The Gene Pool

A few weeks ago Lidl launched a range of denim clothes at prices that seemed to be pretty popular with a lot of people –

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/lidl-sells-out-new-budget-4127992

They sold out in three days. Of course this might have been because they didn’t order enough, but I doubt it somehow. Perhaps it was the price tag of £5.99?

In a bit of a contrast ‘Style’ magazine featured a pair of jeans that would knock you back 880 quid – or they would if you were stupid enough to fork out for them. Oddly they also sold out!

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Some of the side comments would be too stupid even for an episode of ‘AbFab’ I especially loved “They are life changing – I don’t know how I lived without them” They are strides for fuck’s sake, not a dialysis machine.

Anyone who did buy these is obviously top of the pile in the ‘I saw you coming’ stakes, but not when it comes to the gene pool.

 

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Two Much?

A couple of unsubstantiated stories about England rugby hit the news in the last two days. They were each restricted to one paper and neither have been corroborated (or indeed denied) by the RFU.

Whilst both were picked up by other media, they all quoted only the original newspaper as the source.

When this happens and nobody either bothers or manages to get the story to stand up, then we have, inevitably, to consider them with some circumspection.

The first was in the Mail (okay, so we should be right to tread more carefully than say, Mike Brown) – it suggested that Ben Te’o, who is joining Worcester at the end of the season, will be on the tour to Australia –

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/rugbyunion/article-3512954/England-plan-fast-track-rugby-league-convert-Ben-Te-o-union-squad-summer.html

This is a bit of a stretch I think – Ben may well be a potential addition to the elite squad at some point in the future, but to fast track him in for the June tour before he has played in the Premiership risks a repeat of the problems over Sam Burgess.

Especially now that we seem to have some decent options in the centre.

 

The only spread of this story was in the press in Australia and New Zealand.

The other story was in the Telegraph yesterday and suggests that the Premiership clubs may stop Eddie Jones adding Sam Underhill for the tour.

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/sport/rugby/english-clubs-could-block-eddie-11111718

Sam is studying at University in Cardiff and when he started there he transferred from Gloucester to play for the Ospreys. This makes sense to me – mind you I have a free bus pass.

Eddie Jones and the RFU see him as the answer to our long term search for a genuine open side flanker and believe that he falls under the ‘exceptional circumstances’ needed for England to be able to select someone playing outside the Premiership. It is hard to disagree.

If the Premiership clubs are really going to block his selection then they will make a lot of England supporters pretty unhappy I think – I’d be one of them – as would Harro!

This story hasn’t been picked up by other media (except Walesonline) – probably because in January everyone in rugby media was underlining that Sam Underhill would qualify as under ‘exceptional circumstances’.

Have the Telegraph got inside track on some Premiership club attitudes? Or they just trying to stir up trouble? I hope it’s the latter – we need serious competition at number 7 if we are going to compete at the breakdown with the Southern Hemisphere sides.

 

Global Warming

There are two, potentially global, issues in the rugby news at the moment that need to be addressed.

Last week Steve Tew, CEO of New Zealand Rugby, gave an ultimatum to the game’s governing board, World Rugby –

http://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/rugby/all-blacks/78030658/new-zealand-rugby-boss-steve-tew-gives-world-rugby-ultimatum-on-global-season

He said that he wants the issue regarding a global season for the game to be considered and to force this he will not schedule international matches beyond the 2019 World cup

“We need a different season structure than we have now and we’re not going to default to the current one. We’re going to force that issue. People will have to come to the table and we’ll negotiate individual matches in 2020 which wouldn’t be bad for a short period of time quite frankly.

Money is at the heart of the concern – as it is in most rugby matters these days.

Both Hemispheres are going to want a say in any move to a global season and there will be many areas of discussion – Bill Beaumont will have his hands full very early on trying to reach a compromise.

Any changes for the NH will affect the 6 Nations and the Premiership and Pro 12 clubs will want a say. They are already annoyed that the 6N gives problems for the league games with the best players away for 7 weeks. Nigel Wray had a rant in the Saracens programme on Saturday –

http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/mar/26/saracens-nigel-wray-rugby-calendar

The SH are not happy that the June tours interrupt the Super 18.

