Mud, Mouthguards, Muscles… Manpilez

Just another WordPress.com site

Manpilez has moved… August 14, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Manpilez @ 12:00 pm

We can now declare www.manpilez.com well and truly open!

A massive thank you to all of our readers (all 30,000 of you!) for supporting us during the year we were here on WordPress. Rest assured Manpilez.com will retain the heart and soul of this here blog and all your favourite features have moved with us. Over at the new site we promise to continue to bring you Rugby the way you love it, with passion, affection, ribbing and cracking thighs!

See you over there…. what are you waiting for?

 

Lauren, Anna and Ellie.xx

 

Previewpilez: Wales v England (again!) 13th August 2011 August 12, 2011

Here we are again, pontificating on the possibilities of a clash between these two age old rivals. Is it really only a week since we last did this? It feels like a lot has happened since then.

This time last week, I was previewing the clash at Twickenham while trying to avoid even thinking that Wales were likely to lose by a significant margin. England looked like the stable, sure fire winners, Lewis Moody was a cert for captain and Sam Warburton was a young gun and caretaker captain of a Wales side that nobody was truly convinced could reach their full potential.

Fast forward to today, and as well as society having apparently hit the self destruct button, the return fixture looks anything but one sided. England, seemingly shaken by the near miss in their own back yard have made a staggering 13 changes to the match day squad. Five members of the squad have even been ‘temporarily released’ to play for their clubs. Add to that the fact that Chris Ashton is taking up the wing with a rolled ankle, it’s hard to say what sort of England performance we’re going to see.

Wales, on the other hand, are solidifying. After a strong showing last week, Sam Warburton continues to wear the captain’s armband and other than a few boys crocked (Morgan Stoddart with a tournament ending broken leg and Ryan Jones with a calf strain to name a few), those that impressed last week are back to fight another day, with Rhys Priestland being the talking point West of the Severn after a solid showing at 10 on 15 minutes notice. It’s also worth noticing that this time out the Dragons lead the charge. As well as a debut start for Lloyd Burns, Luke Charteris, Dan Lydiate and Toby Faletau are on hand to breathe fresh flames into a squad that hasn’t seen so many Newporteans in a good long while.

As with Manu Tuilagi last week, this week the press has largely been talking about one man, Northampton lock Courtney Lawes is out to impress after a spate of injury woes and big things are now expected whether or not the pressure at this stage of proceedings is welcome. After a further injury worry during training, some thought his World cup was another one to etch into the ‘over before it’s begin’ column but news from the training camp suggests he might be about to become the key to England’s hopes.

Wales at home are a different animal to Wales at Twickenham and with record tickets sales for a summer test, that incomparable Millennium Stadium atmosphere is going to be electric. With World cup places becoming increasingly sought after and with the chance that England will be out to get a bit of their national pride back, we may be looking at a close game, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be any less exciting.

One to Watch: Wales – Lloyd Burns is going to be out to prove his worth in his first starting shirt under the glare surrounding Gavin Henson’s selection. England – Richard Wigglesworth as he throws his name into the mix for the 9 berth ahead of Ben Youngs and Danny Care.

One to get distracted by: Wales –Ryan Bevington, a hot prop, who knew? (Sorry, Props of the world) England – Nick Easter, because Anna’s got a bit of a soft spot for sir Nicktop.

Words by Lauren

Wales: James Hook (Perpignan); George North (Scarlets), Jamie Roberts (Cardiff Blues), Gavin Henson (The Bachelor), Shane Williams (Ospreys); Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), Mike Phillips (Bayonne); Paul James (Ospreys), Lloyd Burns (Dragons), Craig Mitchell (Exeter Cheifs), Luke Charteris (Dragons), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Dan Lydiate (Dragons), Sam Warburton (captain – Cardiff Blues), Toby Faletau (Dragons).
Replacements: Huw Bennett (Ospreys), Ryan Bevington (Ospreys), Josh Turnbull (Scarlets), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Tavis Knoyle (Scarlets), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Aled Brew (Dragons).

