Category Archives: Rotherham Rugby

A weekend away in Cornwall

 

Down in Cornwall, Spring is just arriving. The trees aren’t quite turning green, but in the lanes, the first primroses and camellias are out and, despite the ankle turning mud down by Looe Bar, the snowdrops in the woods are beautiful. My family have lived down in Helston for the last 15 years, so the trip to Cornish Pirates is always one I put in the calendar as soon as the fixtures are published.

Driving down on Friday the sun was shining, the sea at Penzance was many shades of blue, and St Michael’s Mount looked wonderful in evening light. Started really well, our weekend in Cornwall.

The wifi connection let us watch young Mr Umaga kicking his points for England U20’s, on Friday night. My brother’s daft dog loved his treats, the niece and nephew liked their presents too; all was set fair for a good weekend.

Saturday was spent at the Leisure Centre in Penzance (after the very muddy dog walk) and we watched hundreds of kids, from tiny to giant, thrashing up and down the pool in the second weekend of the County Championships. Good job we were indoors, as the weather turned nasty. Was Cornwall trying to tell us something? We managed to find a tv to watch Scotland v Wales. Not a good day for the Welsh. My Scottish friends made sure I understood the significance of the result! Weekend not going so well.

Sport in Cornwall looked to be thriving due to the efforts of volunteers and parents prepared to spend ages sorting stuff for kids. I loved the fact that people brought knitting, crochet, films on iPads, big, thick novels, and even a tapestry, to while away the hours between races. And enormous amounts of food! The nephew did ok, not brilliant, but ok. He wasn’t happy with just ok, so after an enormous curry to replenish the lost energy, he retired to bed ready for a second day of competition up in Bodmin on Sunday.

The hope was there that Sunday was going to be the best day of the weekend – for the nephew and for Rotherham!

We woke to howling winds, spitting rain and the fear that it wasn’t going to be our day after all. My niece sensibly decided that a walk in the rain was not a good way to spend a Sunday, stayed in bed, and missed out on the 10’ waves off Sennen Cove, and wind that took your breath away. Bracing was the word; not even the craziest surfers were risking their necks in that sea. The hope was that the wind would die down before kick off at 3. No chance – Cornwall seemed out to get us!

The teams ran out into a gale; Rotherham had to fight against it all through the first half, and when they came out for the second half, the rain started as well. Torrential rain, blasting across the ground. We lost the match – check out the reports in the ‘Tizer for the detail as Mr Ricketts also enjoyed a weekend away in Cornwall.

Cornwall 2

The nephew returned from Bodmin with some PB times, qualification for Regional Finals, so we all headed for the pub. Not much to celebrate really, but overall the weekend felt positive. The team played much better than they did against Bedford – rolling maul tries still a nightmare for us to defend – there didn’t seem to be any more serious injuries and I got to spend time with my family. Spring really is just around the corner, and hopefully we can build on what was a much better performance in a soggy, windy, but very beautiful, Cornwall. Can’t wait to come back next year.

This piece was first published in the matchday programme for Rotherham Titans v Ealing Trailfinders on Saturday 4th March 2017

The joys (or not) of the B & I Cup

b-and-i

So the B&I Cup is over for Rotherham for another year. Perhaps over forever if the RFU go through with some of the changes they are proposing? After what was in effect a ‘dead rubber’ against Doncaster last week, social media was full of the negatives of this competition.

 

Certainly the pool that Rotherham found themselves in this year has done nobody any favours. We’ve had 2 expensive away trips, to London Welsh, and then to the back of beyond in Ireland for the game against Munster A. The cost of the London game, a bus for a day, was nothing compared to the costs involved for the Munster A game – bus, ferry and hotel bills for the squad and coaches. The #ShedOnTour apparently had a fantastic weekend; I would think the players had a different view, arriving back in Rotherham in the early hours of Monday morning after hours on bus and ferry, after a battering by Munster. The glamour of being a professional rugby player!

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For Rotherham, the first B&I game in London eventually meant nothing, in more ways than one. With the removal of London Welsh from the competition, there are unseen costs to add to the account; the missing home game against them that should have happened in January. Gate receipts, bar takings, hospitality; nothing coming in at all until the end of the month, and yet wages and bills have to be paid.

