Monday, August 29, 2011

GB Athletics - Heads simply must roll

Halfway through the world championships, and what a thoroughly disgraceful performance by the lamentable british contingent.

There is a cultural problem with GB athletes, which for me at least, is symptomatic (and symbolic) of a much wider british cultural malaise. The performances of the British athletes at these championships has been an utter disgrace. They should have funding pulled and given to those who do give a monkeys.

Let me start with that lanky weed Martyn Rooney. This is the idiot who refuses to take off those ridiculous shades every time he runs, no matter how stupid it makes him look. A runner who at his best is good at European level and can get under 45 seconds. Well last night, he jogged over the line in over 46. He GAVE UP. That is club level. It is a disgrace he is paid for this dirge. He was flown, at MY expense to Korea only to serve up that. A shambolic, careless performance. Cut him.

But this is really just scratching the surface. Poor old Dwain Chambers falls victim to the ridiculous one strike and you are out rule. Lisa Dobriskey fails dismally. Mo Farah, for whom I have a lot of time as he has clearly improved dramatically in the past year, sadly showed why he will never, ever win a global gold medal. There will always, always, be someone with a faster kick than him.

I can go on. The utterly ridiculous Christine Ohurougu. Save us the waterworks Christine. You are a disgrace. That false start was pathetic, and possibly planned. Ohurougu's 2007-8 performances are starting to look very, very shady indeed. She cannot now even break 53 seconds. She has no place on an international running track. I am sick of the sight of her frankly, dragging her heavy legs around the track and almost coming to a standstill at 350 metres. Jesus - I assume she manages to complete the odd 400m in training? There is always, always an excuse. Some random "injury" or other. She should be put out to graze as there is no way, NO WAY, she will get into an Olympic final. Cut her.

Its not that these athletes do not win gold medals. That really would be harsh. Its that they have failed to get even close to their PBs. At a major championship, there is simply no excuse for that. These people should go out and get a proper job and stop scrounging off the national lottery. If they are unable to show improvement or potential, then why should they receive funding of any sort? The list of national lottery scroungers in the GB team is vast, and captained by Ohurougu.

Marlon Devonsih will never, ever be able to reach a world final. He is not even close to breaking 10 seconds. So get rid of him. Holly Bleasdale didnt even record a height in the pole vault. And then we have Lee Connell, that weirdo Scotch woman, who lollops around the track like a shire horse. Sorry, but she is plain rubbish.

Like so many of the ageing GB team, she is going through the motions. Enjoying the life of the athlete, with foreign training camps, glamorous venues and the fact they dont need to go to an office every day, but failing to meet their side of the bargain - improve. Connell is using her funding as a get out clause from real life and it simply must stop. We all know, she will never, ever make a global final. In fact, Connell wont even make a euro/commonwealth final. Yet there she is in a GB tracksuit having a wail of a time and no doubt looking forward to getting pissed in the Olympic village next year.

GB athletics needs a top to bottom overhaul. The huge acerage of deadwood needs to be chopped, so funding and training facilities can be focused on those with the will and talent not to abuse it. Step forward the wonderful Jessica Ennis.

An absolute disgrace.

UPDATE: Oh no. Now Ennis has caught the bug. A shambolic performance in the javelin. I am crushed.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A farcical England Rugby squad

So Johnson has finally selected his squad. Regular readers will know my general thoughts on the quality, or lack thereof, in this dismal squad. It is laughably bad. The worst world cup squad in living memory. A squad devoid of a basic backbone, of speed, of flair, creativity and one creaking at the seams due to patently unready members. For all this, I blame Martin Johnson, who is now sinking into the mire of his own arrogance and incompetence.

Before I attract the ire of too many readers, I have no personal axe to grind with the man. What a wonderful player he was, but the qualities he brought as a player are simply not translating into the coaching world. Of course we know he was patently unqualified for the job and was ultimately selected by the media while the RFU itself was disintegrating.

Johnson's qualities as a player were a single-mindedness, refusal to compromise, a one track approach to the game.

It is precisely these same qualities that has lead him to get himself into the shithole he now finds himself. A refusal to compromise has lead him to sticking with the beyond useless Hape and Tindall. The same single mindedness means he picks liablities like Moody and Sheridan. And his one track approach to the game means no place for true high quality players like Simpson Daniel.

His strengths as a player are his weaknesses as a coach. It is as simple as that.

