If anyone is in any doubt that rugby is a smarter game than football, look at Mario Itoje.
He is a second row forward for England. His job is to put his head between the sweating buttocks of a hooker and a prop, and push. And to jump in the lineout. And, if he can, to make a yard or so every time he gets the ball, before being tackled to the ground.
Mario Itoje does all of these things, excellently well, and more. He is 6 ‘ 5”, which helps. And clearly very strong indeed.
He is also a very talented athlete. Ant yet more, he was educated at Harrow, and got 3 A grades at A level. Well, yes, I hear you say, A grades are not what they used to be. Grade inflation has devalued the brand. Even so: how many football players have A levels at all, let alone at A grade?
It is all counterintuitive, you might think. Rugby looks such a physical game. And yet, it is a game of considerable complexity. Mere muscle always loses out to muscle + a highly Continue reading
A different sort of quiz this time, for all new experts in the game of football.
There are 15 knock-out matches to go, now the competition has reached the last 16. Here they are numbered: all you have to do is predict which team will win which match.
The prediction has to be made today, before you know who will be playing who in the quarter and semi finals, or the final.
One point for each correct prediction. Simple. Post your answers either here or on my Facebook Continue reading
The sports press are having a whale of a time.
Both England and Belgium are now certain of qualifying from their group in the World Cup, and bizarrely, it seems so there might be an advantage for either team to lose in their final group game, against each other, since losing will probably mean less strong opposition in the next round.
One might think this is all FIFA’s fault, in arranging a draw which leads to such a bizarre circumstance. And what miserable sourpusses they are for now warning the teams of sanctions if they try to lose. A game in which both parties are trying to lose would be great fun!
Then again, it might be even more fun watching a game in which each team is trying to lose, but at the same time pretending that it is trying to win.
However things turn out, there might well be a bit of “Nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more” from whichever team loses. Continue reading
The FIFA World Cup is going on right now in Russia. Living in Australia, there is a very different perspective than that from England.
Both England and Australia have qualified, but neither has much realistic prospect of winning, or even doing that well. England is better placed, you might think. After all, England has won the competition in the past (although that was quite a long time ago). It has one of the best football leagues in the world (although quite a lot of the players in that are foreign). And dammit, we invented the game in the first place. Nevertheless, the prevailing mood in the English press is one of diffident self-mockery, recognising the unlikelihood of success.
By contrast, Australia is thoroughly gung ho. For sure, Australia punches well above its weight in sporting terms for a nation of only 24 million people. It has done well to even qualify but its track record is not good. Since it first qualified in 1974, it is played 15 World Cup matches, and only won only two of them. One of those was against Japan, and so does not really count. Nevertheless, the experts on the Australian commentary teams are thoroughly upbeat, saying in advance of each match, “Yes, we can do it”. They don’t of course. With one match to go, it looks virtually certain that Australia will be knocked out, not having won any of its matches this time either. And yet the Ozzie pundits are still in there enthusing. If Australia wins its last match against Peru 20-0, and if France make monkeys out of Denmark (or is it the other way round?), they confidently predict that Continue reading
One of the sillier things about F1 motor racing is the grid girls. They have been a feature of the sport for many years, standing around smiling, but doing not a lot.
Their excuse is to hold lollipops to show who is who on the starting grid. Continue reading
The resignation of Sir Ivan Rogers as the UK’s ambassador to the EU is both welcome and appropriate.
This is not criticise his professional abilities. But to have a Remainian in post during the Brexit negotiations would be like having a fascist as PM during WWII, or a communist as head of MI6 during the cold war, or a member of the KKK in charge of race relations.
We need as our ambassador someone who wants in his or her heart to get on with Brexit, and to do it promptly, properly and thoroughly.
A particularly striking need for the UK to escape the EU emerged a week or so ago from the Government’s consultation document Technical consultation on motor insurance: consideration of the European Court of Justice ruling in the case of Damijan Vnuk v Zavarovalnica Triglav d.d (C-162/13). It does not sound very exciting, but it is a real Continue reading
Lewis Hamilton Unrepentant
Just a few days after the Brexit decision by the voters of the UK, German driver Nico Rosberg attempted to run English driver Lewis Hamilton off the track in the Austrian Grand Prix. It was on the last lap, when the faster Hamilton was overtaking the slower Rosberg. Rosberg’s brakes were already damaged and the result of the collision was that Hamilton won the race and Rosberg limped home 4th with his car even more damaged. As I write this, the stewards are considering whether to further penalise the German for his poor behaviour.
The Austrian crowd booed Hamilton as he took his prize. Unsurprisingly, Hamilton was Continue reading
I posted a while ago about the Hillsborough Report, in which a panel set up by Liverpudlian Government Minister Andy Burnham and chaired by the Bishop of Liverpool, exonerated some Liverpool football fans. These were the fans who in 1989 crushed to death 96 other Liverpool fans while trying to get into a football ground in Yorkshire to watch a football match that was just starting. The finding was that the fans who did the crushing were not at all responsible for those deaths. It was all the fault of the police and other authorities.
Now, in case you, dear reader, are American or otherwise a bit vague about English geography, I should explain that the north of England is divided by the Pennines, a range of hills which runs North-South. The Pennines are too hilly for anything much apart from a National Park. On the West is Lancashire: the two big cities are Liverpool and Manchester. And on the East is Yorkshire, including York and Sheffield. There has been a bit of rivalry between them. In 1455, for example, they went to war, and stayed at war for 30 years. Exact figures are hard to come by, but perhaps about 50,000 people were killed in that conflict; it was ended, ironically, by a Welshman, Henry Tudor, at the Battle of Bosworth, who promptly got himself Continue reading
Romeo and Juliet would now both liable to lengthy prison sentences for sexual offences including “grooming”
Some months ago, young man and a young woman engaged in some snogging and even some heavy petting in his car in the North of England. It was entirely consensual; they had been exchanging messages about getting together.
Why, you might ask, is this normal if somewhat tawdry behaviour of any concern to any of us? The answer is that the intrusion of the heavy arm of the law on this occasion has proved to be hugely damaging, both the young man and the rest of us who pay tax.
The young woman in question was 15 years old, and for most of the population of most of Europe, the behaviour of this young couple would have been absolutely lawful; the pair of them could have snogged, heavily petted and bonked to their hearts content, so long as they were both willing. These sorts of interactions are very common; it seems that about a quarter of young English women first experience sexual Continue reading
It is nice to see that England are currently top of the Six Nations Rugby table. But playing Ireland on Sunday – could be tough.
Meanwhile the Welsh girls are leading the women’s rugby equivalent. The English girls beat Italy the other day 39 – 7, but somehow I find it hard to warm to the concept of Women’s Rugby.
It’s not that I think women should stay in the kitchen. More that blue stockings are more attractive Continue reading
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