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Random Ramblings from the past.
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
22 October, 2007 08:45
October 2007

Bristol University 0 Hartpury College 76

Alas, Bristol University were overwhelmed by Hartpury College last Wednesday, losing 76-0. The gulf was enormous and despite a plucky and even at times skilful performance featuring Bristol's Dave Atwood in the pack and Greg Nicholls, ex of Bristol and now, I believe at London Welsh, in the centre but studying Medicine at Bristol, Hartpury College were scoring by the end of the game at will.

So, on to this week coming, Wednesday 24th October 2007, kick off is, for the benefit of the University's coach, Ben Sturnham at 2 pm, with Bath University at home to Bristol University.

They play up on the hill at Claverton Down, in the Sports training Village where England's Mens Rugby recently trained, on the University campus. Visitors might like to gaze at the concrete bob sleigh training course that runs along the side of the pitch and resembles some sort of secret V1 launch pad from World War Two.

Could this be the source of the England's team fascination with the story of the Jamaican bob sleigh team in the Olympics, the subject matter of the film "Silent running". I see it now, bob sleighs dont have engines and thus run silent!

If you click on the link to the BUSA website fixture list you will see that last seasons BUSA finalists, the victorious Hartpury College and their opponents UWIC, meet next Wednesday at Hartpury, ten miles to the north of Gloucester. There is no kick off time. It could be an evening kick off under lights as it was last season when Bristol Uni played there.

Last week UWIC beat fancied Exeter so this will be the tie of the qualifying group. May see you at Bath?



Edited 113 time(s). Last edit at 29/09/2013 10:49 by SenorJuan.

University of Bristol lose at home to Exeter University.
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
24 October, 2007 18:29
Bristol University began their campaign for the 2008 Busa Championship last Wednesday with a home defeat at the hands of their great rivals Exeter University by 0-25.

This coming Wednesday at Coombe Dingle, 25.10.2007, kick off 2.15pm, they take on the all conquering Hartpury College, who last year won the final at Twickenham defeating Durham University in a classic encounter. Based to the north of Gloucester, Hartpury provide the Premiership team of Gloucester RFC with their training ground, and the success of the two teams are no doubt linked. Unusually Hartpury play on Saturdays in the National league pyramid and have progressed, unbeaten, from the bottom division, Gloucester Three to Gloucester One and now stand at the top of that table ready for the next level, no doubt, next season. I would imagine that they will rise at least to National Division South, Dings and Clifton's level, before meeting serious opposition.

For those of you free, an entertaining afternoon is assured next Wednesday. For the diary, lovers of the exotic should visit Exeter Chiefs splendid new stadium at Sandy Park on the night of Wednesday, November the 28th, kick off is at 7.30 pm, for Bristol University's return fixture in the group stages of the BUSA Championship against Exeter University.

This is promoted as a "Varsity" match and attracted about 5,000 students last year, the atmosphere was different to say the least, and pitted two great teams against each other in a dramatic see saw encounter going Exeter's way in the final minute.

Sandy Park is south of Exeter on the east bank of River Exe the estuary towards Exmouth and but a short train ride from Exeter Central, passing on its way the quaintly delapidated home of Exeter City Football Club comfortably rotting away in the lower leagues, a vast rusting collection of corrugated iron sheeting named grandly, St. James Park. There's been talk of them ground sharing with the Chiefs.

Nearer to home Bristol University play the week after next Wednesday, away to Bath University, up on the top of the hill, kick off at 2pm on the 24th October.

For further information on other fixtures and results click here []

Edited 7 time(s). Last edit at 06/11/2012 17:26 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: Bath University 10 Bristol University 30 at Bath Wednesday 2.00pm 24th October 2007
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
24 October, 2007 19:00
I've just returned from a very pleasant trip by train and bendy bus up to the top of the hill above Bath to see Bristol University excel in beating a very determined Bath University side.

This was Bristol University rugby at its best, under the influence of RFU Rugby Development officer, Andy Farndon. Intelligent, controlled, robust, imaginative, opportunistic and ruthless in the seizing upon the slightest of misjudgements by an increasingly frustrated Bath team, this result, coming after the drubbing Bristol had received at the hands of Hartpury College the week before, was a welcome surprise, to say the least.

The incredibly extensive and lavish facilities for Sport of all kinds that is catered for at Bath University, funded by the Sports Council, and providing the national centres for countless teams, have to be seen to be believed. Running tracks, indoor tennis courts, full size football pitches, all housed in a beautiful indoor arena, are really impressive.

But Bath University dont seem to have much of a tie in with Bath RFC. Thats a pity.

Walking back down Widdicombe Hill past elegant Georgian houses with Regency Bath lying below nestling around the distant Abbey, one becomes aware of what a very special place Bath is. A cultured jewel in the crown of English society. It was a pleasure to visit, and an even greater pleasure to watch Bristol University Rugby Club give their rivals a text book lesson in sporting and winning rugby.

Most amusing was Bath's assistant coach who was running the line and when his team's winger went plunging for the corner, in an exact rerun of the infamous Mark Cueto non try at the Stade de France in the World Cup final, the Bath University's wing slid his foot two feet across the touchline in play before touching down.

"Try" boldly announced the Bath touch judge, as the referee came over to seek his advice.

"Rubbish" I declared."I'm not interested" said the ref giving a try scored. The young lad right next to me videoing the game for Bath played it back, but the touch line was out of frame. Hilarious.

I had a nice chat with the very charming Dave Atwood who when not hammering seven bells out of opponents on the rugby field is studying Astronomy and Philosophy at Bristol. He says Richard Hill, the Bristol Rugby coach, was taking the Mickey after the press had described him as one for the future, and "the thinking man's Martin Johnson."

"Any thoughts Dave?" asked Bristols coach?

"Not really," mumbled Dave, all shy and embarrassed...."that's so unfair!"

For more results and coming fixtures click here[]

Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 11/09/2013 09:04 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: Bath University 10 Bristol University 30 at Bath Wednesday 2.00pm 24th October 2007
Gullible (IP Logged)
24 October, 2007 20:16
This was a strange game with Bath threatening to overwhelm Bristol early on. Bristol, much the smaller side, played with great enterprise and secured a win which must have done something to restore morale after the Hartpury mauling.

The Bristol half backs played exceptionally well and the fresher scrum half, Williams, son of ex Gloucester player and current Lydney coach, Peter Williams, looks a very good prospect. He has a fine service and is generally busy and very aware of the options.

For those of you lucky enough or old enough to be able to watch rugby on a Wednesday afternoon, the BUSA league has much to commend it.

Re: Bristol University vs St Mary's University College London Wednesday 2.15pm 31st October 2007
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
30 October, 2007 17:55
Tomorrow Bristol University take on their old rivals St Marys at Coombe Dingle. After their splendid, if surprising, win last week away to Bath, Bristol must be looking forward to the challenge that this eccentric and often appallingly behaved team of dumb sporting paddy teacher training hoolies always present.

Their unsporting behaviour is guaranteed to send any right thinking lover of the game incandescent with rage and despair of what standards are being encouraged in the teachers of tommorow . I'm just hoping things may have improved, but I shan't be holding my breath, even if eager to attend.

Those clicking on the link to the Busa web site will see that Unversity of Wales Institute cardiff {UWIC} turned the tables on all conquering Hartpury, Busa champions last year last week with a narrow win 17-16 away.

And next Exeter take on Hartpury. Should be interesting. Hope to see you there at leafy Coombe Dingle.


Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/05/2008 09:31 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: Bristol University 6 , St Mary's University College London 16 Wednesday 2.15pm 31st October 2007
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
01 November, 2007 20:47
After the heady heights of Bristol's away to win to Bath a week ago, this game was as gloomy as the grey cool clouds that scudded across the Coombe Dingle sky.

Bristol kept it tight, and lead 6-0 until near half time and after conceding a penalty they quickly conceded a try.

In the second half the quietly efficient St Mary's team, splendidly enrobed in their royal blue and white quarters with Roman numerals on their backs and one blue sock and the other white, seemed to persuade Bristol to continuously either drop the ball in haste, or kick it away straight to their eagerly awaiting hands.

A late try for St Marys sent us all away of pondering why is it some teams can play great one week and the next not? What is it that makes a good team?

St Marys, apart from a brief outburst of unconstrained violence in the first half, behaved impeccably, unlike some of the Bristol academic supporters who seemed to be insanely incensed by some imperceptible incompetence by the poor touch judges. Its good to see that Professor Bob Reeves, Commanding Officer of Sport at Bristol still has red blood pumping in his veins however.

Try again next week, away to Cardiff. I might combine it with a run down the Taff trail on my bike. See you there?

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/05/2008 09:37 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: Bristol University 6 , St Mary's University College London 16 Wednesday 2.15pm 31st October 2007
SBOB.RFC (IP Logged)
02 November, 2007 09:21
Thanks for the report William.

I studied at St Marys back in the early 90's and I remember travelling to Coombe Dingle to play against Bristol Uni. For a very small college with a 4:1 ratio of boys to girls (in our favour(Sm100) we had a strong side. Though unfortunately we had our backsides soundly beaten by about 40 points with a certain scrum half by the name of Bracken scoring x5 tries.

How things change.....

Re: Bristol University 6 , St Mary's University College London 16 Wednesday 2.15pm 31st October 2007
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
06 November, 2007 19:31
07/11/2007 Cardiff University Men's 1st - University of Bristol Men's 1st
Address Mendip Road, Llanrumney, Cardiff
Postcode CF3 4JN (go to Multimap)
Tel. no. 02920 877377
Surface Grass
Directions M4-branch left-A48M Cardiff-Docks(dual carriageway). Take exit-A4161 signposted- Docks into Southern Way then- take inside lane(under) the flyover. At the roundabout take first left up Rumney Hill. Traffic lights in Rumney- inside lane and straight across approx 20 yards-turn left into Llanrumney Ave , Eastern Leisure Centre on your right turn opposite the Leisure Centre into Ball Road then down hill and (at the bottom) turn sharp left into Hartland Road. Where houses stop turn right - car park on the left.
For map []

May see you there? Cardiff are one of the weaker teams and Bristol may come away with a win. Hopefully a coach will be going from the University Union about 11.00am and there is usually room for the odd supporter, {not too odd hopefully}.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/11/2007 19:40 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: Cardiff University 14 Bristol University 22 Wed 7th November 2007
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
16 November, 2007 07:42
Bristol ensured that they would progress into the play offs with an impressive win over plucky wooden spoon contenders, Cardiff University. The big beefy battle-hardened Coach to the Cardiff University team informed me that his team was mostly made up of first year students, as the Welsh RFU Academy boys, of which there were 18 studying at Cardiff University, were not allowed to compete by their clubs, thus undermining his team. The BUSA championship is really top quality rugby, and where better to showcase your talent than this, but once again the WRFU displays the typical arrogance and narrow minded attitude of the "professionals".

Be that as it may, Cardiff competed fiercely, and the game swung to and fro' with Bristol scoring a game breaking try from strong running in the backs and a late try in the second half from a rolling maul. Greg Nicholls played well at scrum half and Dave Atwood, as ever, was a formidable presence in the forwards.

I talked to the Cardiff subs on the touch line about their game the week before against St Marys and asked them how they got on, as the score was mysteriously missing from the BUSA web site. There had been an "incident", they sheepishly admitted.

The game between St Mary's Teacher Training College, Twickenham and Cardiff University three weeks ago had ended at half time with St Mary's leading 20-0, when Cardiff refused to continue, objecting to the behaviour of drunken hordes of St Mary's fans spitting and swearing at the Cardiff team, even tripping one of them up as he ran past.

The Cardiff coach, even though a very beefy Welshman, told me he was genuinely scared by the atmosphere. There is to be a BUSA disciplinary enquiry into the affair.(Points were deducted from both teams at a later date.)

St Mary's is a famous Roman Catholic college with a large Irish contingent. Having watched their yobbish behaviour both on and off the pitch when playing against Bristol University, I wonder what the children of the future will learn from these drunken louts.

Meanwhile in the up to date round of games, Hartpury trounced Bath 79-12.

Next week Wednesday 2.15pm 21st November, Bristol face the all powerful UWIC, University of Wales Institute Cardiff at Coombe Dingle. Their strength comes from the fact that they are mainly above rugby academy age, mostly postgraduate teacher training students in the sports sciences.

For a complete fixture list []

And for the current table []

Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 11/09/2013 09:39 by WilliamBlessing.

I have no idea why this is vacant.
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
20 November, 2007 07:28
Post deleted?

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 06/11/2012 17:33 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: Bristol University 15 University of Wales UWIC 17, 21st November 2007 Coombe Dingle2.15pm
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
22 November, 2007 09:47
Bristol University 15 University of Wales UWIC 17, 21st November

One approached this game as a casual observer expecting yet another plucky, skilful performance from Bristol University as they were ritually hammered by the odd 70 points to nil by the high rollers of Welsh University rugby, UWIC.

UWIC is a small post graduate college specialising in Sports and their age is subsequently higher than other Universities.

As a consequence they seemed to be at least twice the size of their plucky hosts.Both sides, in traditional rugby fashion, opted to wear virtually identical strips, whilst referreed by a brightly and exotically garbed black South African, over here with many other of his fellow citizens to watch the celebratory World cup victory tour game against Wales this weekend.

Like all refs he had swallowed the rule book whole but alas not his whistle and naturally had also lost his glasses somewhere, but hey ho, whats new?

And so we waited for the flood gates to open. But someone, including a fumbling, bumbling UWIC, hadn't been reading the script. Bristol took the lead and incisive running by the Bristol no. 12 carved open the UWIC line with only a solitary quaking defender blocking the clean sweep of the Bristol backs, and we all waited for that classic pass to the right centre with his wing outside of him.

But once again, the Bristol centre three quarter also hadn't been reading the script and decided to attempt to seek out the Welsh pack rushing back which he had no difficulty in finding and so, no try, to the exasperation of the onlooking crowd.

But UWIC continued to fugg everything up in sight, and Bristol took the lead and held the lead 15-10 until the last five minutes, when, finally locating the script and turning to the last page, "a late winning converted try to UWIC", the play was completed, but not to Bristol's satisfaction.

Could Bristol University be on the cusp of something special? UWIC had 8 players out injured. Next week Bristol are away to Exeter University and play at Sandy Park, palatial home of Exeter Chiefs where Danny Gray, Sean Marsden and Saul Nelson now tread the luscious turf. Names that bring back memories of happy days. The kick off is 7.15pm.

The group stages continue until February, and the 6 top teams of the table of 7 from both Groups North and South go through to the knock outs, making 12 teams augmented by the top two teams in the two second divisions North and South giving 16 teams.

UWE are in the lower division and do not look likely to be making the play offs. For a view of UWE's position in the second division, namely Mens Rugby, BUSA Southern Division group B, see on link below..


Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 11/09/2013 09:44 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: Exeter University vs Bristol University 28th November 2007 Sandy Park, Chiefs Ground 7.30pm
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
26 November, 2007 20:43
28/11/2007 , 19:30 University of Exeter Men's 1st - University of Bristol Men's 1st reversed fixture for varsity, held at Sandy Park

Last season a huge attendance of about 5,000 Exeter students turned Sandy park into one huge outdoors night club with a rugby match in the middle. Worth attending if possible.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/12/2007 20:17 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: Exeter University vs Bristol University 28th November 2007 Sandy Park, Chiefs Ground 7.30pm
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
10 December, 2007 20:26
Bristol University play their last game before a mid winter break, when they take on Bath University this Wednesday at Coombe Dingle.

Over the past two weeks Bristol have lost on their travels to both Exeter, by 23-8, and Hartpury College by 54-0. I would have been able to report on these games if I had been able to attend, in fact I tried to get to watch the game at Hartpury but a puncture on my bike made me miss the coach, and when I got to Gloucester railway station, the next bus would have got me there with only half an hour to go, so I abandoned the mission.

Never the less I shall be able to watch this one coming up. Hope to see you there. By the way may I pay tribute to the excellent sporting entertainment provided by Bristol University 2nd XV who have beaten recently their much bigger opponents The University of Glamorgan (Ponytpridd), with a fine display of plucky rugby.

Re: Bristol University 37 Bath University 7 Wednesday 12th. Dec 2007, Coombe dingle 2.15pm
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
12 December, 2007 17:13
Bristol University completed the double over their neighbours Bath with a fine display of champagne flowing rugby, and whilst Bath were not short of biff and bam, they ended up clutching at shadows as the Bristol team passed out of the tackle with great skill, penetrating the Bath defences with pace, power and verve.

For the game before the Christmas break, Professor Bob Reeves, who as a young man was part of the coaching team at Bristol's John Player Cup triumph at Twickenham back in 1983, traditionally invites old players for a dinner, and in attendance at the game beforehand were some of the great and the good, including Simon Halliday, Mark Tainton and Nigel Wray, the Saracens money man. Also, fresh from their triumph in the Varsity match was Ross Blake and James Lumby, last years No 8 for Bristol University.

Both Ross and James have succeeded in getting jobs in the City, passing eight interviews on the way, good luck to both of them. For Bristol this year their Captain and centre, Butler stood out. He seemed to have an uncanny knack of running into a crowd of players and then emerging with the ball, whilst Dave Atwood showed promise of having the devil that is necessary to progress into the professional game. One head down charge into the Bath defence left his opponents skittled like nine pins, nursing their heads and drew gales of laughter from the crowd for its comic explosive effect.

So amidst an idyllic setting sun the crowd and the players drifted home, some to carouse the night away, others to get ready for work tommorow.

Re: St Marys Colleg 13 Bristol University 6 Wed 30 01 2008
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
31 January, 2008 20:45
I'm unable to attend these games, but for those free to watch, Bristol University, continued their campaign with a narrow defeat away to St Mary's. If anyone is able to post a report, then please do so on this thread.

This Wednesday Bristol are at home to Cardiff University at Coombe Dingle, 6th February, kick off 2.15pm.

Re: University of the West of England v University of Worcester, Wed 2.00pm. Clifton RFC 05 03 2008
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
05 March, 2008 12:12
UWE v Worcester play this afternoon at Clifton RFC in the opening rounds of the knock out stage of the BUSA cup for the second division competition.

Bristol University are in the senior cup but there is no mention on the relevant Busa website as to when these games start and who they are playing. Typical Uni rugby info drought.

If you, like me, have a day off you might enjoy watching the Breeze Block Uni, UWE team play at Bristol's newish training and administrative headquarters.

For those wishing to go to Coombe Dingle there are a couple of Inter mural matches which often provide rip roaring rugby entertainment guaranteed to restore your appetite after that rather heavy Sunday Dinner we had to swallow at Ashton Gate.

See you there?

For a progress report on Bris Uni's campaign there seems to be some activity now here....[]

and for UWE's cup run see here...[]

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/03/2008 12:23 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: University of the West of England 28 University of Worcester 0 Wed 2.00pm. Clifton RFC 05 03 2008
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
05 March, 2008 16:59
UWE 28 Worcs Uni 0

A small crowd, including Bristol's coaching triumvirate of Messrs Hill, Hull and Brain, who watched from behind the smoked glass of their offices looking out on to the playing field, were entertained by an honest and robust contest, in which UWE progressed through to the next round of this cup for the second tier teams in which the Northern Division's top six sides out of a seven team league play off against their Southern equivalent counterparts.

Worcester crept into the contest in 6th place in their Northern Division, and UWE finished third in theirs, so the result went to form.

But not without a struggle. Two converted tries to Bristol in the first half gave a 14-0 lead that was briefly threatened for a spell in the second half as Worcester fought for a try, but after the seige was lifted, UWE returned up field and scored two more converted tries, one that was pure bubbling champagne.

Of the notable celebrities exiting the Bristol Offices was the one and only Geoff Twentyman who had been interviewing Rob Higgit and Richard Hill for a piece on Radio Bristle, and through the darkened glass, was that John Brain smiling at me?

Always a nice place to cycle out to, the smell of spring daffodils and freshly mown grass mingling with car exhaust, and as the sunshine subsided into late afternoon gloom, I returned home to Horfield on my bike pondering what to write. A spell on the bog seemed to bring me some small inspiration, and I hope I havent upset Mr Another Board too much.

The latest update of the Busa Cup results show that Bristol University lost narrowly by 32 points to 25 away to Leeds Carnegie University. That sounds a good game. []

So UWE now carry the torch into the next round away a week today on 12th March, to Edinburgh. The pace quickens.


Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 05/03/2008 17:13 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: Edinburgh University 15 Uni of West of England 23
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
17 March, 2008 21:39
UWE are through to the semi final of the Busa second tier cup by beating Edinburgh on Sunday away from home. The web site doesnt specify where they will be playing, but it could be updated soon.

Even better someone from UWE might even post on this thread to keep us informed.

Cup draw []

By the way UWE play in white red and black hoops, if that doesnt get certain rugby lovers excited, nothing will.

Meanwhile in the senior cup the big boys clash at unannounced neutral grounds this Wednesday 19th March.

UWIC take on Hartpury whilst Exeter face Loughborough. Anyone know where these games are being played?

Senior cup draw []

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 17/03/2008 21:44 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: Edinburgh University 15 Uni of West of England 23
Yawny yawny yawn yawn (IP Logged)
17 March, 2008 23:16

William. Other than a couple of short posts, have you wondered why no-one else has posted on this thread?

It is a Bristol Rugby board meaning for Bristol Rugby club. If you are not interested in Bristol Rugby, perhaps you ought to go away and watch the rugby you are interested in and talk to people who are also interested in it.

I don't get your angle.

Re: Edinburgh University 15 Uni of West of England 23
Jim H (IP Logged)
18 March, 2008 07:21
How is the UWE not a part of Bristol? Personally, although not always a fan of Williams ramblings, quite enjoy hearing about how some of the clubs (and the uni's) are doing. Any chance of reviewing a Kingswood game for me William?

Re: Edinburgh University 15 Uni of West of England 23
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
18 March, 2008 08:28
Mr Yawny,

As it happens I read the recent review of the Newcastle Falcons Bristol game and thought what a pleasant piece of writing it was and mentally thanked the writer for it.

Apart from a few typographical errors that could have been tidied up, it eloquently described the game for me without making the common mistake of over doing the detail which the absent reader cant quite picture.

But I didnt comment. Perhaps I should have but I just felt like keeping a low profile. My mistake. My apologies to the unknown writer. As for your finding the reports of University rugby, well its pretty obvious isnt it?

When I get the Sunday Times I spend about ten minutes binning adverts for body hair removing gells, holidays in Hawaii and House buying , business appointments,finance and Motoring. But someone must be interested. But I dont read them. Yes it's a bit irritating for me to have to do. Sorry to irritate you likewise.

As for the Universities of UWE and Bristol, there are about 50,000 students there, and some of them follow their teams and go on to support Bristol. From UWE we have recruited Simon Shaw, from Bristol Uni we have seen John Webb, John Carr, Fraser Walters, Josh Lewsey, Matt Denny, Keiren Bracken and many many more. They are an obvious source of talent, and reporting and being interested in their progress both as teams and as individuals are natural as a Bristol supporter.

Never the less Mr Yawn I thank you for comments and note them for further consideration. Whilst we are on the subject, what a joy it is to see our team go up the table. I knew Pier's pessimism would eventually pay off.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/11/2012 17:37 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: Edinburgh University 15 Uni of West of England 23
30 something (IP Logged)
18 March, 2008 08:42
Morning william,
I personally like reading the post on how the uni gets on, as I would go if there were no work issue.
So thank you for the updates.

Re: Edinburgh University 15 Uni of West of England 23
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
18 March, 2008 08:53
Mr Short Fews,

Thanks for your kind words. A word of warning to those who have a tendency to yawn. I have a description in my mind ready to post, of a cycle ride I took last late summer down the Taff trail from Merthyr Tydfil at the top of the valley to Pontypridd 12 miles below.

And it doesnt have the slightest mention of rugby in it! The start of my "Rural rides" began with a ride through the Mendips along the Stawberry line from Yatton to Cheddar, and featured a stop off to have a sandwitch at Winscombe Cricket and Rugby club. On the tele was the British grand prix with a certain Lewis Hamilton in his car.

The joy of spring, the full turning of the circle. Praise the Lord!

Rural Rides..

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/11/2012 17:41 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: Edinburgh University 15 Uni of West of England 23
memnoch (IP Logged)
18 March, 2008 09:04
Keep up the good work William, if Mr Yawny does not want to read about the Uni games, then he just has to ignore this thread.

Shame he didn't have the nerve to log in.

Re: Edinburgh University 15 Uni of West of England 23
Speed King (IP Logged)
18 March, 2008 17:19
quite right memnoch butlets not start another ignoring thread here.

Re: Edinburgh University 15 Uni of West of England 23
Peter D (IP Logged)
18 March, 2008 17:52
What's a butlet?

Is it a small B**t?(Sm141)

Re: Edinburgh University 15 Uni of West of England 23
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
18 March, 2008 20:42
zzzzzzzzz......zzzzzz... I can hardly keep my eyes open here, but yawnnnnnnnn......a gentleman from the Exeter Site informs me that the game between Loughborough University and Exeter......" the semi final is being played at Imperial College Sports Ground, Teddington in London on Wednesday 19th March. Kick off 2.00pm."

Meanwhile in the junior cup Swansea Uni are at home to UWE.....tomorrow....probably.......Bring it on..... Other news gleaned from the Exeter Chiefs site is that Danny Gray has a deep seated groin strain that has kept him out for a while. And also Exeter Uni beat Bris Uni in "varsity" game 23-8 at Sandy Park, home of Exeter Chiefs. This was not a Busa league game.

chiefs board <[];

I wonder where Hartpury and UWIC are playing?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 18/03/2008 20:50 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: Edinburgh University 15 Uni of West of England 23
gran (IP Logged)
18 March, 2008 21:07
I once met a chap in the bar at Blarney Rugby Club, whose name was O'Yawney. After a few jars of the black stuff had loosened our tongues, he told me about a moonlit dalliance on top of the Blarney Stone with the wife of the local priest which resulted in the birth of an ugly son with five legs which they named Shauney Yawney, and promptly dumped in the well. Now the real story of the Blarney Stone is not what you think cant go on, this is about Bristol rugby,,,, sorry.

Re: Edinburgh University 15 Uni of West of England 23
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
18 March, 2008 21:14
How's the revolution going on down in Fiji Gran?

Any missionaries boiling away in a big pot? It seems to have gone a bit quiet.

Whats the weather like? Is it hot or not?

Re: Edinburgh University 15 Uni of West of England 23
gran (IP Logged)
18 March, 2008 21:24
Have a look at or if you want the official stuff. If you want the real dirt then look at the blogs on

Its boiling up, and not just for any new missionaries.
Seriously though, its bad, the economy is shot to pieces, and the Fijians are sufficiently peace loving not to take to the streets and start civil unrest. So we wait.... but for how long. Its a real shame, this aint Zimbabwe, but it does have its fair share of individuals who think they know more than the collective electorate.
Elections are supposed to take place early in 2009 but the outcome will inevitably be the return to power of the last Government. What happens in this case is that the Army Commander who is now the illegal PM will be up on a treason charge. So whilst he has a bullet in his gun, an election is unlikely and we will continue in limbo.
.....oops sorry Mr Yawney...

Re: Edinburgh University 15 Uni of West of England 23
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
18 March, 2008 21:32
Thanks Gran, I tried to read the links but I dont know who's who. So whats going on? Who's revolting and if so about what?

I gather its because the immigrant Chinese traders outsmart the locals still in their mud huts. Is this over simplfying things?

Re: Edinburgh University 15 Uni of West of England 23
gran (IP Logged)
18 March, 2008 22:07
Its basically the immigrant Indian community v the indigenous Fijian although this is simplifying things, but theres a lot of political trade off in playing the race card.
The Army Commander with the guns and support from a group of influential politicians who failed to get elected ousted the properly elected Government late in 2006, the 4th coup in 19 years.
Foreign aid stopped and tourism, the main industry, was badly affected. Australia and NZ get rightly exasperated in having to step in with more tax money to restore proper governance in the Pacific nations, having had to intervene in Solomon Is, Papua New Guinea, and bail out just about every other nation in the area.
But enough of this, the good news is that there is an endless supply of raw rugby talent. The issue that is almost as important as the coup, is the team for the HK 7.s where they are licking their wounds from successive IRB 7's defeats by NZ. (Afraid England might as well stay at home this year!) In fiji there is a cadre that would bring back 39 year old Serevi for yet another swan song in HK, and if they lose then the nation goes into collective depression.
But one final point, there is an enormous amount of raw natural talent at rugby, where pre school kids play with a coconut in every village. there is no telly, no electricity if the generator is not working, but there is rugby....

Re: University of Swansea 6 Uni of West of England 10
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
19 March, 2008 23:00
I've spent the day working, which involves listening to angry people shouting abuse at me much to my bemusement, but someone's got to do it, so I wasnt able to watch this game.

