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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

 

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)