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Six Nations 2011: The Scrummy XV February 21, 2011

It’s all been a bit serious around here lately, what with all the predictions, analysis and an actual, legitimate interview. Time, we’re sure you’ll agree, to lower the tone. Yes, the pundit hats are being hung up for a short while as we shamelessly celebrate the fine forms, good looks and down right rawr of our favourite Six Nations boys. Alongside an anonymous panel of Manpilers, we have made our selections. This isn’t about fairly representing each squad, nor who has the best chance of taking home the silverware. This, our dear readers, is our Scrummy XV.
 
 
Loosehead Prop
“There is no such thing as a hot loosehead prop,” came the bold claim from one panel member. Before anyone jumped up to counter this argument, the majority realised that they agreed. Several minutes of head scratching later, a lone voice with a serious weakness for front row forwards took a stand and nominated Cian Healy with the proviso it’s “without the shaved head and gypsy mo”. As no one else had a preference, our loosehead was named. A last minute shout out goes to Alex Corbiserio, who’s Italian heritage put him at a definite advantage in what was always in danger of becoming a distinctly continental line up…
 

Cian Healy: defying all odds

Hooker
Again, our unofficial doyenne of the front row was adamant that there was only one man for the job and that man was Dylan Hartley. Needless to say, said doyenne is in no way affiliated with Warren Gatland. Few will be surprised to hear that the rest of the judges weren’t so easily convinced and The World’s Prettiest Hooker, Dimitri Szarzewski was swiftly selected after a majority vote. Because he’s worth it.

Show us you swish: Dimitri Szarzewski

Tighthead Prop
Things got a little easier here as several votes went one way. Sure, we were anxious to get to the squabbling over all those pretty backs, but one voter’s weakness for a certain type of man coupled with another’s claim that “Every team needs at least one cave man” meant that, regardless of the first shout out for Wales with Ryan Bevington, this had to go to Martin Castrogiovanni. Wild hair, wild beard; Castro is classic prop.
 

Mad props: Martin Castrogiovanni

Locks
Ah, locks. The Achilles Heel of three quarters of the Manpilez ladies. We knew there was a risk of all out war with this, so thank goodness there were some definite preferences across the board. Our second Irish boy was brought on board at 4 with the inclusion of prankster extraordinaire, our very own Duck Wrangler, Mr Donncha O’Callaghan. The thighs, the eyes, the mischevious grin; we just can’t resist that Donners charm.

Don't mention little red pants: Donncha O'Callaghan

The startling inevitability of our number 5 meant that his name was already bolded on the original list of suggestions that circulated. It seems only right that the first of our Welsh boys should be one whose gwlads are always just those few decibels louder, whose pride is just that little bit more fierce and whose pretty blonde curls make all the girlies swoon. Yeah, you know it. We’re all a-flutter for Alun Wyn Jones. Locky love also went out to our favourite giants Simon Shaw, Richie Gray, Nathan Hines and Jerome Thion. Difficult choices!

Scrumming 9 to 5: Alun Wyn Jones

Flankers
After the locks, it’s the lovely fierce flankers that we turn to and where the props left us struggling, we were spoiled for choice here. Because we are very dedicated to our perving, some (flimsy) ground rules were put in place which meant that nominations for injured players were null and void. Thus, the very topical Tom Croft didn’t win a place in our XV. Rather it was a pair of Killer Bs, Johnnie Beattie and John Barclay, who beat off the competition in the shape of Alessandro Zanni, Tom Wood and David Wallace to join our back row.
 

Johnnie Beattie: not affiliated with the Wu Tang Clan...

... although John Barclay has a side project with Raekwon The Chef

Number Eight
Another controversial position, this became a clear Wales v Italy showdown. No amount of insistence and pouting could put Ryan Jones at Eight, however. This one was crafted for the returning wonder that is Sergio Parisse. Hair loss be damned, The Big Man still cuts a fine figure on and off the pitch and the weeping during the anthem is the kind of thing that turns a girl weak at the knees. It’s not just us ladies, either – did you see the BBC’s ode prior to the Italy v Ireland game? It seems no one can resist a bit of a Sergio swoon.

Sergio Parisse: enjoying the novelty of clothes

Half Backs
It’s tempting, when asked to compile the ultimate hot squad, to simply respond with “France”. However, Chabal may not be to everyone’s taste (you fools) and we already have our cave man. Regardless, there were just too many delicious Bleus to not let the bias shine through at some point. To that end, there was a unanimous demand for the pretty, pocket sized powerhouse that is Morgan Parra to take the glamour role of scrum half. The logical conclusion was to appoint the stunning Francois Trinh-Duc as his partner, just the way the gods of the stadium intended.

