Zut Alors!

Toulon played a charity rugby match against a side made up of footballers from France’s 1998 World Cup team on Wednesday evening.

A video has been going around showing Zinedine Zidane scoring – it has been described as superb, magnificent and a ‘wonder try’ although that may be a slight exaggeration –

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http://www.theguardian.com/football/video/2015/jul/30/zindine-zidane-scores-try-against-toulon-video

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The Toulon tackling was weak when Zinedine had the ball – perhaps they were remembering what happens when you upset him –

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAjWi663kXc

The first half was football, which France won 6-3, Toulon finished the rugby half winning 30-20, although the real winner was undoubtedly the charity.

Still – blimey or “bonnet de douche Rodders!” as Del boy would say!

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The Bleeding Obvious!

There is a conversation in the Fawlty Towers episode ‘The Rat’, where Basil is having an argument with Sybil where she points out the risks of being closed down by the health inspector and he responds –

Basil Fawlty: Can’t we get you on Mastermind, Sybil? Next contestant: Mrs. Sybil Fawlty from Torquay. Specialist subject – the bleeding obvious.

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I was reminded of this when the RFU set out their ‘Idiots Guide to Social Media’ for the England team.

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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/rugbyunion/international/england/11768789/RFU-issue-strict-guidelines-to-England-players-detailing-appropriate-social-media-behaviour-ahead-of-Rugby-World-Cup.html

For Sybil and Torquay you just need to substitute Ian and Twickenham!

It seems that the RFU are worried that the training camps might  have affected the mental capacity of the England squad – thinking the pressure is getting to them and they need to be told ‘the bleeding obvious’.

The top 5 tips from the guide are –

The RFUs top five social media dos and don’ts

  1.  Do not post when you are in a bad mood or immediately after a tough loss.
  2.  Fans of other teams or other players may try to provoke you via social media. Do not react to this.
  3.  Do not post pictures of drinking, smoking, nudity or while driving – that is illegal.
  4.  If you enjoy a good win or achieve a personal milestone, take 30 seconds to tweet a “thank you” to the fans who were there to cheer for you or support you online.
  5.  Share photos when the team takes part in community projects and any other interesting insights into your life as a professional rugby player, but be mindful of private team areas which should not be shown to the public (i.e the performance centre).

Blimey – how many of the team do they think are likely to stick shots of their todgers on facebook?

And as for sharing lineout calls and set moves with the opposition – well, it is patently essential to instruct them that whilst this might be sporting but is probably not such a hot idea.

Somehow they have come up with 24 of these brilliant tips – fuck knows what the others are!

‘Don’t say you can’t remember which sock to put on first?’

‘Try not to tweet that you are enjoying a spliff?’

‘Don’t do a selfie of you getting a blow job?’

Of course they may just be taking precautions after Quade Cooper’s recent outburst! –

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I suspect that the PR agency used by the RFU to come up with this nonsense thought that it was Christmas – getting paid to set out what everyone with half a brain already knows. They probably just copied them from a book!

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Or maybe they had a brain storm and came up with a cunning plan –

social-media-donuts

No doubt they charged a fortune and it took them about 10 minutes – maybe that’s why the RFU decided to charge ridiculous prices for the warm-up game v France and are having a job selling tickets.

RWC-2015-warm-up-Matches-Schedules

In case you can’t afford a ticket to the match here’s the ‘Basil the Rat’ episode in full, to pass the time – 

Fawlty-Towers-Basil-the-Rat

Statistics can Lie

The Springboks went down to the All Blacks on Saturday and a lot has been made of McCaw’s try.

More interesting though are the statistics from the match –

download (1)

South Africa v New Zealand stats:

  1. Clean Breaks: 10-7
  2. Carries: 125-108
  3. Defenders Beaten: 28-19
  4. Passes: 158-141
  5. Possession: 52%-48%
  6. Territory: 51%-49%

There can’t be many games where weak stats like this do not belong to the losing team.

