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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England Saxons Squad to face the Irish Wolfhounds

Gaskell to lead the side

James Gaskell is set to captain the England Saxons for the first time against the Irish Wolfhounds at 5pm on Saturday.

At the age of 21 Gaskell is not without captaincy experience after a successful campaign with his team the Sale Sharks last season. He runs out with a team that’s average age is only 24.

The squad starts with newbie Freddie Burns in the starting 15 together with the experienced heads of Matt Banahan, Delon Armitage, Ugo Monye and Paul Doran-Jones.

Burns will be teaming up with Saracens Ben Spencer after news that  Leicester Tigers Micky Young has been called in front of a disciplinary committee for a suspected contact with the eye incident in Tigers last home game against Aironi in the Heineken Cup.

The bench also looks strong and feature Ryan Lamb and Paul Hodgson. Many are disappointed however not to see Ed Slater somewhere among the 23.

England Saxons:

15 Delon Armitage (London Irish)
14 Ugo Monye (Harlequins)
13 Matt Hopper (Harlequins)
12 Billy Twelvetrees (Leicester Tigers)
11 Matt Banahan (Bath Rugby)
10 Freddie Burns (Gloucester Rugby)
9 Ben Spencer (Saracens)
1 Matt Mullan (Worcester Warriors)
2 Joe Gray (Harlequins)
3 Paul Doran-Jones (Northampton Saints)
4 Matt Garvey (London Irish)
5 George Robson (Harlequins)
6 James Gaskell (Sale Sharks, captain)
7 Andy Saull (Saracens)
8 Thomas Waldrom (Leicester Tigers)

Replacements: 16 Chris Brooker (Harlequins), 17 Rupert Harden (Gloucester), 18 Kearnan Myall (Sale Sharks), 19 Tom Johnson (Exeter Chiefs), 20 Paul Hodgson (London Irish), 21 Ryan Lamb (Northampton Saints), 22 Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby).

Six Nations Service Disruption

Domestic V International

 

The effect of the Six Nations on club rugby. I’m sure I am not the only person who is absolutely buzzing about the start of the Six Nations, the world’s best annual rugby union tournament, in a few short weeks. Three English away games, a world cup quarter-final and semi-final rematch, and the possibility of any team finishing last. But with Saracens F.C. voicing their concern about the timing of the tournament, is there any way of pleasing everyone?

There is an argument for a winter break or perhaps the postponement of the league whilst the tournament is in progress. This would allow for the cream of the European crop to come together to play each other at the start of the year, and allow a break for some players. This would also mean that any injured players would not miss as much of the tail end of the season and that call ups to squads would not come with the same old grumbles from disgruntled fans, unhappy at how their team’s top players have been pillaged from their starting line ups which very little notice.

It was proposed earlier this week that in 2015, the start of the Aviva Premiership would be delayed until after the Rugby World Cup pool stages, or potentially a group of matches would be played before. The French teams did not start playing each other until after their national team had returned. However the French don’t play an equivalent of our LV= cup and therefore have caught up with our teams on the number of games played already. Perhaps dropping the LV= cup would solve some of the problems faced by the English and Welsh clubs. The only problem with the removal of this tournament is that some clubs see it as one of the best ways of getting silverware to the club. Clubs that may not always be contenders for the Premiership or the Pro 12 often attempt to win this trophy. It also brings in the financial benefits that having more than one sponsor and more television rights does. Therefore that is not a viable option.

 There are of course many benefits to the Six Nations. It allows for some of the younger players, or reserve team players to get a chance to prove themselves, it’s through tournaments like the Six Nations that players like Manu Tuilagi came to the forefront among people less familiar with rugby, through his sparkling club form. It also allows for some of the weaker teams to take points off the stronger teams and allow for a more exciting end to season at the bottom of the table. Yet the table has arguably already been turned this season by the World Cup.

The Six Nations is also plainly and simply, a wonderful competition. It is the perfect stage for all six teams to showcase some of their young talent and to play for the annual bragging rights that come with victory. Last year Warren Gatland left some previously key Welsh players at home so that he could pick a more youthful team, and look where that got him. Wales may not have had the best six nations, (they came fourth, equal on points with the Irish and the French) but they were many people’s team of the World Cup, cruelly knocked out by a contentious decision from half Gallic – half Celtic, referee Alain Rolland. This removal of the young players clearly affected the Welsh teams, as none of them could break into the top 3 and proves the power of the young player at both club and international level.