Straight out of the pages of Vogue Homme: Morgan Parra

You'd applaud yourself if you were this hot: Francois Trinh Duc

Left Wing
And if we’re not talking France, let’s talk Italy. There is a Manpilez lady to staunchly defend both teams, but the Italian camp didn’t have to try too hard to ensure this went to Mirco Bergamasco. Representing both brothers this year, Bergamasco the Younger may have toned down the peroxide and gone all manly with a beard, but he is by no means less gorgeous. Countless comparisons to classical Italian sculpture aside, there’s no doubt that the crestfallen Mirco we’ve seen over the past couple of weeks has pulled at the heartstrings. Come here, Mimi. We’ll give you a hug.

Sassy captions don't apply to this vision. It's Mirco Bergamasco, bitches.

Centres
After all that ooh la la and ciao, bello, the Celts fought back with full force to claim their places at 12 and 13. This is where it got pernickety, with literally less than tens of emails being fired back and forth to the effect of “But x is technically a wing,” and “Yes, but y is being played at centre” and “Ooh, z! Did you see that one photo where…”
 
Feet were put down and eventually, two were named. First up, our favourite Big Doc, Jamie Roberts. No one seemed to really be able to place what it is about Jamie that gets the eyebrow arching in approval. It might be the general massiveness of him, or that endearingly soft voice. Whatever it is, he wears that jaw well.

Jamie Roberts: we love him for more than his Brains. Heh.

There are some that might argue that there’s only one number 13 and those people will probably be wearing green. As it is, the allure of Brian O’Driscoll transcended nationality and with his dual weapons of handsomeness and heroics, there was no way he wasn’t making the final cut.
 
On the bench: Gonzalo Canale and Gordon D’arcy.

At last, an excuse to use the "Sex BOD" pun: Brian O'Driscoll

Right Wing
Much like his counterpart on the left wing, this boy is one half of a pair of beautiful brothers with a penchant for getting their kit off in a series of increasingly jaw droppingly suggestive photographs. If you haven’t guessed it by now, you haven’t been paying nearly enough attention to your lessons at Uncle Gigi’s School of Rugby Filth. It’s Max Evans. Google “Dieux du Stade 2010” but, for the love of God, don’t hold us responsible for the results. The acronym “NSFW” was probably invented for Max and his brother Thom.

It's the innocent looking ones you have to watch: Max Evans

Full Back
This one was the wild card, with no clear front runner to begin with. It’s only in hindsight that the similarities between the three shortlisted players becomes apparent…
 

Beardy brunette #1: Clement Poitrenaud

Beardy brunette #2: Ben Foden

 

Beardy brunette #3: Luke McLean

It was ultimately the refusal of one panel member to make any choices beyond fly half (“I don’t do backs”), that meant Luke McLean was the victor. Yet again, those Italian genes have given an undeniable edge and coupled with that lazy Aussie grin, Luke is a delicious combination of cute and fierce, even when he is the beardiest of the brunettes with his Grizzly Adams look. We’ll be sure to supply plenty of razors with that Scrummy XV shirt.
 
With that much hard work choosing from just six squads, we’d better start shortlisting for the World Cup Scrummy XV now…

 

With thanks to our panel of voters

Words by Anna

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Adventpilez 2010 – December 19th: Gladrags 2; The Black Weekend Edition December 20, 2010

Now we’re successfully through ‘black weekend’ where all the world goes out to get their pre-christmas boogy on, our thoughts have once again turned to how well our boys turn out…

Alun Wyn gets his 'fashionably late' on

 

a whole pride of whistle-wearing lions

 

Alun Wyn's tour of all the cool parties continues. Luke Charteris is unamused by his flagrant gatecrashing.

You ain't seen this.... right?

and at the end of the night… some joker always decides Karaoke is a good idea…
image from teh twitters

The Morning After: Ah. Alun... you've got a bit of...oh, never mind... good night was it? <snigger>

 

Adventpilez 2010 – December 16: More Christmas Random… December 16, 2010

‘Tis the season and these boys just can’t resist a good Santa hat!

 

Rawr Data – Team Profile: Cardiff Blues August 15, 2010

In an effort to put all our cards on the table from the start, fresh from our homage to the Ospreys, here’s our tribute to Cardiff Blues, aka Gleision Caerdydd, if you’re so inclined.

Strength Through Unity

The Blues formed in 2003, when the nine professional Welsh clubs had to reform into regional teams due to lack of money. Cardiff Rugby Football Club were allowed to form their own team, rather than amalgamating with any of the eight other professional clubs, and so the Blues were born.

It’s actually only recently that the team has started to perform really well and bring in the silverware (EDF Anglo-Welsh cup in 08-09 and the Amlin uropean cup in 09-10)  – their first few years were unfortunately a bit dire. Various players have come and gone – we used to have Mike Phillips, then he moved to the Ospreys for a rather larger pay cheque!

The Blues’ motto is ‘Strength Through Unity’, which is written across all their training gear. In the wonderful win over Toulouse last season, the skipper Paul Tito said that they had a desire “to go out and die for each other”. Pushing my team-spirit buttons!

