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Size Matters

This is a link to a piece I wrote for ‘Last Word on Sports’ - They have edited it a bit as I mentioned that I thought the nonsense about stopping rugby in schools was ‘a load of old pollocks’. This followed the reference to Allyson Pollock who is campaigning for this (oh yeah and trying to promote her new book!)

They cut out more stuff too which I find annoying, so here it is in the original format –


Rugby Union – Is Size Important?


The second worst thing that a bloke wants to hear from his new girlfriend is “size doesn’t matter”. The worst is naturally if you hear “when are you going to ask me to marry you?”

Since the advent of professionalism rugby union has developed a new breed of ever more physical and highly toned athletes – almost unrecognisable in physical attributes to players of decades past.

Players now are fitter, faster and fatter – the last one being a euphemism for ‘bigger’, obviously. However, I didn’t want to destroy the rather neat alliterative nature of the phrase (and in any case I wouldn’t say it to their face!).

The Welsh centres this weekend will be Jamie Roberts and George North, a combination that is bigger (and faster) than former top international players like Bill Beaumont and Alastair McHarg –neither of whom took any nonsense on the pitch.

It is scary to watch some of today’s games and I am grateful that the closest I get is in the stands or on TV. The most worrying moment now is if, in the excitement of seeing a try, I drop some of my pasty on the new sofa and the Mrs catches me.

It seems almost inevitable that the ever lengthening list of injuries and early retirements now is a corollary of the professional era, increasing time spent in the gym and on better nutritional supplements. When Jonah Lomu burst onto the scene (and out of his shirt like the Incredible Hulk) it was seen very much as a bit of an anomaly. Will Carling actually called him ‘a freak’ – although I bet he said it very quietly if Jonah was anywhere near! If Jonah arrived today he’d still be special but wouldn’t stand out like he did back then. Most defences have worked out how to stop a bullocking run, but not how to prevent guys like Sonny Bill and Julian Savea from off- loading and creating the break. You have to wonder how much heavier and stronger players can get – and what will be the toll. Figures show that over the last three years injury enforced retirements in England have risen by 80%. There is, quite rightly, a new concentration on the how concussion is dealt with, but this is just one problem from the increased physicality in the game. A recent newspaper report indicated that out of English professional rugby union’s estimated turnover of £280million only £800,000 is set aside for player insurance. An estimated £2m is paid to fund dinners and other social events for the RFU – makes you wonder what the FU bit stands for doesn’t it?

There has been a lot of media coverage for Allyson Pollock’s (I hope I’ve spelt that right) book in which she advocates stopping children playing rugby. Personally I think this is a load of pollocks, as I have indicated many times on my blog – Having said that, there is a case in schools for segregating kids by weight (as they do in judo). This is particularly true in New Zealand where many of the Island lads are substantially bigger at an early age. It might also help to keep kids interested in the game rather than putting them off before they discover how much fun it is.

Right I’m off to put plastic over the sofa – don’t want to be trying to clean ketchup off, if England are on the attack!


So you didn’t need the link after all!

Good Morning Vietnam!

I have wanted to use that headline for ages – and yesterday it finally became possible – as someone from became my first reader from Vietnam (and the 82nd country to visit!).

I’m not sure what languages they speak in the Indochina Peninsula and I wonder if they can understand the stuff here, but I’d like to think they find some of it Ho Ho Chi Minh.

There is another film title that seems appropriate from yesterday is ‘Soldier Blue’ since the All Blacks (missing a number of first choice selections) took apart the Eagles at Soldier’s Field in Chicago by 74 – 6

It was billed as a breakthrough for rugby in the USA and the start of it becoming a major sport.

It was a sell-out crowd of over 60,000 but let’s be honest it was mostly a money spinner for the NZ RFU. It was ironic that after the match a commentator asked Steve Hansen about the value of the trip. He wasn’t entirely explicit in his answer – I suspect it was because he probably wasn’t sure about the exchange rate between US and NZ $. The best thing that emerged for rugby from this game occurred when it was first announced that it had been arranged. Such was the outcry over the All Blacks continuing to refuse to go and play Samoa that they finally agreed to a match – but not until next July. The poor excuse to date had been that they couldn’t find time to fit a game in!

Ritchie McCaw has played for the All Blacks a record 133 times – but never against Samoa!

