Video: Toulon's Chris Masoe runs the line vs Racing Metro
We've all been there. No-one to run the line and the coach asks for a volunteer, you respond "I'll do it, but only for ten minutes and then some other bugger has to do it". Inevitably, once you have that flag in your hand no-one takes it off you even when you offer to buy them a pint afterwards, so you spend the entire half seething running the the line while the opposition persistently accuse you of cheating; mainly because you are persistently cheating.
This is very much like that, except this time it's Chris Masoe running the line at the highest level of the sport. Amazing stuff.
Exclusive! Ronan O'Fucking Gara tackle chart for his first coaching session at Racing
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
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: 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
RBS 6 Nations 2013: GOOD Team Of The Tournament
1. Thomas Domingo - There was very little that was GOOD about France this year. Ironically one of the things that was GOOD was the little prop.
2. Richard Hibbard - Looks like an extra from Geordie Shore, but Wales have uncovered another tangerine gem here. Let's hope he doesn't go the way of the previous one
3. Adam Jones - You run out of superlatives with this fella. Hard to imagine this was the bloke who, ten years ago in the Steve Hansen days, played the first 20 minutes before being hauled off looking like a truck driver jogging wheezily towards a transport cafe. He's now more like the truck than the driver. A truck fueled with bionic piss.
4. Joe Launchbury - Lost the physical battle in Cardiff, but other than that a fine tournament for a 21-year-old with great promise. Good name as well.
5. Ian Evans - Another year, another momentous performance. Hard as nails.
6. Alessandro Zanni - Eclipsed Parrisse in the Italian back row. Performed with class, endeavour, strength and nous every week.
7. Justin Tipuric - It was a good tournament for sevens and the likes of Robshaw, Brown and even Sean O'Brien were in with a shout; but Tipuric is in because I like a seven to be a seven, and in this regard he excelled. Pacey, good at breakdown, made 42 tackles with a 96% success ratio and showed in Cardiff the craft that some centres dream of. Big nose, though.
8. Louis Picamoles - Second in the metres gained figures for the tournament, carrying for 351 metres, and the only forward in the top five. This achievement is all the more GOOD when you consider that the rest of the top five were all outside backs who get open pasture to run into on kick returns - Picamoles carried as far as them while smashing people out of the way.
9. Mike Phillips - Gets some stick for the speed of his service, but the rest of his game is good enough to forgive that.
10. Dan Biggar - the quiet achiever of the tournament. Helped by not having to place kick, but slotted one in Cardiff vs England just to take the piss.
11. George North - Decisive try in Paris, huge presence in other games.
12. Wesley Fofana - Most talented centre in the tournament, when finally allowed to play there of course. It could've been Jamie Roberts in here as well, to be honest, he seems to have found his mojo in the bottom of an old training bag.
13. Brian O'Driscoll - Horrible tournament for Ireland, but was his usual brilliant best and gets in a ahead of others because of the pass for Zebo's try in Cardiff alone.
14. Tim Visser - Tough call between him and Cuthbert, but I like the Scot's all-round game more.
15. Leigh Halfpenny - The player of the tournament. Outstanding since his move to fullback last year keeps getting better, culminating in this peerless performance. Anyone suggesting that Kearney should get the Lions shirt is either lying, blind or mad.
RBS 6 Nations 2013: SHIT Team Of The Tournament
1. Joe Marler - About as convincing as Danny Glover in a Gary Busey lookalike competition.
2. Dimitri Szarzewski - Not only had a poor tournament rugby-wise, but was also outgunned in the blonde locks department by Richard Hibbard.
3. Euan Murray - Even with God on his side he ain't very good.
4. Donncha O'Callaghan - Poor cameo in a poor tournament. Can't see him playing many more times in the emaerald jersey.
5. Richie Gray - Playing in the cess pool of SHIT that is the present form of the Sale team can't help, but his pre-injury form was not great.
6. James Haskell - Pioneering the role of the reverse-impact sub, and because it's the rules.
7. Thierry Dusautoir - To be honest, no sevens had a truly awful tournament, so Dusautoir is in for the being the worst of pretty decent bunch. BUt that still puts him in the SHIT category, because this rating system is as cruel as it is arbitrary.
8. Jamie Heaslip - Magnificent failure in his debut tournament as captain. Poor both individually and as a leader.
9. Maxime Machenaud - 1) He isn't Morgan Parra. 2) He's shite as well.
10. Freddy Michalak - All the talent in the world, unfortunately alloyed with the temperament of pigeon thrown amongst a shitload of cats
11. Benjamin Fall - Crap.
12. Brad Barritt - Not interested in talk about his bravery and organising, I want a 12 who can actually play rugby with the ball at international level.
13. Mathieu Bastareaud - It's no good being big and strong if you keep dropping the ball, and if you keep getting smashed on the gainline thus nullifying your big and strongness as well.
14. Chris Ashton - I still maintain, albeit as part of an ever dwindling number of people, that his actual play in the actual position he is meant to play in is not as bad as everyone makes out and that any winger would struggle to look GOOD outside this England midfield. His downfall is his defence, which he seems to be wilfully getting worse at, and his inability not to be a gigantic gobshite of a bellend all over the park when he should be concentrating on his bloody job.
15. Yoann Huget - Play as inexplicable as his hirsuteness.
SHIT/GOOD™ Ratings: RBS 6 Nations, Round Four
James Haskell - because it's the rules
Craig Joubert - Whistle tourettes, which he evidently had in the Scotland vs Wales game, is bad enough, but his constant lecturing of the front rows about how to scrummage was as ridiculous as it must've been infuriating for international rugby players. Awful.
