Mud, Mouthguards, Muscles… Manpilez

Just another WordPress.com site

Interviewpilez – David Flatman April 28, 2011

Filed under: Bath,Interviewpilez — Manpilez @ 2:55 pm
Tags: , ,

Before the glory of Bath’s incredible 43-10 victory to Wasps on St George’s Day, Lauren had a chat with their prop David Flatman about life at the Rec, scrums and the curious incident of waking up with Julian White, wearing some strange women’s clobber…

Picture from Herring Shoes http://www.herringshoes.co.uk

How’s the mood at Bath at the moment?

It’s good, we were out of form for a few weeks, but it was nice to get a win last week and hopefully repeat that effort this Saturday against Harlequins but the mood’s good. I guess it’s a time of transition but we’re trying to make it as undramatic as possible.

It’s a bit like that across the board at the moment, isn’t it?

Yeah, I guess, well not everyone I don’t think, there are a lot of teams that are quite settled and sorted and we’ve got a little bit of change with the management also.

Those sort of changes aren’t happening at every club and it’s a period we’ve got to get through and work though, but we’ll get there.

The news recently came through that David Barnes is retiring, how’s everyone feeing about that at the moment?

Everyone’s in a pretty good mood about it! No, it’s very very sad, he’s probably one of the best ambassadors for Bath Rugby in the modern era. When you consider that Bath was the third or even fourth Premiership club he arrived at and he still played 266 games for us, that’s pretty incredible, especially in the front row.

[He’s an] unbelievable guy and you know, it can catch up with any of us, he hurt his neck, his hands started feeling funny and his arms started feeling funny and he’s in a lot of pain – that’s not how you want to go out.  He probably wanted to go out and score a hat trick at Twickenham like we all do. He’s a good guy and he’s got his head screwed on and I’m sure he’ll be very successful now his rugby’s finished but it’s going to take a while to get his head around it.

Are you planning any sort of testimonial celebrations for him?

Barnsey’s been doing his own testimonial for about 15 years now. His testimonial, run for him finished officially about a year ago, but there’s an event for him tomorrow, another one next week… I picked up a flyer last week at the Rec, off the floor cause, you have to try and pick litter when you can, and saw my name down as presenting/MCing an event. It says Help for Heroes but his name was on the flyer as well so that’s going on and he failed to tell me about that but I guess he’s had a lot on his plate!

How’s your own season been so far?

It’s been alright, I’ve had some good games and some bad, and some stuff to work on, but hopefully starting to play a bit better now. What we want to do is achieve something towards the end of the season. The top six is massive for us, and reaching the play-offs?  We’re desperate to do that. If we can, great, but if not we just have to take as much as we can and play as well as we can so it’s not just a season for season’s sake. But it’s been a little bit up and down, I don’t think I’ve been too awful or too brilliant at any point.  I think now, even though there’s only a few games left I just want to fulfil as much potential as I can for those games.

So have you had any particular highlights so far this season?

Dave Barnes’ retirement! No I’m joking… he’s actually one of my best mates so I’m allowed to say things that.

We played a great game against Northampton at the Rec a month or so ago, that was very enjoyable to play in. I think we’ve dug out some really hard wins; we dug out a hard one against Sale on Friday night. We almost had a highlight up at Welford Road where we came very close but didn’t manage to do it but, you know, you manage every so often to get a win that makes everyone feel great. So there have been highlights.

John Connelly our old coach told me once that ‘Rugby in the end is a blur, you only remember the good days’ Most of the games I’ve ever played are part of the blur. Very occasionally one or two stick out. You can get very excited about a big home win but it’s finishing positions and trophies that count so we’re still looking for those highlights

That’s very philosophical of you.

Well it’s not really, it’s the truth. When you’re 19 and you play a big game and manage to win it’s the highlight of your career but when you’ve played about 250 of them, it doesn’t become boring, it’s still as exciting as it ever was but you have a lot more perspective on the game. Will I look back in ten years and remember the time we beat Northampton at the Rec? Probably not. Will I remember the day we won at Welford Road? Maybe, but what I want to remember is the days we won trophies and titles. We’re still looking at the bigger picture, still aiming for our ultimate highlights but they haven’t happened yet.

