Friday, 30 November 2012

3 Tigers to face Pirates on loan

3 Tigers are named in Nottingahm's match day squad for their trip to Penzanzce to face the Cornish Pirates.  Alex Lewington starts on the right wing, Andy Forsyth slots onto the bench after taking the same place last week for the Tigers against Wasps and Ryan Bower joins him on the bench as Michael Holford returns to the Green 'n' Whites after his sojourn in Leicester colours last week.

15 David Jackson  
14 Alex Lewington 
13 Tim Streather 
12 Joe Munro
11 Rhys Crane 

10 James Arlidge 
9 Sean Romans
1 Marr Parr 

2 Joe Duffey 
3 Michael Holford 
4 Dan Montagu
5 Nic Rouse 

6 Rupert Cooper 
7 Brent Wilson 
8 Alex Shaw
16 Shaun Malton 17 Ryan Bower 18 Joe Quinn 19 Tom Calladine 20 Finlay Barnham 21 Joe Cobden 22 Andy Forsyth

Back to the '80s: Retro Rivalry

Bath head to Welford road this Saturday for a lunchtime kick off and a renewal of one of the game's great rivalries.

The rivalry was forged in the late 80s and early 90s as they clashed time and time again in the Cup and also the League. It reached its apogee in the 1996 Pilkington Cup Final, when Bath won with a controversial late penalty try, Neil Back pushed over referee Steve Lander and the Tigers refused to collect their losers tankards.  Can you imagine the club getting away with doing that now?

Tigers welcome back 2 players from the Autumn Internationals; Marcos Ayerza and Martin Castrogiovanni both start in the front row, but Steve Mafi and Vereniki Goneva both miss out dispite strong Autumn showings.  Brett Deacon comes into the side at blindside flanker in place of Jordan Crane, and Anthony Allen returns to the side after missing out with illness.  

Geordan Murphy is again overlooked as both full back and captain as he is named on the bench.  I just don't understand this.  He hasn't suddenly got rubbish, he's still our best full back and still this squad's premier leader.  Tait is a good player, all our players are good, but he doesn't offer the cooler head to the young half backs, doesn't offer the extra kicing option and doesn't offer the leadership that Murphy does.

Bath hand Horacio Agulla his first start and can also call upon Welsh international Paul James, South African Francois Louw and newly discovered Scotsman Tom Heathcote as both sides continue to miss their England internationals.  It is a crying shame for the fans as once again we are denied the chance to watch one of the seasons biggest matches with the best players available.

Graham Kitchener makes his 20th start for the club whilst Castro will be making his 85th start for the Tigers and playing his 135th game two weeks winning his 90th cap for Italy.  Castro made his debut back in 2006 against Sale and has bagged 7 tries in his 134 games so far.  Kitchener is a more recent arrival after joining last season but will be pleased to have earned his club tie, the first major milestone in any players Tigers career.
Tigers Fly Half George Ford will come face to face with his Dad Bath's defence coach Mike Ford.  This will be the second time they've faced off and George will be hoping of a repeat of the first time when Tigers trashed Mike's Newcastle side 42-15

Tomorrow's referee is Tim Wigglesworth, on his 7th visit to Welford Road and his 9th Tigers game overall.  Last year he was the man with the whistle when Tigers visited the Wreck, the World Cup had denuded both sides of its best players that day.  Jeremy Staunton missed a last minute penalty after giving Tigers an early lead with an intercept try as Bath won 26-25.  Wigglesworth was also the referee that Cockerill called a "useless cunt" after his poor performance in an LV Cup match against Newport back in 2009.  Hopefully we won't see a repeat of either the performance or the outburst.

15 Mathew Tait
14 Niall Morris
13 Matt Smith
12 Anthony Allen
11 Adam Thompstone
10 George Ford
9 Sam Harrison
1 Marcos Ayerza
2 George Chuter
3 Martin Castrogiovanni
4 Louis Deacon (c)
5 Graham Kitchener
6 Brett Deacon
7 Julian Salvi
8 Thomas Waldrom

BENCH: 16 Rob Hawkins, 17 Jonny Harris, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Ed Slater, 20 Jordan Crane, 21 Micky Young, 22 Dan Bowden, 23 Geordan Murphy.