However thanks to the wonder of the Internet, the busa website informs me that UWE are through to the final of the junior cup to be played on Wednesday 23rd April at Richmond Athletics Ground.

Congratulations UWE. Can anyone tell us how the game went>


Meanwhile Hartpury edged past UWIC 17-15 and meet Loughborough in the Senior cup final at Twickenham on the same day.

Senior cup results and draw []

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 19/03/2008 23:09 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: University of Swansea 6 Uni of West of England 10
Liam Burns (IP Logged)
21 April, 2008 17:48
UWE are contesting the BUSA Trophy Final against Oxford Greyhounds at Richmond Athletic Ground, KO is 11am. The UWE Bristol Rugby Varsity is also at the Memorial Ground on wednesday the 30th and should be a very close game when you consider the contrasting seasons each university has had with Bristol only winning a few games, wherease UWE have gone from strength to strength as the season has progressed... Tickets are £7 on the gate.

2 Wins in the next two weeks could round off a very successful season for UWE Rugby!

Re: UWE vs Oxford Greyhounds Wed 23rd April 11.00am Richmond Athletic Ground Cup Final
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
21 April, 2008 21:17

Are there any coaches going up to Richmond on which anyone might travel? Will you be going onto to Twickers to watch Hartpury vs Loughborough?

Best of luck in the final and please keep us updated on this thread about how the game went and also the game to come against Bristol University.

Perhaps one of your talented student writers might like to try his hand at posting a report here?

I cant come as I am working, alas, but someone has to.

Re: UWE 12 Oxford Greyhounds 26, Hartpury College 23 Loughborough University 15. Busa Finals.
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
26 April, 2008 10:13
One is indebted to that excellent weekly journal, Rugby Times, for a report on the win at Twickenham last Wednesday by Hartpury over their great rivals in University rugby, Loughborough College.

The University of the West of England, (UWE) were less fortunate, losing to Oxford University Seconds, the Greyhounds, by 26 to 12. No report on this game appears to be available, no doubt the students are still recovering from the drowning of their sorrows.

One presumes that the game between UWE and the University of Bristol remains on course to be played 7.30 pm Wednesday 30th April at the Memorial Ground, perhaps a student could confirm this for us on this thread?

The fact that Hartpury is a college of UWE, all be it six miles North West of Gloucester, makes the achievement of this West Country educational institution all the remarkable, and something to widely applauded.

For those adventurous enough to invest 1 pound 50 a week, Rugby Times will inform you of all of the comings and goings of English Rugby right down to the lowest leagues. Looking at the comprehensive listing of all the final league tables, one can note that both Hartpury and Loughborough have been promoted from their respective divisions.

Hartpury continue unbeaten in about seven years of a continuous march up the pyramid to appear next season in Western Counties North, where they will be tested more by teams such as Stroud and Chosen Hill. However they are unlikely to be resisted for a few more years, and should begin to level out after going through South West Two West,(Barnstaple, Taunton etc), South West 1,(Weston Super Mare, Cleve, Clifton etc), and perhaps National Division Three South,(Dings, Cinderford etc).

At the same time Loughborough, likewise get promoted from Midlands One, to National Division Three North.

One prays that the RFU dont go ahead with plans to ring fence the Guinness Premiership and National Division One from divisions below. The pyramid sysyem is the life blood of rugby permitting free entry of any entrepreneur, any man or company with a dream and or money.

Cricket's ring fenced County Championship financed and ossified by the ECB has placed a dead hand on the summer game, and one about to be blown sky high by outside finance in India and from the billionaire Mr Stanford from the Carribean.

Keep rugby free! Listen to the old farts. No to a cartel! Teams like Mounts Bay, Pirates, Exeter and many others need to have a dream.

And this afternoon at North Bristol, just beyond the roundabout at Aztec West and before the Almondsbury interchange, those of you who must have their outdoor fix can watch them take on Chew valley, coached by Mark Regan,( how many more teams is he coaching as well as Clifton?) in the play off game for promotion to Western Counties North from Gloucester Premier Division. North Bristol were runners up to all conquering Hartpury who gained automatic promotion.

Finally one notes that next year Clifton RFC will be playing in the same league as Cleve following their most unfortunate relegation. Despite a heroic away victory at relegation rivals Havant, Clifton went down when Mounts bay fielded a second team away to Barking and lost leaving Barking up and Clifton "barking mad".

Judging by Cleve's brutal demolition of Clevedon in the final of the Bristol Combination Cup at Clifton this Wednesday by 61 points to 5, Clifton will have their work cut out. The three Ajuwa brothers, notably Dan on the left wing ran through,around, over and under countless plucky Clevedon defenders, leaving a trail of broken bodies and sore heads much to the frustration of Mike Rafter's team and the ebullient celebration of the three brothers and their team.

Watching from the side line a senior official of Dings noted that Dan Ajuwa seemed to be unable to dominate at the National Level Three South when he played there for Dings . Perhaps, perhaps not, but any scout from a club up the leagues would be advised to give this man a try. He was literally dynamite.

Finally, finally it is noted that Dings seem to have failed to get the Council to move quickly enough to accomodate them on the adjacent underused pitches occupied by Bishopston and Ashley Down Old Boys and in June their Lockleaze site will be sold and moves to relocate away to a site near Frenchay hospital will begin. Well done Bristol City Council. Yet another opportnity to provide the estates children with an alternative to fish and shop hanging out and car burning is lost.

Can someone wake me up when next season starts?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 26/04/2008 10:40 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: UWE Vs Bristol University. The Varsity Match,Wed 30th April 7.30pm The Memorial Ground. Is it still on?
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
28 April, 2008 08:57
A banquet of rugby was served up by SKY TV for the armchair viewer this weekend. Sadly, as we may have noticed, Bristol were not taking part. Starting Friday night, an intrigueing contest between a rejuvenated Worcester and a star studded Newcastle backline showcased the unexpected return to form of ex Gloucester boy, Marcel Garvey.

Overnight, having digested a good meal, next on the menu was Bath vs Sale. An excellent game mingled with frequent channel hopping to see extraordinary hysteria and sensational goings on at Stamford Bridge, and onto the main course of the day, Toulouse vs London Irish.

One small point. To those versed in the Laws of the Game. Can someone tell me what constitutes an event that will cause the referee to blow full time when past the 80 minute mark?

Surely the ref got it wrong when he ended the game when a French defender brought a London Irish passing movement to a halt when the defending side knocked on?

I've actually googled to search for some ruling but it doesnt seem to figure. Can someone explain this to me and where to find the ruling within the Laws of the Game?

Anyway,by Saturday night, quite bloated and satiated with sport, Match of the Day seemed to drift by in a blur of background droaning and moaning from players, fans, managers and studio pundits.

Sunday, with rain firmly forecast in the afternoon guaranteed to wreck the too long 50 over springtime Friends Provident encounter between Glucestershire CCC and Glamorgan at the County ground, I elected to cut the grass and get into position in the armchair for a re run of Joe Calzaghe's fight with Bern-Hard Hopkins on good old Auntie Beeb.

This proved to be a dull exercise in rammatazz arm waving and groin clutching and soon it was onto that castiron cure for insomnia, the Spanish Grand Prix.

Meanwhile the sun shone outside as Glamorgan on teletext batted onto about 3pm, and the main part of the banquet arrived on next door's SKY TV.

Munster vs Saracens... great game.. and the rain began to thunder down putting the mockers on my intention to pop down to see the Gloucester innings.

By this time Everton were engaged in furious activity with West Ham, but bloated from an excess of sport I pondered ruefully whether the game at the County ground had been abandoned.

It had, so the 6.00pm HTV sports report said, so it was a period of lying fallow until 8 pm and Talk Sports Sunday night rugby show with Will Carling and some Welsh chap Rhoddri Morgan is it?

Mr Carling doesn't take himself too seriously and has a nice line in dry wit,and apart from the insidous adverts about "dry wall lining and Wickes Weekend" it sent me off into a sporting coma of restless sleep dreaming nonesense that is forgotten as soon as one wakes up.

And eagerly onto Tuesday night for the return leg at Old Trafford between Manchster United and Barcalona, and Gloucestershire starting a four dayer against Glamorgan at the County Ground. I've got Wednesday off. Whats the weather forecast?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 28/04/2008 09:04 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: UWE Vs Bristol University. The Varsity Match,Wed 30th April 7.30pm The Memorial Ground. Womans game at 6pm.
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
28 April, 2008 21:33

Last Wednesday night as I cycled home from work at about 7.00pm I noticed a flurry of Sloaney type rangers and Wills at One studenty types arriving en masse on foot and in taxis at the Memorial Ground. This was my only source of information as to whether the game was on. Poor publicity by the students. Perhaps they didn't want anyone to know about it.

As it was, I had my evening aimed at watching the second round of the Chelsea v Liverpool semi final so I missed the game.

However, couteousy of the Bristol Evening Posts dedicated rugby correspondent Matt Cain, a good report with photos informed us that Bristol University won 36-11 with Bristol Rugby Clubs own Dave Atwood scoring a try.

In the ladies game I think UWE won. Does anyone know what the attendance was? How much money was raised and for which charity?

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/05/2008 09:01 by WilliamBlessing.

Combination Finals Monday Mid ay onwards Clifton RFC 5th may
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
05 May, 2008 09:18
This early Bank Holiday Monday is a always a bit of a struggle to fill. For some reason, perhaps its because all of the end of season games have to be played on the same day, during a relegation shoot out, and because its still too early for cricket to be warm enough to watch out of doors, there seems to be a blank spot in the sporting calendar.

For cricket lovers, Hampshire and Gloucestershire last night provided a nail biting finish to their Friends Provident game on SKY TV under floodlights. Of course Hampshire won, so more sporting dissappointment for us Bristolians. But for the impartial viewer it would have made interesting watching. The cameras showed a deserted Rose Bowl.The smallish crowd had dwindled to no more than a handful and for them it had been a long day.

Another argument for 20 20 especially at this time of the year. Can anyone tell me how this any different from the Benson Hedges format now that the games are on a regional group stage followed by a quarter final?

They seem to have reinvented the round wheel having earlier replaced it a with square one. Sorry to annoy any rugby fans with a phobia of cricket, which I quite understand, unless like me you are a serious addictive type.

Meanwhile, this afternoon there are the Combination Sevens at Clifton.


Does anyone know how Mike Rafter and his Gloucestershire Rugby team got on in the County Championship?

Oh well, at least we can look forward to the play offs, in both rugby and football, for the soothing sights and sounds of wailing and howling from our radios and on TV close ups of young children and their grown fathers crying as their team is relegated or conversely jumping for joy if promoted.

I may trundle over to Clifton on my bike, but recently these sevens have been a bit underwhelming. May see you there? Chelsea on SKY at 4pm. Thank God.

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 06/05/2008 20:23 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: Dings vs St Marys Gloucestershire County Cup Final Tonight Tuesday 6th May 7.30pm Cleve RFC Mangotsfield.
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
06 May, 2008 07:33
Yesterday ten teams including The Peeler, a charity team that had just toured Spain playing in Barcelona, contested the Combination 7 a side tournament at Clifton RFC. It was a pleasant day, a genial crowd basked on a warm day. I left early but I expect Cleve won it as they looked the strongest. One suggestion to revamp sevens. Why not reduce the size of the pitch by half by playing from touch line to touch line and in one half of the pitch. It would then resemble 15 a side and permit forwards to play. At the moment its tiring just to watch.

Tonight Dings play St. Marys in the Gloucester Cup final at Cleve. Gloucester RFC had originally wanted 10,000 pounds from the RFU to stage it at Kingsholm. I think I'm right in saying that due to walkovers Dings have had to win only one game to get to the final. They expect it to be fierce encounter with their historic rivals St Marys.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/05/2008 07:36 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: Dings vs St Marys Gloucestershire County Cup Final Tonight Tuesday 6th May 7.30pm Cleve RFC Mangotsfield.
gran (IP Logged)
06 May, 2008 08:16
WB If you find 7's tiring to watch, I suggest you try watching Fiji play it. Its a bit different to the stuff played in the UK. THere are tournaments every week end around Fiji from around November to April with an eye always towards winning the HK 7's which remains the pinnacle. Some of the local lads you see at these tournaments are amazing runners and passers of the ball.
Nice write ups on the local rugby scene however and appreciated.

Re: Dings 49 St Marys 15 Gloucestershire County Cup Final Tuesday 6th May Cleve RFC Mangotsfield.
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
07 May, 2008 21:14
Nice to hear from you all the way round the other side of the world and down a bit. How's the tourist business going?
Any vacancies? Is the sweat dripping down your face as the sound of whooping and hollering and beating drums vibrate through the dark tropical night?

Or am I getting it confused with the Saracens supporters?

Over here, Summer has suddenly burst out and we are reeling and sweating in temperatures as high as 20 degrees Centigrade, about 70 degrees fahreheit. Last night was a lovely summers evening and I would have cycled over to Cleve RFC but it was a bit too far, and missed the game.

The Bristol Evening Post's reporter Matt Cain informs us that Dings won the cup for the third time in five years. Skipper Mike Jefferies lifted the trophy after playing his final game before his retirement.

The next game on the sporting horizon, apart from Briz away to Saracens at a bizarre location, the home of Milton Keynes Dons, AKA Wimbledon FC, is Gloucestershire vs Somerset at Lydney RFC Saturday 10th May,kick off 4pm, followed a week later away to Devon at Plymouth RFC.

Last week Gloucestershire defeated Middlesex 22-18 at Staines RFC. Anyone know anything about the teams and the game?

GRFU stop press []

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/05/2008 23:06 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: Dings 49 St Marys 15 Gloucestershire County Cup Final Tuesday 6th May Cleve RFC Mangotsfield.
bosh88 (IP Logged)
09 May, 2008 08:47
Yeah thats right Gloucestershire won against Middlesex 18 - 22 played at Staines RFC. The Gloucestershire team contained 3 Bristol based players in the form of Dave bufton (Lock), Vince Murrell (Blindside Flanker) & Sylvan Edwards (Wing) and all from Dings Crusaders. The rest of the team were made up of Cinderford, Lydney and Pertemps Bees. Nice to see Gloucestershire look at players down this way and just just stick to the forest teams.

For the Somerset game this weekend being played at Lydney Rfc, Kick off 4pm (4pm kick off as the Gloucestershire U20's are in a final at twickenham at 11am and wanted to get back to watch) There has been a few changes to the starting team but I'm pleased to say that the 3 Bristol boys have all kepth there places with also Mike Panoho (No8) also of Dings Crusaders being called up into the starting line up.

All the best to Gloucestershire against Somerset which I'm sure will be a very tought game.

Re: Jason Strange has signed for Worcester RFC.
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
11 May, 2008 21:28
If you visit the Somerset CCC cricket website on this network you can't fail to be impressed at the sheer virtuousity of the commentators and they are quite rightly very proud of their team, and point out how superior their team is compared to crummy little Gloucestershire CCC.

Considering their extensive knowledge of the game I would appreciate their explaining to me how they managed to lose today at Bristol. The sunshine was warm and bright, the grass glowed emerald green and Craig Spearman treated us all to a masterclass in batting as Glos once more proceed towards yet another cup. Extraordinary!

I was reliably informed from a certain rugby club insider that Jason Strange has signed for Worcester RFC, and it will be announced tomorrow.

Visiting the Worcester RFC site they seem to have been speculating on this for quite a while. We shall see if my source is correct.

Also in my paper were the headlines - "Somerset gain surprise win against rivals Gloucestershire."

Gloucestershire 23 pts. v. Somerset 29pts.

Warriors site on Jason speculation


Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 11/05/2008 21:50 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: Jason Strange has signed for Worcester RFC.
Hercules Spoons (IP Logged)
12 May, 2008 17:12
Some of them are going to be disappointed.

Re: Jason Strange has signed for Worcester RFC.
Frenchy (IP Logged)
13 May, 2008 10:01
William Blessing - Jason Strange has not signed for Worcestor. Please can you change the title of this thread as it is blatantly inaccurate until any news is officially announced! Last time I looked on the Worcestor thread you have referenced they were specualting over at least half a dozen candidates!,file=36,file=4

Re: UWE Vs Bristol University. The Varsity Match,Wed 30th April 7.30pm The Memorial Ground. Womans game at 6pm.
BrisUniBoy (IP Logged)
14 May, 2008 02:40
Last Wednesday night as I cycled home from work at about 7.00pm I noticed a flurry of Sloaney type rangers and Wills at One studenty types arriving en masse on foot and in taxis at the Memorial Ground. This was my only source of information as to whether the game was on. Poor publicity by the students. Perhaps they didn't want anyone to know about it.

As it was, I had my evening aimed at watching the second round of the Chelsea v Liverpool semi final so I missed the game.

However, couteousy of the Bristol Evening Posts dedicated rugby correspondent Matt Cain, a good report with photos informed us that Bristol University won 36-11 with Bristol Rugby Clubs own Dave Atwood scoring a try.

In the ladies game I think UWE won. Does anyone know what the attendance was? How much money was raised and for which charity?

Yes, UWE ladies won 7-0. Attendance was roughly 3000, pretty standard for Varsity but in high spirits and plenty of chat going around. Money raised will be a total from all of the varsity events (rowing, basketball, rugby & football) and possibly a 20/20 triangular with UWE & bath at the county ground in June.

Will try to find out more details re. attendance, money raised on the night and specific charity at an AU meeting next week.

The varsity game was very well publicised around the university (bristol), but obviously not further than that. Shame the publicity officer didn't contact the evening post.

Anyway, a very enjoyable event as always.

Re: So how much will Bristol be getting as part of the "agreement" with the RFU?
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
17 May, 2008 09:07
This subject has been debated on the Leicester Tigers unofficial board to the point of exhaustion.[] and in this thread on an RFU clubs collision course, where several contributors discuss the matter with authority. []

But for more news try here.


I know its fashionable in some circles to dismiss Peter Jackson because he writes for a so called rag, the Daily Mail, but why is it that he seems to consistently cover the topics that really matter, and with some degree of clarity and insight?

Contrast his yesterdays rugby column in the Mail which was bursting with interesting content, with the Times coverage of rugby, which was virtually non existent.


The reason why the clubs insist that the compensation is divided equally is that its obvious from the American Football model that in order to boost interest in a league there has to be the chance that every team has a chance of winning it.

The "draft pick" system is one way of promoting competitiveness. Within rugby union, the premier division clubs dividing the compensation for losing their players amongst them, is another. The objective would be to equally distribute the contracted players throughout the clubs rather than the majority being supplied by just Bath, Wasps and Leicester (and until now Newcastle).

The downside is that the Premier League clubs may be encouraged to go for an extended ring fence into National Division One, thus breaking the stairway to heaven presently open to any ambitious club or group of financiers.

Be that as it may, perhaps we could at least give Peter Jackson and the Daily Mail credit for dealing with matters of issue.

Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 17/05/2008 09:26 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: So how much will Bristol be getting as part of the "agreement" with the RFU?
Meng (IP Logged)
17 May, 2008 14:39
I'll happily give credit to Peter Jackson as he seems to be on-the-ball most of the time.

The slightly-to-the-right-of-Atilla-the-Hun Daily Mail, on the other hand, IS a rag and IMO is fully deserving of the flak it gets.

Devon 10 - Gloucestershire 7
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
19 May, 2008 22:17
From the Gloucestershire RFU web site

County Championship news - Devon 10 - Gloucestershire 7
Gloucestershire were beaten by Bill Beaumont Cup holders Devon in their third game of the trophy 10-7 at Plymouth Albion. Devon were stunned by an early try from Dings and Gloucestershire number eight Mike Panaho and trailed 7-5 in the second half despite Kyle Marriott's reply.

But former England Under 19 centre Tom Bedford sealed victory when he caught Dan Hawke's crosskick and scored. They have beaten Middlesex but lost to Somerset so far in the campaign.


Congratulations to Gloucestershire U20s who beat Yorkshire 26 - 17 at Twickenham in the National Under 20 Championship on Saturday 10th May. Full match report under "Representative and Elite Rugby". Congratulations also to Gloucestershire U19s who won the National Sevens U19s tournament at Newlands Park, Cheltenham on Sunday 11th May. Congrats also to North Glos U15s who beat Somerset U15s 12 5 away at Nailsea and Backwell on Sunday 13th April

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 19/05/2008 22:23 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: Devon vs Yorkshire, County Championship Final Sunday 1st June midday Twickenham on SKY TV
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
28 May, 2008 08:49
There has evolved, since rugby union first went professional back in 1995, a rich diversity of competitions on offer for both players and spectators to enjoy. One wonders if the current format of teams and cups and leagues, both international and national has truly settled down.
After the painful birth of the various regional sides in Wales, Scotland and Ireland there might be a period of stability for at least a generation ,leaving their offspring, such as the Ospreys, Munster and perhaps even Glasgow to challenge at European Cup level, along with the English and French super clubs such as Leicester and Toulouse. We wont mention Bath in that context shall we?

The seismic forces that gradually build up beneath the surface will certainly continue to exert their pressure, and administrators and legislators, investors and owners, and the growing sitting room market demanding the best, fed by the TV companies, all compete to meet an ever changing demand.

Once upon a time, the County Championship met that need, and Bristol and Gloucester happily banded together to form the Regional Super team that would regularly push a spindily Somerset and a rural Cornwall and Devon out of the nest before locking horns in the final with Lancashire featuring Bill Beaumont and big Wade Dooley paired in the second row .

How times have changed with the County Championship eagerly attempting to find a niche in the calendar, but its still alive thanks to the insatiable demand and deep pockets of the TV audience.
The final of the County Championship will act as a curtain raiser to the main course, the game between England and the Barbarians this Sunday afternoon.

Having watched a shambles of a game between the Baa Baas and Ireland last night at Kingsholm, one wonders which of the two games this Sunday at Twickenham will be worthy of the most attention. The Barbarians let themselves down badly last night by playing such loose error strewn rugby, and despite their ambition of entertaining the crowd, ultimately failed in doing so as they were no match for a better structured and more intense Irish side.

There was no lack of effort from the hastily assembled band of invitees, featuring a nonplussed Mark Ronnie Regan coming off the bench, nor doubting their skills, but the evening resembled one of those Nature programs on a Sunday night on BBC2 where a predatory killer whale catches a seal and tosses it cruelly up in the air before devouring it, or perhaps where some lizard flicks out a tongue and gulp, some gadfly dissappears.

The box office credibilty of a reinvented format for this once famous touring team, now drawing anew on the Southern Hemisphere is at stake this Sunday.

Working in their favour is the fact that the Guinness Play Offs the day before, between Leicester and Wasps, will rob England of their players, and the hosts may be as much a shambles as the Barbarians were last night.

And soon our television schedules will be enriched by a blizzard of Internationals, whilst across the channel the French Premiership draws on and wont reach the play offs until the weekend of the 20th of June, followed by the final on Saturday 28th. The World Cup in France last year meant that this competition, known as the Top 14, didn't start until after the former had ended. It seems incredible that their season should extend so far into Summer, but then they dont have cricket do they?

For those rugby addicts who want to search for French league tables and fixture lists for the remaining rounds and perhaps plan a holiday somwhere in France around a game, you can visit the Planet Rugby website and search under Top 14. It could be an adventure to remember.



Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 29/05/2008 07:30 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: Devon vs Yorkshire, County Championship Final Sunday 1st June midday Twickenham on SKY TV
june palk (IP Logged)
03 June, 2008 10:17
Thought Mr Blessing be interested to know that Richard Jenkins who came on for Devon at Twickenham (45mins)back row has signed a senior academy contract with Bristol for the coming season.He is 18 and still at Ivybridge Community College,In fact he was sitting an A level History exam the day after the the final.Not an image readily brought to mind when recalling Beaumont, Dooley, et al!

Re: Result ..Devon 13 Yorkshire 33, County Championship Final Sunday 1st June midday Twickenham on SKY TV
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
03 June, 2008 21:47
Last Sunday morning I awoke at about 4am to the sound of gales of laughter resounding across the garden walls as yet another party gradually came to a close. How can young people find the energy to stay up all night and still be chattering away as the dawn light breaks?

However, I bleerily contemplated an early rise and a trip by train up to Gloucester to watch the third day of a four day county cricket match. The party goers no doubt would have thought I was completely mad for even thinking of doing so, but I watched a few spits of rain fall and thought I would go back to sleep, get up about 6.30 am, do the vacuuming, ironing and shopping at Tesco and get in situ in front of next door's TV in time to watch the other county championship match of the rugby variety between Devon and Yorkshire at Twickers.

Earlier, I had mused on the two games on Sunday, the Championship final or the England vs the Barbarians.." one wonders which of the two games this Sunday at Twickenham will be worthy of the most attention."

Well, a Twickers deserted save for a merry band of rival supporters was lit up by a splendid game that the SKY commentators quite rightly lavishly praised.

Two well trained, unsung but highly skilled, fiercely motivated teams lock horns and put on a classic display of intense entertaining rugby with Yorkshire emerging triumphant. But where were the reports in the press, where were the list of the players and whose clubs they came from?

One can search the Web high and low through the RFU sites and even in the Devon RFU site find just the barest bones of the result. Not even in the Telegraph was there anything other than the result in one line. I expect we will have to wait for this Fridays "Rugby Times" for an in depth report. A pity.

However after a quick walk in the garden, I was back in position for England v The Barbarians. What a contrast. The commentators were slagging it off at half time as being the most boring game of the season so far. But I tended to disagree. What worried me was that it could have been a drubbing for the Baabaas and curtains for the "Corinthinian Spirit". Far from it. The Baa baas played it dirty and ugly and mean. Heads were cracked, blood flowed, English blood mostly and a few players were put out of the tour.

A proper game of rugby. Good show. No slinging of the ball around. So I beg to differ. I found it "interesting...very interesting......hmmmmm..."

So by now I had noticed that Warkwickshire in the cricket on teletext had moved with all the urgency of a slug and bored the pants off a good festival crowd in the shadow of Gloucester Cathedral....shadow if there had been any sun which there wasnt. Why do cricket administrators inflict this misery on their audiences?

And by the time it came round to 10.30 pm and England v Trinidad and Tobago in the footy I watched it for 30 seconds and wearily pushed the off switch and fell asleep ready for work the next day. Once again a feast of sport had left me as bloated as Billy Bunter in a doughnut shop.

Now whats on this coming weekend?



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 03/06/2008 22:07 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: Internationals on SKY TV this Saturday
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
06 June, 2008 22:09
There's plenty tomorrow to watch for the dedicated armchair viewer, starting at 3.00 am with the opening games of the Pacific Nations Cup when Fiji take on Samoa and later the New Zealand Maoris entertain Tonga.

That sounds an exotic entree exciting the taste buds for an early breakfast serving of New Zealand probably having Ireland on toast at 8.35 am on SKY TV.

If you can fit in a bit of the Test match from Trent Bridge from 11.00am until lunch, then at 2pm South Africa will no doubt wolf down a nice tasty Welsh Rarebit and at tea time the dedicated sports addict can cram in the opening game of the European Nations Wendyball match between Cuckoo clock making, peace loving Switzerland, the hosts and some other team could it be Austria? I'm not sure.

At 7pm, prop your eyes open for the start of the Churchill Cup first round when the English Saxons take on the USA and finally as a night cap to send you to bed there's Canada vs Bonny Scotland A.

How times have changed. Not so long ago the best you could hope for was a crackly radio report in the wee small hours listening to a transistor under the blankets from Dunedin. And thats not to mention the final stages of the French Top 14, but thats not on UK tv.

Or I could go over to Bath and watch a top of the table Western League Premier Division One cricket match against close rivals Frocester. A rich menu, if only one could find room to consume it all.

This web site gives you all the eact details several weeks ahead.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/06/2008 22:13 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: Internationals on SKY TV this Saturday
elegia (IP Logged)
09 June, 2008 08:51
will you stop changing the thread title every few minutes & just leave it at williams ramblings or something?

at the moment the title is only ever relevant to the last post & it's daft.
the ace of bass

Re: Internationals on SKY TV this Saturday
DaveAitch (IP Logged)
09 June, 2008 09:39
That's William for you. Not only do his posts ramble, but his titles do as well. I think that is the penalty one must pay to read the meaningful meanderings of a mad minister; or to put it another way it is 'Just William'.

Re: Internationals on SKY TV this Saturday
09 June, 2008 10:08
Why don't you call it WilliamBlessing's Sky Tv Advertisment.

Re: Internationals on SKY TV this Saturday
09 June, 2008 13:48
it does say on the first post when you open the thread "The headline above applies to the most recent posting at the bottom of the page.. "

your choice if you then want to scroll through to the end!

Re: A Health Warning....
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
11 June, 2008 08:31
Watching too much sport on TV can damage your health. It was the South Africa vs Wales game last Saturday afternoon that sent me spinning into a deep coma. If there had been the facility provided by the NHS then I would have been whisked away to a hospital bed where anxious nurses and doctors would have gathered around attempting to revive me with the theme music from Match of the Day, whilst a brain wave machine flat lined away.

