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Rawr Data Profile: Bath Rugby October 8, 2010

Since we launched Manpilez Proper back in August we’ve been frankly overwhelmed by your response both in terms of numbers and feedback. It’s been fantastic having more and more people getting involved.

Now we figured it’s time to take that to the next level so here, with our first ever reader submitted article comes Ms Cara, with her litany to Bath Rugby.

Bath Rugby

Image lovingly snapped by Cara

I feel quite honoured to be writing the first Premiership Team Profile to hit Manpilez, so without further ado, here’s the lowdown on Bath Rugby.

I started supporting Bath properly in 2002, though I grew up watching the team, and rugby in general, from when I was born. I have my Dad to thank for this, as well as the funny looks I get when telling people I support Bath in my North Lincolnshire accent.

Bath Rugby were established in 1865 and are one of the oldest rugby clubs in existence.

The home of Bath Rugby is The Recreation Ground, or The Rec. Unless of course you’re an away fan and then you’ll be more aware of it as ‘The Wreck’. Contrary to this lovely little nick name, The Rec is one of the most beautiful places to witness a game of rugby. Bias fully aside, of course!

Bath were the first British club to lift the Heineken Cup in 1998 beating Brive, in a thrilling final, 19-18.

In the league Bath have had mixed fortunes, making it to the semi-finals of the Premiership for the last three seasons. They have also been close to relegation, narrowly avoiding the drop in 2003.

Moving forward to last season, the campaign was a shaky one. In reality it was never going to be easy after all the controversy of the summer. Incase you missed all the ‘shenanigans’ of the summer, though how on earth you could of I have no idea, I’ll give a brief summary… *deep breath*

Four Bath players were accused of taking drugs. Three denied it and ended up with 9 month bans for bringing the game into disrepute. One admitted taking them and was handed an 8 month suspension.

If only it had been over and done with that quickly in real life!

Back to the 2009/2010 season, it started terribly. To be blunt. Up until the new year Bath had only managed to win 4 games from 17 (all competitions) and by Christmas I was seriously worrying about the big R!

It seemed that the team needed some sort of miracle to happen in order to get them heading up the table. That ‘sort of miracle’ seemed to come in the form of Luke Watson. This could have merely been coincidence, but I like to believe!

Bath rapidly turned the season around beginning with monumental and confidence boosting wins over London Irish and Saracens, both away from home. Unfortunately for Saracens the only thing ‘special’ happening there at the end of February was Bath earning a narrow, but crucial, win.

Picture lovingly snapped by Cara

For me, as a supporter, the finest moment of the 2009/2010 campaign came during the Wasps St Georges Day game at Twickenham. Dubbed as Wasps’ big day out they were there to slay Bath. In reality they had their stingers handed to them on a plate by the men in blue, black and white. The pivotal bonus point win securing them a place within the top four just one game away from the all important semi finals.

Bath were to face Leicester at Welford Road in the semi’s and although they lost I couldn’t be too downbeat about the whole affair. Looking at the bigger picture, coming from where they had at the beginning of the season, to manage to get to the semi finals was a massive achievement and nothing can take that away.

The 2010/2011 season is set to be an exciting one for Bath, and all of their supporters, hopefully culminating in silverware, and I believe the following men are those to help Bath get there.

Aye Aye Captain! – Luke Watson

Photo lovingly snapped by CaraAfter joining Bath in November 2009, he has been somewhat of a saviour. There was a lot of hype surrounding Luke when the announcement came, not all of it good, but since arriving he has done nothing but quash any nervous dispositions any Bath supporter may have had, so much so that he was named captain for the 2010/2011 season.

Luke provides a brilliant character, team spirit and has the aura of a true leader.

Aside from that he’s just an all round nice guy. I may, or may not, have a slight man crush on him. To me, the man is a legend!


The Prodigal Son – Olly Barkley

Picture lovingly snapped by Cara

Having re-signed for Bath after taking a year out* in 2009/2010 Olly is back with Bath. Olly is the epitome of a Bath player. I

can’t say too much about Olly without being disgustingly biased so I’ll leave it there, plus it’s in everyones best interests that I do not get started on his exclusion from any England team by Johnno. Oh well, Englands loss…

*A year out is what I have to refer to his year at Gloucester as. Weird? Me? Never! It was heartbreaking stuff, alright?


Moodos – Lewis Moody

Photo lovingly snapped by Cara

Moody signed for Bath during the summer from arch rivals Leicester… oooooh controversial!

