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Newspilez: The State of Stade June 10, 2011

Resident Stade enthusiast Anna takes a look back on an eventful week for Max Guazzini’s boys in pink in a Newspilez special…

James Haskell topped the bill of big name players who were officially released by Stade Francais this week and while this comes as no huge surprise following ongoing reports of financial struggles and structural shake ups, the future for Uncle Gigi’s boys looks a little hazy. However, never one to miss a marketing opportunity, ol’ Max used the announcement of these departures to simultaneously silence the naysayers and to launch a fetching “Pink is Not Dead” t-shirt. You’ve got to admire that sass.

Stade Francais in unusually subtle colour scheme shocker

So what happens now?

Well, no one is going to dispute that Stade had a miserable season in 2010/11 and it’s safe to assume that losing out on their last gasp attempt with the Amlin Challenge Cup may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back for many. Furthermore, the club’s money woes have been evident for a while, not least of all when Mirco Bergamasco was released from his contract a year early to join Parisien rivals Racing Metro last Spring. But the t-shirt makes a good case.

Out with the old…

A big overhaul is one of the best parts of a new season. New players, new start, new kit (abundantly important around Gigi’s way), new attitude and new aspirations. While Stade are of course losing some talent, it’s also clear that some players have run their course with the club.

Haskell is a prime example. He’s a young player with a lot of hype surrounding him. He made a good showing in this year’s Six Nations and will undoubtedly want to be making a similar mark at club level. If my memory serves me correctly, there was a conversation at Manpilez HQ last summer about where Hask would go if he left Stade. Given the non-events at Adams Park since, there’s not quite so much confidence now that he’d defect to his dear old Wasps. In fact, if we’re to believe the rumblings from Haskell’s camp, every team in the world is currently dropping their car keys in a bowl on his coffee table. My suspicions are that he may take a jaunt south of the equator, but will he be willing to risk fitting the “exceptional circumstances” bill post-World Cup to jeopardize his England career? When the decision is made, expect to hear about it. A lot. With sponsorship.

Another departure that hasn’t surprised us is that of Mauro Bergamasco, who has been with the club since 2004. While he and younger brother and former team mate Mirco celebrated a championship win both then and in 2007, the past few years have been more about the graft than the glory. Mirco seems to be going from strength to strength since leaving Stade, having had a great debut season with Racing Metro and of course, with his heroic performance in Italy’s win over France in the Six Nations. Mauro, meanwhile, spent most of last season out of action following an injury and subsequent surgery on his shoulder. It’s safe to assume the older Bergamasco will have his sights set on a trip to New Zealand come the autumn, which may very well be his last RWC and we’re hedging our bets that club-wise, a return to the homeland may be on the cards, with Treviso being a likely prospect.

… in with the new

Other players avoiding an acid-hued brain-vomit of a kit next season include Juan Leguizamon, Hugo Southwell and Ollie Phillips, but what of the newcomers? Paul Sackey announced his arrival by sporting a very unsubtle neon pink sock alongside his Barbarians kit in the game against England on 29 May and with a wealth of experience in French rugby behind him, will be a welcome addition to the squad alongside Toulon team mate Felipe Contempi. Having a former All Black in the shape of Byron Kelleher and Wallabies centers Morgan Turinui and Paul Warick thrown into the mix isn’t going to do any harm, either.

Stick or twist…

Then there are those players who will remain, including lock Tom Palmer, arguably the stand out performer for England in this year’s Six Nations. Consider his poor wife, Helen, however, who faces at least another year of  non-French speaking misery in a Paris suburb  without even the light relief of baking cock-adorned cakes for Haskell and Phillips.

Current captain Sergio Parisse has made no noises about moving as of yet and although he’ll be absent for the World Cup in the early part of next season, his apparently God-like presence (calm down, Stuart Barnes) will boost the squad if he’s still on the scene.

The biggest question mark, however, currently hangs over Matthieu Bastareaud. While Stade Francais are insisting he’ll remain for the duration of his contract, Mourad Boudjellal, chairman of Bastareaud’s desired destination of Toulon, has taken the oh so subtle Marc Lievremont approach to courting the media by claiming the center is depressed to the point that he is pyschologically unable to stay chez Guazzini.

How is it that a soap opera about French rugby hasn’t been written yet?

