Thursday, 26 September 2013

European club rugby - what's the future?

The Heineken Cup-Rugby Champions Cup saga rumbles on. Read my exclusive interview with Premiership Rugby's Bruce Craig, in which he warns of "financial oblivion" for Pro12 clubs if administrators try to frustrate plans for the Rugby Champions Cup. There's also audio of the interview that I did for the BBC.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Warriors and Exiles

It's a trip to Sixways for me tomorrow where I'll be broadcasting for the BBC at Worcester Warriors Vs London Irish and reporting for The Rugby Paper. I'll be expert summariser on BBC Hereford & Worcester; a link to the commentary and all other BBC rugby commentaries this weekend can be found here.

Friday thoughts on Freddie Burns, Dean Richards & Richard Cockerill

Gloucester’s Freddie Burns will make his 100th appearance for the Cherry and Whites this weekend when they travel to Sarries. One hundredth appearance? Incredible, really, given that it seems just a jiffy ago that I was asking Burns' lanky, teenage frame what it was like playing his first pre-season friendly against his home-town club, Bath.
So the hundred’s up for Freddie, aged just 23. And for all his Bath roots, he is perfectly happy to now describe himself as a Gloucester boy. I wouldn’t bet against him chalking up 300 appearances for Gloucester during his career.
Burns was, and remains, the one who got away for Bath.


Last season, Bath collectively psyched themselves up for their home encounter with Leicester by watching the video of the 2008 game in which Butch James scored one of the most implausible match-winning tries ever. That last-gasp score was inspiring enough, but even more inspiring was the physical tenacity that Bath brought to their play that November day.

Butch James's modest celebration at The Rec, 2008
As a preparation tactic for last season’s game, it worked a treat. Bath won another pulsating game with another late try by another swan-diving South African – this time it was Francois Louw.
So, how have Bath prepared for Saturday’s 100th anniversary match with Leicester? By watching DVDs of those two fixtures, you'd expect. And with Louw away on Rugby Championship duty, it might be handy for the West Country side to bus in an additional South African or two for the occasion.


Nilling a team when you are away from home is never a bad way to start a season. Bath’s performance against Newcastle last Friday was controlled, controlling and perfectly adapted to the conditions.
From beginning to end, it was a consummately professional showing. And I haven’t been able to write that too many times in recent seasons.
Newcastle were thoroughly beaten up. All of which made the post-match remark by Falcons boss Dean Richards that “Against bigger sides, Bath will become unstuck” distinctly perplexing.
Well, Dean, if Bath will become unstuck, then the outlook doesn’t look great for your nilled Falcons, does it?


Talking of motormouthed coaches, it just won’t be the same on Saturday without Leicester boss Richard Cockerill in the stands. No more shouts of “That’s embarrassing, referee!” and the like.
Cockers is currently banned from being involved with Leicester on match-days following his outburst during the Premiership final, the transcript of which would no doubt be deserving of a Tarantino script. Still, it will be quieter in the West Stand on Saturday. And referee Greg Garner will be able to leave his earplugs at home.
For all his hollering and desk-thumping, I’d still rather have Cockerill there for a ding-dong Bath-Leicester scrap. He brings passion and unpredictability – two ingredients for any compelling spectacle. But then it’s not me who gets bawled at by him. Not yet, anyway.