15 Nick Abendanon
14 Kyle Eastmond
13 Horacio Agulla
12 Matt Banahan
11 Tom Biggs
10 Stephen Donald
9 Michael Claassens
1 Paul James
2 Lee Mears
3 Anthony Perenise
4 Stuart Hooper ( c )
5 Dave Attwood
6 Francois Louw
7 Guy Mercer
8 Simon Taylor
BENCH: 16 Brett Sharman, 17 Charlie Beech, 18 Kane Palma-Newport, 19 Dominic Day, 20 Josh Ovens, 21 Mark McMillan, 22 Tom Heathcote, 23 Jack Cuthbert


The match kicks off at 12:30 and is live on ESPN with coverage starting at noon.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

10 to watch in 2013

As Christmas and the New Year approaches we here at the UltraSubmarines are being constantly asked "Who do you think are the Top 10 to watch during 2013"?  In the supermarket people are stopping us beside the fish counter, in the pub people are jostling to the bar to talk our ears off and Christmas shopping has become a nightmare as shoppers from Fenwicks to John Lewis are desperate to talk Tigers.  So to save us the bother and give us 5 minutes of respite from the onslaught of queries our panel of experts have come up with the definitive list of 10 players to watch during 2013.

1. George Ford
An obvious one, after all what self respecting pundit isn’t proclaiming him the best thing since sliced bread?  We’d temper expectations just a bit by saying he reminds us more of a young Andy Goode than Dan Carter or Jonny Wilkinson; capable of moments of sumptuous genius that have a Houdini like ability to unlock the tightest of defences but also capable of the downright stinking.  Still a young man at 19 it is 4 seasons since he made his debut away to Leeds in the LV cup, which made him the youngest player in Leicester’s history and that of professional rugby, he has come so far but still has a long way to go.  People keep saying next year will be his year; well 2013 will be his year!

2. Fraser Balmain
The Geordie prop has come from nowhere to make a big impact jumping ahead of Ryan Bower and Kieran Brookes in the young prop stakes.  Balmain made his league debut in the recent game away to Wasps and acquitted himself well, but the game that really announced him to the Rugby world was the Maori match 12 days earlier where he was part of a dominant scrum.  Last year he wasn’t even getting starts in the A team but a 2 month spell on loan to Clermont seems to have made a man of him and he has been a different beast ever since.  Signed at 18 after Newcastle passed on him the Newcastle Royal Grammer School graduate chose Tigers over our rivals the Saints and in 2013 we are just about to see the benefits. 

3. Jimmy Stevens
Cornish hooker Jimmy Stevens joined the academy at 17 from Redruth and hasn’t looked back.  Terrific in the loose and accomplished at the set pieces Stevens has earned comparisons with his veteran club mate George Chuter.  Stevens has made 6 first team appearances since his debut against Aironi in the Heineken Cup last January and has looked comfortable in them all.  He has made 4 appearances this season including his first two Premiership appearances; against Exeter at home and then away to Sale the next week.  Originally from St.Ives Stevens will look to oust Rob Hawkins from third choice at hooker and also look at over taking George Chuter to become Tom Youngs understudy by the end of 2013.

4. Michael Noone
Nicknamed Perfect (as in No one’s perfect) and capable of playing both 6 & 8 Noone made an immediate impression after joining the club from Doncaster over the summer.  Man of the Match in his first game for the Extras he scored 3 tries in 4 games at that level before grabbing another try on his first team debut away to Saracens and setting one up at home to London Irish, both in the LV Cup.  An Irish international throughout the age groups the Killiney man played for Leinster A but never cracked the main side which prompted the move to Doncaster.  Standing well over 6 foot he carries like a wrecking ball and looks like another great bit of scouting by the club.

