Sunday, 30 September 2012

hAT trick hero

Adam Thompstone made a dream debut as he celebrated his first start in The Stripes with a hat trick of tries.  Toby Flood was 6/6 with the boot as he bagged a brace of hat tricks, one of conversions and one of penalties.  Exeter bookended the game with a Mieres penalty and a Ben White try in the first and last minutes respectively.  How the TMO took over 3 minutes to award Exeter’s try, which was clear from the first viewing, is anyone’s guess.  It made no difference and just made sure the game ended with a whimper not a bang.

Tigers pack certainly responded from the whimperish performance last week with a bang as they bossed and they bullied a denuded pack of Chiefs.  Thompson takes the headline, and Matt Smith the ESPN Man of the Match, but it was Cole, Crane and chums up front who harried and hassled the visitors and broke their resolve.   Strong midfield carrying created a chasm in the Chiefs midfield, with 3rd choice prop Carl Rimmer split from his captain Tom Hayes, Toby Flood putting Flying Fijian Goneva through the hole on his inside left.  Goneva carried through to the 22 where the ball was kept alive as Tigers made more ground.  Coming right again through the hands of first Flood, then that man Goneva again gave Waldrom the outside break as he fed Thompstone who raced past the hapless Rimmer to the corner.  Flood landed the touchline conversion.

3 penalties rounded off the half time score; the last after Tigers had already kicked to touch, the referee bizarrely making Tigers then kick for goal after touch had been found.  It was probably a blessing in disguise though as Tigers extended their league to 13 and helped to further snuff out the Chiefs faint hopes of a comeback.

The second of Tigers tries was part cock up part genius.  The cock up was the Chiefs as scrum half Hayden Thomas fired a pass around Mieres’s ankles, Waldrom’s tackle forcing the knock on.  Then the genius.  Toby Flood took two touches, the first a stab to free the ball from Jason Shoemark’s grasp, the second mark from Flood’s shoe was a sublime dink with the outside of the right boot straight into Matt Smith’s waiting hands.  He straightened and drew in two defenders before feeding Bowden on his outside who threw the scoring pass to last man Thompstone.

Tigers were pilling on the pressure now, Goneva ghosting through a gap, only to be pulled down 1 metre short.  A pick and go looked on but Tigers dithered, then moved the ball left towards the posts where Tom Youngs powerful thrust was rebuffed before Niall Morris stepped one way then the other to free Mulipola for an easy run in.  But no.  Ignacio Mieres was powering across and managed to go high and disrupt the giant Samoan just enough for the ball to slither through his fingers as he tossed and turned in a vain attempt to ground the ball.  It was butchery that Sweeny Todd would have been proud.

The third was not long in coming, however; smart work from Kitchener and Goveva at a ruck on half way turned the ball over and as Brett Deacon and Waldrom moved the ball towards the right touchline it eventually found its way to Matt Smith.  Smartly noticing no covering player nor a full back was in place for the Chiefs Smith judiciously used the boot to grubber through, Thompstone pounced on the bouncing ball ahead of Matt Jess and duly claimed his hat trick try.

A cascade of replacements then followed as Sam Harrison and Toby Flood were replaced by Pat Phibbs and George Ford while Mulipola made way for another debutant Fraser Balmain in the front row.  The replacements disrupted the team’s rhythm, with a 27 point lead and 3 tries on the board this was the time to throw caution to the wind but Phibbs was too careful and considered when a bit of balls out gusto was needed to counter attack from our own line.  Ford created one moment of genius with a cross field kick, but slopping hands from Graeme Kitchener killed the attack and the chance of the bonus point.  It was not Waldrom’s greatest pass but Kitchener merely flapped a single hand at it with Matt Smith waiting in behind.  Claiming it, presuming no call from Smith, was not a bad idea but if that is the intention then claim it!  With two hands!

