Game Day

I’m about to head off to Twickenham in a few minutes for the premiership Final, so this will be short today guys.

In several earlier posts I’ve mentioned times when I got injured by one of the players from my own side – these included DK breaking my nose, Harro knocking me out and Pip (DK’s brother and now sadly no longer with us) who once gave me a hospital pass that was so high their back row had time for a fag and a chat before they boshed me!

I don’t think any of these incidents were deliberate (except Harro’s obviously) – I’m prepared to give the Kingston’s the benefit of the doubt.

Anyway the point is I found another Top 5 from Fox Sports – this one is all about guys getting mullered by blokes wearing the same shirt! Enjoy

Am driving today so will be chugging Vimto and Guinness free pies– even when I meet up later with the Tays and Boney.

Harro can’t make it – so I’ll probably be sans black eyes in the morning!

Gotta run – It’s market day so I’ll have to watch out for all the fucking tractors and sheep in the road – oh the joys of living in the country!

 

Shoe Shine

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Shoe Shine

A short interlude inspired by the stupid new red boots pictured above!

Scene: A muddy pitch somewhere near Turnipville – the light is beginning to fade.

There is a long blast on the whistle and slowly the fifteen burly blokes stop trying to rip each other’s arms off and turn to see what the fuck the ref wants now (and hoping the game is over)

Ref (pointing at a porky looking prop): “Oi you, number three – come here”

Fourteen others look relieved and look daggers at the prop who is now slinking over to where the ref is trying to look stern
One of them mumbles: “yeah ref – that’s the bastard” before realising that it is one of his own team.

Number 3 (trying to look innocent he protests); “it wasn’t me ref – honest”

Ref (ignoring him): “You were definitely stamping on him” (he is now fumbling in his shorts)

Number 3 (swivels his head round as if desperately searching for something): “What? …..Who?”

Ref (pointing to a prone player covered in blood): “Him!”

Number 3 (in a heavily sarcastic tone): “Oh my god … are you alright mate?”

Ref: “Of course he’s not alright – look at him!”

Number 3: “Give over ref, it’s only a bit of claret”

Ref: “A bit of claret?.. he looks like he’s just won blood donor of the fucking year!”

Number 3:” He’s fine – look” (despite the loud screaming, he tries to drag the bloke up from the floor but slips in the mud and blood mix)

Ref (brandishing a crumpled red card that he has found in his pocket): “You’re off matey”

Number 3: “what makes you think it was me?”

Ref: “those boots pretty much gave you away old son – and there’s claret all over the yellow bit”

We see all the other forwards kneeling down pretending to tie shoelaces whilst they are actually wiping blood and gore off their boots with their sleeves.

Number 3 (stomping off shaking his head at the decision to the jeers of the three men and a dog who are watching);He mumbles “Refs so fucking bent I’m surprised he isn’t auditioning for Richard the Third”

He is called back to help carry off the poor sod who he treated to a close up of his new boots a few minutes earlier

This is, of course total fiction – obviously the only Shakespeare known by any prop on the planet is one that serves beer.

Rugby for Dummies

It is a bit sad but it appears that the New Zealand RFU seems to think that we have straw in our ears. I’m pretty sure that the increasing influence of the Premiership clubs will soon dissuade them of the fact!

More overheard conversations from the NZ Committee room

Chairman: “Look – why won’t that lot up North let us move the tours to July?”

Member 1: “Something to do with it messing up the break for their Premiership players I think”

Chairman: “And your point is?”

Member 2: “Not really sure – but apparently their regular season finishes in May and they would have to hang around for a bit too long before the tour”

Member 1: “Although some will be in their play-offs”

Chairman: ”So?

Member 1: “When they got home they’d immediately have to start training for the new Premiership season”

Chairman: “I don’t get you”

Member 1: “Well the players involved wouldn’t get a proper break in July like now”

Member 2: “Oh I see –  suppose they’d have to stay fit and be in camp before they tour which means no rest”

Chairman: “Not my problem is it?”

