Saturday Night Fever

The final score of 20-3 might look like a comfortable win for England – but it was a nervy 70 minutes in our gaff.

The French team are a good side and it was only thanks to an outstanding defensive display they they only ended up with a penalty to show for all their efforts.

The first half saw France pushing hard and a 3-3 score after 40 meant that England had it all to do in the second half – and they did.

The whole team and bench were brilliant and it seems unfair to single out individuals – the pack were immense at the set piece and Katy Maclean and Emily Scarratt helped to make good use of the ball.

However it was Sarah Bern and Megan Jones who stood out – and not just because they scored England’s two tries. The last gasp tackles by these tow made sure that it is England lining up against New Zealand on Saturday night.

France too were defensively excellent for much of the game but couldn’t hold out in the second half.

In the other semi- final NZ cruised to victory over the USA with Portia Woodman again scoring seemingly at will – she will need to be stopped on Saturday if England are to retain the WC.

In the day’s other play-offs, Ireland lost 36-24 to Australia while Wales were humbled 52-0 by Canada. The Irish and Welsh will now play off for seventh place in the opening game at Kingspan Stadium on Saturday while Canada and the Wallaroos will battle it out for fifth place.

Japan and Hong Kong will play off for 11th place after losing to Italy (22-0) and Spain (31-7) respectively, and the two European teams will battle for 9th place.

RESULTS

Italy 22-0 Japan

Ireland 24-36 Australia

Spain 31-7 Hong Kong

Canada 52-0 Wales

New Zealand 45-12 USA

England 20-3 France

FIXTURES – SATURDAY 26 AUGUST

Japan v Hong Kong (noon, Queen’s University)

Ireland v Wales (2pm, Kingspan)

Italy v Spain (2.30pm, Queen’s University)

Australia v Canada (5pm, Queen’s University)

France v USA (5pm, Kingspan)

England v New Zealand (7.45pm, Kingspan, Live on ITV & 5live)

 

Warm Up Exercise

I’ve mentioned before that when I played at Askeans we regularly had top class refs – although we also had a bunch of blokes with white sticks more often than not – see ‘Men in Black post.

The late Roger Quittenton could be disallowing my try attempts (obviously he wasn’t infallible) before pitching (ha ha) up at Twickenham 7 days later to ref an international.

On Saturday Nigel Owens will take charge of Bledisloe Cup 2 in Dunedin, but he warmed up for the heat of an international by taking charge of an U 15’s schoolboy game yesterday in Auckland

Students at St Peter’s College in Auckland had their under-15’s match officiated by one of the best in the business on Wednesday afternoon. 

Refereeing legend Nigel Owens, who is in New Zealand to officiate the second Bledisloe Cup test in Dunedin, took to the turf at St Peter’s to officiate a friendly under-15’s match between St Peter’s College and a Japanese touring side. 

The last time Owens refereed a match was back in June when England played Argentina and the 46-year-old said it was good to blow away some of those cob webs.

“I was glad it was 30-minutes each way, wouldn’t want to be doing 80 before Saturday but it was very good,” he said.

“I enjoy refereeing any level so when you get a chance to give back it is always fun. In saying that these boys expect me to referee this match as good as I will on Saturday, if not better, so you have to come in and referee the game for them.” 

The match was not without controversy however, with Owens calling two attempted St Peter’s tries held up at the death. 

However, despite the home side going down 24-19, players from both teams mobbed Owens after the match to have a chat and grab a photo with the man who will hold the whistle on Saturday night. 

With just five penalties blown throughout the under-15 match, rugby fans will be hoping the Welshman allows a similarly free-flowing affair come Saturday night.

I don’t know if Nigel was paid for the gig – maybe he was rewarded with some pies from his shirt sponsors.

If so, he’ll need to save them until Sunday, to be sure that he can keep up with Damien McKenzie and Izzy Folau!

 

Wing Nut

I’ve probably repeated myself a number of times here – which is no great surprise since I am getting on a bit and I’ve written nearly 3 and a half thousand nonsense posts.

Anyway be that as it may (whatever the fuck that means) I’m a big fan of ‘The West Wing’ which I consider to be the greatest TV drama of all time.

I mention it now as the whole 7 series (154 episodes) are being repeated on Sky Atlantic – starting yesterday. Obviously it would have been more helpful if I had posted this earlier – but you can still get the first two episodes on something called catch up (assuming you’re a bit of a Bill Gates of course).

