Amid the madness of the Manpilez Awards and the building hype of the Six Nations, this week’s Newspilez is set to be a whistlestop tour through a weekend of Anglo Welsh showdowns as we recap the happenings in the LV= Cup.
Newspilez – Week Ending 30th January 2011 February 1, 2011
Newspilez – week ending 9th January 2011 January 10, 2011
Happy New Year and welcome to the first Newspilez of 2011. With thoughts of tinsel and turkey already distant in our minds, it’s time to meet January head on. With the ongoing drama of the Aviva Premiership, H-Cup and Magners League to keep us busy, plus the Six Nations and a small grassroots tournament which we believe is known as the Rugby World Cup lined up, we’re going to do our best to keep bringing you our quirked-eyebrow, tongue-in-cheek, sometimes slightly capslocky and hysterical brand of rugby coverage over the next year. To that end…
Aironi put Cardiff Blues through their paces on Friday night at the Cardiff City Stadium, though they’re still sitting at the bottom of the Magner’s League having failed to land a victory so far this season. Leigh Halfpenny made a triumphant return from injury with a try which helped Blues to their eventual 24-13 win.
The Ospreys continued in their quest to make Lauren and Anna pull all their hair out by the end of the season during their clash with Leinster. There were bursts of promise which had us on the edges of our seats, with first-time Ospreys captain Justin Tipuric landing himself a try, but it just wasn’t Dan Biggar’s night. Leinster took a 15-10 victory and we heaved heavy sighs.
The Scottish press is up in arms concerning Munster’s 22-20 win over Glasgow on Saturday, questioning the try awarded to David Wallace (The Herald has made some implications about video ref Dermot Moloney being from Munster…) and the sin binning of Glasgow fullback Bernardo Stortoni which led to Ronan O’Gara’s winning penalty kick. Expect the resultant debate about the need for neutral officials in the league to go on for some time…
Elsewhere in the Magner’s League, Ulster pulled their socks firmly up and saw off Treviso 32-13, Dragons slipped past Connacht 17-16 and Scarlets were doubtlessly making snow angels in delight after beating Edinburgh by 21 points to 16 at Murrayfield.
Saturday was derby day in London, as Quins took on Wasps at the packed out Stoop. Quins went in fighting and put on a great team show in the first half, setting up well deserved tries for Joe Marler and Mike Brown. Wasps put up a tough fight and even though Andy Powell was slogging it out all over the pitch, Nick Easter edged over for a third try and Quins went into the break 17-7 up. Wasps dominated possession in the second half, but only managed to put 3 more points on the board and while Quins took the win 17-10, Chris Robshaw admitted that his squad were “a little flat” in the second half.
Of course the real derby took place in the east Midlands on Saturday evening as Aviva Premiership table leaders Leicester Tigers took on second place rivals Northampton Saints. As far as exciting starts to games go, you’re going to be hard pressed to beat Ben Foden touching down just 53 seconds into this tough, injury-strewn head to head.
Both Courtney Lawes and Chris Ashton went off early in the game with a knackered knee and quad muscle respectively, but it was Geordan Murphy who came off worse, stretchered off in the last quarter.
Despite the early show and a great fight from Saints, Leicester went into the game at an advantage as they were six points clear in the league and had a five game winning streak and the roar of the Welford Road faithful in their ears. Tries from Craig Newby and Marcos Ayerza and seventeen points courtesy of Toby Flood’s boot secured Tigers a 27-16 victory.
Other premiership matches saw Bath scrape past Leeds 16-13 thanks to Barks and Bendy and London Irish reaching double figure doom with their tenth consecutive loss as Saracens beat them 12-6. Exeter’s smashing season opener against Gloucester was a distant memory with a 37-23 defeat in the re-match and Sale drew with Newcastle 19 points apiece.
Over in France, Toulouse are still the heavy hitters in the Top 14 despite a monster 31-3 defeat at the hands of Stade Francais on Saturday. Racing Metro edged out Toulon on Sunday night in a 15-12 home victory which has put them in second place on the league table, just two points behind Toulouse.
Two small matters to finish with: if you haven’t already seen the posts and the social media barrage, voting for the 2010/11 Manpilez Awards is now open! The blog had its busiest ever day on Saturday after a number of your lovely nominees were kind enough to promote us in the hopes of getting their hands on the coveted (and we hasten to add metaphorical) awards. If you haven’t already casted your vote, you have until Saturday 15 January!
And finally, if you only follow one new Twitter account this week, why not make it @sebchabal_eng. Yes, that’s right, Seabass himself, translated into English. Where else will you get gems like “Yes, mushrooms are scrumptious. That’s a fact”?
Words by Anna
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
After 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
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
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
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.
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!
- 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.
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:
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!
Words by Anna, photos by various (roll over for details)
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.