Obviously, a few years ago there was a bit of controversy around Bath. In the cold light of day now do you feel that it has made you stronger as a squad?   

Well there was a lot of controversy a couple of years ago, and a lot of people felt that there was a lot of emotional damage that went with that, I disagreed at the time. I don’t know. The only emotional damage I felt was that I was gutted that it had got that far and they were my mates and I was gutted for my mates.

Not just gutted that they got told off and punished but gutted that the situation had become so serious for them. The main damage was that we lost five of our first choice players and a lot of guys that had been at the club for a very long time and played a lot of games here.  It’s very difficult, if you take five top guys out of the Manchester United team and they probably wouldn’t be winning the league this year so, that was more it for me.

We signed some really good guys, they’re bedding in and it’s onwards and upwards. To be honest, it’s a forgotten episode at the club; you certainly don’t take the field at Wasps or Exeter or Quins and thing ‘let’s make up for the controversy that happened two years ago’. You asking me the question is probably the first time I’ve thought about it in about six months! But then, I wasn’t involved and it’s probably harder for the guys that were but you get past these things and when the shit hits the fan on the field you’re just thinking about what’s in front of you.

From a spectator’s perspective, it does seem like Bath are on the up and reaching for glory, and that you seem to have improved season on season since then. Would you agree that it’s how you guys feel or, am I romanticising it?

I think maybe you’re romanticising it a bit, but that’s all right!  Out there there’s no time for romance. We’re all striving, we’re all aiming for glory and it’s all about finding the right formula, signing the right players, it’s about getting the management structures right, even your facilities.

We’re changing a lot of stuff at the moment and the idea is that we’ll have the right sort of solidity to move forward, and to become a squad where we know where we are in all aspects. We’ve always been striving, and we did well before the controversy, we were making semi-finals in the Premiership and Heineken Cup. I hope we’re getting better, but everyone’s getting better. However romantic that sounds I’m not sure!

You spoke recently about how ‘downtime’ isn’t really ‘downtime’ any more when injuries happen. Do you think that’s made the game stronger or more entertaining because players are always ‘on’?

Not that long ago you’d get injured and you’d just disappear and come back when you’re nearly fit. The injured guys get hammered now but you give us guys a week off and we’re bored. I don’t think it’s an addiction to exercise, I think it’s just boring because all your mates are training and you’re on your own. It’s like trying to bunk off school for the day, there’s no point bunking off on your own, especially when you’ve got kids, it’s probably more peaceful hitting the scrummage machine than it is sitting in the lounge.

You want something to do, you need a little bit of time to rest and get over the injury but then you want to get active.  Guys now have what you might call a hard time but actually it’s great because you’re kept active, all the able parts of your body get worked on and it’s a time to make gains.

You still get your downtime, the players wouldn’t do a huge amount after lunch, and they have a bit of structure to life, so I think it’s better, you’re not off down the bookies and coffee shop to coffee shop. We’re in a better state now than we were.

There’s been a lot of talk this season about issues around the scrum – do you feel something needs to change?

Yeah, of course it does there’s just so much for the referees to do, you’ve got to look at the timing of the engage. Every referee’s different, there’s no standard timing. There’s a reason for that, humans are all different – as soon as you have a standard timing people will be second guessing it and pushing the limits but it’s very difficult as an exhausted front rower sometimes, to stick to the timing. There’s a huge amount of free kicks and penalties. It used to just be ‘is he collapsing?’  Or ‘Is he boring in?’ Now the loosehead has to have his hands somewhere – but can he get it there because the tighthead is binding on his arm? And is the ref spotting that?

Actually the most refreshing game we’ve had this year was Nigel Owens refereeing us against Saracens. I think I’m right in saying that his big thing is that he does no video preparation for the game – you might say he’s unprepared but actually, he’s just refereeing what he sees, so he comes in with no preconceived ideas. You might say some of the penalties went the other way, I think both teams got penalised, but it was fresh and you could tell that he hadn’t had a nod from somebody to watch out for him doing this or him doing that. You can build yourself a reputation, rightly or wrongly, for being a cheat or for being immortal at the scrum. But that’s our job, so someone coming in completely unbiased, with no preconception of what he might see it was great for us and both teams really enjoyed it.