 

While Welsh have to pay back their creditors, according to the RFU ruling for them to reform as a new club, this doesn’t include anything for the clubs who have lost money through B&I fixtures being cancelled. Doncaster lost possibly one of their best weekends for hospitality, just before Christmas, where they would have had full bars, and plenty of people through the gates. No extra cash for them from Welsh or from the RFU. 

 

By the time we finally got to the last B&I pool game, against Doncaster last weekend, neither team could progress any further. Truly a dead match.

 

For anyone who went, it certainly didn’t come across as that. Both teams fielded good squads, with a couple of youngsters on the bench, and it was certainly played as if it mattered. A couple of eyeball to eyeball moments, the best with George Tressider squaring up to Latu Makaafi! We even out scored them with the tries, and if the maul hadn’t collapsed towards the end of the first half, then Charlie might have got his hat trick.  

 

So, what about the B&I, should it stay or go? 

 

It certainly hasn’t done us any favours this year, in our pool, but on the day, last Saturday, we just wanted a game. A win would have made it a better day, but after nearly 3 weeks with no rugby, then the B&I was OK. As for next season – who knows. 

This article first appeared in the programme for Rotherham Titans v Richmond on Saturday 28th January 2017. It was written before the RFU suspended London Welsh from the Championship and ended their involvement in all competitions this season. 

#TitansFamily

We use this hashtag a lot; it means we always support the team we have, but more than that, we also support players who have been part of the Rotherham story.

Rotherham is a family club, running everything from mini-juniors, age level rugby, Colts, Vets, Ladies, and the amateur side, Rotherham Phoenix, with ex players involved at every level. It makes our club part of the community, part of the town, and helps it survive, especially at the bad times!

For this Christmas programme piece, I wanted to focus on the family story, especially one family, who have been part of Rotherham history, and show just far how the #TitansFamily tag goes.

mike-umaga

Back in January 1998, Mike Umaga joined our club. He played his last game for us in May 2004, when we lost to Newcastle and were relegated from the Premiership; he managed to score a try (his 38th for the club) in that last match. Throughout his time with us, he was respected both on and off the field. Despite many rumours that he would persuade his brother Tana to come and join him at Rotherham, it never happened!

mike-and-jacob

As a club, we don’t forget our ‘old boys’, and when another Umaga began to hit the rugby headlines, the Rotherham faithful started to take an interest, as many of us remembered the small boy running round Clifton Lane while his dad was on the pitch.

The New Zealand Herald, in April this year, seemed a bit put out that he was actually playing for England! I know the All-Blacks like to hoover up players from all over the South Pacific, but Jacob was born here and England needs players with his kind of talent. In June he moved from Leicester Academy up the M69 to Wasps, where another Rotherham ‘old boy’ was settling in. Did Lee Blackett have anything to do with this move? Who knows. Lee and Mike certainly were together at Rotherham. It is another little link with the #TitansFamily.

As with many young players on Premiership squads, he was sent out in October to Hinckley Rugby Club. Lucky Hinckley! He’s scored 30 points in 10 appearances, including 5 tries, up to the start of December. One of our ex players, up against him in a game, told me he’s fast, strong and very difficult to catch!

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So at 18 years of age, he’s played U18, U19, and has been selected for the U20 for England in the 6 Nations, and the U20 Championship in Georgia in 2017.

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I know from Twitter that his family are immensely proud of what he has achieved so far. Perhaps the fact that he has a set of Rugby followers up the M1 in Rotherham hasn’t filtered through to him yet, but we are there, looking at the results and smiling to see the name ‘Umaga’ listed yet again. We will follow his progress with interest, and if he ever finds Hinckley too easy, I’m sure he’d be welcomed back to Clifton Lane with open arms. Just have a word with Mr Blackett.

First published in the programme for the game Rotherham v Doncaster Knights 26th December 2016. Thanks to the Umaga family for their photo of Mike and Jacob.

