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Interviewpilez – David Flatman April 28, 2011

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

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Belated Newspilez: Here’s our Graham (or Lauren) With a Quick Recap… April 8, 2011

Hey, look  we didn’t die of anti-climax from the last weekend of the Six Nations! An anti climax so severe it managed to leave everyone but Ireland lower in the table than they’d seemed to be heading and lead to the silverware being dished out in what looked like a cupboard.

With every one of the Six Nations returning to base camp with their tails between their legs, there seems to have been something of a resurgence in the domestic game. Though the Magners League and Aviva Premierships rattled on really rather nicely during the competition, the wounded internationals appear to have returned purely to prove their mettle and so the race to the respective playoffs has become mightily interesting over the last few weeks.

In particular, the Aviva Premiership felt like a cup final weekend last week, and that was no more felt than at The Stoop, where visitor Leicester Tigers beat Harlequins in one of the most closely and fiercely fought clashes we’ve seen all year. Punches, failed scrums, contentious tries, yellow & red cards and at one point, boots, were flying all over the place. It was messy, but boy was it exciting as both teams played their skins off.

The Citing commissioner had a mightily busy weekend all of his own and as well as Quins’ Joe Marler and Tigers’ Marcos Ayerzer’s bans for their fisticuffs towards the end of the match, Mark Cueto found himself in trouble after getting a little too far up in the grill of Northampton Second Rower Christian Day. The wait till Cuets’ hearing will be a particularly long one for England fans, as ‘contact with the eye or eye area’ can attract a ban of as much as two years.

In the Magners league, things weren’t quite so fraught but that’s not to say they were any less exciting. With the leaderboard painfully close and just three weekends left to go, the competition is massively hotting up and Munster v Leinster in particular had supporters in fever pitch, only for Munster to scrape past their visitors with a 24-23 victory. Meanwhile, the South Wales Derby of Ospreys v Blues ended in a draw after both teams defended their actual bottoms off to end 21-21 without a single try being scored.

Both leagues are having an off-week this week to allow for the excitement that is Heineken and Amlin Quarter Finals which means the madness has descended. ..

  • Saracens, now without the media whirlwinds of Brendan Ventner and Gavin Henson have caused a stir this week by spending their week off training with the Miami Dolphins and taunting members of rival teams via social networks. Expect a lot of forward passes at Vicarage Road in the coming weeks as they try and secure their place in the Home Playoff zone
  • Ben Youngs, fresh from thrown-out-ball-gate, has become Leicester’s Karl Pilkington after a mystery member of the Tigers squad has started a twitter account @stuffbensaid. So far it has featured such gems as : “ME: I heard you’re doing a session with Kyren Bracken Every Fortnight Lendrid: I am, but not every fortnight, he’s only up twice a month”. Tom Croft has also managed to convince Ben that they could breed salmon ready stuffed with cream cheese.  No, really.
  • The Ospreys have sadly had to lose two players to enforced retirement on medical grounds in the space of a week. Firstly Ben Lewis was taken away from the Liberty Stadium by a nasty neck injury sustained early in the season, and young lock Conor McInerny has succumbed to a persistent knee injury. We wish them both all the best of luck for the future.
  • Gavin Henson scored his first try for Toulon. The media have dubbed him The Best Player In The Universe again. We’re going to give him a few weeks before we pass judgement.

Closer to home, you’ll hopefully be pleased to hear that during our absence we’ve been away plotting for more great stuff for the next few weeks, and you know what, you’re going to love it. Not that we’re blowing our own trumpet or owt. We’ve lined up some cracking interviews  over the next few weeks to fuel your excitement as the season comes to a head.

First to get a grilling will be winner of your favourite nudey picture, Harlequins scrum half Danny Care, then we’ll be  heading west to bother Bath prop David Flatman and finally over the border to annoy Ospreys prop Cai Griffiths and referee Nigel Owens. And we’ve even got lovely lady rugbyist Jemma Cooper from Quins’ Ladies giving us her twopenneth. Blimey.  As ever, because we’re lovely,  if there’s anything you’re dying to know, get in touch with us in the usual ways.

This week we’ll be down at the Stoop for the Amlin Cup Quarter final clash between Quins and Wasps, so if you see us, say hello!