"We've lost him Doc", one nurse shouts....."Re run Bristol City's play off finals against Hull....tho' on second thoughts, maybe not...."

In reality, I awoke from the comfort of my next door neighbours reclining armchair to see that several tries had been scored, all of which I had dozed through, and wearily vowed to never watch another game of rugby....for at least....a week?

Things had started brightly that day with me rising early, itching a bit and so deciding to do a dust busting shake out of my blankets and a bit of vaccuuming of my bedroom. The cleaner is a very old 50's job that sucks like some old granny and has a fearful grip. Along with beating my mattress this inadvertently caused my next door neighbour to be irately awoken, but I had to get things going so I could watch Ireland Vs New Zealand at 8.30 am. That game was interesting. Although the All Blacks will, no doubt, savage poor little Rob Andrew's England this weekend.

Afer the Ireland game I took a brisk trip to Tesco's where I bought a beautiful mauve flowering potted plant for 10 pounds, whilst on the TV the cricketers were busy in a Test match. Then came that Wales game. At the end I stumbled back to my own blessedly limited five channel only TV and watched the opening game of the Ingerlunt free European Football championship. It looked as if a team in red, Switzerland, the hosts, were playing a team in white... but it kept resembling Bristol City in the play offs.... zzzzzzz.

However, I took no further interest in the rugby, The Saxons versus Canada, was it and the Scotland "A", ( what does A stand for?) How about the ....I give up....but there should be a heath warning about too much at Woodstock when they said "look out there some bad acid going around it brown tabs man....".

So the next day was so sunny and warm I decided to boldly leave my TV room and catch the train down to Weston with my bike, and cycle out through the woods and cliff top road through Kewstoke to Sand Point. How very very lovely, the flowers, the wind,the sea, the sunshine. I lay out on a secluded beach surrounded by driftwood and got a bit over roasted and got home in time to watch Jamie Hamilton in his racing car have a prang in the world's first traffic jam at a set of red lights in a Grand Prix and then yet another football match. Germany vs Poland?

I was, the next day, a little the worse for wear due to sun burning. Perhaps its safer being an armchair potato after all? Does any of this make sense? You tell me.

Re: A Health Warning....
Big Dave (IP Logged)
11 June, 2008 13:11
William, I was at Sand Point in March on a bone chilling day. This meant that I was the only person there, and with the low cloud scudding over the sea and the sunlight occasionally dappling the waters it was an intensely mocving experience.

Re: A Health Warning....
DaveAitch (IP Logged)
11 June, 2008 19:42
William, another powerful piece from the pen of the prodigious, polygraphic playwright.

Re: A Health Warning....
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
11 June, 2008 22:01
Big Dave,

When I told my colleagues at work about my big day out at Sand Bay, they all collapsed with laughter, informing that this is an infamous "dogging spot". What did they mean? There were plenty of dogs about, some on leads, as you would expect on a Sunday afternoon, but what was so funny about that?

Re: A Health Warning....
dpw (IP Logged)
12 June, 2008 00:48
William - I trust you removed your cycle clips whilst sun bathing at Sand Bay? Were you able to cycle home?

One small point do you mean Lewis (and not Jamie) Hamilton?
(Did you know you can edit your posts?)

Finally, dare I suggest that your very interesting posts are put on a new thread so that.........
a) we don't have to scroll down numerous messages
b) those of us who don't have the luxury of broadband have to wait several minutes for the page to download

Now............ where's the dog lead?

Re: A Health Warning....
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
12 June, 2008 08:47

At the risk of further irritating those without broadband, my apologies, thankyou for pointing out it was Lewis and not Jamie hamilton. (Who'se Jamie Hhamilton I ask myself?)

I normally do edit any error I spot in my postings but until you pointed it out, of course, I wasn't aware of it. I shall let the original name remain in the interests of anyone who might be so fortunate as to read this so that zzz....zzzz... you know what I mean....

As for putting each posting on a new thread, originally this thread grew out of a weekly report on the matches being played by Bristol University, so each posting looked back and at the same time forward to the next week, and there was a sort of continuity.

However by keeping my ramblings in one spot it gives the sensible reader the Heaven sent opportunity of avoiding them or even better get broadband.

By the way, the title Reverend William Blessing is purely fictitious, and in reality, although God fearing, I am less than a pious man of the cloth, but then I haven't been out dogging, and even if I had, I wouldn't ever admit to it, would I?

Now where's that dog collar?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 15/06/2008 08:43 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: From the Official Board...
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
15 June, 2008 08:22
For those of you not on broadband, I apologize for the delay in downloading my ramblings, but I am led to believe that the sportsnet work has been experiencing technical problems on the speed of it's site,so it's probably nothing to do with my thread.

Recently I have been attempting to update the semi moribund Official Message Board with a synopsis of what is being talked about on this board on a thread started by Rambling Sid entitled "From the Unofficial Message Board"

So here I am doing it the other way around. Hope you don't mind, feel free to comment, as if you would be slow on coming forward.

From the Official Message Board.

A poster on the unofficial website going by the nom de plume of Centenary Pete, informs us that the identity of the new Chief Executive Officer of Bristol Rugby Club is due to be announced, tomorrow, Monday morning. Centenary Pete had earlier speculated that this lucky man,( assuming it is to be a man and not a lady, and why not Moya, the widow of the late and lamented former CEO, Dave Tyler), shared the same intials as Centenary Pete, namely CP. This lead to frenzied speculation that the appointment would go to the redoubtable blonde haired and jutting of jaw "Head of Operations", Corin Palmer and was greeted with all the enthusiasm aroused in 1940 by the likelihood of Hitler invading England.

Personally I think that the greatest contributor to success is fear of being fired so that that might make sense, but then yesterday Centenary Pete joyfully informs us that it is not to be Mr Palmer after all , whilst another poster, One Eyed Jack, playfully suggests that it is to be Nic De Scossa, assuming the latter doesn't end up doing time in one of Her Majestys Holiday Camps as a result of his latest adventures into the world of alleged phony ticket touting on a grand scale.

So, I awoke this morning to the pale light of dawn, restlessly wondering what the latest nightmare I had been dreaming was about and trying to figure it out, and gripped by a strange mid summer madness, a sense of mild forboding. It was only 4.30am and a week away from the longest day, but it still doesn't feel like summer to me.

The best remedy to lift the depression is to get up and face the day, and just as the dreams are vivid on awakening, they quickly recede in the warm shower from one's conscious mind as surely as the next wave wipes clean the once clear foot prints from behind one as one walks along the sands.......of time......zzzzz...

But then, as one struggles to recall the dream and fails, and then attempts to remember what game of football one was watching the night before. Was it ......Russia....against.......Greece or was it Spain against Sweden... surely I should be able to remember that, or am I entering at the age of 60 into the early stages of senile dementia?

And then another thought gleefully enters my mind as I realise that there is a candidate for CEO that has the intials CP and that is of our previous Executive, that long in tooth and tobacco stained grisly old campaigner Colin Portch, who no one could argue did not have a successful track record. I imagine Mr Portch featuring in that memorable pop video by Michael Jackson for his song "Thriller" where an army of corpses have arisen from the grave and theatrically dance en masse in an seemingly unstoppable manner. Can I see Colin in the backgoround, skeletal of frame, smoke pouring from his pipe, mad eyed and glinting with two bottles of vino in either hand? Anything could happen and it probably will.

Meanwhile on the sporting front, Friday night at the County Ground sadly confirmed what we already know, and that is that Gloucestershire CCC, also known as the Gladiators are a very poor side who almost snatched victory from a strangely anonymous Warwickshire "Bears", until Glos construed to give away 75 runs in five error strewn overs to end in an unsatisfactory tie. One bowler sent down two beamers in a row and got banned from bowling for the innings, namely Anthony Ireland and Carl "Garbage" Greenidge lived up to his nick name sending down a series of long hops and full tosses and no ball wides, although he manfully bowled his next over or two on a reasonable line and length to restore his reputation somewhat.

Yesterday morning Saturday, in the rugby from down under in New Zealand, as predicted, after a bright start, England gallantly folded, despite the game breaking try being ten yards forward, something no one seemed to comment upon, as if it made any difference. I left out the Australia Ireland game. Anyone know the score, but returned to the TV to watch, surprisingly, not a bad game between Wales and South Africa.

Returning to potter about in the garden with my recently rediscovered succulent that had been enveloped by the encroaching monster hedge like bush beneath my bedroom window, and having been eaten down to its very stump by an army of "Thriller" type snails, it was back to the TV to slump through two more Euro Nations Cup matches, which is better than anything else on the box, which seems to consist of re runs of the Great Summer of Love followed by the Winter of Discontent and Overflowing Dustbins, courteousy of the Wicked Labour Government and The Evil Trade Unions.

Does nothing ever change? Haven't we been here before? Good old Crunchy Credit Crunch for breakfast, as share prices, house prices and repossesions, jobs, pensions and savings go "Snap Crackle and Pop". Along with Supertrams, Super stadiums and everything else that is Super. Yet why are why still surprised?

So its down the County Ground this afternoon for another 20 20 game of "Hit and Giggle", as our Somerset supporting friends disparagingly call it, or should it be, "Miss and Moan" considering their equally unaccountable lack of success in the commercially rewarding format of the game?

And as for who will be the next CEO of Bristol Rugby Club, who knows? Perhaps Alan Sugar will announce it on TV with a new series of the Apprentice? We've already had a string of "you're fired! Perhaps it's time for "you're hired!"

If my phone rings at 7.30 am tomorrow and it's Sir Alan, just as I get on my push bike and leave for work, my heart will be racing. "Could it be me afer all?" For someone, for sure, as Sven Erricson might say, it will be the start of a whole new "thriller" type ride, no doubt about that. Sit back and enjoy the ride is my advice.

Finally, on the future of our Captain of the Club, Matt Salter, surely he should be aiming to extend his career through the role of coach in some form or another. Could there be room for him at Bristol? He's too good a man to let go, but then Ben Sturnham and Martin Haag have fallen on their feet after their unexpected departures. Matt is a man who will be a hard act to follow. The team is in such a state of flux following our remaining at the Memorial Ground perhaps it would be better to pick the team and then announce the Captain. Things can only get better as Tony Blair gayly sang to the pop tune of the day. Or can they?

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 15/06/2008 09:28 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: From the Official Board...
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
26 June, 2008 22:10
The scene...The Royal Courts of Justice...The case of the Crown versus Goldilocks and the Three Bears...

enter the three judges, Chief Justice Cocklecarrot and the Right Honourable Justices Flogging and Hanging..

the guilty parties enter the box, Goldilocks, Danny Care Bear, Topsy Blackbear and Mike Brownbear...

The Clerk to the Court demands "And how do the guilty men plead?".......did you or did you not eat somebodies porridge down under......

Bring in the Chief Witnesses, Alice in Wonderland, Little Bo Peep and their

pimp....sorry ladies... you said in your own words that by the time you

were getting stuck into the porridge you were "well tanked up"....and so what is it that

attracted you to these handsome fit as fouk wealthy young athletes and lead

them irretrievably to their falling upon you and shamelessy deflowering your pricless maidenhood

for ever tarnishing your repuations so that you would never be able

to hold your heads up again in polite Antipodean Society ?

Your Honour I suggest that these innocent young ladies will never be able to drape their naked

loins around a lap dancing pole again without the horrible thought of

their pictures being all over the Red Tops and the revolting wads of filthy cash they have to

trouser as a result.....and will have to endure endless appearances on

reality TV shows...zzzzzzzzzz........... Big Bother....and its spin offs.... Get Out of My Pants You Horny Beast.....

The Judge declares his Verdict.. Guilty...sentence ......Transportation for

Life........suspended on condition of completing a course of five hundred hours of Community

Service playing the piano in a brothel...

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 26/06/2008 22:13 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: There's a fairy at the bottom of my garden....
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
20 July, 2008 08:36
I was watching the latest game in the Tri Nations series between Australia and South Africa on next doors TV and it was, of couse, being played under the much maligned Experimental Law Variations, or ELVs, as the pundits abreviate them, and normally, as soon as I see the word ELVs, my brain just switches off in an act of self preservation, a bit like when someone tries to explain things like pensions, digital television , Ipods or downloading "tracks" etc. to me.

I leave it to the experts to understand. I just like to watch a game of rugby, as long as it isn't rugby league, which I promise, I have tried very hard to like but having actually seen a couple of games live, sorry, it's as dull and repetitive as the thing on the TV. So I was pleasantly surprised to see a vastly entertaining rugby union encounter from Perth, Western Australia, and, apart from a lack of endless pick up and drives and rolling mauls, I couldn't see the difference from our stodgy staple winter diet in the Northern hemisphere.

So ELVs or ELFs, or FAIRYS as I would prefer to call them, are welcome as far as I'm concerned, fairys being, "small supernatural beings with magical powers", as opposed to Elfs who are "mischievous". I use the word Fairy because it sounds nicer and slightly comic, and it is a variation of the verb "to vary", so I hope we can call them the Fairys, and anyway, it's nice to be "away with the fairys" isn't it.

So fairys it is? We shouldn't be so stick in the mud, literally, about improvements to the game. Rugby needs to evolve to compete in the market place with all other codes, not only rugby league, but American Football and soccer. Take cricket and its rapid embracing of the 20 20 game. Viewers vote with the on and off switch, and if you take the awful fare served up at Lords and Headingly in the last two Tests, you will see why crowds can desert a game quicker than Scotch mist. How many times have we got to see the obscure LBW law requiring the ball to pitch in line with the wicket to be out, even though the ball would have hit the wicket? How many times will batsman occupy the crease all day scratching around for a draw and suceeding? Why are Test Grounds always empty on the last day when a result might be served up? Even in tennis now, players have the right of appeal to Hawkeye. Why not let a batsman have the right to one appeal during his innings and a bowler similarly? That would stop all this jumping up and down and attendant sulking as the poor umpire is massively embarassed by the replay on the screen for all to see that, no, he didnt touch the ball, or no, the ball was missing the wicket or vice versa. Why be so luddite about things? Blazers adapt or die.

And so, as in the use of technology, rugby should embrace change to avoid the trench warfare that modern non fairy regulated games can, and has produced recently, notably in World Cup finals of late where the game is exposed to a crucial Global audience open to persuasion. Just because we are less likely to win isnt a good reason not to adopt the rule changes. By keeping the ball in play longer, those forwards run out of puff quicker and leave space for runners with the ball.

And talking of running, on a personal note, I've taken to jogging around the common in an attempt to lose weight. I was prompted to do so by a bit of a scary incident when I awoke a month ago to find I couldnt move my right arm and leg. "Oh dear" I thought, after shuffling around for a couple of hours none the better, "I'm a basket case". But Praise the Lord, I recovered within about four hours, and my doctor advised me to lose that blubbery fat.

And so, a few days later, on a bright sunny Sunday morning as I went walking, I began to run, slowly, for the first time for about 20 years and I kept going for a whole thirty minutes. And since then I've jogged every day around the common and started doing press ups. At first I could only do 6 press ups before collapsing, now I'm up to 12 a time, and I've actually started to "run" rather than jog. I have only a bannana for lunch and walk for 40 minutes around the river during my work break, and my weight has dropped miracously from a peak of 16 stone 12 pounds to 15 stone 5 pounds. I have at least another 3 stone to go. I went for a check up from the neck up at Frenchay and got a clean bill of health. Lovely gardens out there by the way and an interesting walk up the Frome valley whilst I awaited for the Doc to assess the results. So I may see you jogging around the common Piers?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 20/07/2008 08:51 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: There's a fairy at the bottom of my garden....
GlassHalfFull (IP Logged)
20 July, 2008 12:22
Not sure I agree about the ELVs but delighted your health isn't going to deprive us of your postings!

Re: There's a fairy at the bottom of my garden....
24 July, 2008 15:14
WB i wouldn't judge the fairies on one game. I think some of them are great ideas but i object to introducing 13 news laws at the same time. How are you supposed to asses the benefits from so many changes?

Good luck on the health kick William, as ever i look forward to your next instalment.

Re: There's a fairy at the bottom of my garden....
Slaphead (IP Logged)
24 July, 2008 15:36
Glad to hear that you are in good health William!

Re: There's a fairy at the bottom of my garden....
gran (IP Logged)
26 July, 2008 03:20
WB In the SA v Aus game there was some delightful passing out of hand going into the tackle from all players, even the props. The ball was kept alive with players backing up the ball carrier and moving it around in a manner we dont seem to be able to do as well in the North. Dont know if this is encouraged by the Fairies or if its just basic technique or being risk averse. Certainly in Fiji the ball is thrown around with gay abandon, and leads to a much more interesting spectacle.
Looking forward to todays AB v Oz match, should be a good one.

Stephen Jones remains in a state of denial
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
28 July, 2008 20:51
When I heard that the Bath game was being played at the Memorial Ground and was guaranteed, therefore, to be a sell out, getting a season ticket seemed the easiest thing to do so I went down to the Club Shop in the Arcade, Broadmead last Monday. I bought a club house end, season ticket, for 185 pounds.

The shop opens at 9.00am and the young lads down there were very helpful. The prices go up by 30 pounds a ticket by the 1st August, a Friday, so it made sense to buy early.

I gleaned the following information from them. Season tickets are going well, and including the 600 twenty year tickets at 2,500 pounds, the total stands near the 4,000 mark, the same as it was last year.

The Board are selling an unlimited number of 20 year tickets, so the offer still remains open to all.

The Shirt is to be unveiled, I believe , I could be wrong on August 1st, when prices go up, and with the new Sponsor. I presume the new name will be on it. It could be hoops, but the lads couldnt say yes or no.

Whilst you are there I recommend you buying a copy of Mark Hoskins's latest book, describing 50 great games that Bristol have been involved in starting with Swinton RFC in 1895 and bang up to date.

Mr Hoskins's displays his customary talent in illuminating the past with his well chosen words bringing the rich history of the club to life for us all.

Last Saturday morning, after having completed my 30 minute jog around the common I was able to settle down in front of next doors TV to watch a feast of sporting entertainment. As the opening overs were being bowled in the first of the 20 20 semi finals from the Rose Bowl Hampshire, on the other side of the World the Australian Rugby Union side were facing up to the intimidating spectacle of the All Blacks "haka" in front of a 51,000 crowd in Sydney.

I feared for the Aussie's as they sheepishly and respectfully acknowledged this, as ever, vulgar show of threat and animosity which seems to be losing its so called magical powers. Legitimised on the faux reasoning of it being "ethnic", I think it is demeaning to see a civilised person such as Ali Williams behaving like a drug crazed lout. Why ape the natives? The underlining sentiment is one of an evil threat despite whatever it's apologists might say, and it has no place in any "sporting" contest. However it seems to be tolerated by the majority which doesn't stop me from saying exactly what I think of it.

Therefore I was very proud of the way Australia matched and then trumped the All Blacks with a marvellous display of courage, fitness and skill. Like all bullies, the All Blacks and their equally venomous supporters and press are poor losers and they were, soon after their ignominious defeat, demanding their coach's head on a platter. They couldnt even blame the ref this time which makes a change.

To be fair to them, they did provide Australia with the ultimate challenge and this made the victory all the more meaningful. And the game was played under the Elfs, or Fairys, as I would prefer to call them. When you have two superb rugby teams such as these, no matter what rules you play under, the game is bound to be superb, but I thought the tap and go penalty gave the attacking side the momentum, and the game rose to a new level. There was no hiding place.

Stephen Jones and Stuart Barnes in the Sunday Times remains in a continued state of denial about how the Fairys have enhanced the game for both players and spectators alike. They have taken a position and attempt to justify it against the evidence on our screens over the past two Saturdays. I would fully understand if the Southern Hemisphere, which includes the three top world teams, decided to go their own way and left us in the North to carry on with our endless pick and drives, rolling mauls, and penalty kicks to touch and to goal.

No one is forcing us to implement the fairys. They are being trialled and we will have our chance to assess them. We might be able to even enhance them. But the evidence is clear. The Southern hemisphere wont be going back to the old rules so we may as well learn how to play with them, if we want to stay in the World game. Just for once we might learn something from our Antipodeans neighbours who so regally entertained us last Saturday morning.

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 29/07/2008 07:23 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: Stephen Jones remains in a state of denial.
OneEyedJack (IP Logged)
28 July, 2008 23:35
Planet Rugby - IRB announce further rule changes!
IRB announces new rule changes

Tuesday, 01st April 2008

The laws of rugby union are set to change once again, with the IRB announcing on Tuesday a new set of law variations designed to alter the current tactical over-structure of the modern game.

The new laws are officially being termed Official Rugby Constitutionals - ORCs for short. The ORCs will take over from the ELVs for both hemipsheres at the commencement of the next season - September 1 for the north, and January 1 for the south. The November Tests are set to be played with ORCs and not ELVs, however, as the heavy weather suits the ORCs better.

The ORCs have already been seen trialling with clubs all over the world, and are said to be using the clubs perfectly.

There are several major changes, most notably at the line-out.

The ball can now be kicked out directly into touch from anywhere on the field, which could lead to a territorial-style game based around boot to ball, particularly as the team kicking the ball out now gets the throw-in.

However, to counter the current structured nature of the line-outs, which almost always sees the team throwing in winning the ball, jumpers are no longer allowed to be lifted at the line-out, meaning teams will be able to gain ground and ball by snaffling more opposition throw-ins as a result of the free-for-all.

All the teams' forwards are to be present at line-out time as well, meaning the days of the shortened line-out are now gone forever, and also ensuring that the backs have more room and that props never appear on the wing.

The offside line is now set at 10m behind the hindmost foot of the scrum and at 10m back from the line-out, giving outside players more room to get up some momentum in a mad charge for the line and space not only to perform clever moves in but also buying a precious extra second to pick the ball up and continue attacking if the ball is dropped.

At scrum-time, the 'Crouch, touch, pause, engage' call from the referee has been done away with, as it has clearly stabilised the scrum far too much in recent times. The new unstable set piece will mean that teams with big forward packs are now able to get a nudge on even if it is not their own ball by simply giving it a big shove a fraction of a second before the ball comes in, perhaps the most innovative and revolutionary of the new laws and likely tactics.

While the ELV-nurtured hands-in-ruck contest is still allowed at the breakdown, the insistence of entry through the gate and the new offside line at the tackle have also been axed. The impetus is now on players to simply get at the ball in the middle of the mêlée by any means possible and from any position to secure possession.

There are no more drop-kicks at restarts either, bar the 22 drop out. All kicks from the centre of the pitch to start or restart a game are now place kicks, and must be without the aid of a tee. All kicks at goal are to be without the aid of a tee as well, and players are not now permitted to feature any squatting positions, goose-steps, or limb-twitching as a part of their kicking routine.

By and large, it seems the trend for the future is for much larger players under the ORCs, where ELVs allowed more room for the smaller players to move.

"The new laws we are introducing have been tested in the past for many years and have been proven to be successful," said Sri Lankan-born IRB spokesman Lee Vingthegamealonewouldbegoodforachange.

"Understandably there are some who do not think the game will benefit from having ORCs rather than the less physical ELVs. However, the current structured nature of the ELVs game has meant fewer tries and consequently fewer bums on seats, and certainly fewer fairy-tale stories of success.

"We believe that by taking the structure out of the game, particularly with regard to the breakdown and the set piece, we will break the stranglehold some tactically astute teams have on possession and create more turnovers, from which tries are more often scored. The ORCs are just more aggressively attack-minded than the ELVs.

"The bottom line is: we have to have more tries, and we will do anything to get this - even if it means eventually changing the laws so that the ball can be passed forward.

"The game will undoubtedly die if we do not double our try count within the next four years as a result of try-counted advertising revenues, and we will stop at nothing to ensure this try count is raised sufficiently for all advertisers and marketeers to be completely satisfied."

World Cup referee Alain Rolland will be the first to police the ORCs in September; it is believed his non-nonsense approach will keep the ORCs well in check.

Planet Rugby

...and Frodo went on to become a football hooligan with the GSE!

Re: Stephen Jones remains in a state of denial.
29 July, 2008 00:11
OK,OK,so the Damascan Rd. xperience is upon me. I agree with Dereck for the first time, ever, ever! The AB v Aus game was a cracker [sorry Frank] after watching so much Curry Cup kick ball rubbish in the preceeding weeks. If this is the way forward then let's 'aveit.

Dereck, if you'd like to take advantage of an athletic club qualified coach in your build up to the 2012 London Olypics pole vault / long jump I could be your Grand Father. This offer ends at the dyke/1

Re: Stephen Jones remains in a state of denial.
andreww (IP Logged)
29 July, 2008 10:20
But the Currie Cup was played under the ELVs. So is it the actual ELVs that influence the style of a match or the coaches attitude of mond?

Re: Stephen Jones remains in a state of denial.
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
02 August, 2008 08:26
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that the current run of superb Tri Nations games is being played under more extensive fairys, or Elvs, if one must, than the upcoming Northern Hemisphere season.

Crucially the Tri nations award free kicks for failing to release, failing to allow release, coming in from the side and off side? If that's the case, then the award of a free kick just speeds the game up, gives the attacking side momentum, forces the offending defensive side back by five yards and allows defences to be penetrated.

In ten minutes time, New Zealand take on Australia from their home ground of Eden Park. It's on next doors SKY and I will report back.

In the meantime, I have taken to posting on the Official Board first rather than the Unofficial Board, where I incorporate all of my priceless or otherwise ponderings, so here I am repeating those thoughts on one easily avoidable thread that is all of my own with the most welcome additions of Gran, Ramblin Sid, and my latest admirer, Chilly Mick!

Sorry if this has been read by some already before.

Naturally, on the Official Board, the new shirt and sponsor being announced on consecutive days has stirred the regular army of posters into excitable comment, mostly positive as one would expect, as has been the case on this board itself.

I was alarmed yesterday, as I travelled up to Cheltenham by train to watch Glos v Worcs in the cricket, to see on the back page of the Western Daily Press what I thought, at first glance to be, a bag of Blue Circle cement, with the wax work head of Jason Hobson stuck on the top. "What the blazes is that?" I exclaimed.

On closer examination, it was Cabot Circus, but where was the hooped shirt? That came later in the day, but why oh why oh why do modern graphic designerand advertisers collude to always come up with something skew whiffed, with the the Cabot Circus off centre in the boring dull oversized pale blue oversized sphere.

Could it be a blue moon descending? I suspect the design is determined by what options are available on the computer, such as, click on "script off centre left bottom" etc. That was why the cg generated repilca of a sailing ship appearing around the side of the castle in Bristol's coat of arms on our shirts had a radar dish on the top of the mast, or is it a large beefburger?

The trendy, off centre positioning of Cabot Circus seems to have made big Dan Ward-Smith go all bug-eyed, despite his bulging biceps, like Desperate Dan himself in the Beano. It's a bit like seeing a picture sloping at an angle on the wall and wanting to straighten it up. Whoever designed it must have spent at least all of 30 seconds dreaming it up. Perhaps it had to be a rushed job. It looks amateurish.

Of course, we can thank the Politically Correct Gone Insane bunch that are currently spilling put of our overcrowded mental hospitals into care in the community and working in various supported jobs within the ever expanding Civil Service and its country cousins the Bristol City Council and in the Equal Opportunities and Elf n Safety Industry for the change of name from the obscurely named "Merchants Quarters" to the new improved "Cabot Circus".

I thought Merchants Quarters sounded like a builders merchants and that would explain the Blue Circle cement bag theme. Perhaps the developers, who all started life lugging a back breaking bag of cement around, have had some deep seated memories sublimilally thrown up.

As for the pronouciation of Cabot Cirus, I think it is as in Chavo Circus. In fact perhaps that what it should be called. One would hope it might be upmarket, but judging on the present through traffic of Broadmead, I doubt it. It is, for better or for worse, Bristol. Ther used to a cinema up by Monks Park playing field called the Cabot and we all called it "Cabo".

On a Saturday morning we would go to either that or the nearer "Premier" cinema known as "the Prem", now Kwik Save by Horfield Prison, and watch cowboy films where the goodies wore white and the baddies black and we all cheered as the goodies galloped en masse like the grand national in full pursuit and booed as the baddies fired back over their shoulders. One never questioned the assumptions. Much has changed.

Earlier, the ever vigilant Rambling Sid on the Unofficial Board mused over where he had heard the sponsors name predicted by an earlier poster. I came to Sid's assistance with the following observations......

Rambling Sid,

Good memory! If you click on the option "search", and put in the words "Cabot Circus", you will come up with the following post, by someone called "Mark My Words", who, on the 17th June said.......

Re.I'll bet the new sponsor is Worthington
By Mark my words
Date: 17 June, 2008 13:48

The new sponsors will not be a beer but.... Cabot Circus.

Mark my words..."

Spooky or what? Could it be that because the Bristol Rugby Consortium is stuffed full with eager developers they might just be scratching their own backs, and why not?