I think the idea that yesterday’s game will suddenly turn the States on to rugby is a bit fanciful to be honest – a lot of money has been poured into the MLS and to college soccer and it is still a very minor sport compared to football, baseball, ice hockey and basketball. In addition, the American public tend not to be big fans (sic) of sports where they get a right pasting from the other nations. The media in the US weren’t exactly wildly enthusiastic after the game -

Of  more interest, I looked up ‘Soldier Blue’ on google to remind myself about the film – turns out there’s a porn version with the same name – looks a lot more fucking (sic)  exciting than the one I remember seeing!

Fit for Purpose

There is an article today about how tough Warren Gatland has made training for the Welsh squad ahead of the November test matches - It sounds a tad extreme to me although a number of his techniques for improving players’ fitness aren’t that new.

When I joined Askeans, it was in the amateur era, a term which I managed to live up to in every sense of the word. Although Bob and I started in the Ex A we still turned up to training every Tuesday and Thursday evening come rain or shine (ok come rain or more rain or the odd tsunami). It came as a bit of a surprise that we were running around almost exclusively with the 1st XV and most of the Princes’ team. It was probably a much bigger surprise for them as I believe we were the only blokes from the EX A who had ever bothered to turn up for training. I don’t think you can count meeting our skipper, Scotty, in the pub for a chat before the game and restricting ourselves to a couple of shandies as a cardiovascular workout. Although I suppose the non- liquid ones might have caused us to be a bit out of breath.

Maybe it was because the 1st team skipper got to know our names, but we were soon both in the top side and had to take the training seriously (well, when we couldn’t hide in the shadows anyway). The fixture list was too strong to just play touch or kick the bastard (ball not one of the front row) about the field. It was tough playing first class teams like Penarth and Ebbw Vale – plus we had to take on St Luke’s and Loughborough who were physical education students and as fit as fuck! So, we had to do aerobic training – which I couldn’t spell back then but came to understand that it meant running for bloody ages without a rest. We also did skills – well, the rest did, I just tried desperately not to drop the bastard (ball again). It seemed to work and we did okay in the main. Coaching responsibility was later given over to proper coaches and training became much harder. This included weight training which I was disappointed to learn didn’t involve munching Mars bars! Like Gatland, Chunky introduced a form of beasting which ended up with you being completely shagged, but fortunately didn’t involve Catholic priests (or animals).

I imagine Wales think they were pretty innovative with ice baths and cryotherapy – nonsense. If you played on the bottom pitch and kicked off late, the bath was not only ice cold but looked pretty much like a bloody trench at the Somme. But did we complain? Of course we did – fucking non-stop as I recall. Mind you, the front row would simply dive in and wallow around. It was probably better than bath night at home for them.

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

I’m pretty much a glass half full sort of bloke – probably as I’ve already chugged half a pint and am hoping it’s not my round. I think it’s always best to be positive about stuff – I think if I’d been in that boat in Jaws going after the great white I’d have taken some tartar sauce and chips with me. When we played 7s I always thought we were going to win – especially if we had Paddy or John Gallagher on our team. However, I have to confess to being just a tad circumspect about just how far advanced the England team are with less than 12 months to the World Cup. Stuart Lancaster is having to cope with injuries to key players as well as having nothing like the experience he said he wanted in the team when it reached the World Cup. The last 4 winning teams at the World Cup have had 622 caps (Australia), 638 (England), 688 (South Africa) and 709 (New Zealand). The side that line up against the All Blacks on Saturday at Twickenham will have less than half of Lancaster’s stated target of caps and with only 11 matches to go until we play Fiji it ain’t going to get that much better. Nevertheless, I am hopeful for England’s chances – but that is all, hopeful, as in fingers crossed and on a wing and a prayer (as long as it’s not Ashton anyway!).

In direct contrast to my caution regarding England’s chances, a number of ‘experts’ (including Ian McGeechan) are a lot more bullish about next year’s competition - I certainly hope that they are right – especially the ones who have us down as winning the whole bloody thing. First we need the psychological boost that winning at least 3 of the 4 November tests would give us – we have to get past  the gallant loser tag – remember no one ever said “it’s only a game” when their side were winning! Then we have to get out of the ‘group of death’ – not only that, if we are to avoid the All Blacks until the final we have to win the group! Neither Wales nor Australia are going to make that a ‘peace of cake’.

