Game Time

There’s only the one international this week – but it’s a big one with England taking on the Wallabies at Twickenham.

You can forget all the media bollocks and hype about Eddie Jones and Michael Chieka winding each other up – the only thing that really matters is who comes out on top.

Australia will be fired up and will fancy their chances against a pack missing 4 of the main protagonists from the summer tour. A true test for England and I expect them to win (for 14 on the bounce) – England by 10

Round 10 of the Premiership is also over the weekend –

Tigers at home is always tough (although not as much as in the past), but Saints are struggling and I think they will lose again this week – probably by around 9 points

Sale do well at home, but I fancy the Chiefs to triumph by something like 13

Bath v Saracens is a huge game with both missing players who will be at Twickenham. Dave Attwood and Roko will want to prove Eddie Jones wrong. It could go either way but Saracens to scrape home with bath getting a losing bonus point.

Bristol entertain Gloucester – more misery for the home side – Gloucester by 15

Wasps travel to Worcester without a host of injured players. It will be hard but I expect them to win by 10 or more.

Finally the Falcons are at home to Quins. Another close one with the advantage going to the home side – but not by many – enough to give the London side a bonus point anyway.

I’d be happy to get all my premiership predictions wrong – so long as I’m right about the Twickenham result.



May Day

At the end of the match when England were down two blokes last week against the Pumas, Jonny May had to fill in on the flank for a short while in the scrum.

A video of him packing down has gone viral as he puts his head between the legs of the loose head prop!

The popular view (not the one that Jonny got!) is that he didn’t have a clue about stuff that goes on in the scrum.

This is patently not the case – Jonny obviously saw this as his opportunity to ensure that he was never asked to get anywhere near the low numbers in the future.

A man after my own heart – short term ridicule being worth a lifetime of not having to mix it with the big bastards up front. Smart bloke!

I just wish that I’d thought of it when I was playing!

RIP Manuel

As time elapses and culture changes a lot of humour tends to date. Things from the past that you still find funny make your kids look at you as if you’re a bit demented.

But there are some series that are genuinely timeless – ‘Only Fools. ’Blackadder’ and the classic 12 episodes of ‘Fawlty Towers’.

Every one of the ‘Fawlty’ scripts revolved around the four key characters – Basil; Sybil, Polly and Manuel.

Sadly today it was announced that Andrew Sachs who was brilliant as Manuel died

He passed away last week and his funeral was on Wednesday.

The John Cleese/ Connie Booth scripts were very clever – both verbally and physical comedy – and they needed the comic timing of the actors to make them some of the best ever productions.

Speaking of his on-screen chemistry with Sachs, Cleese said: “It’s like playing tennis with someone who is exactly as good as you are. And you play with them every week, sometimes he wins and sometimes you win, but somehow there is a rapport. It comes from the very deepest part of ourselves. We never had to work at it, it all happened so easily.”

He said his favourite scene with Sachs was when Manuel and Basil tried to hide a dead hotel guest in a laundry basket.

Andrew Sachs wasn’t from Barcelona – but you really believed he might have been.

There aren’t many programmes or performances you can watch endlessly – ‘Fawlty Towers’ and Andrew Sachs are both.

RIP Manuel

A Bonus at Work

After years of the 6 Nations committee trundling out the ‘if it ain’t broke’ excuse they have finally decided to trial a bonus point system for the 2017 tournament.

This comes over twenty years since it was introduced in New Zealand competitions and 13 since it first featured in the World cup. So, it is hardly revolutionary, particularly bearing in mind that it is only a one year experiment to see if it works.

The traditionalists have already started screaming that this will ‘ruin the 6 Nations’ – hardly a rationale response. The argument has long been that it will be unfair as it is arguably easier to score 4 tries in sunny Rome than on a frozen pitch at Murrayfield. The fact is the tournament is basically unfair anyway for all teams as every other year as you only get two home games.

Under the existing system teams that are level at the end are separated by points difference – if that doesn’t give an advantage to those who played on a hard fast pitch at the Stadio Olimpico then I have no idea what does.

I’m all for anything that encourages more open play and for teams developing a stronger attacking plan.

The other anti -bonus point brigade argument was that a team could achieve a Grand Slam and still lose out to a team scoring multiple bonus points – something that would only ever have happened once as far as I can work out. The trial system has killed that by awarding 3 extra bonus points to anyone getting a GS.

So they are back to ‘it’s unfair’ and anyway ‘not broken’.

In 2013 Wales won the 6N with just 9 tries in the 5 games – in 2015 Ireland won with just 8.

It may not be broke, but it might well need some renovation – we have a chance to find out in 2017.

A final thought – one year is hardly sufficient to test the bonus points – isn’t it unfair on the teams with only two home games? (that’s sarcasm by the way!)

In Eddie we Trust

The starting line-ups for Saturday against the Wallabies have been confirmed – England have made just the two changes from last week

England team

M Brown (Harlequins); M Yarde (Harlequins), J Joseph (Bath), O Farrell (Saracens), J May (Gloucester); G Ford (Bath), B Youngs (Leicester)

M Vunipola (Saracens), D Hartley (Northampton, capt), D Cole (Leicester), C Lawes (Northampton), G Kruis (Saracens), C Robshaw (Harlequins), T Wood (Northampton), N Hughes (Wasps)

Replacements: J George (Saracens), J Marler (Harlequins), K Sinckler (Harlequins), C Ewels (Bath), T Harrison (Northampton), D Care (Harlequins), B Te’o (Worcester), H Slade (Exeter)

Australia team

I Folau, D Haylett-Petty, T Kuridrani, R Hodge, S Naivalu, B Foley, N Phipps

S Sio, S Moore (capt), S Kepu, K Douglas, R Simmons, D Pocock, M Hooper, L Timani

Replacements: T Latu, J Slipper, T Robertson, D Mumm, S McMahon, N Frisby, Q Cooper, H Speight

It’s hard to argue with the England selection bearing in mind the players available – I would have had Roko on the wing and Dave Attwood on the bench but then what do I know?

There’s been the usual wind ups between the coaches – most of which is just nonsense and mind games. The real stuff won’t happen until 2.30pm when Mr Peyper blows his whistle for the first time, and won’t be listening to anyone except the other officials.

I imagine Jaco will have taken as much notice of the media hype and hyperbole as our late cat!