A brave new world…

If there’s one massive positive to take from all this, it’s that Stade Francais are well versed in phoenix-from-the-ashes tactics. In fact, typically controversial news that a peculiarly random financial saviour from Montreal has dragged them out of the red means that they have avoided administrative relegation and there are also hopes that the recent return of Bernard Laporte may see him turn the tide for Stade as he did so dramatically in the 1990s. While coaching duties remain with Michael Cheika, there will be a lot of expectation on Laporte in the role of administrator to perform a similar, if not more impressive overhaul and set Stade Francais back on track. It would seem that, for the time being, pink is not dead.

Words by Anna

 

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

 

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



 

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

 

Newspilez: 10th November 2010 November 10, 2010

Hopefully you’ve noticed that we’ve been away for, er, ages… but now that life and technology are not barring our path to bringing you our unique perspective on the latest Rugby news… and the stuff we missed… we’re back!

Saracens have won the most headlines during our absence, not only did they put everyone out of their misery and sign up twinkletoes from the Ospreys and have their coach Brendan Vetner hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons *again* by getting charged for misconduct, but they also pulled off one of the most bizarre publicity stunts ever in rugby. And we’re talking about a sport that in the last year has had five of Bath in a bed with a bevy of teddy bears, Cappucino-making-bin-collecting Ospreys and, well, Stade Francais. Earlier today Britain’s rugby press were summoned to Suburban London’s Mill Hill to be told that from next season, the boys in black with red smudges will be playing in what will be the only Premiership venue with an honest-to-goodness Tube Station serving it… on a pretend pitch.

Further reports have suggested that despite the media circus called the likelyhood of this actually happening is slim, no planning permission has been granted to make the Barnet Copthall Stadium Premiership-ready and as the London Borough Of Barnet are not the most sympathetic council in the world, topped with the fact that the same space has been denied planning permissio due to neighbour pressure before – it’s not looking all that promising. Though we suspect the fallout will be entertaining to say the least.

Over in Bath, the Blue Black & Whites have been having a bit of a rocky season so far, with some fantastic wins among a spate of gutting losses but with the LV= finally up and running they seem to be getting back on track.

Across the border in Wales, our beloved Ospreys haven’t been doing much better after getting out of the traps a lot slower than the rest of their Magners league colleagues due to injury and the fall-out of Summer International duty, they seem to have fallen foul to a horrible repeat of last year’s season start in which they have played fabulously… for about fifteen minutes a week. Here’s hoping they get back on track once the Magners League kicks in again at the end of November and they can climb back up from their currently depressing 8th position on the League table.

But they did beat London Irish in the first round of the Heiniken cup, so we know their winning ways are in there somewhere…

Their neighbours over the bridge in Llanelli, however have been this season’s surprise. After a disappointing 09-10 season, the Scarlets are currently nestling at 2nd in the table with a measly 4 points separating them from perennial leaders Munster.

Of course, the most compelling stories at the moment are coming from the Autumn Internationals which kicked off in fine style last weekend with a colder, damper version of Super Saturday. Sadly, all thre ehome nations fell short of beating their visitors by margins so similar as to make us wonder if 10 points is a fully accurate indicator of how much better the Southern Hemisphere is currently performing against the North. England, Ireland and Wales all put in valliant efforts and in some areas were clearly the better teams (need we even bring up the paucity of the Australian scrum?) but one thing is for sure, all the respective skippers and coaches need to be taking some serious lessons from this round of internationals if we want to see any of our beloved home nations anywhere near the Webb Ellis cup next year.

Sadly though, it’s not been the standard of play, the champs and chumps, overuse of the term ‘strength in depth’, the citings or even Movember progress that’s been taking up the most column inches this time around as the attendances/ticket pricing debate has been the issue that’s stolen everyone’s attention. Twickenham had 10,000 empty seats, The Millenium Stadium an almost unheard of 20,000 which already captured people’s attention, but it was Ireland who stole the show, no-show wise, with their brand spanking new home stadium opening with around a third of the tickets languishing in the box office. Clearly the respective unions and venues have gotten something (and by something we mean the sheer amount of cold hard cash requred to get through the turnstile)  wrong in these recession scarred times, either that or it’s just too bloody cold but it’s clear something needs to be done to rally the troups and get bottoms rising from seats as the Northern Hemisphere get their proverbial act in gear. Too optimistic? Probably.