He’s a big signing and lets face it the guy is used to having his mitts all over silverware, which can only mean

good things for Bath, right?

Bendy – Nick Abendanon

Picture lovingly snapped by Cara

The resident ‘pretty boy’, but trust me, the boy isn’t just a pretty face.

I have to confess that I used to really dislike Bendy, I’m not too sure why, perhaps I always felt him a little too inconsistent and I could never take to him as a player. Then he upped his game immensely and went from being weak in tackles to putting in massive hits, and being all over the park in both defense and attack. Suddenly he became dangerously exciting.

So don’t let his pretty blonde hair fool you, he can dish it out and boy can he take it.

Bendy gets a knock to the head at least once a game. It’s now an ongoing joke between me and my Dad that Bendy is never 100% at his best until he’s had the customary knock to the head.

As if to prove this theory last weeks game v London Irish provided a brilliant example.

Stowers KO’s Bendy, yes I think the red was harsh too, and 10 minutes later he scored a try which got the boys back in front.

That example is to try and justify that I am, by no means, insane…

One to watch – Nathan Catt

You might not recognise the name… yet… but you will.

He featured for the England Saxons in their annual summer trip to Canada for the Churchill cup and I strongly believe that 22 year old prop Catt is going to be a big thing, and not just literally.

And finally…

They may not be players but no profile on Bath would be complete without a little bit on Steve Meehan, Sir Ian McGeechan and Bruce Craig.

Meehan joined Bath in 2006 and has recently committed himself to Bath until 2012. Meehan managed to lead Bath to their first silverware for 10 years when they won the ECC Final in 2008, beating Worcester at Kingsholm.

Sir Ian McGeechan was enlisted in June 2010 as performance director, only good things can come from him working with Bath, his legend precedes him.

Bruce Craig is the new owner of Bath, buying the club from Andrew Brownsword. Craig has already made big changes by giving the club what they’ve been wanting for years, with notable changes in the training facilities.

That concludes my team profile on Bath!

Words and pictures by Cara

 

Rawr Data Team Profile: Stade Francais August 26, 2010

Filed under: Rawr Data,Stade Francais,Team Profile,Teams — Manpilez @ 9:37 pm
Tags: ,

Anna turns her profiling eye to the joy and the sheer madness that is Uncle Gigi’s  ‘hood.

Stade Francais

Picture by Stade Francais

Un Pile Du Stade

When I first got into rugby, there was never a question of if I would fall in love with Stade Francais. It was only ever a matter of how long it would take…
Stade Francais, in their current guise, are a marketing dream come true in glorious technicolour. While it would be very easy to be cynical about the commercial success of the club, it is also difficult to not be impressed by their rise to notoreity in French rugby after a half century slump.
The club dates back to 1883, though you’d be forgiven for not knowing about those first hundred years or so, despite early success, as the modern day Stade Francais tends to… overshadow, shall we say, the club’s origins. It was in 1992, when businessman Max Guazzini took over as president, that Stade properly stepped into the limelight and started to become the elite squad that we have come to recognise in all their rose-tinted glory.
Uncle Max (or Gigi, as the Manpilez ladies affectionately know him) had a simple vision: to give the people of Paris a team that they could support and love. Bernard Laporte was drafted in as Head Coach and turned the tide for Stade, taking them from the third to first division over the course of three seasons. Gigi, meanwhile, was weaving his marketing magic to get those Parisien bottoms on seats and suddenly Stade Francais CASG was an all-singing, all-dancing, cheerleading, flag-waving force to be reckoned with. Then came the shirts. And the calendars.
Picture by Stade

Yeah, those ones.

The boys have come close to Heineken Cup glory twice, being pipped at the post by Leicester and Toulouse in 2001 and 2005 respectively. Their 2009-10 outing proved to be disappointing as they were, frankly, washed by Toulouse and sent out in the Quarter Finals. Stade’s last season was a bit of a nightmare all in all, so they’ll certainly be hoping for better things in 2010-11 and I fear they could do worse than the Big Man himself, Sergio Parisse, stepping up to take on skipper duties. Godspeed, Stade. You just might be my second team, at least for the next season…
Words by Anna, Pictures by Stade Francais
 

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

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

Strength Through Unity

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

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

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

The Squad

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

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

And skipper Paul Tito reckons:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Moving from Cardiff Arms Park to Cardiff City Stadium, Leckwith

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

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

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

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

Go on, chivvy your friends and get going!

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