Rotherham’s Irish connections

Last weekend we witnessed some classy finishing from London Irish, as they continued  their campaign to return to the Premiership; 11 games and 11 wins, with lots of bonus points along the way. One of our ex players was also back with Irish; Fergus Mulchrone who, along with brother Charlie, is fondly remembered by the supporters. I don’t think there is anyone who doesn’t see London Irish winning the league, and the playoffs; then they will probably swap places with Bristol, and start next season trying to survive in the Premiership.

irish-logo

They have some excellent players already on the pitch; Tommy Bell gave a master class in how to take advantage of errors, with pace and skill. On the wing, the young Joe Cokanasinga was really enjoying bouncing into our players, and showing his ability to beat defenders. You could see why this Fijian-born youngster has already worn an England shirt for the U18s. There were international players throughout the Irish team, but they will still have the problem of recruiting late in the season, if/when they win the playoffs, and start their Premiership campaign on the back foot.

In Sunday’s Rugby Paper, it was reported that Chris Booy, Chairman of Bristol, was urging Premiership clubs to compensate the Championship for agreeing to return to whoever wins the league gets promotion. His argument is that the late preparation created by the playoffs unfairly penalises the club coming up.

The Premiership clubs debate this on Tuesday (13th Dec) and although the playoffs would remain this season, it would mean that in 2017/18, Bristol would hope to be bouncing straight back up again. We will have to see where this goes, and also keep an eye open for who succeeds Andy Robinson, as the Rugby paper speculates it will be Pat Lam joining as Head Coach, with Stuart Lancaster as Chief Operating Officer. Be good to welcome them to Clifton Lane next season.

So back to Rotherham’s Irish connections, on the day we welcome Munster to Clifton Lane in the B & I Cup.

Rotherham have always had a long standing connection with Ireland, with some great names coming through the club over the years, often sponsored by Tony Clabby, probably to keep his Irish family happy! Kevin Maggs is fondly remembered by many supporters, and it is a shame we won’t be catching up with him at Moseley this year. Hopefully they can find a way to overcome Hartpury College and back to the Championship before too long.

kevin-maggs

 

Gareth Steenson continues to be a phenomenal kicking machine for Exeter Chiefs, and I could never really understand why he never played for Ireland at senior level. He might only have been with us for a season, but he is remembered for his kicking skills, which later enabled Exeter to beat Bristol back in 2010, and helped them move steadily up the Premiership ladder. He has an exceptional record, recognised with the Golden Boot Award last season.

steenson

So to Munster; their first team often includes another Rotherham fans’ favourite, Robin Copeland. I know I wasn’t the only person from Rotherham who was delighted to see him get a full Irish cap in 2014. I hope he can keep injury free and challenge for another run out for Ireland as well as for Munster.

copeland

In the B&I Cup, Munster have done better than Rotherham, winning in 2012, runners up in 2010 and losing semi finalists in 2013 and 2015. We can’t match their record, but they did lose to London Welsh in the first round, over in Ireland, so perhaps this year we can do better?

As for the other, more recent, Irish boys, we keep meeting up with them as we travel around Championship grounds; Willie Ryan, Sean Scanlon, James McKinney, and for any I have missed, I am sure supporters with better memories will tell me before the end of the game! The #TitansFamily has always had a soft spot for Irish lads, but we really could do with a win against them a couple of times this season!

First published in the programme for the B&I Cup game Rotherham v Munster A on 10th December 2016

T’interweb, Twitter, stuff you really do need to look at…

I live with a Luddite. His mobile phone is an ancient Nokia, with no access to T’interweb; it just does calls and texts. He doesn’t have any social media accounts, and sees no reason why he should. However, the access to sport, and the stuff that surrounds it on line nowadays, might be giving even him pause for thought….

The weekend away at Ealing wasn’t a good one for Rotherham; the result and the injuries didn’t make for a fun away trip for anyone.