The Six Nations 2011 Champions

At this year’s Six Nations Stuart Lancaster can prepare a team for the future, whether it is for himself, or the bookies favourite Nick Mallett. They allow players who would not have previously shone next to their capped brothers to become the stars of the show. Prior to the World Cup, many observers would not have known who Owen Farrell was but now he is a shoe in into the England squad for anyone with any understanding of rugby.. Many forwards are also set to take their chance in this year’s Six Nations. With Wales having already blooded Toby Falateau, Sam Warburton, and Luke Charteris perhaps now would be a good time for the other home nations to do the same.

It is the youth of rugby that will define the future of it. But with increasing pressure applied by the clubs on the IRB, perhaps it is time for a change. Some reformers have suggested the addition of other teams to the six nations, perhaps adding Romania, who despite failing to make it past the group stages, had an excellent campaign against England and Scotland, as well as maybe Georgia, Holland, or Russia. The only problem with is that the creation of a knockout would lead to some teams losing their players for longer, causing more tension, as well as the loss of television revenues, as more people are likely to tune in to the bigger games.

 If this does not work, then perhaps the removal of the Six Nations during world cup years, so that if after 2015, the Premiership and Pro 12 decide to start during the competition, then clubs like Northampton Saints and Leicester Tigers, and the new boys, Saracens, won’t lose more than ten senior players for almost a third of the season. Again, this is unlikely because of the loss of television rights from it. Whatever happens in the future, by recruiting youth into the international squads, whilst it may do some harm at club level to the standings, there is sufficient time at the end of the season to recuperate some points and most teams have very good reserves, and should be able to cope with the non-European players from which they have to pick from *cough* Sarries *cough*.

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Ohhh what a night!

Ladies night is long-awaited amongst the busy Leicester Tigers events teams schedule and all I can say is, what a night!

Harry Ellis, Mel, Debs and I

Arriving at Welford Road fashionably late of course I chucked my jacket into the temporary cloakroom in what I am only used to seeing as the Final Whistle. Also inside this makeshift closet were the boys all 120 of them! The room was open plan with a bar at either end, perfect I hear you cry. With 60 tables laid up with wine the girls took to their seats and nervously awaited the gents that would be serving their table. Each table was assigned two players usually a combination of senior and academy. While most of the ladies were hoping for a current member of the Elite Squad, personally I was hoping for a Tigers veteran, George Chuter because lets face it, his banter is top-notch. As the table numbers were announced roars and cheers went up when ladies received their wine waiters to “use” for the evening. And then it was getting closer to our table, 21 Dan Cole…. us next 22…. George Chuter accompanied by the lovely academy player Mitch Turner. Well that was it we had set the standard with the loudest roar and not even Castro could compete. Chutes was attentive and Mitch followed perfectly like a good young apprentice. We couldn’t have asked for anymore!

Before dinner it was announced that there was a photo booth to use with no other than Harry Ellis followed by Tom Croft, Martin Castrogiovanni and Geordan Murphy. seeking a bit of a giggle my party elected for snaps with Castro and Harry. See the results at your own risk.

Big time Castro!

 Next followed a lovely three-course meal, although I must admit I didn’t eat the dessert. A combination of wine and a certain player having the munchies stopped this. Still it was lovely food and served by a great team of staff. The boys were great again in filling up the wine glasses and were perfectly attentive, I spy a post playing career profession for a few.

Next followed the post dinner entertainment which was a sing off between Ed Slater, Niall Morris, George Chuter and Cookie from the academy squad. It was a close fought competition with Morris undeniably singing the best but our boy Chutes had the crowd on side and it was declared a draw. Next followed a surprise rendition of “La Bamba” by none other than Castro and Horatio Agulla. That was that, the floor was taken to by pretty much everyone there and there was some serious dancing to be had.

The songs were good the atmosphere was great and someone must have turned up the heat because pretty much all the academy boys found it necessary to remove clothing (Photos below). I did have to put my eyes back to where they should be however when I remembered that most of them were only about 17.

The night was a huge success and this is mainly due to the dedication put in by all, the Tigers events team are always at the top of their game and coupled with The Matt Hampson Foundation the night could not have been anything but a triumph. The most important thing that came from the evening though was knowing the money raised was going to Matt’s fantastic cause supporting others around him in similar situations. That message was underlying all the fun and I think that the evening was made more enjoyable knowing that I was drinking and being surrounded by handsome men for such a worthy cause.

So cheers to Matt Hampson and all that work and are involved in his foundation.

So now for our awards for the top five players that attended to us that evening. They are in no particular order because that would be cruel. It was a very hard decision and all the boys were great but these really stood out for me individually.

George Chuter and Mitch Turner (yes I’m allowed to make them into one person). Our fabulous wine waiters, the best we could have hoped for that you so much!

Harry Ellis. A great sport and never one to turn down a photo or a laugh, and really did give us a very special photo to take away and share with you.