A fit and firing Youngs, Moody and Sheridan will of course get into the England first team. But they are not fit. As sure as night follows day, Moody will get injured in the first game and will be fit again if England make the semis. Sheridan, as I have oft stated, the most delicate man mountain in the world game will never, ever last a world cup, let alone a full game.

But Youngs' selection is even more disgraceful. The bloke has not played a minutes' rugby in months. He is recovering from shoulder surgery. His form dropped dramatically before he was operated on. And for this, he makes the England team? Johnson needs his head examined. It is a disgrace that Youngs has been selected for the RWC squad in his current state.

The squad is full of players picked on hope. MJ hopes Moody will be fit. He hopes Youngs will recover. He hopes that yob Tuilagi (it sticks in my throat to see him playing for England) will suddenly develop into a world class centre at the age of 20, one season in to his premiership career. He hopes, somehow that Hape/Tindall will be able to strong more than one pass together and Cueto may find his way to the line.

This reliance on hope shows Johnson has failed. He has failed to develop a squad worth the name. He has failed to pick the right players and failed to find a midfield capable of finding the tryline.

This litancy of failure is sadly symbolic of the decline of rugby lead by its spineless governing body. The sooner we have a clear out in the post world cup inevitable disaster, the better.

I am dreading the Ireland game.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Shanaze Reade wins a race!

So, a week or so after finding yet more excuses for failing to win a race, despite being the most lavishly funded female bike rider in the world ("err, my pedal slipped"), the ever lovely "Shanaze" Reade has actually won a race - the Olympic test event in London. Well done Shazza.

She then has the temerity to moan about the track. As usual, our Shaz appears to have forgotten her manners, innit.

But honestly. BMX? BMX? Is this a joke. If I wanted to watch a bunch of tattooed/teenage yobbos ride their push bikes round a field or up a small hill, I'd go to any council estate in our hellhole country. That BMX is deemed an Olympic sport, while a game such as squash is not, is not just absurd and ridiculous, it is offensive.

And as for Shanaze, I am sick of the site of her. She is pathetic. She falls apart at the first sign of pressure and competition. There is no way she will win gold in the Olympics, if she even manages to reach the final of this ridiculous sport, where if you are first going into the first corner you win. Every single time (go on, watch it). Its scandalous she gets the exposure she does, for being a serial under achiever in a ludicrous "sport", while proper sportsmen (like squash players for example, or kayakers etc.) scrabble around trying to get sponsorship.

What a farce.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Chairman knows best VI

I hate to say it, but 2 days after the Chairman's diatride over the disintegration of English society, yobbos smashed various city centres to smithereens making off with a nice plasma TV. A few days after my rant at the rancid quality of England rugby, they were thoroughly humiliated by a very, very mediocre Welsh team. Admittedly, my call on Stuart Broad has goen badly wrong, but this does not change the fact that...

the Chairman knows best.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Martin Johnson is hopeless

Time for some plain speaking. English rugby is a farce. And Martin Johnson simply must be held accountable. Not for all of it mind. That lies at the foot of the hateful Premiership Rugby, the governing body of the premier league and its vain self interest, and the rudderless RFU, which Chairman regular readers will know all about.

MJ's remit is the England team. And he has pointedly failed since his entirely bogus appointment. Make no mistake, Johnson was hired not by the RFU, but by the media. And now for the media the chickens are coming home to roost. MJ had no qualifications whatsover to be appointed coach of England. NONE. Apart from being a world cup winner and having a "brooding presence" or whatever tired cliche the hacks choose to use on any given day. Since he has come in, England have regressed. They are a worse side than the one he inherited. This is simple fact that no amount of comments like "ooh, Toby Flood is a great fly half and controls the game" changes.

As I have oft stated, I do have a certain amount of sympathy. Rugby as a game in England is swimming against the tide. The tide of relentles health & safety dogma, pikey lazy scared parents who don't want little jimmy (or whatever ghastly monicker the hopeless child has been lumped with) hurting himself (but are quite prepared to watch him loot the local JD Sports no doubt) and a vacuous crippled generation of cowardly layabouts who are too chicken shit to play a contact sport. Meaning the pool of players goes down all the time. Again, simple fact.

The Premiership Rugby (like the FA) is complicit in the destruction of the game. PRL cares noting for the national game, spitting into the face of the RFU which has done all it can to provide a basis for national achievement. Like football, rugby now suffers from an ever dwindling England qualified player base as the country is flooded with cheap foreign imports (where have we heard that before!) and tight budgets mean no youth player development worth the name.