They broadcast 2 episodes a day and I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

The West Wing is an American serial political drama television series created by Aaron Sorkin that was originally broadcast on NBC from September 22, 1999, to May 14, 2006. The series is set primarily in the West Wing of the White House, where the Oval Office and offices of presidential senior staff are located, during the fictitious Democratic administration of Josiah Bartlet (played by Martin Sheen).

The West Wing was produced by Warner Bros. Television. For the first four seasons, there were three executive producers: Aaron Sorkin (lead writer of almost all of the first four seasons); Thomas Schlamme (primary director); and John Wells. After Sorkin left the series, Wells assumed the role of head writer, with later executive producers being directors Alex Graves and Christopher Misiano (seasons 6–7), and writers Lawrence O’Donnell Jr. and Peter Noah (season 7).

The West Wing received acclaim from critics, as well as praise from political science professors and former White House staffers. In total, The West Wing won three Golden Globe Awards and 26 Emmy Awards, including the award for Outstanding Drama Series, which it won four consecutive times from 2000 through 2003. The show’s ratings waned in later years following the departure of series creator Sorkin after the fourth season (Sorkin wrote or co-wrote 85 of the first 88 episodes), yet it remained popular among high-income viewers, a key demographic for the show and its advertisers,[3] with around 16 million viewers. In the years since its run, it has appeared on several lists of the greatest television dramas ever made. The Writers Guild of America also ranked it #10 in its “101 Best-Written TV Series” list.

If you missed it and like ‘Breaking Bad’, ‘The Sopranos’ ‘MASH’ and ‘The Wire’ you’ll love ‘The West Wing’
It would be useful if someone sent ‘Donzo’ the complete box set – he might actually learn something!

 

 

European Travel

The fixtures for the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup were announced yesterday and the full details of all rounds can be seen here –

http://www.epcrugby.com/matchcentre/fixtures_champions_cup.php

Saracens, will be looking to become only the second club in history to secure a European three-in-a-row when they kick off their 2017/18 campaign against long-time rivals, Northampton Saints, at Franklin’s Gardens on Sunday, 15 October.

The all-Aviva Premiership clash live on BT Sport is only one of a series of confrontations in the fixtures schedules for Rounds 1 to 4 of the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup which have been announced by tournament organisers EPCR.
Scarlets, last season’s Guinness PRO12 winners, will travel with confidence to Stade Félix Mayol to take on the might of RC Toulon live on Sky Sports in a Sunday, 15 October fixture which will feature Leigh Halfpenny’s return to his old stamping ground.

Premiership champions, Exeter Chiefs, host Glasgow Warriors at Sandy Park on Saturday, 14 October in Pool 3, while last season’s tournament runners-up and TOP 14 winners, ASM Clermont Auvergne, continue their search for ultimate European glory against the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday, 15 October.

Ulster Rugby will be determined to improve on their 2016/17 pool stage performance when they go head-to-head with Wasps at the Kingspan Stadium in the opening Champions Cup tie of the season on Friday, 13 October, and Harlequins are up against tournament first-timers La Rochelle at The Twickenham Stoop the following day.

Highlights of the crucial back-to-back clashes include a repeat of last season’s final between Saracens and Clermont, while Leinster Rugby against Exeter is certain to pack them in to Dublin’s Aviva Stadium in Round 4 on Saturday, 16 December.

In addition, the December meetings of European warhorses, Leicester Tigers and Munster Rugby, as well as the match-ups between two more former tournament winners, Bath Rugby and Toulon, are guaranteed to heat up the pre-Christmas chill.

All 40 matches in Rounds 1 to 4 of the Champions Cup will be broadcast live in the UK and Ireland on either BT Sport or Sky Sports, and all games will be covered in France either live or delayed by beIN Sports and France Télévisions.

Holders Stade Francais Paris will open their Challenge Cup defence with an away trip to tournament newcomers Krasny Yar of Russia on Saturday, 14 October, and Switzerland will stage a Round 1 match when Oyonnax meet Connacht Rugby at the Stade de Genève on the same day.

The European season kicks off with the clash of last season’s defeated finalists, Gloucester Rugby, and Pau at Stade du Hameau on Thursday, 12 October live on Sky Sports.

