Monday, 31 December 2012

ABC Gloucester Match Thoughts

A.  Long wait between kicks

Geordan Murphy’s 53 minute penalty was his first points from a place kick (as opposed to a drop kick) for almost 3 years.  The last time was a conversion against London Irish on March 6 2010, Lote Tuqiri’s last match.  The last penalty he kicked was almost 7 years ago against Bristol in May 2006 which was also the last time he was first choice kicker. 

B.  Scrum Half most important player on the pitch?

Tigers looked completely lost when Ben Youngs was yellow carded, his second in two weeks but only his third in Tigers colours in over 100 games.  Without a player to boss the forwards and control the flow of the ball to the backs Tigers didn’t know whether they were coming or going.  They struggled to clear the ball from their own half or use it from scrums.  It was a similar story in the 2011 Final against Saracens when Anthony Allen’s poor pass and Hamilton’s poor kick gave them the chance for the kick throw from which they scored the only try.  Compare that to the ten minutes we played without George Ford which was arguably the best 10 minutes of the game!  In his absence Allen and Murphy could slot in and if they were missing Youngs could simply hold the ball in the ruck or use his forwards.  The disruption was minimal. 

In the second half of a big game I think you should bring your other scrum half straight on, and worry about sorting out the backline when the ten minutes are up.

C.  Another Sell Out

Saturday was the second Sell Out of the year, and Toulouse looks to be fast approaching a third.  With the last game of the season a likely fourth Tigers are looking like getting back to the old days when a season ticket was a required purchase to see the big games.  Many people, even long serving Tigers like Dusty Hare, scoffed at the club for building such a big stand and having even grander ambitions, but thanks to the work of the Ticket Office, the Community department and the of course the likes of Cockers, Toby Flood and Manu Tuilagi we are up to 14,600 season tickets and the Sold Out signs are becoming a regular sight once again.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Allen Key To Victory

Geordan Murphy was a jack of all trades filling in at both half back positions and kicking a goal as Tigers won a tight contest 17-12.  Anthony Allen crossed in the corner of the Crumbie and the Goldsmiths Stands for the games only try as George Ford provided the other 9 points with his boot; all Gloucester’s points were by Freddie Burns.

Tigers best period was actually when they were down to 14 men.  Ford had got the teams’ second yellow for a pretty cynical killing of the ball ten metres out from his own line and Burns took the points to make it 9-3 with 43 minutes played.  Ben Youngs was literally just returning from his own sin bin period and made an immediate impact as Tigers intensity and pace lifted for the only time during the game. 

After a spilled ball by Billy Twelvetrees Anthony Allen secured possession and was driven within inches of the line.  Tigers drove at the try line with purpose but were pushed back until eventually a wide cut out pass from Ben Youngs freed Salvi in front of the Crumbie terrace with Niall Morris on the outside, but the Australian either didn’t trust the pass or didn’t see it and the chance was missed.  Thankfully a couple of phases later another peach of a cut out pass by Youngs this time found Allen who evaded Shane Monaghan’s poor tackle to get the 5 points.  Geordan Murphy missed the conversion from the touchline.

After yet another scrum penalty Tigers kicked for the lineout and had a good drive going.  Will James decided enough was enough and walked round the side to tackle Salvi, the ball carrier, unluckily for him Andrew Small also decided enough was enough and sent him to the sin bin for his troubles.  This time 15 metres infield Murphy made no mistake and Tigers were back in the lead with 53 minutes played.

Burns had the chance to re-establish Gloucester’s lead after an in at the side penalty against Tom Youngs following up his brother’s inventive escape from Gloucester pressure but skewed it wide.  Around 5 minutes later the 9th scrum penalty against Gloucester gave Ford his second penalty as he stretched the lead to 5 points, only for Burns to reduce the arrears back to 2 after Jordan Crane was adjudged to have entered from the side. 

The scoring was rounded off after Kalamafone, the former Nottingham flanker, was pinged for offside.  Murphy had hoisted a Garryowen that Martyn Thomas failed to deal with; rather cynically Kalamafone stepped in front of a Leicester player to prevent the counter attack and was lucky not to be the 5th player sin binned as the incident was fairly similar to one that saw George Ford take a ten minute rest.