Credit to Exeter as they never gave up and the attacking pressure they applied was the best form of defence stopping Tigers pushing for the extra point in that last 10 minutes.  They gained their reward as the clock went to 0 when Ben White’s score was eventually given by the TMO.  The referee only asked for the grounding to be checked so luckily for Exeter his offside position in the ruck was not dealt with.  This is the second try Tigers have conceded this season when players in the ruck reach back and pick up the ball.  Have referees forgotten the rules or are they bewitched by the “clever play”?  If this is now allowed then Tigers need to cotton on as it completely removes the prospect of accidental offside (which is why it is outlawed of course).

Tigers will be pleased at how Dan Bowden helped shape the game in his first start, even if it is far to lateral for my tastes, showing Anthony Allen that he is no longer an automatic first choice in the 12 jersey.  His kicking game was perhaps not utilised to its fullest but this was not the game for that.  Niall Morris must now be the official understudy for Geordan Murphy, he was a close call as my Man of the Match as he was a constant weapon in attack and sure in defence.  But my Man of the Match has got to be Flying Fijian winger Vereniki Goneva, his powerful jinking runs wreaked havoc and created the first try and the Mulipola no-try.  It was his turnover that finished in the final try as well and that is a good example of why he is close to the complete winger.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Goneva named in Fijian tour squad

The Fijian Rugby Union has today named the squad for the Flying Fijians 4 game November tour, including Tigers dynamic new winger Vereniki Goneva.  There are 2 capped internationals against England and Georgia plus a mid-week game against Gloucester.  There is also the non-cap game against Ireland.  In some 1970s throw back Ireland has decided that the Fijians aren't worthy of a test game, even though there is no other Ireland match that weekend.  Standard arrogance from the Irish, yet still a disgrace.  I wonder if the Dublin based IRB would have allowed another team to protect itself from losing ranking points before the December Rugby World Cup draw.

11/10 - England
11/13 - Gloucester
11/17 - Ireland A
11/24 - Georgia

Campese Ma'afu (Cardiff Blues)
Penijamini Makutu (Nadroga)
Vasi Rarawa (Suva)
Seremaia Naureure (Nadroga)
Tale Tuapati (Southland)
Vili Veikoso (Suva)
Deacon Manu (Llanelli Scarlets)
Manasa Saulo (Suva)
Setefano Somoca (Nadroga)
Tevita Cavubati (Tasman)
Seko Kalou (Nadroga)
Apisai Naikatini (Toyota)
Leone Nakarawa (Tailevu)
Api Ratuniyarawa (North Harbour)
Josefa Domolailai (Pau)
Iliesa Ratuva (Nadroga)
Malakai Ravulo (North Harbour)
Waqabaca Kotobalavu (Lautoka)
Nemani Nagusa (Nadroga)
Netani Talei (Edinburgh)

Kelemedi Bola (Lautoka)
Nemia Kenatale (Southland)
Nikola Matawalu (Glasgow)
Jonetani Ralulu (Nadroga)
Metuisela Talebula (Bordeaux)
Josh Matavesi (Worcester)
Josaia Lotawa (Suva)
Ravai Fatiaki (Worcester)
Vereniki Goneva (Leicester)
Watisoni Votu (Lautoka)
Timoci Matanavou (Toulouse)
Maikeli Mocetadra (Suva)
Aisea Natoga (Nadroga)
Waisea Nayacalevu (Stade Francais)
Samu Wara (Western Force)
Simeli Koniferedi (Nadroga)

Teams named for Chiefs Clash

Dan Bowden makes his Tigers debut as they look to set the record the straight against Exeter Chiefs this Saturday and gain revenge for the two defeats they suffered at the hands of Exeter last season.  George Chuter also makes his first start as the season as Manu Tuilagi misses out again, despite strong rumours from inside the camp that he is fit.  Other changes see the props, once again, swop over and Thomas Waldrom replaces Steve Mafi in the back row after he had to be withdrawn last week through injury.  JC will again captain the side as he seeks a better result and performance than last week.  Ed Slater also returns from injury to feature on the bench for the first time this season.