But none of this, NONE of this, excuses that lamentable performance against Wales.

Wales! This is a country with even more problems than England. A bloated tired pointless nation state, addicted to its neighbours forever generous teet. And all England gets in return is hate. A simple thank you would suffice welshies, rather than the oh so predictable false fury and rage which seems to great any England team playing there.

But we should thank Wales who thoroughly deserved to beat their much bigger, better funded neighbours. England were shown up by what they are: a team with no verve, no skills, no ability to score tries whatsoever. Just imagine, IMAGINE, if England were playing those humourless kiwis... A massacre is far too polite a word. It would be total capitulation.

And Johnson MUST be held accountable. All this drivel in the media about his "silence" after the game as if that was supposed to magically make Hape have a slightly more convincing case to be playing international rugby union, or excuses Cueto from being in the national side. Its laughable. This isnt Leicester in 1995, when a few angry words from Johnson might have mobilised a couple of players. These are highly rewarded professional athletes and they are being lead by a donkey.

But if you can indulge me for 5 minutes, I would like to be a bit more forensic about the performance and the players. I should note that nothing I say below is unusual and its nothing personal (apart from with Armitage, who is a well known cock of the highest order). The chat boards on the Telegraph website are all in total agreement. Yet, the one person who matters is watching not just a different game, but it seems a different sport.

In no particular order, I would like to kick off with Danny Care. This bloke is by some distance the worst SH I have ever seen in and England shirt, possibly ever. I am shaking my head in disbelief just thinking about it. He is diabolical. His pass is slow and weak. He cannot pass without taking 2 steps first (this used to be coached out of a SH at the age of 7). He single handedly slows down an entire game by waiting for forwards to arrive, looking around before deciding what to do. Care is the fulcrum for this pathetic England team. Why is he not told to work QUICK ball? Why does he think that it is a good idea to wait to release the ball to let the opposition defence organise? This is pre-schoolboy stuff. Its no good moaning about Stephen Jones on twitter Danny Boy. You are key to the problem. What chance does Flood or Hape have playing outside you? By the time the ball arrives the opposition could have played a game of chess.

Flood? Flood? Is this really the best England can produce at FH? It simply beggars belief. He still looks like the schoolboy who has got lost and suddenly found himslef playing international rugby. How did this happen? Physcally he is tiny. He is remarkably slow for a small lad. His kicking from hand abysmal at this level and his place kicking average at best. His distribution slow and without vision. His tackling weak. He is as far away from test standard rugby as Arwel Thomas was all those years ago. And at least he was quick. Flood's selection is as damning indictment of the quality of English rugby as anything else I can think of.

"Hape". I dont want to focus on his nationality but I have to. He is not English. He is a kiwi. Complete with comedy kiwi accent and comedy kiwi tattoos. He is a mercenary. Rugby is about pride and passion (and courage). Hape has none of those things. He openly wears his kiwi identity as some perverse badge of honour. This is a bloke not good enough to play union in NZ. Yet he now lines up with the red rose on his chest? His presence offends me. When he faces the ridiculous dance the kiwis do, what will he be thinking? It's lamentable. But not as lamentable as his rugby. Big and strong? Certainly. But slow. He has nothing, NOTHING going forward. This was equally true at Bath as well. His selection is entirely without merit. Its no good MJ sticking up for him and coming out with cryptic bullshit like "he does things you dont see". This is inexcusable. Hape has no place on an international rugby field. How can MJ be the only one on the western hemisphere who seems not to notice this? With Hape at IC, england will be starved of scoring opportunities. This is not a matter of opinion. This is a statement of fact.

Tindall? I mean honestly. How on earth is he still playing international rugby? I refuse to believe his heart is in it any more to be honest, now he's bagged a bloody priness. Money worries over for Mike. He needs some cash he can pop off to Hello magazine and flog some pics of their beastly future sprog. After all, he tried to sell the wedding pics didnt he (I give it 3 years).

Tindally seems, amazingly, to be dining off his 2001-3 performances. Which let us not forget, came while he played outside a certain Will Greenwood, who did know how to play. Just as most the useless bone idle pikey England football players seem good playing for their ghastly clubs alongside really talent imports, so Tindall looked good alongside Greenwood. Now outside Hape, Tindall is utterly exposed as an ageing, slow lump with truly terrible hands. If the ball magically reaches Tindall after the age it takes to get from Care, Flood and Hape, then the move will almost certainly come to an end.