Nothing will happen in the short-term – there is too much wrangling to go on first, not least about how the financial rewards will be distributed. But expect us to move to some sort of re-arranged programme from 2020 and possibly a global season in my lifetime (so not too long to wait then)

The other issue that came about in the last couple of days was the suggestion by Andrew Hore that the Welsh regions should join Super Rugby.

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/sport/rugby/rugby-news/welsh-regions-could-join-super-11100494

Hore is leaving the Ospreys to take over at the Waratahs and wants to start discussions on expanding to, presumably, a Super 22 format – or more if the Irish Provinces want a look-in.

My view is that it is a non-starter and maybe Andrew Hore was simply being mischievous when he left this hand grenade under the Ospreys table.

Apart from the logistics the new Super 18 is already a convoluted and complex tournament that has drawn heavy criticism from many of the teams involved – especially in New Zealand.

http://www.vodacomrugby.co.za/super-rugby-for-dummies/

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This was an interesting response to the suggestion of adding the Welsh regions –

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/sport/rugby/rugby-news/every-question-you-could-andrew-11104343

Inevitably in a professional game, there will be many changes to the laws, formats, tours and season structures – my view is that Northern Hemisphere sides joining Super Rugby is unlikely to be one of them

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Not all Bad then?

Stephen Hawking and many other pretty smart blokes have long been going on about how AI (artificial intelligence – not the guy in Paul Simon’s song) is going to make humans subservient to robots –

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/stephen-hawking-artificial-intelligence-could-wipe-out-humanity-when-it-gets-too-clever-as-humans-a6686496.html

Far be it for me to argue, but this latest effort from the whizz kids at Microsoft seems to indicate that Stephen’s misgivings may at least be worth the risk –

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2016/03/26/microsoft-deeply-sorry-after-ai-becomes-hitler-loving-sex-robot/

Okay, so knocking out the robot’s Hitler adoration and the racism need some work, obviously. But on the plus side, coming home from the office to a Doris that can make you lobster thermidor, pour a cold beer and is a right raver in the wee hours has to be worth gambling with the future of the human race, surely?

 

2 out of 3 Ain’t Bad

Actually it was 4 out of 6 for my predictions this week , but Jim Steinman didn’t write one called that for Meatloaf – and mathematically it’s the same.

The first one I got wrong was the West Country derby where Bath won away at Kingsholm – I’d seen Gloucester lose to Irish the previous week and thought that Glos couldn’t possibly play that badly on Saturday – apparently I was wrong.

My second duff choice was thinking that the Tigers would dent the 100% home record of Sale Sharks.

They would have too, if they hadn’t butchered several ‘gimmee ’tries and not given away a soft one thinking the ball would run out of play on the touchline. Having said that, the Sharks were good for the win and Danny Cipriani showed enough form to keep him well in contention for a seat on the plane to Australia in June.

Tuilagi was a handful all afternoon and I really want to see him alongside Billy in the white shirt.

I wrote yesterday about Saracens impressive performance and the other 3 went pretty much as expected. Wasps are now a serious challenge for a home play-off place and Saints are also pushing to be in the top 4 at the end of the regular season. These two play each other next week and both will be desperate for the points.

It’s not mathematically certain yet, but with just 4 rounds to go it looks like the play-offs will be four from this five – Saracens, Chiefs, Wasps, Tigers and Saints.

It would take something spectacular for Quins or Sale to muscle their way in at this late stage.

At the other end of the table Irish look to be doomed after losing to the Warriors – and only have themselves to blame – butchering more opportunities than even Tigers did.

Tigers almost made it after the clock went red, but Sale’s defence held out.

By contrast Bristol snatched the win after 80 when Gavin Henson and Tom Varndell manufactured a last gasp try against second placed Doncaster.

I spent the afternoon flicking between the Premiership and championship games as well as keeping an eye on Australia v India in the T20. The Aussies came out firing and racked up 52 in the first 4 overs – but then their second 50 took almost 10 overs. India had little trouble chasing it down in the end.

I’ve convinced Terry that we can only get the sports channels at the weekend – must remember to hide the Radio Times.