England: Ben Foden, Chris Ashton (Northampton Saints), Mike Tindall (Gloucester, Capt), Shontayne Hape (London Irish), Mark Cueto (Sale Sharks), Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers), Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens), Alex Corbisiero (London Irish), Steve Thompson (Wasps), Dan Cole, Louis Deacon (Leicester Tigers), Courtney Lawes, Tom Wood (Northampton Saints), Hendrie Fourie (Sale Sharks), Nick Easter (Harlequins).

Replacements: Lee Mears (Bath), Matt Stevens (Saracens), Tom Palmer (Stade Francais, James Haskell (Ricoh Black Rams), Charlie Hodgeson (Saracens), Danny Care (Harlequins), Matt Banahan (Bath).

 

 

It’s Coming… August 7, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Manpilez @ 12:00 pm

It’s almost our first birthday, so we’ve got a bit of a treat in store…

Exactly one week from now, Manpilez will be casting off the shackles of the blogosphere and moving to a new home. Manpilez.com will be launching at Noon on Sunday 14th August.

We’ll still be bringing you news, interviews and general high jinks from the pitches and clubhouses of the home nations, as well as Rugby World Cup coverage and downright sillyness. The only difference will be that as a fully fledged website we’ll be able to bring you even more!

We’ve got some fantastic stuff planned for launch week and right through to the World Cup, including competitions, Interviews (Including everyone’s favorite App Entrepreneur James Haskell) and features galore.

We look forward to seeing you there,

Lauren, Anna and Ellie

 

Reviewpilez: England V Wales, 6th August 2011

Filed under: England,Game Reports,Rugby World Cup,RWC2011,Wales — Manpilez @ 1:15 am

The first of these two alleged friendlies between England and Wales today was a bit of a mixed bag. Both teams were as rusty as an old gate but one showed promise of great things to come… but it wasn’t the one we expected.

Yes, England ended the 80 minutes with four more points than Wales, but in terms of defence, tenacity and creativity, it seems Wales may just have clinched the pride points. England, on the other hand seemed to be coming away with a slightly hollow victory.

For the first 20 minutes, the sides seemed quite evenly matched, Jonny Wilkinson had dispatched three points from his reliable boots and George North had gone over the whitewash for a try. The turning point came when a promising intercept by Toby Falatau was in turn intercepted by Delon Armitage, who was clumsily pulled up deep into the Welsh 22’. No points were scored, but Wales’ confidence was shaken. Clumsy mistakes and spilled balls followed from both sides with England gaining the edge enough for James Haskell and debutante Manu Tuilangi to breach the Welsh defence before Wales got their groove back.

As much as we hate to use this particular cliché, Ryan Jones in particular was talismanic (sorry) this time around, and it was obvious from the moment he took to the field that not only did he mean business, but the boys around him were going to pitch in with him. The Welsh hope started to build from that moment on and every single man in a red shirt seemed to step up a gear.

While England fell back on trademark Wilkinson drop goals when their attacks were pulling up short, Wales held their nerve to grind out two more tries, going through the phases until they had the kind of space and shape they had been severely lacking in recent tests. This was not the Wales that fell at the English sword at the Six Nations, this was a tenacious Wales with the confidence to push forward even when completely surrounded by black shirts.

That’s not to say England didn’t deserve the win, there were some fantastic performances from the Saes boys. England’s Marmite player Matt Banahan shone out with some fantastic runs and barnstorming tackles, man of the moment Manu Tuilangi was fierce enough to frighten the usually fearless Shane Williams into running into Jamie Roberts for support and Danny Care proved that it wasn’t just Ben Youngs’ residual medical niggles that had seen him pull on the 9 shirt.

The return fixture next week is now looking like a very different prospect as both teams go away and look at what went wrong and iron out the kinks in their game plans. Who can take more from the experience of this game only time will tell, but we’re very glad it’s looking towards being a more evenly matched game.