The game had a grandstand finish it didn’t really deserve as Gloucester pushed for the drawing try.  After about 10 drives at the Leicester line they went wide and must have thought they had blown it with a knock on, but the clock still had 11 seconds to go and the Tigers had to secure their own scrum ball to win. 

Given the 10 penalties Tigers had already garnered on their own put in a simple task?  Hardly.  Dan Murphy played the ref brilliantly to gain a penalty for the Cherry ‘n’ Whites when really he was at fault.  This time it only took three phases for Tigers to burgle the ball back and that man again Geordan Murphy stepped into scrum half to boot the ball out of the ground, probably somewhere down Filbert Street, to end the game.

This was a bitty and fractious game; not helped by the weather but as Tigers scored 4 tries in similar conditions in this game last year clearly attacking rugby could have been played if either side had been good enough; not helped by the referee and his sometimes bizarre interpretations of the rucks and his leniency at scrum time. 

Gloucester conceded 10 scrum penalties, all on Tigers put in, but only received 1 yellow card, this despite the referee warning their props in the 31 minutes ( the 6th penalty and 2 after the first yellow) and them conceding another penalty straight away and then 3 more in the second half.  I cannot believe a referee would let a side refuse to engage in any other aspect of the game with such little punishment. 

In contrast Tigers first yellow card, for Ben Youngs not rolling away, was only the second defensive penalty Tigers had conceded in their own half and this was 34 minutes into the game.  Hardly killing the ball at every opportunity! 

But we can’t let the poor refereeing performances gloss over our wasteful attacking play.  Ford is highly thought of by many but he is in poor form and his attacking game comes up short when compared to Flood.  You can’t lay all the blame on one man’s shoulders but the contrast between our attacking play when Flood playing and when he isn’t is stark.  The Awesome Foursome of Youngs-Flood-Allen-Tuilagi are superbly balanced and bring the best out of each other, but take out any one of them and we look clueless and disjointed.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Tigers v Gloucester match preview

Tigers make one change for the visit of Gloucester to a Sold Out Welford Road this Saturday.  Geoff Parling returns after his rest last week at the expense of Graham Kitchener who misses out on the squad entirely as Steve Mafi makes his long awaited return to the bench.    Martin Castrogiovanni is also back amongst the replacements after returning from compassionate leave in Argentina.

Jordan Crane is set to make his 140th appearance for the Tigers, whilst Adam Thompstone will make his 10th.  Toby Flood will make his 100th Premiership appearance (including 43 for Newcastle) since his 2005 debut.  

Gloucester make three changes to their side which beat Exeter.  Australian international Huia Edmonds comes in at hooker, with Cornishman Darren Dawiduick moving to the bench, Will James comes into the second row at the expense of Tom Savage whilst former Oakham school boy Rob Cook will be disappointed to miss out on this match with a stomach bug.  Martyn Thomas takes his place as full back.

Gloucester feature former Tigers Jim Hamilton as cpatain in the second row and Billy Twlevetrees at centre.  I'm sure the Crumbie Terrace will give Hamilton a good welcome, but what is in store for Twelvetrees after he jumped ship to line his pockets only days after telling Cockerill he was staying? 

The referee will be Andrew Small originally from New Zealand but now based in England; he has shown only one yellow card to a Tigers player in 6 Premiership visits to Welford Road, but has binned a further 4 Tigers players in the 10 Leicester games he has refereed away from home.  So far this season in the Premiership he has binned only 2 home players in 9 games compared to 5 away players (including 2 Worcester players in their visit to Welford Road earlier this season), with the average first sin binning being after only 15 minutes.

15 Geordan Murphy
14 Niall Morris
13 Manusamoa Tuilagi
12 Anthony Allen
11 Adam Thompstone
10 Toby Flood
9 Ben Youngs
1 Marcos Ayerza
2 Tom Youngs
3 Dan Cole
4 Louis Deacon (c)
5 Geoff Parling
6 Brett Deacon
7 Julian Salvi
8 Jordan Crane

16 George Chuter
17 Logovi'i Mulipola
18 Martin Castrogiovanni
19 Ed Slater
20 Steve Mafi
21 Sam Harrison
22 George Ford
23 Matt Smith

