British & Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland has issued an extraordinary request ahead of the final stages of the 2013 Six Nations.
The New Zealander, currently on a sabbatical from his position as Wales' head coach, has made a formal request to a selection of players from the Home Unions to not 'harm, hurt, obstruct or otherwise hinder' each other during the last two games of the championship as well as for the rest of the domestic season.
It is believed around forty players in line for selection for the summer tour to Australia have received a letter from the Lions management asking them to refrain from 'excessive physical contact' with other players also earmarked for possible selection for the 2013 Lions.
"We are requesting that players who we hope will be playing this June and July to make a pact with each other," said Gatland. "We hope they won't tackle each other, for example, or clear each other out forcefully at rucks. Basically, anything that could cause injury we want to avoid. For instance, we don't want Dan Cole running full speed at Ryan Jones. Or, heaven forbid, Danny Care running aggressively into Mike Phillips.
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Hello people of the rugby world, it’ me again: The 8cm Plastic Model of Ex-England Centre Will Carling.
That’ right, I’m not actually Will Carling, I’m just an 8cm plastic reproduction of the great man’s image.
Well, what a fiasco at HQ last week. The silly old French certainly made a mess of things didn’t they?
Philippe Georges Saint-André was a classic French winger in his day (even if I don’t think he ever had a plastic figure made of him), but, salutations to the gods, he does seem to be having a poor time of it as a coach.
Last Saturday, whilst watching the French coaching team destroy all hopes of victory and glory, I know I wasn’t the only one among us finding the thoughts of Sun-Tzu on the very tip of my plastic lips. Very cliché I know, but sometimes things are a cliché for good reason.
What I am about to write concerning Mr. Saint-André was probably said by one of the match commentators during the game and I missed it. And if not, it was certainly said by Mr. Inverdale or Mrs. Logan afterwards. Either way, I cannot help but say it again:
In military decisions
Officers and men;
In military appointments
Officers and men.
When an army is confused and perplexed
The feudal princes
Will cause trouble;
Chaos in the rank
And gives away
I know countess fans of rugby football have probably been saying the above all week, but I simply had to blurt it out. Forgive me for my weary pontificating.
That’s it for now, keep checking back for more insights and sage advice during the Six Nations.
The British & Irish Lions' preparations for this summer's Test series against Australia have been thrown into disarray after an attempt by the management team to connect with fans during last weekend's Six Nations games backfired drastically.
Lions coach Warren Gatland and his backroom staff, including Andy Farrell and Graham Rowntree, took part in what they called a 'community engagement and empathy weekend' in Cardiff and Rome. However, what was supposed to be an elaborate nationwide bonding session turned into a bizarre weekend of high jinks, accidents, arrests, abductions and fashion disasters. At least four members of the management and the committee are, as of press time, still unaccounted for.
Speaking at an emergency press conference in London, Gatland explained the logic behind the weekend's activities was to bring the Lions management not only closer with each other, but closer to the heartbeat of British and Irish rugby: the fans.
"One of the things we wanted to do in our new roles was take a fresh look at things," said Gatland. "Too often in the modern world of professional rugby we sit in private coaching boxes. We are well above the field of play and away from the buzz of the fans and the bitter cold chill of the winter air. If you do that for too long you can become disconnected from the spirit of the game and it can dull your instincts. You can lose your edge. This can, in extreme circumstances, lead to making poor decisions and poor selections. We were determined that the 2013 Lions management would take action to prevent this. So I suggested attending some of the weekend's games with fans. Sitting in the cheap seats, so to speak. Getting a feel for what rugby means to the masses."
Gatland's party was made up of thirteen Lions coaches, managers and committeemen. The group's original plan to 'soak up the atmosphere' on the streets of Cardiff soon went considerably off track.
"One thing led to another and one beer led to another," said a source from within the group who wished to remain anonymous. "You have to understand, some of the people in this group are ex-players who went straight into coaching when their careers ended. They've never actually experienced a Six Nations match with the common fans. They got so swept up in the atmosphere they didn't know what they were doing."
By half-time in the Wales-Ireland clash every member of the group was wearing at least one novelty item of clothing such as a daffodil hat or leprechaun hat. In addition to this, so much alcohol had been consumed that 'legal and binding promises' were made to various fans in various pubs that they would actually be employed as selectors in for the Australian tour.
For the full story click here: http://www.espnscrum.com/scrum/rugby/story/176679.html
Last week the rugby world was highly amused when Cardiff Blues' back Jason Tovey was unable to report for business in the Heineken Cup. The Welshman could not travel with his region to Toulon after his pet labrador, Buster, chewed his passport into such a state border officials would not permit him to enter France.
Tovey soon became the butt of jokes in the UK national media as paper after paper picked up the story and ran with it. Its obvious parallel to the old schoolboy excuse of the dog eating the schoolchild's homework making it a clear choice as quirky story of the day.
Similarly, Twitter was awash with jokes from fellow professionals, commentators and fans mocking Tovey for spinning a variation on the 'oldest excuse in the book'. However, deeper investigations by this column have revealed that the story has a far, far sinister overtone than at first glance.
