Will Gavin Henson work out at London Welsh?
Not so long ago, we offered our opinion that London Welsh would in no way be stupid enough to sign the Orange Nightmare that is Gavin Henson. Incredibly, coach Lyn Jones has decided not to take the advice of this tinpot blog and has instead decided to take the plunge with the former Swansea, Saracens and Toulon man. So, Henson, instead of looking foward to a summer contemplating another godawful television appearance (right), which shade of Sunshimmer to purchase, or which pokerblog to try his luck with, will instead be reporting for pre-season training with the Aviva Premiership's newest outfit.
But will it work?
During Henson's 2005-2008 purple patch, Lyn Jones was the man looking after his club career which in the face of it is a good sign. But, it was Henson's increasingly bizarre personal and public persona that seems to have derailed his talent more than who was telling him which drills to run at training. Time will tell whether Lyn knows him better than others and focus whatever is left of his undoubted ability.
Personally, I think it's more doomed than Waisale Serevi at a following coaches orders workshop, but what do you think?
London Welsh deny that they have completely lost their bloody minds
Soon-to-not-be-in-London Welsh have clarified that their board and coach have not had a collective mental breakdown akin to a French selection meeting, and that they will NOT be signing Gavin Henson from his current position teetering on the edge of parody.
"We've enough to do with currently trying to find a new ground," an Old Deer Park spokesman said, "the last thing we need is to spend time risk assessing whether Henson might piss in an old lady's face while riding on a bus past Kew Gardens."
"We wouldn't be willing to take that on for Jamie Roberts, never mind that curiously orange, sub-ITV4 fodder. And has no-one else noticed that he's been playing like a genetic splice of Nick de Luca and a mahogany cabinet for about three years?"
Rugby Video: George Ford, chip off the old block?
Much of the talk after the weekend's semi-final win for Leicester has been about GOODness of George Ford, and they are right to wax in such a way about an obvious talent. However, for those who are getting a bit too overexcited about the young man I offer two words of warning: Danny Cipriani.
But he didn't get this talent out of the back stone. As you can see, his dad wasn't always a dour faced defence coach, he knew his way to the line as well.
Gameplans Explained! Tom Varndell, defending
Change of club will not change view of Chris Ashton unless he develops some self-awareness
Let me state straight away that I like Chris Ashton; as a player he's talented, a finisher of rare quality (as 91 tries in 109 appearances for Saints testifies). He is decent value in interviews and a different character to a lot of pros who often come across as wooden. However, many others do not share this view, seeing the former RL man as arrogant and irritating.
Ashton has stated in a Telegraph interview that he is aware of this latter view and hopes that a new start at Saracens will give him a chance to change what he believes is an unfair perception.
“It does hurt that I’m seen as arrogant by some people and it’s beyond me how it comes to that at times,” Ashton says. “There’s nothing much you can do about perceptions apart from keeping on doing your best. I do care. I don’t want people thinking negative stuff about me.
"There was me, scoring tries, glad to be doing so, and then I’d get slammed for celebrating too much."
Ashton focusing on the 'Ash Splash' as a reason for many people's negative opinion of him is erroneous, most saw it for what it was - daft over-exuberance - and the witch-hunt that followed it at the time was mostly media created.
The statement that most undermines his attempts to change the attitudes towards him is, "it's beyond me how it comes to [being seen as arrogant] at times." Ashton's biggest flaw is that his level of sledging, mouthing and niggling goes up inversely to how he is playing in a match - the worse the performance, the more off the ball nonsense he engages in. He could dive over the try line all he wants if he shut his gap and cut out the cheap shots for the rest of the eighty minutes.
If this awareness is "beyond him", then a new shirt for next season will not be enough for a new affection from the rugby public.
The RFU once again shows its glorious leadership of the game
The RFU is the body in charge of our favourite game in England. This is a multi-million pound operation that currently cannot organise even a proper management structure, or decide which body has been officially appointed to tell us all how crap England were at the Rugby World Cup.
In short, they are like some giant, confused, borderline psychotic badger who can't find its way back to the sett.
This state of affairs iss bad enough in itself, but this week the RFU have decided to charge Gloucester's Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu for having an opinion and, even worse, putting on this new-fangled 'internet' thing.
For a far more considered and less badger metaphor related argument as to quite how disgraceful this is then please visit this site.
The bloodandmud.com awards 2011
What Just Happened? Award - Leinster, for enacting the greatest turnaround since Nick Clegg signed the coalition agreement
Enron Award for Management Excellence - The RFU
Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Failure (sponsored by the British Bankers' Association) - Wasps. It's been a season to forget, then to remember, then cry, then forget again.
Pinch Me Award - Saracens, for finally winning something after such a very long time.
Body Snatcher Award - Tom Palmer, who is almost definitely an alien rogue being in the shape of the player we once called Tom Palmer
Highlander Immortality Award - Brian O'Driscoll: There can be only one.