15 Martyn Thomas
14 Charlie Sharples
13 Mike Tindall
12 Billy Twelvetrees
11 Shane Monahan
10 Freddie Burns
9 Jimmy Cowan
1 Nick Wood
2 Huia Edmonds
3 Shaun Knight
4 Will James
5 Jim Hamilton (capt)
6 Sione Kalamafoni
7 Akapusi Qera
8 Ben Morgan
16 Darren Dawidiuk
17 Dan Murphy
18 Dario Chistolini
19 Tom Savage
20 Matt Cox
21 Dan Robson
22 Tim Molenaar
23 Drew Locke

Phibbs signs for Irish

Pat Phibbs has parted company with Leicester as his short term contract has come to an end.  He has now signed on with London Irish, again on injury cover this time for Tomas O'Leary.  Phibbs played 5 games for the Tigers first team and 1 game for the seconds, the highlight of his time will surely be his bright performances against the touring NZ Maori in what was his only start.

Good luck in the future Pat and good luck in the relegation dog fight.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Morris Nialls 'Em

Irish paid the penalty for some poor decisions as they were on the wrong end of TWO penalty tries as they lost 31-9 at home to the Tigers.  The first penalty try was from a scrum in the 32nd minute, giving Tigers a 14-0 lead whilst the second was for Jamie Gibson taking out Niall Morris as he was about the score after his own kick ahead.

But for Gibson’s intervention Morris would have had a hat trick as he also claimed the first and fourth tries. 

The first was a skilful finish, evading Tom Homer and Derby born Jonathan Joseph with some help of the bouncing ball, after a great show of awareness by Toby Flood.  Tigers had a penalty on the left hand touchline after Yarde had held on, rather than kicking for touch Flood instead saw Morris in space on the right and kicked the penalty across the field finding him in space.

The final Niall in the coffin was the bonus point try.  With less than a minute to go Flood freed Morris after a lineout on half way; the Irishman streaked between Humphreys and Homer to dot down and secure the full 5 points for the Tigers.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Referees named for European Encounters

Two Irish officials have been named by ERC for Tigers last two pool fixtures in this years Heineken Cup.

Former Munster winger John Lacey will referee Tigers for the first time when he takes charge of the crucial Round 5 match away to the Ospreys.  He refereed the Ospreys loss away in Treviso earlier this season and has also refereed them in two other games, both victories for the Welsh side.  He is not scared of a yellow card having given over 60 in only 50 games.  What price a card turning this game and both sides seasons?

George Clancy is named for Tigers home game the next weekend against Toulouse.  This will be Clancy's 4th visit to Welford Road previously refereeing the earlier pool game at home to Treviso, the thrilling 41 all draw at home to Gloucester  and the 46-10 win against Llanelli Scarlets in 2010.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Saturday Night Fever

Premiership Rugby today announced that Tigers will play their home match against Saracens at 8:00 PM on Saturday 23rd of February.  The match is scheduled to be on ESPN after the England v France match which kicks off at 5:00 PM.  I for one think this is a cracking move.  It is called Prime Time for a reason so should work well for TV but better than that rather than existing in the phantom tea time slot that ruins both your afternoon and your evening it instead just your Saturday night entertainment for the night.  I don't say this very often, Well done Premiership Rugby.

Tigers game away at Harlequins on Saturday February 16th has also been selected for TV and will be shown at  5:15 PM live on Sky.

Meanwhile Tigers' games against London Welsh and Sale Sharks have both been confirmed as Saturday 3:00 PM kick offs.

Premiership fixtures:

Sat Feb 9th  London Welsh (H) 3:00 PM 
Sat Feb 16th Harlequins (A) 5:15 PM on Sky
Sat Feb 23rd Saracens (H) 8:00 PM on ESPN
Sat Mar 2nd Sale (H) 3:00 PM

Euro Games confirmed

ERC have announced the timings of the two remaining pool games.

Both Tigers matches are on a Sunday with a 3:00PM KO.  

Why Tigers never get a home game on a Saturday remains an unresolved mystery but why they are so militant over leaving the ERC is once again shown.  At least they aren't lunchtime kick offs.

Round 5
Sun 3:00 PM Ospreys v Leicester Liberty Stadium

Round 6
Sun 3:00 PM Leicester v Toulouse Welford Road.

Both games will be live on Sky Sports.