5. Joe Cain
20 year old Joe “Co” Cain is a second row with a burgeoning reputation.  He grabbed a try on his first team debut in the LV Cup, like so many in this list away to Saracens, to go along with 4 starts for the Extras this year and 3 the year before.  From just across the county border into Derbyshire, the Burton boy is a nephew of football manager Phil Brown and came through Melbourne’s junior system.  A great reader of the game he always seems to be in the right place at the right time.  2013 might be a bit early for him as he finds his way in the game but he is sure to go far.

6. Scott Steele
Scottish Under 20s scrum half Steele made a big impact last season after a successful summer trial.  The Dumfries man had been over looked by Glasgow when Tigers stepped into the breach to sweep him up.  A typically physical Scottish scrum half Steele has an accurate pass and a boot that could kick the chaps off a cowboy.  He came off the bench in last year’s LV Cup semi final against Bath and also made his Premiership debut against Newcastle during the 6 Nations.  Son of an international referee his immediate aim will be to make the Under 20 World Cup after missing last years with a cruel leg break; after that he will have his eyes firmly set on taking Sam Harrison’s spot in the match day 23 and also getting full Scotland caps.

7. Andy Symons
Originally a Saracens minis player during a stint in New Zealand with Christchurch’s High School Old Boys he came on to Tigers radar thanks to his coach in New Zealand, one Aaron Mauger!  He made a strong early impression and earned a debut away to Llanelli in the LV Cup, only to break his leg and miss the rest of the season.  A huge specimen he stands over 6 foot and weighs in at 16 and a half stone, with that obviously comes strong ball carrying but the polish applied to his game in Christchurch is evident with his wide range of passes.  Defensively sound, he has a tough job to get ahead of Dan Bowden and Anthony Allen but he has all the skills and just requires some game time.

8. Javiah Pohe
Born in New Zealand to a Cornish mother the family moved back to the Duchy when Pohe was 11.  Like Stevens he played for Redruth before making the move up to the Midlands at 15.  His father now coaches Melton’s first team and is a Tigers community coach.  Pohe impressed in England colours during last year’s FIRA-AER Under 18 championship with his swashbuckling runs which he has also shown during his limited game time in the second team.  A strong centre reminiscent of a young Manu Tuilagi he has all the attributes of a modern centre and could be a bolter in 2013 as physically he is already up to the man’s game, not surprising given he was a prop when playing Rugby League in New Zealand.

9. Henry Purdy
A summer signing from Wasps 18 year old Purdy made an immediate impact for the second team as he bagged 6 tries in 4 starts from the right wing.  Purdy is equally comfortable at centre where last season he played for England U-18s against Leicester and combines devastating pace with impressive physicality in contact.  As his stats bear out his best attribute is his nose for a try, he has the knack of finding his way to the line is like a pig has for finding truffles.  A former schoolboy at Cokethorpe, near Oxford, he made his first team debut in the LV Cup away to Saracens and will be looking to push on to England U-20 honours and more first team games in 2013.

10.Niall Morris
2013 could be Morris’s year to establish him in the Tigers first choice back three.  Injuries to his rivals and Geordan Murphy’s presumed impending retirement have given him the chance and he has taken it with both hands.  He has pace to burn as he showed on his debut against Exeter, where he bagged a brace, and is also comfortable on the wing.  As befits an Irish full back he is secure under the high ball and posses a raking kick.  At Leinster he found it hard to break through due to the quality ahead of him despite scoring 3 tries in 3 starts but since the move to Leicester he has blossomed under countryman Geordan Murphy’s expert eye and 2013 looks set to be his year.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

ABC Thoughts on the Wasps Match

A.  Cockerill’s subs strategy stupefies supporters
Ed Slater and Geordan Murphy were both left on the bench for the whole game.  This just baffles me.  These are two guys who can change the shape of a game; particularly Murphy who comes into his own in the international periods supporting the younger players.  We saw that away to Saracens last year, his tactical kicking would have been a tremendous crutch for Ford and his calming presence at the back and under the high ball might have given the backs the confidence to play more.  