Ambivalent Conclusion Award - Martin Johnson. It is getting better for England; the Wales & Italy games were quite good, then it went downhill a bit, but then the Ireland game was rubbish. So is he doing a good job? Buggered if we know.
Salvador Dali Award - Marc Lievremont, for taking what should be a straightforward job of selecting a team and transforming it into a surrealist art masterpiece.
False Dawn Award - Scotland. Again. When will we learn?
Dr Spock Award For Most Confusing Use of Baffling Logic - Every disciplinary panel in Europe. They must have a considered and clever reason for their decisions, but it's mostly lost on us fans.
Sir Alex Ferguson Mindgames Award - Warren Gatland. Difference being that Sir Alex actually wins things.
Yoink! Award - Harlequins, for an excellent bit of pick-pocketing on Stade in the Amlin final.
Any more for any more?
Coin tosses and other strange selection techniques
The news that Saracens have decided not to bother actually thinking and using reason about who's the best scrum-half for the job of winning the Aviva Premiership and are instead tossing a coin led us to ponder some other strange selection techniques that have been employed over the years.
The Jenkins/Thomas Rotation - The heart of Welsh rugby is not so much a player, or a team, but a number - and that number is 10. For years there has been a battle for the essence of the game in Wales, pragmatists on one side and romantics on the other, and whoever is selected at outside-half at any one time is a good indication of which side is winning. This was never more aptly demonstrated by the Neil Jenkins vs Arwel Thomas quandary of the early to mid-nineties. Jenkins was the technician; flawless with the boot, solid with his hands , decent in defence and with the pace of a particularly tired middle-distance runner; Thomas was small, quick, cocky, and like a jelly in defence. The pragmatists won, Jenkins making the shirt his own and seamlessly giving way to Stephen Jones.
The Lievremont Plan - We don't think Marc uses coins. But, if he did use coins he would proabably have ones that were heads on both sides, two-thousand of them, and then spend four days trying to throw a tail. He would then melt them all down and make a bronze sculpture of a raven that he believes speaks the word of God, telling him who to select and inexplicably picking Damien Traille at full-back.
The Ospreys Option - Put fifteen players on a pin-board in their preferred position, then ask a lion-faced macaque monkey to rearrange them. Field the outcome.
The England Back-Row Scheme - Assess all options available for all playing conditions and somehow discover that Joe Worsley and James Haskell are always part of the solution.
The Woodward 2005 Variation - Do the complete opposite of what you have publicly stated your selection policy is.
The Late-90s Scotland Strategy - Travel abroad finding players with first names like Cameron and surnames like Leslie and pay for a one-way ticket to Scotland. Wales also tried this with less success at the time. England are doing it now, because, you know, their player base is miniscule, eh?
Can you think of any?
Manu Tuilagi's five week ban: baffling and infuriating equal measure
Manu Tuilagi has been given a ban of five weeks for stoving Chris Ashton's napper in and the decision lacks logic on so many levels it could have been written on the lyrics sheet of Frank Zappa's more challenging albums.
Looking at it point by point your brain starts to spin due to the u-turns of logic the panel make.
- The punchings were seen as a "top level entry offence" by the Rugby Football Union's disciplinary panel, which makes sense.
- Disciplinary officer Jeff Blackett then says, "However we also determined that there was some provocation from Chris Ashton who pushed and struck him in the back with his knee." So, according to them, being pushed in the back somehow justifies a top entry level offence. Also, why is there no mention that the only reason Ashton shoved him is because Tuilagi nearly took his head off, late and off the ball, with a swinging-arm tackle?
- "The top-end range is eight to 52 weeks and we determined that the appropriate entry point within that range is 10 weeks." Back to making sense.
- "This was reduced by 50% to reflect Manu's youth and inexperience, his admission of guilt and his genuine remorse." He's 20, not 12 so youth is no mitigation. On the 'Admission of guilt'; he was recorded on TV from two angles punching the shite out of someone, how exactly could he plead not-guilty? Then we have 'Genuine remorse'; where he's basically being rewarded for not saying "I'm glad I smacked the bastard and I'd happily do it again"
To finish it all off there is this purler: "This sort of incident is very damaging to the image of the game." Agreed, but it's not as damaging to the wider sport as a group of supposedly learned people demonstrating that outright thuggery can somehow be explained away via spurious, mealy-mouthed, nonsensical and apologist drivel. Something that is happening far too often.
Aviva Premiership Semi-Final Rugby Video: Manu Tuilagi punches Chris Ashton
This is one hell of a smack, and we must all tip our hats to Ashton for staying up. If anyone has any idea how Manu didn't get a red card for this can you please send them to: email@example.com
The dance of the video-denied-video-denied is getting silly now, so instead I've added full highlights of the game for you pleasure, which is all legit and above board and will not be removed by the fun police.