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Adventpilez 2010 – December 13: Rawr Data Misc Profile: The Twickenham Experience December 13, 2010

Filed under: Random,Rawr Data,Uncategorized — Manpilez @ 5:25 pm
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The first of our festive Rawr Data profiles takes a look at the home of English rugby. Stiff upper lips and Pimms as standard, what.

Behold your huddled masses congregating on the concourse at London Waterloo of a Saturday lunchtime, eagerly awaiting for that platform number to tick over before bundling themselves onto an awaiting Fail Carriage (a model not necessarily created by South West Trains, but steadily employed throughout the network). These are the lucky ones, for it’s the poshos who attempt to join the journey at Clapham or Putney that warrant the most sympathy. Or not. They are that rarest of breeds, anyway: Londoners with cars. Just bloody drive, Tristram.
 
You start to realise that you’re in the suburbs when things become distinctly green. Don’t be fooled. The roads are still wild enough in TW1 that the neighbourhood goes on lock down on match days, with mounted police keeping a watchful eye over the irate mob who have finally disembarked and are now trudging up Whitton Road with one thing on their minds: being as far away from a train as possible. Oh, and rugby. Plus, beer.
 
The natives are a canny lot, with many flogging wares from their own front lawn. Your more discerning ticket holder, however, will forgo the myriad grot vans and pop-up BBQs for the privilege of handing over inordinate amounts of cash money once inside Fortress Twickenham. Let’s not forget, after all, that we’re in the borough of Richmond-upon-Thames and the home of English rugby comes complete with it’s very own Pizza Express concession. That’s right. You can have dough balls with your rugby balls. Bruschetta with your blindsides. La Reine with your rucks.
 
For all this frothiness, good ol’ Twickers can still be relied upon to deliver where it counts and it certainly excels at being a big concrete arena where rugby is played. It also boasts several hidden benefits, should the game you be watching prove less than thrilling: Behold the unnervingly low flying aircraft on descent into Heathrow. Slip out to the Museum of Rugby to… be at the Museum of Rugby. Purchase an England Rugby hi-viz jacket at the RFU shop. Or if all else fails, partake in a parlour game such as The Double Never Ending Mexican Wave or Just Keep Throwing Random Shit in The Air, which was deemed more entertaining than the second half of Wasps v Quins by the crowd at this year’s London Double Header.
 
The amount of money parted with during the day would make a banker blush, but who cares when swaying merrily homeward with a belly full of 24 carat burgers and diamond infused IPA? The chanting of Swing Low will prevail, even as you and 20,000 of your newest, closest friends are kettled, like so many student protesters, onto the forecourt of a Toyota garage.
 
Fences are scaled, traffic traversed and then, upon return to the train station, that most English of sports, Queuing, comes into its own. If only they served tea!
 
When trains are finally boarded, the suburbanites may scuttle back towards Reading and the oiks towards London, but no one is spared the opportunity of getting intimate with a stranger’s armpit or crotch, you know in your heart of hearts that this is what it is to be English. And you wouldn’t have it any other way. Godspeed, sir.
Words by Anna
 

