Mud, Mouthguards, Muscles… Manpilez

Just another WordPress.com site

Six Nations Countdown Part One: The Teams, Their Chances, and The Key Players January 31, 2011

With just a few days to go before our favourite time of year begins, all the best rugby sites are turning their eyes to picks and predictions for the next 2 months and we… are going to have a go as well.

Our countdown starts today with a look at what actually might happen, and who might cause it, but over the next few days you can expect our guides to what to eat, drink and sing as well as anything else we can think of to help your Six Nations go with a swing no matter what goes on on the grass….

Over the last few years we’ve had something of a glut of Grand Slams, to the point where it was almost getting boring, with the clear favourites each year eventually trying to get the silverware back through customs once the champagne wears off the critic’s job has been an easy one.

This year, however, all bets are off. All Six of our fair Nations are either in a distinct state of flux or could make a Grand Slam winning team out of their injuries list alone so here’s our guide to each nation’s chances…

France

 

picture courtesy of Ladbrokes, Les bleus

Last year's winners, Les bleus

 

2010’s Grand Slam winners France are not, as last year, coming into the competition with the trophy practically in the bag as they did then. The prime example of a team in flux, Les Bleus have had a very odd 12 months with a form so mixed that at times it looked like they were trying to make a marble cake. With a team that changes more often than the trends in the Champs-Élysées, whoever turns up on the day can make all the difference between Grand Slam and Wooden Spoon and to be honest, nobody can really tell what the pants they’re going to do.

Crucial Injuries List: In a squad as fluid as France at the moment… we can’t keep up 😉

Ones to Watch: Chabal, as ever.

One to perv on: Morgan Parra, Scrummy Scrum Half.

England

 

A sweeeeet chariot, yesterday.

 

After last Autumn’s valliant efforts against the Southern Hemisphere tourists, this year the sweet chariot is rolling into the tournament as marginal bookies favourites,  with the fans and players whispering about a New English Resurgence. We can’t help but wonder if these rumblings might be right, but one thing is for sure their injuries list at the moment tells a sorry tale as many of those who shone brightest in the autumn are in rehab while we await the arrival of spring so while it’s likely we’ll see the boys in white go top three,  we’re not-so-secretly think they’re holding off their big hits until they get to New Zealand in September.

Crucial Injuries List: Tom Croft, Courtney Lawes, Lewis Moody

Ones to Watch: Ben Youngs, who has been putting in some spectacular performances, Chris Ashton, in case he pulls another bit of magic out of the bag.

One to perv on: Simon Shaw, because if I say anyone else Anna will hit me.

Wales

 

picture from the ledge that is Huw Evans

Happier times...

 

Oh, Wales, what happened love? Grand Slam glory to abject misery in the space of two years was never the plan. Do you need some hot sweet tea?

Seven Losses in the last ten games and apparent unrest behind the scenes has left the bread of heaven far from risen and even the other six nations are hoping they’re going to get their mojo back soon, as a misfiring Wales is like a disturbance in the Force. That’s not to say, however, that there haven’t been some fantastic moments of genius flowing around, it’s just that somehow it’s not being converted to the points board as clumsyness and a lack of focus seem to hit at all the wrong moments.

It’s been argued in the past that they lack strength in depth but that’s not strictly true, in certain positions there are young guns emerging that may be the key to not only creating some drama, but providing some much needed security that was lacking last year and unfray those edges that needed tidying.

With talismanic winger Shane Williams back just in time to dance past the opposition, green shoots of hope are starting to peek through the snow and with the back five of the pack in particular looking fierce whatever combination takes the field, we’re quietly confident that Wales can raise their game in time to get some pre-world cup momentum going.  We hope.

Crucial Injuries List: Gethin Jenkins, Adam Jones with rising question marks over Leigh Halfpenny.  Also missing Richie Rees due to Dylan Hartleygate

Ones to Watch: Bradley Davies, Ryan Jones, two great players in particularly fine form at present.

One to perv on: Alun Wyn Jones, Strong, fierce, lovely.

Ireland

 

The Duck Wrangler's certainly excited...

 

Ireland, like France and Wales are in a bit of a flux phase at the moment. We’d hope that it’s about priming for the World cup but on the evidence so far it’s hard to say. After their grand slam in 2009 they’ve continued to play expansive, clinical rugby but that x factor we saw two years ago seems to come and go with the direction of the wind. With two of their biggest influencing players on the injury list, it’s hard to see Ireland lifting the trophy, but with the right conditions, it’s hard to see them doing anything less.

