Give me an Ad Break

The 6 Nations kicks-off tomorrow and if you are not aware of it you’re either reading this in Sri Lanka (and surprisingly someone is – honestly) or you’re incommunicado in the Big Brother House (in which case you’re a twat)

We have been deluged with media coverage spouting predictions, bravado, fantasy rugby, punditry, alleged grudges to be settled and ads on the faces of the last surviving badgers (alright the last one isn’t true – at least I’m pretty sure it isn’t).

This is no great surprise (except if the badger bit isn’t made up after all) – the 6 Nations is a fantastic tournament and one that even the Southern Hemisphere envy. They don’t admit this, of course and claim that the new Quattro Nations (or whatever they call it now) has a far higher standard of rugby. That may well be true but the distances involved mean that at best there are only pockets of travelling fans – boosted marginally by a few ex-pats. By contrast the 6 Nations weekends are riots of colour, banter and with stadiums full of ‘away’ supporters – they themselves full of the local beer and wine. The stadiums are full whereas some of the games in the Rugby Championship are played to half full houses. No wonder they all get excited down South when the Lions turn up once every 12 years with 25,000 fans!

At 5.58 am this morning Mick Cleary (Telegraph) tweeted that he was on the Eurostar heading for Paris and a crate of champagne had just been lugged past him by four blokes! Now that’s what 6 Nations rugby is all about!

As with all rugby there is rarely, if ever, any trouble between supporters despite them frequently sitting next to each other – I have often found myself sharing drinks with blokes who are fervent in support of whoever we (England) are up against. It’s what makes rugby such a great game (and it’s good fun taking the piss out of each other – preferably when you’re winning obviously)

Mind you, FIFA are fully on top of dealing with trouble at football – they have decided to have their World Cup in places where no one wants to go – and where the few who do manage to turn up are likely to suffer from dehydration and heat exhaustion and be too shagged out to punch anyone. Bit of a shame for the players though (and the poor sods trying to build the stadiums).

Anyway back to the 6 Nations media hype. The BBC have knocked out some ads (sorry moving visual promotional material – the BBC don’t do advertising) for the launch this weekend and have been broadcasting these for the last fortnight.

The ads (or whatever) are pretty good – they use real footage of real players and action from past games. So far so good – this contrasts with some of the sponsor ads for rugby programmes on TV which often feature coiffured actors pretending to be tough and who mince about in kit that still has the labels on. I have no idea why any brand would actually want to be presented like this – maybe it’s the Ad Agency taking the piss (don’t laugh – it has been known).

The current Land Rover ads for rugby on BT Sport are very good – demonstrating a sense of humour – much like the presenters and the game itself.

What lets the BBC ads down is having a voice over of someone trying desperately to underline the rivalry by sounding dramatic and inspiring. In reality it just sounds soft – it would actually have been improved if they’d used Graham Norton with a helium balloon – at least it would be funny!

It wouldn’t stir a cup of tea much less a bunch of hairy-arsed rugby fans (apologies to the many lady fans – although if the Dutch cap fits and all that!)

They could actually have taken a leaf from their own promotion for Italia 90 – Italian images, real football action, no voice over but to the soundtrack of Puccini’s ‘Nessun Dorma’.

You don’t need a supposedly macho voice telling you to get worked up – if you don’t believe me – just watch this –

I realise that they couldn’t have used music from any of the 6 Nation teams (which would at least save us from bleeding ‘Swing Low’) but what about ‘Ride of the Valkyries’? I know Germany aren’t much into rugby but I seem to remember reading somewhere that they are usually up for a bit of a scrap (especially if you throw in a few sets of ironed kit and a couple of marching songs).

It would also be good to see some action shots of big hits (including Erica’s) from past games in the ads – like Mickey Skinner munching Marc Cecillon (I know it was a World Cup – but  it was some tackle and worth seeing again!).

There are plenty more recent ‘hits’ too that would raise the temperature for the 6 Nations if they were shown in the ads!