Rawr Data Profile: Edd ‘The Megahuman’ Shervington November 25, 2010

Filed under: Player Profile,Rawr Data — Manpilez @ 10:24 pm
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Part time hooker, part time farmer and full time legend, it’s time for Edd Shervington to take the Rawr Data spotlight.
Edd in action for Worcester
Edd Shervington (with two ‘d’s at the request of the man himself) is 25 years old, 5’11” and 17st 9lbs. He has been described invariably as ‘feisty’, ‘larger than life’ and ‘shy’, but the one thing that can be said with absolute certainty is that he’s one of a kind.
Newport born and bred, Edd has represented Wales in the under 18,19 and 21 squads and was a part of the pack in Ospreylia until the end of last season. This year, he crossed the border into the English wilderness to sign with RFU Championship squad Worcester Warriors. By the admission of players and management, Warriors still have a way to go, but at the top of the league with fourteen victories in sixteen matches played at the time of writing, the season hasn’t been too shabby so far. In recent interviews, Edd has admitted that signing with relegated Worcester was a difficult choice after spending three years playing with the Ospreys but that, ultimately, he wanted to get some game time and now has his sights set on progression with the team. Proving himself a force to be reckoned with in the pack, the Manpilez team have no doubt that Edd has the determination and confidence to get where he wants to go.
Off the pitch, Edd is one of those people that makes you glad that Twitter exists. I’ve previously declared him my personal hero based on the fact that, despite his apparent lack of an internal censor, his often obscene (and invariably hilarious) 140 character outbursts are frequently followed by photographs of adorable baby animals scampering about his farm. And then there was this. Fickle beast that I am, my profile on this very blog names Max Guazzini as my personal hero, though the two can’t really be compared…
Unless… Cage Fight?
Words by Anna, Pictures from various
 

Rawr Data Profile: Bath Rugby October 8, 2010

Since we launched Manpilez Proper back in August we’ve been frankly overwhelmed by your response both in terms of numbers and feedback. It’s been fantastic having more and more people getting involved.

Now we figured it’s time to take that to the next level so here, with our first ever reader submitted article comes Ms Cara, with her litany to Bath Rugby.

Bath Rugby

Image lovingly snapped by Cara

I feel quite honoured to be writing the first Premiership Team Profile to hit Manpilez, so without further ado, here’s the lowdown on Bath Rugby.

I started supporting Bath properly in 2002, though I grew up watching the team, and rugby in general, from when I was born. I have my Dad to thank for this, as well as the funny looks I get when telling people I support Bath in my North Lincolnshire accent.

Bath Rugby were established in 1865 and are one of the oldest rugby clubs in existence.

The home of Bath Rugby is The Recreation Ground, or The Rec. Unless of course you’re an away fan and then you’ll be more aware of it as ‘The Wreck’. Contrary to this lovely little nick name, The Rec is one of the most beautiful places to witness a game of rugby. Bias fully aside, of course!

Bath were the first British club to lift the Heineken Cup in 1998 beating Brive, in a thrilling final, 19-18.

In the league Bath have had mixed fortunes, making it to the semi-finals of the Premiership for the last three seasons. They have also been close to relegation, narrowly avoiding the drop in 2003.

Moving forward to last season, the campaign was a shaky one. In reality it was never going to be easy after all the controversy of the summer. Incase you missed all the ‘shenanigans’ of the summer, though how on earth you could of I have no idea, I’ll give a brief summary… *deep breath*

Four Bath players were accused of taking drugs. Three denied it and ended up with 9 month bans for bringing the game into disrepute. One admitted taking them and was handed an 8 month suspension.

If only it had been over and done with that quickly in real life!

Back to the 2009/2010 season, it started terribly. To be blunt. Up until the new year Bath had only managed to win 4 games from 17 (all competitions) and by Christmas I was seriously worrying about the big R!

It seemed that the team needed some sort of miracle to happen in order to get them heading up the table. That ‘sort of miracle’ seemed to come in the form of Luke Watson. This could have merely been coincidence, but I like to believe!

Bath rapidly turned the season around beginning with monumental and confidence boosting wins over London Irish and Saracens, both away from home. Unfortunately for Saracens the only thing ‘special’ happening there at the end of February was Bath earning a narrow, but crucial, win.

Picture lovingly snapped by Cara

For me, as a supporter, the finest moment of the 2009/2010 campaign came during the Wasps St Georges Day game at Twickenham. Dubbed as Wasps’ big day out they were there to slay Bath. In reality they had their stingers handed to them on a plate by the men in blue, black and white. The pivotal bonus point win securing them a place within the top four just one game away from the all important semi finals.

Bath were to face Leicester at Welford Road in the semi’s and although they lost I couldn’t be too downbeat about the whole affair. Looking at the bigger picture, coming from where they had at the beginning of the season, to manage to get to the semi finals was a massive achievement and nothing can take that away.