15 Scott Hamilton
14 Niall Morris
13 Matt Smith
12 Dan Bowden
11 Vereniki Goneva
10 Toby Flood
9 Sam Harrison
1 Logovi'i Mulipola
2 George Chuter
3 Dan Cole
4 Graham Kitchener
5 Geoff Parling
6 Jordan Crane (c)
7 Julian Salvi
8 Thomas Waldrom

16 Tom Youngs
17 Boris Stankovich
18 Martin Castrogiovanni
19 Ed Slater
20 Brett Deacon
21 Patrick Phibbs
22 George Ford
23 Adam Thompstone

Exeter come to Welford Road looking to secure consecutive victories at Welford Road and three-peat victories over the Tigers.  All Black Jason Shoemark come back into the side for Phil Dollman as Naqelevuki and Whitten shift out one.  Ex-Coventry flanker Tom Johnson returns to the side after missing his first Premiership game through injury as James Phillips drops out of the 23 entirely.  Former Tigers Chris Whitehead and Ignacio Mieres both start in the Chiefs line up.
15 Luke Arscott
14 Ian Whitten
13 Sireli Naqelevuki
12 Jason Shoemark
11 Matt Jess
10 Ignacio Mieres
9 Haydn Thomas
1 Brett Sturgess
2 Chris Whitehead
3 Carl Rimmer
4 Tom Hayes (capt)
5 James Hanks
6 Tom Johnson
7 James Scaysbrook
8 Richard Baxter
16 Simon Alcott
17 Ben Moon
18 Chris Budgen
19 Aly Muldowney
20 Ben White
21 Will Chudley
22 Gareth Steenson
23 Phil Dollman

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Tigers first academy league fixture confirmed

Sale have today confirmed their fixtures for the forthcoming Academy League, also confirming its structure.

It will mimic the A league with Northern and Southern Conferences, with all 14 RFU Regional Academies featuring.

Tigers fixture with Sale has been announced as being in Leicester on February 9th.

Jooste in Time

Tigers have announced that Wessel Jooste's work permit has been granted in time for him to make a debut against Exeter, should he be required.  Jooste has spent the previous 10 years in France playing for Aix then Bourgoin, having previously been part of South African Under 21 and 19 sides.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Ex-Files Volume II

We start this round up in the Championship, Dean Richards and John Wells’s Newcastle Falcons continue their unbeaten start to the season beating Doncaster, containing Jethro Rawling, Dante Mama and Will Simpson, 37-3 and then marching on to Penzance and beating the Cornish Pirates 25-3.  Diccon Edwards and his youthful Leeds side cam up 1 point short away to Plymouth Albion, with Tom Bowen on the wing, grabbing 2 bonus points in a 32-31 loss, before putting 5 tries past Bristol in a 50-31 win.  Callum Green started both games with Dan Hemmingway featuring from the bench as well.  James Grindal started for Bristol in both that game and the Sky televised defeat of the Pirates the previous week.

There was a feast of Old Boy action as Nottingham lost 16-27 to Rotherham with a full 10 of the 21 players in Green and White having once been a Leicester man (Holford, Duffey, on-loan Bower, Montague, Wilson, Shaw, on-loan duo Stevens and Harris, Barnham and Lynn).  The next week against Bedford it was a more modest 8 (this time featuring Matt Parr and Jack Cobden but no Barnham, Lynn, Stevens or Harris) , but the visitors featured Tom Armes, Greg Gillanders and winger Ollie Dodge as they won on the 27-25 on the last play.  That trio plus Ben Gulliver put 55 points on London Scottish the week before.