It seems far from being an innocent, yet loveable, canine is the mastermind behind an international series of rugby scandals and mishaps that include match fixing, forced player transfers, food poisoning, on pitch violence, interference in disciplinary committees, IRB vote rigging, changes to the game's laws and referee intimidation.
The eating of Tovey's passport, for instance, appears to have been a 'warning' to the outside half for the owner's failure to spend enough time rubbing the dog's belly each day after training.
However, as of yet no clear motive has been established for Buster's other alleged mischievous and sinister deeds. But significant amounts of circumstantial evidence exists which seems to confirm to any logical person that Buster is indeed the guilty party. Several sources have made accusations against Buster but have always refused to go public with their claims, fearful of repercussions from sharp teeth.
"If Buster can arrange for the entire New Zealand rugby squad and management to suffer food poisoning before their loss to England last year," said one source who wished to cling to anonymity. "What do you think he'd do to me, a two-bit club player in Scotland? I'd be chewed up and spat out before the ink was dry on the charges."For the full story: CLICK HERE.
The Welsh Rugby Union has responded to the crisis currently engulfing the game in the principality by offering new employment packages to Welsh based players and completely overhauling its junior, youth and academy guidelines.
Faced with a stream of top players leaving Wales to play in England and France, as well as a barrage of embarrassing results at both international and domestic level, the WRU has been forced to act to stop the rot from setting in permanently. At a packed press conference in Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, the WRU unveiled its 'Reality Rugby Pathway Project' (RRPP).
The RRPP programme will seek to ensure that Wales' top players have the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the lucrative world of reality television once they retire from the game.
Inspired by the success of Welsh stars Gavin Henson (Strictly Come Dancing/71 Degrees North) and Gareth Thomas (Celebrity Big Brother/Dancing on Ice), the WRU is looking to ensure as many players as possible are able to pursue reality television careers when they are no longer able to make a living from sport. The RRPP will offer all professional players in Wales individually tailored training programmes to best prepare them for a career in reality television.For the full story: http://www.espnscrum.com/wales/rugby/story/174789.html
New Zealand’s Andrew Hore has established himself as a true hard man of rugby in his side’s crushing 33-10 victory over Wales in Cardiff.
Just seconds after the kick off the All Black hooker, who stands just six-feet-tall, was brave enough to knock down six-foot-six opponent Bradley Davies.
Despite the Welsh second row menacingly showing his back to the Kiwi hooker, Hore was not remotely intimidated, launching a wonderfully brave punch to fell his man.
“I’ll go toe to back with anyone,” said Hore. “Whether six-foot-six or seven-foot-nine, you have you back on me and I’ll take you on. Bring it. Bring it BACK!”
Hore, also a tough seal killer, has firmly put himself amongst the pantheon of hard rugby men.
England coach Stuart Lancaster has revealed he has no option to select anyone but Ben Morgan or Thomas Waldron at number eight for England as the RFU ordered only XXXXL size shirts from kit maker Canterbury for the Autumn series.
“There is nobody else in the professional game who would fit into those shirts,” said Lancaster. “Hopefully we’ll get some new shirts by the Six Nations and increase our options. Until then we’ll rotate these guys.”
New Zealand have thrown the future of international rugby into doubt after shocking post-whistle behaviour from the Kiwis last weekend saw Murrayfield looted and razed to the ground.
Not content with dismantling Scotland on the playing field by 51 points to 22, the triumphant All Blacks then proceeded to sack the stadium itself upon the blowing of the final whistle by referee Jerome Garces.
Murrayfield, the home of Scottish rugby since 1925, today lies in ruins, with naught but debris littering the floor where the cathedral of Scottish rugby previously stood.
Once the smoke and flames had finally died down late Tuesday afternoon news broke that the entire playing and coaching staff of Scotland had been enslaved by Richie McCaw and his team-mates.
"We claim these inferior Celts as our war booty," snarled General McCaw in a press conference held amongst the rubble of the south stand. "We are tired of coming here to Europe and engaging in these minor, insignificant skirmishes. For over a century we have come here to the lands our great-grandfathers sensibly left behind them and we get nibbled at by these pesky flies. No more. No more do we come here for your entertainment. No more. This time we end it forever. We are not a circus act for the entertainment of Europeans. We are the AIG-sponsored All Blacks."
For the full shocking story: http://www.espnscrum.com/new-zealand-tour-2012/rugby/story/173132.html
The International Rugby Board is so pleased with the success of its trial extending the powers of Television Match Officials they have announced plans to extend them even further.
In recent months the IRB have experimented with various TMO formats in different parts of the rugby world to see if allowing additional use of television replays will lead to a fairer game with less controversial decisions being made.
In the English Premiership, for example, the TMO is able to review a whole sequence of play leading up to the act of scoring. Previously, it was only possible for officials to review the actual act of scoring itself. Whether it is a forward pass, offside, knock-on, obstruction, player in touch, illegal tackle or double movement, the TMO can now disallow a try based on anything that happened during an entire play.
"Those of us looking to introduce more technology in the game always say we want to make sure the right decision is made," said IRB spokesperson Andrew Lyons. "It's pretty unfair to say these things and then only make a half-hearted stab at making sure the right decision is consistently made. Our new law book fully addresses that problem and ensures the right decision is always made."For the full story http://www.espnscrum.com/scrum/rugby/story/171045.html