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Finalpilez: The Amlin Challenge Cup Final – Harlequins 19 – 18 Stade Francais May 21, 2011

Filed under: Amlin Challenge Cup,Game Reports,Harlequins — Manpilez @ 11:37 am
from the bbc

Come all without, Come all within...

Blimey, that was… a bit of a dog’s breakfast actually.

Sometimes, 80 minutes can feel very short, and yet like a million years at the same time and for anyone at Cardiff City Stadium last night, whether they were in pink or multicolours, that will ring painfully true. This was a game that felt like it never truly got off the ground.

There was a sense that both teams got a bit more than they bargained for, with Quins looking out and out baffled by Stade’s blitz defence and Stade going to pot whenever Harlequins got any meaningful possession. This lead to penalty ping pong for much of the first half, meaning the pervading memory most people will take from this is the sight of a bright pink remote control car delivering kicking tees for Stade Francais and Nick Evans’ ‘birthing a cow’ method of kicking prep.

Stade were the side more out for a scalp and thanks to some inspired drop goals from Mathieu Bastareaud and Martin Rodriguez, were in the lead for most of the second half. To the relief of the amassed South London contingent, Quins finally turned up in the 77th minute and, after a fantastic offload from Manpilee Danny Care, Gonzalo Camacho went over the whitewash and without enough time (but still a bloody good effort) for Stade to truly answer the challenge, Man of the Match Nick Evans kicked it out from deep within the Quins 22 before it’d truly hit home what had just happened.

Credit must go out to the albeit small Stade Francais supporters contingent, who, while Connor O’Shea’s men celebrated like they couldn’t quite believe it, cheered, sang, and applauded like that was the result they wanted all along. Those crazy Parisians, we love them.

Manpilez Man of the match: Mike Brown. Many players will make a cursory mention of the supporters in their post match speech, Mike Brown however, took a moment, while the pressure was on in those dying minutes to not only gee up the supporters, but to truly make them feel like the 16th man.

Words by Lauren, Picture from the BBC

 

Previewpilez : The Amlin Challenge Cup Final – Harlequins v Stade Francais May 18, 2011

And now, the end is near, and so we face the final questions…

Harlequins or Stade Francais?

Leinster or Northampton?

Leinster or Munster?

Leicester or Saracens?

And so begins the first of our looks ahead to the show pieces of  what has already been an exciting, unpredictable and entertaining rugby season.  Well, unless you count the Aviva Premiership final being a direct repeat of last year…

This Friday sees the final of the Amlin Challenge cup, where Harlequins and Stade Francais will both be running out onto the Cardiff City Stadium pitch to prove pretty much the same point: their season hasn’t been all that bad.

With both star-studded  teams having finished in the bottom half of their leagues, and records that can only be described as hit and miss, it’s difficult to tell which way this will go. On the one hand, Harlequins beat Magners League dominating Munster to get to this final, which is no mean feat in itself, but with their away record in particular this season looking a little grim, there’s a bit of a sense of that wonderful ‘it depends which Quins turn up on the day’ cliché we all brought out for France in the Six Nations. Add this to the fact that the moments where Harlequins have shone this year have been when the pressure has been highest, it’s very tempting to put Quins as favourites to lift the trophy.

Stade Francais, on the other hand, are a different animal altogether. With some massive international names on their books and a budget the size of the entire economy of Lichtenstein, it’s hard to understand why they have missed the mark so often this season, finishing a lowly 11th in the Top 14. However, with so many internationals, there is a strong test-match mentality which has saw them through the tournament so far.

Despite this second-string meeting playing second fiddle to Saturday’s Heineken Cup final, some fantastic head to head battles on the field have the potential to make this the more interesting fixture. One of the most interesting oppositions will lie at the back row, as Chris Robshaw, Nick Easter and Will Skinner for Quins up against Antoine Burban, James Haskell and Sergio Parisse, while at scrum half, the occasionally controversial Julien Dupuy will test his mettle against the ever energetic Danny Care.

What is certain, is that Leckwith is not going to know what’s hit it with two particularly voiciferous and passionate sets of fans baying for glory.  We’re particularly looking forward to hearing how loud the chants of ‘Uuuuuugooo!’ will be if Mr Monye works some magic.

Ones to watch:

Nick Easter, sometime England captain and cheeky cockney geezer is never a man to be afraid of putting his body on the line to create a chance.