Ross Broadfoot, Dave Markham and Fred Silcock were on the wrong end of 31-12 scoreline against Ben Pienaar’s Moseley, and Silcock featured again as Jersey were downed 54-31 by Rotherham. 
In the RaboDirect Pro12 Greig Tonks featured in both Edinburgh’s games as they beat Zebre 41-10 and lost 22-16 to Leinster, who featured Leo Cullen and Shane Jennings.  The previous weekend Jennings started and Cullen played the last 15 minutes as the 3 time European Champions required a 79 minute drop goal to see of Treviso in Italy.  Tigers take note!

Ian Nimmo and Andy Tuilagi featured in both Newport games, losing to Cardiff then Munster, whilst Tom Ryder featured for Glasgow as they defeated the Ospreys 28-10 at the Liberty Stadium.

Around the world now and we start in South Africa’s Currie Cup, Michael Horak is the defence coach for the Orange Free State Cheetahs thought the season is not going as well as hoped as they find themselves bottom of the table, in the relegation playoff spot, with 3 games to go.  In Italy’s Excellenza Lee Robinson and Dave Young faced off as they made their debut for L’Aquilla and Lazio respectively as the new season began.  In Japan Alesana Tuilagi’s NTT Shining Arcs caused another upset as they beat the Ricoh Black Rams 14-9 leaving them 1 point behind the Ben Herring coached NEC Green Rockets after 4 rounds of matches.  In Canada Number 8 Seb Pearson started the majority of Ontario Blues Canadian Rugby Championship games as they retained the MacTier Cup with a 40-16 victory over Atlantic Rock. 

In France’s Top 14 Julian Dupuy limped off the field icing his groin as Christophe Lassaucq’s Stade Francais lost 30-22 away to Bordeaux-Begles, Benjamin Kayser came off the bench as Clermont got a bonus point win at home to Grenoble and Seru Rabeni started his first game for a month as Mont du Marsan went down at home to Agen.  Meanwhile in Pro D2 Ayoola Erinle was unable to repeat his try scoring feats as he was kept scoreless against both Tarbes and Pau.  Vavae Tuilagi lasted 60 minutes in his first game of the season for Narbonne as they lost by 8 points away to Brive.

Internationally Heyneke Meyer’s South Africa suffered a terrible day with the boot as they missed numerous chances losing 22-11in Otago’s indoor stadium.  The other Rugby Championship game featured Hoarcio Agulla and Lucas Amorosino as they came agonisingly close to a first Championship win eventually losing 23-19 to Australia on the Gold Coast.

A busy two weeks in the Premiership has given much to write about.  Tom Varndell scored two tries as Wasps, also featuring Marco Wentzel, battered Brian Smith’s London Irish 43-14, George Skivington featuring from the bench.  Exeter, featuring Chris Whitehead and Ignacio Mieres, slipped up away to London Welsh, whilst Andy Goode almost inspired Worcester to a win against Jim Hamilton’s Gloucester, his 6 point haul being matched by Billy Twelvetrees.  On Friday night Dorian West’s Northampton pack ground Bath into submission winning 18-14, Dan Hipkiss featured for the home side.  At Wembley Paul Gustard’s Saracens defence held Tigers to just 9 points as the sides disappointingly drew. 

This weekend Gustard’s boys fell short as Exeter’s Whitehead was sin binned and Mieres kicked 9 points to seal a 14-12 victory in Devon.  Brian Smith’s London Irish named Ian Humprheys for his first start for his new club and promptly won beating Bath, with Sam Vesty and Danny Hipkiss, 29-22.  Skivington again came off the bench.  Phil Larder won’t have been too happy with his Worcester charges as they conceded 5 tries to Dorian West’s Northampton, though they did manage to score 4 themselves, plus 14 points from Andy Goode’s boot, to bag 2 bonus points.  And finally Gloucester with Twelvetrees in the centre and Jim Hamilton captaining from the second row won at home against a Wasps side featuring Marco Wentzel and Tom Varndell 29-22.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Development XV fall short against Gloucester

Tigers second string XV fell to their second away loss on the trot as they were downed 38-34, though they did win the try battle 5-4.  Tigers tries came from a Richard Thorpe brace, Javiah Pohe, Henry Purdy and Rob Andrew, Andrew scoring on the last play to seal the losing bonus point.  18 points from the boot of Tim Taylor and a first half penalty try were the difference.