In more hormonal news, it’s calander (sic) season so let us know which you’re buying and which you’ll be hiding down the back of the sofa if you find it in your stocking come December. Here’s some sneak previews:

Courtesy of Uncle Gigi

Courtesy of the Laura Crane Trust

Catherine Tates keeps her clothes whilst all around her ar losing theirs in aid of Youth Cancer Charity the Laura Crane Trust

 

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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Newspilez: week ending 12 September 2010 September 13, 2010

Given that we Manpilez ladies are 75% Ospreys loyal (with the remaining 25% having both feet firmly in Wales), a certain issue about a certain twinkly-toed hypothermic man has not passed us by this week and we’re sure it didn’t miss you, either. Bearing that in mind…

  • The week ended on a positive for the Ospreys who, after having their four point defecit suspended on Friday morning, saw off Italian Magners newcomers Benetton Treviso at the Liberty Stadium with a 32-16 win. A more coherent performance than last week’s show against Ulster, the Ospreys went in on the attack and exploited a weak Treviso defence. Hideous weather conditions failed to improve throughout the game and there were plenty of slips and slides, not to mention a gutted Gareth Owen losing out on a try in a lamentable butterfingers moment. Pieman, Peddlar and Stig did some proper business, but we’ve not seen the best of the boys from Llandarcy yet this season. For about twenty lovely minutes, the Ospreys were roosting snugly at the top of the league, but were usurped once Munster fought to seal a three point victory over Edinburgh at Murrayfield.

 

  • The big Saturday showdown saw Leinster take on Cardiff Blues in a game with more ups and downs than a kangaroo on a pogo stick. The first half was definitely in Leinster’s favour, but the Blues made a step change in the second and levelled before Leinster booted themselves up the behind for a charged final twenty minutes. Two tries in the last ten saw Leinster seal the deal 34-23.

 

  • Elsewhere in the Magners League, Newport Gwent Dragons seem to be upping their game and saw off Glasgow Warriors 23-11 in a scrappy clashing of heads at Rodney Park, while Scarlets slipped by with 35-33 win despite an early lead from Connacht. Kudos to Aironi, who, despite falling foul of Ulster in the final quarter to end on 15-22, really bit back in their first Magners League home game. Two Irish competitors down and two Welsh lined up in the coming weeks, only time will tell if the fire in their bellies be enough to keep Aironi afloat…

 

  • Over in England’s green and pleasant land, the Aviva Premiership is gathering pace with Bath currently leading the pack. Despite injurygeddon coming to the Rec, Bath managed a 20-13 victory over London Irish with everyone’s favourite reformed bad boy, Olly Barkley, putting the boot in to land five penalty kicks. In your face, Johnno.

 

  • Wasps suffered a massive upset at the hands of Newcastle Falcons, falling from 14 point lead grace to stumble home with a 29-17 defeat swimming before their eyes. With tries being disallowed left, right and centre, Quins were no doubt spitting to lose out 16-20 to Northampton Saints at the Stoop, while Sarries rose from the ashes of last week’s Twickenham defeat to beat Sale Sharks 28-13. Gloucester clawed back some dignity after their first round trouncing from Exeter but landed only the slimmest of victories over Leeds Carnegie with a final score of 22-21. Speaking of Exeter, the Chiefs were back to their old tricks at Welford Road on Saturday, at least for the first half of their head-to-head with current Aviva champs Leicester Tigers. Going into half time with a 20-10 lead, Exeter fought tooth and nail but were denied a second win as the Tigers finally pulled their socks up and turned the tide for an epic 11 point comeback in the final 16 minutes. Newcastle, you’re next and you’d be wise to not underestimate the west country boys!

 

  • Finally, a quick hop over the Channel to review the state of the Top 14. Our favourite boyband Stade Francais are having a bit of a shocker, currently practising their choreography and lipsynching in the bottom end of the league (stifle those giggles in the back) while their historic bitchslap counterparts Racing Metro 92 are flying high, three points behind leaders Aviron Bayonnais. The Racing boys took La Rochelle to the cleaners on Saturday 43-18 win that saw perennial injury-magnet Juan Martin Hernandez duck out early with a thigh complaint. Let’s hope he’s not Iantoed himself and will be fighting fit soon.

 

Words by Anna (ably abetted by Lauren)