Words by Lauren

 

Awardspilez 2010: the long awaited results! January 30, 2011

Before we announce the long awaited results of the inaugural Manpilez Awards, we’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who sent in nominations, promoted us and, most importantly, to those who voted! The response to our humble little blog continues to amaze us; the day the polls opened was our busiest ever and over the week that followed, over 1500 of you put your mouses where your mouths are and cast your votes.

The polls have been pretty telling – it’s safe to say that a fair few of you share our appreciation of fine looking forwards and beautiful backs given the big response to what we dubbed The Hormonal awards and we also realised that out attempts to curtail our Welsh Bias were either a) failing or b) unnecessary as the votes seemed to stack up highest the further down the M4 the nominees were from!

And now, without further ado, we’re pleased to announce your winners!

Represent! The good, the bad and the downright regrettable marketing and PR moments of 2010…

–          The “Where’s Mine?!” Award for Best Kit and The “You Want Me To Wear What?!” Award for Worst Kit

However much you love your team, the chances are they’ve had at least one kit which you haven’t been keen on. What they’re wearing dictates what you’ll be wearing on your weekends for the better part of a year, so whose was the most desirable strip in 2010 and whose left you running in fear to the nearest GAP, desperate to purchase the blandest, least offensive garment you could find?

Secretly fearing the worst after a glimpse of the training kit (it was a bit… busy); it was love at first sight for Lauren and Anna, two self-confessed purple addicts, when the new Ospreys kit was unveiled. We’re very happy that you agreed with us and voted in droves for the indigo chevron look! In an awesome exercise of neutrality, you lovely people voted the Barbarians kit your runner-up.

Captain Alun Wyn Jones shows off the winning kit in fine style

Your least favourite, by a long shot, was the new Wales kit, which is saying a lot in a year when Stade Francais offered up this eyesore: Incidentally, Gigi’s garm placed second, but it was the newly Admiral sponsored Welsh national kit that turned up your noses, with cries of “It looks like a football kit!” and “Bring back the Brains!”

The real opinion splitter of this year’s looks was the England Anthracite Grey strip, which attracted exactly the same amount of votes in each category. Love it or hate it, the attempted justification from Nike that it’s “the colour of the thorn of the English rose” remains highly dubious.

–          The What The Shit Is This? Award for Daftest Piece of Merchandise

After Anna’s piece in the autumn highlighting  the various and delightful pieces of tat club shops across the nations are touting, we asked you which ones you couldn’t quite believe you’d coughed up cold hard cash for. It was a close call, but eventually, you decided that Mugs bearing the face of Emyvale’s favourite son, Tommy Bowe, were the most regrettable, no matter how much it warms your hearts to see him go over the whitewash, he shouldn’t be keeping your PG tips warm when you get home. Noteable mentions also go to Ospreys Dummies, Scarlets curtains and plastic ducks of every nation.

–          The Barry Scott Award for Most Hilarious Advert, Promo Moment or Photo Shoot

Every year, our pitchside heroes sell tiny bits of their souls in the search for their retirement funds. Sometimes, it’s a clear and logical part of the job; for example Lee Byrne and Shane Williams advertising fitness suppliments or James Haskell promoting… himself. But occasionally, a team or player does something so bizarre that it doen’t matter what the product, charity or competition is, you’ll never be able to take it seriously again. Surprisingly enough, this category was won outright  by Gavin Henson. You see, we had so many nominations for daft publicity stunts from His Satsumaness that we had to consolidate him into one easy to handle nomination, which he stormed with nearly 50% of the vote. Even in the face of Bath getting their teddy bears out for no descernible cause. Oh dear.

–          The It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time Award

This one should surely have belonged to Joel Monaghan and his shamed canine counterpart, yet even ill advised bestial photography wasn’t enough to make you forget the WRU’s ever-so-sensitive placing of a giant Gavin Henson on the side of the Millennium Stadium to coincide with the launch of the award winningly bad new Wales kit.

Imagecourtesy of the good old beeb

Never one to be outdone, big Gav’s turn on the dance floor also had you clapping your palms to your faces as it proved to be more toe-curling than toe-tapping.