Lets hope they are persuaded to leave Castle Green as Bristol's equivalent to London's Hyde Park, in which case Hitler's bombers would have at least had some unintended benefit to us locals after all.... at a terrible cost.

Resisting the relentless pressure of the builders is normally too much of a strain for the local politicians in the end, so I expect it to end up as concrete and bubble gum stained tarmac, eventually.

Just one thought. With retailing going south, will Cabot Circus end up as a vast empty white elephant? Perhaps it could act as a sort of human wild life zoo and cut out the need for the one on the Downs and its proposed extension at Cribbs Causeway.

Perhaps it could be the answer to a shortage of prison spaces?

Oh no..... I didnt mean to mention that dreaded place name.... Cribbs Causeway. Much as we appreciated Mr De Vere's postings, it might start up the thread again.

I'm on holiday for the next week and a half, booked around the Cheltenham Cricket Festival, which started well for Glos yesterday. I'm on the 9.40 am train from Parkway this morning.

It takes only 30 minutes to do the 40 miles and with no stops. With my Senior rail card, purchased for 24 pounds annually, I get a third off prices after 9.30 am, so a return is only 4 pounds 60p.

Of course, the great one armed bandit in the sky that determines the weather, seems, when I give it a pull, to be coming up with the tumblers falling on one cloud, one rain and one sun, perhaps. Better than last year, when all three tumblers fell on the rain cloud sign, to say the least, and ending up with biblical flooding which made even Noah look like an eternal optimist.

Last week, my mini break dash to the coast on the Weymouth train with my good friend Ray, who is now ever more resembling Harold Steptoe in his later years, turned up with three straight "suns", and the one armed weather bandit coughed up a jackpot, a deluge of one pound coins in the form of a heatwave.

We walked straight out of the station and onto the seafront and into a lovely hotel overlooking a sun kissed beach emblazoned with brightly coloured wind breaks, boisterous youths, fat ladies and ice cream slurping dads.

Using our bus passes, I have just acquired mine at the age of 60,we travelled for free on the crowded top deck of the hourly X53 coastal bus to beautiful Abbotsbury Sub Tropical Gardens by Chesil Beach, the next day along the coast further to a handsomely renovated sea front at Lyme Regis and on the third day a walk around a nature reserve along the sea front at Weymouth. I was roasted by the time I got home.

No chance these next few days, but the plan is to explore the Cotswold by bus, if it's raining. My weight now is at 15 st 2 pounds. England are, in the Test match with Sarf Effrikker, playing like Gloucestershire at the moment. It doesnt make it any easier to watch. Time for a clear out of the old guard and bring in the new. Thats sport! That's life!

See you at Cheltenham?

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 02/08/2008 17:04 by WilliamBlessing.

Stephen Jones is on Holiday.
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
03 August, 2008 11:05
When an Irresistible Force meets a Moveable Object....

If Sir Issaac Newton had been a rugby coach and not the world's top mathematical genius he might have discovered the Law of Gravity by being flattened by a series of flying headbutts as the All Blacks cleared out the ball at the breakdown. Instead he was tapped on his head by a falling apple. This left him with his brain intact to ponder the Laws of Nature, and the rest is History.

Australia were not so lucky and they are still trying to work out what hit them. The referee and his "assistant referees", no longer touch judges under the "fairys", didn't help much either, with a stream of straight errors such as a misinrepretation of the foot in touch when fielding the ball rule, giving the throw in to the attacking side, and later failing to punish not only head high tackles by the All Blacks, but late head high tackles, and late head high tackles with the flying forehead, instead punishing an Aussie for some reason which was unclear.

I think we need sub titles from SKY for next season, so that we can all be vaguely clear as to what and what does not result in a free kick or penalty, and whether repeat professional fouls, at which the All Blacks with a home town ref are past masters, actually ever leads to a sin binning. Yesterday apparently not. The Comedy Act by the Officials peaked with a last minute "try" awarded to the All Blacks when a blind man with a stick could have seen the ball had not been touched down, but thrown at the line.

The only thing that can stop the All Blacks winning the World Cup which is so blatently theirs by right, as they are the best rugby team in the World, and I mean it, is if they get used to blustering their way around the Officials until they come up against someone like Wayne Barnes who is actually prepared to Enforce the Rules, whatever they might be. For example, the contentious sin binning in the World Cup semi final against France in Cardiff of the All Blacks centre for cynically taking out the man and so denying the French a try was a "travesty" as far the All Black pundits and camp followers were concerned. In a World Cup final they could be unsettled by correct refereeing so what not invite Wayne Barnes to officiate in their Tri Nation games? The guy and his assistants yesterday were a joke.

That doesnt change the fact that the All Blacks yesterday put in a near perfect performance and the Aussies did well to keep the score down if not avoiding permanent brain damage. The only thing missing was any doubt about who was going to win.

And so to the cricket and the Test Match at Edgbaston. My two next door neighbours, both sporting pundits of the highest order, at least in their own minds, were convinced that after England had folded leaving South Africa 280 to win, England were now firm favourites. Having watched Glos at Cheltenham and knowing what a poor team looks like, I betted them 5 pounds each that England would lose. One of them, wisely on second thoughts, backed out, the other took on the bet and I am now sadly 5 pounds better off, although I would willingly have lot the bet, if I could have.

And at at Cheltenham Glos folded up on the fourth day, which was not a surprise to say the least. So betting wise, the big one armed weather bandit in the sky seems to be coming with two rains and one cloud for the next week. Searching on the Internet for bus and train time tables for a planned trip to Minehead and beyond leaves me staring at timetables for buses for the year 2005. I wonder?

The marvels of the internet permit me to see that Glamorgan second XI are at home on Monday August 4th in the stunning new SWALEC stadium, previously prettier named Sophia gardens in the Semi Finals of the one day trophy. It could be worth a visit if the sun is shining.

But all is not doom and gloom on the sporting front as I can report to my amazement that on consecutive days I have broken the World record for the Horfield Common Run, shaving 55 seconds off the previous record, set by me, a few weeks ago of 26 minutes and 05 seconds, coming in Saturday morning at 25 min 10 secs, and this morning, without particularly trying a further 15 seconds at 24 minutes 55 seconds. My next door neighbour is talking of taking up the challenge, but as of yet I'm the only one competing, so I remain undefeated champion. Thats what I call true sporting greatness!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/08/2008 20:44 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: Stephen Jones is on Holiday.
dpw (IP Logged)
04 August, 2008 00:15

With you new level of fittness I think you should have given the train a miss and cycled to Cheltenham.
I see that the Festival should have started with a helicopter landing with the ball but was cancelled as the crew were called to an emergency. They had to rely on Tom Graveney to bring one along. T'was a pity he left his bat at home.


Re: Stephen Jones is on Holiday.
DaveAitch (IP Logged)
04 August, 2008 11:45
William, what a great athlete you have become (or returned to being). Since shedding those extra pounds (stones?) that few mile run round Horfield common has become a cakewalk for you; or should that be, that since you stopped eating cake it is no longer a walk for you.

I wouldn't know what the weather is doing in Sophia Gardens. It is certainly raining up here, Wirral. As it rained on each day of the first four weeks I spent in Cardiff, I would hazard a guess that it could be raining there too. Mind it did get through all of August, until the bank holiday Saturday, without any rain at all; but that was 1976.

A New Season Begins.......
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
12 August, 2008 22:00
I'd like to recommend to you the facility on the Official Web site provided by clicking on the "Bristv" option where it is possible to either listen or watch a series of interviews by the TV channel, Bristv, dedicated solely to Bristol Rugby Club. I was very impressed by the insight our Head Coach Richard Hill gave into the frightening intensity of pre season training. He has always had the unusual ability, not always shared by all in the sporting world, of speaking candidly yet with diplomacy, and not being afraid to share his knowledge with the rest of the world. This makes anything he says of interest. He's made some tough decisions and we are all aware that there isn't much room for sentimentality in this business.

So we stand at the threshold of a new era. A new captain, in a freshly painted Memorial Ground, so I am informed by the Gas Board's newsletter to us local residents. The new Footy Chairman, Mr Higgs, is determined to get the redevelopment back on track, so that means virtually anything can happen

Listening to our new captain's interview on Bristv confirmed my assumption that Joe El Abd is better doing his talking on the field than to a microphone. He mumbled away at a fearful rate of knots and I couldnt decipher more than one in three words. Fortunately we dont care about how he speaks to the press, as it's the score on the board at the end of the game by which we will judge him and his team. As Matt Salter steps down into the ranks, most pundits on these boards quietly and politely leave him out of their pre season selection. Perhaps he might surprise us, and not for the first time. But nothing will change the History Books which will record his unparalled success as Captain in these most difficult of times. He is, and will always be, a legend and we salute him for his achievements both on and off the field. Let us hope he can continue to do so.

So the new season approaches with our sending, for the first time ever, a specially picked team of 12, including our star player David Lemi, to attempt to win the Middlesex 7's, whilst at the same time taking on Exeter Chiefs this coming Saturday at their wonderful new ground Sandy Park. If you are thinking of going, and you arent on the Pope Mobile run by his Hilliness Father Chilly Mick, then catch a train perhaps. The ground is close to a branch line that leads from Exeter St David's down the beautiful banks of the River Exe estuary towards Exmouth. Why not make a weekend of it and stay in the picturesque coastal resort?

Richard Hill talks with insane intensity of the fat body mass ratio tests on returning players from their ten minute summer holiday. To us that means that spare tyre hanging over our trouser belt. You may be aware that I have been attempting to lose 4 stone in four months and return to 12 stone 12 pounds from an all time high of 16stone 12. So far in two months I have lost two stone, but the waist measurement has only fallen from 44 inches to 41. I am now using the half worn trousers that I had to discard on the way up. In 60 days I have run for 29 of them for 30minutes, my best time coming down from about 29 minutes 30 seconds to 24 minutes 40 seconds. However last Sunday I blew a gasket and went into an energy deficit crisis situation , so I am resting hoping that a creaking knee will recover at the same time. During my holiday period coinciding with the Cheltenham Cricket festival I have "beasted" myself up a Welsh mountain on a discarded railway line,converted to a cycle path from Abergavenny to Bryn Mawr, rising 1000 feet in eight miles, and also cycled about ten miles up the Taff Trail from Merthyr Tydfil to the resevoirs northwards, in the Brecon Mountains. I hope to describe these adventures in my "Rural Rides", if the muse takes me. Apart from that, the Cricket Festival delights as ever, even if dodging showers and flying cricket balls, as the daily pilgrimage on the train took me flying through the lovely Gloucestershire countryside and through the elegant streets of Regency Cheltenham to the College Ground.

And so, as Autumn draws near, we turn to our rugger heroes to lighten up our lives. Listening to Mr Hill talk, they mean business. Let's hope we can keep ever so quiet and surpise a few people who are in the back of their minds, writing us off. So will I be at Twickenham to watch the sevens or Exeter to watch the First XV? Or will I be in the garden recovering from a run around the common? South Africa take on All Blacks in the Tri Nations on SKY. Whatever, next weekend rugby returns to our back pages, and we can't wait, and we love our brave rugger team and the dedicated staff at Bristol Rugby Club, the greatest rugby club in the world.

Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 12/08/2008 22:31 by WilliamBlessing.

The Honeymoon is over....
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
16 August, 2008 21:53
Exeter Chiefs 15 Bristol 6

So we've enjoyed the summer long, it has been bit a bit "damp" to be honest, gaily throwing brightly coloured beach balls to our lovely young bride, followed by long lingering walks, arm in arm along the sea shore, holding hands as the sun sets, and although that first night of marriage wasn't a complete success in that the action lasted all of about three minutes...well no one's perfect.

But we've spent long enough in the gym admiring our lithe torso's and gimpy little weight lifting gloves, perhaps that peroxide blonde streak of hair is a little too much, and "should I wear my white or my golden boots? I don't know, decisions decisions...." (Ed. Get on with it, Blessing you fool........You know you might be annoying those Tiger fans of yours....on the Official Board)

But rugby players and their coaches have their feelings too.... as well as us humble scribes...and no one can ever accuse us of not wanting to do our best...yet despite the best of intentions, this defeat by Exeter RFC was the most humiliating and embarrassing performance since......the last time we played them back in the year we won promotion.

We played them at their thoroughly wrotten dump of an old ground in the centre of Exeter. The pitch, I seem to recall, was circular, not square. It had for a perimeter a sandy beach for mangy old greyhound dogs to run around. Was it a dog track? And an insane harridan of a woman on the tannoy spent the whole game shouting angrily at us. I was plunged into such a deep depression by that game that it finally ended with me being fired from my job for SouthEastWater,prounounced, "Wharta", for being a complete loony, would you believe.

Which left me free, thank God, to do what I what I really wanted to do, and that was follow Bristol on their travels in the great spring offensive of 2005 and we turned things around at Plymouth with a sensational performance, followed up by a desperate win at Coventry and the ritual sacrifice of the Exeter Chiefs, their shell shocked fans looking on with splendid Indian Head sets and all, by 70 points in front of the SKY cameras at the Memorial Ground, Bristol.

It left me feeling strangely deflated and concerned for their evident suffering. We all know how it feels to fail. We all know we have to pick ourselves up and start all over again. Even as I write, one of our players, Darren Crompton is feeling the torment of a broken ankle and many more players tonight will nurse torn muscles, battered bodies and wounded pride.

These players put themselves on the line. Who am I to criticise? Not I. More to encourage. But let us not gild the lily. Let's be honest. Our Bath friends mock us as being the clowns of the "Cabot Circus", the soon to be opened Mother of All Shopping Malls, in the centre of Bristol's Broadmead. (Broadmead meaning, by the way, the wide meadow. A lovely name, is it not?). Would we be lion tamers or trapeze artists of the circus? At the moment all we are capable of doing is shovelling sheet. But then somebodies got to do it.

On the train home, I asked my fellow supporters what I could say about the game and not be cruel. They said..."Well, we turned up". And so we did. And we all had a merry time. It was a fun day out, despite the rain. For that I thank the Exeter Chiefs in particular and the World in general, and beg forgiveness if I offend, or worse, bore you with my ramblings.

As for the game, we couldn't control the ball. Our errant Kiwi Hooker, who last season so encouraged us with his fire and new found accuracy throwing in, once again had his radar on the blink. If he had been in charge of directing our missiles in a nuclear war they would have narrowly missed Buckingham Palace rather than hit the Kremlin... God forbid.

So what do we do? We go back to the training ground and look forward to playing Bath and fire into them with all the fury of a team possessed and then when we come up against the Leicester Tigers, who some of their supporters on their rather precious and slightly pompous Official Board, but not on the Unofficial Board I hasten to add, have, I suggest an over inflated opinion of their own literary merits.

Let us give them something meaty to "chew" over. Our heads in their mouth? We shall see.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 16/08/2008 22:20 by WilliamBlessing.

Newport 14 Bristol 56
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
30 August, 2008 21:41
Newport 14 Bristol 56....or more accurately....

Newport 2nd XV 0 Bristol 1st XV 42 after first 40 minutes
Newport 2nd XV 14 Bristol 2nd XV 12 after another 40 minutes.

Saturday 30th 2008 Rodney Parade playing surface.... gert lush... weather fab. crowd boozy but friendly except to the referee....number of chips on plate per hot dog 24.7.....time of ball in play.... no idea. rules? could have been ELVs but didnt notice.

Richard Hill played the first team for the first half and the second team for the second half. That much was made clear when we look at the scores achieved in each team's 40 minutes. In splendid sunshine played in ideal running rugby conditions Bristol First XV mesmerised a Newport RFC team that are the hosts of the regional side, the Gwent Dragons. Let us say therefore that they might be classified as a Newport 2nd XV.

So the score line of the first half was Newport 2nd 0 Bristol 1st 42. David Lemi was a class apart from all on show, but none the less Bristol handled the ball with skill and ran with strength and purpose.

At half time something very strange occurred. It seemed at first as if the 2nd XV would carry on where the Firsts had left off as they quickly scored two good tries, with Luke Eves and Greg Bardon running strongly, Linklater in the loose made good ground, James Philips and Pennycook have matured over the "summer" and look suitably beefy and unshaven. But scrappy play at half back seemed to encourage the Newport team and their bellicose supporters, who had spent the first 60 minutes wailing at the ref, suddenly found they had something positive to rave about, as Newport scored two tries, one a huge knock on that even embarassed the home fans, and as both tries were converted, whereas one of ours was not, Newport 2nd XV beat Bristol United 14-12 in the second 40 minutes.

So we learnt a lot. We learnt what was the First team. And it is....

Luke Arscott at Full back. Lemi and Tom Arscott on the wings, Kevin Maggs and possibly Fatiolofa at centre , Jarvis and Thomas at half back, Blaney, Irish and Hobson front row, Winters and Budgett in the second row and Blowers, El Abd and a fresh looking Ward-Smith in the back row.

Luke Eves pressed for a place. I presume that Alex Clarke may be not quite fit, but then I know nothing about the front row as I've never played there. The seconds were poor. Whether Newport brought on stronger players for the second half I cant say, as one Newport player seems to look like every other. Perhaps a Newport fan could fill us in.

I also learnt a bit about the History of Newport, as I visited an interesting museum situated amongst a derelict 1980's style shopping precinct on the way to ground. I learnt that all museums seem to have identical exhibits with only the place names changed. Is there some conspiracy going on here at the rate payers expense or is it a sensible economy measure?

So,in rugby terms, some pride was restored and we were given a glimmer of hope as the Mighty All Conquering Bath come rolling into town accomapnied by their delightful set of sporting supporters, next Sunday week.

Game on! Bring it on!

p.s. The Bristol Evening Post informs me that Noah's Ark Zoo in Failand is planning to introduce five tigers next year. Let's hope it isnt still raining or it all might have floated away by then.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 30/08/2008 21:49 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: Lucky win for Bath against the run of the play...ref robbed us blind....elvs are pants....
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
07 September, 2008 20:45
We've paid the money for the season ticket so we may as well enjoy the rest of the season, and despite the earnest attempts of our team it's pretty obvious that we aren't going to win many games. So let's be positive and admire the superb rugby that Bath played today. Butch James oozed class, as did Classens at scrum half, and the support play and running of the rest of their team was of the highest order.

I look forward to watching Bath against other teams in the Premiership that could give them a closer game. For the supporters of Gloucester, the prospect must be quite unnerving but they at least could hope for a win. We budgeted for an average crowd of 3,500 at Newport for two years. We've done well to hang onto real prospects like Tom Arscott this year, and David Lemi is a star worth paying to watch. But the Guinness Premiership is of a World Class standard, and as a result of SKY money is developing into the rugby equivalent of the English football Barclays Premiership, featuring the best players recruited from all over the World and as a consequence watched all over the world.

That Bristol managed to provide a hint of a challenge to the extremely talented and yes, entertaining Bath team today, warrants some applause. In fact Bristol in places played quite well. A full house, of mainly Bristol fans, although dissappointed at the result, I think acknowleged that Bath were by far the better side, so let's appreciate the game for what it was, a pleasant social affair and an opportunity to reaquaint ourselves, and see some very fine rugby by both sides.

I am now going out to the bottom of the garden with my old service revolver and put an end to it all.

Re: Lucky win for Bath against the run of the play...ref robbed us blind....elvs are pants....
Bod (IP Logged)
08 September, 2008 00:46
Did you keep the silencer on Bill, I did'nt hear anything.....or perhaps, as a Briz fan there was bug9er all to hit!

Re: Lucky win for Bath against the run of the play...ref robbed us blind....elvs are pants....
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
08 September, 2008 07:17
Bod, I was firing blanks by mistake, so I'm still alive, Praise The Lord!

I think I'll cheer when I feel like it thanks.
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
12 September, 2008 09:29
On the Official Board a poster, Mr Barscott-Case, asks me to make my mind up as to where I would prefer Bristol to play, the Premiership or Nat Div One. Others bewail our lack of vocal "support" for our team. I replied as below. Part of this posting is repeated in a thread on "Match statistics" but I like to keep my words of "wisdom",(or otherwise), in one easy to avoid spot.

Dear Mr Barscott-Case,

My reference to shooting myself after the game was a mere literary device to attempt to add some humour to what I thought, as I read my posting prior to pressing "submit" and sending it forth, was a rather dull and sober account of my feelings about our defeat.

But Bristol played their part in making Bath's performance all the more impressive. We didn't roll over, we gave them a game. We made them work for their victory

On the Unofficial Board, a poster has drawn our attention to the match statistics, which could be used to show how close we were to Bath. Others bewailed our lack of noise supporting our team, and I responded with the following post.

" The only statistic that matters is the final score. Personally speaking, the rest is garbage, visual clutter like those headlines that fly across the bottom of a screen when you are watching an England World Cup rugby match on BBC TV, telling you that Forest Green are leading Ebbs Fleet United 1-0 in the Pound Pushers Plate Cup and that the number of chips per sausage at Newport RFC has gone up from 24.01 to 24.03.......

Astonishing.......not.......really.....zzzzzz.......zzzzzz... . I feel a phone call coming on to Geoff Twentyman's Football Phone in show tonight on Radio Bristol.....the in zzz....the ....West......zzzz.

As for complaints about us not cheering the team on against Bath last Sunday, what do you expect us to do when sporting-wise we were swinging on the end of a rope. Silence, and a polite silence at that, mixed with appreciation for the superb play of our opponents, was the natural response.

No one was surprised by the result. However, sport is all about ups and downs. Did not Bob Dylan say something like, "been down so long, down seems like up to me"? And as the surprise we all felt by England's unexpected win in Croatia on Wednesday, the good feeling it gave us was all the more enjoyable.

Teams can turn it around. Things can change. All Bristol can do is get their heads down and work hard. Results will eventually come. And then we can cheer, can we not? Maybe this Saturday at the Stoop? Unlikely, but nothing is impossible. Have hope.

I won't be able to go to watch Bristol this Saturday as I am working, someone has to do it, but that's why I am off work today, contemplating a train ride down to Taunton to watch Somerset's struggle against Durham in the County Championship.

But first must come my 60 press ups and 30 minute run around the common. I now weigh 14 stone 2 pounds and have had to start wearing a pair of 40 inch waist trousers, down from 16 stone 12 pounds and 44 inches. Perhaps a stone and a half still to go and 36 inch waist. Is anyone else on a keep fit and lose weight drive?

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 12/09/2008 11:02 by WilliamBlessing.

A Nice Day for a Swim.
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
17 September, 2008 23:34
It was quite a weekend for sports lovers, and as I was working Saturday, I had the Friday off, which permitted me to take the train down to Taunton to watch the last day of the Somerset versus Durham County Cricket Championship match. At last the sun shone, if weakly, and the game drifted by like a silent river, as we chatted about various rumours circulating the terraces, such as that Craig Spearman, Gloucestershire's star veteran batsman, may not be able to play again as a result of a depressed cheek bone and eye injury.

An early end to the game as a draw, leaving both sides still in the title race, meant I was home in time to watch google eyed, on Eurosport 2, an extraordinarily intense and dramatic French Top 14 championship game between new boy big spenders Toulon and Gay Paree Stade Francais that reached boiling point in an all inclusive massive brawl where more clean punches were landed in 60 seconds than in the whole of Joe Bugner and Audley Harrisons combined careers. Stade held on to win.

So into work the next day and in the lunch hour I took a pleasant walk through the gracefully restored Queens Square, the scene of the Bristol Riot's of 1831, where a information board depicted scenes of burning houses and drunken pillage. It appears that the young Isambard Kingdom Brunel , newly arrived in Bristol, was immediately signed up as a special constable and escorted the Lord Mayor across the roof tops with his collection of valuable paintings and silverware. I expect he voted Tory then.

Onwards through the square across the new footbridge, named after a young 18th century black servant Pero, and into the now dated "Millenium Square", but newly enclosed and buzzing with sports activities promoting youth participation. Somwhere, amongst would be the kick boxers, basketball players, cricket and rugby pitches, was an ever expanding red giant of an exploding star, John Barnes and a Hollywood good looking Phil de Glanville. I was amused by a fabulous diving tackle by a very fat young boy on a tackle bag. Wow! Bris could do with him. He was the product of the grandly named Stockwood Sharks. This was the youth team of the more prosaically named British Gas rugby team or was it the Phones.? I used to support them back in the 70's when they played along the road at the Civil Service ground. Apart from the touch judge I was the only other person, not even a replacement of coach in sight. As a result I was free to give them every bit of advice under the sun.

The music in the Millenium Square provided by GWR was good too. When did I last go to a disco? Saturaday Night fever about 1976 was it? Rave on! Where's my loon pants and mullett wig?

All too soon it was back to work for the afternoon session when things go quiet and I took on a wager with my boss, who is permitted inter net access, on the scores of the three Guinness Premiership games being played as we toiled away. He's of Irish descent and both canny and knowledgable on rugby matters, being a Munster supporter from Leinster, and I bet that Quins would beat Bris by 20 clear points, he said only by 5 points, I guessed that Bath would win by 15 points, he said by 3, and I had Leicester to beat Irish by 10, he said Irish would win.
So I got two out of three closer than he, and picked up a pound coin as my winnings.

It doesn't take the rugby brain of Brian Moore or the analytical mind of John Maynard Keynes to see the reasons for Bristol's current downward spiral, and it's quite unfair to criticise the coaches or the board for the uncertainty over playing arrangements that has put us in such a spin, but that doesn't change the fact that if we do get relegated, and it's looking even now to be us rather than Newcastle, there would't be much point in keeping on 90 per cent of the squad and 100 percent of the three coaches.

So Bristol are playing for their collective skins starting this Friday against big bad Sharky Sale. I can hear the ominous music to the film "Jaws" and those big fins threatenly sculling about beyond the surf.

I think it's a lost cause personally, even this early. Still Penzance, Plymouth and perhaps Exeter here we come. Nice day out on the train. Walk around the ground. Watch new young players coming through, maybe get promoted and then watch them all get the chop again. Life goes on and it's so UNFAIR!

So Saturday evening I watched the Tri Nations decider on video, without knowing the score. Drat. The All Blacks won. Must have been a forward pass somewhere the ref missed. And Barf lost to Glos. Oh dear. Butch James was howling at the moon. Even then, Barf nearly won.

What happened next? Sunday morning. I did a run around the common, watched the Grand Prix, was there a footy match somewhere in there? I tried to watch Munster beating up the Dragons at 6pm but too one sided and too late in the weekend and restlessly watched the new ITV 4 rugger highlights program, but all I could see was endlessly repeated adverts as I skipped channels and some chap from a boy band kidding around with Lewis Moody who was trying to pull down some chaps ruggers shorts during an interview. Laugh..the things they get up to!

And so Bristol's support seems to be like Paxo's underpants, not up to iron ball's requirements. It was with some relief that I could get back to work and ask the first angry caller of the day how I could help them. "You can help me..." shouted an irate elderly Glaswegian gentleman.."by SODDING OFF......" "Thanks for calling" I replied merrily which seemed to upset him to the point of hysteria, so I got a result there.

Bristol Rugby Club have their chance this Friday night, at the Memorial Ground,at home to the Sharks. Dum dum dum dum dumdumdumdum,,,,,,,,arrrrrrgghhhhhhh..........will there be blood in the water? And if so, whose?

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 19/09/2008 07:38 by WilliamBlessing.

Little Bo Peep and Ealing Trailfinders Rugb Club. A Good weekend.
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
22 September, 2008 07:46
Little Bo Peep, Ealing Trailfinders Rugby Football Club and sunshine. What more could you want?

When the half time entertainment, consisting of a contest in rugby skills, between Little Bo Peep and Brizzly the Bear, is the highlight of the evening, one has to wonder what the 30 players on the pitch were doing. There was no shortage of bump and grind of a most ferocious nature, but the tactics of lumping a long ball down the middle made me think I was watching the Rovers on a good day. When the ball was sliced into touch I became even more convinced, reminding me of a famous right back from the 1960's, Bummy Hillard, who, with an ample backside, in rather tight little satin shorts, as was the fashion of the day, was guaranteed to launch the ball without fail into row Z of the enclosure, to the groans of the Eastville faithful. Doug now runs a sports shop in Kingswood.

We all spend most of our time slumped in front of the TV waiting to be surprised, with diminishing returns, and cliches abound in every genre. One of them is Channel Four programs about "Killer Sharks" or "Canadian Bears", and it's a truisim to say that predators will always go for an easy meal, and that they "rarely attack human beings". The bear will go for a "trash can out the back of the trailer home", and if he can find a jar of honey, so much the better. And the same applies to Sharks.

In rugby terms, Sale were truely the wild animal, only doing the minimum required to bring back the bacon. They didn't need to attack, just sit back and let Bristol cough up an easy meal. Which, despite much huffing and puffing, they did. The one chance Bristol had of winning, when their ferocious battering on the Sharky front door endangered a transformation of the Sharks into Little Red Riding Hood, was squandered when Bristol retreated 40 yards for an hopeless long shot pot at goal which would have only brought a flakey 9-9 scoreline, with plenty of time for Sharks to get their fins flapping and score a try, which they nearly did, purely out of anger, at the end.

