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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

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Rawr Data – Team Profile: Racing Metro September 22, 2010

After taking on Magners newcomers Aironi in the last profile, Anna shows Heineken Cup hopefuls Racing Metro some Manpilez love.
Racing Metro 92

Now, I shan’t lie to you; my concern for Racing Metro doesn’t stretch far beyond two very important factors: Juan Martin Hernandez and Mirco Bergamasco. Much as I would like this profile to consist entirely of photographs of these two delightful boys, I’d be doing you, your mother and your neighbour’s dog and injustice because the Sky and White are having a pretty good run in the Top 14 right now, sitting at the head of the table for the first time in twenty years at the time of writing. All in all, they’re worth more than a mere quirk of the eyebrow from the likes of me.

Racing Metro first set up shop in the 1800s, where we like to imagine that plus fours and bowler hats were de riguer on the pitch…

 

 

Movember, 1882

 

They sealed their place in French rugby history by playing in and winning the first ever French rugby championship against their Parisien counterparts Stade Francais. While Stades Francais and Bordelais went on to pretty much boss the championship in coming years, Racing racked up five victories at sporadic intervals and settled as runners-up six times.

Skip forward to the modern day and while Stade Francais were getting a Guazzini makeover and setting about becoming giants of French rugby in the 1990s, Racing were relegated to the second division. The tide started to turn when they got their own Italian entrepreneur chairman, Jacky Lorenzetti, in 2006. While there may have been far fewer bells and whistles (and fireworks and Gloria Gaynor), the intention was similar: to get Racing back on form, back in the Top 14 and into the H-Cup. Done, done and done.

Let’s have a look at some of the big hitters:

Lionel Nallet and Sebastien Chabal
They don’t hit much harder than these two. Nallet and Chabal both signed up in 2009 when, having reinstated Racing back in the Top 14, Lorenzetti was keen to silence the cynics. Landing this powerhouse duo was a good way of setting about his goal. Lock Nallet took on skipper duties last season and number 8 Chabal is… Sebastien Chabal. ‘Nuff said.

 

 

Chabal & Steyn: give good strut

 

Francois Steyn
South African Steyn signed in 2009 for a two-year stint at Yves-du-Manoir. He’s been making waves since his Boks debut at the tender age of 19 and now, at 23, he and his foot have made quite an impression in France. He remains one to watch, with the added bonus of being incredibly easy on the eye.

Juan Martin Hernandez and Mirco Bergamasco
These two aforementioned lovelies are new signings for the 2010/11 season. Both Stade Francais alumni, their arrival at Racing sees a return to French rugby for Juan after one season with Natal Sharks and that rarest of things for Mirco: playing on a team without his brother. JMH isn’t quite fighting fit right now, not only still recovering from a back injury from last season but also pulling out of last week’s game against La Rochelle with a dodgy thigh. As for baby Bergamasco, he’ll get a chance to seek revenge on big brother Mauro for any childhood woes when Racing take on Stade in December.

 

 

Mirco Bergamasco: sans curls, avec kick-ass

 

Racing have been unfortunate enough to draw Leinster in their H-Cup pool and will take them on in a home game in January, but if they maintain the form they’ve been exhibiting in the Top 14, the task might not seem so daunting. Allez les ciel et blanc!

Words by Anna, pictures by various

 

The Hard Sell September 11, 2010

So, the new season has started and while everyone wants to talk form and predictions, I have turned my attention towards something altogether more inconsequential: the money-spinning (or not) world of rugby merchandise. Yeah, merchandise. Got a spare tenner? NO. Never have a spare tenner. There are so many valid things you could do with a tenner. You really, really don’t need novelty flip flops.

I have trawled the online stores for a handful of teams to assess their shoddy wares and to point the finger at the worst offenders when it comes to touting Pink Shit for Girls.