So I will have everything crossed for the next four weeks (no matter how painful) and then right through to November – not just for a long winning streak (like Tom Croft), but for the team to stay healthy (again like Tom Croft).

I am an optimist but we all need a touch of realism too –

The pessimist sees only the dark in the tunnel.
The optimist sees the light at the end of the tunnel.
The realist sees a train coming down the tunnel.
The train driver sees three complete twats sitting on the fucking railway line.

Big Bungling Clowns

The heading is a mnemonic for BBC. Earlier in the week I wrote a piece on how terrestrial TV (in particular the BBC) have consistently made a right horlicks of covering rugby - In my rant I suggested that the continuing waste of money by the BBC could only be halted if they put someone with business experience into the role of heading up the clowns (sorry corporation).

This news article today underlines just how the clots are using the license fee -

The BBC live in a bubble protected from reality. They see the tax payers’ money as something to be spent on having a jolly good time and, since the cash just turns up in the bank account each year, there is absolutely no need to worry about any commercial aspect to running the operation. I’d like to see them try and justify their colossal waste of money to someone like Richard Branson, Alan Sugar or Mike Ashley. The phrase “you’re fired” would have the addendum “and no, there’s no fucking compensation for being incompetent, you twat”.

The BBC keep saying that they have to compete on salaries with the commercial world – wake-up call guys – they couldn’t survive if they had to work in the real world! It would be interesting to see how they managed if the Corporation had to operate commercially - There was a recent comedy programme with the BBC pretending to take a self-deprecating look at themselves – W1A. It was supposed to be an exaggeration – it wasn’t! A very real case of art imitating real life – and not taking the piss enough!

Wing and a Prayer

Interesting weekend in store with the autumn internationals starting and it also being Remembrance Sunday. It therefore seems symbolic that England have picked Semesa Rokoduguni, a serving soldier who will win his first cap on the wing. He’ll be the first soldier to be capped since Tim Rodber back in 1999. Roko will be up against Julian Savea who is probably the best wing on the planet. However, since he has served in Afghanistan, I don’t imagine he’ll be too fazed by the prospect.

When I played (just after the middle of the last century – no really!) we came up against a number of army sides including REME. They were always hard games and they tended not to take any prisoners – no pun intended. One regular fixture was against Aldershot Services and was usually played on the Saturday of Remembrance weekend. The only problem being that a lot of regiments were back for the weekend memorial and so they had a lot of very good and often Army XV players available. Fortunately, because they didn’t play together regularly, we mostly won – but it was never easy. As proof I can tell you that I was given a tour of their excellent medical facilities on more than one occasion. Although on balance I’d have preferred to go straight to the (heavily subsidised) bar!

A couple of weeks ago, I found a programme from one game there in November in the 70s (19th not 18th – don’t take the piss). I’d planned to put it here but have mislaid it (maybe it’s with the brain cells that also seem to have gone walkabout). Anyway I remember the backline that day – Hickey was scrum half, Locks at stand- off, Paddy and I were in the centre with Boney and Floss on the wings, Bush was at full back. The names won’t mean much to anyone but Askeans, but I wanted to put the tags here as it sounds, somewhat ironically, like we were all mates of Biggles.

Around that time we also had a guy called Dennis as our coach – he was an army colonel and brought a number of very useful recruits (ha ha) to play at Askeans. To my shame I only remember the name of one – Steve Thomas – a very stocky and hard flanker who played for us when Les was skipper. My apologies to the others.

For all the heroics and physical battles at Twickenham tomorrow, it will pale by comparison with the sacrifices made by service men who will be remembered on Sunday.

Lest we forget.

What the Chuck?

I think I’ve mentioned today’s subject here before - I can’t be sure as there are nearly 650 posts on this thing now and anyway, I have a job remembering to breathe most days. No matter (although the breathing bit is sometimes a concern, obviously) – we recruited an American bloke called John Anderson (I think) and I’m pretty sure that it was Jimmy who brought him up to Askeans.