But the All Blacks are not just any team!

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A statistic that will be of more interest to Steve Hansen is this one –

http://m.nzherald.co.nz/sport/news/article.cfm?c_id=4&objectid=11487599

Away Success:

New Zealand – 83.3%

South Africa – 54.6%

Wales – 50%

Australia – 47.9%

Ireland – 47.1%

England – 45.7%

Argentina – 40.5%

France – 30.3%

I haven’t worked out the ‘home’ success – just hope that England have one in the high 80s or above!

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Selfie Abuse

I’m not totally sure when the obsession with taking selfies started – or to be absolutely honest why. It seems to be a bit stupid, albeit harmless mainly.

However, there is a growing trend to taking selfies with animals – probably okay with the family pet although it’s hard to believe anyone would try and take a snap with a recently awoken rattlesnake or a maternally enraged bison.

Step forward the rednecks –

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http://www.cnet.com/news/man-tries-selfie-with-rattlesnake-gets-snakebit-for-150000/

The medical bill was as painful as the bite

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Also this week a mentally challenged woman tried to pose with a bison in Yellowstone Park and was surprised when she attacked her. Maybe the bison had been on the lash and didn’t feel she looked her best!

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These are not isolated incidents – there is apparently a craze for a selfie with bears for fucks sake – it’s not Yogi you morons!

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2812556/What-possibly-wrong-dangerous-bear-selfie-trend-sparked-safety-fears-America.html

The stupidity list goes on – lions, polar bears, great whites, camels, bulls and the seriously discreet Lord Sewell

Bz7SBq9CMAE2zce epic-selfie-polar-bear calypso-charters 436908-89e11062-51b4-11e3-9770-07dcc52d4773 o-BULL-SELFIE-facebook

There are plenty of fakes, but these are all real.

And you don’t have to risk being eaten to get a good shot – this bloke entered the ‘Selfie Olympics (unbelievably, this actually exists – http://www.wired.com/2014/01/the-10-best-photos-from-the-selfie-olympics/ )

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He started by setting himself on fire before clicking – he was after a medal, although I would have thought a fire extinguisher would have been a bit more useful.

All of this is tame compared with another whizzo idea – pointing a gun at yourself whilst clicking – the key here is to remember to press the right button.

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Brings a whole new meaning to taking a good shot!

Much worse are idiots who point at someone else!

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Not everyone does sadly –

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/woman-accidentally-shoots-herself-in-the-head-while-posing-for-a-selfie-10273014.html

Of course it could be worse!

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Crossing the Line?

The try which Ritchie McCaw scored to win the test at Ellis park on Saturday continues to dominate the media in New Zealand and unsurprisingly, in South Africa.

More than one media outlet has suggested that it was illegal and should have been disallowed.

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Brendan Nel, a South African rugby writer spelled out the problem –

According to World Rugby law 19.8.i – (i) Where the receiver must stand. If a team uses a receiver, then that player, must be positioned at least 2m back from teammates in the lineout, and between the 5m and 15m lines, until the lineout begins. Once the lineout has commenced, the receiver may move into the lineout and may perform all actions available to players in the lineout and is liable to related sanctions.

McCaw is within the two metre rule and while referees don’t always police this fairly, as the receiver/halfback teams do not position their lineout defence for a halfback entering the lineout as it is illegal.

Then there are two more aspects which make the try illegal – the first that McCaw moves before the ball is thrown in, which places him in an offside position.

Read with law 19.9 (a) – which says: “The lineout begins when the ball leaves the hands of the player throwing it in”, it is clear that McCaw has moved before the ball has left the hooker’s hands, and since he is not 2 metres back, has all the advantage from an illegal position.

But to take it further, law 19.10 (f) says: “A player must not jump or be lifted or supported before the ball has left the hands of the player throwing in.”

No one questioned the legality of the move – ref, assistants, TMO or commentators.

The only one who asked for it to be referred was Schalk Burger.