Crucial Injuries List: Tommy Bowe, Jamie Heaslip

Ones to Watch: Jonny Sexton, who’s rapidly becoming the go-to 10

One to perv on: Brian O’Driscoll, legend, point scorer, fox.

Italy

They are ready to die. Well, Mirco is, Mauro says 'BRB'...

Italy, who seem to come out of the traps fighting every year then spend the rest of the time scrabbling around in the dust to avoid the wooden spoon, are actually one of the more stable squads this year. With few noteable casualties and the increased influence on home growing new talent in the two new Magners League sides, we could well be faced with an Italy very much on the ascendancy.

However, after just five months  those two new sides have yet to mature, so though we may come to see vast improvements this tournament, next year we may all be watching our backs, the Azzurri are coming.

Crucial Injuries List: Mauro Bergamasco, Craig Gower

Ones to Watch: The Big Man Parisse. He’s back, baby.

One to perv on: Mirco Bergamasco, though you may have trouble recognising him fully clothed.

Scotland

 

Pic  courtesy of the Telegraph

Richie Gray and Max Evans warm up

 

Let’s be honest, Scotland have had an abysmal few years in this competition, seemingly battling it out with Italy over the wooden spoon year in year out but this year it all feels a little different. With no noteable injuries, some fantastic results in the autumn internationals and the sheer power of Dan Parks’ boot, the Scotland going into the competition this year are something new, something dark, something exciting. I’m going out on a limb and putting Scotland in the top two come the end. I may be wrong, I may be right but I think it’s going to be very interesting finding out.

Ones to Watch: Richie Gray, if only because he’s so massive you can’t see past him

One to perv on: Max Evans, well he’s lovely isn’t he?

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



 

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>

 

Newspilez – November 25th 2010 November 25, 2010

Sorry we’re late folks, there’s been too much rugby. So here we go…

England landed their second win of the autumn internationals with a 26-13 victory over Samoa at Twickenham on Saturday. The game might not have been up there in terms of the sheer excitement of the previous clash with Australia, but Johnno’s boys put up a (somewhat messy) fight in what was a fiercely physical eighty minutes and we can’t expect an Ashton moment in every game, can we? Manpilez favourites Matt Banahan and Tom Croft were England’s try scorers and were ably abetted by Toby Flood’s boot. Responses that I’ve seen to Banahan’s performance have been a bit luke warm; while his contribution has been noted, no one is really raving. I’m going to. I think he’s bloody great and was surprised that his inclusion in the squad came late. His try might not have been heartstopping or full of finesse, but his part in the set-up for Crofty’s was swift and without fanfare. Banas needs to be given more of a chance, because he knows how to make his mark.

Over to our cousins on the continent and Italy stood up to Australia on Saturday following their 22-16 defeat at the hands of Argentina. Although they put up a staunch defense, the Azzuri failed to shine and the Aussies had a 32-14 win to help ease their woes after the previous weekend’s Twickenham upset. The big news for Italy this week is that Mauro Bergamasco, who has yet to make an appearance in the autumn tests due to a recent injury, now faces shoulder surgery and a possible four month recovery period. Given that Italy are set to kick off their Six Nations bid in February, Nick Mallett will no doubt be biting his nails come the new year. Get well soon, Mauro!

So then, the Wales game. We very nearly didn’t write about it. We’ve spent the days since trying not to think about it to be perfectly honest but it would appear to have been quite an important event.

Eighty minutes of mediocrity stood between Wales and Fiji. In usual circumstances out home nations can be forgiven for taking their eyes off the ball against the Fijians when they’re the meat in the sandwich between Springboks and the All Blacks but in this case the whole of Wales was poised for a grudge match that never came.

Granted, our boys almost had them beat by a rather disappointing three points until one slip up by Captain Ryan Jones allowed Fiji the final kick… right between the posts. The game, much like the 2007 world cup game between the two was painful to watch but it’s the fall out that has been most interesting, and ultimately concerning.

Within minutes of the final, agonising whistle, Warren Gatland had snubbed the amassed media and publically stripped Ryan Jones of the Captaincy, passing the baton to Matthew Rees in the changing room.

Since then there have been clandestine meetings of the ‘senior’ members of the squad lead by Rees and reinstatements of players who last hit the headlines for their criticism of Gatland and more mud raking in the press than we really wanted to see.

Are we facing a player revolt of the kind that unseated Mike Ruddock? Will Gatland have to tear up that brand new contract before the ink has dried? The only thing that is for sure right now is that if Wales have any hopes at World cup or even Six Nations success we’re going to see a lot of changes over the next few months, and we might not like all of it…

To add insult to injury, Scotland bounced back from the utter drubbing by New Zealand to beat World Champions South Africa 21-17, wiping the smiles they’d been sporting after beating Wales the previous weeks right off their faces whilst also rubbing Gats’ nose in it. Thanks boys!