The Squad

Picture by Getty ImagesWe’ve got one of the greatest props in the world in the form of Gethin Jenkins. Some say he’s the best in his position in the world at the moment. He’s fantastic to watch at live games, just hearing the impact he makes when he tackles, seeing him get everywhere. Here’s what Martyn Williams reckons:

“He’s a frustrated openside flanker I think. He tries to teach me how to play the game, where I should be, where I shouldn’t be. He gets frustrated he’s in the front row and I think the scrummage is a dirty word in Geth’s language! He’d rather be out and about like a back rower. He’s got a soft side to him – he’s a very generous lad when he wants to be.”

And skipper Paul Tito reckons:

“I have never seen a prop like Gethin. He’s got a very big engine, that fella. He’s got the highest work-rate of any prop I’ve seen. He’s class. When he gets out there he gives it death. I’d like to see how many kilometres he does in a game, chasing kicks and covering backs. He says some funny things at times, but his heart is right in it. Just look at the first tackle of the game against Toulouse and who made it. That just sums up Melon. He’s awesome.”

Photo from the midst of time - if it's yours please let us know butdon't tell us off too harshly!We’ve also got the legendary Martyn Williams as open-side flanker. I couldn’t possibly sing Nugget’s praises enough either in just one sentence, so I won’t go into it! Let’s just say he’s much loved – a national treasure, of course!

Photo from Huw Evans at www.welshrugbypics.co.uk

Then there’s the world-class centre partnership in the form of Tom Shanklin and ‘The big Doc’ Jamie Roberts. Shanks is 6’2″ and Jamie’s 6’4″, and together they make a  tough old pair.

Photo from the midst of time - if it's yours please let us know butdon't tell us off too harshly!

On the wing, we’ve got Leigh Halfpenny, always exciting to watch for his pace and acceleration. Up until this season his partner in crime was Andy Powell, always a joy! He’s now off to the Wasps, so best of luck to him there.

Photo from the midst of time - if it's yours please let us know but don't tell us off too harshly!

We’ve also got numerous other players who have been capped for Wales, notably John Yapp, Gareth Cooper, the hard as nails Bradley Davies (above) and serious contender for the coverted Scrum-Half throne, Richie Rees.

Pic by Huw Evans at www.welshrugbypics.co.ukUp until just recently, we had the legend that is Alfie. After being the most capped Wales player ever, the man known to his mum as Gareth Thomas is now having a successful time with Rugby League side the Celtic Crusaders!

Pic by Huw Evans at www.welshrugbypics.co.uk

We’ve got some fantastic international players, including the bulldozer-like number 8 Xavier Rush,  Kiwi kicking machine Ben Blair, Tongans Ma’ama Molitika and Taufa’ao Filise and our fearless leaderand lock extrordinaire, Captain Paul Tito.

Paul Tito, aka ‘Fish’, aka simply ‘Tito’, has been a fantastic choice of captain. He’s a lock, so he leads from the front, and he is a serious grafter. He puts in tonnes of work, and is always hard as nails, and the Cardiff Blues supporters have really taken him to their hearts. He’s been here for a few years now, and his appearance and his work on the field is usually greeted by a chant of ‘Teeee-to, Teeee-to!’. He used to play for the New Zealand Maori team, and on the residency rules is now eligible to play for Wales…watch this space. You can’t miss him.

The KitPhoto from the midst of time - if it's yours please let us know but don't tell us off too harshly!

Here’s another reason to love this team – obviously they wear blue most of the time, but they have a hot pink away strip. Stade Francais may have the corner in pastel, but we’ve got an unmissable version too! Here’s Gethin, working hard to make it manly. Seriously, though, the boys first wore these to raise awareness for cancer research. Thanks to the popularity with the supporters, it’s now the away colour too.


Moving from Cardiff Arms Park to Cardiff City Stadium, Leckwith

The Blues’ move from Cardiff Arms Park to the new stadium has been a worrying, difficult affair. Whereas the Arms Park was bang in the centre of Cardiff, the new place is something of a trek for most of us, being bang in the middle of Grangetown (Strangetown).

The Blues are also paying an extortionate amount to rent the place – they don’t own it. Being a 25,000 seat stadium, supporters can rattle around in there sometimes when there’s a game that’s not considered important by the majority.

It’s excellent that the team will have better facilities, of course, and that the place will be family-friendly. Also, you can argue that if we want to attract bigger players to join the team then we need a nice stadium, and if we want to attract the kind of following that Munster or Leicester get, then we need enough seats.

Still, the Ospreys have had the same problem of not enough bums on seats with their new stadium, and that’s only a 20,000 capacity. What really needs to happen is MORE PEOPLE go and watch rugby!

Go on, chivvy your friends and get going!

Words by Ellie, pictures by various, hover over for details.