Anyway it all kicks-off tomorrow (in every sense with a bit of luck) and I’m off to Aldi (with the rest of the pensioners) to pick up some pasties, pork pies and Heineken (I know some blokes there and am hoping for a bit of sponsorship – or at least a few free cans.)

Enjoy the Tournament guys!


Out of Proportion?

There was an article posted on the Rugby World web site yesterday headed ‘Should Rugby Players Eat Sugar?’

It is a question and answer session with a nutritionist from the RFU (you know those wonderful folks introducing non-competitive rugby – so well worth a read then!)

It is extremely informative – I mean apparently there’s absolutely loads of sugar in biscuits, cake and confectionary – I mean who would have thought it – ta RFU for the heads up!

Also there’s sugar in pizza – especially the peanut and deep fried Mars bar one presumably.

When I watch rugby players on TV it seems to me that there’s not too many players who appear to be spending that much time in McDonalds or stuffing Krispy Kreme’s into their cake hole (sic). Having said that, there are one or two who might want to have a good butchers at the article – possibly at Wasps and Saracens (and I don’t mean Christian Wade or Jacques Burger obviously).

With all the time they spend in the gym, cryotherapy, ice baths and belting around on a Saturday afternoon I find it hard to believe that there’s too many blokes that are in dire need of being told not to guzzle Starbucks Chocolate Mocha or full fat Coke.

The article helpfully informs us that “If you drink more than two and a half cans of fizzy pop a day, it can increase your liver fat, which is not good.” And even more useful is the fact that we should avoid “cakes and pastries” Advice that is right up there with “if you can’t afford condoms then you can’t afford kids” and “wearing headphones does not make your farts silent”!

To stop taking the piss for a minute there is one jolly good tip – “Before you exercise, a bowl of porridge is good with some yoghurt and berries, and a tiny spoonful of honey.”

This is very sensible – a good dose of that and you are almost certain to chuck it up as soon as you start to tear around the pitch getting knocked over and stamped upon – excellent way to lose weight as more than just the porridge is likely to be regurgitated. It has the added benefit of making your opposite number somewhat reluctant to tackle you.

I do agree however with the suggestion that “Sugar during exercise can be good as well” – a couple of Yorkie bars and a fudge donut at half-time never did me much harm I can tell you!

Despite all this valuable and previously unknown information, I may just have spotted a slight flaw – and it’s a perennial problem for rugby players – there are 182 calories in a pint of beer (I Googled this, obviously – it’s not something I carry around in my head – although it is quite often in my stomach).

This could be a bit of a nuisance for the highly trained athlete – as pointed out by Martin Johnson who once famously mocked “player drinks beer, shock!”

When I played (alright – turned up and put boots on), our recovery diet after the game (and occasionally before if we were feeling confident) consisted of a large quantity of throwing bitter (or hooligan soup to give it its more accurate description) followed by a chicken madras and a gallon or so of Cobra.

I readily admit that not all of us Askeans would have been recruited for the Chippendales (the Full Monty, not knocking out furniture or being in a Disney cartoon) but we didn’t look like we were Weight Watchers’ rejects when we trotted out, either.

I do, however, exclude myself from this positive image during most Januarys – the toll of having to attend countless Agency parties rather than training in December, plus lashings of Christmas Pud and Chateau Neuf usually meant that I was often a trifle (sic) porky early in the New Year.

Mind you, even then, I still tipped the scales a bit shy of 14 stone which didn’t exactly make me as scary as Jamie Roberts, Manu or George North.

Still, anyone who thinks that cake and chocolate should be on the menu every day should definitely look up the RW article – just try to get your pudgy digits to work the keyboard.

Golden Years


Golden Years

Once again I have to thank Dave P for sending me this clip – it shows the league standings in 1989 (I think).
Askeans were top of the third division ,Tony Bond was captain and the side featured the Cooper brothers (All Blacks) and other first class recruits from New Zealand. The following year England Internationals Geoff Probyn and Paul Rendall joined the club. John Gallagher had left Askeans and picked up a World Cup medal (despite me teaching him everything I knew). I, myself had been promoted to the Dukes at that time!