The 2010/2011 season is set to be an exciting one for Bath, and all of their supporters, hopefully culminating in silverware, and I believe the following men are those to help Bath get there.

Aye Aye Captain! – Luke Watson

Photo lovingly snapped by CaraAfter joining Bath in November 2009, he has been somewhat of a saviour. There was a lot of hype surrounding Luke when the announcement came, not all of it good, but since arriving he has done nothing but quash any nervous dispositions any Bath supporter may have had, so much so that he was named captain for the 2010/2011 season.

Luke provides a brilliant character, team spirit and has the aura of a true leader.

Aside from that he’s just an all round nice guy. I may, or may not, have a slight man crush on him. To me, the man is a legend!


The Prodigal Son – Olly Barkley

Picture lovingly snapped by Cara

Having re-signed for Bath after taking a year out* in 2009/2010 Olly is back with Bath. Olly is the epitome of a Bath player. I

can’t say too much about Olly without being disgustingly biased so I’ll leave it there, plus it’s in everyones best interests that I do not get started on his exclusion from any England team by Johnno. Oh well, Englands loss…

*A year out is what I have to refer to his year at Gloucester as. Weird? Me? Never! It was heartbreaking stuff, alright?


Moodos – Lewis Moody

Photo lovingly snapped by Cara

Moody signed for Bath during the summer from arch rivals Leicester… oooooh controversial!

He’s a big signing and lets face it the guy is used to having his mitts all over silverware, which can only mean

good things for Bath, right?

Bendy – Nick Abendanon

Picture lovingly snapped by Cara

The resident ‘pretty boy’, but trust me, the boy isn’t just a pretty face.

I have to confess that I used to really dislike Bendy, I’m not too sure why, perhaps I always felt him a little too inconsistent and I could never take to him as a player. Then he upped his game immensely and went from being weak in tackles to putting in massive hits, and being all over the park in both defense and attack. Suddenly he became dangerously exciting.

So don’t let his pretty blonde hair fool you, he can dish it out and boy can he take it.

Bendy gets a knock to the head at least once a game. It’s now an ongoing joke between me and my Dad that Bendy is never 100% at his best until he’s had the customary knock to the head.

As if to prove this theory last weeks game v London Irish provided a brilliant example.

Stowers KO’s Bendy, yes I think the red was harsh too, and 10 minutes later he scored a try which got the boys back in front.

That example is to try and justify that I am, by no means, insane…

One to watch – Nathan Catt

You might not recognise the name… yet… but you will.

He featured for the England Saxons in their annual summer trip to Canada for the Churchill cup and I strongly believe that 22 year old prop Catt is going to be a big thing, and not just literally.

And finally…

They may not be players but no profile on Bath would be complete without a little bit on Steve Meehan, Sir Ian McGeechan and Bruce Craig.

Meehan joined Bath in 2006 and has recently committed himself to Bath until 2012. Meehan managed to lead Bath to their first silverware for 10 years when they won the ECC Final in 2008, beating Worcester at Kingsholm.

Sir Ian McGeechan was enlisted in June 2010 as performance director, only good things can come from him working with Bath, his legend precedes him.

Bruce Craig is the new owner of Bath, buying the club from Andrew Brownsword. Craig has already made big changes by giving the club what they’ve been wanting for years, with notable changes in the training facilities.

That concludes my team profile on Bath!

Words and pictures by Cara

 

Rawr Data – Team Profile: Racing Metro September 22, 2010

After taking on Magners newcomers Aironi in the last profile, Anna shows Heineken Cup hopefuls Racing Metro some Manpilez love.
Racing Metro 92

Now, I shan’t lie to you; my concern for Racing Metro doesn’t stretch far beyond two very important factors: Juan Martin Hernandez and Mirco Bergamasco. Much as I would like this profile to consist entirely of photographs of these two delightful boys, I’d be doing you, your mother and your neighbour’s dog and injustice because the Sky and White are having a pretty good run in the Top 14 right now, sitting at the head of the table for the first time in twenty years at the time of writing. All in all, they’re worth more than a mere quirk of the eyebrow from the likes of me.

