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Interviewpilez: Tom Croft February 20, 2011

Filed under: Interviewpilez,Leicester Tigers — Manpilez @ 3:53 pm
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As you can probably imagine, when we started up Manpilez just seven months ago, it was all about the glitz and glamour, the showbiz parties and jetsetting… Which is why we were a little confused when, on a drizzly Wednesday morning we found ourselves in a run down old football ground on the outskirts of Leicester. The posts were the wrong configuration, there were hoardings for the rental of a Pony and Plough while a small gaggle of Serious Journalists were standing on the other side of the room wondering what two ladies wearing what proved to be inappropriate footwear were doing there.

Thankfully, just as we were starting to worry, Leicester Tigers’ press officer appeared and took us away from all this and into the seventh circle of the Tigers’ lair to meet  flanker extraordinaire and all round nice bloke Tom Croft.  Though we clearly confused the man from the outset “Man…Piles?!”, he led us into the plusher part of the player’s social area while his team mates were having their lunch to have a chat about his imminent return for Tigers, his take on ‘Ash the Splash’ and his best pal Scampy…

Picture taken by our own fair hands

Tom Croft on a grey day

It’s been almost three months since Tom Croft had to duck out of England’s clash with South Africa at Twickenham due to a broken shoulder and on the day we interviewed him we had to be snuck past the Leicester Press “they’re all wanting to know where he is with his injury…” the press officer says as he leads us to where Tom is waiting to be the first person to receive a grilling from us. “Don’t worry” we say “we’re not as serious as all that…”

“So Tom, how’s the shoulder?” We ask, as soon as he’s out of earshot.  Thankfully, Tom is amiable enough to let us ask those difficult, hard hitting questions. Once  he’s crammed all Six foot 50 inches in to a bar style booth in the Tigers’ ‘snug’ he smiles, knowing full well there was no way he’d get away with it “ It’s going well; I’ve been saying for a few weeks that it’s nearly there. It’s just obviously little things at the end of an injury which hold you back. Touch wood it’s pretty much there now, it’s just a few little things you have to cross the Ts and dot the Is then hopefully be back soon for selection.”

Indeed, it’s looking increasingly likely that this weekend’s clash against troubled Wasps at Welford road could see Tom line up for action alongside returning team mates Martin Castrogiovanni and George Chuter who have been released for the off-week of the Six Nations.  It’s clear to see that the 87 times capped flanker is keen to get stuck back in, though he’s equally keen to play this down “It’s been quite frustrating so I’m looking forward to getting back. Obviously at the end of an injury it takes a while to get back in the swing of things, taking the contact and getting your fitness up”.

Leicester Tigers are currently sitting firmly at the top of the Aviva Premiership table with only four losses so far in this year’s competition, so there are few environments better for motivation to return than one that’s so successful. “We’re very inward looking, we look at ourselves and how our standings are affected on the pitch and what we can do to improve ourselves. Leicester historically have always been near the top of the table every single season, we’ve been in the last seven or eight finals in the premiership and we’ve won so many of them. It’s a good place to be, within the squad there’s a lot of competition for places but other teams within the premiership now are playing a lot better and it’s tougher and tougher games each year so we have to improve our skills you know, we can’t just remain stagnant and hope we win because we’re Leicester.”

It’s obvious from the off that Tigers mean a lot to Tom, and he quickly dismisses any hints that he and his pride could ever become complacent with a shrug and a laugh, past successes clearly failing to go to his head. When we turn our questioning to the possibility he’ll return for  the Six Nations, that loyalty comes out in waves “Priority is getting back playing for Leicester, Leicester’s your bread and butter, it’s where you learn your skills and where you play majority of your rugby in a season. So I just want to get back playing for Leicester really, try and regain a starting shirt. Obviously the boys are going well who are playing there so I’ve got to work hard off the pitch as well as on the pitch to try and get back in there.”

That’s not to say, however, that he’s not aware of the competition that has bubbled up in his absence, with Tom Wood impressing many in the shirt many had hoped Tom would return in time to occupy “Obviously it’s tough watching other players step into your place when you’re injured. I was there at the Italy game watching from the side line and it’s tough watching them perform exceedingly well as you don’t really see a place for yourself back in that team. But like I say I’m getting back playing for Leicester first, try and regain some form and I’ll go from there”.

Promising words, all told, especially as from that side line, he is rating England’s chances for a long awaited Six Nations win, or even better a Grand Slam with or without him “This is one of our best chances we’ve had in a number of years. We’ve started very, very well. It’s a team that’s been brought up over a number of years but we just haven’t had the success in the Six Nations.  I think the team’s come together very well, there are a few new faces and it’s a team that likes to attack, the first two games have shown that, especially the Italian game. Although it was not the best performance by Italy but [they were] still finishing tries and you know the French game coming up will possibly be the decider of the tournament, we could see who goes on to win, so England can’t get complacent with two wins from two. France will offer something completely different; it’ll be a much bigger test”.