He is the Club Captain; if he is fit he must play in such a match, if he is injured why is he even on the bench?  Slater’s case is slightly different as he was behind two players playing very well, but he put in a near as damn it Man of the Match performance against the Maori and could have come on in the backrow if Deacon and Kitchener were deemed to be playing that well.

B.  Away kits are becoming a laughing stock
Why can Tigers quite happily play in their home kit against the black kit of Toulouse and the Maori then 12 days later have to wear their change strip for the visit to Wasps?  Equally South Africa’s dark green has never necessitated a change of colour when facing the All Blacks.  This frivolous use of away kits is damaging to the brand of the Premiership, the casual man of Wigston switching on wants to see The Stripes as do the floating supporters of other sides.  The clash of Cherry ‘n’ White versus Blue, Black and White is evocative of the great games of the past as is the black of Wasps versus the Green, Scarlet and White of Leicester.  Worse than merely weakening the appeal of the matches they sometimes cause more problems than they solve.  You watch Tigers face Bath at the Wreck later this year, the “clash” of blue and green will mean that Tigers will wear their away kit, which is also blue!  Save the away kit for genuine clashes such as London Irish and Northampton.

C.  Davy shows why ex-players don’t make good referees.
This might sound obvious but good referees make good elite referees, good elite players do not.  The RFU seems to have become obsessed with recently retired players taking up the whistle and fast tracking them to the elite panel because they “know the game”.  Surely the universal scorn in which Sean Davy is held puts paid to that notion?  Davy played in the top tier for his local side Bedford yet shows no empathy for the game at all and in many cases shows less knowledge than the referees who have never played the game.  You don’t have to be a carpenter to know a chair has one leg shorter than another.  Like teams referees should be promoted and relegated on merit, encouraging former players into officiating is positive as increasing the pool at the bottom is always good but fast tracking them ahead of other, better, referees is hardly a recipe for a strong corps of competent referees.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Refs announced for Treviso Trials

The referees for the next two rounds of the Heineken Cup have today been released.  

First up to ref Tigers at home to Treviso on Sunday the 9th of December is Pascal Gauzere.  He refereed this match up in January 2009; awarding Tigers a penalty try as they romped home to a 52-0 win.  With 12 yellow cards in 11 Heineken Cup matches Tigers must be on their best behaviour.

Refereeing the re-match in Italy is 2007 World Cup Final referee Alain Rolland.  The former Moseley half back is no stranger to Treviso as it is where he earned his third and final Ireland cap in 1995.  He's no stranger to Tigers either have refereed us an astonishing 16 times.  Rather surprisingly he is more likely to give 2 yellow cards rather than one.  He has binned two Leicester players in FOUR different games; only once has he limited himself to a single yellow, binning Thomas Waldrom in the 78th minute when we won away to Llanelli two seasons ago.  

In non-domestic action he has only refereed England more and has sin binned more Leicester players than from any other side, be they international or club.  On the plus side my stats show that we are the only side he has ever awarded a penalty try, so there is something positive to say!

Ex-Files Volume VI

The Autumn Internationals drew to a close for the majority of nations on Saturday.  Heyneke Meyer’s South African charges won at Twickenham after England controversially kicked a penalty with only a minute to go.  Ben Kayser started his first match for France as they overcame strong resistance by the Samoans to win 22-14.

National League 2 North; Will Hurrell bagged a brace as Stourbridge made it a 13th straight maximum against Hull Ionians, his brother Rob also played.  In the South section Luke Beales played for Shelford as they lost at home to a Hartpury College side with Sam Raven in the second row. 

One league higher and Rob Conquest and Michael Gillick were part of the Cambridge side that lost 39-12 at Blaydon.  Ollie Smith’s Esher side beat Macclesfield 35-3 as Charlie Walker grabbed two tries for the Surrey side whilst Joe Clowes made his second appearance of the season for Macc.  Scott Bemand’s Loughborough Students went down 41-5 at home to Ealing, Joe Atkinson featured on the flank. 