  • Find your way past the badly photoshopped picture of Olly Barkley in an unsightly hoodie and you’ll soon learn that Bath Rugby wants to BRAND YOUR LIFE. Not content with having an entire section dedicated to your goddamn car, Bath Rugby wants you to be rebellious (poker set, playing cards), trendy and tech savvy (latte mug, USB memory stick), a noisy twat (mini swivel drum) and… no, I haven’t quite decided the remit for the Big Balls Soap Set… All this and no less than seven – count ’em – different teddy bears. The Bath Rugby shop is the online equivalent of one of those tat catalogues that falls out of a Saturday tabloid. You never knew you needed all this pointless shit… and really, you don’t. Secret Santa heaven.
    Pink Shit for Girls? This is where Bath wins, big time. The pink is minimal and restricted mostly to hats.

 

  • For a team with the maxim Pink is Beautiful, the Stade Francais Boutique is woefully disappointing. Where’s the glamour, the innovation, the je ne sais quoi? Dull, dull, dull. Although I wouldn’t say no to the lightning bolt beach towel. Or the pants, if the right person was wearing them. Pink Shit for Girls? You bet your life. Pink shit for everyone!

 

Um...

  • Not content with having one of the ugliest kits in rugby union, Gloucester go to great lengths to offend eyes everywhere with an array of gubbins which looks as though it was salvaged from the a 1970s bargain bin. The more discerning drinker will be right at home in the Gloucester shop: MAN’S PINT GLASS, MAN’S WHISKEY TUMBLER and an elegant tulip glass perfectly suited for Glawsy ladies.

    Shoplifted from Poundland

    Pink Shit for Girls? Yes, in a shade best described as “spam”. Putrid.

 

  • Ah, Leinster. Where men are men and they play rugby, use Zippo lighters and wear bowties. After a fair bit of scouring, the Leinster shop is the only online rugby merchandise store where I’ve found both a lighter and a bowtie. Now that is eclectism. Take note, Stade. Also, if you ever need a bag, the Leinster store appears to be the place to go. BAGS, I’m telling you. Bags of bags.

 

  • I’m finding Munster hard to come to terms with. The red and blue just doesn’t correlate in my head. Granted, the red isn’t as offensive as Gloucester’s. In fact, I probably wouldn’t even have mentioned Munster were in not for the fact that they boast one of these bad boys:

    and if you don't love these, you have no soul

    Pink Shit for Girls? If it’s there, it’s well hidden. Bonus points for the awesome Munster wellies for kids!

 

  • For a no nonsense approach, look no further than Glasgow Warriors. This is a t-shirt. It is blue. It has some writing on it. It is a Glasgow Warriors t-shirt. You do not need to know anything else, go away. The layout of the entire shop keeps to this rule, to the point where they might as well have forgone the images and simply labelled each box “Generic Merchandise #1” and so forth. Inoffensive, but forgettable for it. Pink Shit for Girls? A very bland scarf. Meh.

 

  • The wallpaper border available from the Scarlets shop made me feel weirdly nostalgic. When was the last time you considered buying a wallpaper border? When was the last time you thought about wallpaper borders? You’re trying to remember the theme tune to Changing Rooms right now, aren’t you? I’ll give them back some points for the adorable Sosban Fach fridge magnets, however. Pink Shit for Girls? Yes. “Bright pink”, though strangely less offensive than the “SCARLET GODDESS” t-shirts, which are a bit market stall.

 

  • Ah, Racing Metro. New boys on the Heineken block. The GAP to Gloucester’s Matalan. Let’s overlook the fact that they have a lovely kit and let’s overlook the fact that Juan Martin Hernandez is the model du jour… (took me a bit longer to overlook that one) and review: nice retro tees, cute baby clothes, a spiffy little iPhone cover (if that’s your bag) and… Pink Shit for Girls? Absolutely none! It’s purple!

When it comes to merchandise, Racing are number Juan

Words by Anna, photos by various (roll over for details)