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It's heading towards that time of year again, indeed some of you poor sods out there may already have the misfortune of starting. Purgatory, hell, Coldplay concerts; these are like having marshmallows thrown at you by a weakling compared to the pantheon of horror that is rugby preseason. Here are eight things that are part and parcel of the most un-wonderful time of the year.
1. "It'll be a short & sharp one tonight, lads" – Coach speak for "you're going to sprint for an hour solid or until you spew, cry or spewcry"
2. "leave the balls there, lads, we won't need them tonight". OH THE HUMANITY! WHY, GOD, WHY?
We've played with one, been knacked by one, some of you may even be one, but let's have a look at how the enforcer operates.
1. The Punch – the oldest methods are often the best and whether it be the front row in-scrum swing, or the in full view haymaker, the enforcer will get you eventually.
2. The Amused Reaction – Occasionally, another player may feel the need to give something back to the enforcer, perhaps a shove, a bit of verbal, or even an attempted swing. The enforcer will then laugh, nod and stare as he gently walks backwards away from said player back to his mark. This serves two purposes, firstly to demonstrate that he considers the attempt so pitiful as to be laughable, and second to strike chilling terror into the man's soul about what pain is cheerfully coming later.
3. The Death Stare – The death stare can happen at any time. Some enforcers start early, standing outside the opposition changing room and staring into it pre-game. Some may start it before kick-off as the packs line up opposite each other. Some will do it because the opposition dared to run, fight, pass or even speak at any point during the match. Extreme enforcers have been known to follow their opposite number home and spend four hours staring through the living room window without blinking.
1. The Phantom – Arrives and kits up thirty seconds before kick-off, plays the full 80 and POOF! just like that he's dressed and home within 30 seconds of the final whistle. The only thing he has said while not on the field is "alright?" when he walked in and "see ya, lads" as he ghosted out. Often plays full back.
2. Almost first team – On the fringes of the firsts and is a heady mix of pissed off at being here and fanatically determined to make the step up. Significantly fitter than everyone else and both shows and demands more than anyone else is willing to give after roughly 12 minutes of play. Non-training prop will tell him to shut it at some point.
3. Non-training prop – Been at the club 11 years and has never trained once, but he's a prop so is always guaranteed to play. In fact, he has to play even if he doesn't want to, such is the life of the non-training prop.
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Here’s this blog’s take on 2013. Be warned: If you want best player and most improved full back type awards then you’re looking in the wrong place.
Golden Overlord Of Justice And Destruction Award: Samson Lee. The future’s bright, the future’s orange.
Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Failure: Clermont Auvergne, adding the Heineken Cup to the list of things they’ve not quite won in the last five years.
Bad Timing Award: Dylan Hartley. There’s never a good time to swear at a ref, but in the Prem final immdediately prior to a Lions tour, he picked one of the worst ones.
Missed Opportunity Award: Rory Best. Did he actually go on the Lions tour in Hartley’s place, I can’t remember a single thing he did on there.
Inexplicable Seasonality Award: Wales. GOOD most of the year. SHIT in the Autumn
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