As talk turned to England, we took the opportunity to ask who has impressed him so far and it didn’t take long for the man of the moment to come up “Obviously Chris Ashton, scoring as many tries as he has so far is really encouraging”.

A lot has been said about the Northampton Winger over the last two weeks both in terms of his incredible run of points and that signature move, which has sparked many a debate even within the Manpilez Team but Croft takes it on the chin “I don’t see the problem. You know, back in the day Ben Cohen used to do them all the time, nothing was said then. Scoring for England’s a great thing, if that’s how he wants to celebrate then until he drops one… It’s happened in the past in the premiership games, you know, players have dropped the ball but I think as a player you know when the ball’s secure and until he does drop it I’m sure he’ll keep on doing it!”

Picture COurtesy of Leicster Tigers

However, he’s clearly too modest to get into such showmanship himself “I’m pretty renowned at the club for having one of the worst dives. I tend to knee slide or just dot it down, I’m too wary of dropping the ball, I don’t think I’d play again if I dropped it. Just put it down, two hands, that’s it.”

Of the rest of the England squad, he’s even more enthusiastic “Mark Cueto has always been a bit of an unsung hero he hadn’t scored for a while so scoring against Italy you saw the reaction of the team, how much it meant. He makes those hard yards all the time” but naturally, has a special place in his praise for his Leicester team mates, especially the half back pairing that’s impressing anyone with eyes, of Toby Flood:  “The way Toby Flood’s controlling the team at the moment is very good, he’s starting to make breaks, open holes for players to go through” and flatmate Ben Youngs “Ben Youngs is Ben Youngs, he does the same as he does every single game; he creates those chances. I think the way Floody and Youngs are working together well as they do for Leicester week in week out”.

“Obviously you want your team mates to do well in the squad. I mean Ben Youngs has risen dramatically over the past year in the ranks and Toby Food has continued his form,  so has Dan Cole and Lou Deacs so it’s good to see them doing well but it’ll be good to have them back at the club.”

With the serious bit out of the way, we got onto more…. Manpilez business. Apart from his obvious skills on the pitch, one of the reasons we chose Tom as our first victim was the sheer amount of love he gets from you, our dear readers. We weren’t quite sure how to broach this subject, however, but we can confirm that our timing absolutely sucked as a throng of Tigers drifted over just as we uttered words to the effect of ‘How does it feel to know that all our readers wanted to know if you’re single?’ and discovered that yes, it is definitely possible to make someone that tough blush. And look a bit frightened. “ Uh, yeah, it’s nice but my girlfriend might have something to say about that!”  Sorry ladies.

Thankfully, we were able to reassure Tom that neither we nor our readers were just dirty pervs by letting him know just why he was one of the winners of a Manpilez Award. Though his team mates had, by then, boarded the banter bus by chiming in to find out if the award was for ‘Sexiest Man in Leicester’ it was clear to see that Tom was relieved to discover it was the ‘Workhorse award’ for all round performances and though he clearly struggles with an attack of the modest,  he was keen to wax lyrical on the kind of players that had inspired that sort of work rate.

“Someone like Lewis Moody I think. Obviously he’s the England captain, and he’s recently moved down to Bath but the way he’s played throughout his career he puts his body on the line, he takes every single call as to whether it’s hopeless or not. The reason why he’s injured a lot of the time is because he does put his body to the extreme and you know that’s the sort of player I’ve tried to take inspiration from. Historically, Someone like [Peter]Winterbottom, who was again, renowned for being… well, a sort of Lewis Moody figure back in the day. I keep referring back to Moods because he is one of those players… [George Chuter happens by] obviously George Chuter’s a bit of a workhorse as well!”

So, with us hoping that inspiration doesn’t extend in to further layoffs for him, we hit tom with the Manpilez Quickfire (read: daft) questions:

With the World Cup approaching, are you already preparing yourself?

Because of my injury the World Cup seems a long way off yet so I’m looking forward to getting my fitness and my form back and I’ll think about that later on!

We’ve heard you were a bit of a mover in the past, would you ever consider getting the sequins out for Strictly or…

[very quickly and definitely] No.  I would get far too much abuse being at this sort of camp

Worst roommate?

Worst room mate… dunno. The one that used to be worst was Seru Rabini who’s left the club now but he used to snore like… I’ve never heard snoring as bad and you’d get no sleep.

Best Roomate(s)?

Matt Smith, Ben Youngs, someone who’s entertaining.

Have you got any favourite incidents that have happened while you’ve been away?

TC: not that I can really repeat so we’ll skirt over that one!

We don’t really censor at Manpilez…

Probably best leave that there then!

