Seems like forever since i last put a blog up, mixture of no internet and a few family thangs that have been going down! Anyway, all is good and i'm back!
First up is a trio of blogs from David Shute! I will try and get a blog down myself at some point this week too!
Sorry for neglecting you all! :)
I was disappointed to read several articles from the New Zealand press regarding abuse by All Black fans against rival supporters. http://m.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11272092 I found it surprising as it is not something that I have ever experienced when watching rugby – even in Wales! Respecting the opposition fans is a trait that we tend to be proud of in our game – in fact there was a big outcry recently when it was suggested that fans should be segregated at the World Cup next year. I think this was for the benefit of TV – to show solid blocks of colour- anyway the IRB swiftly denied this and it has since been confined to the box of stupid ideas. I’ve been to Internationals in Australia, NZ, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, France and at home (Twickenham not Turnip Town, obviously). There is always a lot of piss taking – but never once have I ever been abused or felt intimidated. Quite often sitting amongst rivals is more fun than having to join in that bloody awful ‘Chariot’ song that originated from Alabama and is only mildly less irritating if you include the rude hand gestures. I’ve shared lots with rival fans - Steinlager in Christchurch, Bundeburg in Brisbane, Red wine in Paris, Beamish in Dublin and a sheep in Cardiff! Only joking – we couldn’t find a half decent looking one so we shared Brains – which combined gave us a bit more than my budgie. My experiences in New Zealand were positive and after the second Lions’ test in Wellington (2005) we spent a long night with some All Black fans who insisted on buying us drinks long into the early hours – reluctantly I managed to go along with this! – details are at www.rugbyoldbloke.wordpress.com The only time I felt even mildly nervous was watching an All Blacks v Wallaby game. We were filming some ads in Auckland and I went with Brian, our New Zealand producer, to watch the match in a bar. What he hadn’t told me is that it had barmen who were Maori transvestites (I promise you this is true). Just before we went in Brian told me “Shutey, for fuck’s sake don’t take the piss!” He really needn’t have worried – especially when I saw the size of the bastards. It would have taken a very brave man to engage in light hearted banter with them – they were not only quite unattractive but their dress (sic) sense left quite a lot to be desired. I’m not sure Terry quite believed me until on another trip to NZ we met up for lunch with Brian and he told her I wasn’t telling porkies (although I do like to snack on them). Let’s hope that this was an isolated incident and that football style segregation is something that is never ever required at rugby games.
I can remember several of our front rows (Kieran, Peety, Lunny, Scrapper, Sean Mc – to name a few) giving me some sound advice when we were playing in Wales or west of Swindon). It went something along the lines of “Shutey, if you are going to punch your opposite number – don’t warn him, just fucking hit him”. Frankly they might as well have warned me in Swahili or with sign language. The idea that I would ever enter into fisticuffs with anyone – let alone a turnip puller - is up there with asking Eric Pickles for dietary advice. Assuming, however, that this is, in fact, smart counselling I’m wondering why noises are coming from the England camp this week that suggest the All Blacks are a bit of a spent force – and presumably there for the taking. Unbeaten in 15 and World Champions would maybe appear to indicate that the comments are perhaps a tad unsubstantiated. Steve Hansen has had his changing room motivational talk prepared for him. I’m all for confidence in the squad and self- belief that we can win the series – that is admirable. Not entirely sure why you’d deliberately provoke a dangerous opponent just because you wanted to share this with readers (?) of the Sun, Mail and Star. At best it is a little premature – at worst it can smack of arrogance – as it has been interpreted with some glee in the New Zealand media. Stuart Lancaster has forged together a strong coaching team and squad – not too sure he will have welcomed the added pressure from ill -judged comments to the press. This is very much underlined by his own media communications which pay respect to the All Blacks and recognises that winning on Saturday in Dunedin will be a major task. Worryingly Steve Hansen has indicated that last week was the worst performance and lowest skill set he has seen from a side in NZ colours. http://www.rugby365.com/article/60563-all-blacks-ready-to-respond#.U5mUXIQ0oCU.twitter a They remain a formidable side and McCaw, Woodcock and Nonu between them have more caps than the whole English team – I’m guessing that might count for something. Just in case anyone is wondering why Hansen brought in Julian Savea – have a look at this - http://www.planetrugby.com/story/0,25883,16016_9346153,00.html I am very hopeful that we can win on Saturday morning – I just can’t work out what the benefit was in winding them up!
The Daily Mail today carried a story reporting on a survey in New Zealand which concluded that drinking before a big rugby game doesn’t affect performance on the pitch. You’re totally shocked aren’t you – me? Reading the Mail? Of course not ffs - I found it on the internet thus preserving my street crud and saving me the 50p for a truck load of exaggerated scare mongering nonsense. For once however, this is a survey that actually has a real purpose – in order to test the theory 19 blokes had to chug 11 pints on the night before a match – now that’s one research programme I would have signed up for in my playing days. However, knowing our forwards I would have been shoved rather aggressively to the back of the queue – they were an unruly bunch of bastards with a very poor sense of etiquette (or anything else to be honest). It has to be said though - their uncouth persona was something I was often glad about when I was in trouble on the pitch – see more at www.rugbyoldbloke.wordpress.com The scientists (?) report claims that apart from not being too lively in the lineout the players did not suffer any other impairing after effects from the gallon and a half of Steinlager (or one of the other, no doubt, eager sponsors of the survey). Of course, if these boffins had joined the ‘guinea pigs’ and also chucked down similar quantities during the experiment they were almost certainly in no fit state to do the testing before the game. Nor would they have been too compos mentis if they’d actually called the blokes ‘pigs’ of any sort. As interesting as this study is – and it is a darn sight more than most idiot surveys, it contains a basic flaw. If you are going to see how much getting pissed negatively affects your performance on the pitch you almost certainly need some point of reference for comparison i.e. the same blokes ‘not drinking’ on the night before – at another game, obviously. When I played, this would have been rather a tough one – most games were on a Saturday and Friday night was largely a beer and curry extravaganza. You’re maybe wondering how we kept this unprofessional behaviour from the coach – this was rarely a problem since they were usually out on the piss with us. Frequently, we would actually bump into our upcoming opponents at the Curry Queen – often passing them as one or other of us did a ‘runner’. This therefore levelled the playing field (unlike most of the pitches we had) as the opposition were as trollied as we were – and sometimes more so. The major effect recorded was the lack of ability to jump from a standing start – however since jumpers are now lifted it might have been smarter to test the guys who had to hoist them in the air. It would also seem a bit soft to test any of the backs for this aptitude as the ‘girls’ rarely lift or jump in case it buggers up their hair. The major worry about the research is that it means bang goes the excuse of ”sorry I dropped that scoring pass chaps – I was still totally off my face from last night” Bugger!
Remember you can read more by David at www.rugbyoldbloke.wordpress.com and give him a follow on Twitter @Rugbyoldbloke