Member 2: “well it sort of is”

Chairman: “Bastards”

Member 1: “well we might have delayed this year for a week when they asked”

Member 2: “Might have been a good negotiating point”

Member1: “Probably wasn’t the smartest thing to tell them to fuck off”

Chairman: “You’re joking –  the Super 15 would have been out a whole week!”

Member 3 (waking up): “Excellent point Mr Chairman – don’t give the buggers anything”

Chairman: “And it would be absolutely perfect for us and our Super 18”

Member 2: “I’ll tell them that shall I?”

Chairman: “I’m not interested in what they want – get it?”

Member 1: “I think they do sir, that’s the point”

Member 2: “If we’d delayed a week they would have been a tad happier – and maybe we’d be able to have a more sensible conversation”

Chairman: “I don’t like giving them anything”

Member1: “No – we’ve noticed that”

Chairman: “Anyway, I’ve done this great deal to play the Buzzards or Redskins or someone – lots of dosh playing in that big place with all those skyscrapers”

Member1: “Pity we couldn’t have gone to Samoa though – we do owe them”

Chairman: “No money in that you twerp – just tell them we’re too busy and will think about it after the next three or four World Cups! – that should shut them up”

 

A note to the New Zealand rugby toffs – we might have been born at night mate – but it wasn’t last night!

A global season, by definition has to work for everyone – not just those in Awkward ( sorry meant Auckland.)

By the way, there’s growing support (and even a petition) from people in New Zealand for  tours to Samoa, Fiji & Tonga – maybe the NZ RFU should listen to them.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PFiDl-xQ7oE&feature=youtu.be&app=desktop

http://www.3news.co.nz/Steve-Tew–will-the-All-Blacks-go-to-Samoa/tabid/817/articleID/345991/Default.aspx

 

Girl Power

 

I have said before that Women’s rugby is worth watching. There are high skill levels and I can honestly say that I played in some games that weren’t as physical as many played by the girls today. Mind you I always avoided any rough stuff wherever possible – as you’ll know if you are a regular here.

England have some outstanding athletes like Heather Fisher, Danielle Waterman and of course, Maggie Alphonsi. The good news is that TV has woken up to the fact and there is a lot more coverage – which is certainly better than the reality junk that many channels are turning out – there is now one about grannies who are on the game for fucks sake (I’m not making that up by the way).

The recent 7s tournament showed just how skilled the women’s game is on a world scale.

This link is  a video of one of the Eagle ladies – who knows a bit about tackling – as you’ll see!

http://365.worldrugbyshop.com/huge-hits-by-the-human-sledgehammer/

Don’t mess with these girls!

 

‘Are you all Steff?’

The clamour for Steffon Armitage to be included on the second plane down to New Zealand appears to have fallen on deaf ears. Many of the media pundits endorse the decision – citing the risk that many of England’s key players will migrate to France knowing that a precedent has been set if Steffon is included.

I’m not sure if this ruling was in place at the RFU before Stuart Lancaster arrived – I seem to think that it was – if so, then it may well be that he’s not entirely happy with the restriction – but I may well be wrong (I often am after all). Certainly it is in the interest of the Premiership clubs that the RFU stick with this policy – especially with no salary cap in the Top 14 and the TV boost from the new Champions Cup and Canal+. Monsieur Boudjellal will not be the only Frenchman trying to lure stars from across the Channel.

Personally, I think there is a case for including Steffon in the squad – particularly now with less than 18 months until the World Cup. Stephen Jones from the Sunday Times and Sir Clive agree with me too – although to be fair they may see it as me agreeing with them. No matter, the point is that we should have the best players in the squad for the World Cup.

Stuart Lancaster has left the door slightly ajar by stating that he would pick an overseas player under ‘exceptional circumstances’. If being the ‘Top 14’ and ‘European Player of the Year’ doesn’t qualify I’d bloody like to know who does – Batman?

In the Heineken Cup Final last week Armitage managed four turnovers – whilst wearing the number 8 shirt – Ritchie McCaw and Michael Hooper would be chuffed with those statistics!

No frontline England players are going to toddle off to France between now and November 2015, so it’s not an immediate problem and even those who support the ruling would be hard pressed to suggest that the squad wouldn’t be strengthened with the addition of Armitage.