Down the road from the Trailfinders’ ground, as we walked back to the station for the trip home, the Wembley arch lit up the night sky. Fireworks were going off all around and I checked up on the final score of Springboks v Barbarians. It was a draw, 31 points each. In case you’re in the Luddite collection, or if you’ve missed it in huge variety of stuff available on-line, the Barbarians have one of the best Twitter feeds going – clever, funny and totally fitting the whole vibe of the team. @Barbarian_FC is run by Nick Morris @NJMorris1, and his Baabas account has over 53k followers!

Here’s an example of one of his tweets from that game:

barbarian-logo Barbarian FC  @Barbarian_FC

Scrum 5m from Boks line. Our diet this week has been more full English than quinoa but props are up for this! #rugby #rugbyunited ~BARvSA

How many props even know what quinoa is!

He also finds links to some amazing footage, such as this try by the Baabaas – awesome stuff: https://t.co/331eYWgOFm

The BaaBaas moved on to a midweek game in the Czech Republic, where they helped out with coaching at a junior club, explored the cultural delights of Prague, learning that they first brewed beer in the country in 933, in a monastery, and then they ran in a few tries for good measure. They won 0-71, made a lot of new friends in the process, and left a large cheque for the development of rugby in the country.

The tweets focused on beer, a lot, the cold, and the skills shown by both sides:

      barbarian-logo  Barbarian FC  @Barbarian_FC

Outstanding attack from Czechs. Crossfield chip & gather. Unlike a Justin Bieber concert, that was poetry in motion #rugby #rugbyunited

Then it was on to Belfast, to a match against Fiji, in torrential rain. Again, the level of entertainment on the field was matched by the online commentary:

barbarian-logoBarbarian FC  @Barbarian_FC

More rain. Thankfully no sign of Cliff Ricahrd yet but please be vigilant…28-0 (33) #rugby #rugbyunited #BARvFIJI

So, to all of you out there who still prefer print, like my own Luddite, who see no reason to sign up for any social media stuff, can I just make a plea for you to give Twitter a go?

twitter

Signing up to Twitter is easy – all you need is a phone number, access to a computer, or download the app to your phone, and then it is a few simple steps:

  • Go to http://twitter.com and find the sign up box
  • Enter your full namephone number, and a password.
  • Click Sign up for Twitter.
  • In order to verify your phone number, they send an SMS text message with a code. Enter the verification code in the box provided.
  • Once you’ve clicked Sign up for Twitter, you can select a username (usernames are unique identifiers on Twitter) — type your own or choose one they suggest.
  • Click Create my account. You may be asked to complete a Captcha to check you’re human.

Don’t be a Luddite – give it a try – it’s fun!

Kernow Bys Vicken *

Last weekend I spent Sunday (23/10/16) waving a St Piran’s flag ** and cheering on a Cornish team. Not something I’ve done before, and nothing whatsoever to do with rugby…. or perhaps that’s not entirely true…
The Amateur Swimming Association held their National County Championships in Sheffield, at Pond’s Forge, last weekend, with every county represented. 1200 young people, and their friends and families, screaming their heads off and supporting their team. I was there supporting Cornwall, specifically my nephew Ben Hallam, swimming for his county and achieving two PBs in the events he took part in. It was his first swim at National level, and you can’t ask for more than personal bests. Very, very proud aunt and uncle.


Hours of training have gone into this, from when he was very small, with a weekly swimming lesson, to 5 or 6 days a week in the pool, and competitions most weekends, now he’s older. I am in absolute awe of his commitment and dedication to his sport. His parents, like so many involved in supporting their offspring in competitive sport, also deserve a medal. The hours in a car, plus huge amounts of food, specialist gear for events and training – have you seen how much the Speedo stuff costs! – all this takes dedication from them as well.

The question comes; how good is he? Well, physically he fits the mould for a swimmer, well over 6 feet tall and only just 15. Huge feet make great flippers, big shoulders, long arms, endless stamina and a focus on his sport that I never had when I was his age. He’s learnt to deal with physical pain and setbacks very early on in life, such as breaking a collar bone when skiing with me a few years ago. I know how much it hurt but he never complained and even took up Dave Swift’s (Rotherham’s physio) advice that, ‘there’s nowt wrong with your legs, lad, so get on a bike’. He found an exercise bike and spent 6 weeks pounding that until he could swim again.

