I still find this the strangest move ever. Sure, I can understand why Sarries want to go back to Barnet, but an artificial pitch! What are they thinking?! Next they’ll be doing something crazy like having a whole team of South Africans. Oh wait…
“There is a God & Jonny is thy name
What a shame that we’ve all forgotten this fact. (Please note that Tamworth RUFC is not relevant to this post).
What a player Jonny has been… Check out this video on the BBC website, which shows his 27 point haul in the 2007 Calcutta Cup.
Will Greenwood makes some very interesting insights into perhaps the most important (and untested) area of the new-look England team - its midfield. He analyses the Saracens trio of Charlie Hodgson, Owen Farrell (or is it Owain?!), and Brad Barritt, finding them all solid (and somewhat promising), but also lacking in the one aspect of the game that has let recent England sides down so badly - pace.
Now, of course, we are currently missing the likes of Manu Tuilagi and Toby Flood, so some of these combinations will inevitably change, but Will’s point stands strong. It’s vital that England build a midfield that is solid, but also inventive and is able to inject searing pace when needed.
John Beattie on the BBC website…
This rings very true for us!
Writing something together is difficult. For example, I can’t tell you that I have just eaten a chocolate moose because it only applies to one of us and isn’t very interesting, although if we turned this into a guessing game where the readers received a series of small cluelettes as to who had eaten the moose and then had to guess to win a star prize, it would be more interesting but much less about rugby, and that’s what this is, a rugby blog or web log.
So more pertinently, one of us, whose name begins with Gus and ends in An, am I able to say I don’t think Thierry Dusautoir should have won IRB World Player of the year? This is my first opportunity to publically air this personal grievance since my World Cup blog so triumphantly petered out into something forgotten about but very much enjoyed, neigh, cherished at the time.
Last season Thierry Dusautoir’s team, Biarritz, came fifth in the Top 14 after being thumped by Clermont 27-17 in the quarter-finals, a match he missed as he was too lazy or injured or something to play.
So lets cast our scathing eyes to the other nominations:
Piri Weppu, good World Cup, sacked by Wellington Hurricanes.
Jerome Kaino, anyone remember his Super Rugby season? (We know that as a forward the means he was probably doing his job, whatever).
Ma’a Nonu, good World Cup, sent off repeatedly in the Super Rugby season once for punching Jimmy Cowan in the face for which we can all applaud him, but all the other times he had been naughty. And silly naughty not funny “set fireworks off in your pants” naughty.
David Pocock, we agree is quality, but plays for the Western Force who cannot be applauded for very much and was probably a bit shown up in the World Cup by other opensides. That is harsh.
Will Genia, brilliant player, great season, poor World Cup.
Who then should have won? Well we’re ot the ruddy board, no-one is paying us for this but here are some suggestions:
Jonathan Sexton scored 138 points in Leinster’s Heineken Cup winning season, who also came second in the 10-11 Magners League after being beaten by Munster. And he had an average World Cup. But here we are selecting the player based on his team’s performance alone and not who we think is the best. And this is all about us.
That would probably be Quade Cooper last season, inspirational creative scowler patrolling the midfield of the Queensland Reds with seemingly accidental genius. Now broken in half granted but he fulfils most of the criteria.
Saying Dan Carter is like a cop out, it feels right and everyone can agree, so you obviously cant pick him. Israel Daag was possibly the best player at the World Cup but missed the entire Super Season due to brokenness, Conrad Smith is our favourite player but hasn’t been scintillating, so we are stumped. Nominations on a postcard and arguments on a stamp, enough of old stuff, lets move onto more current affairs…perhaps in summary form, we shall see.
Well done New Zealand, about time. The final was a semi-non-entity, which was a bit of a shame.
Richard Wigglesworth is injured for the entire season which is a shocking pity, he looked like a solution. Manu Tuilagi is a bit facially injured which is a semi-pity, he looks like we wouldn’t speak ill of him to his face.
John Smit players for Saracens, but then, most people do at some point. And when we say plays we mean sits on the bench, he is well over 50 now. Luke Donald Plays for Bath, and of course he will play brilliant club rugby and then never progress continuing his never ending homage to Charlie Hodgson, every slightly balding fly half from Halifax who plays in Manchester’s hero.
Wales continue to embarrass the morons at the RFU (that almost certainly means this blog won’t get reposted by them, although they are doing a wonderful job of embarrassing themselves without anyone else’s help, do you see a bangwagon?), by tethering down Ron Howley and Shaun Edwards on long term contracts. Although the Warren Gatland bed is still warm and glowing from his presence.
