RIP England’s RWC

Now no-one is prouder than me of what the England rugby union team have achieved in the last 20 years. After all it was at the RWC in South Africa in 1995 that I first did the original deal to cement our company’s (then Cellnet, now O2) significant relationship with the England team. And it has survived to this day, long after I left of course.

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RWC 2011

So far I’ve resisted the temptation to do any postings at all on Strictly CD; so much candidate material but the knighthood for the stumbling, bumbling old goat Forsyth has done it for me nor  for X Factor – I’ve just had too much of that highly-processed  sausage machine for talentless wannabees. But after 4 weeks still no blogs on the Rugby World Cup; the project I was brought back into BT to handle in 1999 and, in doing so,  had the best time of my career. I must have written more about the 2003 and 2007 tournaments than I ever did about my first love football but 12 years on what’s not grabbed me?

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long sporting weekend

Well it’s one of those top weekends and a bit for sport; the kind to drive wives and girlfriends nuts. First up we’ve got the first test between the Lions and the dirty cheating Springboks. Could be a bruising encounter. Then it’s the final of the T20 competitions with the England women’s team shaming their male peers by actually making the final. Think I’ll be rooting for Sri Lanka in the men’s final v Pakistan because of that dreadful attack on their team bus just a few weeks ago. Royal Ascot comes to a conclusion, not that I have much interest. Then it’s the British Grand Prix tomorrow, possibly the last to be held at Silverstone.  Win this one and Britain’s Jenson Button’s would probably have the world title sown up. There’s also the US Open which is being played out in a weather system not untypical of one that settles over Manchester from April to March. That probably means a win for some obscure American therefore. And finally it’s the start of Wimbledon on Monday with the not very likeable Andrew Murray probably having his best shot at winning the elusive men’s title  for we Brits, following Nadal’s withdrawal. A good chance then for home favourites to do well – which probably means I’ve put a hex on them all now. But even though we’re spending hours on the road this week-end travelling up to N Wales to see old friends A&M, I’ll still be intrigued by all the action. Come on you Brits (and Sri Lankans).

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ps Well as British success goes that was a pretty rubbish weekend. Only the fantastic women’s cricket team managed to salvage some pride for the home nation. And somehow Man Utd also managed to lose another world class scorer over the weekend  despite offering a 5 year deal at £120k pw and meeting the transfer asking price of £25.5m. Apparently it was ‘too little, too late’. Sigh. It sort of makes me wish that  I supported teams and individuals with absolutely no hope of international sporting success (eg Wales and Craig Bellamy) just to keep expectations in check……. only joking Snowdonians.

sporting toughness

Who’s the hardest sportsman you can think of? Uncompromising Roy Keane… nah a pussy cat. Lance Armstong winning 7 Tours de France having overcome testicular cancer? Yep that’s staggeringly brave and tough. But I was reading one of my trivia books and came across some interesting stuff (more in a sec) but I reckon the guy Manuel Dominguez takes the biscuit for incomparable sporting toughness. What did he do? He was a matador in the 19th century (maybe that’s why you don’t remember him) who was gored in the eye during a bullfight at Puerto de Santa Maria in 1857. Painful, and possibly crazy, but what’s so hard about it? Well he only went and tore the wounded eye out, threw it to the ground and continued the corrida. He lived on to 70. Now that’s hard! Continue reading

6 nations

Well an interesting day in the 6 Nations yesterday. After trouncing Italy, Wales roll on towards a possible Grand Slam. It’s not going to happen again is it? That match again Ireland will be tough, especially because the Irish seem to have found their form following up their storming second half against France with a comprehensive win against Scotland yesterday. The Scots are looking poor this year – they found a try at least yesterday but it could be a lonely soul in the season. I blame their shirts. Ever since they’ve been wearing these barbeque shirts, they’ve played like king prawns –

The Irish one is as bad – a real horror of pea and avocado greens:

Anyway the key point of this posting is to write favourably about England’s performance away to France yesterday. Thankfully the team have stopped Steve McClaren  from doing the half-time team talk and they turned in a second half effort to match the first half performance. If only they’d done the same thing against Wales who they absolutely pasted in that first 40 minutes, it would be they looking at a potential Grand Slam now. Ah well.

It’s not been a classic tournament but it’s turning into a good 6 Nations with 4 of the teams aiming and fully capable of winning it. I can’t wait for the next round now.

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spilling the beans

Have you caught the stuff in the press these last few days about those at the very top of our primary sports criticising each other? In the Sundays we saw both Lawrence Dallaglio and Mike Catt (both of whom I have lots of time for) criticising the England team manager Brain Ashton for his ineffective leadership during the RWC, in their autobiographies released now they have announced their retirements from the international game. This came on the heels of former England cricket team coach, Duncan Fletcher, announcing in his autobiography that his captain during the disastrous Ashes series, Freddy Flintoff, was irresponsibly pissed for much of the time. Continue reading