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

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

Harlequins or Stade Francais?

Leinster or Northampton?

Leinster or Munster?

Leicester or Saracens?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ones to watch:

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

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

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

*We wont

Words by Lauren

 

Interviewpilez: Danny Care April 17, 2011

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

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

How’s the mood in camp at the moment?

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

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

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

It can be quite scary there with the home fans…

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

How’s your season been so far?

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

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

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

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

What have been your personal highlights this year?

[John Andress happens by] Playing with John Andress

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

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

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

Do you have a healthy competition with Ben Youngs?

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

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

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

What would be your perfect day off?

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

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

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

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

Why would you pick those two?

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

What’s the whole Quietly thing all about?

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

Picture from those nice people at Zimbio

Danny and Partner in Crime Ugo Monye illustrate their quietness

Where did it come from?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I always bring sweets and great chat!

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

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

No pre-match treat?

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

What’s your favourite book?

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

CD?

Anything really, anything from Westlife to 50 Cent

Westlife, really!?

Yeah… I like a bit of everything!

Film?

Home Alone"" Home Alone.  Every Christmas time.

Do you still cry?

Little bit…

Game

On the Playstation it would be FIFA 11""

What’s your best tour moment so far?

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

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

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

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

North/South divide in the changing room?

Yeah, there is, there is…

Who’s your rugby hero?

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

Anyone currently?

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

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

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

Campaign starts here then!

 

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

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

 

Newspilez – Week Ending 30th January 2011 February 1, 2011

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.

 
Being the time of year that it is, every team is subject to losing their finest and brightest to national selection for the aforementioned 6 Nations. The difference between now and when this happened for the autumn internationals is that approximately 86.7% of players have done gone got themselves busted up in recent weeks, meaning that pickings which were already slim are now veering dangerously close to size zero. So it was that clubs from the north of England to, er, the Middle East found themselves sending out some of their fledglings with misty eyes and fond hair ruffling. Seems like only yesterday that they were in their “Born to play for…” babygrows, doesn’t it?
 
I digress. The attention grabber of the weekend was of course the London Abu Dherbi (this pun has gone through various reworkings, but we’re going with this one), which saw “London” Wasps stretch their definition of location just a little bit further by setting up a specially built stadium in the capital city of the United Arab Emirates. Like you do. Sadly for the High Wycombe wanderers (arf), a repeat of their recent H-Cup thrashing at the hands of Harlequins was on the cards. The baby Quins put on an impressive show and added insult to injury when Sam Smith crossed over to well and truly seal the deal 13-38. Harlequins are now enjoying the view from the top of pool four as a result.
 
In less exotic climes, a handful of obscure Ospreys stepped up to the plate to take on some nondescript Cardiff Blues. Again, it was only a few weeks back that the two sides last clashed, but the differences couldn’t have been more marked with all of the familiar faces squirreled away practising trust exercises in Warren Gatland’s back garden. Probably. Sloppy in some places and downright wince-inducing at times, some promise still shone through with a solid Ospreys pack still domineering the scrum even when two yellow cards reduced them to six men. Ospreys fly half Matthew Morgan deserves a shout out, too, simply for being the Anti-Biggar.
 
Leicester Tigers had another upset following their round two trouncing by the Ospreys. This time it was the season’s shockers, Exeter Chiefs, who did the bossing. Having lost out to the Tigers twice this season in Aviva Premiership fixtures, the Chiefs made sure Leciester hadn’t even got a score on the board by half time before going on to a 35-10 win. The Aviva’s other big boys, Northampton Saints, also came a cropper at the Madejski Stadium as London Irish kept their completely random form flowing and dealt the Saints their biggest defeat of the season.
 
Our beloved Barks had a literal hit and miss day at the Rec, but it was his boot that kept Bath’s LV hopes alive after they took an 11-6 victory over Newcastle Falcons. Elsewhere, Saracens saved all their effort for the second half of their showdown with the Scarlets to go home with a solid 34-7 win, while Sale had a 20-28 upset on home soil courtesy of Newport Dragons and Gloucester redeemed themselves after their last clash with Leeds Carnegie with by securing a 30-16 victory. Next weekend will see the final matches in the pools stages, though you’ll be forgiven if that slips by you…
 
… which leads me nicely into my little addendum to this week’s Newspilez. My esteemed colleague Lauren has been posting her Six Nations previews, but I can’t let her have all the fun. So, my thoughts in three bullet points: 
 
– As an Ospreys supporter who is in no way Welsh, Friday’s Wales v England match may cause me to have a nervous breakdown. Don’t tell Lauren, but there’s a red rose over my heart that won’t wilt despite the sea of daffodils that have grown around it.
 
– I’ve joked about Italy being my neutral go-to in the tournament, but I am genuinely excited to see if and how the Azzurri will attempt to capitalise on the injury-strewn squads they face. And hey, I’ll add Luke McLean and Alessandro Zanni to the “One to Perv Over” category while I’m at it.
 
– Finally – and most importantly – I would just like to make it absolutely clear that, despite claims that the Manpilez ladies would opt for Baileys over Guinness, mine is a pint of the black stuff every time.
Words by Anna
 

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

 

Adventpilez 2010 – December 12: Let It Snow… December 12, 2010

The weather outside is frightful…

 

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

What a weekend, hey, dear readers?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And before we go: Player Of the week!

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

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

Chris Ashton: Because that try was more than great.

Words by Lauren, bad photoshop by Lauren

 

The inevitable macro post October 4, 2010

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

It’s Macro, It’s Macro tiem.

 

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