Something’s got to change, I mean it’s a complete dog show, the scrum now, it’s very different to how it was five years ago. It’s not that anyone’s cheating, it’s not that at all, it’s just bloody difficult to get everything right, to tick every box.

Sometimes a scrum will fall on the floor, if the ball’s at the back who’s bothered? A lot of the time that’s honestly how we view it, because apart from anything else it’s bloody hard work continuing to reset scrums.  Equally, refs have been told not to reset as many scrums because it’s boring spectacle so they are directly pressured to make a decision. So are they always confident the decision is the right one?

Like any referee in any sport, they get stuff wrong; they know that, so do we, that’s fine. But you know you’re forcing a ref to be really assertive about something where, half the time being honest, we don’t know what’s going on! I feel like you’re almost going to have to take the hit away now, get everyone in the right position and then begin the scrum, it might take a couple of seconds longer but there’ll only be one, there won’t be too many resets.

Who knows what they’re going to do they might add another stage to the ‘Crouch Touch Pause Engage’ and make it a 13 stage process or whatever they do, I dunno but, we’ll see.

What would be your perfect day off?

A perfect day off would be Baby letting me sleep till Eight, pop the dogs around the block, have a cruise into Bath for a nice lazy bit of breakfast, take my dogs into the fields surrounding Bath or to the Bath race course, probably have an hour or two on the sofa, chill out – because your bones are pretty tired come day off time, then it’s all about the next meal. So then meet somebody for lunch, relax again, meet somebody for dinner, relax again. Pretty sedentary day, that’s how I like to spend it. I mean, we’re so active all the time. I probably do more exercise on my day off than most because I have to walk my dogs for an hour and a half every day, but a day of not thumping around and not thinking too much is generally what I like so usually it involves how I’m going to plan my three meals out.

What kind of dogs do you have – people will ask!

I’ve got an Old English Mastiff and I’ve got an English Bull Terrier Cross, and he looks like one!

I bet they take a lot of exercise, they’re quite feisty things aren’t they?

Yeah, the bull terrier loves a run, the Mastiff isn’t so keen but he gets a lot of exercise cause of his brother basically!

If you were stuck on a desert island with two of your team mates, who would you like it to be and why?

Oh god! Um… Peter Short, because he’s a one man entertainment centre and …ooh…who else, probably Michael Claasens as he’s so nice he’d probably offer himself up to be eaten first.

Is that something you’d be prepared to do?

Yeah, he’d make good eating I reckon, Mikey; nice and lean, free range, yeah he’d be alright.

Who’s the best or worst roomate when you’re away?

The worst is Duncan Bell, because before you’ve even put your bags on your bed he’s eaten all the shortbread biscuits. And because he’s like a St. Bernard and he’s got loads of excess skin in his throat through years of overeating he snores like a train, so you spend most of the night whacking him with a pillow. As soon as you want to turn the telly on and chill out after dinner he’s on his iPad with his ridiculously enormous headphones on around his massive cow-head being the most antisocial roommate ever and then ruins your night’s sleep after that.

Martin Wood, the former Bath and England scrum half, was the best roommate. He was my roommate for years here. Whenever we get to a hotel we always have to put our bags down then go and meet or a team stretch, which I always think is a bit of a waste of time cause I’m a bit old school. But Woody used to say ‘The stretch can wait’ and he’d always put the kettle on so we used to always be 10 minutes late for a stretch cause we’d have a nice brew first! I liked it because he made three or four cups of tea a night.

Do you have any pre-match rituals?

No! Not really, I always try not to forget my boots. No I don’t really have any, I sort of think that superstitions make you nervous, because there are things you have to do before a game there’ll always be times when you can’t do them all or something will be out of place and you’ll go into a game feeling all insecure.

What’s been your favourite touring moment?