Sergio Parisse, always. In fact, we’ll give you a tenner* if you can find a rugby player, writer or pundit that can say a bad thing about his play.

One to drool over during stoppage time: We know you lot love a bit of Danny Care action, but we’re going to go Mirco Bergamasco, mainly because Anna goes all gooey when he’s around.

*We wont

Words by Lauren

 

Interviewpilez: Danny Care April 17, 2011

Filed under: Harlequins,Interviewpilez — Manpilez @ 6:40 pm
Tags: , , ,

As the season gears up to its explosive end and the sun starts to peek out behind the blossom, our Lauren went down to Surrey Sports Park in the blazing sunshine to chat to Harlequins and England scrum half Danny Care about the Six Nations, Munster and which film still makes him tear up a bit…

How’s the mood in camp at the moment?

It’s good, it’s really good. Everyone’s looking forward to a big game against Bath at the weekend and we were really happy to beat Wasps last weekend. We were a bit disappointed about our performance in the second half so hopefully we can get another win and kick on for the rest of the season.

Excellent, so are you excited, looking forward to Munster in the Amlin Challenge Cup Semi Final?

Yeah, that’ll be awesome playing at Thomond Park with a load of screaming Irish fans! It’ll be one of the biggest games in the club’s history for a long time so we’re really looking forward to that.

It can be quite scary there with the home fans…

Yeah, I think it’ll definitely be an experience; we’re really looking forward to it. We didn’t really mind whether we got Munster or Brive but I think Munster away will be even more special.

How’s your season been so far?

Yeah, I’ve enjoyed it, it’s had some ups and downs, obviously it was great to win the Six Nations Championship with England, but you know to lose in that last Grand Slam decider was obviously disappointing. I’m happy with how I’ve played and it’s great to be back in a Quins shirt at the moment and playing hopefully some good rugby.

Obviously I’m chuffed that we won [the Six Nations], it was a bittersweet moment getting that trophy and getting that medal when we’d obviously lost the game with Ireland, but I think overall, over the five games we were the best team in the tournament and I think we deserved it.

Do you feel the Aviva Premiership play-offs are still achievable for Harlequins at this point?

No, I think it’s pretty much gone for us now. All we can do is aim as high as we can and hopefully get that top six for the Heineken Cup next year

What have been your personal highlights this year?

[John Andress happens by] Playing with John Andress

Obviously, playing with John Andress is always a big highlight for me, but I think with Quins, winning against Northampton away, we went down to 13 men and somehow still won, so that was brilliant. And I got a little try in that game which was nice, and obviously winning the Six Nations.

Are you trying to build momentum towards getting to the World Cup?

Yeah, I think it’s on everyone’s mind, you know, anyone who’s got a chance of playing for their country, and you want to play well in these last few games for your club, it’s sort of the last chance you’ve got to prove to the selectors that you should be playing. So hopefully I can keep playing well and get in their heads!

Do you have a healthy competition with Ben Youngs?

Yeah it is yeah, it’s a good rivalry, we get on really well with each other and help each other out when we can at England camp and it’s great to come up against each other when we get to play against Leicester.

If the rules about England selection weren’t an issue would you consider playing abroad or is your heart at Quins?

Obviously my heart’s at Quins at the moment, I’ve just signed for another two years after this one so I’m here for the foreseeable future. I think if the weather was like this nobody would want to leave but it’s not always like this. I think it’s something I’d love to do at some point in my career but not just yet.

What would be your perfect day off?

[John Kingston] Never stops does it… you talking rubbish…

I think round going to John Kingston’s house, and then playing golf with him and then gambling with him all day

If you were stranded on a desert Island with two Quins, who would they be?

I’d take Jordy – Jordan Turner Hall – and I’d take Ugo Monye as well.

Why would you pick those two?

We’re inseparable really so wherever we’d go, we’d have to go together and I’m sure we’d have a good laugh anyway.

What’s the whole Quietly thing all about?

It’s a silly thing, really, it’s basically…  if you do something that’s good, or you think something’s good you say Quietly as in…. [does a sort of lowering hands mime] Quietly. So if someone scores a good try, you go up to them quietly and go [mimes again] “quietly”. It’s silly really. It’s to reward a good thing. And it can be used in all contexts.

Picture from those nice people at Zimbio

Danny and Partner in Crime Ugo Monye illustrate their quietness

Where did it come from?