Monday, 17 December 2012

A Tigers Carol

Mike McCafferty is an odd sort of man.  With his wage caps, his allowances, his dispensations and his credits he is a fastidious man when it comes to book keeping and the like.  He had been taking his Daily Mail when he happened over an article about Geoff Parling moving to Gloucester,

“Good we want to decrease the surplus talent” he said to his long suffering assistant Rob Catchit

“But what about the Tigers?” Catchit pleaded “Where are they meant to find his replacement?” 

“Are there no academies in Leicester?  No cheap South Africans?”  Scrooge, sorry, McCafferty responded. 

In the evening after making Catchit stay at his desk tallying the figures on Northampton’s academy’s wage bill until 7 McCafferty finally relented and let him go home for the evening. 

“So Sir are you looking forward to tomorrow?” Catchit asked cheerily.  Even though he hated small talk the social convention forced McCafferty to respond to Cathcit’s inanities

“What is so special about tomorrow?”

“Why Sir it’s Leicester playing away to Treviso!”  Catchit replied. 

“I suppose you’ll want the day off then?” said McCafferty sulkily

“It is only once a year Sir, begging your pardon” said Catchit deferentially

“A fine excuse to pick a man’s pocket once a year if you ask me, but I suppose I’ll allow it you’ll only sulk otherwise” McCafferty relented.

As he walked home McCafferty felt a chill wind blow through his bones and a pounding in his head.  Too much jabbering with that fool Catchit probably.  Fancy wanting a day off for Leicester versus Treviso, it isn’t like its Christmas Day.  His head was still pounding as he climbed the steps to his front door.  As he fumbled for his keys he caught a glimpse of it in the corner of his eye.  It was his door knocker; he could have sworn it was Jonny Wilkinson but it couldn’t have been he moved to France 4 years ago.  When inside the house he couldn’t shake the pounding in his head or the ill sensation he was feeling. 

Then suddenly, as the clock struck midnight, every ball in his house started being kicked simultaneously; the mini ball in the corridor, the plastic ball in the kitchen and the leather one in the garden all being kicked over and over again, not in any sequence or with any pattern just continuously and relentlessly.

Then he appeared before McCafferty again, this time so he could be in no doubt as to his reality.  It was Jonny Wilkinson, but not quite as he was in England.  Replacing his bandaged head and pale dreary skin was the golden glow of a Mediterranean tan, when he took his wallet out McCafferty was amazed to see it spill open and burst at the sides.  Wilkinson said to McCafferty

“You must change your ways Miser, tonight you will be visited by the first of three spirits:  the spirits of Tigers’ past, Tigers’ present and Tigers’ yet to come, the first will come at 1 O’clock” 

 And with that he was gone.  The balls stopped kicking and the pounding in his head was over, was it all real or just some horrible dream?

He prepared himself for bed as tomorrow would be a another long day made harder by that Cathcit’s determination to watch that blasted game, spirits or no spirits.  He lay in bed and dropped off instantly.  When he woke the clock was showing 12:45 and it was pitch dark.  He was so refreshed that it was hardly plausible that he had slept for as little as 45 minutes but more ridiculous still to imagine he had been asleep for a whole day or that the sun had ceased to shine and this was 12 noon.  As he could hardly sleep he determined he might as well stay up until the hour to prove that last night’s actions were indeed a dream.  “Bong Bong” went the clock and McCafferty said to himself with a satisfied grin “I knew that was not Jonny Wilkinson, just a rouge piece of cheese making me ill”  But he had spoken before the clock had stopped chiming.  As the clock ticked over to One the room lit up immediately and the curtains were drawn.

Before him was a little elf like creature with the thick luscious hair of a young man but the weathered face of who had seen many battles. 

“Are you the spirit whose coming was foretold to me?”  Asked McCafferty

“I am”

“And who or what are you?”

“I am Austin Healey, the Ghost of Tigers’ past”

With that the spirit beckoned McCafferty forward toward the window.

“I am mortal and liable to fall”

“But with a touch of my hand you will be upheld in more than this!”

As McCafferty took Healey’s hand he was transported to Treviso, confusingly in the present given this is the ghost of Tigers’ Past but let’s gloss over that for now, and the darkness had gone to be replaced by the mist and rain of that day’s weather. 