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
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.
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.
The ‘Pilez to Watch in 2010/11 September 5, 2010
So, this weekend the UK season has well and truly kicked off. To say we’ve waitied with baited breath would be an understatement. Our first season as a ‘proper’ blog means not only do we now have a cast iron excuse to watch barely healthy amounts of the truly beautiful game, but also that we get to share all of our hair-brained theories with you lovely folk.
Coming up is the Manpilez guide to this year’s passers and ruckers…
The Aviva Premiership
Now we’re going to be honest here, we’ve never really paid that much attention to the tournament formerly known as Guinness before, but not only do we feel it’s our duty to sit up and take notice of what’s happening in England now we’ve got a blog to write, but it’s actually looking to be quite exciting this time around. We’ve been crunching numbers and reading articles out the wazoo to come up with our top three seeds. You guys feel free to argue, and we’ll get ready to eat our words if need be.
800,000 times winners Leicester are a consistently strong side and after taking the trophy in a really rather dramatic final at the end of last season, they’re going into 2010/11 on a high. These boys are also gunning quite fiercely for European victory this year after consistently butting heads with the Ospreys in the group stages for the last few years. This year, safe in the knowledge that their arch rivals are in the Pool Of Death, they’ll be going the extra mile to prove their mettle.
Expected placing: Top two
One to Watch: Tom Croft, he’s big *and fast*
One to force yourself not to get distracted by: Tom Croft…. and sexy too…
After a rather shaky start to last season caused by some severe unrest in both the team and the management structure, Bath started to come into their own towards the end of term and with new coach God – sorry – Ian McGeechan on board, along with some high profile new signings including England captain Lewis Moody, it really feels like something exciting is happening over in the land of Spas.
Expected placing: Top two
One To Watch: Matt O’Banahanahanahan
One to force yourself not to get distracted by: Olly ‘Oh sorry we’re not used to seeing you with clothes on’ Barkley
Even with their chief Brendan Ventner seeming to have a very public nervous breakdown pitchside for most of it, Sarries had an almost perfect season, even defeating a little team called the Springboks during their run of about 4,000 victories before they eventually lost out to Leicester for the title. We suspect they’ll be back with a little extra fire in their belly this season, out to prove their success last year was no fluke.
Expected placing: 3rd
One to watch: Steve Borthwick
One to force yourself not to get distracted by: Richard Wigglesworth
The Magners League
Even our usual comfort zone of the Magners League has been shaken up this season. After last year saw the first ever playoffs, this year sees the extension of the term ‘Celtic’ to incorporate two Italian teams. Benetton Treviso will be known to many from such heady delights as the middle of the Heineken Cup scoreboards, but their fellow Italians Aironi will be less familiar to even themselves as a new team freshly hatched in a merger reminiscent of the formation of the Welsh Regions back on 2003.
For our top four seeds we’re going to attempt to put bias aside….
Okay, okay, we didn’t put it very far aside but in our defence, any pre-season round up worth its salt is going to put the Ospreys high on the watch list. Previously the first team to ever win the trophy twice, the boys extended their record to a third victory and are now gunning to be the first team ever to defend the title. Though they’re coming into this season on a 4 point deficit (unless they win their appeal next Tuesday), this year is starting off a lot more positively with far fewer of their ‘big hitters’ on long term injurywatch than last year when the Lions tour left some members of the squad out till getting on for Christmas.
Our boys in black are also raring to get out of the traps in the Heineken Cup after being denied at the Quarter Final stage two years in a row. With new skipper Alun Wyn Jones stating this ethos for the season: ‘I want to win more than anyone else and that’s the lead I want to set’, it’s hard to contemplate an empty trophy cabinet next year.
Expected placing: Top three
One to Watch: Shane Williams. He’s usually fast, but this time out he’s had a good rest over the summer so we might have to give up blinking for the next nine months.
One to force yourself not to be distracted by: Ryan Jones. He’s not got to worry about being captain outside of International season this year so he can concentrate on being sexy… not that he had a problem with it before.
The Blue seem to have been gathering momentum over the last few seasons and there is a sense of groundswell around Leckwith as the last two years have seen shiny trophies head to the Welsh capital in the form of the EDF (now LV=) Cup in 08/09 and the Amlin Challenge Cup last season. This year they’re not going to be satisfied if they have to pack away the brasso. Chief Dai Jones has spoken out about how they’re going to be taking the Magners League a lot more seriously this year after focussing on their Heineken chances for the last few years and they’re going to want to capitalise on their Amlin success with the Main Prize as well. With new signing Dan Parks and newly massive and superspeedy Leigh Halfpenny in their midst, they’re going to be difficult to beat.
Expected placing: Top three
One to Watch: Leigh Halfpenny – will all that new muscle affect the superhuman speed we’ve seen in past seasons? We’re not sure but I suspect it’s going to be fun finding out.