Danny Care - I admit to once rating this fella when he was a young prospect, but he has consistently failed to impress at this level, especially on Saturday. And his haircut makes my eyeballs itch. I'd much prefer Lee Dickson, who I believe suffers in selection due to looking like a horse doing a cartwheel when he passes and so is not trusted by coaches, due to not looking "right".
Brad Barritt - In a tight game, he squandered a gigantic overlap and thus displayed the major problem with him that no amount of defensive bravery can cover up. His head down, blinkered approach to running in possession is an irredeemable flaw that no team with lofty international ambitions should incorporate.
Louis Picamoles - the big fella has been solid throughout the tournament, but against the Irish he was immense. Everything a class Number 8 should be: big, strong, quick, fit and with unkempt hair. All the best back-rowers in history had unkempt hair. Fact.
Alessandro Zanni - When it comes to Italy the media is either in a sex-clinch with Parrisse or talking in heroic terms about their front row's longevity and so Zanni is often overlooked. Has been consistent in his quality for years, but he took his opportunity to put Haskell in his place perfectly on Sunday.
Sam Warburton - I told you, didn't I?
Luke Marshall - While all the press attention has been focused on who is going to fill the ROFG shaped gap as the second choice 10, this fella has been excellent since his inclusion and is the real good news story of the latest version of the Ireland Transition Period™
As an aside, while I am not suggesting that Conor Murray was SHIT, I am mystified as to how he was seen as GOOD enough in the 60 minutes he played to get the MOM award? He seems to do a reasonable job, but too often turns quick ball into slow ball in every game he plays. Is it me? Comments on that, and everything else, welcome as always....
Now! That's What I Call Lievremont & Saint-Andre's Utterly Barmy Selections Greatest Hits
We are all having a good chuckle at Michalak's selection at 10 for the match in Dublin this weekend, and that got us to thinking: can you make an entire team of barmy selections from the Marc Lievremont and Phillippe Saint-Andre period? Well I've had a partially successful stab at it. Your comments and additional suggestions/corrections are welcome.
15. Yoann Huget (Saint-Andre, 2013) - Yoann Huget is a winger, but not an international class one. As a full back he's worse than that.
14. Wesley Fofana (Saint-Andre, 2013) - The best centre in Europe grazing on the wing. Excellent.
13. Francois Trinh-Duc (Lievremont) - If he's not arbitrarily dropped he's out of postion. Trinh-Duc is perhaps the most abused player in France in terms of selection.
12. Benoit Baby (Lievremont, 2009) - Selected when Yannick Jauzion was available, that's mental enough to warrant inclusion.
11. Maxime Medard (Both, Various Years) - Medard is a full-back and there have always been wingers that are better than him in the 11 or 14 shirt. That hasn't stopped both Marc and Phillippe continuing to ignore this.
10. Damien Traille (Lievremont, various) - Traille was a decent 12 with a decent boot, and that was it. How anyone could class him as an international 10 is something that will trouble historians for years. He also spent some time stinking up the 15 shirt.
9. Sebastian Tillous-Borde (Lievremont, 2009) - Perhaps the worst example of the many when some no-mark was selected while Morgan Parra and his insouciant genius languished on the bench.
8. Sebastian Chabal (Lievremont, 2011) - This is not a bad selection in itself, but it becomes one when you consider that this pick meant that the incomparable Harinodoquy was pushed to 7 then you realise that Mad Marc pretty much weakened two positions at once.
7. Ibrahim Diarra (Lievremont, 2008) - A player as average as Diarra being selected at all is inexplicable in itself (this was his only cap), but he was selected ahead of Julien Bonnaire. I'll repeat that: HE WAS SELECTED AHEAD OF JULIEN BONNAIRE!
6. Matthieu Lievremont (Lievremont, 2008) - Marc and his brother Thomas had both won international caps,but the other brother Matthieu had not. Then Marc picked him for two caps based on nothing more than we assume their mum told him he had to so Matt didn't feel left out of the chat at family gatherings.
4. It's harder with the front 5 isn't it?
3. Suggestions welcome
1. Lionel Faure (Lievremont, 2008) - Selected ahead of Jean-Baptiste Poux, who was up to that time owning Europe with Toulouse.
RBS 6 Nations: Has there ever been a worse crop of talent at fly-half?
The Six Nations is the caviar of Northern Hemisphere rugby. Sure, there are differing standards across the countries, but you can usually find some real quality in every position if you consider all six of the teams on the field in any tournament weekend. For a Luke McLean there's a George North, for a Yoann Huget there's a Stuart Hogg - there is always a SHIT/GOOD trade-off to be found in any position.
This weekend could see an end to this in the 10 shirt as the most underwhelming set of first receivers take the field since Arwel Thomas and Craig Chalmers started the same game in 1997.
With some teams still to be announced we can safely assume that the starting out-halves will be: Kris Burton, Toby Flood, Dan Biggar, Duncan Weir, Paddy Jackson and Francois Trinh-Duc. It's not exactly a vintage crop is it? This is a bit like the Grand National 2013 field being made up entirely of shire horses and retired beach donkeys with ne'er a thoroughbred in sight.
Many will say that Jackson and Weir have so little experience that it's unfair to judge them at this point, and while there is something in that, no-one can honestly say that they look like top-drawer talent. Biggar is so mediocre that most were genuinely surprised that he managed to put two acceptable performances together recently, and Flood and Trinh-Duc are talented but not of a level that makes fans cheer their selections or their play. Kris Burton is just plain awful, but awful is relative when the other bloke is Luciano Orquera.
If this is the caviar, then imagine what the fish fingers would look like.
Is this the worst crop of tens you've seen, or am I being too harsh? You're invited to fill the comments with your wisdom...