It’s been passed down… I think Chris Malone might have started it, an Aussie guy who used to play at Quins but plays at London Irish now, he had a lot of dodgy phrases I think he might have given us that and it’s caught on.

So, playing under the shadow of Twickenham, when you first moved to Quins did you find it intimidating or inspirational?

Yeah it was quite inspiring really. I mean being from Leeds I’d ever really been down to The Stoop before, I think once when I was playing for Leeds Academy when I was 17, but the ground was completely different then. It’s great to be close to the home of rugby and you know, we’re very proud to be a London club. I think we’re the only proper London club.

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

The *worst* room mate would have to be Nick Easter. He smells, quite a lot, he’s just a big man. The best way to describe him would be a big man, a proper man so he does everything a proper man would do.

The best room mate… I’d have to say I am the best room mate, I always bring sweets

Not that you’re bigging yourself up or anything…?

I always bring sweets and great chat!

Do you have a pre-match ritual? Any songs or anything to get you prepared?

Not really. There are always some songs on the sound system in the changing rom. I like to be quite relaxed before a game, just chill out not really have to think about it before I have to run out and play so I like to go in with a chilled sense.

No pre-match treat?

Not really, I’m quite random  with what I eat… but if I play well in a certain pair of boots I won’t wash them I’ll wear them again exactly the way they were when finished maybe wear a lucky pair of boxers before the game if I’ve played well in them the week before

What’s your favourite book?

You know what I haven’t read a book in a long time, which is bad, and my mum always gets on at me about it. I‘ve recently bought Chris Evans’ autobiography (Memoirs of a Fruitcake"") , which was recommended to me.

CD?

Anything really, anything from Westlife to 50 Cent

Westlife, really!?

Yeah… I like a bit of everything!

Film?

Home Alone"" Home Alone.  Every Christmas time.

Do you still cry?

Little bit…

Game

On the Playstation it would be FIFA 11""

What’s your best tour moment so far?

Probably when we beat Australia last summer. I was on the bench for the first half so it was a bit frustrating, but it was great to win out there.

Actually, the best moment was going shark diving in Australia. We went in this massive aquarium with loads of sharks and stuff and a tortoise came into the testing pool before we got in. They told us if anything comes in to not be scared, to just stay still but this tortoise came into the cage and Ugo just jumped out of the pool! I’ve never seen him move that quick before in my life!

Do you get a lot of stick for being Northern down here?

Yeah I do, a fair bit. Used to have David Strettle down here and that helped me but since he’s gone I think there’s only really me and Tom Castle, who’s a Manchester lad, so me and him get quite  a lot of stick.

North/South divide in the changing room?

Yeah, there is, there is…

Who’s your rugby hero?

Growing up I really liked watching Justin Marshall play. I was really lucky as I got a chance to work with him when he signed for Leeds, and it was my first year out of school so I learned from him and he was the best scrum half in the world so it was brilliant for me to learn off him. Matt Dawson, I used to love watching him so I’ve been lucky to work with a lot of good scrum halves.

Anyone currently?

[Olly Kohn walks by] Olly Kohn, the big second rower, 20 stone Olly Kohn. He’s one of my idols in rugby. I admire him. His shelf, in particular, I’m a big fan of.

Olly Barkley recently spoke out about how nice it would be if rugby moved to the summer, which it kind of feels like today, what are your thoughts on that?

I would be all for that, definitely! No one wants to see people playing against Newcastle away when it’s tipping it down with rain or snow in December, we want to play in the summer. Everyone wants to see tries; no-one wants to see boring games. I’d definitely change it to the summer if I could!

Campaign starts here then!

 

Burning questions asked by Lauren, Photo from Zimbio, Thanks to Sarah at Quins

Wee Print – Links to products mentioned by Danny go to Amazon through their Assosiates Programme. Purchases made through these links help to support Manpilez.

 

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

 

The inevitable macro post October 4, 2010

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for the Manpilez ladies and to apologise for the lack of Newspilez, we’re offering up a combination of two of our favourite things to appease you: rugby and macros. Manpilez: we do it for the lols.

It’s Macro, It’s Macro tiem.

 

Source: unknown. Powered by ROFLBOT.

Source: unknown. Powered b y ROFLBOT.

Source: unknown. Powered by ROFLBOT.

Source: unknown. Powered by ROFLBOT.

Source: unknown. Powered by ROFLBOT.