After the World Cup it is possible that a number of players will go abroad anyway, accepting that they will have to sacrifice caps to secure a significant financial benefit. They will also know that if they return in a couple of years they’ll still be in with a chance of getting back in the squad for 2019 – James Haskell and Danny Cipriani are current examples of this being possible.

If it were up to me I’d add him now and see how he goes in the second or third test – off the bench if you like. At the end of the World Cup the RFU can restate and enforce the ruling that no overseas players will be included in future squads. The result would be no defections abroad in the meantime and a stronger squad for 2015. To me that’s the best of both world cups!

Hands up who wouldn’t like to see a back row with Billy, Tom and Steffon taking on the All Blacks for at least part of one test? That was rhetorical by the way!

Going Dutch

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Going Dutch

Kev Burnett sent me this old photo from the first school tour to Holland in 1966. In the ensuing 40 odd years the little hair left on any of the team is now (very) grey! It came with these ramblings –

From: Kevin Burnett [mailto:kevinm.]
Sent: 27 May 2014 10:48
To: DaveShute
Cc: daveevans
Subject: Memories are made of this

Hello Dave,
Just came off your blog and your farewell to Jonny. A lot of words have been written to mark his farewell and yours were more along the same vein, a good bloke to have on your side, would seem to be the general gist of the words written. Talking of which Angela, whilst entertaining the grandchildren found this picture, which I hope is attached. It shows the schools’ first fifteen against Hilversum on the first trip to Holland in 1966. It looks like the bloke standing just to the right in front of Wilf is just about to soak us twats with that bucket of water. I cannot recall in what order the team sheet was written out for each fixture but I will attempt to name that team in the position I think they played or ought to have played in the case of Alan Pearce.

Full Back 15 Dave Evans

Wing 14 Bob Ruddick
Centre 13 Dave Shute
Centre 12 Steve Bigwood
Wing 11 Kevin Burnett

Fly Half 10 Stuart Goodchild
Scrum Half 9 Ed Hiller

No 8 8 Jimmy Russell
Openside 7 Bob Miller
Blindside 6 Unknown
Lock 5 Ian Lunn
Lock 4 Unknown
Prop 3 Andy Burns
Hooker 2 Unknown
Prop 1 Alan Pearce

There are only two faces I recognise from the Hilversum team, Gert who put up Dave Evans who is standing right above Bob Ruddick and Jonny Rep who is in the back row above Bob Miller. He came back with Hilversum when they played Askeans in the early seventies because I was playing in the back row with Alan Hunt and he won all the lineout ball at the back but he came down on his back as I tipped him every time when he was in the air but he never complained and just got on with it. In fact he was about the only one who had kept the game going and I seem to recall they had played a Scottish representative team prior to our fixture but they played us for old time’s sake and gave us a boofing.
The year after that game we were strengthened by the Tim Viard, Jonny Gaunt and Brian Orford and I had my first experience of playing in the forwards when I took over from Jimmy at no 8, that was one hell of an initiation into the dark arts of forward play. Brian had a similar move but from the back row to the front row about the same time so it was all change for him as well.
This weekend was the anniversary of his passing and at different times I have had little moments of reflection. I have to give credit to him for making make an effort to keep in contact, especially when he was on his own down at Lafaus through the winter as it is cold and bleak there but he enjoyed it. He loved the solitude which allowed him to think and gather his thoughts. So I got used to gathering what I had been up to and letting him know, in much the same way as I off load onto you now.
Well I hope this gives you food for thought for your blog and I am sure that your combined brains will be able to fill in the unknowns as far as I am concerned in the team sheet. I was surprised that Steve Gibbons was not included as I recall he was fly half for most of that season. The back line I shuffled about as there was a lot of fliers, myself apart. Maybe that was why Wilf lost me in the forwards as soon as he could. Good luck with the others and let me know what my unknowns are please. I hope all is still going well with Terry and please give her my love. Speak to again soon.
Kevin