Bristol fans, of which I assure you I am one, seemed to be encouraged by the welcome return of a rampant Alfie To'ola, and a dynamic rebirth of Big Desperate Dan Ward-Smith. Neil Brew showed why he is the one back with guaranteed go forward, and the return of Roy Rogers, Roy Winters on his white horse trigger, gives us a glimpse of hope. But the shocking misjudgement of not going for a winning try makes me certain it is time for Joe El-Abd to return to the ranks and play for his place. Without doubt a good man and a decent rugby player, it's not fair to make him a fixture. Blowers, Grieve, Pennycook, James Phillips, even Matt Salter, should step in and give him a break. We need a win if we are to survive. And it didnt look very likely Friday night.

At half time, Little Bo Peep was summoned from the crowd, and from a long way off she looked to me to be rather an attractive busty young lady with long blonde hair, short ra ra shepherdesses frock and low cut blouse, nice silver rubber wellington boots, complete with a golden crook. She was up against Brizzly the Bear, who is impish by nature and very fit, so the task of running the length of the pitch, dodging plastic poles in a slalom, was made easy for him by his adopting the dubious practice of running straight through them. Little Bo Peep, bless her heart, playing fair and very ladylike, bounded curvaciously in and out, and although Brizzly in cheating had won at least a 30 second adavantage, in having to complete the course by dropping a goal, was struggling, as Bears, as we know, do not have good eyesight, and by the time Little Bo Peep had arrived, he had missed not only the posts but the ball as well with his clawed great foot.

However, the lady in the dress found kicking a rugby ball in wellies equally impossible, and I think David Rose ended the contest by sin binning Brizzly for punting a drop goal and Litte Bo Peep for being a girl, or was she? This was par for the course in a series of mysterious decisions. But I think, could detect a long blonde beard somewhere, and I think after all he was a chap out on a stag night. Thank God I'm in bed by 10pm.

On my way home, I contemplated what I would do the next day, and ovecome by a spirit of adventure inspired by Little Bo Beep, I noticed in the Bristol Evening Posts Rugby Column by the excellent Matt Cain, that Dings Crusaders RFC were playing away in National Division Three South to Ealing Rugby Football Club, or Ealing Trail Finders Rugby Club, to give them their correct title. I started to make plans......the weather forcast promised a glorious sunny late Autumnal day.....and Lee Best star full back ex of Richmond, Bristol, Bath and Worcester was playing. I started by googling Ealing Trailfinders RFC. "What was that all about?" I thought.


Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 22/09/2008 08:10 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: Little Bo Peep and Ealing Trailfinders Rugby Club. A Good weekend.
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
25 September, 2008 21:39
The story so far...

The weekend had begun on a clear cool night under the bright lights of the Memorial Ground where Bristol "entertained" Sale, losing 6-9 in a match that resembled the Battle of the Somme, lots of casualties but precious little breaching of the oppositions defences. It was settled by a display of long range artillery, some more accurate than others. The "management" were "surprised" that all of 8,000 fans decided to come, and as they have decided this year to only take money at 4 box office ticket points and not at the turnstile the end result was a queue out onto Filton Avenue, and a wait of about 30 minutes to get in, in some cases 15 minutes after a kick off that had already been delayed 10 minutes to allow the crowd to enter. Like Basil Faulty of Faulty Towers, running an hotel would be so easy if it weren't for customers wanting to stay there....

The next morning. Saturday 20th Spetember.

The Internet is a wonderful place for making plans, least not "Holidays", and many people devise their own. But sometimes it pays to be advised by a professional, especially with things like foreign travel, where things can go "pear shaped". Don't we know. I think that is where the independent traveller might find Trail Finders useful. Personally, I don't "do" holidays. Too much like going to war. So a day out raving away to some unknown spot on a whim with Dings Crusaders playing, appeals. With the promise of a glorious early Autumn day I went on the Ealing Trail Finders Rugby Club web site and searched for a map as to where it was, always helpful to know if you want to get there. (Ed. Get on with it Blessing...please).

The map showed the ground to be next to a suburban railway station, Castle Bar Park, and consulting my old Ordnance Survey map of the whole of West London, I could see that the way to get there was a train to Paddington and then another train back down the line for ten minutes before the branch line curved off North through Drayton Park station and onto Castle Bar Park. "Cross the footbridge, walk along a road for five minutes, turn left and left and into the ground", said the web site.

Game on! Next, the cost of the fare. By paying 24 pounds a year for an over 60 rail card, you get one third off all journeys after 9.30 am week days and all day weekends. So the normal off peak and weekend fare is reduced from 41.50 quid to 27.40. If you buy a return ticket to Didcot and a return ticket from Didcot to Castle Bar Park at the same time, perfectly legal as long as the train you travel on stops at Didcot, no need to get off, the standard fare is reduced to 32.80, and with a rail card this comes down to 21.75 about. Realistic for the lowly paid call centre worker I am proud to be.

More to come, I must go for a run and then down to Taunton to meet Ray and watch Somerset versus Lancashire in their now difficult attempt to win the County Championship for the first time. I've booked two days off to herald the end of summer. Tomorrow, perhaps we may go to Glos vs Essex second day, depending if I feel like sitting in a cemetery surrounded by tombstones, or are they spectators?. Keith, after a whole summer off watching cricket, every day, has been asked by Computershare to return to work for the winter. He is both very relieved and pleased!

Yesterday began with me setting a new World Record for the Horfield Common Run, of 23 minutes and 50 seconds. Waist size down from 44 to 39 inches, weight from 16 stone 12lbs to 13 stone 13 lbs. Then I watched Glos and then Somerset at Taunton as planned.

But back to last Saturday and my trip to Ealing. What a wonderful day. What joy, in the bright sunshine, speeding across the Berkshire Downs, as fields of wheat were at last being harvested, by a tractor with the tracked wheels of a tank, to stop the soil being compacted, in one case.

Arriving at Paddington I noticed the glass roof was a bit grimy, but this was "the Smoke" after all. Across the concourse to platform 14 and the suburban train back out to Ealing and Castle Bar Park. Alighting and crossing the track by footbridge I wandered into a deep green corridor and heard the sound of a choir singing "Jerusalem". "How inspiring", I thought, imagining it to be some sort of Saturday mid day West Indian religious out door gathering. I opted to explore the path alongside the line and soon I could see the modernistic club house of the Trail Finders sports ground. A gate to a sun lit glade to the left invited me in, and seeing it was the sports field of the local primary school, I turned to leave and was invited into the Trailfinders ground on the other side of the lane.

I spoke to the gentleman running the complex, David Robinson, who explained that the founder of the travel company had bought the sportsground of Great Western Railway, GWR as it was then known in 1996, on condition it was opened up to the community and could not be sold for development. And what a splendid job they have done. Cricket, hockey and tennis thrive there along with the rugby. The Sunday morning football team had been asked to leave due to foul language by players and supporters,

Lee Best was injured on the first day of the season but he was supporting the team, and unfailingly courteous as ever, an excellent ambassador for any organisation. He's working full time in the city. And enjoying life.

Ealing Trailfinders Rugby Club blew Dings away, 46-9, seven tries to nil, which is some doing as Dings were very, very determined opposition. Dings coach Alan Martinojvic who as a rubgy coach and teacher at Colston School has provided English clubs with countless players, including Ollie Barkley and Tom Varndell, was quite bemused by his clubs demise.

On an adjoining pitch, my attention turned to Ealing Seconds contest a fiercely fought battle with Blackheath Second's, the away team winning 17-19 in the last minute. These second teams play on a Saturday in the Canterbury Shield consisting of second teams from Cornish Pirates , Plymouth, Exeter and the like, so I am led to believe. The standard was remarkably high. Tough fast skilful rugby.

What a pity our unadvertised A games are hidden away on a Monday night! What a waste.

As I left the ground I could hear the tannoy playing Jerusalem. I realised that I had entered without paying the 7 pounds entrance fee. This is geting to be a regular occurence. So here's 7 pounds worth of advertising in return.

So back on the train at 4.59 pm back to Paddington and onto the 5.30 pm for Bristol Temple Meads, stopping at Didcot of course, and home by 7.15pm.

What a day. Praise the Lord and praise Ealing Trailfinders Rugby Club.

The Canterbury Shield []


Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 22/09/2013 07:52 by WilliamBlessing.

Loony Tunes.
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
30 September, 2008 12:55
Mother Nature drew the curtains on Summer this weekend and as the sun set in the west over the rolling countryside, Bugs Bunny, carrot in hand and with toothy grin said "that's all folks!" leaving us to contemplate what winter will hold. Fine crisp Autumn days perhaps. But stumps are drawn and the cricket season reached a dramatic climax worthy of William Shakespeare himself, with first one team looking like winning and stumbling and then another, for finally the victors Durham to emerge in Act IV scene IV. Thrown into the plot was a healthy dose of relegation, whilst at the very bottom of barrel, wooden spoon firmly in hand, Gloucestershire CCC bravely fought out a draw thus maintaining their unique record of not winning a game all season. The Bristol Rugby team look well on their way to emulating their fellow citizens.

Meanwhile, in the auditorium, there are signs of riot amongst the audience as various posters demand the heads of all three Bristol coaches on a plate, along with the Board and anyone else in the firing line including those players not even selected. Surprisingly, Dean Ryan, coach of Gloucester RFC, looks like a candidate for the tumbril as their forum members busily knit away watching their once heroes pass by in the cart on the way to the awaiting, gleaming guillotine. Unfortunately this is not the best of times to seek a return to a career in the City. So nervous times all round.

For me, the sporting week began with two days annual leave, Wednesday and Thursday, watching Glos at Bristol in the morning and then Somerset at Taunton in the afternoon. The new stand at the County Ground named after Marcus Trescothick afforded an excellent view of the great man himself getting a thick edge to first slip in the make or break second innings and this, followed by Justin Langer doing likewise and rearranging the furniture on the deck of The Good Ship Somerset CCC {sponsored by the Titantic} with his flaying bat, brought a few grimaces around the pavilion. Personally I always find it vastly amusing to hear the sound of spintered wood, perhaps a trifle cruel, but I can't help it. It's part of the game. Rage behind closed doors spilling out into public. Sport as a profession must be one of the most anxiety inducing careers imaginable. Apart from customer service in a call centre.

So, it was to Friday night and on the transistor in the kitchen to hear the homely provincial accent of a well informed Mark Hoskins of Radio Bristol reporting from the Newcastle Falcons game, and after a few minutes and a rapid tea,I I decided to go next door and watch Leicester versus Wasps. I slept through it mostly, awaking to become aware that somehow, Wasps had won. Tigers mugged again in their own back yard by those damned Pesties. Unfair! Perhaps those sensitive front row forwards need counselling, so that they can explain why they suddenly felt "unwell". I know the feeling and it's real. It always came on when I had to go to Sunday School. Earlier in the evening whilst still awake, I had dabbled with the Stade Francais versus Bourgoin game on Euro sport but I found I had become somewhat bored with those handsome chaps with long curly blonde hair in pink shirts and flowery shorts. What is coming over me? So switching back to SKY I stuck it out for a while with good old Anglo Saxon Roast beef from the heart of England until mercifully dozing off.

The next day, Saturday, and down the County Ground Bristol for the fourth and final day against Essex, in lovely sunshine, and saying a slightly sad farewell for the winter to my friends around the ground and off to watch Dings against Havant in Lockleaze. Entrance prices had gone up to 8 pounds, if not a member, or 3 pounds if you paid 40 pounds for the year. Gulp! So forking out the money, for once, I watched a complete turn around in fortunes for our local side from their pasting away to Ealing Trailfinders last week. Havant were good but Dings just ran straight through them all day, 55-14.

And so home on the pushbike, to watch the highlights of the Saracens Northampton game at 9 pm on SKY, but it was delayed, first by greyhound racing and then speedway which proved quite an interesting diversion when mixed in with the Hitler Channel, with familiar grainy black and white pictures of the Furhrer gayly walking around Paris in the Springtime 1940. Oh happy days. Finally at 10.30 pm the rugby started, but by half time, although awake, I wished I had been asleep, and anyway I had to be up early to watch Match of the Day, so I gave up and went to bed. Sunday morning, without knowing the scores, I almost got through to the end of the program but gave up on Middlebrough versus Wigan was it. Hull beating Arsenal was very good to watch. Drama! Anger! Jubilation! I had things to do.

A punishing run around the common was then followed by an attempt to explore Stert Point, 10 miles west of Bridgwater, by bike, and my plans to catch the Bristol to Taunton train leaving Temple Meads at 12.44am and arriving at Taunton at 1.15pm to catch the small train back from Taunton to Bridgwater at 1.20 began to founder as the fast train slowed outside the main station and was three minutes late.

Passengers running down the steps and along the underpass towards the other platform where the connecting train stood were assured that under no circumastances would that train wait, and so it didnt, pulling away as we struggled up the stairs and onto the platform. The young "dispatch officer", when I asked him why he hadn't permitted us to catch it, said he "wasn't prepared to delay the train", even though at mid day on a Sunday they are rarer than a copper at a mugging. I gave him a few colourful words of advice whereupon he accused me of being abusive and threatened to "throw me off the station". How very helpful. I rode instead back along the canal about 8 miles through the countryside to Bridgwater, in a mood, trying to thank walkers for permitting me to pass, not always succeeding, I regret.

And so to bed, ready for work the next day, and a brief glimpse of the Grand Prix from Singapore enlivened by someone trying to drive away from the petrol pumps without paying, was it? Sent me soundly to sleep. By now, anyone reading this must be feeling well and truly drowsy themselves, so happy dreams sports lovers, especially the Bath fans currently in clover. And oh yes, I forgot, Bristol are playing Saracens tomorrow night. A change into their new hooped shirts may bring a change in fortunes, maybe, but one thing is certain, someone, somewhere, is going to be very, very angry. And bored? Tell me how you feel. I'm off to the new Cabot Circus shopping centre to have a look at the new strip in the club shop in the Georgian Arcade. I wonder what the team is?

Re: Loony Tunes.
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
05 October, 2008 11:24
De Nile......the longest river in Africa?

As any skool boy nose, and there were plenty of them in the Bass Terrace last Wednesday watching Bristol play Saracens, encouraged by a bargain 5 pound entry price, swimmin in de Nile is all very nice, except for a few dodgy crocs here and there as one floats along past the pyramids, camels and palm trees on either side. But when our Head Coach, Richard Hill can't see what a poor team performance that was, made worse by playing an unfit place kicker, who then proceeds to prove it by missing a series of easy chances, then our coach really is in a Berlin Bunker mentality, and possibly on prozac as well as a remedy for depression. Delusion, or denial, (de Nile, geddit?), is the classic condition of the stressed out leader, and Richard is wallowing in it. And there are plenty of "crocs" around ready to snap.

I have never been so bored by a game as last Wednesday night. It was all so very predictable. I felt sorry for the kids in the crowd, most with apparent attention deficit disorder, who had to entertain themselves somehow or other by horseplay, and as I moved away to a more mature part of the ground, I found myself in the company of middle aged drunks shouting at our replacement kicker to go for the corner in the closing five minutes, when faced with a penalty right in front of the posts, which thankfully was converted, to give us a losing bonus point. Still, they seemed happy with their two pint plastic mugs, and so no doubt was "the management" with the bar takings. So no problem there.

As I walked away from the ground after the final whistle, safely negotiating a couple of shaven headed bouncers dressed in possibly the grubbiest pair of black Primark bri-nylon suits on offer, averting my eyes from their evil glare, as they posed like bodybuilders on sentry guard at the exit from the club house, I realised how charmless and downmarket the evening was. With some relief, as I was at last free from "Horfield Prison", this being the nearest equivalent of our wish to being a fortress, I struck up a conversation with an elderly spectator and asked him what he thought of the game and the team. "Poor", he said "very poor, I used to be a season ticket holder, but I won't be coming back after that."

I was too depressed to say much or even write on the boards, as there was no point in stating to me what was the obvious, but when I read that Mr Hill and several fans thought we played well and things would soon get better, I was prompted to comment. One piece of successful planning was the partial solution to the queues at the inadequate four ticket sales points. Unfortunately this was achieved by a drop in attendance of a thousand or so from the previous game, and even with two minutes to go to kick off there were at least 500 fans trying to get in. A bold executive decision was made from on High by a suavely groomed Mr Corin Palmer who instructed a beleaguered lady steward in uniform with a megaphone to announce that "attention attention! cash only will now be taken at the main collection point". A large movement of bodies didn't seem to reduce the queues, strangley enough. As I handed my season ticket to a surprised and underemployed young lad on the turnstile, who was passing the time looking at his glowing mobile phone, I found that the spaces on the terraces were coming back.

There was a time when I had freedom to roam the vast open spaces on all four sides of the ground, until Rovers turned it into a concentration camp. There was a time, as I walked around the game, encouraging our team, whom I all knew and they knew me, I knew everyone in the crowd too. Not now.

As I looked up last Wednesday night at the grim assembled faces of Bristol's finest I was quite impressed how en masse they looked to be, sober and sensible, but glum.

Will the good times return? Only after changes are either forced on the club, or someone with a new vision comes in and makes them him or herself. I await as ever, with anticipation. Things cannot get worse after the Saracens game. Or can they?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/10/2008 11:36 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: De Nile......the longest river in Africa?
Big Dave (IP Logged)
05 October, 2008 23:30
William, why don't you get a blog?

Re: De Nile......the longest river in Africa?
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
06 October, 2008 07:28

What's a blog? If it's what I think it is, I fear no one would bother to read it. Or is it some sort of outside convenience?

Anyway, having my own easy to avoid, easy to access thread on this site is a sort of a blog isn't it?

How did your game go over the weekend? I intend to come and watch Blackheath play soon. I was a student at Woolwich Poly back in the late 60's, and I used to watch them play, along with the odd visit to Charlton Athletic at the valley.

I wonder if the old college is still there? What about the huge pile of coal at the power station opposite?

Re: De Nile......the longest river in Africa?
Big Dave (IP Logged)
06 October, 2008 09:12
No coal that I've seen, William. Thanks for your interest. We put Erith twos away rather convincingly, running in ten tries to their three, and I managed to get across the line for the first time this season. Next week we have, interestingly, Blackheath, but not their first team, and not at the Rectory Field. Blackheath are a funny lot at the moment. I don't think they can decide if they are ambitious or not. Time will tell.

A blog is a web based journal or diary. There are various sites which can host them, such as [] and [].

I think you'd be surprised who would read it. A friend of mine is a regular blogger, and finds all sorts of people read it and comment, and I think your special mix of rugby, cricket and local interest would drag a few people in from time to time, not least from here.

Tales from the Riverbank
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
11 October, 2008 22:19
Recently I decided to post my ramblings on other clubs message boards with mixed results..

The rules of the rugby web site forum states

" This forum is for all rugby related discussions. Please note that families of all ages have access to this board so please show respect for each other!"

I am criticised by correspondents on the Bath, Gloucester and Newcastle boards, but not by all, for boring them to death. To them I apologise and ask them to simply not read on, and hopefully avoid having to express their annoyance. In contrast, the Leicester Tigers, Sale and Northampton supporters often chip in with witty good hearted and intelligent thoughts of their own. That's fun. So what's the harm?

To my friends on the Bath forum, are we only permitted to speak here about Bath Rugby Club? This "Letter from Bristol" hopes to give anyone interested, no matter that they may number on the fingers of one hand, an insight to things happening in other places. It's in no way disrespectful to Bath, in fact as a Bristolian I have the greatest admiration for their achievements. Thats why I read the Bath Board and post on it. If you're not interested, just skip it and read something else, or start up a thread on another topic.

We are all interconected, and our interest in rugby generally extends to all clubs, from the smallest to the most mighty, at all levels and extending across the world and other competitions, and of course at international level.

The club versus country battle, the future structure and finance of the game as a whole, I think warrants some interest in Bristol's particular state of affairs. That's what my letter is aimed at illuminating. Hopefully without too much heat. Let's enjoy the season as best we can.

Other readers express their appreciation of my Letter, and of course I am most grateful for their sentiments. So far almost 15,000 visits have been made to my weekly posting on the Official Bristol Message Board, with only the odd expression of complaint, so I assume most have been interested, and a few occaisonally express their appreciation. Why do I do it? Partly because I enjoy it mostly, but not the criticism, and partly to promote rugby in general and Bristol in particular, and also junior club and University rugby at all levels. I do have a gift for writing, which alas some of my critics clearly don't, so I do my best to use it. Others do likewise. For example from the Saints message board, Robbie Richmond writes with insight.

Re: Letter from Bristol.
Posted by: Robby Richmond (IP Logged)
Date: 05 October, 2008 21:45

I wonder if the bookies are offering odds on the first DOR of coach to get the chop?

Mr Hill is struggling at Bristol, but you wonder on how many levels it refers to...

He struggled to recruit anyone in the summer, splitting up the cant pass/wont pass brothers should speak boundaries to other clubs, other players and their agents.

He is struggling with the saga of the ground. Trying to keep the punters coming in is unfortunately always tough in bristol, Die hards of Brizzle, the gas or the robins will tell you that at the best of times a full house is a rarity.

He is also struggling with results now, as brave as his boys are there is only so far you can stretch a squad and get results. Also perhaps halfway through October is not the time to realize that the players might need to hear a fresh voice in the changing room.

I'm not implying that he or Brain have lost the dressing room, but I would look across at Wasps and wonder if they similarly need someone to say something different to the players.

Hill is more than talented enough that were he to lose his job, or fall on his sword, (should things really get that bad at least briz can cling to hopes that the falcons, wuss and wasps are all equally as ordinary as them) he will find work in perhaps a lesser role at many clubs around th country.

Far worse a situation would be Dean Ryan, for whom if he doesn't win something this season (let alone an away game against a half decent team, and Bath doesn't count, glaws didn't win it, bath lost it) will probably cost him his job and he will have garnered a reputation that when the going gets tough the cherry and whites look around for instructions on the Heimlich maneuver...

From the Northampton Saints Board, St Owen writes....

Re: Letter from Bristol.
Posted by: St Owen (IP Logged)
Date: 05 October, 2008 20:10

"Well, I enjoyed Mr Blessing's read nonetheless."

Also Broonie writes on the Saints Unofficial Board..

Re: Letter from Bristol.
Posted by: broonie (IP Logged)
Date: 06 October, 2008 09:21

"William posts his lengthy rambles on most of the other sportnetwork rugby sites and I confess to always reading them,

sometimes they are about rugby, sometimes about life , often a mix of the two, but in my opinion always worth a read.

there is also amusement to be had by reading the natives' reaction to his posts ; sometimes an excellent discussion ensues, other times he gets abused as a nuisance, but it never seems to perturb him.

I don't remember him gracing us with his presence before, so we should feel privileged.

Re: Letter from Bristol
Posted by: Ex-RAFshark (IP Logged)
Date: 06 October, 2008 08:29

William, your ramblings are reassuring me that there are worse things in the sporting world than watching Sale win, no matter how badly we play, and that I could be in Brizzle every weekend!!
I hope to hear more of your essays, as they are very entertaining, but will we soon be able to read a more upbeat entry after a Brizz win?

I'll eagerly await one....and EDF cup wins don't count!!

William Blessing replied... Tuesday 7th October.

"Everything in the garden is now rosy as last night Bristol United THUMPED Barf United 50 points to 21 at Clifton RFC.

I didn't attend as I was feeling a little over tired from my mid day lunch hour run up the side of the River Avon, past the Dogs Home. In fact, today I had to walk rather than run as my knee is a bit dodgy.

The run takes me about 12 minutes and I recently purchased for 5 pounds a digital watch with a stop watch function. After pushing all the buttons about a thousand times each I finally worked out how to use it, and after my first accurately timed run on Friday of 12 minutes 18 seconds, my next run was in 11 minutes 55 seconds on Monday. A whole 23 seconds in the space of a weekend. Remarkable performance, if I may say so myself.

Today a pain in my left knee forced me to walk after three minutes. I hope I'm not giving you too much detail, but the run is a fascinating kaleidoscope of differing scenes, starting the run from outside the British and Commonwealth Museum at the foot of Temple Meads station.

This museum is housed in what was once Brunel's main Victorian Railway station, and it's theme is the Abolition of Slavery, which as any skool boy nose a good thing. However us common or garden Bristolians rather quietly object to constantly being told how evil we were, and probably still are by our betters in the Council, so I suspect no one goes there anymore so they are taking their show to London where everyone can wring their hands to their heart's content.

My run dodges past the taxis whizzing out of the station and continues for about 100 yards past bus stops where I try to convey to onlookers that I am not on the run from the police, but a sort of runner. I turn left at the River Avon and dash another two hundred yards into the darkness of a tunnel that takes me under the railway lines that cross the River, a bit like that tunnel in the Monaco Grand Prix, and out the other side one enters the untouched and unspoilt 19th century sort of Bristol where planners have yet to stray and develop. The rural charm of the river in various states of tidal ebb and flow, the remains of medieval wharves, the guillemot sunning itself before plunging and fishing and bobbing up a hundred yards down stream, are common sights.

And the barking dogs from the home and the carers walking the abandoned pets along the cyclepath gives it a crazy sort of Benny Hill Show feeling, the old railway bridges and steepling footbridges, the turning of the trees to autumnal reds and golds in the wind and sun, the various points along the run which act as landmarks and the final rush to the finishing line at the Park and the look to see if a new world record has been set....and it has.......extraodinary!

The next part of the exercise is to get back to my call centre office in time for a small snack of half a pie and soup and onto the phones to field all the dodgy questions the public throw at me for a living like "when is you gonna give me my money you ruddy bunch of feeves".

On the walk back I recover my breath and cool down and can appreciate the beauty of Nature, and I do a a sprint back through the tunnel and it's interesting how after four months of running my pace is returning. The levels of fitness of the modern professional rugby player is astronomically higher than mine, but actually attempting to get fit, even at the age of 60 is something I can heartily recommend, just to see one's body shape change from Humpty Dumpty to an Adonis type slenderness. One side effect is that I have retrieved a certain appreciation of the female form, if you know what I mean. That's got to be good hasn't it. I look forward to hearing of others taking the first timid step, the first 10 minute jog, which when repeated gradually grows and grows....until a knee gives out. Damn!

p.s. Bristol have since lost to Northampton in the EDF cup and Montpellier in the ECC. My computor adaptor conked out last Wednesday and my next door neighbour cleverly bought a replacement for 27.50. It was quite a relief not to log on for a while. The past week of lovely weather has seen me having to walk or ride in my lunch hour alongside the river as my knee continues to stop me running. Jonny Wilkinson, however, fortunately, I am not, and I feel another few days and may be alright to continue running. Once again my apologies if you have found this boring."

Re: Tales from the Riverbank
TeflonTed (IP Logged)
13 October, 2008 20:28
Robbie Richmond (from Northampton) apparantly said,(sic)

"Hill is more than talented enough that were he to lose his job, or fall on his sword, (should things really get that bad at least briz can cling to hopes that the falcons, wuss and wasps are all equally as ordinary as them) he will find work in perhaps a lesser role at many clubs around th country."

From a Wuss perspective, I can only wonder what particular substance he'd been ingesting prior to writing?

Yes, of course I think Wuss will improve, and yes of course I think Falcons will go down, but to compare either with Wasps, despite their usual dismal start to the season, makes me wonder.....OOH and it makes me wonder etc etc.........

A night to remember.
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
17 October, 2008 23:42
What a great start we had to the weekend, as Bristol erupted, like a powerful gas central heating boiler ignited by a small bright flame, and thundered and rumbled in wave after wave of dazzling running and handling to the delight of the faithful five thousand at the Memorial Ground tonight. This was Bristol back with a vengeance, and when Toulon had the ball, they were smitten down by flying tackles coming in at every angle and height, and desperate though the star studded French side were to win, slowly they were worn down, so that by the end of the game, their exhausted bodies could offer only token resistance as their conquerors eventually plundered their victims palace.

As Toulon assembled together behind their posts after the game breaking try by Dan Ward-Smith, their bodies heaved and panted with exertion, sweat dripping off their tortured brows. This was no team giving up easily. This was serious competition. Jerry Collins, tall and slender in real life, did all he could to break the ferocious grip that Bristol en masse exerted, but his efforts were like straws blowing in the wind of hurricane. Time after time Toulon's backs seemed to show their pace and skill only to be knocked off the ball by Bristol's defence as the home team turned them over, emerging with the ball and attacking from deep.

On the terraces there was a wild delerium amongst the crowd as eventually the tries came, and the players joined in the celebrations as at long last came that win that could spell "lift off" for Bristol. One should pay tribute to the part Toulon played in such an entertaining game. Perhaps with time they will gell into a successful outfit. They played with spirit and fairness. But on the night Bristol were monsterous. They "had the bear about them" as the lady in the bright flourescent stewards coat said. Brizzly Bear, the mascot was doing handstands and cartwheels, Richard Hill was smiling like someone rescued from in front of a firing squad, and all the Prophets of Doom, myself included, were stroking our beards wondering what had happened to our pessimistic predictions.