Development XV set to take on Gloucester

Tigers name a young squad containing 10 teenagers as they travel to Gloucester looking for their second win in this seasons A League.  Javiah Pohe makes his first start of the season after recovering from injury which kept him out of England Under 18's summer tour to South Africa.  Fraser Balmain moves across the front row from loosehead to tighthead making room for Jonny Harris as Tigers two loaned out props start from the bench.

Tigers Development XV
15 Alex Lewington
14 Henry Purdy
13 Andrew Symons
12 Javiah Pohe
11 Rhys Williams
10 Matt Cornwell (c)
9 Scott Steele
1 Jonny Harris
2 Jimmy Stevens
3 Fraser Balmain
4 Rob Andrew
5 Joe Cain
6 Brett Deacon
7 Richard Thorpe
8 Michael Noone

16 Harry Thacker
17 Keiran Brookes
18 Ryan Bower
19 Harry Wells
20 Lucas Guillame
21 Wessel Joost
22 Harrison Lee-Everton
23 Tom Bellak

Gloucester, who for reasons unknown christen their reserves as "United", name former Tigers Academy player Tim Taylor at fly half, with former Nottingham center Tim Molenaar lining up outside him.  Freddie Burns's brother Billy is picked at full back.

Gloucester United: Billy Burns, Steph Reynolds, Drew Locke, Tim Molenaar, Ian Clark, Tim Taylor, Brad Field; Yann Thomas, Tommaso d'Apice, Dario Chistolini; Will Graulich, Elliott Stooke; Peter Buxton (c), Matt Cox, Gareth Evans Replacements: Nico Woodward, James Gibbons, Henry Sandys, Ross Moriarty, Rob Langley, Grant Hancox, Kai Done, Liam Gallaher

Loan Props taste defeat

Two Tigers were out on loan this weekend as Ryan Bower played the last 7 minutes for Nottingham, away to Bedford losing 27-25, whilst Kieran Brookes started at tighthead for Loughborough Students as they crashed to another defeat in National League 1 this time away to Coventry 41-34.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Quins Quash Terrible Tigers

Cockney champions Quins romped to a 22-9 win as they stormed the Welford Road citadel, claiming their second win on the bounce on the historic Leicester ground.  Referee "Dangerous" Dave Pearson lived up to his name as his bizarre and infuriating interpretation of rules spoiled any spectacle that might have occurred.  The new TMO powers are meant to encourage refs to let it play, but Pearson called back a pass from Flood as forward when Goneva was clear to line, rather than let it play and use the TV match official.  This swung the game in favour of Nick Easter and his Cockney chums.

Julian Salvi also looked over the line in the 75th minute but again Pearson refused to use the tmo even though from one angle Salvi clearly grounded the ball.

But there is no point complaining about Pearson; it wasn't his fault that our attack would have struggled to wrestle its way out of a moist paper bag.  This was the first time that Tigers have failed to score tries in successive games since October 2010.

Quins played the referee very well, keenly observing that he had no intention of whistling for sealing off nor for offside.  You can hardly blame Quins for constantly cheating when the referee refused to penalise them.

Chris Robshaw was imperious as he inherited Andy Robinson's cloak of invisibility never once being blown for any number of his blatant offsides.  Whilst conning Premiership refs on the brink of retirement is one thing the international refs won't let him get away with such blue murder and I'd expect the England captain to be whistled off the field come November.  

Blood Cheat Tom Williams scored the only try after a debatable series of of offloads and picking up from the middle of the ruck.

