://www.therugbybusinessnetwork.com/ .

Tuesday night was the VIP opening of The Pink Lion in Mayfair. Thomas Pink are one of the sponsors to the Lions Tour 2013 and to launch their Lions range they themed a pub and four themed evenings to celebrate. The newly named pub has not only has a rosy coloured makeover but is displaying the vast amount of official tour stash. Special guest Landlord Warren Gatland was in attendance as well as Lewis Moody, Josh Lewsey, Martin Bayfield and providing the food is Phil Vickery. Bayfield Is a huge fan of the attire but was only seen sporting the cufflinks, socks and tie. Little surprise he couldn’t find a shirt or suit to fit when the man is the size of a small mountain!

On Wednesday came the night of Halloween fun in the shape of Ugo Monye’s testimonial Ball. Also on at the Pink Lion was a Lions themed “Question of Sport” hosted by birthday boy Matt Dawson. The place was once again packed to the rafters with pros past and present with a real sense of eager anticipation building up to what should be a great Lions tour 2013. Ugo’s ball was hosted at The Grosvenor House Hotel and it was there you could find the other half of rugby’s big names enjoying a social. It was hosted by the lovely Mark Durden-Smith and from all accounts a great night was had by all.

Thursday was again another night to be back at the Pink Lion. Thomas Pink this time were putting on a pub lock-in, hosted by Ben Kay and Roger Uttley. First Roger came to the stage and reminisced about the good days on amateur rugby. He recalled having to take a 3 month absence of leave from teaching to head over to the other side of the world and play 22 games in three months losing none and only drawing the once. It seemed like a different world imagining having to communicate via air mail and at about a 10 day delay, for the guys with families that must have been particularly tough. Roger was engaging and to the point which left most of the room dreaming about leaving the screaming babies and wives at home for a couple of months to go on a lads trip for the Lions! Next came Ben Kay, who immediately had the room belly laughing! He was light-hearted and endearing and gave account of some truly amazing stories from his rugby career. He made sure we all had a good laugh at Lewis Moody and Austin Healey’s expense.

 Then there is tonight. The Pink Lion are running screening of past Lions games to finish off their Launch week. However the best event to be part of tonight is Lawrence Dallaglio’s 8Rocks ball at Battersea Evolution. The event is renowned for being star-studded and raises a lot of money for the Lawrence Dallaglio foundation which supports cancer research and youth development. If you can’t be involved in this spectacular event this evening you should head over to their website and see what you can do to support such a fabulous cause. http://www.dallagliofoundation.com/

 

Crikey with all this going on and not to mention the boys starting Movemeber, I’m not sure I’m going to have enough energy left in the tank to go wild for the actual rugby games this weekend.

Autumn International Squad

Yes folks it’s that time again to dissect the newly announced EPS squad for the Autumn Internationals. The least expected of the call ups has to fall on the shoulders of young Saracen Mako Vunipola. The youngster has been relatively quiet but come into the eyes of the selectors through his more regular appearances and maybe a sprinkling of pressure from Ex Saracens coach Farrell.

Tom Youngs of Leicester also makes the cut which many were half expecting due to the viewing publics call out for his inclusion.  the young hooker has been playing first team action this season for the Tigers ahead of fans favourite George Chuter.

I personally think it’s a pretty guessable selection all around with no real shocks. The risks we associated previously associated with Stuart Lancaster and his team are somewhat of a distant memory. It is a real shame because some players have more than been back in form and would deserve the opportunity to show off on an International stage. I understand it is a young team in many aspects but it doesn’t mean that we shouldnt be taking more risks for these fixtures ahead of the Six Nations.

I would have loved to have seen Gloucester’s Freddie Burns in the mix. he has been receiving high praise from all corners this season and has undoubtably been the form player over Owen Farrell(who has had a bit of a shocker this season no?). I would have also liked to have seen Danny Cipriani given his chance ahead of the Six Nations to see if he can put his critics to bed. His stand out man of the match display in Europe once again showed what the once distracted fly half can do when he puts his mind to it.

Furthermore The Hooker selection although getting better is somewhat lacking imagination. Jamie George of Saracens is being overlooked maybe in part to their shocking rotation system and the fact that they still roll out John Smit who offers little more that experience and coaching to the younger lads ahead of the ex-England Under 20’s captain.

Again Tom Varndell is left omitted despite his dazzling form for Wasp’s since the start of the season. His speed is second to none and his tackling has improved immensely so why is he being left out? Another player on fine form from Wasp’s is that of Young gun Christian Wade. For too long it has been argued that he is too small for the professional game, if this was genuinely the case he would have been found out by now. He is nippy and super quick and can get into those holes that the big brutish backs simply cannot! Please Lancaster and co give these boys a shot!

I am happy to see London Irish’s Jonathan Joseph in the set up he is superb, fast and can break the gain line. Whether he gets his chance to shine on the field is another question. I hope for England’s sake he does as he could bring that extra bit of spice when we are playing the dull kick and chase we have been used to of late.

Geoff Parling and Ben Morgan have been superb and I am utterly relieved they have been included in the squad. Furthermore after the dazzling display against the Ospreys I hope the half back pairing of Ben Youngs and Toby Flood are given the chance (and take it) to show the rest of the country that they are really very capable. Danny Care will have even more of a point to prove this being the case and will inspire some good old-fashioned competition for shirts.