Watch the video and you will see each of the laws outlined above could have been broken – whilst McCaw is within the 2 metre rule, he moves before the ball is thrown in, similarly Kieran Read is lifted before it leaves the hooker’s hand –

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https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/sport/rugby/all-blacks-saving-best-tricks-for-rugby-world-cup-kieran-read-q03123

It’s largely irrelevant now, except that it is unlikely to be allowed in the World Cup as the legality has been made the focus of attention.

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You could argue that Brendan is biased, however, one former international Kiwi ref has stated that although it was probably illegal, it was right to let the try stand. Seriously?

ROME - FEBRUARY 11:  Referee Kelvin Deaker of New Zealand in action  during the RBS Six Nations Championship match between Italy and England at the Stadio Flaminio on February 11, 2006 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

ROME – FEBRUARY 11: Referee Kelvin Deaker of New Zealand in action during the RBS Six Nations Championship match between Italy and England at the Stadio Flaminio on February 11, 2006 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

I think I may have spotted why we might be glad that you are a ‘former’ ref, Kelvin.

https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/sport/rugby/former-kiwi-ref-mccaw-trick-move-might-have-been-illegal-but-right-to-let-it-go-q03322

Mr Deaker’s defence of this, is that there is an offence in ‘every single lineout’ – possibly mate, but not every lineout leads directly to a try using an illegal move.

Fortunately he won’t be officiating at the World Cup.

Getting it right is essential when the biggest tournament in rugby is on stage – that’s why, like it or not, the TMO has an important role. Of course, they can’t always get it right, but it’s a lot better than leaving it to, a potentially unsighted ref and assistant, when so much is at stake.

Luckily, this wasn’t in September or October.

There is little question that this was a ‘smart play, especially as it proved to be a match winner, however, the all Blacks weren’t the first to use it –

http://www.balls.ie/rugby/gif-genius-lineout-move-by-samoa/85527

South Africa really don’t have much of an excuse – they fell for it before in 2013.

gif-genius-lineout-move-by-samoa

If you watch it closely it looks as though the Islanders did it legally – at least according to the laws above anyway. Not that it would have mattered if Kelvin had been in charge.

 

Be Afraid

While the Northern hemisphere sides are being beasted in attempts to be the fittest at the World Cup, the Southern Hemisphere are preparing in competition in the Championship.

The best international game for a long time was at Ellis Park on Saturday when the All Blacks came from behind to condemn the Springboks to a second late defeat in the last two weeks.

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If you look at the Springboks record, they have been beaten by Wales, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia over the last 13 months and you might feel that they are not ready for the World Cup.

Damian+de+Allende+South+Africa+v+Argentina+R72jyy024vCl

You’d be wrong – on Saturday they bested a very good All Black pack and with Jesse Kriel and Damian de Allende they have a very useful midfield.

download (1)

The All Blacks, justifiably, remain number 1 and will head into the tournament as firm favourites, but this Springbok side are no mugs.

It took the TMO some time to decide that Lood de Jager had not touched the line with his lunge – it was hard to tell, despite many replays and it could easily have been given. Even Steve Hansen conceded that his side would not have come back from that.

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Add in the fact that the match went to uncontested scrums when Whitelock was in the bin and it’s reasonable to assume that the already dominant Springbok pack would have cashed in.

Why Schalk Burger didn’t protest more about the decision is hard to understand – he had a prop who has played both sides of the scrum in Super 15 and he could well have argued that he wanted to stay with proper scrums.

download (2)

http://www.rugby365.com/article/67570

But you don’t get second chances against the men in black and Ritchie McCaw’s smart try from the lineout showed why the All Blacks remain the best in the world.

https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/sport/rugby/all-blacks-saving-best-tricks-for-rugby-world-cup-kieran-read-q03123

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It was a neat move and expect more in October.

On Saturday’s performance it looked like these two teams are way ahead of the chasing pack (sic).

