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Tuesday 25th January 2011
England Management Omnishambles make right call on Phil Dowson at 427th time of asking

Phil Dowson, arguably the form back row for the last 12-18 months has finally been called up by England for the RBS Six Nations; and I will not allow the fact that it took injuries to the equivalent of half the population of Hereford to get him there to spoil this moment.

Club partner Tom Wood is also called up, which means that Saints may end up getting a fair few of their players knacked by England before the Big Cup quarter-finals.  

All this means that England could have a back-row of Dowson, Wood and Easter.  But we all know what it will actually mean is that they will have a back-row containing some disgraceful Joe Worsley permutation.

What was that I said about not spoiling the moment?

Posted by: , on January 25th 2011 on 03:42pm0 Comments
Wednesday 12th January 2011
Courtney Lawes is injured for ages, and that's the best bit of news believe it or not

England, its fans and its media are oft-accused of getting overexcited about promising young players; gilding the lily, if you will, or over egging the pudding, or some other food/plant based idiom that explains it best.

However, most people in rugby I have read or spoken to in the past months seem to accept that with Courtney Lawes, we are for once not just throwing hyperbole around but have some foundation for our giddy ramblings.  Every inch the modern, powerful and dynamic lock, the young Saints giant has been the beating heart of every decent English performance of the past year, and has even looked good when the rest of the team were going down faster than Liverpool FC's credibility.  

Not that any of this matters now as he has knee-knack, is out for three months and thus won't be playing any part in the Six Nations.

But as the title above states, this is not the worst news we have heard today. History has shown us that many actions can lead to something much worse; the Chinese believe a butterfly beating its wings can eventually cause a hurricane, Rob Andrew the player led to Rob Andrew the droning administrator, Strictly Come Dancing begat Dancing On Ice etc, and it is also thus with the Lawes injury, as this news means that LOUIS DEACON IS LIKELY TO START FOR ENGLAND IN THE SIX NATIONS!!  

I'm off for a little cry, please leave your commiserations or gloating abuse (according to your nationality) in the comments. 

Posted by: , on January 12th 2011 on 03:03pm0 Comments
Sunday 09th January 2011
Ambivalent start to the new year department: Rob Andrew loses his job

With the news about Dafydd Jones dampening our mojo it was all a bit circumspect and wistful in the B&M Scribbling Shed yesterday, but today is an entirely different matter! 

The news that Rob Andrew is about to lose his job has been greeted with bunting, Basement Jaxx hits blasting from the stereo, and a smile on my face so wide that you could be mistaken into thinking one of the Kray twins has been round with a sword

But our joy must be tempered. It seems that - in a typically English fudge - the great underachiever is not being given the boot completely, more shifted into a less high profile role of overseeing youth development.  The worrying thing is that less high profile does not necessarily mean less important.  In fact you could argue he is being given the most important role in English rugby.  Still, at least he'll be off the telly and not making those nonsensical overtures to the press any more, eh? 

Time to bring in much of the bunting, turn the stereo down a bit and allow my countenance to shape into something akin to a father watching his young son play full contact rugby for the first time - he knows this should feel right, so why so apprehensive? 

I've not been this conflicted since I discovered I liked a Westlife song.

Posted by: , on January 09th 2011 on 12:51pm0 Comments
Sunday 09th January 2011
Great rugby families, which is the mack daddy?

Three of the 239 Tuilagi brothers took the same field in the Leicester vs Perpignan game recently, let's have a squint at some other rugby dynasties. 

The Tuilagis - Seven brothers, six of whom have played or continue to play rugby at a decent level.  One of them, Freddie, winning championships in both codes.  

Strengths: There a loads of them, they are all massive, powerful and most of them bear a passing resemblance to the Predator.   Plus, they all have kids, who even at the age of 6 are probably stronger than Charlie Hodgson.

Weaknesses: The Samoan language has no word for sidestep, and it shows with them  



The Lievremonts - Three brothers from the south of France - Marc, Thomas and Matthieu all played back row for their country.  Granted, Matt only got a cap when he was 33 and the national team was under the mental early management period of his brother Marc, which definitely had a bit of "Our mum told me I had to" about it.

Strengths - They are French forwards, thus they are psychopaths.  Marc carried this mental disorder into his later coaching career, which is nice.

Weaknesses - Not legendary in status, and one of them didn't even get a proper cap.


The Quinnells - Father Derek and three sons Scott, Craig & Gavin all had careers of varying success.  Derek and Scott are Wales and Lions legends of course.  Craig could have been a contender but he struggled with walking past pie shops and pubs. Gavin was carving out a decent career until he recently received what can only be described as an eye wounding in a game for Llanelli against Cross Keys.