In 2000, winning in South Africa with England. We won the second test, which was nice and popped out for a few beers, inevitably you end up separating out into your own little cliques with the guys you know best of all so Danny Grewcock, Julian White and I ended up having a few pints in the corner together. Long story short, by the next day we were labelled ‘The Jo’burg Three’. There were a few incidents that night – nothing untoward, you understand- but it involved someone getting paid off and Danny, Julian and I having to give back all the girls clothes that we were wearing when we woke up.

There were no girls there, evidently, but their clothes were with us. Unfortunately there was nothing romantic to reported that night but… Well, I got to spend the night in bed with Julian White, which wasn’t very nice. I think some girls rather unwisely left some nice jackets and blouses and scarves in the cloakroom and we couldn’t find our jackets, our England blazers, we decided we needed a little crop top each to keep us warm.

Someone also commandeered one of the hotel’s golf buggies and rolled it and we were accused and it wasn’t us. I want to state for the record it was not us. I know who it was, I’m just not telling you who!

Who’s your ultimate rugby hero?

Wade Dooley, I used to love Wade Dooley. He’s just big and hard and no nonsense, and I like him, very little drama, seemed like a good old boy that just got on with it.

Is there anyone currently that inspires you?

I think the best, he’s not my hero but the best player I’ve played against in the last couple of years is Stephen Ferris, who plays for Ulster and Ireland. I have no idea how he plays in the Magners League, I don’t see any of these games, but when we’ve played against him in the Heineken Cup the last few years he’s been pretty phenomenal. Rugby must be hilarious when you’re that good.

What’s your favourite book?

It’s called  After the Lemons, and it’s by a local Bath journalist called Kevin Coughlan, it’s a book about the glory years of Bath Rugby and it’s brilliant.

How about album?

I think Plan Bis my favourite at the moment; I’ve been listening to it most days for about a year. I tend to have one album that I hammer for about a year then I get another one. I get one album a year because I’m not very cool. Olly Barkley told me Plan B was good so I downloaded it. That’s not true, I bought it on CD but I’m the only person that still buys CDs anymore, and I absolutely love it, I even converted Danny Grewcock to it who’s 47 years old, so it must be good!

How about film?

I bet everyone says Shawshank, don’t they? I think if there’s one film I can’t turn off when it’s on it’s Predator. Always loved it since.

Interview by Lauren, Picture by Herring Shoes. Amazon links help to support Manpilez.

Advertisements
 

Newspilez – Week Ending 14th November 2010 November 16, 2010

What a weekend, hey, dear readers?

Week two of the Autumn International Series was an out and out nail biter from start to bitter end.
Saturday saw an ill-advised simultaneous kick off of the Ireland V Samoa, Wales V South Africa and
England V Australia games.

Sadly, this meant we didn’t get to see BOD almighty’s boys take on Samoa, but all reports we’ve seen
heard and read have described their 20-10 win as ‘unconvincing’. I’d call 10 points pretty convincing
but then I didn’t see it…

However, it was this side of the sea where all the excitement was happening. Wales very nearly kept
the South African wolves from the Millennium Stadium door with one of the most nailbiting and
controversial displays this reporter has seen in a very long time. From the starting whistle, our boys
in red were fierce and seemed to get the Springboks on the back foot for much of the first half, going
into the break leading by 20-9 after a scorching try from newcomer George North and some spot on
Kicking from Superstephen. However, the beginning of the second half saw the ‘Boks have a golden
spell, crashing over the line twice within five minutes and creating a four point lead from which the
Cymro’s could not recover, despite valliant efforts.

Fair play to the Springboks (that makes a change!) their defence was SOLID in the face of some
stellar Welsh attack, and the ball was firmly in the South African 22 for most of the last 20 minutes
as our boys tried to eake out one last, winning try but sadly it was not to be.

As if our pulses weren’t already racing, by the time the final whistle blew in the Millennium stadium
we were already getting word that something amazing had happened at Twickenham. England had
beaten Australia. Again. Convincingly.