Cockerill will have to answer some serious questions as to why he left George Ford on the bench for the second week running when the attack was badly miss-firing.  Matt O'Conner should also come under scrutiny, he is meant to be the attack coach but the attack is going too wide too  early and becoming easy meat for any half way competent defence.  Excuses are no longer good enough as Tigers once again failed to attack with any panache.  Coaches have been sacked for less.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Teams named for Final Rematch

Our Lord and Saviour JC will captain the side in his first start of the season, due to the absence of Geordan Murphy with a knee injury.  Other changes see Manu Tuilagi, Tom Waldrom, Logovi'i Mulipola and Dan Cole rested with the later 3 on the bench.  Matt Smith, JC, Boris "the finger" Stankovitch and Martin Castrogiovanni are the able replacements, whilst Niall Morris replace's fellow Irishman Geordan Murphy.

15 Scott Hamilton
14 Niall Morris
13 Matt Smith
12 Anthony Allen
11 Vereniki Goneva
10 Toby Flood
9 Sam Harrison
1 Boris Stankovich
2 Tom Youngs
3 Martin Castrogiovanni
4 Graham Kitchener
5 Geoff Parling
6 Steve Mafi
7 Julian Salvi
8 Jordan Crane (c) 

16 George Chuter
17 Dan Cole
18 Logovii Mulipola
19 Rob Andrew
20 Thomas Waldrom
21 Patrick Phibbs
22 George Ford
23 Adam Thompstone

For the Champion Quins outside centre George Lowe is missing and is replaced by former Plymouth Albion and Cornish Pirate centre Matt Hopper.  Bloody Tom Williams is sure to get a hot reception from the Crumbie terrace where his betrayal  of Deano has never been forgotten.  Otherwise the side is unchanged from the XV that triumphed at Twickenham.
 15. Mike Brown
14. Tom Williams
13. Matt Hopper
12. Jordan Turner Hall
11. Ugo Monye
10. Nick Evans
9. Danny Care

1. Joe Marler
2. Joe Gray
3. James Johnston
4. Olly Kohn
5. George Robson
6. Maurie Fa'asavalu
7. Chris Robshaw ©
8. Nick Easter

16. Rob Buchanan
17. Darryl Marfo
18. Will Collier
19. Charlie Matthews
20. Tom Guest
21. Karl Dickson
22. Rory Clegg
23. Ross Chisholm

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Noone signs up for Season

Tigers have today announced the signing of Michael Noone, the former Doncaster number 8, after his man of the match performance in his second team debut last Monday night at home to Newcastle.  Noone scored a scorching try from the half way line and that was clearly enough to earn a season long deal with the 9 times English champions.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Bore Draw at Wembley

Tigers and Saracens drew 9-9 at the home of English Football as Owen Farrell's woeful kicking gave Tigers a let off from their worst performance since Exeter in February and their first tryless performance since October 15th 2011 when Llanelli  beat a young Tigers side 31-3.

It all looked so promising in the early stages, good Leicester pressure inside the Saracens' 22 forced a penalty from Market Bosworth's Martin Fox, quite why a man from the hear of Tigers country is allowed to referee Leicester games is beyond me, is it fair to put him under that kind of scruntiny?  From searching the record books I believe this was the first time he has refereed the Tigers first XV and the first time a Leicester official has refereed the Tigers since Rob Debney whistled an encounter with Leeds at Headingly in September 2005.  Back to the match and after Flood converted the penalty Farrell's kicking nightmare was about to begin.  Farrell booted the ball straight into touch, and Saracens scrum melted under pressure from the pack of Tigers.  6-0 inside the first 4 minutes, it looked like it might be a good day.

It looked even better when Farrell missed his first two attempts on goal both pushed wide right, the first after a ruck offence the second a scrum one.

On 22 minutes after a run by Goneva Fox again blew for a Saracens' infringement and Flood duly made it 9-0.  That was the high water mark for Leicester as they were not to trouble the scorers again.  To not score in 60 minutes of Rugby is frankly unacceptable in any circumstances.  A lot of work for Matt O'Conner in the week to refresh the faltering attack.

