Category Archives: #RugbyUnited

B&I Cup – do the numbers add up?

This article was first published in the matchday programme for the Greene King IPA Championship game between Rotherham Rugby & Ealing Trailfinders on Saturday 28th October 2017

It was a weekend where numbers seemed to dominate everything. It started with calculations about mileage, routes and times and ended with an analysis of cost/benefits!

When the fixture lists come out, I start to plan our weekends. These days, the visits to London are so stressful with road works, accidents and congestion/emission charges that I often see if the train works out cheaper. It’s certainly less stressful. When I worked out that we would play Richmond and Ealing 4 times this year, in cup & league, that was 2 extra trips down to London to plan for. However, this last weekend, since I was in Cornwall for the previous week, I decided to drive up on the Saturday morning, then after the game, head on home to Nottinghamshire. All in all, about 500 miles, in around 12 hours. Possibly not the wisest decision I’ve ever made.

On the way up from Cornwall the route via A30/A303 was gorgeous. Brilliant sunshine, fantastic views out over Devon, Dorset and Wiltshire, and I even got to see Stonehenge. It was also quite fun to check out the traffic jams heading the other way for the half term break. 10 miles was the longest! It was a good start to what I hoped would be a successful day.

At the game the first half was good for us, lots of pressure, not always turning into points, but the feeling was certainly that we were playing well. The second half was definitely not the same. I still can’t quite work out what went wrong, but suddenly we were on the end of another defeat. The drive home wasn’t looking great, and being diverted via Hatfield, and torrential rain up the A1, sort of finished me off.

In Sunday’s Rugby Paper, attendance figures at B&I Cup games were quite awful. Yes the weather last weekend was bad, perhaps people were reluctant to travel far, money is tight etc etc. But when only 623 people turn up to watch Richmond v Rotherham, the question is whether the game was even remotely financially viable for the club. The chairman of Richmond also spoke to the RP about costs involved in taking part in this competition. Like us they have an away game in Connacht to plan, and his assessment of the costs involved for travel, accommodation, food etc is around the £10,000 mark.

So what financial return do the clubs get for taking part in this competition? Nothing until you get to the final stages. The B&I as it currently exists finishes this season, so the opportunity is there to do something different.  But what? Opinion on the various forums I follow suggest that the majority of the clubs in the Championship want more league matches, to guarantee a home game every other weekend, against meaningful opposition, and there is speculation that this will come from expanding the league. We will see.

So cost/benefit analysis of the weekend? Not great really. 500 miles for 80 minutes of rugby, and another loss. In hindsight it wasn’t the most sensible plan I’ve ever had but, having said all that, the trip to Galway is all planned for us and many of the #ShedOnTour. Hopefully an epic weekend in Ireland, with a win to make it even better. It’s the only benefit I can see with the B&I.

 

 

‘Money, money, money – it’s a rich man’s world’

This article first appeared in the matchday programme for Rotherham Titans v Jersey Reds in the Greene King IPA Championship on Saturday 18th November 2017

 

When we go to Bristol, strangely I always feel that the ABBA song is most appropriate! Since we were last there, they’ve certainly been spending the cash. The old main stand is now replaced by the Atyeo stand, with Media Centre, amazing changing rooms and facilities for the teams and even padded seats for us up in the top tier, where several of my colleagues admitted to a touch of vertigo. We were joined before the game started by the remains of the Bristol squad – apart from the 40+ they had running round on the pitch for the warm up! They had a few missing on International duty as well; 1 playing for Georgia and 4 playing for Samoa. It still meant that our youngsters were up against the likes of Sheedy, Pisi, Piutau, Cortes, Hurrell and Varndell. The very scary Steven Luatua was also on the bench – do check out his contributions to the Barbarians v All Blacks as he is a terrifying player with the ball in hand. Bristol didn’t bring him on and I don’t know if I was relieved or disappointed!

