British & Irish Lions: Will the Aussies take a chance on Beale?
The news that Kurtley Beale has been stood down by the Melbourne Rebels for this week’s Super 15 game against the Blues won’t have shocked many Australian rugby betting fans. The troubled 24-year-old has found himself in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons of late having only just returned from a four week suspension for punching two team mates while on a night out.
The most recent breach of club discipline, again reportedly involving alcohol, will have left many worried about the future of a player who was set to become one of the poster boys of the Wallabies.
With the 24-year-old being of Aboriginal descent, Beale looked as though he was destined for stardom when he burst onto the international scene in 2009, two years after making his club debut for the Waratahs. Beale’s pace and ability to play at either full-back, fly-half or on the wing made him a key asset to a formidable Wallabies backline which helped paper over the cracks the forwards were leaving.
Australia coach Robbie Deans would have been looking forward to having such a weapon available to him for this summer’s series against the British & Irish Lions, with the Welsh players in the travelling party all too aware of the threat he poses after his game-winning try in Cardiff in December. However, given his recent actions, the question is whether Beale is worth the risk.
While Quade Cooper looks to be out of the picture, in Berrick Barnes the Wallabies have a world class 10 to call upon, with O'Connor as possible back-up, while Adam Ashley-Cooper can suffice at full-back, despite being past his best. However, scratch below the surface of Australia’s starting XV and there isn’t much in reserve, hence why the Lions are so heavily fancied to win the three Test series.
Australia need Beale but given the serious nature of his problem and his seemingly disruptive influence within the squad, Deans might have no choice but to weaken his hand by leaving one of his star men on the sidelines.
A tribute to Ronan O'Fucking Gara
SHIT/GOOD™ Ratings: Heineken Cup Final
The Big Cup final ended with a piece of grand larceny by Toulon to pip Clermont to the title, which we sort of predicted, but what did the ratings computer make of it all?
Danie Roussow - Not a great day on the park for the big blind-side. Looked very lumbering in letting Rougerie go in the lead up to the Nalaga try and bossed by opposite number Bonnaire.
Delon Armitage - People will say that his wave and tongue-out shenanigans are at least "different" and add colour to the game. I'm not one of those people, I say he's a twat.
Wesley Fofana - The best centre in Europe is a title that no-one would argue with so it was a real shame that he didn't look anything like that in the biggest game in Europe.
Aurelien Rougerie - I've never been the greatest fan of the champion the wonder horse like winger cum centre. But he was at the heart of everything that was good for Clermont
Jamie Cudmore - won all his line-outs and carried tirelessly off the 10 channel right to the end.
Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe - Great turnover and vision to set up that twat Armitage for the winning score, obviously, but more than that he was everywhere all game leading his pack. Perfect example of his level of effort was when he ran off the pitch, over a load of tackle bags to catch a touchfinder to enable him to take a quick throw in from nearly in the stands.
That's mine, you give us yours in the comments.
For those that didn't know, I had a go at alternative commentary for this match and it would help me out a great deal if you could have a listen to my commentaries so I can bump up the listener numbers on YouCommentate. Plus you never know, you might enjoy them...
First half is here: http://bit.ly/13FzUVd
Second Half Part 1: http://bit.ly/13wqYhi
Second Half Part 2: http://bit.ly/YSiW4c
British & Irish Lions: Fly Half Question Could define tour
by Alex Jackson
As we edge towards the British and Irish Lions' tour to Australia, and the Paddy Power rugby union odds start to gather pace, there is still a massive debate over who will start at fly-half for Warren Gatland’s men.
Admittedly there was a lack of options for the Kiwi to choose from, especially with Rhys Priestland’s injury woes and Jonny Wilkinson turning down the chance to tour, meaning most rugby betting fans and pundits would have eventually opted for Gatland’s choices of Jonathan Sexton and Owen Farrell.
Since coming of age in the 2009 Heineken Cup final, Sexton has been at the forefront of Leinster’s success but despite his many qualities, questions still remain over his game management and goal-kicking, although full-back Leigh Halfpenny’s form means he will more than likely take responsibility from the tee.