I did harbour the hope that Ben would get into playing rugby, rather than just enjoying watching it, as he’d make a great second row forward. But he’s clear about his goals, to swim at the highest level possible, and I hope that one day you’ll see him in a British set of Speedos, swimming for his country, and remember that his mad auntie wrote about him in a rugby programme. Rugby, swimming, any sport; you need the dedication I see in Ben, as well as the support from the clubs and volunteers who give up their weekends to run events like the Championships, not forgetting the parents, family and friends who travel the country to support and encourage them.

ben-1

I only realised later that this piece would be in the programme for the Cornish Pirates game. Sorry lads, I won’t be waving St Piran’s flag or cheering you on; my loyalties lie with Roth. And you won’t get Ben’s support either for this particular game – he was born up here and Roth are his team; although if he ever gives up swimming and decides to be a second row forward, you can have first dibs on him.

* Cornwall For Ever
**  Patron saint of Cornwall

 

cornwall-2

First published in the match day programme for Rotherham Titans v Cornish Pirates on Saturday 29th October 2016 (and we won with the last kick of the game!)

#Friday Night Lights at Bedford Blues

 

So when is the best time to play a rugby match? No sarcastic answers such as ‘whenever we win’…..

Bedford have decided that Friday night, for some games, is the best way forward financially; they encourage people to come straight from work, have a drink and a meal, then stay on after the game, for live music and yet more beer. Since there were 2398 of us, in the pouring rain at Bedford on Friday night, it seems like this formula is working. After the match the marquee was packed, and so were the bars; hopefully a profitable night for them.

Looking at the attendances for Saturday’s games, I expected that there would be a decent crowd at Irish; 4025 people went, probably with a sizeable contingent from Welsh for this Exiles derby.

Over in Jersey 1702 people watched them lose to Scottish. We all know that every club tries to take as many fans as possible to this away game, always an epic trip, even if the rugby isn’t the most memorable part of it!

On Saturday afternoon we wandered over to Doncaster, where an awful scrappy game was thrown away by Nottingham, via 3 yellow cards and some shambolic line out work when camped on Donny’s 5m line. Apparently 1388 were watching, but they must have been in the hospitality boxes, or under the stand, as it looked a very small crowd indeed.

So back to the Friday Night argument and especially the negative effect on the away support. There was no supporters’ bus on Friday, which is most unusual. To get to Bedford, by bus, would have meant at least half a day off work for people, not a practical option. It was left to those of us with more flexible timetables (!), to find alternative ways to join in the fun. #ShedOnTour were there, noisy as ever, but via cars, not bus.

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Paul Selwood deserves an honourable mention for the expedition he undertook from Plymouth to Bedford, on public transport, to add his voice on Friday night. We tried that once, going from Doncaster by train, on a Friday afternoon, to get to Scottish v Rotherham out at the RAG. We made it by the skin of our teeth, just as the teams ran out, and the train home got us into the house just before 1am. We haven’t ever contemplated repeating that expedition!

Arguments on various forums point out that Friday night/Sunday afternoon games allow players from other local clubs to come along to watch, and if I have to choose, then I think that the Sunday option is preferable to Friday night. For Pirates games, which are almost always on a Sunday, it allows teams to travel on a Saturday to Cornwall, rather than brave the motorways on a Friday for a Saturday fixture. Nottingham have to play to suit the football teams’ requirements, and Leeds do what they do…..

Interestingly, the view of the players from Bedford about #Friday Night Lights was explored in their programme. As well as getting the weekend off, Mike Rayer had given them the Monday too, so a couple of guys were planning a fishing trip, others were off to Dublin and one was planning a box-set-binge weekend!

We managed 3 live games; Friday with Roth, Saturday with Donny and finally Roth’s old boys on the TV for Ealing on Sunday. Just a shame we lost…..

 

 

This article was first published in the matchday programme for Rotherham Titans v Doncaster Knights in the B&I cup on Saturday 15/10/16

The North/South Divide – is it inevitable?