But he might have to pass to Mark Cueto... honestly. How on earth is he still in the side. He cant believe it himself can he? There was much written about that lean scoring patch he found himself in while Ashton was scoring for fun at club and international level. Yet no one seemed to ask the obvious question. Why is Ashton scoring tries while Cueto isnt? All sort of excuses were found for him and Cueto himself remained bullish. But it was all nonsense. He didnt score tries becasue he is far far too slow for a wing and isnt very good. Its not rocket science is it. The stats are revealing. Why did MJ not stop for a moment and think: "hmm, maybe Cueto just isnt very good". It is simply not good enough. Johnson is like a rabbit in the headlights.

I regret the same can be said of Bannahan. A big guy, but size is not enough at the highest level. Bannahan has been repeatedly exposed at the top level. He should go back to club rugby and bully the smaller chaps there. I like him. I like the obvious pride he takes in representing his country and his pride in his pilot grandfather. But I am fierecely proud of my grandfather who fought in WWII and I dont pretend I should be selected (though the Chairman is available for selection).

Much is made of Foden, but he really does fancy himself a bit doesn't he with that ridiculous pop star girlfriend, tight t-shirts and poxy youtube videos. Does'nt he wear jackets with the sleeves rolled up for god's sake? But as to his rugby, the boy is nowhere near, nowhere NEAR as good as he thinks he is and he is nowhere near as good as the idiots in the MSM claim he is. He's ok.

But before the ball gets to the backs, it has to get out the back of the scrum. And to do this, it needs to filter through the fat legs of Nick Easter. Now, I like Nick Easter and I hear from very well placed sources he is a good bloke. But being a good bloke does not make him a good rugby player. Otherwise the Chairman would be on his 100th cap by now. Like Flood, Easter's selection is damning indictment of the quality of England number 8s. Isn't it just depressing? Look back at history. Richards, Teague, Dallaglio etc. Easter would not get a look in. Easter is a relic of the amateur age. He is out of shape. How this has passed the highly paid fitness bods at Pennyhill Park I do not know, but looking at him in a tight England jersey is a disgrace. He is carrying weight. Compare him to the back rows of any major rugby power and it becomes embarrassing. Easter is fat, slow and his attitude is, shall we say, on the lax side. I want my number 8 to be an enforcer. If the kiwi back row comes out fists flying, Easter will be on the other side of the pitch, mark my words. He's as hard as a jelly. As an aside (and not that I endorse teh tedious punch throwing of the saffas and Argies), when did you last see Easter get into a scrap?

Now. In Cole, Thompson and Sheridan, England have an acceptable front row. But they don't do they (go with me here)? For despite his size and obvious strength (though he was taken apart by Hayman), Sheridan appears to be as delicate as a little teeny bird. He gets injured at the drop of a hat. And then when he gets injured (say, he cuts his toe nail), he then seems to get some life threatening disease. Never have a I seen such a man mountain with such a delicate proposition. The simple truth is Sheridan will never, ever last an entire world cup, as he will get injured. There is no doubt about this. So why select him? Corbisiero is ok, but hardly in the mould of classic frightening england front rowers. Hartley flatters to deceive. Louis Deacon has been around for years and is nothing more than a club player. Lawes is young and desperately over rated. Tom Wood was badly found out again.

I have run out of energy now.

Its all very well trying to find excuses for MJ. I have read a few. But player selection is HIS job. And he was pointedly failed to find an England midfield which is even club level. While he continues to pick old, slow players in the backs and out of shape players in the forwards. This is simply unnacceptable. I find it offensive having to watch Easter huff and puff around the field, and watch Cueto cut inside as he has no pace.

It personally offends me to watch the desperate quality Englans rugby has been reduced to. And I place much of the blame at the foot of MJ.

To make matters worse, after yet another disgraceful performance, what does MJ and his squad do? Bugger off for a week's holiday. Yep, that is sure to help the backline strong more than 2 passes together.

The whole thing is truly depressing. Almost as depressing as the fact Stuart Broad thinks he is a world beater having bounced out a few bored Indians.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

New Zealand rugby - an apology of sorts

New Zealand is in many ways a wonderful country. Majestic countryside and a tough, resilient, proud people. But their attitude to their national game really does it no favours.

Let's take a quick look at the NRU.