Heineken Cup Final Preview: Clermont Auvergne vs Toulouse
The final of The Big Cup is here and it is to be fought out by two French teams for the fourth time, once again proving that the cheese-chompers really are the mack daddies when it comes to this tournament. And chomping cheese.
Few would argue that these two are not the best teams in Europe - Stuart Barnes probably would, the contrary bellend - each one featuring superstars rubbing shoulders with super players of less renown. This should be a feast for the senses for all rugby fans, especially if you watch it a bit drunk, which given the kick off time is a certainty in my house.
This match will be all about partnerships and which ones come out on top. The craft & bosh of Giteau/Bastareaud vs the craft and running of Fofana/Rougerie; the power and seething anger of Cudmore/Hines vs the rage & jumpy, jumpy of Botha & Kennedy. The half backs is a pushover as Clermont have Parra, the cocky-faced master of insouciant class while Toulon have some no-mark with a double barrelled name.
But, what of St Jonny of Wilkinson? I've a feeling that Toulon's frighteningly good back row will best the not quite as frightening offering from Clermont, which will lead to more penalties for Toulon which will lead to...well you know the rest. Given it's probably going to be pissing down, that will likely be enough.
Don't forget, that to enhance your viewing experience, your favourite blog will be having a go at commentating on this match. Check in at http://youcommentate.com/s/bloodandmud/ just before kick-off to hear me a bit tipsy and ranting.
B&M Prediction: Toulon by 5
Spotter's Badge: Nick Kennedy stands in the middle while Cudmore, Hines & Botha rub around him fighting in a Looney Tunes style.
Toulon: D.Armitage; Wulf, Bastareaud, Giteau, Palisson; Wilkinson (Capt.), Tillous-Borde; Sheridan, Bruno, Hayman; Botha, Kennedy; Rossouw; Fernandez Lobbe, Masoe.
Replacements: Orioli, Jenkins, Kubriashvili, Van Niekerk, S.Armitage, Mermoz, Michalak, Suta.
Clermont: Byrne; Sivivatu, Rougerie (Capt.), Fofana, Nalaga; James, Parra; Domingo, Kayser, Zirakashvili; Cudmore, Hines; Bonnaire, Vosloo, Chouly.
Replacements: Paulo, Debaty, Ric, Pierre, Bardy, Radosavljevic, Skrela, King.
Rugby Video: Fat players scoring tries
Does exactly what it says on the tin
Rugby Video: Tom Croft 60 metre try vs Harlequins
Tom Croft is hitting the kind of form that could make a glass eye weep with unbridled joy. This no doubt means he'll get broken before the first British & Irish Lions test, but we can dream while it lasts...
Rugby World Cup 2015: Stadium choices – the reaction
by Alex Jackson
The RFU’s stadium choices to host the 2015 Rugby World Cup have come under close scrutiny in the betting world this week as fans give mixed reactions to the venues. The biggest news is that the Olympic Stadium will stage five games at the tournament, despite the quite obvious problem of a running track around the pitch, and the fact it has no rugby pedigree.
The future of this stadium is still in doubt, and its development are still in doubt, with football club West Ham United wanting to renovate it and bring the stands closer to the action. While this is undoubtedly a good idea, it is yet unknown if these changes can be implemented by 2015.
If the Olympic Stadium is used in its current state many rugby betting fans are likely to voice their displeasure, with the distance between field and terrace too great to generate that atmospheric buzz a World Cup demands.
Rugby Video: Jonny Wilkinson gets flattened vs Agen
An equation for you Jonny:
Head wrong side + poor set position = being put on your arse and remaining there for quite some time.
Video via @ajjolley
British & Irish Lions: A sneak peek at Rob Howley's first strategy meeting with the inside backs
But, considering that the midfield has a combined weight of 1,587 stones and then this secret coaching flipchart page our insiders have sent us, it all becomes very clear.
Given this plan, whoever plays 10 has clear instructions to let the monsters do their work, and so will only have the ball for 42 seconds in any given eighty minute game, thus avoiding being tackled and the possibility of injury.
Genius in its simplicity.