 

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)

 

Newspilez: Week Ending 5th September 2010 September 6, 2010

Aaaah, can you smell that? It’s the season, it’s here and it’s fresh and lush and exciting. It’s like a little touch of Spring just as Autumn is peeking it’s head around the corner. Okay, that might be an analogy too far but still, the two main UK tournaments kicked off in fine style this week and it’s made us come over all romantic.

Opening Weekend was one of surprises as Connacht went straight to the top of the Magners League after beating  the Dragons 40-17 at the Sportsground.  Meanwhile, our beloved Ospreys managed to knock a single notch off that deficit after losing by one lousy point against Ulster at Ravenhill and the Scarlets fell foul of new boys Benetton Treviso. It wasn’t all bad news for the Welsh sides, however as Cardiff Blues trounced Edinburgh 34-23, securing their first bonus point win of the season. In better news for the Scots, Glasgow Warriors secured a 22-19 win against last year’s runners up Leinster, while poor Aironi sadly proved our blind faith wrong by losing quite dramatically to Munster.  We’re sure they’ll pick up… right?

Over the borders in England, the Aviva Premiership also got off to a gasp-making start when new boys Exeter Chiefs proved their mettle with a convincing 22-10 win over Gloucester, while last year’s winners Leicester Tigers failed to get out of their cages and conceded 27 points to Northampton, able only to answer back with 19 of their own. I’m pretty sure that result made them feel as sick as their away kit made us.

From Leicestertigers.com we're sure they'e hoping we'll buy one... ew!

I mean really, even Manpilez poster boy Tom Croft’s not going to be able to look good in that. Bath, however, lived up to our hype and ratcheted up a convincing win against Leeds at Headingley.

In the capital, the season was kicked off in fine style with the showpiece of the premiership calendar – The London Double Header. In a messy and unfocussed first match, London Irish managed to come back from being 10-6 down at half time to beat Saracens 33-6 after a brace of excellent flourishes by Topsy Ojo got the fire back in their bellies. Later that afternoon, the Twickenham pitch was set alight in a fierce battle between London Wasps and Harlequins which ended in a 29 all draw despite both teams giving it their all. Our London branch (Lauren and Anna) were there and despite entering the ground completely neutral, we couldn’t help but cheer proudly when former Cardiff Blue Andy Powell got his first try in black and yellow. More full report to come once we’ve recovered from Girlflu and technical issues…

In international waters, we’re very sad to report that the England girls, after what seemed like a fight to the death, came second in the Women’s Rugby World cup after the Black Ferns put in a last gasp penalty to take the title with 13-10. The England ladies put in one hell of a fight so New Zealand may have to take extra care of that trophy this time around as it might be it’s last trip back to the Southern hemisphere. We hope.

The Tri Nations is still going on, apparently, despite having effectively been won by New Zealand about three weeks ago. This week Australia beat South Africa 39-41 in what was apparently a very exciting game.

The new laws at the breakdown have been coming under a lot of scrutiny over the last few days, so far we’ve only really seen them in the Tri Nations but now it’s time for teams closer to home to put them into effect it seems it’s all people can talk about. The new laws now put the onus on the tackler to ensure the speed of the recycled ball by giving the tackle more space to roll away, present the ball to his team mates. So far it seems to be reducing the amount of kicking, making runners slightly more confident with ball in hand and it will hopefully lead to a reduction in penalties being given for players not rolling away when they can barely move under the ruck.

In more hormonal news, this week sees one of our favourite pastimes go mainstream: Insane Publicity Stunt Watch hits Britain’s Next Top Model. Oh yes. We thought Bath becoming firemen for the day was the height of this year’s insanity (which did, in fairness make Ospreys stint as bin men last year look tame) but now London Wasps are getting their kit on with the girls vying for Elle McPhearson’s seal of approval. Will Shawsy keep his clothes on? Anna’s hoping not, but we’ll know at 9pm Monday and every night from then to infinity based on LivingTV’s repeat schedule.

And now for our inaugural players of the week.

It’s close this week, for it’s been rather a dramatic week in the land of Rugger but we’re going to have to let our heart rule our head and award this to Mr. Daniel Biggar. Responsible for 21 of the Ospreys 26 points against Ulster, it’s fair to say his boot saved the day and kept the boys in black and purple within bonus point range.

Runners up included Topsy Ojo for his two stunning tries for London Irish at Twickenham, Luke Watson for his at Headingley and the entire Exeter Chiefs squad for coming straight into the premiership fighting.

Words by Lauren, picture by Leicester Tigers.