It wasn’t the money at Bristol that was on my mind though when I started to research this piece, but the 4 players out for Samoa do have a bearing on it. On 8th November, the Prime Minister of Samoa said that their rugby team was bankrupt, just before they started the Autumn Internationals against Scotland and England. A ‘Just Giving’ page was set up by Dan Leo and the Pacific Rugby Players Welfare Group, to try and support the players who probably won’t be getting the £650 match fee from their Union. Just for comparison, the match fee for the England players is around £23,000 – each – and to their credit the Vunipola brothers have started their own campaign for the England players to donate part of their fee to the Samoa squad. The RFU do cover all the Samoan expenses while on tour; transport, hotels etc but the divide between the teams for what they receive is quite staggering, especially since the RFU stand to make around £10 million from the match at Twickenham.

When I last checked the website, the total raised so far was £3,184 from 144 people. They are aiming for £150,000 which is the equivalent of £1 from each seat at Murrayfield and Twickenham where people will be entertained by the skill and aggression of the Samoan team. How much of the match day earnings actually go to the Samoans? Traditionally none, but the RFU are planning a ‘contribution’ this time. How many times have England gone to Samoa to play a match there and help raise funds? Never.

Surely proper rugby supporters can do better than just 144 people contributing! Every team in the Premiership, Championship, Pro 14, even probably National One have some link now, or in the past, to the skill and power of players from the South Pacific Islands.

PI group

So for us at Roth, just a quick reminder of the debt we owe to some very special guys:

As they say on Strictly, in no particular order (and with special thanks to rothrugby.co.uk):

  • Ifereimi Boladau                   Fiji
  • Isaac Fe’aunati                      Samoa
  • Niki Goneva                           Fiji
  • Chris Hala’ufia                      Tonga
  • Latu Makaafi                         Tonga
  • Opeta Palepoi                       Samoa
  • Seru Rainima                         Fiji
  • Jacob Rauluni                        Fiji
  • Tu Tamarua                           Cook Islands
  • Semisi Taulava                      Tonga
  • Hiroshi Tia                             Samoa
  • Alfie Tooala                           Samoa
  • Mike Umaga                          Samoa
  • Talite Vaioleti                        Tonga

I would be proud to buy any of these gentlemen a drink in our bar, and so I will be donating to the fund, with grateful thanks to them all in the name of Rotherham Rugby. I would encourage any of you to do the same, for without the likes of Alfie, Jake and the amazing Mr Umaga, Rotherham Rugby wouldn’t be the club it is today, proud to be supporting the career of yet another gem from the South Pacific with Bola. Long may the tradition continue!

2 Links for you:

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/pacific-rugby-players-welfare

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/rugbyunion/article-5073713/amp/Samoa-star-Melani-Matavao-gets-45p-day.html

 

Not the best season, but we still need to say ‘Thank You’

Fozzy & Louis.jpg

Fozzy and Big Louis McGowan – and yes, Fozzy is standing on a box!

We met up with some old friends in Jersey. One was Louis McGowan, one of the Rotherham greats, long since moved on, but fondly remembered, not just for rugby but for his dedication to projects like the reading scheme in schools. As a club, we keep an eye out for our ‘old boys’; we enjoy meeting up with people like Tamps and McKinney in Jersey, and lots of others this year, around most of the Championship. If they get the chance to move on to higher leagues, we take pride in that too. For me, a great joy this year is to see Buzza off to Newcastle. He’s probably played longer for Leeds than he ever did for us, but he’s still a Rotherham lad, and not just because he comes from the town. Rotherham ‘own’ their players; take pride in them long after they move on. 

 

The picture above, of Fozzy, one of the club stalwarts, who deals with the dirty kit, the messy end of the game, made me think about how many people need our thanks this year, and not just those on the pitch.

 

First though, thank you to all the players; injured, battered, bruised, more so than ever this season; thank you for putting in the hours of training, going out on the pitch and trying to keep this team going. It has been one of the toughest seasons I can remember (even more than in the Premiership years), but for each and every one of you who has put on a Rotherham shirt, you will always be part of the Titans Family.

 

They’ve kept going when all around them players were falling to injury, getting battered and bruised but not giving up. This spirit was summed up for me on Saturday in Jersey, when Millar came off with blood pouring from his nose. He’s a young lad who hasn’t been with us for very long, but his attitude was typically Rotherham. It took Doc a good while to stop the bleeding, assess it (probably broken) and yet he went back on and played most of the rest of the game. Seriously tough, serious respect to him. 