John played on the wing and although it was way after hookers took over chucking it into the lineout, we found that John could hurl a rugby ball a bloody long way (I assumed he had played as a quarter pounder in college). I know the Princes took advantage of this skill and he would lob it over the top of the puffing fat boys to one of the girls who had sneaked off side behind the ref’s back. I never actually saw it but am told it worked pretty well on more than one occasion. I can only imagine that John Kirwan must have been at one of the Askean Princes’ games and been very impressed. He nicked the move and coached the Baa Baas to use it on Saturday against the Wallabies -

Askeans should have been better than most at this, as one of our coaches for a while was John Hillier who then became the chucking coach for the GB athletics squad.

Obviously hookers don’t use this wheeze – they probably think it is a missed opportunity to jump in and give the opposition a dig as the lineout melee ensues. In any case most can’t chuck it in straight when it’s only a couple of yards – trying for half the width it would probably end up in the next field!

Try These

Busy day today (got to perm my ears and catch up on ‘Best of TOWIE’).

So here are three video clips I found whilst looking for porn. Don’t get excited they are all rugby related (so could be porn then!)

One of the fastest tries ever scored in 7s - to be honest I think all three defenders took one look at the size of the bloke chasing that they all decided to shout “he’s yours mate, I’ll cover the wing”. Frankly I think that was a smart move – better part of pallor and all that!

Next is a very nice flick (no – not porn sort unfortunately) in an Irish game to set up a try - It reminds me very much of myself in my playing days – I never did anything half (or 5%) as clever as that!

Finally we have a bloke who looks like he’s auditioning for ‘Strictly’. What a poseur – I really hope that someone gave him a bloody good thump later in the game.

Have a good weekend guys!

Super Waddle

 I continue to get quite a lot of unsolicited e-mails with some rather spurious attractive offers, however, not being quite a total Muppet (or from TOWIE) I’ve worked out that they might very well be some sort of scam.

Imagine my delight therefore when the following arrived in my inbox!

At last a genuine offer from people who obviously know my potential! Brilliant

I have prepared a photo and have sent it off – will let you know when I will be making my debut on the catwalk.

For anyone interested I have attached the best shot from my modelling portfolio below

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Date: 5 November 2014 10:03:13 GMT
To: "David Shute" <>
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Reply-To: "Customer Service" <>


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This is the shot I’ve forwarded – obviously there’s a tiny bit of airbrushing – and the head shot is from 1968 – but otherwise it’s like looking in a mirror (one of those you get at fairgrounds)

Bat Out of Hell

One of the top stories on the news today is the suggestion from a health body that calorie details should be posted on alcoholic drinks – presumably on the labels and next to the bar rather than on the bottom of the glass or bottle (by which time it’s too late!) The BBC asked a number of people which of the following had the most calories – pint of lager, jam donut, glass of red wine or pint of Guinness (although being ever so PC the BBC called it an Irish stout). Before you ask, I have no fucking idea how you drink a donut – maybe it was just there in case anyone got the munchies after chugging the others. Nobody got it right – turns out red wine is highest, then donut, then Guinness and lastly lager. Good news or what? Seems you can get right on the Carlsberg Special Brew as soon as you like without fear of turning into a porker (at least that’s what I think they were getting at).

They had a bloke on who had lost almost 12 stone in the last year by cutting down on his drinking. I mean, what the fuck was this guy guzzling back then to have all that timber on him? He must have been so pissed that I’m surprised he could get to the bar much less get a pint to his lips. I don’t think throwing bitter counts as I imagine you have to chug it first in order to benefit from the calories. He looks pretty good now to be fair – especially next to the cardboard cut-out of what he weighed in at 12 months ago. I think the bloody cardboard stand-up must weigh more than he does today, although it’s hard to be sure as it obscured most of the studio lighting!

When I played, the Askeans were well known for being a drinking team who played rugby now and then – as were most of the clubs we came up against – including Brocks, Blackheath, St Lukes, Loughborogh, Penarth, etc.

Sidcup of course only deigned to sip gin and tonic – but without the gin, obviously!


I pretty much don’t drink now – gave up around 5 years ago when Terry’s bombshell was dropped. Can you imagine just how bleeding porky I’d be today if I’d had another 5 years booze shoved down my pasty hole? The selfie above was taken a couple of years ago – I’ve dropped nearly 3 lbs since then – slinnnnky!


More Shute originals can be found here -


Or follow him on Twitter here – @rugbyoldbloke!