The dates, kick-off times and TV coverage for the Round 5 and 6 fixtures in both tournaments will be announced in December following the completion of the Round 4 matches.

Notes

  • The Champions Cup and Challenge Cup each consist of five pools of four clubs with the five pool winners and the three best runners-up qualifying for the knockout stages.
  • The 40 clubs from eight countries in both tournaments have qualified on merit from Europe’s three leading professional leagues – the Aviva Premiership, Guinness PRO14 and TOP 14 – and from the Continental Shield.
  • South African clubs competing in the Guinness PRO14 are not eligible for European tournaments.
  • The Challenge Cup and Champions Cup finals will be staged at the San Mamés Stadium in Bilbao on 11 and 12 May 2018.
  • 2017/18 will be the 23rdseason of European professional club rugby

 

It’s a Knockout

Controversy once more surrounds SBW – this time regarding the fact that he may well have been knocked out in the first couple of minutes of the game against the Wallabies on Saturday.

From watching the video it looks certain that at the very least Williams was disorientated and should have been taken from the field for an HIA.

https://www.foxsports.com.au/rugby/bledisloe-cup-concussion-concerns-rise-again-as-sonny-bill-williams-wasnt-checked-after-head-knock/news-story/998e4711ddf521ad77dc8ae890e257a3

WORLD Rugby has joined SANZAAR in ​reviewing why Sonny Bill Williams wasn’t checked for concussion despite clear signs he’d suffered a head knock early in the opening Bledisloe Cup clash.

Footage shows Williams suffering the effects of an apparent blow ​to the head ​in the second minute after trying to bring down Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper and colliding with All Blacks teammate Joe Moody.

Williams looked very unsteady on his feet when he got up and slowly made his way back to the defensive line.

Lack of balance is an indicator to medical staff of potential concussion but SBW was not sent for a HIA.

In this second link there is also the play where Wyatt Crockett suffered a head bang, although he did leave the field for an assessment –

http://rugbylad.com/worrying-footage-shows-sbw-wyatt-crockett-knocked-out-in-australia-game/

The HIA has now been amended to have the player off the field for 10 minutes – of course that only works if the medical team and ref see what happens. Maybe the TMO should be involved.

 

Fringe Benefits

The prize for the best joke from the Edinburgh Fringe has just been awarded to Ken Cheng

The Fringe is a source of many good gags – here are some of the best from 2017 –

I’m not a fan of the new pound coin, but then again, I hate all change. Ken Cheng – 33%

Trump’s nothing like Hitler. There’s no way he could write a book. Frankie Boyle – 30%

I’ve given up asking rhetorical questions. What’s the point? Alexei Sayle – 29%

I’m looking for the girl next door type. I’m just gonna keep moving house till I find her. Lew Fitz – 28%

I like to imagine the guy who invented the umbrella was going to call it the ‘brella’. But he hesitated. Andy Field – 27%

Combine Harvesters. And you’ll have a really big restaurant. Mark Simmons – 27%

I’m rubbish with names. It’s not my fault, it’s a condition. There’s a name for it… Jimeoin – 26%

I have two boys, 5 and 6. We’re no good at naming things in our house. Ed Byrne – 24%

I wasn’t particularly close to my dad before he died… which was lucky, because he trod on a land mine. Olaf Falafel – 24%

Whenever someone says, ‘I don’t believe in coincidences.’ I say, ‘Oh my God, me neither!’ Alasdair Beckett-King – 23%

A friend tricked me into going to Wimbledon by telling me it was a men’s singles event. Angela Barnes – 20%

As a vegan, I think people who sell meat are disgusting; but apparently people who sell fruit and veg are grocer. Adele Cliff – 20%

For me dying is a lot like going camping. I don’t want to do it. Phil Wang – 20%

I wonder how many chameleons snuck onto the Ark. Adam Hess – 18%

I went to a Pretenders gig. It was a tribute act. Tim Vine – 18%

Here are some of the other best ones from the last decade –

One told in 2006 by TV regular Mark Watson ran: “I saw a poster for Mission Impossible III – I thought, it’s not really impossible if he’s already done it twice.”

Chris Turner, 2015

“I bought a muzzle for my pet duck. Nothing flashy, but it fits the bill.”

Jimeoin, 2006

“Two aerials on a roof fell in love and got married. The wedding wasn’t great but the reception was fantastic.”