Do you have like a pre match ritual?

Night before always have a carbonara, before a game, Jelly Babies.  It’s not really a superstition, just something I’ve got into a routine of doing.

On the subject of Carbonara, we see that you’ve got a dish on the menu at Castro’s restaurant, how did that come about?

Obviously  it’s a new restaurant owned by Castro and Geordan,  so they just tried to get a few players onto the menu with their favourite dishes, it’s a restaurant owned by rugby players so why not have a bit of Rugby influence?

Are you famous for your carbonara then?

Well… I cook it for a couple of the boys. Geordy’s usually over, obviously Ben Youngs who I live with, a couple of boys come over before a game so it goes down alright

Favourite book?

I don’t do a lot of reading I really enjoyed the Da Vinci Code.  I like War stories, those sort of things. Currently reading Bill Bryson’s History of Absolutely Everything so that sort of thing. And obviously Harry Potter, how could I forget!?

Film?

Shawshank Redemption

Song?

Either Status Quo, Rockin’ All Over the World or Flogging Molly ‘If I Ever Leave This World Alive’ it’s on the film P.S. I Love You, but it’s a really good song. Really gets the boys going anyway!

What’s been your best tour moment?

Lions.

Is that something you’d always dreamed of or was it out of the blue?

It’s something you’re always aware of but never expect yourself to go on it. I was 23 at the time so I perceived it as something an older player did, maybe towards the end of their career so I never thought I’d go on it and play three tests. You know, it was just a great experience. It was six weeks of hard work but you were excited all the time and it was a real honour to go play there.

How did you react when you got the call?

It was literally three days before the Heineken Cup final so I didn’t really have much chance to take it in. I was very much focusing on the game against Leinster then I left the next day so it didn’t actually sink in till I was on the flight going over.

Do you keep in touch with the other Lions that were on your tour?

Yeah, obviously Harry Ellis, he’s recently retired but he’s in Leicester and a few of the Irish boys. You end up playing against a few of the players you played with so you catch up with them after games and it’s quite nice have friendships across rugby.

Did you find it quite strange playing alongside you’re used to playing against?

At the start it was weird but everyone was in the same boat it was all ‘My God I’m playing for The Lions!’ There was a great buzz and excitement around the camp so that went to the wayside as the boys were all just happy to be there.

And finally…We’ve been reading up on past interviews and we realised there was no way we could get away with not asking you how your dog is…

I think he actually gets more column inches than I do.  Scampy’s very well, he’s sitting in the back of the car at the moment so he seems to pop up in quite a few articles so he’s quite a famous dog now!

Has he been getting involved today?

No, I’ll have my dinner then I’ll take him out on the pitch later, he’ll run around and chase some balls and, yeah, he’s quite a cool little dog. He’s not the biggest dog, he’s quite…  a runt really, but he’s good fun doesn’t take too much looking after. He’s going alright!

With that, after a brief expedition onto the rather slippy training pitch to take some pictures, we left Tom alone to deal with lunch, Scampy, the fallout from his team mates from having two girls pitching up to grill him and a small matter of getting back in action…

Tom was grilled by Lauren and snapped by the Manpilez camera & Leicester Tigers.
With thanks to Andy Mann for letting us loose in Leicester.

 

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: Tom Croft August 26, 2010

Change of tack now… we’re going to the dark side as Lauren tries to prove that team rivalry doesn’t blind her to the quality of a player by profiling Tom Croft of Ospreys arch rivals Leicester Tigers.

Tom Croft

Picture source unknown

Thomas Richard ‘Crafty Crofty’ Croft is 24 years old, 6’5”, 16st 5lbs and plays at both flanker and lock for Leicester Tigers, England and the Lions.

Hailing originally from Basingstoke, Tom Croft’s rugby career began at Newbury RFC in Berkshire before Leicester Tigers snapped him up in 2005 at the tender age of 19.

Dubbed as one of the fastest forwards around, Crafty Crofty is one of the ultimate utility players, meaning he plays both blind and openside flanker and also at lock, but takes on each position with the speed and agility of a back.

All this means that despite stiff competition for back row slots in the England squad, Tom has quickly become a regular fixture in the match day line up since his first cap for Saxons in 2007.

In 2009, after Alan Quinlan’s unfortunately timed ban, Tom was called up by Ian McGeechan to take his place on the Lions Tour, where he went on to play in all three tests and became the first forward ever to gain two tries in one test.

Croft’s versatility is one of the reasons Leicester tigers have become the team to beat in recent years, with the last two Guinness premiership trophies in their cabinet and seemingly only the Ospreys able to stop them in the Heineken cup (sorry, couldn’t resist!) so it’s clear to see we’ll be seeing a lot of Crofty over the course of the season.

Words by Lauren, Picture source unknown