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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
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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

 

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)