Kieran Brookes. Spent a lot of time on our table and helped our boys out, especially huge credit due because he was doing the evening with his leg in a splint/cast!

Gastro (Geordan Murphy and Martin Castrogiovanni) Epic patience with us when taking photos and for those who don’t know, Castro always smells divine and Murphy gives the best “cuddles” ever!

Now this was hard a toss-up between Calum Green and Ben Pienaar. But lets face it its all for charity so both are worth a mention. Calum Green was on great form and Ben’s banter is second to none especially taking me calling him a “shit” tweeter! Sorry Ben!

 

I hope you enjoyed my review.

 

Cheers for reading!

 

Tori

 

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Caption Competition

There may be massive amounts of rugby on this weekend but why not fill in time between games with our fun “Caption Competition”. Just leave a comment with the number of the photo and your chosen caption. You can comment on as many photos as you like as many times as you like. So get involved we would love to see what you can come up with.

If you have any funny photos please sent them to us rugbydiary@gmail.com and we will see what everyone else can come up with for those aswell.

No doubt you will have seen some of these before because they are classics but none the less good fun!

Movember Madness

Are you taking part in Movember, if not why not?

Bath's David Flatman showing how not to look scary (!)

Yes folks it’s that time of year again when our blokes look like cavemen for a full 30 days. After the coverage the beards got in the World Cup it’s time for the “mo” to shine. You may not know anyone personally growing their facial hair but all clubs have at least some involvement. Below you will find a list of confirmed entries from each premiership team together with a link to the Movember team captain’s profile. You can donate to an individual in the team or the team its self but know that your money is all going to support men’s healthcare, and get in the face of testicular cancer.

So whether you can give a little or a lot, regardless if you’re a Mo sister or brother give something to support you team or favourite player and let us help beat testicular cancer.

The Aviva Premiership has a very high involvement in rugby and below is not an exhaustive list. If you can’t find your favourite player please do donate to their team as it all goes to the same great place.

London Irish http://uk.movember.com/mospace/320292 Bob Casey, Aitor Cisneros, Nick Kennedy

Leicester Tigers, http://uk.movember.com/mospace/782926 Kieran Brookes, Jordan Crane, Craig Newby, Ben Woods, Andy Forsyth, Anthony Allen, Andy Forsyth, Dave Orton (physio), Ed Slater, Calum Green

Saracens http://uk.movember.com/mospace/1389318 Jacques Burger, Andy Saull, Mouritz Botha, Ben Ransom, Hugh Vyvyan, Kelly Brown, Will Fraser, Schalk Brits

Newcastle Falcons http://uk.movember.com/mospace/1388916 Tom Catterick, Jeremy Manning officially but the team is taking part and will be registering shortly individually.

London Wasps http://uk.movember.com/mospace/672174/index/tp/1 Tom Varndell, David Spragg, Joe Simpson, Ben Broster, Matty Everard, Richard Tonkin, Joe Burton, Tom Lindsay, Lewis Thiede, Zandro Parias,Elliot Daly,Jonah Homes, Chris Elder, Luke Bowen, David Burton

Harlequins http://uk.movember.com/mospace/370848 Ollie Kohn, Joe Marler, Danny Care, Rob Buchanan, Chris Robshaw, Mark Lambert, Joe Gray

Northampton Saints http://uk.movember.com/mospace/347796 Christian Day, Dylan Hartley, I’m sure there is more!!

Bath Rugby http://uk.movember.com/mospace/669312 Sam Vesty, David Flatman and several in team VitaMo http://uk.movember.com/mospace/1339846/

Exeter Chiefs http://uk.movember.com/mospace/765978 Haydn Thomas

Gloucester Rugby http://uk.movember.com/mospace/294082 Will James, Danny Murphy

Worcester Warriors http://uk.movember.com/mospace/1389424 Jake Abbott

Sale Sharks http://uk.movember.com/mospace/1389254 Neil Briggs

Here is Jordan Crane going into week two!

Some other clubs with a good involvement……

LEEDS CARNEGIE http://uk.movember.com/mospace/285678

LONDON WELSH http://uk.movember.com/mospace/764892/

BRISTOL RUGBY http://uk.movember.com/mospace/1806562/

CORNISH PIRATES http://uk.movember.com/mospace/1062386/

NOTTINGHAM http://uk.movember.com/mospace/407482/

Here are some photos of the efforts so far

Are you or your team getting involved in Movember? Simply comment or email us (rugbydiary@gmail.com ) the link to your donation page and we will put it with this piece, even better send us photos or post them on our Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/The-Rugby-Diary/196490980427279 ) for the Mo gallery!

Head to Movember.com and see who you can find thats taking part!