On a lighter note, the nominations have been revealed for this year’s IRB player of the Year. However, this year there is not a single brit named as Richie McCaw heads towards a somewhat controversial Hat trick against team mate Mils Muliana, Victor Matfield, Imanol Harinordoquy and Wallabies David Pocock and Kurtley Beale.

Player of the Week

this week is another Joint one, firstly for Matt Banahan for scoring one try and assisting another against Samoa and secondly to Ryan Jones. Because he’ll always be our captain.

And finally; a new feature…

What The Shit Is This?

James Haskell has an iPhone App.

We’re not even going to bother elaborating on that, we’re just going to let the information sink in for a while.

A whole App. Of James Haskell.

Words by Lauren and Anna

 

Rawr Data Player Profile: Ryan Jones August 16, 2010

Filed under: Ospreys,Player Profile,Rawr Data,Wales — Manpilez @ 11:59 pm
Tags: , ,

Last and by no means least in our round up of national team captains, the skipper with the special place in all of our hearts, Ospreys and Wales captain Ryan Jones.

Ryan Jones

Picture by Huw Evans ww.welshrugbypics.co.uk

Statistics: Ryan Paul Jones is 29 years old, 6’5″ and heading on for 18 stones. He plays at number eight and flanker for Wales and Ospreys.

After a rather worrying start to his career playing in goal for Bristol City FC at junior level, Ryan eased his way to the light side by playing Rugby League for South London Storm before signing up for the Celtic Warriors. When the Celtic warriors dissolved, Ryan accepted a contract with the Ospreys in 2004 where he remains our fearless captain.

Soon after donning the black shirt, Ryan made his debut for Wales in the 2004 autumn international series and went on to be part of the Grand Slam winning Wales team of 2005.

In 2008, newly appointed coach Warren Gatland chose him to captain Wales, and it was yet another Grand Slam winning year, meaning he took on deity status across Wales.

Sadly, our Ryan has been no stranger to injury, which put paid to his Lions dream in 2009 after he barely got past customs before he was declared unfit due to a head injury he sustained against Canada on the Wales Summer tour. He also had to miss out on the World Cup in 2007 due to two pretty serious shoulder injuries. As a particularly fierce number 8, he makes and takes a hell of a lot of contact in games, so he was always going to have issues, but he had to have full shoulder reconstruction which kept him out of play for a long time.

One of the things that immediately strike you about Ryan is that he is totally engaging. Whether he’s being interviewed pitch side, taking part in a charity event or being ribbed by his colleagues , he’ll have a smile on his face and an articulate or witty response on his lips. It’s easy to see why he makes a good captain; why people would follow him into the jaws of the enemy, even when it’s the Springboks.

This was none more apparent during the autumn international series when the Wales boys decided to stand up to the All Black’s challenging Haka and stare them down – a move which lead the Kiwis to do their next Haka in the changing room for fear of another upset!

It was really something special – here’s a vid of it – you can hear the ref asking both sides to turn around and leave it. Watch  AWJ,Gethin and Andy especially, those boys are NOT impressed!

In 2006 and 2009, he was voted Sexiest Man in Wales in the annual Western Mail poll, but modest as ever, when it was remarked upon in an interview his response was:

‘”Look, don’t you take the piss as well,” said Jones, laughing. “Ever since the Welsh papers announced I’d been voted that last week, then that’s all anyone’s done. Well, everyone but Gav, of course. He’s been sulking. I had to cheer him up. ‘Gav,’ I told him, ‘I don’t understand how I won it. Even my missus voted for you’.”

As well as his gruelling schedule of playing rugby, being a genius and fighting off randy journalists, Ryan does a lot of work for charity and communities both with the Ospreys and alone, which has lead to some realy rather bizarre scenes. Who can forget the 2009 off-season when the entire Ospreys squad became bin-men for a week? Or the time when they became beachcombers in Colwyn Bay? Or three players-one environmentally aware umberella?

Or the time he posed naked in a bath with some overly blunt literature about testicular cancer? No? This one:

picture from NHS Wales/GIG Cymru

Yeah. That one.  For those that aren’t welsh speakers the translation on there is ‘How are your balls?’ We’re not quite sure what they’re getting at with that one…

As we go into the new season we can be sure that both we and the rest of Ospreylia will be right behind him wherever the ups and downs of regional rugby take him… but we ain’t going to be checking any balls, unless they’re egg shaped… I’ll quit while I’m ahead.

Words by Lauren and Ellie, images by various (hover for info)