Manpilez Man of the match – Extremely hard to choose this time around, it’s almost easier to name those that didn’t show flashes of brilliance, in fact. In terms of solid 80 minute performances though, I can still only narrow it down to one for each Team, England’s Matt Banahan and Wales’ Sam ‘The Warburtron’ Warburton

Manpilez’ sniggery moment – Shane’s retreat from Manu, he ploughed into Jamie Roberts like Scooby Doo when confronted by a ghost. Hilarious, if unfortunate, stuff.

 

Previewpilez: England V Wales, 6th August 2011 August 6, 2011

Filed under: England,Rugby World Cup,RWC2011,Wales — Manpilez @ 3:12 am
Tags: , ,

Yes, we know this is supposed to be a friendly, a kickabout between two neighbours and all that, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get excited. By rights, Johno should be out in Twickenham putting jumpers down for goal posts and slicing oranges. Alas not, for there’s a lot more at stake than your average summer international game.

For a start, this is England and Wales, one of the hottest rivalries of the rugby world, between whom no meetings can ever truly be classed as friendly. It also marks the start of northern hemisphere’s countdown to the World Cup. High hopes abound both sides of the border as old hands and new blood battle it out not only for the honour of their country, but for that all important place on the World Cup Squad

On paper, the starting lineups Johno and Gatst have selected look pretty evenly matched, a good blend of the tried and tested (Stephen Jones gets is 101st cap going head to head against England’s high priest of kicking Jonny Wilkinson) the young and hungry (England’s next big thing Manu Tuilagi gets his first cap while Toby Faletau will be making his sophomore appearance in red) and the downright controversial (Matt Stevens returns for England after his 2 year ban before Mike Phillips’ tail has yet to be extracted from between his legs after the McDonalds incident). This means this clash will essentially be a battle of wills and the end result could well be down to which team has the most hunger and belief.

Of late, it has seemed that Wales’ problem lay not in the individual skill of the players, which was largely exemplary, but in their bond as a team.  Rumours of infighting, emergency meetings of ‘senior payers’ and senior coaching staff actually beating each other up have been all too common in the recent past but thankfully, since the team regrouped  in June the whispers coming from west of the Severn haven’t been so tumultuous. Whether splitting the team for the Poland training camps was wise remains to be seen, but there thankfully seems to be a little less discomfort.

In TW1, on the other hand, there is an air not only of harmony, but excitement. At O2’s Get Up For England event (More on that next week) I caught up with some of the boys and it was clear that the mood in the England camp is one of determined anticipation. Each player, though fighting for his place on the squad is getting stuck in just as much for the common good as for themselves and they go into this game seeking to continue building momentum from their Six Nations Win.

Former Gloucester prop Paul Doran-Jones was probably most emphatic “Saturday is going to be a pretty fierce test, you know, England v Wales, there’s loads of history in it. Both squads are going to be looking to get out there and get all those moves and plays we’ve been practicing onto the pitch, so this will give us more real idea of where we are and what to expect . It’s without doubt going to be very tough.

They say it’s a friendly but there’s so much at stake. The guys are playing for the opportunity to go to the world cup so there’s nothing bigger really in that regard. You always want to go and get the best performance, you know it’s not schoolboy trials anymore!”

Clashes between England and Wales are always electric, we just hope it’s not going to be as one-sided as the buzz around each camp seems to be at the moment.

Ones to Watch: Wales – Toby Faletau. It’s only his second cap but he’s showing masses of promise. England – Charlie Sharples. As yet uncapped for England, and on the bench today, we’ve been hearing some incredible things about the Gloucester wing, not least from team mate Ben Foden ‘He’s the fastest white man in the world’. We’re hoping to see him take a run out to see if it’s true!

Ones to get distracted by: England–  Lewis Moody, he’s back, baby! Wales – Luke Charteris, another face we’ve missed being distracted by.

 

Previewpilez: ITV’s Rugby World Cup July 31, 2011

After some of the whining coming from Wendyball fans since the last Football World Cup, I’m sure we weren’t the only people a little worried about what ITV were going to throw at us for the Rugby World cup come September. Despite the fact ITV have a Rugby World Cup history almost as long as the tournament, we couldn’t help worrying we were going to be saddled with a certain Mr Chiles, or worse… Henson.