In the other game, the Wallabies came alive in the second half to destroy the Pumas. However all is not so rosy in Chieka’s squad – Quade Cooper had a meltdown on twitter

Coops

And Michael Hooper has been cited for a punch –

http://www.sportal.com.au/rugby/news/hooper-cited-for-punch-on-sanchez/c8sp22gu1bup1s27jcl1m9qjz

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He was held back, but did get a very decent right hander off!

On top of that the Wallaby scrum looks highly vulnerable – which will please both Warren Gatland and Stuart Lancaster.

Still, they will contest the Championship in a one off game on the 8th August against the All Blacks in Sydney. Both teams are on 9 points, but I wouldn’t put money on the All Blacks losing.

The big 3 SH sides are looking ominous as we charge towards the World Cup – and in the Pacific Nations, Fiji are looking a much fitter side – it took a last minute penalty by Samoa to grab a 30-30 draw.

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http://en.espn.co.uk/scrum/rugby/story/270139.html

The whole game is here (if you’ve got time) –

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cY8MjUHJcpk

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The warm-up games coming up for the Home nations should show how well prepared we are to chase a second Northern Hemisphere triumph.

The lineout ploy by the all Blacks was neat – here are a few more –

https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/sport/rugby/top-five-mccaw-s-all-blacks-lineout-stunner-among-best-ever-but-ex-pat-kiwi-tops-list-6362626.html

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Askeans once  had an American winger, John Anderson, who used to throw in across the pitch like a quarter back!

Great Move

I saw this story on facebook and defy you to not be moved –

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At a fundraising dinner for a school (Chush, in Brooklyn NY) that serves children with learning disabilities, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question:

“When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does, is done with perfection. Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do. Where is the natural order of things in my son?”

The audience was stilled by the query. The father continued.

“I believe that when a child like Shay,who was 20 mentally and physically disabled comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes in the way other people treat that child.”

Then he told the following story:

Shay and I had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, “Do you think they”ll let me play?”

I knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but as a father I also understood that if my son were allowed to play, it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps. I approached one of the boys on the field and asked (not expecting much) if Shay could play. The boy looked around for guidance and said, “We”re losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we”ll try to put him in to bat in the ninth inning.”

Shay struggled over to the team”s bench and, with a broad smile, put on a team shirt. I watched with a small tear in my eye and warmth in my heart. The boys saw my joy at my son being accepted. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay”s team scored a few runs but was still behind by three.

In the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the right field. Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear as I waved to him from the stands. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay”s team scored again. Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay was scheduled to be next at bat. At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game?

Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible e because Shay didn’t even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball. However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher, recognizing that the other team was putting winning aside for this moment in Shay”s life, moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least make contact.

The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed. The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shay. As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher. The game would now=2 0 be over. The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shay would have been out and that would have been the end of the game. Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the first baseman”s head, out of reach of all team mates. Everyone from the stands and both teams started yelling, “Shay, run to first! Run to first!”

Never in his life had Shay ever run that far, but he made it to first base. He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled. Everyone yelled, “Run to second, run to second! “

Catching his breath, Shay awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to make it to the base. B ya the time Shay rounded towards second base, the right fielder had the ball . the smallest guy on their team who now had his first chance to be the hero for his team. He could have thrown the ball to the second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher”s intentions so he, too, intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third-baseman”s head. Shay ran toward third base deliriously as the runners ahead of him circled the bases toward home. All were screaming, “Shay, S hay, Shay, all the Way Shay”

Shay reached third base because the opposing shortstop ran to help him by turning him in the direction of third base, and shouted, “Run to third! Shay, run to third!”

As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams, and the spectators, were on their feet screaming, “Shay, run home! Run home!”

Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam and won the game for his team “That day”, said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, “the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world”.

Shay didn’t make it to another summer. He died that winter, having never forgotten being the hero and making me so happy,and coming home and seeing his Mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the day!

I don’t know if it is true, but in the increasingly cynical world of both amateur and professional sport I sort of really hope that it is!