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.
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?
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).
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.
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.
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
It sounds very Lancashire but actually it’s an apology to Chuck Berry for plagiarising the wonderful lyrics to one of his greatest songs, Johnny B Goode, the sentiments of which are far dirtier than most people realise. But the song seems to be being played all over the media as a kind of hymn to Johnny Wilkinson aching for him to do something brilliant again tonight. I’ve just been to the shops to buy some bread and milk and bumped into the guy who used to cut my hair. He was already unbelievably excited (at 8.30 in the morning!) about the prospects tonight, as indeed was the lady behind the till. In seconds the whole shop joined in the chat and everyone was saying stuff like ‘Johnny can do it’ and ‘come on Johnny’. So here’s to you Mr Wilkinson:
His mother told him ‘some day you will be a man’
And you will be the leader of a big old band
Of brothers wearing the white and the rose
Looking to you to drop the killer goals
Then we’ll know your name will be in lights
Singing Johnny be good tonight
Go Johnny go
Go Johnny go
Johnny be your brilliant best!
Sentimental nonsense I know but I can’t think of anything sensible to write any longer. Swing low, aim true, sing hard and cry God for Johnny, England and St George. Come on England. Leave those Boks reeling and a-rocking.
I don’t know a lot about the politics of world rugby (even though I was once hauled before the IRB at the end of RWC ’99 – you’ll just have to find the earlier posting) but I do know that Argentina have been a bloody revelation. It would seem that the Tri-Nations don’t want them in their tournament and they’re not exactly well-positioned to compete regularly with Japan and the Pacific Is teams. And playing against the USA and Canada wouldn’t exactly light their fire as an annual competition. So, is it just me but why shouldn’t we invite them to join the 6 Nations?
I was commenting today on Macinjay’s thoughts about the RWC ; M’s fairly sure that SA are the better side and will be victorious over England in the final. That’s fair enough and on paper he’s probably right but there’s magic in the air and an England victory, however unlikely, would make for an incredible sporting story. So incredible that I could imagine Hollywood picking up the scent and taking this bunch of seeming no-hopers and transferring them to the silver screen land of hope and glory….assuming they win of course! But I couldn’t help wondering what they’d call the film and who they’d cast in it….. Continue reading