In the Championship 3 ex-Tigers scored in the recently christened “Robin Hood Derby” between Nottingham and Doncaster.  Joe Duffy and Brent Wilson scored for the Green and Whites whilst Jethro Rawling grabbed Doncaster’s try in a 52-7 thrashing.  Matt Parr, Dan Montague and Alex Shaw started for Notts with Finlay Barnham, Rory Lynn and Joe Cobden featuring from the bench.  The Knights also started Dante Mama.  Loanees Ryan Bower, Joe Cain and Andy Symons also played in this match.  

Phil Boulton, Ben Gulliver and Greg Gillanders were all in the Bedford pack as the Blues beat the Pirates 32-6 at Goldington Road.  Ben Pienaar scored his first try in senior rugby as Moseley 23-18 away to London Scottish.  Calum Green and Dan Hemmingway were the locks as Leeds beat Rotherham in the new “Yorkshire Regiment” cup 24-13 at Clifton Lane.  Tom Bowen played his 5th game of the year for Plymouth as they lost at home in an ugly encounter with Bristol, the match being punctuated with a 30 man brawl that garnered 1 red and 2 yellow cards.  In Jersey Dean Richards and John Wells’s Newcastle struggled to a 24-3 win, though it was enough for the bonus point, as the Islanders featured Dave Markham and Fred Silcock.

RaboDirect Pro12; Ian Nimmo played the last 4 minutes as Newport beat Connacht at Rodney Parade for their first win since September.  Greig Tonks continued his ever present season as Edinburgh’s full back as they beat Ospreys 23-13.  Leo Cullen and Shane Jennings started for Leinster as they won 6-0 against Tom Ryder’s Glasgow side. 

In Italy’s Excellenza David Young continued his ever present season for Lazio as they lost away to title chasing Prato 20-16.

In the Premiership Andy Goode scored all the points as Worcester won 12-3 at home to Paul Gustard’s Saracens.  At the Gardens Dorian West will have been pleased as his side scored a penalty try to win 23-16 against London Welsh, who become Adam Balding’s 6th premiership side.  Jim Hamilton captained Gloucester as they won easily against bottom side Sale, Billy Twelvetrees was also involved for Gloucester.   

Tom Varndell scored early as Wasps, captained by Marco Wentzel, beat the Tigers in Wycombe.  Brian Smith’s London Irish side continued their struggles as they lost at home to Exeter, where Robin Cowling is on the coaching staff; Ian Humphreys scored 13 points with the boot but it wasn’t enough as the final score was 23-27 to Exeter.  Chris Whitehead played the whole game for the Chiefs.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Davy 14 Tigers 12

Buckinghamshire police are investigating a robbery in the High Wycombe area.  Any witnesses to the theft should contact them immediately.  A 48 year old man, named locally as Sean Davey, is alleged to have knowingly and deliberately robbed 15 men of a game of rugby. 

Davy is a disgrace to his profession and should never be allowed to blow the whistle against Tigers ever again.  His bias is as disgusting as it is predictable.  His refusal to give all but the most blatenet offences against the Wasps gave them all their points and the field position that enabled them to deny the Tigers a sniff.

Were it not for Vunipola’s incessant cheating Tigers would have struggled to score a point.  The scrum was dominant throughout but got no reward from the referee who several times saw a Tigers pack marching forwards rewarded with a put in to the opposition.

Wasps “scored” the only try through Tom Varndell after a massive forward pass from a scrum from an imaginary knock on.

The end of the game was typical Davy too, a ruck called a maul because it was the only decision to spite the Tigers.

I feel most sorry for the fans that have paid to go to this game.  Tigers had no chance with this buffon holding the whistle and were denied even a chance of a decent game. 

Questions also have to be asked over Cockerill’s selections, Matt Tait had another nightmare positionally at full back but club captain Geordan Murphy was on the bench throughout.  If he is fit why isn’t the captain playing?  And if he isn’t fit why is he on the bench?  Ed Slater was another left to pick up splinters, whilst the second row was going well he impressed against the Maori in the back row where we were struggling. 

But with this ref in charge the chances of the subs changing anything were slim to none anyway.