 

The President of Richmond summed up his view of the Championship in his programme introduction for the Rotherham game on Saturday 24/10/16:

“Nigel Melville…. (for the RFU is)… conducting a review examining exactly what the Championship is for…..clubs outside London are worried that if there is no more central funding from the RFU, the Championship could become part time pro and based primarily in the South East…”

After battling for 4 hours to reach Richmond, cursing the traffic jams that seem to be an on-going part of life in London, we reflected on the schedule for the rest of the season. Between now and the New Year, there are three more days where we have to decide whether we can face over 8 hours in a car, to see 80 minutes of rugby. Almost 90 minutes to do the last 12 miles to the ground itself!

When we read the programme, the debate on the future direction of the Championship was raised again. Richmond decided, for well documented reasons, to keep their squad as part-time players this year, and avoid the crippling debts they feel full-time professional rugby can lead to in the Championship. This can work for them, and the other southern clubs, as London offers players the opportunity for well-paid jobs, and the chance to work alongside their training schedule. Sadly Rotherham doesn’t have the same job opportunities, and not just for rugby players looking for work. Part time rugby, alongside a well paid job might work financially for the south east, but not for us here ‘Ooop North’.

The ability of the part-time players at Richmond, to match the full-time skills and fitness of the other squads is something that will be an interesting part of how things play out this season. On Saturday they ‘threw the kitchen sink at us’ according to Justin; they have some players with obvious skills and a set of highly enthusiastic supporters. The step up from National One is always difficult; we will have to see if adding in the part-time element makes it even harder. I hope they stay around as they are a ‘rugby club in the traditional sense’, as their Chairman pointed out, and on Saturday the place was heaving with different teams, of all ages and abilities.

The debate on the Championship continued in The Rugby Paper on Sunday, with Mark Morgan, the Jersey Chairman, adding his opinion. He notes how his club have developed and supplied players to the Premiership, as have Rotherham and others, with the debate coming back to funding being an issue, to maintain a fully professional league. Coming from a team with some of the wealthiest people in the UK living on their doorstep, it shows that finance is an issue for every club.

So are we looking at a future where rugby at the top level is only played south of Watford? In the Premiership, we have Sale and Newcastle in the North, and neither team has been anywhere near the top of the division for a while. In National One Darlington Mowden Park are up there, but other northern clubs, such as Fylde, Blaydon and Macclesfield, are down at the bottom of the league, and the rest is dominated by teams from the southern half of the country.

As for us, we will turn the car south on the A1/M1 for a few more trips, and add on a bit more time so we can get a pie and a pint. It would be great if the whole Northern Powerhouse debate could include a bit more cash to keep the rugby flame alive north of Watford in the future. Might just have to drop a line to Nigel Melville.

 

This article was first published in the programme for Rotherham Titans v Yorkshire Carnegie (formerly known as Leeds) on Saturday 1st October 2016

One from last season that got ‘lost’ – A weekend with ‘Charming Betty’

 

First ever trip to Jersey for me, and it was brilliant – apart from the result of course. I seem to have said that phrase more than once this season so I thought I’d look back and try and find positives, rather than focus on bad stuff. Strangely that included a trip on the ‘Charming Betty’ – (see below)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We followed the tweets on Friday night to find out Rotherham couldn’t be relegated, as Moseley lost. It was a relief, but tinged with sadness as I really like the trips to Mose, apart from the awful game there this season leading to Mark Jones and the club deciding to go their separate ways. It was an awful match, up there with some of the worst I’ve been to in years of watching Roth. Bedford away this season, in the first half, also wasn’t great, but the come back in the second half showed that the boys could play good rugby, with the desire to put things right when they went wrong. We saw that determination in the team meeting after Moseley, led by Tom Holmes. A passionate and dedicated player, trying hard to explain what had gone wrong and how they were trying to put it right.