“By Heavens!  This is where Catchit is coming to watch the Rugby” exclaimed McCafferty

“Yes, I am here to show you the shadows of the past that still linger on”

The match was 12 minutes old as scrum half Edoardo Gori had spotted Ben Youngs defending in the line, so chipped into the space he would normally cover.  Youngs had it covered though and claimed the mark. 

Before they knew what to do with themselves he was off like a shot; arcing his run from the corner flag towards the posts he was outside most of the Treviso defenders by the 5 meter line.  Outside the 22 he gave the ball to Anthony Allen on the switch who took it up before spotting Matt Tait coming like a steam train tight on his left hand shoulder.  Tait showed real wheels to burn off one man on the boggy playing surface then drew in two defenders before a superb back of the hand off load back to Anthony Allen.  Allen quickly distributed the ball to the man waiting on the outside and Adam Thompstone raced away to secure his 6th try in 7 games.   

“Why that was amazing” cried out McCafferty “100 meters in less than 25 seconds”,

“Rugby is the most thrilling game when it is played like that” agreed Healey. 

“I wish I could watch moments like that in every game, what a fantastic spectacle that would be”

“If only they could, but teams these days don’t have the time to build the cohesion needed for great play as they are constantly broken up and rebuilt”

“Spirit” Ashen faced McCafferty whispered “Take from this place”

“This is the shadows of what once was; do not blame me for what it shows”

“I said spirit remove me from this place NOW!” exclaimed McCafferty

He turned to face Healey, who had an impish grin on his face and in his rage struggled with him.  Healey put up no resistance as McCafferty tore off his hair piece and he evaporated in McCafferty’s hands.  With his hand barely relaxed McCafferty fell in to a deep sleep.

When he woke with a heavy snore the clock once again read 12.45.  After the fright the previous visitor had given him McCafferty was sure to open all the curtains so as not to be surprised again.  He waited, nervously, for the clock to tick to One.  But this time there was neither a shaft of light nor a sudden appearance.  He waited.  Five minutes ticked by, then ten, then fifteen.  After being surprised by something last time, this time he was surprised by nothing.  He got up to check the clock was working when he could hear it.  It was a man calling his name and instructing him to come down stairs. 

“Come in!” Exclaimed the ghost “Come in and know me better man!”

McCafferty entered and was amazed at the sight that greeted him.  This ghost was no dowdy little elf, he was a giant dressed in a green velvet robe trimmed with red and white fur.  His chest was exposed so loosely did the garment fit.  And the room was filled with a feast fit for a king, Melton’s finest Pork Pies, whole rolls of Stilton Cheese and piles of Walker’s crisps as high as your head.

“Look upon me” The Ghost instructed “Have you ever seen the likes of me?”

“Never” replied the awed McCafferty as met the Ghost’s gaze

“I am Tom Croft, the Ghost of Tigers’ Present”

“Spirit take me where you will, last night I went by compulsion but learnt a lesson which is working now” submitted McCafferty

“Touch my robe!”

McCafferty did as he was told and held firm.  As he did the feast around them dissolved and they found themselves back in Toulon on a balmy mid-winter morning.  Jonny Wilkinson, the real one not the ghost now, was sunning himself on the bench as Toulon were ravaging Sale.  As the final score rolled over to 62-0 McCafferty asked the spirit a question

“See spirit this is why I need to keep my wage caps, my dispensations and my credits these thrashings do no good to any competition, we should seek to level the playing field”

“I am tall and have an advantage in the lineout; do you seek to have a height cap?”  Retorted the Phantom

“No” confirmed McCafferty

“I am strong and have an advantage in the ruck; do you seek a strength cap?”  Continued the Spirit


“I am quick and have an advantage outwide; do you seek a pace cap?”


“Then why because I am rich do you seek a wage cap?  Is not competition off the field as important and worthy as competition on it?  Do you seek to deny me steak because you can only afford stew?”

“Come now I have something else to show you” the spirit instructed. 

McCafferty held on to his robe once more and they were transported back to Treviso and to Rob Catchit standing on the back row of the stand, imploring the Tigers onwards but growing ever more frustrated as their own errors limited them.  In stark contrast to Toulon who could cut a streak through the Sale line at will Tigers were struggling to finish any move as a lack of cutting edge always gave Treviso the opportunity to snaffle at the breakdown or a penalty to relieve the pressure.  Tiny Geoff Parling was playing manfully as he strove to secure the win and was securing the Tigers line. 