Farrell missed a third penalty, pulling this one wide left, before finally nailing one that was dead straight.  On the stroke of half time Farrell missed his fourth and last kick after a Waldrom off side again the ball missing right.

In the second period Hodgson replaced Farrell and immediately repaid his coaches decision after a mix up between Allen and Salvi handed Sarries yet another opportunity. Salvi was again the villian as he infringed to give Hodgson the tie-ing kick.

The game ended with both sides skewing drop goal attempts wide. Hodgson and Saracens had first bite of the cherry after a lineout and a series of drives.  Next up were Tigers who after a series of blunt drives on the 22, and an aborted attempt, Flood put the ball wide left.

Whilst the defence has to be credited in a game like this really the attacks were woeful, given this game featured the three most recent England Fly Halfs, the two most recent Englad 12s plus the next in line at 12 it really wasn't hard to see why England have been so poor recently.  Manu Tuilagi and Alex Goode had some good purposeful bursts but Flood, Allen, Farrell and Hodgson were absent for large parts of the game.  

Tigers need to make sure this is the nadir of our attacking game as a side like Toulouse or Leinster, not to mention Harlequins, will take one or two of their chances and we will be facing an up hill battle.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Loan Ranger Bower Starts for Notts

Young prop Ryan Bower has been named for his first start of the season for Nottingham as they take on Rotherham Titans on Sunday.  Other loanees Jimmy Stevens and Johnny Harris are named on the bench.

Teams named for Wembley Millionaire Match!

At Wembley on Saturday afternoon one fan will get the chance the win a million pounds, all they have to do is catch three high balls in row.  While still holding the first two!

Whether Saracens are going to pepper Geordan Murphy with enough balls for him to be eligible is yet to be seen.

Tigers make 2 changes, again swapping the props, from the bonus point victory at home to Worcester with Logovi'i Mulipola replacing Boris Stankovitch and Dan Cole replacing Martin Castrogiovanni.  On the bench George Chuter replaces Rob Hawkins.

15 Geordan Murphy (c)
14 Scott Hamilton
13 Manusamoa Tuilagi
12 Anthony Allen
11 Vereniki Goneva
10 Toby Flood
9 Sam Harrison
1 Logovi'i Mulipola
2 Tom Youngs
3 Dan Cole
4 Graham Kitchener
5 Geoff Parling
6 Steve Mafi
7 Julian Salvi
8 Thomas Waldrom

16 George Chuter
17 Boris Stankovich
18 Martin Castrogiovanni
19 Rob Andrew
20 Jordan Crane
21 Patrick Phibbs
22 George Ford
23 Matt Smith

Saracens on the other hand are more trusting in their squad and make 5 changes with Neil "the Cock" De Kock replacing Richard Wigglesworth, Owen Farrell replacing Charge-Down Charlie Hodgson, bear like Carlos Nieto replacing, ahem, "Lancastrian"  Petrus Du Plessis, Jackson Wray replaces fellow young gun Will Fraser and 2011 final try scorer James Short replaces American winger Chris Wyles.  


15 Alex Goode
14 Chris Ashton
13 Joel Tomkins
12 Brad Barritt
11 James Short
10 Owen Farrell
9 Neil de Kock
1 Mako Vunipola
2 Schalk Brits
3 Carlos Nieto
4 Steve Borthwick ©
5 Mouritz Botha
6 Kelly Brown
7 Jackson Wray
8 Ernst Joubert

16 John Smit
17 Rhys Gill
18 Petrus du Plessis
19 Alistair Hargreaves
20 Will Fraser
21 Richard Wigglesworth
22 Charlie Hodgson
23 Chris Wyles

Thursday, 13 September 2012

TV Cash to Force Celt Changes?