Racing Metro first set up shop in the 1800s, where we like to imagine that plus fours and bowler hats were de riguer on the pitch…

 

 

Movember, 1882

 

They sealed their place in French rugby history by playing in and winning the first ever French rugby championship against their Parisien counterparts Stade Francais. While Stades Francais and Bordelais went on to pretty much boss the championship in coming years, Racing racked up five victories at sporadic intervals and settled as runners-up six times.

Skip forward to the modern day and while Stade Francais were getting a Guazzini makeover and setting about becoming giants of French rugby in the 1990s, Racing were relegated to the second division. The tide started to turn when they got their own Italian entrepreneur chairman, Jacky Lorenzetti, in 2006. While there may have been far fewer bells and whistles (and fireworks and Gloria Gaynor), the intention was similar: to get Racing back on form, back in the Top 14 and into the H-Cup. Done, done and done.

Let’s have a look at some of the big hitters:

Lionel Nallet and Sebastien Chabal
They don’t hit much harder than these two. Nallet and Chabal both signed up in 2009 when, having reinstated Racing back in the Top 14, Lorenzetti was keen to silence the cynics. Landing this powerhouse duo was a good way of setting about his goal. Lock Nallet took on skipper duties last season and number 8 Chabal is… Sebastien Chabal. ‘Nuff said.

 

 

Chabal & Steyn: give good strut

 

Francois Steyn
South African Steyn signed in 2009 for a two-year stint at Yves-du-Manoir. He’s been making waves since his Boks debut at the tender age of 19 and now, at 23, he and his foot have made quite an impression in France. He remains one to watch, with the added bonus of being incredibly easy on the eye.

Juan Martin Hernandez and Mirco Bergamasco
These two aforementioned lovelies are new signings for the 2010/11 season. Both Stade Francais alumni, their arrival at Racing sees a return to French rugby for Juan after one season with Natal Sharks and that rarest of things for Mirco: playing on a team without his brother. JMH isn’t quite fighting fit right now, not only still recovering from a back injury from last season but also pulling out of last week’s game against La Rochelle with a dodgy thigh. As for baby Bergamasco, he’ll get a chance to seek revenge on big brother Mauro for any childhood woes when Racing take on Stade in December.

 

 

Mirco Bergamasco: sans curls, avec kick-ass

 

Racing have been unfortunate enough to draw Leinster in their H-Cup pool and will take them on in a home game in January, but if they maintain the form they’ve been exhibiting in the Top 14, the task might not seem so daunting. Allez les ciel et blanc!

Words by Anna, pictures by various

 

Rawr Data Player Profile: Riki Flutey September 12, 2010

Riki ‘Roket’ John Flutey was born 30 years ago in New Zealand. He is 5’11”, 14st 9lb and plays at centre or fly half for London Wasps, England and the Lions.

The Flautist in action

With some players it’s almost tempting to get selective memory around their careers and Riki Flutey is definitely one of them. We don’t want to think about his early career where not only was he capped for New Zealand U19s against out delightful home nations but he then had the audacity to be one of the stand out players of the 2005 Lions tour… in a black shirt.

Thankfully Riki’s talent has shown through so that when later that year he forsook his native New Zealand by Leaving Wellington Lions to don a London Irish Shirt, it was only a matter of time before he started making waves this side of the equator.

After two years for the exiles, Riki moved to London Wasps in 2007 and announced that he was available for selection for the England Squad should they want him as soon as he qualified for residency in 2008. They did, and he went on to score his first try for England against Italy in  the 2009 Six Nations, catching the eye of one Ian McGeechan and securing himself a seat on the plane to South Africa that summer, making him the first player ever to play both for and against the Lions.