We needn’t have worried. This Thursday, ITV revealed the team who are going to be bringing us all the action from New Zealand and as well of a team full of Rugby World Cup Experience, what came across was that they are all as excited as we are, which bodes well for the enthusiasm and heart they will bring to the coverage. Not only that, as well as all the live games being broadcast on ITV1, ITV4 and ITV1 HD, there will be the series ‘Dallaglio’s World Cups in which Lol takes some time out from making all the lovely pasta sauce to look at World Cups past, a dedicated website over at itv.com and even an iPhone App so that if you want to you can completely immerse yourself in the Rugby World cup and not miss a single second.

While ITV Rugby Regular and part-time Hagrid Martin Bayfield reports from the touchlines down under, Steve Ryder and self- confessed ‘Rugby Anorak’ Craig Doyle will be in the studio in London with a merry bunch of former internationals with rugby still as close to their hearts as it was in their playing days. The Southern Hemisphere is represented by former All-Blacks captain Sean Fitzpatrick, unlikely winner of the award for ‘most likely to be played by Matt Damon’, Francois Pienaar and Wallabies skipper Michael Lynagh. Closer to home, Lawrence Dallaglio, Andy Gomersall and Phil Vickery will be representing England, the lovely Scott Hastings and former Dieux De Stade Star Thom Evans will be holding up the flower of Scotland, while Gareth Thomas will be bringing his dually-coded perspective for Wales and Alan Quinlan will be providing Ireland’s call.

We caught up with some of the team involved and it was obvious that as well as that enthusiasm, there’s a camaraderie forming from the off, which bodes well for some great discussions and insight once the tournament gets into full swing. Craig Doyle himself put his finger on it “I really like this group, the difference is [compared to ITV’s coverage of past tournaments] we’re doing rugby every week now and we see these boys all the time, we see the likes of Lawrence and Scott and it’s very relaxed.”

What’s also extremely clear, is that they are as excited as we are. Scott Hastings was most animated of all  “We’re going into a culture that loves, eats, sleeps rugby, it’s going to be an amazing tournament and we’ll be blown away by the intensity, the fun, the passion. They’ve been taking the Rugby World Cup around all places like Napier and New Plymouth and the interest and passions from the supporters and fans, getting dressed up just for the cup to come into town!

I’ve played in a few rugby world cups and this is my fourth with ITV so I’m really looking forward to it.”

His Fellow Scot on the team, Thom Evans, was the most humble about his newfound career in punditry “Because I‘m not going to be out there involved in it I’m just happy to still be a part of it. I haven’t really done much presenting yet, but it’ll be interesting to see how I feel once I get into the swing of it!”

If Rugby World Cup fever hasn’t quite hit you yet, five minutes listening to this lot will get you there, I’m sure of it!

You can check out the Schedule, as well as clips from past tournaments already at http://www.itv.com/rugbyworldcup/.

Stay tuned over the next six weeks as we start bringing you the Rugby World Cup 2011 the Manpilez way.

Words by Lauren, pictures courtesy of ITV

 

Newspilez: The State of Stade June 10, 2011

Resident Stade enthusiast Anna takes a look back on an eventful week for Max Guazzini’s boys in pink in a Newspilez special…

James Haskell topped the bill of big name players who were officially released by Stade Francais this week and while this comes as no huge surprise following ongoing reports of financial struggles and structural shake ups, the future for Uncle Gigi’s boys looks a little hazy. However, never one to miss a marketing opportunity, ol’ Max used the announcement of these departures to simultaneously silence the naysayers and to launch a fetching “Pink is Not Dead” t-shirt. You’ve got to admire that sass.

Stade Francais in unusually subtle colour scheme shocker

So what happens now?

Well, no one is going to dispute that Stade had a miserable season in 2010/11 and it’s safe to assume that losing out on their last gasp attempt with the Amlin Challenge Cup may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back for many. Furthermore, the club’s money woes have been evident for a while, not least of all when Mirco Bergamasco was released from his contract a year early to join Parisien rivals Racing Metro last Spring. But the t-shirt makes a good case.