I can fill in a couple of the names – Pete Collison was blind side and Phil Burchell hooked. I can’t remember the name of the other second row – although I think we called him Lurch (probably not his real name). Bill Ruston is also there at the back (with glasses – the sort on your head, although he may well also have a pint in his mitt.
Lunny was captain and in case you’re confused I tend to refer to my mate Bob (Ruddick) as Ben in other parts of the blog. You can find out why (if you can be arsed) under ‘nicknames’ – the stuff that went on in Holland is in the ‘Tours’ section. Note – Ben’s the one next to me (I’m the really good looking one!)
Pete appears somewhere else on the blog in a post also featuring myself and Jimmy. We were on a caving trip – Pete ended up in hospital after Jimmy and I blew up our tent with a Gaz canister. Pete now lives in South Africa I believe – probably to avoid Jimmy and me I imagine!
Kev also reminded me that it is a year since Brian sadly left us and the only good news about that is I haven’t had to add to the farewell posts (‘Saying Goodbye to Good Friends’).

Tour de Farce?

I don’t suppose this post will make me terribly popular in some corners but I seriously think we need a dose of reality regarding the upcoming tour to New Zealand.

No one in their right minds heads off to the land of the long white cloud without being a little apprehensive about what awaits them. If you doubt that statement you haven’t read the books by guys like Willie John, Johnno and Sir Clive amongst others – blokes who know a lot more than me (about all sorts of things not just rugby I expect).

To get on a plane with 7 uncapped players and without a whole bunch of first choice selections is up there with asking Eric Pickles to look after your pork pie whilst you go for a waz.

We all know how it happened, of course – someone at the RFU didn’t want it interfering with their holiday plans and the NZ RFU have taken full advantage by refusing to move the 1st test back by 7 days – more on this later.

In recent times England have been praised for having probably the best performances of all the 6 Nations against the All Blacks. After all, we ran them very close last year and the previous November we actually beat them. Now the facts – the last 5 games were all at Twickenham and we won just the once, that game apart we haven’t won since June 2003 on the tour immediately before the World Cup and with a team that was at its peak.

The All Blacks will delight in knocking us down in the year before they defend the World Cup and this is an ideal opportunity. The first test is at Eden Park – I’ve been there and it is an intimidating venue – it will be even more so with little travelling support and, at best, much of a second XV.

In 2003 we won 15 -13 with a team that boasted, amongst other world class players, Johnno, Jonny, Loll and Will. Some of the guys who have just landed in Auckland with the initial squad aren’t first choice for their Premiership clubs – all of the All Black squad are top players in the Super 15 and it is packed with seasoned internationals and World Cup winners.

Steve Hansen’s selection problems amount to choosing a hooker, whether or not to pick Malakai Fekitoa over the brilliant Conrad Smith alongside Ma’a Nonu and what sandwich filling to have at half-time. Anyone who has been watching the Super 15 will be aware of what damage Malakai can do! Even without Dan Carter he is boot deep in top class number 10s to choose from.

Stuart Lancaster has not moaned once about the situation he is faced with – full marks to him – he has talked about not looking for damage limitation and the opportunity to blood youngsters – let’s hope this doesn’t turn out to be literally.

History tells us that the best chance for a winning tour is to take the first game – the 1989 Lions apart – teams that lose this, tend to find themselves in deep trouble.

The England side that takes the field at Eden Park will not look especially weak or vulnerable – against many International sides you’d be feeling quietly confident – but this isn’t any side, this is the All Blacks in their own Black yard. I fear we are in for a hiding – one that will curse the tour even when the reinforcements arrive following the Premiership Final.

I pray I am wrong and will be delighted if I am proven to be so on Saturday week – let’s all hope that it turns out that I know less about rugby than the average idiot in Big Brother..

A final word on the intransigence of the NZ RFU refusing to delay a week – it was the RFU’s fault in accepting the tour dates, but NZ could have easily accepted a 7 day delay. They may well have shot themselves in the foot as they are trying hard to shift the June tours back a month in the future to suit their Super 18 season. If I’d been negotiating on their behalf I might have traded a week now for a month in the future.

Still – you know best dear as Basil says!