A lot will be said about the fiercness of the pack in the face of the Aussie’s woeful scrimmaging, a lot
will be said about Ben Young’s mad skillz at 9, and Crofty’s Is-He-A-Flanker-Is-He-A-Winger presence
all over the field but most of the talk is of Chris Ashton. The Northampton Saints winger placed
himself firmly in the heart of every rubgy loving Englishman and woman after having scored a brace
against the Wallabies, both fantastic tries but non so much as his second.

From Deep in Enemy territory, inches away from the English try line, Good ole Ashy got the ball, saw
a gap…. and run the ENTIRE length of the field. The papers have been doing their best over the last
few days to describe how epic it was, some have done it in words, but many have tried graphics with
varying degrees of success. To us, it looked a bit like this:

 

That is to say, pretty impressive, and the kind of try we’ll be talking about for years (like that
diagram, huh?).

Of course, the RFU don’t do humble, so now it’s a New English Renaissance, they’ve been pushed up
to fourth in the world rankings and they’re CONVINCED the World Cup is a formality.

Come on boys, that was awesome, don’t ruin it by running your mouths off. Oh, too late…

Up in Bonnie Scotland, Murrayfield was done up to look like Brigadoon with lone pipers, smoke and
fire and some incredible atmosphere. They got us so fired up that for a moment we even started
to believe they might actually give The Best Team In The World (TM) a run for their money. Sadly
the whistle blew and all that went south, way south, pretty quickly and after 78 painful minutes of
seeing earnest Scotsman after Earnest Scotsman fall to the Kiwis, the ref blew the whistle, with the
score at 3-49, clearly not wanting to add insult to Max Evans’ shoulder injury that had halted play.

More provincially, the LV= kicked off for the last time till January this weekend, with two big grudge
matches. Ospreys v Leicester in Bridgend and Wasps V Bath down in High Wycombe. We were very
pleased to see the Ospreys storm the Brewery Field with our gaggle of youngsters managing to
put 46 points past the Tigers who clocked up 13 points of their own. Wasps and Bath fought it out
valiantly to end 18-16 to the alleged Londoners. Elsewhere the Scarlets travelled to London Irish
and thoroughly trounced them with 26 points to 35 and Harlequins won 28-20 against Newcastle
Falcons.

Sadly, the Weekend did not end on as positive note as it started. It was announced on Sunday
Evening that two players from the Springbok camp had failed their random drug tests after their
game against Ireland a week previously. Both Chiliboy Ralepelle and Bjorn Basson have taken early
planes back to South Africa after being handed bans by the IRB on the recommendation of Six
Nations Rugby who carried out the test. Both tested positive for ‘non specified’ banned stimulant
methylhexaneamine, a nasal decongestant only recently added to the watch list, and one which
Springbok Management are claiming, somewhat plausibly, came from flu medication. Either way this
may not be as serious as it sounds, but it’s put everyone on alert. Are players fully aware of what is a
supplement and what is going to ruin their career? Or is this part of a deeper problem?

As ever, we like to end on a hormonal note. This week we’re turning our sights to the impending
Bottom of the Ruck Awards.  What started off as a bit of a lark on twitter has turned into a glitzy awards
ceremony at Twickenham with a raft of Rugby Stars.
Austin Healey will be presiding over the event and many of the nominees will be trying to prove their
bottom is best, all in the name of Beating Bowel Cancer. We’ve already voted but if you want to rate
Dan Carter against Adam Jones or Brian O’Driscoll against James Haskell, get to the website then get
your glad rags on!

And before we go: Player Of the week!

A shared award this week as, in complete tandem two men put themselves in the history books of
rugby in fine style this Saturday.

The First; George North: The third youngest player to be capped for Wales came out of the traps
like he’d been ready for it since the day he was born. He worked the entire field and went over for a
brace of stunning tries. His future looks bright.

Chris Ashton: Because that try was more than great.

Words by Lauren, bad photoshop by Lauren

 

Newspilez: 10th November 2010 November 10, 2010

Hopefully you’ve noticed that we’ve been away for, er, ages… but now that life and technology are not barring our path to bringing you our unique perspective on the latest Rugby news… and the stuff we missed… we’re back!