The New Zealand Rugby Union is a truly hateful governing body. A body so self obsessed, so utterly addicted to providing its own national team with every advantage its own actions have resulted in deliberate destruction of the game on its tiny powerless neighbouring islands which have provided so many of its best players.

Let us make no mistake. The Kiwi rugby union is so myopic, biased, relentlessly self interested it makes the worst premiership football clubs look like charitable youth development trusts. Despite what many might argue is its reponsibilities to its small neighbours, the last thing the NRU wants is a successful pacific islands game. Because should that happen, then the lure of the "All Blacks" (the first and last time I use that riciculous moniker which frankly I find offensive Ma'a Nonu you gormless buffoon) will fall dramatically, and suddenly the likes of Joe Rocokoko might not want to represent the country which pillages the best island players for its own personal use.

The NRU has actively worked to suppress the island game. It has stolen players, with the lure of a private education and a poxy house for his family. It refuses to play internationals on the islands. It has done NOTHING to advance the game in the pacific islands. Christ, England has done more than the useless selfish kiwis.

And lets not even get started on the humourless way they play the game and their utter lack of grace in victory or defeat. The chest thumping arrogance which makes the French seem decidedly modest. And I simply dont have the room to start on the most absurd element of kiwi rugbty, the haka. A ritual so fake, so inane, so steeped in bogus heritage and false propaganda, so utterly ridiculous I struggle to watch it now without bursting into laughter. I just wish they would do it in the underground carpark every game.

No. My post today (and there will be more on the "haka" and the humourless kiwis as the RWC approaches) is to apologise. For while we all know the have plucked the best pacific islanders to play rugby for NZ for years and years, it seems the current squad are all fair dinkum kiwis. Let's look where they were born shall we?

Mils Muliaina, Salesi, Western Samoa
Cory Jane, Wellington NZ
Conrad Smith, Taranaki NZ
Ma'a Nonu, Wellington NZ
Zac Guildford, Greytown NZ
Dan Carter, Southbridge NZ
Jimmy Cowan, Gore NZ
Wyatt Crockett, Christchurch NZ
Andrew Hore, Dunedin NZ
Ben Franks, Melbourne Aus
Sam Whitelock, Palmerston North
Ali Williams, Auckland NZ
Jerome Kaino, Tutuila American Somoa
Richie McCaw (capt), Oamaru NZ
Adam Thomson, Christchurch NZ
Corey Flynn, Invercargill NZ
John Afoa, Auckland NZ
Jarrad Hoeata, Tauranga NZ
Liam Messam, Blenheim NZ
Piri Weepu, Lower Hutt NZ
Colin Slade, Christchurch NZ
Sonny Bill Williams, Auckland NZ
Sitiveni Sivivatu, Suva Fiji

So really its just Muliaina, Sivivatu and Kaino. Given the fact most the England squad are either South Africans on their gap year or kiwis who were not good enough to get a club game in their home country, this is pretty good.

So well done New Zealand. You have actually managed to put out a side which comes from New Zealand. I shall not criticise them on this basis again.

This does not change the fact The Chairman will support anyone, ANYONE against New Zealand. I was far happier when France beat NZ in the QF of the last world cup than when England beat the Aussies. No team in the world, even the ghastly Aussie cricket sides under Waugh and Ponting wind me up as much as the New Zealand rugby team. The unique combination of the sanctimony, charmlessness, arrogance and total humourlessness (is that a word?) of ths team is a global marvel.

Given the fact England are so bad its amusing, I shall wear my gold jersey with pride should the Aussies reach the final. Go Australia! Who'd have thunk I'd ever say that hey?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Manu Tuilagi, and the deeply depressing England rugby squad

Just musing on the likely starting XV at the RWC in a couple of months, it struck me what a dire state the game finds itself in in England at the moment. The quality of the squad is simply lamentable. All this talk of "bolters" and the ridiculous Tuilagi, inter alia, is a smokescreen for the raw truth: England rugby has gone backwards by some distance since 2003. Clearly the RFU shambles is not ideal, but this does not explain the decay in the game.

For the Chairman at least, it is symbolic of the decay of our once great nation, which is now a sorry, self loathing, lazy, feeble, embarrassing, weak, pathetic excuse for a nation state. A country full of bone idle dole scroungers and those with no right whatsoever to be living there. A country seemingly ashamed of its past and with no pride in its future. A failed country, run by failed leaders, with failed agendas.