One to force yourself not to be distracted by: Bruce Wayne, sorry, Jamie Roberts. It’s the accent, mainly…
After coming top of the table only to lose out in the last minutes of the grand final last year, the Dublin boys are going to be out for blood. Blood and points. Given their current form and the fact that they’ve still got BOD Almighty in their midst, we’re already feeling the fear.
Expected placing: top three
One to Watch: BOD, obviously.
One to force yourself not to be distracted by: Nathan Hines
Shocker, I know as we’ve acknowledged in previous posts that the Italians in all their forms are regarded as the underdogs of the Six Nations and even more shocking is…. that’s exactly why I’ve put them in. Aironi are entering this tournament as the ultimate underdogs: they’ve been a team for mere weeks before being thrown into a league that’s well established with teams that contain some of the most talented players in the Northern hemisphere. It’s fight or flight for them and they’ve got to prove themselves as a team and a competitor and I firmly believe that, like the Ospreys back in 2003, they may just surprise us by rising above all that and meeting the challenge.
Expected placing: Top five
One to watch: Marco Bortolami
One to force yourself not to get distracted by: Josh Sole
So, over to you… thoughts? Agree? Disagree? Feel a burning need to discuss Tom Croft’s thighs? Drop us a comment…
Words by Lauren
Newspilez – Week ending 22nd August 2010 August 22, 2010
As the season comes hurtling towards us and pre season friendlies come to their ‘wait till we pull out the big guns’ style conclusion, we round up the snippets and clippets from Rugby Land that caught our attention this week.
- The Women’s Rugby world cup kicked off at Surrey Sports Park. As we flagged up in our Training report, the England Ladies were a force to be reckoned with, beating Ireland by an emphatic 27-0. Sadly, the Wales ladies weren’t so forceful and came up short to Australia in a 12-26 drubbing.
- Meanwhile, in the clash of the southern hemisphere, three time World Cup Winners New Zealand beat Scotland by 55-3, and in the battle of the underdogs USA beat Khasakstan 51-0. All in all day one was a fast paced, high scoring feast of action, and based on the scores so far the next three weeks are going to be very interesting.
- Over in the southern Hemisphere, the Tri Nations went out with a massive bang with the All blacks taking the title after being 22-17 down until Richie McCaw went over with a controversial equalising try in the 78th minute. After calling in television officials on two disputes, the try was allowed and the All Blacks then chalked up yet another try taking them to 29 points and a trip to the trophy cabinet.
- Bloodgate, which started as insane and moved through preposterous and ridiculous to settle somewhere near embarrassed for a while, became sad and pitiful. Former ‘Quins physio Steph Brennan and match day doctor Wendy Chapman may both be struck-off if found guilty of going along with the snidey plot instigated by former coach Dean Richards.
- On a similarly discipline – based note, It’s been reported today that Ospreys management are actively pursuing an appeal against the 4 point deficit they were handed at the end of the last season for rescheduling their already postponed clash against Ulster. The more information that is revealed about this the more ludicrous this sanction seems. Not only did Ospreys management offer several alternate dates to Ulster Rugby but it seems blindingly obvious in hindsight that even without injury and Cai Griffith’s suspension, the Six Nations had already left their front row personnel thin on the ground. Let’s hope sense prevails and they can defend that Magners league title on even ground.
- Lewis Moody made his intentions very clear regarding possible future captaincy of England. Only time will tell if Johnno unleashes the madness…
- Paul Tito, Tom Willis and Matthew Rees were confirmed as Season Captains for Blues, Dragons and Scarlets respectively.
- Pre season friendlies came to an end with Bath trouncing Edinburgh 48-21, The Scarlets beating Worcester 43-14 and Cardiff Blues narrowly beating Exeter chiefs 26-21 while, despite a convincing second half the Ospreys failed to close in on Gloucester and ended on 14-24.
- Meanwhile, further down the M4 corridor, Harlequins beat Ulster 24-0 at the Stoop, London Wasps scored six tries in the face of Leinster’s Six points and Sarries scores 22-5 against Connacht at the Sportsground.
- The Ospreys launched their new kit, and we had to lock up our credit cards to stop us buying all the new merch… I mean… it’s PURPLE! How are we supposed to resist? Rumours that the Manpilez ladies were overheard arguing which was prettier, the home or away shirt are entirely founded…
Stay tuned next week when we’ll be giving you the latest from the Women’s World cup and our pics and predictions for the first week of The Magners and Aviva Leagues. If you spot anything you think we should be taking notice of, drop us a line in our comments boxes or email firstname.lastname@example.org. In the mean time, we’ll see you in the week with some more Rawr Data Profiles…
Words by Lauren and Anna