McCafferty turned to the Spirit and said “Spirit, tell me if Tiny Geoff Parling will stay?”

“I see a vacant shirt” replied the Spirit “in the changing room corner, carefully preserved, if this shadows remain unaltered the player will leave”

“No, no!” Said McCafferty “Oh kind Spirit please say he will stay!”

“If these shadows remain unaltered then none other of my race” returned the Ghost “shall see him in Green, Red and White.  If he is to leave he might as well get on with it and decrease the surplus talent”

McCafferty turned grey as his own words were turned back upon him.

Hanging his head he replied “I didn’t mean players like Parling really, only foreign journeyman types not current England internationals”

“It is not for you to decide what is and what is not surplus; will you decide who will stay and who will go?  It may be in the sight of others that you are surplus, you are unfit to lead and decide things for all the clubs.”

As the end of the night approached Croft grew old and weary.

“Spirit, what is the matter with you?” inquired McCafftery “there is a claw, or a perhaps a growth, underneath your robe”

Lifting up his robe Croft revealed two children, ghastly things, cowed and hungry, miserable, wretched.

“Look at them, Man, they are yours” the Ghost intoned

McCafferty stared back at them appalled.

“They cling to me appealing from their fathers.  The boy is jealousy and the girl is want.  Beware them both but most of all beware the boy, for on his forehead I see the word written which is Doom.  Deny it!” the Ghost thundered “slander all those who proclaim it.  Admit it for what it is and end the hypocrisy!”

“Have they no refuge or resource, these clubs?” cried McCafferty

“Are there no Academies” replied the Spirit turning McCafferty’s words back on him again “no cheap South African imports?”

The Bell struck One.

McCafferty looked about for the Ghost but saw it not.  As the last stroke caused him to vibrate he remembered the prediction of Jonny Wilkinson and lifted up his eyes to behold a solemn Phantom, draped and hooded, coming across the ground like a mist.

“I am in the Spirit of Tigers’ yet to come?” said McCafferty.

The Spirit answered not, just pointed his bony finger onwards.

“Ghost of the future” McCafferty exclaimed “are you to show me what is not yet written, but will happen in time” McCafferty pursued “unless things change”

The spirit made no movement, save for a small crease in the hood.  McCafferty took this for a nod.

“Lead on mighty Spirit” cried McCaffety. 

The spirit led McCafferty into a small room he knew well, it was the boardroom of PRL, and in it were five of the chairmen he knew all too well. 

“Did you see the match last night?”

“Yes, shame about the result but they do have a much bigger budget than us lot now”

“Agreed, there isn’t a lot we can do about it now”

“Rugby’s just more popular there, the local businesses support it so much better”

“Well it’s a shame he lost his job but he was just holding everybody back, inevitable really I suppose”

McCafferty was bemused, “Spirit, were they talking of the Toulon Sale game?”  That was in the present and this is meant to be the Ghost of Tigers’ yet to come.  The Spirit remained silent.  McCafferty waited for his own image to appear, perhaps the lessons he had already learnt would be in evidence, but before he could find out the Spirit had moved him on to a second scene.

It was back in Catchit’s house.  “Well they’re a good side Rob” sighed Mrs. Catchit trying to console poor Rob “you can’t expect to just rock over to the continent and win”

“I know, I know, but to not even get the bonus point?  Have we really come to this?  And did he really deserve to lose his job?”

“Spirit what game are they talking about?” McCafferty wondered.

The Spirit remained unmoving and unspeaking.  Before the Catchit’s could say anymore McCafferty and the Spirit were back outside McCafferty’s old room.  But something was amiss, this was his room alright but the desk was in a different place and the pictures on the wall different, McCafferty was befuddled. 

“Spirit why show me this?  What does this mean?”

The Spirit pointed its bony finger to a newspaper on the table.  It was opened to a report of the Leicester match but half the score was covered up.  It read Leicester 14 before it was covered in other loose sheets of paper.

“Before I draw myself towards that paper Spirit tell me this, are these the things that Will be or the things that May be only?”

The Spirit remained silent.