Away at Ealing in November was also another good memory from this season – brilliant running rugby, great tries and a team playing together with a high level of skill. I still can’t work out how we went from that to the low points, the losses that followed. Sometimes we were simply unlucky, other times it was the awful rolling maul that floored us, and I still believe we have been battered by injuries in a way that hasn’t helped, more this season than normal.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As for Jersey and our trip on ‘Charming Betty’ – in case you’ve never done it, this amphibious vehicle takes people across to Elizabeth Castle in the bay at St Helier. Named by Sir Walter Raleigh in honour of the first Queen Elizabeth, it is a lovely way to spend a sunny morning before a rugby game. If the tide is right, you can walk to the island, but we travelled both ways on ‘Betty’. On the way there we were on wheels all the way but coming back the tide was in and things changed.

Thinking about our season, it’s been a bit like that return trip on ‘Betty’ – setting off, wheels firmly on the ground, knowing where we were going and feeling fairly safe. Half way across, the water suddenly started to pick ‘Betty’ up and drift her off the path. It felt a bit weird to say the least, especially as a different motor started up and we wallowed our way towards the shore, but not in a straight line.

Finally the wheels sort of found land, the motor changed back to a proper engine and we trundled our way back up the beach. It felt a lot like this season with Roth – started fine, went a bit adrift somewhere in the middle and looked like it might get seriously hairy, but finally the wheels hit the dry land and back on track.

CB

My hope for 2016/17 is to keep those wheels firmly on dry land and going forwards – I don’t like being adrift in a bus/boat, however ‘Charming’ it might be.

Three metres plus an inch or two – a measurement that means the world to Tom Barrett

rugby posts

What a weekend the sport of rugby managed to create, for the opening of the Championship season.Tiny margins and events occurred that can change games, and in the case of Wales, possibly the outcome of an entire World Cup campaign.

Starting on Friday night, the Twittersphere were stunned by Moseley’s win at London Scottish. Not predicted by anyone really, and a shock to even the most loyal Moseley supporters! So what were the reasons, the choices made that led to it happening? The one I was most interested in was the feeling from some of the Scottish supporters that their team were seriously undercooked, by only having one pre season game against Roth. So did other teams who played more, risked injury and spent money on travel, do the right thing? Who knows? What was clear from the updates was another choice Scottish made, to kick for the corner, not take points at penalties, and rely on the rolling maul. Seems it didn’t always work, so take the points, or kick for the corner? Decisions, decisions.

On to a sunny Saturday and the opportunity to see what Donny and Welsh had to offer. It was one of the most entertaining games I’ve ever seen at Castle Park; loads of tries, good running rugby and controversy right to the end. Donny should have won the game. They had their chances long before poor Dougie Flockhart had the last long kick to tie the score. The last few minutes, when Welsh were down to 14 men, had moments of madness from most of the Donny team. They let Welsh back into the game with a series of dreadful missed tackles, then go straight back down for a late try and have to pray for Flockhart to tie the scores. He’s a great kicker, but sadly this one didn’t quite make it.

tom barrett

Strange to be facing almost the same situation on Sunday. Along with the kind bounce off the crossbar, we saw a kick that needed every ounce of the energy Tom Barrett gave it, just to scrape over the 3 metres. Even an inch or two thicker and that crossbar could have bounced it completely the other way. Small margins – in this case creating delight at the final whistle, in contrast to the despair at Donny as they came so close.

leigh halfpenny

Finally, as an honorary Welsh follower, by marriage not by birth, the despair after the Wales v Italy warm up game, was a real low point of the weekend. Wales, England, Australia in the Pool of Death was originally bad enough, but then came the injury in the 27th minute to poor Rhys Webb. It looked awful and I can only hope he makes a full and swift recovery. But for disaster to then strike again, after 69 minutes to Leigh Halfpenny, just seems so unfair. One of the game’s greatest players, and a really nice guy as well, one player every rugby supporter would enjoy watching on a world stage, carried off on a stretcher, with his World Cup in doubt. I only hope the news this week is positive about both players, but I feel it might be too late for them, and probably for Wales as well.

As for our first game back at the Lane, against Leeds/Yorkshire/Carnegie, I hope the guys putting the posts up have measured them very carefully, and added a nice layer of rubber to help the ball bounce over!

Lindsay Jones – https://rothshirtontour.wordpress.com

first published in the match day programme for Rotherham v Yorkshire Carnegie, Sunday 13th September