Tomorrow's a brand new day, and for a while Bristol can heave a sigh of contentment. Next stop is a win in the Guinness Premiership and a climb off the bottom of the table. Newcastle may have to start looking over their shoulders. Things could be beginning to happen. Relegation might not be the foregone conclusion some pundits have thought. We shall see. What is undeniable is that tonight Bristol shone with vigour and pride. Hard work has paid off with the emergence at last of a fine rugby team playing brilliant rugby. A team that may, over the season, earn the respect of our neighbours and cousins as far away as even Newcastle in the North.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 18/10/2008 10:06 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: A night to remember
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
21 October, 2008 11:41
As I have mentioned, recently I have posted the fruits of my fevered imagination on other boards, evoking a wide variety of responses, the vast majority on the Bath Official Board, Saracens Newcastle and Glouceter boards being "buzz off you nutcase", only not quite so politely as that in reality. There's only so much abuse a poor fellow can take before he begins to believe his critics and I had wearily taken to read the latest insult which to my astonishment showed some appreciation, thank God!


bathvbrive Post subject: Re: A Letter from BristolPosted: Mon Oct 20, 2008 8:23 pm


Very entertaining posts I must say. As a Bath Rugby season ticket holder for many years I would like your opinion on something. Now before we start I would like to point out that I go and watch Bristol as well. When Bath are away at places I can't get to I've watched Bristol at home against Gloucester, Northampton, Newport, Sale, Wasps as well as those league one matches, Plymouth, Rotherham, Orrell etc. A member of my family, as well as many others left Bristol because of the poisonous atmosphere which was and is due to one individual. When they came 3rd in the 2006/2007 season many people were thinking a sleeping giant had awoke. However, it only takes one rotten apple in the barrel to make everyone, players included want to leave. One person has (allegedly) bullied back room staff and thoroughly antagonised almost everyone (apart from those favourites of course). When the person I know left the club Richard Hill apologised saying "I took my eye off the ball with him didn't I". I notice the guilty party no longer writes a long article ( full of self praise) in the Bristol Rugby match progarmme, and the "contribution" has been axed to a few lines. Man I was hugely pleased to see that in the Bristol - Bath programme on the opening day of this season. Again don't get me wrong, I'm a Bath supporter through and through, however, I still keep an eye on the Bristol results and still watch them from time to time. I would though like your opinion on the massive damage done to the cohesion of Bristol by C ( allegedly). It would be a huge shame if one man's actions where responsible for the demise of the second greatest club in the West Country. I think you know of whom I speak. I'm sure Haggy does. Comments?


I'm totally shocked! I had contemplated not to post further on this site simply out of respect to the only too clear and legitimate wishes of the majority of contributors.
But, after all, all I had written was a match report, and although of course it didn't involve Bath, some, but not all rugby supporters, are interested in what's going on at other clubs.

However, of course I appreciate your comments, and to answer your question, it's bit like living in the USSR during Stalin's reign. Criticism gets you only one place, and if not exactly Siberia, it's the next best thing, like down the road to the nearest employment agency. In most cases it leads onto something better, like Bath for example? Who can argue against that? Both Bath and Bristol have been decimated by uncertainty over their future. Both have lost key players because of limited funds. Yet Bath are top of the table, whilst Bristol languish at the bottom without a win in the Guinness Premiership.

The win over Toulon was like water to a man crawling across the desert dying of thirst. Pundits have argued that "Toulon werent interested". I contest that with the evidence of my own eyes. The French team were really gasping for breath. To suggest otherwise is an effront to their professional pride.

A week earlier I was leaping out of my armchair when Bath scored what looked like the winning try at Toulouse and was totally dismayed when Toulouse nicked it with a series of flukey errors by Bath and a swerving touch line penalty kick at the death.

The Haaga Saga is an unsolved "Murder Most Foul Mystery Story". The only thing missing is a detective and a court of law where the truth might come out. For some reason no one is prepared to talk about it. No doubt Martin himself is governed by terms of confidentiality, but we Bristol fans miss him terribly, and the unfortunate Mr Brain, who presumably wasn't involved in his predecessor's departure, now plays the part of the pantomine villain Widow Twanky, to which he is by nature best suited.

As for mr Corin Palmer, like Uncle Joe himself, he has his supporters. I've never plucked up courage to speak to him myself, which is a first, and I don't claim to have any inside knowledge. But what I have gleaned from various sources is that Richard and Martin had a bust up at half time around about the Christmas time in the dressing room when things weren't going well on the field, and I suppose in any heirarchy there has to be a top dog, and I presume that lead to the unfortunate string of events that resulted in Martin going and the consequent spiralling decline of Bristol RFC.

Martin was asked to present a "business plan" at the start of the new season by "the board", and he didn't have one. But why should he have had? He had just coached Bristol to third in the table. What the board should have had was a business plan of their own which would involve recognising Martin's achievements in terms of a longer and improved contract. They didn't. Danny the waterboy and Geoff the kitman were quietly shown the door, along with others in a purge of characters that gave colour to the club.

The rest is History. But of the Future? Relegation? Still on the cards. Bankruptcy? Possible if Bristol overspend which they won't? Going out of existence? Never going to happen. There are thousands of us Brizzlers just waiting to step into the ruins and start building again. We've done it twice and it's great fun!

I hope I havent gone on too much again, and if I have, I once again apologize. Best of luck in the Heineken cup. Bath's return match with Toulouse is the stuff of dreams for rugby fans, wherever they are, including me.

Re: A night to remember
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
26 October, 2008 08:58
A Night to Remember which I'm trying to forget.

The Nolstalgia Industry depends on a willing Meeja to stoke it's fires, with cub reporters urgently poking their microphones in front of the recently bereaved, hoping that the victim might blub for the cameras, prompted with questions like "and how did you feel when you saw your lovely son squashed flat by that run away steamroller? Did you....did you....feel like...crying ? did you? did you?"

Cue floods of tears, fake anguish by smug interviewer and back to the studio.......result! And so it was after a series of even fatter ladies singing, Phil Bennett was close to the critical blub point, as Stradey Park brought down the curtain. Excuse me, but if the place is so bloody marvellous why are they selling it? The answer probably lies between the two pieces of a prawn sandwich, so get on with it and stop the hand wringin' will ya me old Taffy mates?

Sitting in the dark in front of the TV in next doors unheated front room, clad in my overcoat, bobble hat and thick blanket, I was as snug as a bug in a rug, but as soon as the game began I was clock watching, wishing for the full time whistle to blow as Bristol's second team fell over when they had the ball, fell over when the Scarlet's had the ball, dropped the ball, kicked the ball away and threw it forward and generally fugged it up as in many ways as their imagination could create.

Coach Richard Hill was, none the less, very impressed with his team's performance. "We always knew it was going to be difficult down here....but I thought ....."

Well, yes Richard it is going to be difficult if your team is so ruddy useless. However, let's not be too negative, at least we can try and forget it if we concentrate hard on blocking out yet another dismal night out in Wales, one to go along with several thousand over the past 100 years or so. The very sad thing is that the Scarlets weren't a lot better than Bristol. Am I fed up with phoney Cup matches with "Group stages". A cup is a a cup. It is a knock out thing. You play someone you've never heard of at somewhere you've never been before. It's full of romance and surprise. It's magic. The underdog winning against the big team away from home.

The EDF cup is none of these things. It has as about much magic as Paul Daniels with flu. It's sole purpose is to string it all out and relieve the fan of their wallet.

Earlier, with rather more anticipation, on Wednesday afternoon, I had travelled over to Cardiff with my bike on the train to explore the secrets of the future of Welsh rugby and perhaps English too, by watching the University of Wales Institute Cardiff, known as UWIC, play Exeter University in a "group stage" of the BUSA (British Universities Students Association) Cup.

A lovely sunny autumnal day greeted me as I trundled past the mighty Millenium stadium, what a theatre of dreams or nightmares that could be, and the River Taff sparkled and gurgled as I coasted by the fabulously rebuilt International cricket arena at Sophia Gardens, the whole pitch a mass of brown soil as the surface is relaid for the Ashes next year. Lets hope the grass has grown by then.

The cyclepath alongside the Taff is the start of the famous Taff Trail which goes 60 odd miles up the valley into the Brecon Beacons, but I followed it as far as the first big weir where a long thin footbridge took me over the cascading river to the other side and negotiating a complicated series of side roads I made my way east towards the sumptious Roath Park, wandering around an excellent Botanical Hot House complete with huge carp, a sleeping fourteen year old duck that had just lost her life long partner and a mass of tortoises bobbing about under an umbrella of exotic jungle vegetation. Only 60p. That's nice. Further up the gardens, I circumnavigated a huge boating lake inhabited by 160 swans, so I was told, and eventually climbing through some very leafy suburbs, eventually came to the inauspicious entrance to the the Indoor Sports Centre of Wales at UWIC.

The architecture is 1960's low rise redbrick council estate without the modern embellishments of burnt out cars and heroin needles in the grass verges. The students were friendly and courteous, and everywhere I turned some sort of team in some sort of sport were warming up. I mistook the Rugby league squad for the Union, and the tennis and net ball were being practised by some very pretty young ladies.

Hastening on in case I wasnt arrested, I found the rugby chappies doing their frightening pre match drills.

The game itself began as in a ponderous version of their seniors, big packs grappling like boa contrictor and elephant, elementary handling errors, endless aerial ping pongs, and a ref trying to blow the pea out of his whistle.

It was no great surprise that UWIC, true to form, in a rare series of rolling mauls, took an early lead of 22 points to nil. But Exeter hung in and came back and showed some fire and skill to eventually lose 29-7. Last week UWIC, the mecca of sports studies in Wales, went away to beat Hartpury College 24-21, last seasons conquerors of Loughborough Students in the final at Twickenham.

A splendid day out in the splendid capital city of Cardiff. Could we learn some things from them. They have such a sense of community and civic pride. They plan. They are a nation and proud to be so. Perhaps that's why the closure of Stradey Park meant so much more to them than us dry eyed English. They've got feeling. They've got soul. We've got problems.

For further information of student rugby in your area see the Busa web site.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 26/10/2008 09:01 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: A Night to Remember which I'm trying to forget.
Professor.S (IP Logged)
26 October, 2008 17:57
give it a rest ... zzzz

Re: A Night to Remember which I'm trying to forget.
dpw (IP Logged)
27 October, 2008 00:49
Yet another entertaining read........

How's the Horfield Common run going. Have you reduced your record lately?


Re: A Night to Remember which I'm trying to forget.
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
27 October, 2008 07:48

Thanks for your kind words, which I appreciate greatly. The previous request by Mr Rugbymaster, to "give it a rest...zzz..", as any criticism does, always gives me grounds for concern. I actually lie in bed tossing and turning through the night in a state of apprehension that I will be pilloried further. But taking criticism and being called a "boring pillock", as I was by those nice Newcastle fans, where my words are immediately deleted, is part of the game I suppose, and words of encouragement are as a consequence like gold dust..

Until one has posted the results of one's twisted reveries and "random troll logic", as the banner above invites us to do, how can one be sure of how it will be received? I like to post on the Official Websites of Leicester and Bath, as well as our own, partly because the former provide tough away games for me, and I can see as the barrage of complaints rain in, that a few enjoy my efforts, and that's all that counts and also the number of reads is counted up.

Now, I have a feeling that Rugby master has actually mercifully dozed off, so it's just you and me dear reader.

I'm glad you asked me about my Horfield Common World Record attempts, all completely free of any assisted drug taking I might add, how times change, but the good news is that after 20 days of enforced rest, the result of a "pain in the knee", as I self diagnosed myself, saving thousands in the process, I have been reduced to walking, until yesterday when I gingerly trundled up Rosling Road opposite where I live, along Kellaway Avenue, always on the pavement, around by the Sports Centre and in front of the TA Barracks, back along past the swings and along Kellaway Avenue to where the band stand used to be opposite Tescos, down past the bowling green and around the bottom of the tennis courts, where the residents have created a pond which has then lead to flooding, and then the long climb back up to the Rectory House by the Rectory field, and the time was 23 mins 23 seconds, and no adverse reaction on the knee. I was dizzy a bit from the exertion, sweated a few pints, but felt back in the running. To be out in the late sunshine after dropping off in the dentists chair next door watching Chelsea and liverpool cancel each other out, bar one deflected goal, was a joy worth all the millions on earth.

And in reply to dear Rambling Sid, on the parallel thread, the beauty of life is a new week brings a new challenge. Time for Bristol to gird up their loins, and face the world anew. Praise the Lord!

Bristol 22 Saracens 24 EDF Cup
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
03 November, 2008 21:54
As I left my house some hundred or so yards up the hill from the Memorial Ground at 2.25pm last Saturday afternoon, I could hear a high pitched shoutey voice and I pondered on how it contrasted so unfavourably with the warm, informed, dignified and quietly dry delivery of the Late Great John Thorne, who having played with distinction, then occupied the microphone as announcer for many years, before recently passing away. To be honest I was going more out of a sense of "duty" than expectation of a good game of rugby, the real game was on BBC TV between Northampton and Scarlets, but I had to be informed on the state of our "revival" heralded by the Toulon win.

On arriving at the ground I was greeted by an ebullient Malcom Pearce, what a friendly and outgoing gentleman he is, and my spirits were raised. On entering the ground the vast acres of empty space gave me chance to roam the terraces seeking the best point of view, but first I had to endure a painfully stumbling reading, for the first time I would suspect, of an "obituary" by the unheralded guest announcer. For the next 80 minutes she assaulted my ears with full on volume shouting of the scores and the players names with all the talent of Radio Patchway's star children's show host. I refrained from commenting on this latest piece of naffness on the assumption that she could have been the daughter of someone at the club, and it wouldn't have been polite to do so, especially as she wasn't being paid. However, it would appear that no, she is from Star FM, and as a "professional" fair game for criticism.

If the rugby had been any better it might have given the girl a chance, but the shambling, incompetent, bungling display on the field made matters worse. Of course there were some good points, but if we are to get technical, games can only be won if the basics are performed correctly. Like the announcer learning where the volume control was for a start, Bristol could practice restarts. When Bristol converted a penalty the next thing Sidoli dropped the restart, a simple catch, result, a scrum, to attacking side and 3 points from the resulting inevitable cock up.

And when we kicked off, straight into touch or too long, whatever, the result was the same. These are coaching issues and I'm afraid either the players are incapable of learning or they don't have the basic skills, or they aren't being drilled. Whichever, the end result is the same. A poor rugby team by Premiership standards destined for relegation unless some unsuspected credit crunch hits the Falcons, or the PRL move the posts and do something unpredictable. Now that we are reasonably assured of being able to play at the Memorial Ground whilst it is being redeveloped, the argument of bringing in a new coaching team moves forward. In it's present state this team is destined for relegation. The writing has been on the wall ever since Martin Haag's shocking dismissal. For whoever made the decision the time has come for a reckoning. The results do not justify the retention of the staus quo. Things must be changed. As it stands matters cant get worse. The longer we leave it the deeper we will sink into the mire.

However, it is not clear who is in charge at the Memorial Ground, and whatever decision making that resulted in employing a teenage shoutey girl on the tannoy, if applied to a new coach would probably end up with putting someone completely clueless in charge. I can only hope that I am proven wrong, as ever, by events, so Rambling Sid, don't despair, it's just my opinion, and it's always easier to stand and carp rather than make constructive suggestions. But how about this one. Duncan, next time you need an announcer, do it yourself will you, please. The politics of coaching I leave to the "Board", for better or worse.

Earlier in the week I journied by train to Gloucester to watch Hartpury College play St. Mary's Teacher Training College in the latest round of the BUCS cup. A bright sun began to cloud over as the train merrily trundled through the autumnal countryside, and by the time I was carefully cycling through the world's biggest snarl up of traffic just north of the city where roadworks are ongoing, the wind was cold and grey. Eventually getting onto the A417 Ledbury Road, I was charmed by the quaint half timbered cottages, the heart of England and rich farming land. After about 6 miles up hill and down dale, I swooped into the entrance of the College, with it's various signposts to the "Dressage Arena", or the "School of Equine Dentistry." This was a vallhala for the sons of the soil, and quite an eye opener for city types like me who think that milk is grown in cartons somewhere.

Arriving at 1.15 pm I found, by the time I ventured to the rugby pitch at 1.45pm, that they had already kicked off at 1 pm so that St Mary's could attend a function in the evening back in London at their Twickenham Strawberry Hill Campus. The second half that I did watch was interesting in that I had a good chat behind the posts with the father of one of the injured Hartpury players. Throughout the game various spectators turned up late astonished by the unannounced change of kick off times. There is a website where it could be advertised but it was left blank. Unprofessional behaviour. Hartpury won 57 points to 10, and St Mary's sped off back to London. Perhaps we could have done with that DJ from Bristol to play some music for them, but at least we didnt have her shouting at us throughout the game.

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 03/11/2008 22:13 by WilliamBlessing.

Bristol University 10 Hartpury College 31
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
11 November, 2008 21:54
A splendid game of rugby at Coombe Dingle entertained an audience that varied from the gilded youth of the University crowd to the approaching elderly, but far from infirm, of Bristol's rugby cognescenti, and as the action took place fast and furious before us, adorned with ravishing moments of pure invention and sleight of hand by the gifted students, the conversation was dominated by where Bristol RFC had gone wrong and who was responsible.

There were no surprises, except with the strength of feeling and the certainty that Bristol were doomed. If shooting in the foot was an Olympic sport, Bristol would have more medallions than Burt Reynolds.

So we live for this Sunday to see whether Richard Hill and his merry men can prove us all wrong. More in hope than expectation. The general view was that Richard Hill's illustrious career that took Bristol to the very brink of success was likely to be taking him elsewhere pretty soon, unless, that is, he pulls another rabbit from the hat. That's showbiz for you.

As so, on the field Hartpury worked their magic whilst Bristol attempted to huff and puff their house down. Just when they seemed about to batter down the door, Hartpury found a way around them. Credit to both teams for a great afternoon, and for an insight into the inner workings of Bristol Rugby Club from people who know so much more about the game myself, if only I could share with you their confidences that discretion forbids me to exclaim.

And so to Saturday afternoon 12.45, where I sat by the SKY TV entranced by a splendid football match between Arsenal and Manchester United, so much so that by the time the final whistle blew it was 7 minutes into the the England versus Pacific Islanders that had just begun.

The contrast was so stark, the fare so stodgy and dull in comparison to the football, I fell soundly asleep and despite my best efforts to rouse myself by switching over to Auntie and tasting more collapsed scrums from South Africa against Wales, the whole thing left me nodding like a donkey in the back of John Precott's big Jag on the way to the fish and chip shop.

Still, tomorrow it's a day off again and a visit to Georgian Bath and up the hill to see the University play our good friends the Irish hooligan teacher trainers from St Mary's Twickenham. Sparks may fly.

Bristol University are away to Exeter University.

Roll on Sunday. Will the Saints come marching in? No doubt about that, but how will they leave? We can but pray that He brings us Brizzlers salvation and a famous victory. Sport. Don't you love it?

British University and Colleges BUCS cup fixtures and results...[]

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 19/11/2008 09:17 by WilliamBlessing.

Bristol University vs Exeter University 2 pm Coombe Dingle Wed 19th November
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
19 November, 2008 10:10
Bristol University vs Exeter University 2 pm Coombe Dingle Wed 19th November

The Autumn series of University games in the group stages of the BUCS cup continues today, and Exeter will be anxious to gain revenge for a surprising defeat last Wednesday at home, losing 24-21 to Bristol. No reports of this game are available at the moment so one can only guess Bristol were "lucky" to win. But having seen a rather ponderous Exeter side away to UWIC earlier in the season and in contrast having been impressed with the sheer animal virility of Bristol in a gallant defeat at the hands of Hartpurty a fortnight ago, perhaps Bristol may continue to surprise in what promises to be a fast and furious game. I shall be there to report, I hope.

Last Wednesday saw me catching the train to Bath and in an attempt to lose weight, I began the climb, on foot, up Bathwick Hill to the University campus on Claverton Down. In bright sunshine I soon began to shed clothing, if not pounds, and by the time I had sweated one third of the way up the never ending hill, I was looking longingly for a bus stop ahead and over my shoulder for an approaching big, long orange bendy bus to take me to the top for free, courteousy of my over 60 bus pass.

The bus, packed with the immaculately behaved children of the wealthy of Hong Kong and surrounds, cruised upwards with smooth decorum thanks to the Polish driver past the incredibly elegant Georgian houses, up the hill that even on a bus seemed to go on forever, before levelling out, and, in a series of disorientating roundabouts, swept into the 1960's style entrance, in stark contrast to the historic town below.

Arriving at 1pm, well in time for the kick off, I made no mistake, like I had done the week before at Hartpury, by going straight into the massive sports hall where a solitary student sat behind a computor, in a space age bucket seat and with security as tight as Terminal Five at Heathrow, I asked him "Are the University playing at home today and if so what time is the kick off please?"

"No problem....errr.... I'll just check with the computor....errrr.....(5 minutes later)....errrr....yes...yes... they are playing err.... St. Marys Teacher training College....kick off.... err.....oh....err....2pm.

Thinking that a piece of paper might have been more effective on a notice board, I asked "are they playing at the usual place just behind the Sports Centre?"

"Err... just let me see....(five minutes later...)...err.. no.... they are playing at....err.... the Sulis Leisure centre....its about a 25 minute walk down the road, out the entrance, turn left, down to the mini roundabout, turn right and straight on and you can go through a gap in the hedge......and it's on your problem "

"Thanks" I said muttering that it was already 1.15pm by now and I was determined to experience the oriental delights of the duck infested refectory in the Neo Brutalist Concrete Canyon of the University itself, surrounded by lakes, shrubs and curiously, an archery competition which, although roped off from passers by, seemed to give me the chance of being fatally wounded, as I tried an ill judged short cut to save time, by beating a path through the abundant shrubbery.

The meal itself, a Bombay Duck Curry, I wonder where they got the ingredients from, perhaps that's how the archery club earned a living, despite being very pricey at 4.45 pounds was insufficent to fill an occidental and I surruptiously augmented it with various scraps left behind by the overfed, overpaid and overhere students, before once again braving the outrageous arrows of misfortune and desire of the archery range to boldly set out for the great unknown of "the Sulis Leisure Centre".

I walked for about ten minutes past vast open spaces of flat wide rugby pitches which were until recently the training ground of the England Rugby Team, then coached by Granny Ashton or Coco the Clown as he is derisively known by Bathonians. On his sacking and replacement by Big Bad Jonno, Team Ingerlunt have moved to Bagshot, a pity the town of Leicester can't be towed down south for the sake of convenience.

These pitches didnt have the Essential Bar Facilities appropriate for the Rugby Club of Bath Uuniversity.... let's get the priorities right, and a double booking with the Ladies hockey club of the ice baths forcing the rugger lads to have to wait til 9 pm for their frosty plunges, precipitated a sulky decamp to aforesaid Sulis leisure centre. Marvellous. One would have thought that a budget bigger than California would permit the rugby to play on the campus, but no, so it was into a bright sun to the south that I finally reached the main road and turning left, set out for the ground and by now it was 2pm already.

For about 20 minutes I walked down a hill overlooking impossibly romantic views of an English countryside that hadn't changed since the 17th century, in the backgound the yapping and barking of a dog kennels and not a person in sight and no mini roundabout. "He did say turn left, didn't he" I thought and then I saw about 200 yards behind me a couple of Hooray Henry University dolly birds, arm in arm, walking my way. A ray of hope and, as I waited for them to pass, they were able to say to my plea as to where the ground was...."no problem...follow us...."

to be continued as I must go for a run.....

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 19/11/2008 18:26 by WilliamBlessing.

Bristol University 28 Bath University 24 Coombe Dingle Wed 19th November
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
20 November, 2008 09:54
Bristol University 28 Bath University 24 Coombe Dingle Wed 19th November.

I have something of a confession to make. True to the great tradition of Rugby Union fixture cock up arrangements I unwittingly contributed myself, by getting the opponents of Bristol University at Coombe Dingle yesterday wrong. Of course it was Bath and not Exeter. Sorry, as if it made any difference at all, but sorry none the less.

I am also tempted not to further test the endurance of 99.99 per cent of my audience, made up of anyone so misguided or lacking in anything positive to do as might have to plough through through this forest of verbiage that grows with the speed of bamboo in a rain forest, but with respect to those who do, maybe having had the misfortune to be trapped in an iron lung by a rugby injury or whatever forbids them from "getting a life", I console them and myself, that they, and I are not alone..... or am I?

To leave my account of a splendid day out at the fine University of Bath and the thrillingly brilliant performance by both teams would be disrespectful on my part, so bare with me dear reader as I hurtle through the facts.

As I arrived at the ground, I could see the main game in play, with St. Mary's Strawberry Hill Mob in their infamous Blackburn Rover royal blue and white shirts, with one sock blue the other white and Roman Numerals for numbers on the back. At one stage the ref was heard asking the touch judge whether the prop, "number one hundred and eleven" was "not binding". This caused amusement amongst the serried ranks of RFU assessors with their dreaded note pads. Knowledge of Roman numbering if not the alphabet being an unusual requirement for a ref.

The predominant accent of the visitors was "Sarf Landan", so apologies to the absent Irish Hooligans, and in fact, the St Mary's team seemed bordering on the educated. Good at rugby too, but, to my surprise, a fervently motivated and astonishly skilful Bath side took the lead and held onto it, despite a whirlwind attempt by St Mary's to win the game.

In an idyllic setting, framed on one side to the north by an unending row of towering trees in Autumnal colours illuminated by a golden sun of late afternoon, and to the south giving views far in to the distance across unending dappled greens of woodland and hills, these were truly elysian fields.

The game itself was observed by a collection of devoted fathers and adoring girlfriends overseen by a low key Jonathan Palmer, ex Bath rugby centre great. He must have been quietly pleased with his charges, and the prospect of Bath playing Bristol at Coombe Dingle a week later wetted my appetite.

As the final whistle blew 22-14 with a win to a jubilant Bath team, I took my chances back through the hole in the wall and seeing a little mini bus hurtling towards me at a bus stop with a young school girl with her hand out, I jumped on board as the very wound up old bus driver shouted some sort of abuse at the young girl profferring her fare.

Anxious not to ask a silly question as to the destination of said bus, I got on and hoped it would be going back to Bath, which thankfully it did, stopping off at breakneck speed at the campus, via a sleeping policeman bump that threw us all out of our seats by about a foot, risking permanent damage I feared, to my back and causing me to exclaim "what the fuggin hell....." and soon after descending into ancient Bath town I was speeding back at 125 miles per hour on the Paddington Express out of London to home sweet home, the mighty metropolis of Bristol.

So a week later, yesterday, and Coombe Dingle Bristol versus Bath.....

It's sunny outside, despite the BBC weatherforcast assuring me its not, so as this is the last of two days leave, will you once again excuse me whilst I catch the train to Cardiff for a cycle ride up the River Taff along "the Taff trail" from that footbidge I crossed on my way to the UWIC ground a few weeks ago.... Hopefully I will be able to report on yesterdays game on my return, if you are still there.

What a game it was yesterday! If you want to know the score visit the web site, otherwise don't look...


Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 24/11/2008 07:56 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: Bristol University 29 Bath University 24 Coombe Dingle Wed 19th November
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
24 November, 2008 08:23
So, last week, Bath University visited Bristol University at Coombe Dingle, both sides coming off the back off fine wins, and the game was no dissappointment.

Opening exchanges were fast and furious in which Bristol were able to equal Bath blow for blow. The prospect of a close game seemed to be ruined when a thunderous drive by a Bath player through the Bristol forwards was halted by an equally impressive tackle by a Bristol wing forward who, using the momentum of the on runner, drove the speared ball carrier sideways to the ground. A bit of soccer style hand bagged indignancy by the Bath team perhaps encouraged the enthusiastic ref to get out a red card, and Bristol seemed to be up against it.

Far from it, Bristol redoubled their effort and, combined with a marvellous ability to recycle the ball in the tackle, came back in the second half to take the lead against all the odds. Just when they seemed on the brink of sealing a victory, Bath broke away from their own line to score at the other end.

But Bristol would not be denied, and to the backgound music of the Bath coach "effing and blinding" his hapless charges, Bristol scored a try and finally their very gifted fly half, James Bird, a fresher on the Cardiff Blues books I'm lead to believe, converted two penalty kicks from the half way line.

The senior rugby club in Bristol would do better to realise that no side can turn down points from kickable penalties, and when you have a player like Bird in the team who can punish the opposition from anywhere in the defending sides half, you have a complete winning team.