Hayley Ellis, 2012

“I was very naive sexually. My first boyfriend asked me to do missionary and I buggered off to Africa for six months.”

Mark Nelson, 2015

“Jesus fed 5,000 people with two fishes and a loaf of bread. That’s not a miracle. That’s tapas.”

Laura Lexx, 2015

“My boyfriend and I used to argue over the duvet. I liked to sleep all stretched out like a starfish and he liked to sleep with a blonde lady called Leanne.”

Mark Watson, 2006

“I saw a poster for Mission Impossible III the other day. I thought to myself: ‘It’s not really impossible if he’s already done it twice.”

Joel Dommett 2012

“People who like trance music are very persistent. They don’t techno for an answer.”

Harriet Kemsley, 2015

“I’m allergic to nuts, which means that if I ever want to commit suicide I can do it by Ferrero Rocher.”

Lou Sanders, 2015

“You have to think positively, for example, I don’t have a drink problem. I have a drink
opportunity.”

Tom Neenan, 2015

“Did you know if you count the number of stars in the universe and compare that to the number of grains of sand on a beach, you can ruin a holiday?”

Rob Auton, 2015

“I was quite an upbeat child, I used to think CCTV was a very, very positive Spanish television channel.”

Fin Taylor, 2014

“My name is Fin, which means it’s very hard for me to end emails without sounding
pretentious.”

Juliet Meyers, 2015

“Bonsai lovers are very tolerant people: they hate bigotry.”

Adam Hess, 2015

“Did you know Kinder Surprise is German for “unwanted pregnancy?””

Gary Delaney, 2010

“Dave drowned. So at the funeral we got him a wreath in the shape of a lifebelt. Well, it’s what he would have wanted.”

Patrick Monahan, 2006

“My dad is Irish and my mum is Iranian, which meant that we spent most of our family holidays in customs.”

Chris Coltrane, 2013

“The good thing about lending someone your time machine is that you basically get it back immediately.”

Darren Walsh, 2015

“Went to my allotment and found that there was twice as much soil as there was the week before. The plot thickens.”

Josie Long, 2008

“When I was a kid I asked my mum what a couple was and she said: ‘Oh, two or three’. She wondered why her marriage didn’t work.”

Joe Lycett, 2015

“Life is like a box of chocolates. It doesn’t last long if you’re fat.”

Matt Winning, 2015

“Never date a tennis player. Love means nothing to them.”

You’ve got to laugh haven’t you?

What the Fox?

Fox News is an unashamed supporter of Donzo –

Trump exemplifies everything that Fox News is about. They have spent years vilifying President Obama as the source of America’s woes. They have a candidate that yells this all day long. Fox plays fast and loose with facts and sources. They have a candidate that only speaks facts 2% of the time and quotes “many people say” as his sources. When he doesn’t have sources, he makes it up. He is surrounding himself with surrogates that not only look like him—they’re his own kids! In the PolitiFact study, of 158 statements tested, only 4 were rated as TRUE. Fox loves this.

Fox has spent years developing an audience that loves anchors who speak their minds, facts be damned. What is Trump but more of the same? Trump hates Muslims. Fox wouldn’t even broadcast a Muslim father as he spoke of his dead son and soldier, but condemned him for doing so and for questioning Trump. But with a 2% truthfulness score, every thing he says should be questioned and challenged. But not by Fox.

Yesterday they excelled themselves in their moronic praise –

Speaking on Fox News, host Tucker Carlson said: “The entire country saw at least 60% of the sun covered up by the moon.

“The President saw it. But in a move that is not a complete surprise, he looked entirely at the sun without any glasses, perhaps the most impressive thing any president has ever done.”

Point of info Tucker (not sure I spelt that right?) –

Looking at a solar eclipse without any glasses can lead to solar retinopathy, which can seriously damage your retinas.

This is the same bloke putting about moronic conspiracy theories –

Fox News host and Daily Caller editor-in-chief Tucker Carlson claimed that the government “wants to know” if people have firearms in their houses “because they’d like to disarm you,” echoing a common conspiracy theory from gun lobby extremists.

The National Rifle Association frequently — and falsely — claims that the government is collecting information about privately-owned firearms in order to confiscate them at a later time.

No wonder white supremacists are big fans of Tucker!