McCafferty stumbled forward, trembling as he went; following the finger he went up the desk and read the rest of the headline:

“Leicester 14 Treviso 35, McCafferty sacked after PRL revolt”

“Am I the man who they were were talking about, and this the game?”

The finger pointed from the newspaper and back to him again.

“No, Spirit! Oh no!”

The Spirit was still pointing.

“Spirit” he cried clutching at its dark robe “Hear me!  I am not the man I was.  I will not be the man I would have but for this intercourse.  Why show me this if I am beyond all hope of redemption?”

“Kindly Spirit, assure me I can change these shadows if only I change my ways? “

The Spirit’s hand trembled

“I shall keep Rugby in my heart and celebrate it every day, I shall keep the spirits Tigers’ Past, Present and Yet to come in my hear all at once.  I will not shut out the lesson they teach nor ever forget them.  Oh tell me I way wipe away the writing on this newspaper?”

In his agony he grabbed at the Spirit’s hand, but the Spirit repulsed him.  He watched the Spirit’s robe shrank down back into his bed post.

YES! His bedpost, the real one.  And his curtains were still there too, and best of all the time was his own, to make amends in!

He rushed to window and threw it open.  Looking down a cool misty day he spotted a boy out in his Saturday best Tiger’s shirt.

“Hallo there, you boy” he hollered

“What day is this?” he inquired

“Today sir?  Why today is when Tigers play Treviso away!” the boy relied

“I haven’t missed it! The spirits they came all at once I suppose they can do what they like after all” McCafferty said to himself.

“You know the Rugby Agent’s shop round the corner? “  He shouted down to the boy

“I should think I do” the boy said

“What a scamp” said Scrouge “do you know if they’ve sold their prize number 7?  The good one, Richie McCaw, not the other one, Dan Braid?”

“Why no Sir, he’s hanging in the window now” returned the boy

“Well go and buy him and bring him here so I may give them direction where to send it on.  I’ll give you a shilling if you bring him here and half-a-crown if you do it within 5 minutes!”  McCafferty exclaimed.

The boy was off like a hare out a trap.

McCafferty readied himself for the day as best he could, he could hardly shave with all the nervous excitement making his hands shake, then set out.  He was barely out the door when he bumped into Simon Cohen

“Good morning, Sir!” McCafferty exclaimed “do you remember how we were talking about the Salary Cap?”

“Why yes Mr. McCafferty of course I do” said Cohen looking glum

“Well I’m of a different mind now” said McCafferty “and I think you’ll be rather pleased, next season I’m going to set the cap at ....” and here McCafferty whispered in Cohen’s ear “and not a penny less”

“Why Sir, that would be marvellous!”  Cried Cohen as if his breath had been taken away.

“Yes and I will never let it get so out of control again” assured McCafferty.

McCafferty was better than his word.  From that day on he was the most generous man that ever lived.  He carried all three Spirits in his heart for ever more and filled his life with laughter and happiness.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Ex-Files Volume VIII

A couple of big announcements start off this week’s ex-files.  Graham Rowntree will be forwards coach on this summer’s British Lions tour to Australia.  Jim Hamilton has announced that an un-named French club has agreed a transfer fee with Gloucester and he will join them in the summer, it is thought the club is Montpellier but Racing Metro is also a possibility.

Now to the Heineken Cup; in Group 1 not a good week for defence coaches as Neil Back’s Edinburgh defence was yet again too leaky as they fell to another defeat 19-9 to Racing Metro, Greig Tonks continued at full back, and Paul Gustard’s Saracens “wolfpack” lost 15-9 away to Munster.

In Group 4 Tom Ryder came off the bench as Glasgow surrendered at home 9-6 to Castres.  Dorian West’s Northampton pack were handed a massive thrashing as Ulster romped to a bonus point 25-6 at Franklin’s Gardens. 

In Group 5 Ignacio Mieres came off the bench at centre as Exeter won away at Llanelli Scarlets, in other Exeter news Chris Whithead will be out for 3 months as he under goes neck surgery.  Meanwhile Sunday saw the clash of two Heineken Cup titans as Clermont, with Ben Kayser starting at hooker, finished Leinster’s 17 match unbeaten run in the tournament, Leo Cullen started for the back to back European champions whilst Shane Jennings played the final 15 minutes.

Group 6 saw Andy Powell come off the bench as Sale fell to another defeat at home this time at the hands of Toulon 17-6.