Ben Sturnham, back on the touchline, and everyone connected to the University are to be congratulated for forming such a fine side, who this Wednesday take on the might of UWIC at Coombe Dingle, a game which I would very much like to watch, but a pre arranged trip to explore Ludlow Castle with Ray, intervenes.

However, amongst all of the gloom of both England and Bristol RFC, the University continue to illuminate one's Wednesday afternoons. Next term the contest goes into the knock out stage against the Northern Premier Division sides, and it will be interesting to see how far this highly talented and motivated team can progress.

BUCS Fixtures and Results...


Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 24/11/2008 08:34 by WilliamBlessing.

UWIC v Hartpury 2pm Wed 03 12 2008 Cardiff.
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
03 December, 2008 08:49
So much water has flowed relentlessly under the rugby bridge that it's difficult to accurately recall what has happened, and what may happen, but I shall try.

This afternoon a train ride to Cardiff and a cycle up the hill to the University of Wales Institute Cardiff beckons as I hope to watch the stand out game between the top two sides in the Southern Division.

Meanwhile Bath University entertain Exeter University, and attractive as this game may be, I'm not certain if it might be a floodlit game at the rec, as in the past, or a "sunshine" illuminated game at the "Sulis Leisure Centre." Our friend on the computer at the sports centre can be relied to inform you, if you can get through on the phone.

To catch up with last week's games, which I missed as I was on a two day trip to Ludlow Castle, the BUCS website informs me that Bristol held the all conquering UWIC side to a creditable losing margin of 21 to 34, whilst a no doubt demoralised Bath University imploded spectacularly away, to a rampant Hartpury College.

The trip to Ludlow last week, in the good company of an increasingly forgetful and aged Ray, was as eccentric as ever, capped by the castle being closed to the public whilst Father Christmas and his reindeers put up a marquee for the oncoming Christmas Festivities, but the momentary disappointment was quelled by a visit to the Castle Lodge, a large Medieval town house adjacent to the Castle entrance.

To step inside was to walk back in time fully 500 years as one climbed the stairs and went from room to room, astonishingly restored to an authentic condition by the elderly and infirm couple whose last 18 years have been devoted to saving it from being converted into an office block. Exhausted by their efforts and deep in debt they want to sell up. It's yours for a million, or to visit, 3 pounds for as long as you want.

Our tour of the ancient town of Ludlow continued with a climb of about 300 feet up the inside of a narrow tight spiralling, high stepped, local church tower, which Ray, to my surprise, actually completed about 15 minutes after I had myself staggered out onto the ramparts and surveyed the pleasing vista of the Shropshire countryside.

Looking down on the antiquity of the town's rooves and half timbered houses was a giddy experience. The church of St Andrews was shining bright itself. An interesting place, Ludlow, to visit, quite unlike the West Country.

On the rugby front, Bristol's tragic defeat in the last five minutes to London Irish was difficult to take. But at least it gives us some hope. Next time when we are in the lead, let's kick the ball into the corner shall we? Progress is being made, and we need to continue to learn from our mistakes. To the future!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/12/2008 08:58 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: UWIC vs Hartpury College 2pm Wed 03 12 2008 Cardiff Institute.
spuddy (IP Logged)
03 December, 2008 19:40

Re: UWIC vs Hartpury College 2pm Wed 03 12 2008 Cardiff Institute.
Bod (IP Logged)
04 December, 2008 23:33
Spuddy - you're an ignorant p****!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/12/2008 11:34 by Dave Picken.

Re: UWIC vs Hartpury College 2pm Wed 03 12 2008 Cardiff Institute.
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
05 December, 2008 08:17

My dear friend, I have to thankyou for perhaps saying what I was privately thinking but experience has shown me that at the end of the day, the reader, whose indulgence us esteemed and gifted scribblers seek, is always right.

But what has come over you? Why so delicate in your use of words? I normally expect you to come straight out with it.

I thank Spuddy for taking the trouble to express his feelings. He is, after all, not alone. I will attempt in future to attend to his feelings by writing with ever greater clarity and fact,I remember when Dicky Jeeps had the ball for Northampton at the Memorial Ground back in the Fifties and there was only one small black and white tv in the road and we were all gathered around sitting on the floor of the Palmer's across the road watching the Coronation sucking ice cubes from the latest invention from America called a "fridge"...what the hell is this I thought as Her Majesty.... .zzzzzzz.....(GET BLESSING OFF....Ed.)

Re: UWIC vs Hartpury College 2pm Wed 03 12 2008 Cardiff Institute.
blog king (IP Logged)
17 December, 2008 21:16
Dear William

Your posts are excellent and always worth a read, however, can I suggest that as well as posting them on here you also start a blog? I think that would be a wonderful addition to the internet. Your mix of sport, local interest and idiosyncratic views deserves a wider audience. Sign up here


and away you go

UWIC 13 Hartpury College 26. 03 12 2008
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
20 December, 2008 20:30
King Blogg,

It's very kind of you to say so, but I'm not sure if there would be a tremendous rush to my own blog site, however I have followed your advice and set up my own William Blessing Zone, and have started the ball rolling with a rehash of my "Rural Rides" along the Strawberry Line from Yatton to Cheddar Gorge and back.

The only problem is, how will anyone know where it is? And even if they do, how do I know if anyone is reading it? The advantage of posting on this site, is that every now and then someone such as yourself writes a word of encouragement which counters adverse comments which can cause me to retreat into my shell.

When I am in spate and the words are flowing, I like to copy and paste my doodlings on other sites and it's interesting to see the wide range of contributions from fellow posters. The chap on the Gloucester site is very polite but I fear I give him an awful headache. Newcastle have banned me, along with Harlequins, but Northampton, Sale, even Bath tolerate me, even at times appreciate.

The official sites have a count of the number of times a posting is viewed which I monitor closely, and I'm up to about 400 views per posting on the Official Bristol Website forum. Yes, writing is fun and even more so when others such as yourself interact.

Recently I have been in a state of severe blockage, and this was enhanced when, in an act of supreme folly I tried to do something to my internet settings which had the unfortunate effect of casting me adrift in the cold black empty space of Outer Cybernautia. "Disconnected" said the error message 769.

Fortunately over the phone to Tiscali a very nice helpful young man with an Indian accent, Joshua was his name, guided me back on line and wished me a Merry Christmas. Bless him.

However my next trial and tribulation was my ancient lap top leant to me by my next door neighbour Dave, who uses my internet connection to view web sites of a Mountaineering and Cycling nature interspersed with less wholesome sites of a beastly kind which keep giving me more viruses and pop ups than a flu infested bed and breakfast flop house, and it all started to grind to a halt.

However, I am up back and running, a little bit like Bristol today at Worcester. Well done the lads. As I the Future!

scores of the latest round of University games


03 12 08.

UWIC 13 Hartpury 26....superb game.. the Hartpury full back played for Canada in the Autumn Internationals. He's looking for a club. Mr Hill sign him up please. Great team performance by Hartpury.

Bath 6 Exeter 33

10 12 08

Exeter 26 UWIC 5 a surprise win for Exeter University.

Bristol 20 St Mary's 10 good win for an outstanding Bristol team. They could progress through the knock out stages nect term I feel.

For better or for worse this is the link to my newly established "blog".


Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 20/12/2008 20:42 by WilliamBlessing.

A Recent History of Bristol Rugby Club.
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
25 December, 2008 13:54
I was trying to remember the various sequences of relegation and promotions over the last ten years or so, and my ability to recall them accurately was so sketchy that I decided to go to two sources of record, one on the Official Bristol website, which proved to be lacking in any form of detail and the other on Statbunker, which was far more comprehensive, if only starting from season 1996 to 1997.

Having collated the bare bones from Statbunker I thought I might present them to you with the hope that the official records are fleshed out and any errors that I make here are corrected, hopefully with the anecdotal thoughts of fellow Bristol lovers.

I know Mark Hoskins has written a brilliant account of Bristol from the very dawn of civilisation, but the recent history remains fertile ground for speculation, the most contentious issue being "where did our ground go?"

It would seem that the loss of our ground is held by most as the one great factor contributing to our present state of penury, a condition that some argue will always continue unless we get control of our own destiny. This might not be quite the case, as the finances of going alone, especially in the current economic ice age, could easily lead to a very final, final bankruptcy, as it almost did before the Rovers hove to into sight in their Pirate Ship back in, when was it?

There you are, the first question some budding historian might like to answer. What year did Rovers arrive at the Memorial Ground? I know I was working at the timber yard next to the ground and when I was first told by a very keen Rover's fan who was a regular customer, I couldn't believe it. "It's impossible to play football on a rugby pitch" I exclaimed, but never the less Rover's arrived and set about proving me right, ever since, alas.

Turning the clock back to the early 1990's and the painful beginning of league rugby, the then amateur game was convulsed by the RFU's brutal and totalitarian imposition on the English clubs of a first division of only eleven teams, with ten games, five at home and five away.

Am I right in thinking this was the case? It seems too incredible for words. At a stroke, our bustling season of up to 60 1st XV matches, plus endless United games full of sparkling rugby, was decimated, with lucrative games against Cardiff and all the other Welsh clubs consigned to being meaningless friendlies with second string sides whilst the Holy Grail of survival in the stifling new First Divison was pursued labouriously in a saftey first, boring up the jumper style of rugby.

The Committee, lead by insurance millionaire Arthur Holmes, toyed with the idea of knocking down the wooden main stand and rebuilding it, but there was too much history in those ancient tiled floors, where many a hero had trod and the decision was made to build the Centenary Stand on the popular side, which faced the wind and the rain, and was a financial and architectural disaster that caused the early death from heart attack of several members who wrestled with the dilemma. Another question. What year did the Centenary stand open? Most people are trying hard to forget, but there is a clue there in it's title, even if it's now probably renamed by the Gas Board as the "Pop Goes the Weasel Stand" or whatever.

But as we move on, I think I am on firmer ground. I know this because Statbunker actually gives me some facts and they are these.

1996 to 1997.....9th.P..22..w8..d1..L13.....Premier
1997 to 1998.....12th...22...2...0...20.....relegated

1998 to 1999......1st...26..22...0....4..ND1.promoted

1999 to 2000......6th...22..10...1....9....mid table
2000 to 2001......9th...22...9...1...12....survived
2001 to 2002......8th...22...9...1...12....survived
2002 to 2003.....12th...22...7...1...14....relegated

2003 to 2004......9th...26..10...0...16....ND1
2004 to 2005......1st...26..22...0....4....promoted

2005 to 2006.....11th...22...8...1...13....survived
2006 to 2007......3rd...22..14...1....7....highest ever
2007 to 2008......9th...22...7...1...14....survived
2008 to 2009........To be announced...........

source []

Edited 6 time(s). Last edit at 25/12/2008 21:10 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: A Recent History of Bristol Rugby Club.
rambling sid (IP Logged)
25 December, 2008 18:18
Seasonal felicitations to you. I am reading your post as a welcome diversion from the christmas festivities.
Memories memories. If my memory serves me right the centenary stand was opened in 1988. It was as you say a disaster. One of the members said he needed to adopt the lotus position to watch from the seats. Almost as soon as it was built it had to be partially knocked down and rebuilt because of the appalling design. At least it was at the architect's expense.
As you say the start of league rugby was a disaster. After the first flush of games up until November we seemed to go 3 or 4 months without another game to watch, and had to resort to watching united matches to get our fix. I suppose thinking back its little wonder we went bust. even though these were still amateur days, there was no money coming in for half the season.

Re: A Recent History of Bristol Rugby Club.
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
26 December, 2008 20:20
Dear Sid,

May I return your most kind Christmas greetings, and of course to any others who may be reading. Coochie Coo, writing on another place, helpfully reminds me that leagues were first introduced in the 1987 to 1988 season, coinciding with the opening of the Centenary standard possibly.

The club house terrace was rebuilt at considerable expense of muscle power in time for the staging of an outstanding England "A" fixture with the touring Springboks in about 1992 or so. The event was a great success. And the next development was the opening in 1996 of the West Stand, in the footprint of the redundant wooden main stand, by the touring All Blacks, a splendid night illuminated by a fiery James Brownrigg and a dazzling young star of the future Josh Lewsey.

Here my chronology is uncertain, hence my wish for some official record, but I think it was the next season that we were relegated and Arthur Holmes and Geoff Lewis gave up the hopeless struggle despite attempting last minute rescue bids and in stepped Malcom Pearce and Nic De scossa, with Bob Dwyer as coach and Phil Adams as manager.

So, we can see that there have been, since the introduction of leagues, three distinct eras, two of them ending in relegation with the third teetering precariously at the edge of the cliff top, with at last a chance of hanging on, and even clambering back to the the footpath.

The Arthur Holmes Era ended with the the Chief Executive drinking the bar dry and the players running around in pale green Ford space age cars running up a mobile phone bill that exceeded gate takings aone. The transfer of the accrued 2.3 million pound debt to the the Gas Board cost us the ground and permitted Arthur to wangle the sale of the Combination grounds to recoupe his interest free loan of a million to the Rugby Club. However, all concerned with this very smokey filled room transaction did not come up smelling exactly of roses but more of the stuff that is put on them to make them grow.

Into the carnage sailed a shining white knight, dear Malcolm Pearce, and if one looks back at his five year reign there were some memorable highlights, but alas it ended with Macolm as deranged as his predecessor, and relegated too.Fortunately both the derangement and relegation proved temporary, and after an heroic first season the academy side under Richard Hill and Martin Haag survived and then the next season triumphantly marched back into the Premier Division. This has been such a rich period of rise and falls that I sometimes feel sorry for those clubs who have year after year remained at the top end of the Leagues, although we have yet to experience European glory, apart from a brief flirtation with Stade last season.

And so bang, up to date, we are all now familiar with the Consortium. Malcolm remains on the board, his natural environment where he exudes a more relaxed version of earlier ambition but does he still have the hunger or is he hanging on to recoup his losses? Who is the next man to have a dream?

Consortia are a fine thing, but their dream of a horse ends up looking like a camel. We need, for better or worse, a leader to emerge. To pick up the cross and carry it. And be crucified when he fails, as we all do? Any takers? Must have a few hundred million in spare change available.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 26/12/2008 20:29 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: A Recent History of Bristol Rugby Club.
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
28 December, 2008 08:51
It would seem that John Lacock, owner of Brandon Hire, and a successful businessmen, is a leading contributor to the funding that has permitted the club to continue to function, at least until the end of this season. Bristol fans, and staff, are no doubt greatly appreciative of his generosity, but with it our benefactors need to have a hard headed approach to the future.

For me, last Saturday was yet another afternoon of bitter dissappointment and frustration. Hurrying home from the cold, hearing two roars from the crowd in the last three minutes, as each side scored a try apiece, as I couldn't bare to stand and watch anymore, I caught a post match interview with an amiable Joe El-Abd, our injured captain, who had been guest summariser, on Radio Bristol. Fluent, and diplomatic, as he must be, Joe was upbeat and positive about the spirit within the club, even confident and optimistic about our ablity to avoid the drop. Personally, I would have thought the situation after yesterdays devastating defeat throws us back to the edge of the cliff, teetering forward looking down on the rocks.

I was amused at the attempts of a bulky, if not rotund, prop in the form of the approaching elderly Darren Crompton suddenly realising that it was he alone who had been elected to follow up a restart by our fly half, Ed Barnes, into the far corner. The result of his chase will be announced in next seasons progam, that is assuming he eventually gets there. Later in the game, when Bristol had quick ball for the first time and Gloucester were on the back foot in their own half, the ball flew out into the ample midriff of a stationary Mr Crompton at inside centre. Is there no end to his versatility and the way our coaches use him? Needless to say, Darren sought refuge in his nearest natural environment, a scrum of players.

The decision to take off Ed Barnes, when we were still in the game at 10-3 down, was yet another masterstroke by our coaching supremo, as his replacement Adrian Jarvis came on,and with his first touch of the ball fired a punt straight into touch on the full and then was nowhere to be seen as a few seconds later Gloucester's Mike Tindall waltzed through a gap in the wall in the outside half channel. I'm sorry to be personal, but there is no other way of putting it. Mr Hill's judgement, sacking the admirable Martin Haag, releasing the gifted and successful Danny Gray, getting in Adrian Jarvis, who was clearly flakey when he played for Quins, and I said so at the time, his recruitment of Peter Bracken, Kevin Maggs, and a host of players well past their sell by date, has not been an efficient use of scarce financial resources. It's easy with hindsight, yes, and some of his recruitment, such as To'oala, Lima, Perry and Lemi from nowhere, have been inspired. Let us say the jury is out and the verdict will be the final version of the Premiership table when the Fat Man has eaten the last pie, of which yesterday there were none left by half time.

Of course the players tried their hardest, of course they were up against an expensively arranged Gloucester team packed with rising stars of the future and existing stars of the present. If they resembled, therefore a Galaxy, a Galactico, we resembled at best, a Red Giant, wondering whether to become a black hole from which any finance would be sucked and dissappear forever, with the end result being a white dwarf, going around the Rugby Universe, small, hard and lonely.

So, whoever is stumping up the cash has to seriously evaluate the staff from top to bottom. I would say that if we survive this season then there would be grounds to retain the coaching team, but if we are relegated then it would be time to start again. Is that not fair? Would that not provide motivation? Everyone accepts that Richard Hill has been faced with a nightmarish scenario by the on-off ground moves and redevelopment plans, but he is not alone in so far as our rivals at Bath have lost top players and suffered insecurity over their ground, yet they prosper. Wasps are in a tail spin, Newcastle Falcons are financed by you and I, the tax payer, Sale seem to scrape by playing at a dump in front of smallish crowds, the tale of woe is endless.

Hope springs eternal. We live and learn. But the reality is that, in this game, he who pays the piper, calls the tune. And, if I were Mr Lacock, I would make it clear that at the moment the music playing is at best "Save the last dance for me" followed maybe by Chopin's "Funeral March." Only time will tell. Sport, don't you just love it?

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 31/12/2008 17:10 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: A Recent History of Bristol Rugby Club.
Bristol Welsh (IP Logged)
29 December, 2008 10:55
Dear William

If only the clarity of our coaching reflected the clarity of this synopsis, all would be fine. Its very interesting, dont you think, that our latest signing was displaced from the Scarlets by a certain Rob Higget?

Re: A Recent History of Bristol Rugby Club.
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
31 December, 2008 17:20
Dear Bristol Welsh,

Thanks for your kind words. It must be pure hell for poor old Hilly to have to grin and bare it through all these hard times. What do you think of my latest version in large print for the elderly hard of seeing to view? It's not a bit over the top is it?

I never know how these little piece will be received. I get quite a bit of flack, so when someone expresses a word of appreciation, it's also equally appreciated.

Someone on the Bath Official Board, smirking at our predicament, reckons that the end of the season Mr Hill is off to France, Mr Corin Palmer is off to the job centre and Dan Ward-Smith is off to Barf.

I suggested on the Plymouth Board that Graham Dawe would be a good candidate for our next coach. After all half the team are already here.

Re: A Recent History of Bristol Rugby Club.
blog meister (IP Logged)
01 January, 2009 12:48
Excellent, William, excellent. Can I suggest that these musings end up on your blog where, I hope, they have more chance of being preserved for posterity than they do on Sportnetwork. Bristol rugby and Rugby is ill served by the blogosphere. I look forward to reading you rectify that.

Re: A Recent History of Bristol Rugby Club.
Hercules Spoons (IP Logged)
01 January, 2009 16:58
I enjoy the prose William but am not too keen on the John and Janet book print.

Re: A Recent History of Bristol Rugby Club.
rambling sid (IP Logged)
01 January, 2009 17:40
Not sure how Matt Salter would feel about Graham Dawe being a coach up here, with him having apparently attempted to remove Matt's eyes on the last occasion they met.

Pants o mine season.
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
15 January, 2009 10:33
It's a grey day outside and it's my day off from work so I thought I might just attempt to interest a deeply drousy world outside about the mind numbing inconsequentiality of my own humble existence, of which without this posting, no one would be the wise, and none the poorer.

However, for better or for worse, my descent into silence was prompted by the onset on Sunday 28th December 2008, of a 14 day blast of artic air which both froze the ground and stilled the keyboard. This sad decline into statuesque inactivity was mirrored on the rugby field by a "pantomine" performance by Bristol RFC at Franklins Gardens, provoking the crowd in the background to a radio commentary from the local broadcasters, of mutual righteous, unrestrained indignation, as Bristol attempted to run the clock down from the opening whistle. Thats showbiz!

The next day, Bristol Coach Richard Hill was to be found rummaging in the garage looking for that damn old lantern. Beads of sweat crossed his brow. It had to be somewhere! The cheery voice of his long suffering wife could be heard calling out to him.

"Darling the Sunday papers have arrived, do want to read them?"

"Err, just a minute dearest, do you know where that old lamp is, the one we got in the car boot sale?....oh.. it's alright I've found it.

"Feverishly, Richard rubbed the old lamp in the gloom of the garage. Nothing happened. He rubbed again and suddenly out of the spout a cloud arose that slowly materialised into the shape of a huge muscled genie in a turban, and with a deep voice and folded arms announced, " Oh Master, I have long awaited your call, your wish is my command!"

"Oh hello Martin" Richard said, sheepishly greeting his old colleague Mr Haag, his ex coach that he had foolhardedly "let go".

" I wonder.... if you could let me have another wish?"

"Certainly Master. What is it?"

" I wish I was the coach of a well run club, playing attractive rugby to full houses, leading the Premiership, err, like when you and I ran the club a few years ago and I,... err.. made a mistake?"

The genie's voice boomed.... "Master your wish is granted" and with it he dissappeared back into the old lamp.

"Darling!". It was his wife's voice. "The Sunday Barstard has just arrived. Have you seen the headlines! You've just been made coach of Northampton Saints!"

Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 15/01/2009 10:52 by WilliamBlessing.

When in Rome...
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
22 January, 2009 07:44
When in Rome....

The Charity Commisioners are cautiously debating the redevelopment of Bath RFC's ancient and beloved ground, the Recreation Ground, but they could easily start by renaming it "The Recreational Drug Ground" after this weeks shock horror confession of a young man's use of an "illegal" drug and his subsequent banishing him to the wilderness. If there is one thing more widespread than drug abuse, then it is the hypocrisy that engulfes our tabloid, phoney, puritanical society.

This weekend, the High Streets of Little Britainnia will be awash with the puke and blood of armies of boozed up young and old brawlers and scrubbers from Lands End to John O'Groats, encouraged by the brewery industry, one of whom sponsors the Heineken Cup, by the way, to drink and fight their way to the oblivion of the Emergency and Accident wards and or prison cells quietly awaiting them. They are encouraged to do this for 24 hours a day seven days a week by the so called convenient "liberalisation" of the licencing laws promoted by the eager hand maidens of the alcohol industry in Parliament, despite the protestations of the medical profession, the council street cleaners and the police who have to endlessly clear up after them.

What the unfortunate rugby player has not done is, that he has not jumped up and down on the roof of a police car as one of our revered retired rugby pundits once did, he has not drunk a whole bottle of aftershave after a game, he has not been arrested for smashing someone in the face and either been nicked, or in other cases, denied it ever happened, he has not hurt anyone but himself, and by his character, that is the only person he is likely to hurt.

What he has done is, brought a beam of light and love to the world through his singing and care for the oppressed. Jet travel has brought alternative drugs from all over the world flooding into our islands, and as the pursuit of happiness is the life long goal we all hopelessly aim for, even if we are bound to fail in the process, we are free to try that which some might think can help. Alcohol is the legal drug sanctioned by Parliament, tobacco less so, but for some reason, could it be the brewers don't want the competition, equally harmful substances are banned and thus thrive in the black market.

The debate on sobriety will go on forever. I've tried the lot and can, after extensive research, tell anyone interested that abstinence is the only way to really enjoy yourself. But I was free to find that out for myself and in so doing, my beliefs are all the stronger for it. Let's hope our dear young friend from Bath will discover this for himself, and set his sights on that day, sometime in the future, when he will return to doing what he truly loves, running out onto the fresh green grass of the Recreational Drug Ground with a clear head and conscience.

In the meantime, can we all get off our High Horses?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 22/01/2009 07:55 by WilliamBlessing.

Monster posting?
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
24 January, 2009 16:54
Yorkie, from the Leicester Tigers Unofficial board posed the following question inviting other boards opinion. The question was a leading one, inviting a critical negative response and he was not dissapointed. The question he asked was....

"Do you feel that either your club or the PRL take you, the regular club supporter and season ticket holder, and the money you choose to put into professional rugby, for granted?"

Having thought deeply on the subject for all of about two seconds, I responded thus....having just enjoyed a weekend glut of games courteousy of the clubs permitting their games to be broadcast, at the expense of the inconvenience to supporters who pay to attend the game.....

Re: An opinion please.
Posted by: WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
Date: 18 January, 2009 19:28

Having just enjoyed a feast of rugby on SKY TV for a cost of about 5 pounds a week (I share the cost with my neighbour) I sympathise with committed fans who travel to watch live games. Without the passion generated by the crowd such as at Rodney Parade and Kingsholm this afternoon the viewing experience would be greatly diminished. Therefore I believe the armchair viewer should actually pay the crowd to attend, or at least make it free, a bit like a studio audience get free tickets.

Attempting to watch the dire Falcons Brive game last night reminded me all too painfully of the feeling I get when I watch Bristol now a days. Watching them play really does require devotion.

The reality is that the armchair viewer sees more, hears more and possibly enjoys more, of more games than the paying at the gate, attending supporter.

Also, as a semi neutral observer, but still siding with our West Country teams, one is spared the misery of seeing your team lose, as in ample evidence in the Glos crowd.

The doleful faces of little children clutching their Olivier Azam cabbage patch dolls or the glazed eyes of portly shed enders clasping their plastic pints pots with tears in the corner of their eyes gave me no joy, more empathy.

The one advantage of being a Bristol supporter is that one is spared a certain amount of "suffering" at the top end of the market at least, if "suffering" isn't too strong a word in this Gaza troubled world.

Yet the sheer joy of a jublilant Cardiff mum in the crowd explains why supporters are prepared to go the whole way and turn up at a ground, apart from the sheer camaraderie of the event.

A Bath supporter suggested that I should be sent the bill...

I responded...

Yes, I already foot the bill to the tune of 20 pounds a month, and it is a world wide audience that is watching and paying SKY. I suggest that this keeps the cost of entrance down, perhaps. The consumer makes the choice as to whether to buy a ticket or watch at home. The argument is now whether the Magniers League is superior to the Guinness Premiership?

Maybe the Celtic teams are, at the moment, but not the competition itself? Discuss anyone? By Celtic I mean, as defined in the dictionary, the Scots, the Irish and the Welsh, although Cornish is also defined as part of the "celtic fringe."

Apart from a distinctive hairstyle involving a very woolly "fringe" over the eyes......I was, yes, as a neutral, urging our West Country boys on, I shared vicariously in Bath's triumph and gloomily in Gloucester's sad demise, at the same time greatly admiring both the skill and fight of Newport and Cardiff, and in the latter case, amazed at how good Cardiff were. What a team!

My allegiance began to go over to Cardiff after Azam did a wendyball dive, which was pathetic. The young Welshman who got conned into being sent off by Azam took his fate with dignity and Gloucester got what they deserved, a great big serving of Chokey Pie. Hooray! And now Deano is getting nasty. What's new?

When Magniers league teams such as Cardiff play in their Celtic league, due to the stronger hold the governing national bodies have over their regional and provincial sides, they play weakened teams, so devaluing that league.

But in the Heineken cup they are proving to be more than capable of beating the best, including the French teams, see Glasgow winning down in Toulouse.

Thus one could argue that the Celtic teams are better, at the moment, than their PRL English rivals, but the GP retains a stronger competitive element that makes it a superior competition.

Whether the deal done between the RFU and PRL with central contracts will weaken the pulling power of the GP remains to be seen. But introducing more incestuous matches between the top 12 isn't go to set the cash paying public hearts a racing. After all Bris have played the Saints six times this season. Surely thats enough without another game next season, if we stay up.

So the Magniers League is perhaps second rate, but when it comes to the Heineken Cup, the teams in that league are certainly not!

Yorkie's thread in which he invited the views of supporters on all of the boards received a wide range of responses, including mine which on reflection seems to be completely off topic, what's new?

However trawling through the various boards I came across the following posting by a Quins supporter, Pinkernel, that seems to both entertain and illuminate. What will happen next. Bod, of the Bath board, become teetotal?

An opinion please.
Posted by: Pinkernel, Quins board
Date: 17 January, 2009 06:16

Every organisation necessarily has self-interest at the heart of its policies and approach, whether that's in the business of playing rugby or making widgets.

The trouble with sport is that there's aways a dichotomy between the well-meaning administrative authorities (supposedly the custodians of the flame) and those operating at a commercial level who - at the end of the day - are either trying to maximise profit ... or is it just make enough of a buck to survive. Whether it's soccer (the FA and the Premier League), cricket (the ICC and the Indian sub-continent with the IPL) or rugby union, the people running the businesses at the coal face are always pushing the envelope and the administrators have to struggle to keep up or risk being called irelevant old farts.

