Friday, 2 December 2016

Our shout!

You have to love those Vunipola boys.

Not only have Mako and Billy been in a rich vein of form for club and country (until Billy's knee injury last week against Argentina), it has been revealed this week that, following Tonga's 19-17 victory over Italy in Padua last weekend, the two brothers (whose father Fe'ao is a former Tongan captain) paid for the Tongan team's post-match celebratory drinks.

Fantastic gesture lads!

Wednesday, 30 November 2016


News today that the Six Nations is being dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century (straight from the 19th) with the announcement that a new bonus points system will be trialled next year.

So it’s the standard  4 points for a win, 2 points for draw, 0 points for defeat, plus a bonus point for scoring 4 tries and a losing bonus point for defeat by seven points or less, but there is a twist…

Any team achieving the Grand Slam will be awarded an extra 3 bonus points, the idea being to prevent a team that wins all 5 matches being beaten to the Six Nations title by a team with four bonus point wins and a bonus point defeat. 

I can’t be arsed to do the maths, but in theory that looks as if it might work…

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Here’s a head scratcher...

How does Joe Launchbury get a 2 match ban for accidentally catching the head of an opponent - causing minimal (if any) damage - while Malakai Fekitoa only gets a one match ban for nearly decapitating an opponent and Sam Cane gets away scot free for laying out Robbie Henshaw with a dangerously high tackle?

I do get why Launchbury was punished. If you aim a kick at the ball in a ruck near an opponent’s head and you get it wrong, your actions are dangerous.

Likewise a swinging arm or a head high tackle is dangerous, no matter the intent.

Either punish all such actions (with consistent punishments), or deem them accidental and unworthy of sanction…

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Words of Wisdom

Former Samoa captain and Wasps backorder Dan Leo has spoken eloquently this week about the difficulties and challenges faced by Pacific Islanders playing rugby overseas.

My favourite quote:

“In my 49 Tests for Samoa never once did we have a man of the match award given out. To promote someone above the rest of the group was seen as a real no-no.”

Spot on.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

High Tackle Tackled?

It’s interesting to hear that World Rugby is considering a trial at youth level to outlaw tackling above the waist.

The proposed change is intended to be a concussion-prevention measure and there’s little doubt in my mind that the high “hit” is responsible for an increasing number of head injuries in rugby – both for the tackled player and the tackler. It therefore has to be worth experimenting with a change in the laws to see if a difference can be made.

Not that a law change in itself will solve the issue. Just as important will be coaching good tackling technique. I’ve seen a number of concussion injuries  - Dylan Hartley against France in Paris earlier this year, for instance (and, indeed, myself many moons ago) - caused by the tackler getting his head in the wrong position when trying to tackle low.

The emphasis, therefore, has to be on teaching kids good tackling skills at an early age and developing "best practice" tackling technique as they progress. The proposed law change will undoubtedly help, however, to reinforce what is being coached...

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Bad news, good news for Fiji

England will take on an upset Fiji this weekend.

The Fijians are, quite rightly, disappointed that they received no recognition whatsoever at last weekend’s World Rugby Awards, despite winning back to back World 7s Series titles and more importantly winning the country’s first ever gold medal at the Rio Olympics.

Better news is emerging, however, relating to a revolutionary new plan to establish a Super Rugby franchise in Fiji in order to address the current player drain from the Pacific Islands. The ambitious plan already reportedly has the backing of major global companies to the tune of £20 million.

Together with addressing current international eligibility rules this would certainly be a step in the right direction…