Thursday, 28 November 2013

Heineken Cup saga continues


The dispute over the future of European club rugby is turning into a soap opera. Initially, the French and English clubs withdrew from the tournament. Parties involed have changed their minds a number of times during negotiations but the split seemed inevitable. The Welsh, Scottish,  Irish and Italian clubs issued a statement declaring that they want to remain on ERC side. The English and French clubs decided to create a new tournament and call it the Rugby Champions Cup. English and French agreement intended to attract other Heineken Cup participants to join them.

Now, the situation has changed completely. The French Federation has offered a high financial bonus to Top 14 clubs if they agree to remain in the Heineken Cup. The incentive was so serious that it convinced the French to change sides and leave their English allies. The English clubs which started the rebellion and were sure of Top 14's backing now have beenleft out in the cloud. The official statement is not yet known but it seems highly unlikely that the  English will return to the old format.... At least this is what the experts say but it's quite difficult to be sure of anything in this story. Are we going to see European Cup without English Clubs as it happened back in 1998/1999?
We shall soon find out.

Friday, 22 November 2013

RWC 2003 - Jonny Wilkinson kicks drop goal


It's been 10 years since England won Rugby World Cup. 83 000 spectators attended a very exciting final in Sydney. At full time, the scoreboard showed a draw 14:14. In extra-time both Australia and England scored 3 points from the tee and when everybody thought the winner wouldn't be decided at that point,  only 26 seconds before the final whistle, Jonny Wilkinson, the hero of the match, nailed a drop goal. England beat Australia 20:17. The Red Rose players became heroes.  A few hundred thousand people celebrated the victory on the streets of London. The players were welcomed by the crowds singing 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot'. The key point of celebrations was meeting the Queen who congratulated the team.


10 years later, Jonny Wilkinson is  one of very few from the 2003 starting XV who continues playing for the top level teams. The other player is Mike Tindall who is a playing coach in Gloucester.  Wilkinson became the icon of rugby and one of the most popular players in sports history. His professional attitude, modesty and hard work make him a great example to follow for many generations of rugby players. In spite of injuries, which he did not escape, Wilkinson has been in great shape for years. Apart from winning the World Cup he also has achieved other remarkable successes, such as, winning Premiership, Anglo-Welsh Cup (twice), Heineken Cup and Six Nations (4 times). He also played for British and Irish Lions  and another title he seems to be aiming at is the winning of French Top 14.

Asked about how he recalls the Rugby World Cup 2003, Wilkinson responded with his usual modesty, that he has never watched the historic game in Sydney as he'd like to preserve the memories of that day - the smell, atmosphere and emotions, and watching it could taint the memory. When he talks about the drop goal which he kicked with his "wrong" right leg, he only considers it a culmination of all preparations which his team had started months before the finals. In the key moments the most important was that everyone did what they were supposed to do.

I hope that Jonny Wilkinson will put off his decision about ending the career for at least a few seasons so his fans can admire his great talent.

Do you think England has a chance to repeat success from 2003 RWC? I think they are on the right way to do so but the aim still seems quite remote.

Monday, 18 November 2013

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Friday, 1 November 2013

Movember - grow your tash

1st of November means one thing... It's time to start growing your mustache for Movember. Millions of men around the world will clean shave their faces today and start growing mo for 30 days. The aim of Movember is to increase awarness and support world class men’s health programmes that combat prostate and testicular cancer and mental health challenges. The event became truly global and attracts more and more participants every year. Rugby players have been involved since the beginning. During the November Internationals many players will proudly show their moustache. They are gladly followed by other players from the lower levels. Members of many clubs compete with each other for the most ridiculous moustache. I've also joined Movember. You can sponsor me here http://mobro.co/ROCKYFLANKER I invite you all to join and become one of the mo brothers.