Saracens have won the most headlines during our absence, not only did they put everyone out of their misery and sign up twinkletoes from the Ospreys and have their coach Brendan Vetner hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons *again* by getting charged for misconduct, but they also pulled off one of the most bizarre publicity stunts ever in rugby. And we’re talking about a sport that in the last year has had five of Bath in a bed with a bevy of teddy bears, Cappucino-making-bin-collecting Ospreys and, well, Stade Francais. Earlier today Britain’s rugby press were summoned to Suburban London’s Mill Hill to be told that from next season, the boys in black with red smudges will be playing in what will be the only Premiership venue with an honest-to-goodness Tube Station serving it… on a pretend pitch.

Further reports have suggested that despite the media circus called the likelyhood of this actually happening is slim, no planning permission has been granted to make the Barnet Copthall Stadium Premiership-ready and as the London Borough Of Barnet are not the most sympathetic council in the world, topped with the fact that the same space has been denied planning permissio due to neighbour pressure before – it’s not looking all that promising. Though we suspect the fallout will be entertaining to say the least.

Over in Bath, the Blue Black & Whites have been having a bit of a rocky season so far, with some fantastic wins among a spate of gutting losses but with the LV= finally up and running they seem to be getting back on track.

Across the border in Wales, our beloved Ospreys haven’t been doing much better after getting out of the traps a lot slower than the rest of their Magners league colleagues due to injury and the fall-out of Summer International duty, they seem to have fallen foul to a horrible repeat of last year’s season start in which they have played fabulously… for about fifteen minutes a week. Here’s hoping they get back on track once the Magners League kicks in again at the end of November and they can climb back up from their currently depressing 8th position on the League table.

But they did beat London Irish in the first round of the Heiniken cup, so we know their winning ways are in there somewhere…

Their neighbours over the bridge in Llanelli, however have been this season’s surprise. After a disappointing 09-10 season, the Scarlets are currently nestling at 2nd in the table with a measly 4 points separating them from perennial leaders Munster.

Of course, the most compelling stories at the moment are coming from the Autumn Internationals which kicked off in fine style last weekend with a colder, damper version of Super Saturday. Sadly, all thre ehome nations fell short of beating their visitors by margins so similar as to make us wonder if 10 points is a fully accurate indicator of how much better the Southern Hemisphere is currently performing against the North. England, Ireland and Wales all put in valliant efforts and in some areas were clearly the better teams (need we even bring up the paucity of the Australian scrum?) but one thing is for sure, all the respective skippers and coaches need to be taking some serious lessons from this round of internationals if we want to see any of our beloved home nations anywhere near the Webb Ellis cup next year.

Sadly though, it’s not been the standard of play, the champs and chumps, overuse of the term ‘strength in depth’, the citings or even Movember progress that’s been taking up the most column inches this time around as the attendances/ticket pricing debate has been the issue that’s stolen everyone’s attention. Twickenham had 10,000 empty seats, The Millenium Stadium an almost unheard of 20,000 which already captured people’s attention, but it was Ireland who stole the show, no-show wise, with their brand spanking new home stadium opening with around a third of the tickets languishing in the box office. Clearly the respective unions and venues have gotten something (and by something we mean the sheer amount of cold hard cash requred to get through the turnstile)  wrong in these recession scarred times, either that or it’s just too bloody cold but it’s clear something needs to be done to rally the troups and get bottoms rising from seats as the Northern Hemisphere get their proverbial act in gear. Too optimistic? Probably.

In more hormonal news, it’s calander (sic) season so let us know which you’re buying and which you’ll be hiding down the back of the sofa if you find it in your stocking come December. Here’s some sneak previews:

Courtesy of Uncle Gigi

Courtesy of the Laura Crane Trust

Catherine Tates keeps her clothes whilst all around her ar losing theirs in aid of Youth Cancer Charity the Laura Crane Trust

 

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

 

Newspilez: week ending 12 September 2010 September 13, 2010

Given that we Manpilez ladies are 75% Ospreys loyal (with the remaining 25% having both feet firmly in Wales), a certain issue about a certain twinkly-toed hypothermic man has not passed us by this week and we’re sure it didn’t miss you, either. Bearing that in mind…