A step down the Amlin Challenge Cup saw a pair of ex-Tigers 10s face of in Pool 1.  Tim Taylor started for Gloucester as they faced Ian Hunphreys and London Irish.  With Jim Hamilton captaining Gloucester came back from 22-9 down to win 29-22.

In Pool 2 a full week ago (sorry for being late) Andy Goode scored all the points for Worcester as they beat Perpignan by a point, 22-21; Henry Tuilagi captained the Catalans. 

Pool 3 saw Marco Wentzel and Tom Varndell play for Wasps as they drew 13 all away to Bayonne.  Andy Tuilagi grabbed the first try as Newport romped to a 33-0 win away to Mogliano, Ian Nimmo played 46 minutes before being subbed due to an injured knee.

Hoarcio Agulla grabbed a brace as he partnered Sam Vesty in the centres as Bath thrashed Calvisano 67-11 at the Rec in Pool 4.

The British & Irish Cup also returned.  In Pool 8 on Friday night Nottingham put 8 tries past Melrose.  Rory Lynn bagged 7 conversions, with Matt Parr and Alex Shaw amongst the try scorers.  Mike Holford and Dan Montague started whilst Brent Wilson, Finlay Barnham and Joe Cobden were on the bench.  Another 4 current Tigers were in the 22 on loan.  The other fixture was Doncaster winning in the 85th minute away to Llandovery, Jethro Rawling played the final 15 minutes and loanee Andy Symons was their try scorer whilst Kieran Brookes played the first half.

In Pool 7 Plymouth Albion was another later winner as they scored an 80th minute penalty to win 21-20 at Aberavon, Tom Bowen featured from the bench for Albion.  Johne Murphy played the whole game for Munster A as they thrashed Rotherham 36-21 at Clifton Lane, George Oliver came off the bench for the Titans in the 58th minute to make his debut.

In Pool 6 Ben Pienaar was another bench warmer as Moseley lost 18-11 away to Gala, only joining the action in the 50th minute. 

In Pool 5 Dave Markham and Fred Silcock started as Jersey lost at home to Leinster A 16-12.  Calum Green was rested as Leeds, only playing the last 11 minutes, focused on the Championship and lost 24-30 to Pontypridd at home.

In Pool 4 Dean Richards and John Wells’s Newcastle side continued their strong early season form as they won 26-10 at Rodney Parade home of Newport RFC.  The other game saw Jon Gardner line up at lock for Connacht Eagles as they fell to Cross Keys 17-12.

In Pool 2 Ben Gulliver was part of the Bedford side that destroyed Swansea 62-12 at the Gnoll, Greg Gillanders came off the bench late in the game when the match was over as a contest whilst Tom Armes was the only un-used substitute for the Blues.

In Pool 1 Conor Joyce played for Ulster Ravens as they won 40-14 at Ravenhill.  James Grindal played the final 20 minutes at Brewery Field as Bristol won handsomely, 32-8, against Bridgend. 

National League 1; Mike Gillick dotted down twice as Cambridge beat Sedgley Park 52-17 at Grantchester Road, Rob Conquest was at lock for the Blood and Gold.  At the Butts Park Arena Ben Toft played the last 10 minutes as Coventry lost 17-8 to Blaydon.  Scott Bemand’s Loughborough Students side pulled further away from the relegation troubles as they won 11-9 at Fylde, Joe Atkinson was on the Students’ blindside.  Joe Clowes featured from the bench for Macclefield as they beat Wharfedale 20-17.  Ollie Smith’s Esher side were late winners on their long trip to Tynedale as they scored in 2 tries in the last 3 minutes to claim the bonus point victory.

In National League 2 North Marc Howgate was a first half injury as Leicester Lions lost 38-20 away to Hull Ionians.  Stourbridge’s remarkable run continues as they claimed their 14th straight bonus point victory, both Rob and Will Hurrell again featured for the Saxons.  In the Southern section Sam Raven was lock for Hartpury as they lost 22-20 away to Henley and Luke Beales was at prop for Shelford as they claimed a bonus point win against Dings Crusaders.

Further afield Alesana Tuilagi is back to fitness and started at 12 in NTT Shining Arcs defeat, 29-6, to NEC Green Rockets where Ben Herring coaches.