 

I have also loved seeing the boys adapt to the problems this season; Charlie Maddison, still learning his trade as hooker, also standing in admirably in the back row, tackling, scavenging, making breaks. Never happy losing either! Players having to cover other positions, but not complaining. The attitude summed up by tough nut Toby Williams – his interview after the Pirates game was a classic, seriously grumpy face, brief, basic answers, and the attitude that we lost, so what is there to say that’s positive! A great player to put up in front of the media – and I’m reliably informed he wasn’t happy about it! 

 

The list of injuries this season has been quite remarkable – we have never had a season like it. Even when they came back, the gremlins struck again and many didn’t spend long on the pitch. The record surely goes to Charlie Foley. Out for months then 30 minutes on the pitch and off again. Difficult as it is for fans, for the players it must have been devastating. 

 

Finally thanks must go to Dave Swift and his team; I have no idea how they have coped this year. The queue for treatment must have seemed never ending, but they have managed to put out a team each week, to battle it out against the odds.

 

To those who are leaving us this year, we wish you all the best. To those staying with us, here is hoping that next year isn’t quite the same as this one!

 

Thank you from all the fans. #TitansFamily. 

 

This piece first appeared in the match day programme for Rotherham Titans v Nottingham on Saturday 25th March 2017, our last home game of the 2016-17 season. 

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!

4-logos

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!

jacob-1

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.

jacob-eng-kit

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

Small margins matter – even more this season

nottingham

We started the game against Nottingham at Lady Bay in the bottom half of the table. Not really in danger, but definitely nowhere near the top 4. Part of the way through the game, when news came in of Pirates win against Doncaster, the calculators were out and I’m sure someone came up with the statistic that, if we won with a bonus point, we could be in, or just outside, the top 4!

It has been a week for statistics. If you missed Titans Tuesday with Justin Burnell and Rhys Edwards, then the stats they gave us were fascinating. Here’s just a few of them:

Fascinating Stat #1

  • We have the best record in the League for penalties – we give away an average of 6 or 7 per game, which is way better than most other teams. I don’t think many people there could have predicted that.

Our discipline this year has appeared to be much better. Obviously if we cut out the penalties, then the opposition have fewer chances to kick to the corner and go for the dreaded rolling maul.

Fascinating Stat #2

  • We were asked to guess how many minutes of actual playing time happened in the game against Jersey. No one guessed correctly. There were 32 minutes of actual play, less than half a game! Apparently even in International games, they rarely achieve more than more than 45 minutes.

So how much time is lost to the endless scrum resets? On Twitter I seem to type ‘Scrum collapses. Reset’ so many times during a game that the predictive text almost does it for me. What is the answer – do referees really understand the scrum, and are they prepared to penalise the offenders for the errors? The ref on Sunday penalised Nottingham at almost a dozen scrums, yet the yellow card never appeared. Surely it should have done, to reward the dominance that Rotherham had at the set piece.

Fascinating Stat #3

  • They review EVERY aspect of the game. The players get points for their passing skills, even losing points for a pass that hits the body, rather than being into space to be caught. The slide showing this was too small to see exactly who was top, and who was bottom!

On Sunday, at Nottingham, I watched with a great deal of interest to see just how the skills sessions on passing were being put into practice on match days. They certainly seemed to be passing with greater accuracy and skill, arms out to pass and to catch, ball not hitting the body, and that’s the forwards as well as the backs.

Titans Tuesday usually points up something I’ve missed from the game, or teaches me about a technical aspect I didn’t know. On Tuesday Justin and Rhys also emphasised the youth and inexperience, at this level, of the majority of our squad. They will make mistakes, but they learn from them.

At Nottingham, this inexperience showed at the end; instead of hanging onto the ball, and their lead, they let Nottingham back in, to draw the game deep in added time. Nottingham celebrated as if they’d won. Rotherham looked like they had lost.

Round 10 games complete, it shows just how tight this league is: 6 points separate Nottingham in 4th from Jersey in 11th. One win, especially with a bonus point, can really change things. We just need to find a way to do that! Could it possibly be against London Irish, with their #Fascinating Stat of 10 wins from 10 games. Be nice, wouldn’t it?

First published in the programme for Rotherham v London Irish on 3rd 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.

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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

 

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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!)