Can Rugby history repeat itself?

The line up for the Haka would not be this close today.

I was there in 2007, in Cardiff, when France took on New Zealand in the Quarter Final of the Rugby World Cup. It was one of those nights when you just knew that something was going to happen. From the moment I walked into the stadium and sat watching the teams warm-up it was clear that we were about to see a moment in rugby history. And the expectation was met, in spades.

France were “up for it” in a very French way and perhaps no more so than the way that they stood up to the Maori Challenge before the game started. It was the start of one of those great moments of sporting theatre and I hope we see the same excitement again this weekend as the 2 countries go head-to-head in this year’s RWC.

The final score that night was New Zealand 18 v France 20, a truly fantastic match that did both teams proud. Same again this weekend? Let’s hope so – whatever the result.

 

It’s getting closer

googleRWCWith only around 4 hours to go until the RWC starts this evening in Twickenham, I must admit to getting really excited.I absolutely love this competition, the mix of brilliant skills, strength and speed along with the global spirit of camaraderie that exists in rugby, makes it a unique sporting event.
This one though is also a bit closer to us as Tecwyn has been working involved in the planning and building of all the RWC websites and apps. As a result, I’ve heard lots of the inside developments and also some of the lighter moments. There’s no doubt that he’s had a ball getting things ready for the off. So bring it on and may we have a feast of entertainment in the weeks to come as the we enjoy the best of a World in Union.

Tecwyn’s work at RWC 2015

For the last 3 years my younger son, Tecwyn, has been working at World Rugby (was International Rugby Board) on the digital team, looking after the development of their websites and apps. This is his interview – in Welsh – for BBC Radio Cymru this morning.

It was good to hear him admit that he is “hollol bonkers” something some of us have known for a long time!!

Nice one Tec.

Do you Haka or Hakarena?

I didn’t like the spoof of the Haka that Matt Dawson produced earlier this week but even though it was in bad taste it still might have been better than this rendition by the All Blacks against the Barbarians in the famous 1973 match. httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unHsrJ8TYmU&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Will the Red Forces out-muscle the Blue Forces?

Map of Europe, showing NATO countries coloured...
Map of Europe, showing NATO countries coloured blue and Warsaw Pact countries coloured red. The map post-dates Albania’s withdrawal from the Pact. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Blue Forces were always the good guys in the Military wargames that we used to play all those years ago on the Central Front of Europe. Russia – or the Warsaw Pact – had claimed bragging rites as the Red Forces and all that colour coding made great sense.

In summary: Blue equals good, Red equals Bad and Green was for the unpires.

Tomorrow though the Red Forces will be from Wales as they take on the might of the Azzurri – the Blue Forces from Italy. And coincidentally the Green forces will be the Irish referee, John Lacey.

But it‘s a worrying time for passionate Wales supporters: we all know that we ought to win, we’re not suffering too badly from injuries and there is a comforting familiarity with the team. Gatland is at the helm and Sam has signed a fortune away to show his commitment to the cause. What can possibly go wrong?

Focus – that’s what can go wrong. This week there has been too much press chatter by members of the Welsh squad to convince me that they are totally focused. Whilst it must be hard at the moment to be a professional player in Wales when the future is in such turmoil, the need for focus ought to be absolute. I listened to Warren Gatland speak at a dinner a few weeks ago when he said that he planned to use “the current situation” to get the squad to circle the wagons, to make them look inward and focus, to make them tighter. I fear that hasn’t happened and as a result am concerned that we may well slip up.

I hope I’m wrong. Only time will tell.

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It’s getting tight in the Aviva

SaracensRugby_1The Aviva Premiership is getting close to the half-way point of its 2013/2014 season, with each club having played nine matches entering the weekend of December 20-22. It’s been a tightly contested league thus far, with no single club distancing itself significantly from the pack, and only one side, the Worcester Warriors, lagging significantly behind the rest. So now that we’re nearly at the middle of what has been a wonderful season thus far, it’s the perfect time to check in on the standings in addition to the outlooks for top clubs.

Of course, fans everywhere are making predictions every week. However, for what is theoretically a more accurate representation of the action thus far and more astute prediction of what is to come, we’re turning to Betfair and their updated betting odds on each team’s chances to win the Premiership. This site keeps odds updated constantly, between matches and throughout each week, with the sports odds makers’ best estimates of each club’s status, as represented by the odds themselves. With that information in hand, here’s a look at the five clubs that the betting odds suggest will compete for the Premiership title.

Saracens
With 15/8 odds to win the Premiership, Saracens are the easy betting favourite at this stage, and it’s no wonder why. The only club to have won eight matches through nine played (their sole loss was at the hands of the Northampton Saints in Round 6 of matches), Saracens are atop the league standings with 36 points.

Northampton Saints
If any team has an argument with Saracens to be the favourite, it’s the Saints. Not only was their Round 6 defeat of Saracens fairly decisive (41-20), but they’re second in the standings with 34 points. However, the betting odds have them as second best, too, with 5/2 odds to win the Premiership.

Leicester Tigers
The defending champion Leicester Tigers are right in the mix as well, as expected, and actually share the 2nd best odds at 5/2. Currently 5th in the standings, Leicester is off to a bit of a slow start, but has a huge opportunity in a December 21st showdown with Saracens.

Harlequins
With 17/2 odds to win it all, Harlequins – currently slated at 4th in the standings – are given the 4th best odds as well. It’s worth noting, however, that since a disappointing loss to the London Irish in Round 5, Harlequins have looked very sharp in rattling off 4 straight wins. If the club continues to refine its form, it could be right in the mix at the top.

Bath Rugby
Just behind Harlequins with 9/1 odds, Bath Rugby are currently 3rd in the league standings, and could have a make or break match coming up against – you guessed it – Harlequins. There is clearly plenty of rugby to be played, but this match could go a long way in determining who, if anybody, joins Saracen and Northampton scrapping for the title.

Let the Lions Roar

With just over 12 hours to go before the 2013 British and Irish Lions squad is announced, there are probably some nervous players waiting to hear their fortune.
For those living in hope but soon to be disappointed, there will always be the national tours. But they will never compare to being a Lion.
To those selected: congratulations and may they roar in Australia.
How I wish I was going to be travelling with them.