  • The week ended on a positive for the Ospreys who, after having their four point defecit suspended on Friday morning, saw off Italian Magners newcomers Benetton Treviso at the Liberty Stadium with a 32-16 win. A more coherent performance than last week’s show against Ulster, the Ospreys went in on the attack and exploited a weak Treviso defence. Hideous weather conditions failed to improve throughout the game and there were plenty of slips and slides, not to mention a gutted Gareth Owen losing out on a try in a lamentable butterfingers moment. Pieman, Peddlar and Stig did some proper business, but we’ve not seen the best of the boys from Llandarcy yet this season. For about twenty lovely minutes, the Ospreys were roosting snugly at the top of the league, but were usurped once Munster fought to seal a three point victory over Edinburgh at Murrayfield.

 

  • The big Saturday showdown saw Leinster take on Cardiff Blues in a game with more ups and downs than a kangaroo on a pogo stick. The first half was definitely in Leinster’s favour, but the Blues made a step change in the second and levelled before Leinster booted themselves up the behind for a charged final twenty minutes. Two tries in the last ten saw Leinster seal the deal 34-23.

 

  • Elsewhere in the Magners League, Newport Gwent Dragons seem to be upping their game and saw off Glasgow Warriors 23-11 in a scrappy clashing of heads at Rodney Park, while Scarlets slipped by with 35-33 win despite an early lead from Connacht. Kudos to Aironi, who, despite falling foul of Ulster in the final quarter to end on 15-22, really bit back in their first Magners League home game. Two Irish competitors down and two Welsh lined up in the coming weeks, only time will tell if the fire in their bellies be enough to keep Aironi afloat…

 

  • Over in England’s green and pleasant land, the Aviva Premiership is gathering pace with Bath currently leading the pack. Despite injurygeddon coming to the Rec, Bath managed a 20-13 victory over London Irish with everyone’s favourite reformed bad boy, Olly Barkley, putting the boot in to land five penalty kicks. In your face, Johnno.

 

  • Wasps suffered a massive upset at the hands of Newcastle Falcons, falling from 14 point lead grace to stumble home with a 29-17 defeat swimming before their eyes. With tries being disallowed left, right and centre, Quins were no doubt spitting to lose out 16-20 to Northampton Saints at the Stoop, while Sarries rose from the ashes of last week’s Twickenham defeat to beat Sale Sharks 28-13. Gloucester clawed back some dignity after their first round trouncing from Exeter but landed only the slimmest of victories over Leeds Carnegie with a final score of 22-21. Speaking of Exeter, the Chiefs were back to their old tricks at Welford Road on Saturday, at least for the first half of their head-to-head with current Aviva champs Leicester Tigers. Going into half time with a 20-10 lead, Exeter fought tooth and nail but were denied a second win as the Tigers finally pulled their socks up and turned the tide for an epic 11 point comeback in the final 16 minutes. Newcastle, you’re next and you’d be wise to not underestimate the west country boys!

 

  • Finally, a quick hop over the Channel to review the state of the Top 14. Our favourite boyband Stade Francais are having a bit of a shocker, currently practising their choreography and lipsynching in the bottom end of the league (stifle those giggles in the back) while their historic bitchslap counterparts Racing Metro 92 are flying high, three points behind leaders Aviron Bayonnais. The Racing boys took La Rochelle to the cleaners on Saturday 43-18 win that saw perennial injury-magnet Juan Martin Hernandez duck out early with a thigh complaint. Let’s hope he’s not Iantoed himself and will be fighting fit soon.

 

Words by Anna (ably abetted by Lauren)

 

The Hard Sell September 11, 2010

So, the new season has started and while everyone wants to talk form and predictions, I have turned my attention towards something altogether more inconsequential: the money-spinning (or not) world of rugby merchandise. Yeah, merchandise. Got a spare tenner? NO. Never have a spare tenner. There are so many valid things you could do with a tenner. You really, really don’t need novelty flip flops.

I have trawled the online stores for a handful of teams to assess their shoddy wares and to point the finger at the worst offenders when it comes to touting Pink Shit for Girls.