Strengths - All big units, with the additional fear factor that Derek's beard would inspire in opponents.

Weaknesses - Craig would only last about 4 minutes in a fight before collapsing, vomiting then pulling out a Fray Bentos steak and ale he'd been keeping warm in his pants.


The Ellas - Smallest so far, both in terms of numbers and in terms of bulk.  The Ella brothers, Mark & Glen, are the first backs to feature in the list.

Strengths - Mark Ella is arguably the greatest 10 of all time, and what he loses in power he could more than compensate with guile,  the odd chip kick, and Jedi mind tricks.

Weaknesses - Glen.


The Armitages - New kids on the block, with brothers all over the park.  Bevon is a journeyman threequarter, Delon is a solid yet gliding international full-back; Steffon a rotund but effective international breakaway; and Guy, the youngest at 17, could yet be the best and is currently destroying other back-rows as a flanker in the London Irish academy.

Strengths - So many names that sound the same could confuse opponents, allowing young Guy to attack when they least expect.

Weaknesses - Delon's shoulder could pop mid-altercation, Bevon might have to head off to his part-time job, Steffon may need food and Guy will have to check his Bebo at some point on his phone

Which is your money on?  Let us know in the comments and if we've missed out your favourites then give them a mention too.

Posted by: , on January 09th 2011 on 12:47pm0 Comments
Sunday 09th January 2011
Ten things that might happen in 2011 (or not)

 1. Danny Grewcock will call a press conference in which he will dissolve into tears as he tells us how truly sorry he is for everything.

2. James Simpson-Daniel will solve his back and shoulder injury problems permanently by playing in a titanium straight jacket. He will still have better hands than Tom Varndell.

3. After spending a week in a large field alone, Andy Powell will discover what space is and the possibilites running into it brings.

4. Brendan Venter will start up a mediation consultancy to heal every rift in international rugby with his zen-like calm and diplomacy. The business will fail after its first assignment: Luke Watson vs The People of South Africa.

5. Adam Jones will finally go the whole hog and spend the entire year not speaking. He will still be a more effective communicator than Stuart Barnes.

6. Phil Vickery will stop referring to himself in the third person, instead speaking exclusively via the medium of dance.

7. England will get slightly better, then a lot worse, then a bit better again (repeat three times) leading to a 78% aggregrate loss of form and results. The management will talk about "small improvements" and "increased momentum", the fans will weep and no-one will lose their job.

8. Gavin Henson and Danny Cipriani will have a media blackout in order to focus on getting themselves into their respective countries' World Cup squads. They then won't be selected and will instead spend October appearing on The X Factor as a duo named Curious Orange.

9. Brian O'Driscoll will become the first person in history to be canonized while still alive.

10. New Zealand will win the World Cup, finally.

What are you predicting for 2011?

Posted by: , on January 09th 2011 on 12:43pm0 Comments
Sunday 09th January 2011
Some suggestions for the IRB rulemakers

 The IRB will no doubt soon be getting around a table to think up some new rules to ruin our game for a couple of seasons before changing them all back again.  Here are some that we want to see given a go.

1. No using bandages on the legs of forwards to make lifting handles.  Use the pockets or the scrotum, like in the olden days.

2. All scrum-halves must end their frequent tirades of abuse at the opposition with “no offence”. E.g. “You can't pass for shit mate, no offence”

3. The word 'ball' to be replaced with 'bastard.' in all commentary. E.g. “After receiving the pass a little high, James Hook couldn't quite shape himself for the drop to send the bastard through the posts to win the game"

4. Park rules apply when lesser nations such as Tonga, Samoa and Scotland play against New Zealand.  Eg. Kiwis only allowed to jog not run, once they get 30 points up they have to lose a player etc.

5. According to their management, England apparently always look good in training.  So, points scored there will count towards match totals if they score less that 15 points. All unused training points can be carried over to the next World Cup.

6. International Captains can play a joker card at any time in a test match, meaning that the opposition have play Phil Godman at 10 for the next twenty minutes.

7. Any kicker with lower than 70% accuracy must wear a Dunce Hat for the rest of the match, even when kicking.

8. A la dodgeball, any player hit with the ball on the volley who fails to catch it must leave the field. They can only return when a drop-goal is scored by their team.

9. "Crouch-Touch-Pause-Engage" to be replaced with "Going-My-Way-Sailor?

Posted by: , on January 09th 2011 on 12:41pm0 Comments
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