Riki became one of the stars of the Lions tour, not only for his whippet like performances on the field, but for his tunes. After being put in charge of tour music, Riki took to carrying around a karaoke machine , meaning we got to witness this splendour:

(skip to 2:30 for the magic)

During the 2009 season Riki took on a move to Brive, but injury plagued his first term and he mutually agreed to return to London Wasps for the upcoming season where we’re sure he’ll be back to full fitness in no time!

Words by Lauren

 

Rawr Data Player Profile: Matt Banahan September 11, 2010

Filed under: Bath,England,Player Profile,Rawr Data — Manpilez @ 8:43 pm
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Matthew O’Banahanahanahan is a master of the contrary. With nicknames like Battering Ram and The Jersey Juggernaut, out on the wing is the last place you’d expect to find a 6’7″, 18st lad, but that’s where he’s found his home. Unlike the many rugby players who dabbled in football at an early age, our Banas was a hockey player in his formative years. He claims to not be into the rugby lifestyle, but he’s no wilting flower if his swathes of tattoos are anything to go by. Basically, Banahan is both a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll.

Source: Getty Images

Starting out with London Irish, Matt was snapped up by Bath in 2006, where he was initially recruited as a lock. Quick on his feet, Matt proved to be an ideal secret weapon on the wing, his size meaning he has the strength to pack a real wallop. Mirco Bergamasco, for one, can attest to this after being on the receiving end of a hefty tackle last season when Bath played Stade Francais in the Heineken Cup. We shan’t get into the questionable yellow card that was waved in Matt’s face in the aftermath here…

After a successful international debut with the Saxons, Matt soon caught Johnno’s attention and was called up for the Elite squad’s summer tour in 2009 as a replacement for an injured David Strettle. Despite his stint on the summer 2010 tour being cut short due to all the Berrick Barnes lifting tackle brouhaha, Matt’s still a big figure (quite literally) in the England squad.

Club-wise, Matt’s about to start his fourth season with Bath, where he’s currently contracted to play until 2012. Still only 23 years old and with a steady stream of praise coming his way, the future’s bright for the ever colourful, always amiable Matt Banahan.

Words: Anna, Photo: Getty Images

 

Rawr Data – Team Profile: Aironi September 7, 2010

It’s time to cast an eye over the contenders in this year’s Magners and Heineken leagues and what better place to start than the most unexpected… that’s right, Aironi. Who? AIRONI.

Once more with feeling

“Shall I tackle Aironi?” I jokingly asked when Lauren suggested we profile the Magners and Heineken League teams. Of course she said yes, on the grounds that “No one knows anything about them”. I was hoping that this might mean I could spin some convincing lies about the squad for whom the word “underdog” might have been invented. They’ve got a mute fly half. A lock with royal parentage. Their kits were sewn by six young virgins in a moonlit glade. One too far?

Your first lesson is a simple one: “aironi” is Italian for “heron”. Got that? Good. It gets a hell of a lot more perplexing from here on in. 

Not to be confused with popular beat combo Aironi

Aironi are a new squad, enough so that they probably smell of MDF and emulsion. There’s a horrible air of marketing cynicism surrounding them, especially when the Director of Celtic Rugby states that the inclusion of Italian teams in the league will “dramatically broaden the appeal of our product”, not to mention the numerous financial motivations and alibis surrounding the whole baffling business (Aironi is, ostensibly, a franchise). That spiel aside, it is nice to see Italian teams getting the chance to experience some international club tournaments and to anticipate a winter trend for Irish cider on the Med.

If you’ve checked out The Pilez to Watch in 2010/11, you’ll have seen that Lauren was riding the crest of a particularly optimistic wave by giving Aironi a nod. While their first game in the Magners League saw them fall to Munster in a 33-17 defeat, it wasn’t as easy a win for the Musgrave Park boys as most would have anticipated and it will be interesting to see if Aironi can keep up the pace as the tournament progresses…

Words by Anna, photos by Aironi and Aironi (scroll over for details)