On Wednesday PRL announced a stonking new TV deal worth “up to” £152m with new players in the Rugby market BT.  You’d have thought this whopping TV deal would have been welcomed with open arms, especially in a double-dip recession, but no!  ERC immediately pooh-poohed the deal claiming that PRL had broken IRB rules, they don’t say what, and an ERC mandate, they don’t say how.  This is because as well as selling domestic league games PRL sold the rights to their clubs home games in some, as yet unknown, European competition(s).  4 hours later ERC & Sky announced a renewed deal for the Heineken Cup and Amlin Cup for 4 years beyond the current contract which ends in 2014.

PRL gave their notice to quit ERC on June 1st, as did LNR (League National de Rugby) their equivalent in France, effective from June 2014.  You may have spotted a rather obvious problem with ERC’s plan at this point.  That is that ERC won’t exist past 2014, at least in current form and certainly not with English and French clubs, and even if it were to be saved at this moment in time it has no right to sell English club games beyond 2014.

Now ERC claim that PRL had no right to sell the package they did either; that is simply not true.  PRL have sold the rights to their own games in any future tournament, something they are completely within their rights to do.  After all the SANZAR nations sell their rights individually to domestic TV so the IRB clearly have no problem with this arraignment.

If reports are to be believed PRL’s deal is split into two parts: an £100m domestic deal and an £50m European deal.  ERC haven’t released the amount of their new Sky contract but last year PRL received £8m from ERC as their share of the collective spoils.  English clubs receive 24.5% of the ERC pot (alongside the French, the Irish, Welsh and Scots get 14% each whilst the Italians get 9%) which by my maths makes the overall total £32.65m.  That total includes the sponsorships paid by Heineken, Amlin, FedEx, Addidas, Land Rover and the TV rights to France, Italy, Ireland plus the TV rights to the Ulster, the Welsh regions and the Scottish regions in the UK.  This deal is, reportedly, worth £17m more for significantly less.  The French rights would be worth a similar amount to the English rights, with the sundry other deals also to be added on top it is hardly optimistic to state the total value would top £100m.   That is a 200% increase in revenues.

So why are ERC so exercised over PRL’s deal?  Obviously PRL have to some extent gone behind the backs of their European partners, but more than that ERC, or rather the constituent unions, are worried that the clubs are becoming too powerful and their own influence might be on the wane.

Will ERC really be able to turn their collective noses up to over £100m?  I doubt it, the Welsh game is in disarray domestically and is desperate for the cash, similarly the Scots, Irish and Italians heavily subsidise their domestic games with revenues from internationals.  The cash will surely be enough to buy the structural changes that PRL and LNR have been so desperate to achieve.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Another one bites the dust, Newby the latest the retire injured

Craig Newby is the latest Tigers start to admit defeat and have to retire due to injury.  Newby never recovered from the knee injury that rules him out of most of last season, making his man of the match performances in last year's LV final and Premiership semi final all the more impressive.

Newby enjoyed a note worthy start to his Tigers career as he converted Brett Deacon's late try with a drop goal.  That was not the only kicking fame for the flanker though; later the same season in the Heineken Cup semi final penalty shoot out Newby coolly slotted over his kick, later revealing he was taught to kick by former housemate, and Gloucester fly half, Willie Walker.

Internationally Newby gained 3 caps for the All Blacks debuting against England at Eden Park in 2004, to become All Black number 1041, and finishing against Ireland in 2006 at the same venue.  His other appearance was in Johannesburg against the Springboks in 2004.  His route to the All Blacks was an unconventional one as he was one of the first players to progress from the 7s set up.  He was very successful at 7s winning a gold medal at the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games.

A keen cricketer Newby has regularly featured for the Kibworth Cricket Club and hit a century for a Leicester Tigers XI in a charity 20/20 match.

Newby captained his home province of Otago, the Super Rugby franchise the Highlanders and was also captain in the losing Premiership final against Saracens in 2011 for Leicester.  Hopefully these leadership skills and knowledge of the game can be retained, if not by Tigers then hopefully for another club.  Newby has said he wishes to remain in the area, this kind of commitment to the locality is sure to cement his reputation as a real club man in years to come and is a real example of the kind of top bloke he is.