  • Find your way past the badly photoshopped picture of Olly Barkley in an unsightly hoodie and you’ll soon learn that Bath Rugby wants to BRAND YOUR LIFE. Not content with having an entire section dedicated to your goddamn car, Bath Rugby wants you to be rebellious (poker set, playing cards), trendy and tech savvy (latte mug, USB memory stick), a noisy twat (mini swivel drum) and… no, I haven’t quite decided the remit for the Big Balls Soap Set… All this and no less than seven – count ’em – different teddy bears. The Bath Rugby shop is the online equivalent of one of those tat catalogues that falls out of a Saturday tabloid. You never knew you needed all this pointless shit… and really, you don’t. Secret Santa heaven.
    Pink Shit for Girls? This is where Bath wins, big time. The pink is minimal and restricted mostly to hats.

 

  • For a team with the maxim Pink is Beautiful, the Stade Francais Boutique is woefully disappointing. Where’s the glamour, the innovation, the je ne sais quoi? Dull, dull, dull. Although I wouldn’t say no to the lightning bolt beach towel. Or the pants, if the right person was wearing them. Pink Shit for Girls? You bet your life. Pink shit for everyone!

 

Um...

  • Not content with having one of the ugliest kits in rugby union, Gloucester go to great lengths to offend eyes everywhere with an array of gubbins which looks as though it was salvaged from the a 1970s bargain bin. The more discerning drinker will be right at home in the Gloucester shop: MAN’S PINT GLASS, MAN’S WHISKEY TUMBLER and an elegant tulip glass perfectly suited for Glawsy ladies.

    Shoplifted from Poundland

    Pink Shit for Girls? Yes, in a shade best described as “spam”. Putrid.

 

  • Ah, Leinster. Where men are men and they play rugby, use Zippo lighters and wear bowties. After a fair bit of scouring, the Leinster shop is the only online rugby merchandise store where I’ve found both a lighter and a bowtie. Now that is eclectism. Take note, Stade. Also, if you ever need a bag, the Leinster store appears to be the place to go. BAGS, I’m telling you. Bags of bags.

 

  • I’m finding Munster hard to come to terms with. The red and blue just doesn’t correlate in my head. Granted, the red isn’t as offensive as Gloucester’s. In fact, I probably wouldn’t even have mentioned Munster were in not for the fact that they boast one of these bad boys:

    and if you don't love these, you have no soul

    Pink Shit for Girls? If it’s there, it’s well hidden. Bonus points for the awesome Munster wellies for kids!

 

  • For a no nonsense approach, look no further than Glasgow Warriors. This is a t-shirt. It is blue. It has some writing on it. It is a Glasgow Warriors t-shirt. You do not need to know anything else, go away. The layout of the entire shop keeps to this rule, to the point where they might as well have forgone the images and simply labelled each box “Generic Merchandise #1” and so forth. Inoffensive, but forgettable for it. Pink Shit for Girls? A very bland scarf. Meh.

 

  • The wallpaper border available from the Scarlets shop made me feel weirdly nostalgic. When was the last time you considered buying a wallpaper border? When was the last time you thought about wallpaper borders? You’re trying to remember the theme tune to Changing Rooms right now, aren’t you? I’ll give them back some points for the adorable Sosban Fach fridge magnets, however. Pink Shit for Girls? Yes. “Bright pink”, though strangely less offensive than the “SCARLET GODDESS” t-shirts, which are a bit market stall.

 

  • Ah, Racing Metro. New boys on the Heineken block. The GAP to Gloucester’s Matalan. Let’s overlook the fact that they have a lovely kit and let’s overlook the fact that Juan Martin Hernandez is the model du jour… (took me a bit longer to overlook that one) and review: nice retro tees, cute baby clothes, a spiffy little iPhone cover (if that’s your bag) and… Pink Shit for Girls? Absolutely none! It’s purple!

When it comes to merchandise, Racing are number Juan

Words by Anna, photos by various (roll over for details)

 

Rawr Data Player Profile: Matt Banahan

Filed under: Bath,England,Player Profile,Rawr Data — Manpilez @ 8:43 pm
Tags: , , ,

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