Painful Memory Loss


Painful Memory Loss

I’m once more indebted to Dave Powell who sent me yet another cutting. To quote from his e-mail –

“Just been looking up the Newbury game mentioned by Kev Burnett and came across the attached, not specially interesting other than the fact that you were lost to injury presumably, again.”

I don’t remember being hurt in this match (or the match itself to be fair) but since I picked up so many injuries – often to the head – it is probably not that much of a surprise!

Also nice to see Hugo Wurzer’s name in print (to prove I didn’t make him up in earlier posts or copy the name from a Harry Potter book)

Losing the Numbers Game


Losing the Numbers Game

Following the posts yesterday about making rugby in England non- competitive, Harro sent me this link to mini rugby in New Zealand

I also found this article on the approach in South Africa (for all levels of rugby) –

Perhaps the ‘Development Officer’ at the RFU should take a look! No fucking wonder we don’t beat them very often – despite having the biggest number of players and the richest Union.
I don’t know why he wants us to be less competitive – he’s pushing against an open door!

RFU’ve got to be kidding me!

For some time various authorities have increasingly become more namby pamby in their attitudes to risk – kids can’t play conkers any more, you can’t change a light bulb at work without training and brain surgeons can only operate if they are less than half pissed (okay, so I made the last one up, but you get my drift)

Now the RFU are introducing a new rule in rugby – ‘it wants clubs and schools to switch players between sides at half time if the score is too one sided and ban trophies from tournaments for the under 11s.’

What a brilliant idea – non- competitive rugby and the RFU at the forefront of innovative sporting prowess!

Come on you other sports get with the programme – maybe in boxing the bloke ahead on points after round 5 should have his shoe laces tied together, in swimming a Great White could be chucked in at the turn to slow down anyone who is a few metres ahead. In football a sniper could take out a striker who looks like he might get a hat-trick – actually that’s not a bad idea – especially if he has a stupid haircut.

But seriously I think the RFU are onto something here – if they can get it approved before next year’s World Cup we should have a much better chance in the ‘group of death’.

If Wales are beating us at half-time we could swap in George North, Jonathan Davies and Sam and get back in the match. Against the Aussies we could grab Quade Copper, Will Genia and David Pocock and give what’s left of the Wallabies a damn good thrashing!

I played rugby (or turned up anyway) for forty years and was on the end of a number of hidings at all levels – it never occurred to me that it would be fun if some of their players could put on an Askean shirt if we were getting thumped. We also dished out a few including a Kent Cup game we won by 150 – 3 (again details are on here somewhere) and the Dukes rarely won by less than 40 points. The idea that some of us should change jerseys at half time is just fucking stupid – it may come as a bit of a shock to the blokes at Twickenham but we liked winning!

At school we once lost 75 – 0 to Colfe’s – I wrote about it in a post right at the beginning of this blog – I’m starting to wonder if maybe this didn’t badly affect me and the traumatic experience has scarred me for life (as did many opponents over the years as it happens)

I think I’ll have to check out if I can sue the school, RFU and Kent Society (the Union not the toffs) for PTSD – I imagine it could be worth a few bob. I know it sounds stupid but then that would put me in good company!

Vince Lombardi (Coach of Green Bay Packers) famously said

“If winning doesn’t matter why bother keeping score” – a smart bloke who also said “American Football is a violent game. To play it any other way but violently would be imbecilic”. He’d have been a good rugby coach I think.

Maybe the RFU would like to get rid of any form of scoring at all (some of the England backs are already trying to introduce this).

The players could just all run around in a big rectangle – obviously there wouldn’t be a ball – I mean imagine the irreparable damage to a kids psyche if he dropped it and had the others taking the piss!

For fuck’s sake RFU – get a bleeding grip!