Which brings me to Tuilagi. This bloke is a Samoan. He is as English as I am Fijian. I have nothing against him due to his nationality, but let's not pretend he is anything other than a Samoan shall we?. Lest we forget, he should not even be in the country at all, but a few strings were pulled and he merrily stays - a classic example of the utter shambles our borders have become. But how grateful is Tuilagi for our accommodation? It appears he is not in the least bit thankful to his adoptive nation. Why, just 6 weeks ago, off he pops to get a ghastly sleeve tattoo, to "celebrate his Samaoness".

Again, I have no problem with this, but why the hell is he representing England? Play for Samoa you yob, not England. If you are so proud of your heritage, great. But don’t insult us by having a Samoan flag on your arm, then put on the red rose of England and pretend you care about representing the country. Why has Johnson (who is become increasingly ridiculous himself) selecting this idiot? His assault, for that is what it was, on Chris Ashton was all you need to know about this violent pest. I want him nowhere near the England side thank you very much. There are plenty of fine outside centres in England who might actually give a flying rod about representing the country, rather than have it almost literally spat back in our face.

James Simpson Daniel for example. By some very clear distance the best back in England. Not just by a bit. By some clear distance. Quick, great hands, vision, eye for the line, perfectly acceptable in defence. And English. But no. Johnson drops him and selects this Tuilagi, and lest we forget, a bloke who could not even get a club game in New Zealand (or France for that matter), "Ricky" Flutey. Flutey isn’t English. He's a kiwi.

And so is the absurdly monikered "Shonatayne Hape". He's also a kiwi, with a comedy kiwi accent "good as gold eh sweet as bro I just want to smish them eh" etc and the standard comedy kiwi tattoos. Botha? Have you seen this bloke? He is a humourless saffa on a gap year living in a bedsit in Ealing Broadway isn’t he? How the hell did this bloke end up starting a test for England? He clearly cannot believe it himself can he? He walks around Pennyhill Park wondering what the hell happened. He only came to England to work in a pub in Earl’s Court and now he is running out at rugby HQ. I am at a loss for words at this point. Botha? hahaha. It is a DISGRACE he has been picked ahead of the multitude of hard working premiership players. A DISGRACE. And he is not even bloody english.

You thought the list stopped there didn’t you? How about Fourie? Stevens?I am sick of it. These players are not english and should not be representing our country.

I know some of my Aussie readership may remind the Chairman of the England cricket side. “Ah, but Chairman, the cricket side is full of south Africans”. Well this does not exercise me in the same way. KP, as I have often been on record saying, is English, whatever the bitter cricket writers in the Daily Telegraph may think. His mum is from Lancashire and only moved to SA after she got married. KP moved to England when he was 19. Strauss was born in SA to English parents. Prior spent about 20 minutes in SA as a young child. Let's all just calm down shall we? Or I might bring up the Aussie athletics or tennis teams. [NB. I don't defend the selection of Trott. The bloke is a sociopath and not English.]

For the record, I will not support England if Johnson selects any of the above mentioned players. It is beyond the pale. They can lose to anyone for all I care, if I have to watch Tuilagi pretend to know the words to God Save The Queen. (Does he? Let's watch tomorrow).

With the above in mind, here is my XV:

1. Cole
2. Hartley
3. Sheridan (assuming he can actually walk and hasn’t grazed his ear)
4. Laws
5. Palmer
6. Croft
7. Moody (c)
8. Easter
9. Youngs
10. Wilko
11. Monye
12. Tindall (how lame we are still picking this bloke? But I WILL NOT HAVE Flutey or "Happy" in my team.
13. Armitage (yes, at outside centre)
14. Ashton
15. Foden

Am I happy with this team? No, I am not. It’s useless. Weakness in every position. No enforcer. No skills in the centres. A glaring weakness at loosehead as Sheridan gets injured at the drop of the hat. Croft’s form is ludicrous. Moody is not a cleanskin openside. Monye is positionally naive. Foden is a bit of a cock, while Ashton steals hubcaps. Easter is not a serious rugby player. Tindall is old and slow. Armitage is not a specialist OC.

It's all very embarrassing frankly. I have been dreading this RWC for 4 years. Those pesky kiwis, ("oooh, England wearing black shirt disrespects our heritage etc etc" YAWN), who seem to find “disrespect” at the drop of a hat, will walk it. And good luck to them. I am sure they will celebrate it in the same joyless manner they celebrate their annual winning of the tri nations.