Out with the old…

A big overhaul is one of the best parts of a new season. New players, new start, new kit (abundantly important around Gigi’s way), new attitude and new aspirations. While Stade are of course losing some talent, it’s also clear that some players have run their course with the club.

Haskell is a prime example. He’s a young player with a lot of hype surrounding him. He made a good showing in this year’s Six Nations and will undoubtedly want to be making a similar mark at club level. If my memory serves me correctly, there was a conversation at Manpilez HQ last summer about where Hask would go if he left Stade. Given the non-events at Adams Park since, there’s not quite so much confidence now that he’d defect to his dear old Wasps. In fact, if we’re to believe the rumblings from Haskell’s camp, every team in the world is currently dropping their car keys in a bowl on his coffee table. My suspicions are that he may take a jaunt south of the equator, but will he be willing to risk fitting the “exceptional circumstances” bill post-World Cup to jeopardize his England career? When the decision is made, expect to hear about it. A lot. With sponsorship.

Another departure that hasn’t surprised us is that of Mauro Bergamasco, who has been with the club since 2004. While he and younger brother and former team mate Mirco celebrated a championship win both then and in 2007, the past few years have been more about the graft than the glory. Mirco seems to be going from strength to strength since leaving Stade, having had a great debut season with Racing Metro and of course, with his heroic performance in Italy’s win over France in the Six Nations. Mauro, meanwhile, spent most of last season out of action following an injury and subsequent surgery on his shoulder. It’s safe to assume the older Bergamasco will have his sights set on a trip to New Zealand come the autumn, which may very well be his last RWC and we’re hedging our bets that club-wise, a return to the homeland may be on the cards, with Treviso being a likely prospect.

… in with the new

Other players avoiding an acid-hued brain-vomit of a kit next season include Juan Leguizamon, Hugo Southwell and Ollie Phillips, but what of the newcomers? Paul Sackey announced his arrival by sporting a very unsubtle neon pink sock alongside his Barbarians kit in the game against England on 29 May and with a wealth of experience in French rugby behind him, will be a welcome addition to the squad alongside Toulon team mate Felipe Contempi. Having a former All Black in the shape of Byron Kelleher and Wallabies centers Morgan Turinui and Paul Warick thrown into the mix isn’t going to do any harm, either.

Stick or twist…

Then there are those players who will remain, including lock Tom Palmer, arguably the stand out performer for England in this year’s Six Nations. Consider his poor wife, Helen, however, who faces at least another year of  non-French speaking misery in a Paris suburb  without even the light relief of baking cock-adorned cakes for Haskell and Phillips.

Current captain Sergio Parisse has made no noises about moving as of yet and although he’ll be absent for the World Cup in the early part of next season, his apparently God-like presence (calm down, Stuart Barnes) will boost the squad if he’s still on the scene.

The biggest question mark, however, currently hangs over Matthieu Bastareaud. While Stade Francais are insisting he’ll remain for the duration of his contract, Mourad Boudjellal, chairman of Bastareaud’s desired destination of Toulon, has taken the oh so subtle Marc Lievremont approach to courting the media by claiming the center is depressed to the point that he is pyschologically unable to stay chez Guazzini.

How is it that a soap opera about French rugby hasn’t been written yet?

A brave new world…

If there’s one massive positive to take from all this, it’s that Stade Francais are well versed in phoenix-from-the-ashes tactics. In fact, typically controversial news that a peculiarly random financial saviour from Montreal has dragged them out of the red means that they have avoided administrative relegation and there are also hopes that the recent return of Bernard Laporte may see him turn the tide for Stade as he did so dramatically in the 1990s. While coaching duties remain with Michael Cheika, there will be a lot of expectation on Laporte in the role of administrator to perform a similar, if not more impressive overhaul and set Stade Francais back on track. It would seem that, for the time being, pink is not dead.

Words by Anna