The Breakdown… because the nice thighs are an added bonus, not the reason we’re here…

The I Gotta Feeling Award for Best Game

You’re not a true rugby fan until you’ve travelled half the country chasing your team’s dream only to spend 2 hours in a cold stadium having your heart broken one pass at a time. Sometimes it’s hard to remember why we’re doing it, and then something happens, some master stroke, a magic moment that switches a game from depression to ecstasy, a build of energy that leaves you hardly able to stay in your seat from one minute to the next, where the whole crowd come together so you’re lifted so high you’ll be bouncing on air for a week. 2010 was, thankfully, a year of moments like that for many teams, from New Zealand’s efforts in the tri nations to The Magners League Final that nearly wouldn’t quit but one game stood out above all others to anyone in the northern hemisphere.

The scene:Millenium Stadium, Cardiff, Scotland were on fire and the men in Red had been fighting a losing battle… until Shane Williams made a break for the line with just 7 minutes to go. Nobody quite knew why, but from that moment on, we all believed Wales could come from behind, no matter how impossible it looked on the board. Moments later Leigh Halfpenny managed to make it over the ine after a failed attempt from Batman Roberts and before we knew it 14-24 had become  a staggering 31-24. My heart is still pounding almost a year later and even the neutrals out there were glued to the scenes like Wales were playing for their own survival. For 10 minutes one cold and rainy afternoon in February 2010, Everyone that wasn’t Scottish was Welsh.

–          The Don’t Call It a Comeback Award for Best Return

Sadly, Rugby is the kind of sport where nobody is immune from the twisted fate of injury or the ringing sound of a wrapped knuckle. Last year was no exception but your winner was not a victim of injury or the IRB citing committee, but of the mother of all hangovers. As was well covered by the Pre-manpilez press at the time,  one member of the Wales squad chose to celebrate a little too much after the aforementioned dramatic scenes against Scotland. In a golf buggy. On the M4.

After that, Mr Gatland banished Andy Powell from the squad, but while some thought his Wales Career was over, he kept chipping away behind the scenes both for Cardiff Blues and Wasps and come the Autumn Internationals he was back. And not only was he back, he was better than ever before, proving to all doubters why he deserved to represent his country again.

Well done, Gorby, you won your place in the squad and in the hearts of the Manpilez readers.

Honourable mentions must also go to Irish Ledge-Bag Paul O’Connell who had a frustrating period of staring angrily as Munster misbehaved in his absence before coming back to whip them into shape and Mefin Davies who came back to his Ospreylian Roots after a spell in Leicester of all places.

–          The Workhorse Award for Best All Round Performance

Based on our search stats, we knew Tom Croft would end up winning Something, but to be honest, we thought it’d a) be in the more hormonal categories and b) nowhere near as close as this. Thankfully, you lovely lot have proved that while you keep finding us looking for young Mr Croft in various states of undress, the real reason you admire him so is for his grafting on the field. Whether he’s stealing line out ball, driving scrums or making like a winger, you can always count on Crofty to put in the work.

However, just three votes separated Tom from our two runners up, Mr Richie McCaw is a controversial character, but nobody can deny he shows up and puts the work in, usually even when he should probably be in the bin. However, in the case of our second Runner up  Ryan Jones, many have tried to deny his quality over the last 18 months, which the Newport lad has countered by putting in some absolutely belting performances for region and country, and generally proving himself to be a bit of a ledge.

–          The Jiffy Screaming “Don’t Panic!” Award for Most Heartstopping Moment

We can’t say we’re surprised at the winner of this one, those last 10 minutes of the Wales v Scotland game which you voted your match of the year, and frankly it wasn’t even close. We’ve already waxed poetical about the ins and outs of the incident in question, but nothing quite sums it up as well as seeing it. So here’s  a Youtube clip.

–  The Chris Ashton Award for Best Try

Anna suggested the title of this award as a joke as there seemed to be little doubt that Ashy‘s jaw dropping try in October’s England v Australia game would sweep the board. Needless to say, you were all as impressed as us and no doubt held onto the memory with the aid of Lauren’s MS Paint skills. Our Welsh readers left only a slim margin between Ashton and the irrepressible Shane Williams, however, with his little gem against Scotland in the Six Nations coming a close second and also showed support for George North with his international debut coming in third.

–          The Ledge-Bag Award for All-Round Hero

Let’s face it as soon as BOD was nominated in this category, we should have known what was going to happen. Half of Ireland want to be him or worship at his church when he’s wearing green and the other half are busy pretending to hate him while he’s donning the blue of Leinster. A legend on the field and a philosopher off it, It was always going to be Brian O’Driscoll.