It seems likely that England Saxons coach Stuart Lancaster will take control of the full team for the six nations while everyone tries to talk Graham Henry into dissolving his legacy in New Zealand and undermining his reputation by taking some sort or Tsar role at the RFU. All this will be going on while Nick Mallett oohs and aahs about how much nicer it is in South Africa living with his family and stuff like that, and Jim Mallinder brings everyone in Twickenham apples.
James Haskell has joined the Highlanders to go and live in Dunedin. Hmm. In other non-rugby news, Sharne Warne will represent the Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash League. But back to business. Sonny Bill Williams has joined the Chiefs after decided to move away from Christchurch because he doesn’t find it fund, to Auckland to see his mum, and not to the Blues because they don’t want him.
Some odd and obscure, or more of both, rugby news: The Lions have won the Currie Cup in South Africa by miles causing their captain Josh Strauss to shave his beard off.
Good news now and George Ford, the Leicester fly half has won IRB Young Player of the Year and although we had never heard of him, it only seems fair to start to shovel unjust trust and expectation onto his scrum cap and throw him immediately into the England squad to prove everyone wrong in the next six nations. There is something to be said for out with the old and in with the new, we will genuinely miss Shawsey, Thomsoney and Tindalley. One of those is a bit of a public relations lie. Also Wilkinson and Flood, very little need for either now.
There are a whole bunch of Autumn internationals including The South vs The North for Help for Heroes and the Barbarians vs Australia. Friendly rugby has little charm, an expensive day out as well. Weatherspoons anyone? What are the chances of a 2015 World Cup ticket in England being available for less than £80? £40?
Back to Super Rugby, the season starts on Saturday 24th February 2012 with the Blues vs Crusaders at 6:35am so its all down hill from there and the Rebels, replete with D-Cip, K-Beale and Jimmy Connors start their campaign against the Waratahs on Friday 2nd March at 8:40am so no-one can watch that which is a shame as that team could be very interesting, although we think they are very unlikely to cause the injury devastated Waratahs a great deal of damage with what is still, a terrible weak pack.
I was on radio silence over the weekend when it came to Twitter. After some quality advice from our Chairman, Simon Matthews, I gave myself an extra hour of sleep on Saturday morning and chose to watch the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals on ITV+1. This meant that no form of live media (social or otherwise) would be allowed even close to my peripheral vision. I couldn’t know the score, or else it would ruin my morning. Twitter is well and truly off limits in these situations.
England went on to ruin my morning anyway. But my Twitter silence meant an unusual sporting weekend for me and my followers. My friends and colleagues have become quite used to my stream of sporting tweets during rugby matches (and throughout the working week), and thus found my silence disconcerting. “Didn’t you watch the game on Saturday, Mike – I didn’t see your ramblings on Twitter?” became a familiar question.
This got me thinking… Over half of my followers are either workmates or PR contacts and probably have no interest in rugby. So what do I use Twitter for? And why exactly do 251 people follow me?
The answer to both questions is a bit of a mixture, including (but not exclusively): building my PR “brand”, connecting with journalists, chatting with friends, sharing quirky news stories, and pushing endless rants about England’s rugby team. But just posing these raises an interesting point: to what extent should one build a single online persona (across the board, mine is @miketheharris) or splice our personal interests / work / client focal points into multiple outlets?
It turns out that people have thought about this already, and from what I can see, the general consensus is “have as many as you need”. A fair number of people have multiple, very successful personas. See, for example, my Fishburn Hedges colleague @MrRCSaunders / @bridgeviews, or the BBC journalist @BBCRoryCJ / @ruskin147.
But online giants Facebook and Google are certainly pushing us in the direction of a single account, with Google+ in particular asking us to use different ‘circles’ to splice content meant for different audiences. I personally don’t think I could cope with umpteen different Twitter accounts with different focal points. I would definitely get confused between @mikepr, @mikeenergy, @mikefinancialservices, @mikeeconomics, @mikesport and @mikeotherthingsthathaventbeencoveredelsewhere.
The key for me is finding a balance in one’s tweets, a balance that does not alienate anyone in your “Twittersphere” (or at least not for too long). That’s the nature of agency life – you can’t keep everyone happy all the time, but at least you can introduce them to something new. At the moment, it’s safe to say that I’ve not found that balance. Currently, my “work” followers get a pretty raw deal, although this may be because they are more tolerant of sporting tweets than my “rugby” followers are of tweets about financial regulation.
No, I mustn’t make excuses… In fact, I’ve set myself a challenge. I’m going to endeavour to rebalance my Twitter “timeline” by making sure that at least one in every four tweets is PR related. If done well, this could open my rugby followers up to the fascinating world of corporate communications. But if done badly, I could lose half my audience!
Of course, this doesn’t apply to weekends!