Shamefully I am full of dread looking at the omissions from this squad. I fear we will return to the same old boring game of rugby England have got used to playing and quite frankly I may well be watching the Premiership instead of the Internationals for once. It almost looks to me like Lancaster and his coaching chums forgot they had to make a team selection so just went with what they had last time with a few changes for injuries etc. The rugby this team is capable of on a good day is of course great and exciting. But for the regular games that aren’t worthy of a DVD release it will be plain, mundane and no doubt average at best!

I could continue on this rant for the rest of the day but I would love to hear your opinion. Get involved leave a comment or tweet us @therugbydiary.

Backs: A Allen (Leicester), C Ashton (Saracens), B Barritt (Saracens), M Brown (Harlequins), D Care (Harlequins), L Dickson (Northampton), O Farrell (Saracens), T Flood (Leicester), A Goode (Saracens), J Joseph (London Irish), U Monye (Harlequins), C Sharples (Gloucester), M Tuilagi (Leicester), J Turner-Hall (Harlequins), B Youngs (Leicester). Forwards: M Botha (Saracens), D Cole (Leicester), P Dowson (Northampton), D Hartley (Northampton), J Haskell (Wasps), T Johnson (Exeter), C Lawes (Northampton), J Marler (Harlequins), B Morgan (Gloucester), T Palmer (Wasps), G Parling (Leicester), C Robshaw (Harlequins), M Vunipola (Saracens), T Waldrom (Leicester), D Wilson (Bath), T Wood (Northampton), T Youngs (Leicester).

RWC 2015 – The Venues

 

Written by Katharine Bryce

The shortlist of 2015 Rugby World Cup venues has caused lots of discussion in the recent weeks since the list was released; it has left some rugby fans questioning why some of the country’s rugby venues have not been included. The 17 venues on the list comprise three official rugby venues, and six venues which have never hosted a rugby game previously. Although a main contributing factor to the venue list will have been venue capacity to ensure games are as available to fans as possible, surely there should have been a way to do this without missing out traditional rugby stadia? This article will focus on the two stadia that I see as being the biggest cuts from the official World Cup venue shortlist:

Although the World Cup is being held in England, one of the stadia that I feel is missing from the list is that of Murrayfield, the home of Scottish rugby. There has been very little mention as to why Murrayfield has not been picked, whereas due to contractual reasons the Millennium Stadium has. The stadium itself holds just over 67,000 people: this is a bigger capacity then some of the football venues on the list including that of Stadium MK (end of 2013, capacity will reach 32,000) and the Brighton Community Stadium (Capacity: 27,350). Both of these stadia are nearly half the capacity of  Murrayfield. Taking this into account, and the fact that Murrayfield is home to a national rugby team, surely they should have been given a chance to hold a game or even have been allowed to host all of Scotland’s pool games, as Wales wanted to. 
By not including Murrayfield, are we not somehow excluding Scottish rugby fans and the Scottish nation? They have included the home of Welsh rugby, thus giving Welsh rugby fans better access to rugby, but for Scottish fans to attend a rugby match they must travel down to Newcastle or Sunderland for pool games, if those stadia are still included in the final list, or to Twickenham or Wembley when the World Cup progresses to the final stages. This could see some Scottish rugby fans choosing not to attend these games because of the potential cost of travel and accommodation.
The Leicester Tigers stadium, Welford road, has also been omitted from the venue short-list. This omission has raised many questions about the selection process as Welford Road holds the biggest capacity in the Aviva Premiership (24,000 in 2012 but predicted 30,000 after redevelopment for the World Cup) and has staged many premiership and European rugby games over the years. 
In an official statement, we were informed that Welford Road was not picked due to the 
the fact that there has been a delay in the redevelopment of the Crumbie Stand. It was also stated that the pitch was undersized according to the selection guidelines, however the grounds’ capacity is bigger than that of the only premiership rugby ground on the list (Gloucester’s Kingsholm Stadium, capacity 16,500), even without the development of the Crumbie Stand. This fact seems to undermine the base reason given for the ground’s omission (capacity). However, through investigation, I have found that the Welford Road pitch is only 91m long, whereas the minimum pitch size given was 95x68m. This would appear to show that the real reason for the omission was due to pitch size, and not the official reason given. The plus side for fans living in the Leicestershire area is that, unlike Scottish fans, they won’t have to travel very far to watch a game as the local football venue, the Walkers Stadium, has been short listed and it is is a mere 10 minute walk from Welford Road.

In conclusion, when looking at the list we can see that only three rugby grounds have been picked, causing anger and upset among some rugby fans as the majority of stadia shortlisted are football grounds. Conversely, we could look at this in a positive light: choosing the larger football stadia creates more seats and with that comes more opportunities to see this sporting spectacular! We, as a nation, get to stage the biggest event in the rugby calendar. The stadium selection shouldn’t be as big a problem as its being made out to be and we should all be looking forward to better accessibility for fans to see a Rugby World Cup game. 

 

This may be a once in a lifetime opportunity.