That didn’t however, mean he didn’t have some serious competition in the form of the amost Jack Russell-like Welsh winger Shane Williams. Even Scarlet’s supporters can’t begrudge Shane a try, as when he’s on form (which is nearly always), the tries don’t just come, but they come bang on time and out of seemingly nothing. We love Shane, you love Shane, and we’re all glad he’s back in time to tear up the Six Nations.

The Hormonal Section… because the nice thighs really are an awesome added bonus…

–          The Dropped Handkerchief Award for Most Swoon Worthy Player:

There’s was never really much doubt in our minds over which way this one would swing as soon as the nominations came in. Since our launch, one man has brought more people to our blog than any other (although Tom Croft is a strong contender!) That man is your Most Swoon Worthy Player, Tommy Bowe. Maybe it’s the smooth Irish tones, the butter-wouldn’t-melt smile or even the ability to save potentially disastrous dinners with impressive chocolate fondant, but whatever he’s doing, Tommy’s status as Manpilez Poster Boy #1 is now officially secured! Your runner-up was the equally lovely Olly Barkley, whose erudite wit and Twitter babysitting banter has been setting a fair few hearts a-flutter.

Your most lusted after player, Sir Thomas of Bowe

–          The Sorry I Forgot What You Look Like Fully Clothed Award for Hottest Photo

To be perfectly honest, we were a little surprised at the winner of this one. Based on comments we received through the three channels our site stats and our general demeanour, we assumed Danny Care’s fans were going elsewhere for their kicks. We were wrong, and of all the beautiful slices of naked manflesh on offer from the Dieux Du Stade to the Matt Hampson offering, Danny Care’s stint of near obscenity in the Rugby’s Finest Calendar won the lion’s share of your votes. Once again, however you lovely lot proved you’re all about style over filth and your runner up was the really rather overdressed Olly Barkley in this year’s Bath Rugby Calendar. Lush.

Your winning image

 

–          The Oh Daddy Award for Hottest New Father

Your run away winner was Ryan Jones, who left the other daddies trailing in the dust. In a year which has seen our RyJo scapegoated and snubbed, he managed to maintain his awesomeness and dignity while also becoming a father and sporting a dashing silver streak in his hair. Like you, we love him.

If there's two things we like here at Manpilez HQ, Ryan Jones and Tea would be high on the list...

Let’s hear it for the boys… because it wouldn’t be the same without the banter and bromance…

–          The #FF Award for Best Tweeter

Much like the Most Swoon Worthy category, we had an idea of who might storm this one, as there is one man who has done more for Twitter than the likes of Stephen Fry and Ashton Kutcher could ever dream of. That man is Cai Griffiths. We here at Manpilez feel Twitter ought to pay Cai commission for every new person he gets to sign up and double it if they’re an Osprey. Generous with his replies, liberal with his hash tags and always drifting somewhere between obscure and hilarious, Cai had won this award before we even thought it up.

While you lot were voting this man your King of the Twits, Tommy Bowe was posting this picture all over Twitter (Thanks Tom!)

Which leads us nicely into our next category, where you have chosen Cai Griffiths and Edd Shervington as your winner of the I Got Your Back, Bro Award for Best Partnership. Once side by side as front row forwards at Ospreys, they are now separated by club but are held together by a bond of kettle bells, chicken wings and unflattering Twitpics. Far less off the wall and far more genteel is the epic bromance between your runners-up Tom Croft and Ben Youngs, who have warmed hearts with their tales of shared pets and bad cooking.

–          The Clean Off Guy Award for Most Entertaining Player

Most discerning Rugby leaning folk will tell you that a large part of the deal with the oval balled game is the banter. In fact, some rugby folk are so obsessed with banter they go feral if left alone for too long. To that end, every team has a member whose value to the squad isn’t confined to their skills on the field and it’s those who we’ve come to celebrate with this award.

As you can expect, with so many characters around it was a very close call with just one vote separating our winner, Ian ‘Ianto’ Evans of the Ospreys and David ‘Flats’ Flatman of Bath. Both boys seem to have had more than their fair share of injury of late but both have put it to good use in entertaining the nation, Flats with his columns in the Independent, and Ianto with his legendary Yaks. We Salute you both, boys!

A massive congratulations to all our winners and a huge thanks  to you for all your votes and nominations. See you next year!

Words by Lauren and Anna, Pictures from all over the shop