Given where it is in 2009, and indeed where the sport has been since it went professional in the Nineties, nobody in their right mind has ever gone, or would ever go, into rugby ownership to make money. But if the growing interest in rugby continues exponentially, perhaps one day they might.

Personally I suspect Mark Evans,(the Harlequins CEO and Chief Latent Ring Fencer Ed.) may be right - one day it's inevitable there will be a European Super League, probably based upon regional franchises (yes, even in England), but there's going to have to be plenty of argument, pain and blood on the floor before the sport ever gets to that point.

It's always easy to say with hindsight "You wouldn't start from here" and of course turkeys never vote for Christmas, but professional rugby below international level urgently needs a radical structural re-vamp. At the moment there's too much constant piecemeal tinkering with the laws of the game and the competitions. At some point you have to have some top-down direction and discipline, which is why I am slightly suspicious of PRL operating like a sackful of ferrets (because they all have different priorities) as a self-interested and self-serving cabal attempting to reconcile the irreconcilable.

Most rugby fans - including new ones - are attracted by a combination of great play, entertainment and (to no small degree) the sense of history and tradition that underscore the sport's ethos and cameraderie. Therefore treating the punters simply as cannon fodder in the quest to maximise profits will be counter-productive in rugby. And, to be fair, most clubs know that.

Which is why my answer to your query is "No, I don't think the fans are taken for granted".

Thankyou Pinkernel. Meanwhile my piece on the positive drug test and subsequent confession of guilt by Matt Stevens, the Bath and England prop forward, gained some interesting responses on the Leicester and Northampton sites. Not everyone on the Saints board agreed with my piece, notably Oggie, who posted thus....

Re: Green ink
Posted by: oggie (IP Logged)
Date: 23 January, 2009 11:24

"Having children who have avoided drugs I am hopeful that my grandchildren are equally successful. My boyhood was the happier for them not being around.

The William Blessings of this world might not be quite so smug if their offspring try it out and get hooked instead. What a hell, and I mean ‘hell’, of a risk.

How can Stevens sign a new contract knowing that the product he offers is damaged? There’s an honesty issue as well. Bath paid him the additional compliment of offering 4 years. Other clubs who were after him will be relieved."

Re: Green ink
Posted by: WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
Date: 24 January, 2009 10:02

Dear Oggie,

Yes you are absolutely right, I couldn't resist that final sentence where I wished everyone would get off their high horses as I literally saddled up and leapt all of six feet into the air, landing on the slippery saddle of my beloved steed named "Charlie", bless him, he likes to snort indignantly as I ride him through the fields and woods a huntin'.

I had no wish to condone the consumption of any mind altering substances, but then it's easy for me to say that I as I fear my past experiences have altered it already enough, hopefully not beyond complete repair. For parents it is a hell as their young are tempted and trapped by the initial thrill or "rush" of the drug experience, be it alcohol or heroin, the latter by the way, I have never ever even been tempted by, but LSD back in the 60's and pot, well for LSD, thank God I survived the nightmarish experience, and as for pot, I was more successful than President Clinton and David Cameron in that I managed to inhale, but I'm not sure it was pot half the time, more like garden cuttings. Although now a days, I gather, skunk is a different kettle of fish of which I have no wish to sample.

The tee shirt with "been there, done that" with a butterfly motif lies somewhere amongst the memoriabilia that I retain, but I appeciate that in a free society, free to think and perhaps free to experiment, where a liberal theology denies a strict "Islamic" state, where the consumption of all drugs, including alcohol, is forbidden and punishable by death, in some cases, leaves us with the paradoxical condition of some thinkers demanding complete abstinence and others arguing for legalisation and control of all drugs.

Both arguments have their valid points and I'm open to being influenced as much as anyone by debate. I hope to avoid in future giving the appearance of being smug. But the point of my original piece, in green ink, was to highlight the hypocrisy of a legal framework that permits brewers to push their wares, bringing the depravity that all drugs lead to, whilst criminalising those products of nature such as cocaine, and in so doing condemning those involved in it's consumption into the hands of the immoral dealers and producers, giving rise to a huge trillion dollar funding to the ruthless and heartless global underworld.

OSV on the tigers board makes an interesting response...

"Legalise drugs and prostitution, control the supply and quality of both and their effect on participants and the community at large - the controlling authorities will take their cut, [excuse the pun], meaning they can finance the whole and also then apply similar controls to alcohol and tobacco; any adverse attrition of the health and welfare services should then be reduced thereby, and the police used more productively ... we said as much in the sixties I think, William.

At the same time, we should create a national institution for prescription drug manufacture and research, that cure rather than treatment of symptoms [the latter profitable, the former not] is the priority, and supplies to the NHS are affordable [it's resources no longer haemorrhaging to private profit] and likewise available to the headline project.

Given the role of drugs in the building of the Empire and that they were until the beginning of the twentieth century largely available over the counter to one and all there is no moral high ground that I am aware of, with the possible exception of the breaking of a law."

Thankyou OSV of the Tigers board. On the subject of reading letters in green ink, where I work, in a public utilty we kept just such letters and put them on the wall, and they are priceless. The utility, of course, has to pursue through the courts those unwilling to pay and one letter, neatly written, was from an ex SAS officer who, now retired, wished to volunteer his services for free, whereby he could use stun grenades to force entry and catch the offenders "at it, in their own front rooms."

I'm not sure if it wasn't tongue in cheek. Whatever, it was very funny. Green ink brings the best and perhaps the worst in people, especially when in capital letters.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 24/01/2009 17:01 by WilliamBlessing.

Somme Battle...
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
25 January, 2009 19:58
Somme Battle at the Recreational Drug Ground.

If ecstasy was first used by the German Army in 1917 to alleviate the discomfort of their poor suffering troops in the rain, mud and bombs of the front lines, I'm not sure what was firing a beligerent crowd eventually celebrating an attritional draw, at their newly developed arena this sunday afternoon. Someone had, overnight, without a by as your leave from the planning department, built a swimming pool in front of the club house and the touch line was being simultaneously used for the minority sport of bog snorkling.

I watched this from the comfort of my next doors front room on his spendid new large screen, having earlier first dozed through a strangely distant game from Castres where the locals, one man and his dog, had clearly not read the script and neither had Danny Cipriani a text book on how to tackle.

Meanwhile, as 3pm approached, outside on the street, a small stream of faithful Bristol supporters went down the hill to a poorly attended Sunday afternoon prayer meeting at the Memorial Ground to watch the "dead rubber" against Montpelier. I guiltily missed out on this, as I confess to sinning and instead choosing to watch the Bath Toulouse game on TV, which was played appropriatley amid a torrent of biblical sunday school proportions, even though ten miles away here in Bristol the sun shone on us, the not so righteous.

Looking back on a weekend of wall to wall rugby on TV with the odd dozen or so FA cup ties thrown in what are my recollections? You know, I think I'm begining to forget it already. As the crowd walked back up the hill after the Bristol game I asked one of them the score. " 24-14 to Bristol" a family man said, as he passed by with his brood. "Any good?" I ventured hopefully. "No it was as poor as ever". Food for thought indeed.

Re: Somme Battle...
R Sole (IP Logged)
26 January, 2009 10:08
William, sadly your random family man was all-too-correct - a win is a win, but the signs are not good.

Snow business like snow business.
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
04 February, 2009 16:46
Snow, snow, quick quick snow.

"Come snowing", the latest TV reality dance snowing competition has swept the nation like an errr.... blizzard, and here in Bristol, the locals can talk of nothing else. For example I heard one conversation go as follows. "Snow what? Snow snow round yer!".

Indeed, there's snow business like snow business. Especially when it's not snowing....or is it? I'm marooned in my house today, Wednesday morning, waiting for a man from the electricity board who is supposed to be fitting, at their behest, an "onstream meter". I have booked the visit, on my day off, between the hours of 8 am and 1 pm , and as it's now 11 am and nothing has happened, I'm beginning to wonder.

Meanwhile, on the rugby front, Bristol have given their team a week off and several have taken a well earned break, visiting picturesque places they've always wanted to see, like the world renowned Tesco carpark in Northampton, the busy naval dockyards of Toulon or the polished mahogany pews of Bath Abbey, just praying that someone, in dark glasses, accidentally drops a shoebox full of unmarked used fivers in front of them, whilst negotiations about next year's contract continue with the understandably cautious Consortium at the Memorial Stadium.

One can imagine the dialogue. "Well we can't offer you anything at the moment until we know whether we avoid relegation, but if we do, we are still a bit short of the filthy lucre, so how about a nice big pay cut? How does that grab you? Let me know how you feel about it. Take a winter holiday somewhere cheap, there are some great bargains going at the moment, I hear the snow is fine for toboganing downhill on upturned dustbin lids in Totterdown at the moment. You can borrow my bus pass for the day if you wish. Don't worry, they never look at the photograph as long as you can pass for being around the 50 years old mark. See you soon."

Yes, things have never looked so rosy at the moment as the phrase "revenue protection" bursts onto the scene as Premier Rugby seek to squeeze a few more bob out of the empty and holed pockets of the unwitting supporter. "Do you think they will notice?" quizzed one PRL executive to another. "Got to give it a try have't we?"

"Whaddabout the RFU? Won't they spot somethin' changin' in the fixture list?"

"Wassit gotta do wiv them? After all anyone who arranges an Anglian Windows Saxon game against the might of Portugal on a freezin' night in Stockport minus Ronaldo has got to be off his trolley". What was that all about?

Oh yes, the future of the game is safe in the hands of the great thinkers controlling our game. The comforting thought that for the next 8 years we are guaranteed consensus, cooperation and certainty in how the "professional" game is run. After all it's all been signed sealed and delivered hasn't it?

I wonder if the man from the electricity board will turn up? Still no sign of snow..... Hello, a ring on the bell. He's here. And so the old meter, full of wheels, springs, clocks and dials is summarrily replaced by an anonymous little white plastic box with a small digital read out. In about four years time, so the young chap tells me, it will be upgraded to a smart on line facility, doing away with guesses and readings. Something to look forward to.

So, it's down the road to the Centre and a wander through the old part of town, the Corn Exchange. I notice a camera crew videoing something and the director signals to someone to walk through the crowd. Who can it be? Shock horror... it's dear old Austen Healey. I resist the temptation to ask him "WassitallaboutdenAusin?"

Adoring ladies of a certain age with their daughters giggle and look back. "Issiminnit? IssAussininnit from Comesnowinorwassitcalledinnit?

Hurtling home on the bus up the Gloucester Road back to Horfield for a sandwich, the bus spends 20 minutes picking up passengers at the Haymarket, I look on the Bristol Official Forum and a thread invites one to attend a coaching session with the Barbarians tonight, lead by one Austen Healey of "Come Snowin'" fame. That is the Bristol Barbarians, I hasten to add. A local team in Stockwood to next door neighbours British Gas RFC.

It's all beginning to make sense, at last.

Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 04/02/2009 17:54 by WilliamBlessing.

University of Bath vs Bristol University, Wed. 18th Feb. k.o. 2pm main campus pitch
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
18 February, 2009 09:48
Marvels never cease! A phone call to the Bath University contact number, answered in 3 seconds by a bright bubbly young lady, confirmed that "Yes the game is on,and no it wasn't on the Sulis pitch but on the "Elite pitch next to the sports hall".

So it's off to the train station, bus pass in hand to watch the game. This is the penultimate game before the top six sides in the Premier southern Division go into the mix with their Northern Division counterparts and somehow a knock out is arranged with 14 teams competing, the other two being the top teams in the second division being promoted... I believe...however as the top team in the second divison is Hartpury Seconds......and the next is Oxford University Greyhounds.....err....I'll try and find out.

Bristol have played on through the bad weather, achieving a notable victory over Exeter University and they play Hartpurty away on Sunday, rearranged due to the cold snap we had.

So any of you gentlemen of a retired disposition I hope to see you on the touchline as the natural order is restored and a rugby team from Bristol give a team from Bath a solid good hiding for sure.

On the senior front, least said soonest mended. I have to say that some of the criticism has been a bit over the top. Newcastle Falcons played some splendid rugby, and it isn't the first time that a team such as Bristol have found themselves to be out played. Without failure success means nothing. The plant that can survive the cold of the winter and the heat of the summer, blooms in the spring and bears fruit in the Autumn. For better or for worse, Mr Hill and his squad have given us some good times. It's sad it will end with the bad times, but let's remember what was achieved.

Messrs Booy and Laycock now take up the challenge and their ambition is heartening. The most important thing is to balance the books, and then let the playing side take care of itself.

Lets start planting a few seeds for next season and see what pops up!

University of Bristol vs Trent University Nottingham Wednesday 2pm 11th March Coombe Dingle last 16 of BUCS Cup.
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
11 March, 2009 08:50
The competition enters the sudden death stages this afternoon when the final 16 teams from England, Scotland and Wales play to decide who goes forward to the next knock out round. Entering the fray from the Premier Scottish Division are Stirling University, drawn away to mighty Loughborough and Aberdeen University, away to tournament favourites Hartpury College.

Promoted from the lower tier for the knock out stages are Swansea, home to Leeds Carnegie, whilst Trent play Bristol today at Coombe Dingle.

For todays successful teams, two more wins brings a cup final at Twickenham. On the form of the last two games of the group stages, Bristol are unlikely to progress much further after today, having dissappointed away to Bath University several weeks ago, losing a scrappy contest in drizzle on the pitch once used by England when Brian Ashton coached the senior team. This defeat was followed by the customary hammering away to all conquering Hartpury, but one awaits the scores of todays games to come filtering through the BUCS website with all of the speed of a set of African Drums.If anyone has the good fortune to be able to attend the games today, a report on this thread would be appreciated. Alas, work commitments forbid me from watching.

The full draw can be seen here...[]:

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 14/03/2009 08:06 by WilliamBlessing.

Quarter Finals of BUCS cup Wed 18th March 2009
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
14 March, 2009 08:15
The results of the final 16 were as follows.

Loughborough v Stirling....walkover to Loughborough

Newcastle University 14 Northumbria University 29

Hartpury v Aberdeen....walkover to Hartpury

Swansea 7 Leeds Carnegie 20

University of Wales Cardiff (UWIC) 43 Nottingham 0

Bristol 22 Trent University Nottingham 18

Durham 25 Exeter 26

Bath 43 St. Marys College Strawberry Hill London 18

The draw for the quarter finals to be played

Wed 18th..

Loughborough v Northumbria

Hartpury v Leeds carnegie

UWIC v Bristol

Exeter v Bath

Last Wednesday threw up some closely fought games as the battle for the 2009 Championship final at Twickeham hotted up. Notable wins for Exeter away to Durham and Northumbria away to Newcastle caught the eye, whilst Trent University Nottingham pushed Bristol all the way at Coombe Dingle.

Bath trounced their eternal rivals from St Marys and look strong at this stage and go on to a tough away fixture at Exeter this coming Wednesday.

Favourites UWIC Cardiff cruised through powerfully, overcoming plucky Nottingham, whilst bitter rivals Hartpury benefited from a walkover against Scottish conference runner ups Aberdeen's cry off, as did Loughborough against number one Scottish University team, Stirling. Presumably travel costs prohibited their travelling, a pity as it defeats the point of their taking a place from English teams prepared to travel lesser distances.

The last eight play this Wednesday and it looks likely there will be wins for all four home sides if games go to form.

The semi finals will be played a week later on Wednesday 25th. on neutral grounds equi distant between the two sets of teams and the venue is therefore often only known to the well informed few. I will attempt to post the venues by gleaning the BUCS website daily.

What is certain is that the final at Twickenham is Wednesday 22nd April, a fitting stage on which the cream of English and Wales University talent can decide who is the best. My money is on Hartpury, but as ever, UWIC and Loughborough will have other ideas.

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 14/03/2009 08:53 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: UWIC vs Bristol University 2.30pm Wed 18th March Cardiff Quarter Finals of BUCS Cup
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
16 March, 2009 21:55
Meanwhile one has spent the odd Sunday afternoon visiting the dearly beloved family member, nervously clutching a bunch of flowers and grapes, not expecting the patient to have much hope of an early recovery. But there were signs of life. By playing the favourite peace of music of "Bristol Bristol", the nurses and doctors seemed to detect a flickering of eyelids. "He can hear you" said the doctor, "but his grip is very weak. He's been starved you know....he needs a very big"

Friday night against the Quins, the patient actually got up out of bed and ran around the ward, but collapsed, exhausted, after 40 minutes. The crowd of well wishers seemed to blame the ref, but as most of us, including myself, have no clear idea of what the Laws are, why should the ref? Be reasonable.

Anyway, as a result of a boardroom struggle, some fellow directors got bruised shoulders as they rushed to escape the room with a few bob still in their pockets, leaving Mr Booy and Mr Lacock nursing the Baby Jesus. Bless them!

We shall spend a few years praying for that miracle recovery. It will happen, we only have to have a dream and a belief, and a few zillion dollars from somewhere. Let's all look under the mattress shall we?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 28/03/2009 07:42 by WilliamBlessing.

UWIC 27 Bristol University 9 Wed 18th March Cardiff Quarter Finals of BUCS Cup
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
28 March, 2009 08:31
The quarter and semi finals of the BUCS Championship, played on the consecutive Wednesdays of the 18th and the 25th of March, passed by unreported by the National broadsheets, so I shall be forced to buy a copy of the excellent Rugby Times in the hope of gleaning some further knowledge of the events.

The game that I was able to watch, UWIC vs Bristol, was played on the most beautiful of early spring days, and as I travelled by train through the outskirts of North Bristol, towards the Severn Tunnel, my eyes blinked at the sight of a huge area of wasteland that had, over the winter, been cleared, ready for redevelopment. That was, until the Great Depression of 2009 began and presumably curtailed any plans.

I felt like a grizzly bear that had spent the dark winter months in the warmth of of his lair beneath the freezing ice of Yellowstone National Park, as so brilliantly portrayed by the BBC's latest Natural Sunday night Natural History three parter. Only I had been watching, in the warmth, endless Six Nations, Heineken Cup and Guiness Premiership games on next door's big new Sky TV.

The big city of Cardiff cruised into view, with it's ever increasing collection of exotic new sky scrapers, some finished, some still in construction. I decided to find out where the new stadium was which would house both the football and the rugby. Looking at the map, and guided by the helpful ticket collector, " you can go around it and have a look, it's easy to find, turn left out of the central station, walk across the River Taff and keep going for about ten minutes, turn left under a railway bridge and then...."

...lo' and behold, there it was, glistening brand new like a huge silver tin biscuit box from outerspace, set in a perfectly flat Victorian park.

To it's left, across the road, next to Ninian Park railway station, was the old Cardiff City football stadium, from the outside a familiar mixture of crumbling corrugated roof and breeze block walls.

As I breezed up to the security gates, I could see work was still in progress, yellow hard hats and familiar bleeping warning signs of diggers in reverse. I gave it a shot of getting in, before being politely requested not to, until it formally opens to the public on May 27th. The elderly security guard, who had belatedly come out of his own portacabin winter lair to help me, was dapper and smart in his uniform, with space age sun glasses gleaming.

He told me that of the rugby teams, only the Cardiff Blues, the Regional team, would be playing there. The Cardiff RFC team would remain playing at their ground, the Arms Park, next to the Millenium Stadium, which was good to hear.

Giving him a cheery goodbye, I cycled back towards the centre of town, noticing that this good city does not appear to possess a brush, or at least someone prepared to push it, judging by the archeological remains of crisp packets, drink cans and ancient dust and grime accumulated in the gutters outside the humble abodes over the last ninety or so years since the last Great Depression of the 1930's.

But what a spendid facility both the Blues Rugby and Cardiff Football Club will have. We Bristolians can but stand and stare in envy, scratching our backsides and our heads, as ever.

My next port of call was to be see how the new Sophia Gardens cricket ground looked, prior to the inaugural Ashes Test match this summer. Here there was no problem of gaining entry...

Excuse me, as it's time for my morning run around the common.. weight now down to 12 stone 12, to be continued...

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 28/03/2009 09:19 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: The World Cup 20 20.....and four rugby club championship finals...
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
10 June, 2009 11:04
Top of the class, as a spectacle, in my mind, was the latest offering on TV this last weekend when Le Top 14, (translation...The Top 14, for those of us linguistically challenged), in which a splendidly robust and skilfull game between Perpignan and Clermont went to the former, their first win since 1954, at the expense of the latter who, astonishly have failed to win in ten appearances in 104 years of trying, so Nigel Starmer-Smith's pleasant commentary informed me. Has it been going that long? Extraordinaire mon brave! (French for "extraordinary my friend")

Next in ranking was, in my humble opinion, the game between Tigers and London Irish for the winner of the Guinesss Premiership. Next in merit as a contest the Super fourteen final in South Africa between a home team and a New Zealand side that was too one sided.

The Heineken Cup win by Leinster over Tigers I'd begun to erase unwittingly from my limited memory bank, ask me not why, except perhaps it was a while ago.

However, freshly entered is the 20 20 World Cup Cricket. Can someone tell me why games are relegated on the BBC to 11.30pm when most working people are sound asleep? Is it because of some contractual obligation enforced on them by SKY? As it is, I miss these games and only see games live, when I can, on next doors TV. Poor coverage for the oppressed licence payer. Well done SKY for covering it.

I had an argument with my next door neighbour who dismissed Australia's efforts by saying that he thought they didn't take it seriously and the Ashes meant far more to them.

I argued that this World Cup, broadcast live to almost a billion viewers, registered higher in importance on a global scale than the Ashes, and to suggest that the Aussies weren't too bothered does a disservice to the competitive mentality that has made them the team they are, or perhaps were.

After our near humiliation on Friday and the gripping comeback against a struggling Pakistani side on Sunday, the triumph of Ireland and now Sri Lanka, the magnificent performance by the Windies and the ominous power of the South africans, not to mention what India can bring to the table, can I suggest that this tournament is giving a wonderful feast of cricket from the best players in the world in a format that is perfect for the armchair viewer, and quite rivals now the allure of the Football World Cup.

Cricket is making football look a little dull. Let's celebrate and not diminish it by the use of "hit and giggle" which it is patently not. It is a gripping contest played for the highest of stakes in front of a world wide audience that can only enhance the game, of which test matches, one dayers, county games, club games and matches on the sands with mum and dad and the children are all happy aspects of the wider picture, all to be enjoyed, according to one's preference.

Re: The World Cup 20 20... stumped by a loony mathematician?
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
18 June, 2009 10:44
In yesterday's Guardian, Andy Bull reports that the statistical half of the Duckworth Lewis partnership, Frank Duckworth, pourned scorn on the rival method employed by the Indian Cricket League.

They use the Indian VJD method which would have set a far more realistic target of 94 runs from 9 overs, and is a result of "keeping fiddling his figures". Even after revision of the DL tables after the World T20, the DL target would only be increased by a run or two to 81 or 82.

Which goes to show how dumb Duckworth Lewis patently are, the second half of the team being Tony Lewis, which was news to me. Marcus Trescothick in his column in the Bristol Evening post expresses the mildest form of criticism.

"Paul Collingwood's decision to bat after winning the toss was a bit strange as it's standard practice in the county game to bowl, if rain is around and the DL sysyem is likely to come into play".

I myself think, considering we have a multitude of physio therapists, psychologists and suchlike assisting our team, perhaps we could add someone with commonsense and a meteorologist. As long as we rely on a skewed DL table, we lost the game not on the field nor on the toss, but in making the wrong decision, to bat first.

It seems to be the accepted opinion of professional pundits that the West Indies were the better team and deserved to go through. I can't see how we can say that. The game was decided by the decision to bat, knowing how unrealistic and wrong headed was this supposedly infallible piece of boffin inspired mathematical buffoonery. Another cock up to add to the collection.

Re: The World Cup 20 20... stumped by a loony mathematician?
Meng (IP Logged)
18 June, 2009 13:45
Personally I couldn't care less.

It's not like Twenty20 is proper cricket after all.

Re: The Chumpionship.......?
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
01 September, 2009 19:55
Some of us have wondered whether two pre-season friendlies against lower league opposition, Clifton and Newbury, has been sufficent preparation for the start of the new season.

However, considering that there will be 22 more friendlies before the top eight in the league of twelve are sorted into the sheep and goats, that should be long enough for us to decide, by about March 2010, our strongest side, if, that is, anyone is still awake by then.

The cynics, of which I might be unfairly said by some, to be one, argue that this lunatic league structure is determined by one motive, and that is, of course, money. In the business world in which all professional clubs operate, there is nothing wrong with that. Far from it.

But what are the economic gains to be had from the culling of Nat Div One from 16 to 12 teams? A subsidy from the RFU of 192,000 pounds per team, up from 156, 000 pounds, is hardly big bucks. However,the substitution of games against the likes of Esher with games against Munster and other Celtic teams could be attractive both at the gate and for those of us who enjoy "foreign travel".

As the Board and major shareholders quite rightly and delicately point out, without their support, both financial and administrative, Bristol would probably be playing Dings and Clifton this season and that would clearly not do, would it?

Bristol is their club, I'm little more than a customer who can make my choice and pay at the gate if I want to, and their job is to try and encourage as many of us to do likewise with the product they offer.

Of course the players, coaches, employees and shareholders have to put a positive spin on things, but I can afford to speak my mind and state the obvious.

And that is this that, the last time when we were relegated and the time before when we almost got relegated again, in consecutive years, our fight back, first to survive, then to win promotion that ultimately lead to a triumphant third place in the Premiership, was a thrilling experience from the very first day of the season right up to the end, notably our superb demolition of Exeter Chiefs at the Memorial Ground in the spring. But that had been preceded by a fantastic battle a few weeks earlier down at Plymouth. What excitement we had.

So, if the earlier 16 team league provided such undeniable thrills, who in their right mind would replace it with this Chumpionship? Were not the Board of Bristol consulted on this? Or was it "a fait a complis", imposed from above by the RFU? Was there any debate? If only Bristol and Exeter qualify in meeting Premiership ground criteria, why not just have them play each other 30 times home and away and the top two teams, that is Bristol and Exeter could have a play off at Twickers. Even if Bristol won 20 of the 30 games, of course, whoever wins at Twickers goes up. Crazy? Not really, because at least we would know that the top team would actually be promoted.

So the board own the club, they make the decisions. I decide whether to attend. I've paid my measly 100 quid for a season ticket, so I shall probably turn up, whilst really wanting to watch a proper competitive Premiership game, red in tooth and claw on Sky, this Sunday 3.30 pm from Kingsholm between Gloucester and Bath. Can you blame me? Or can you blame whoever dreamed up "The Chumpionship"? Were they tested for drugs after it?

At the end of the season we shall see, in the bottom line of profit and loss,attendance figures and the like, whether this format deserves to be retained. Will it serve to select the best team in the Division to be promoted? I doubt it. And that is the the folly that ultimately devalues any short term financial gain, if any.

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 01/09/2009 22:53 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: The Chumpionship.......?
gran (IP Logged)
02 September, 2009 05:37
Good to hear you again WB and that just about sums it all up. Nothing much to add, except that no-one from the RFU down will be listening.
The strange thing is though, that I dont think it makes financial sense either, and that seems to be the rationale behind this absurd Chumpionship. There will be less people through the turnstiles, simply cos Glos v whoever on sky is more compelling. Less punters means less advertising, less sponsor interest, less for everyone, except.... wait a mo, the final at Twicks in front of 60000 paying 40 quid each, with the RFU pocketing a nice proportion of that 2.4million. Perhaps thats what the RFU are salivating about.

Re: Dings Crusaders 29 Richmond 22
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
05 September, 2009 22:51
This game fizzed with spirit and ambition as two young sides flew at each other with commendable passion and skill, making for a splendidly entertaining game, enjoyed by a good sized crowd, with the result in doubt right up to the final whistle.

The coaching set up at Dings has completely changed since last year with Alan Martinovic retiring from teaching at Colston's and taking up a well paid job with the U 18's at Hartpury College.

However, Ding's have been augmented by an influx of bright young backs from Colston's under the guidance of seasoned old timer Pete Johnson, young assistant, RFU based coach, James Farndon, who has achieved success with Bristol University, and on the touchline ex Bristol and Scotland favourite Dave Hilton coaching the forwards.

A reinvented Dings played an all round game where forwards alternatively deftly passed out of the tackle and then thrusted powerfully through the middle where returning captain Stean Williams lead by example.

The game breaking try, brilliantly scored in broken play by a young Ding's centre, was thrilling to watch. On the touchline the cultured tones of the Richmond committee urging on their team was pleasing to the ear, mingling with the contrasting down to earth comments of the locals, whilst a small army of rugby refereeing assessors noted assiduously technical points on their clip boards.

One gentleman with a Richmond tie and blazer remarked that London Scottish, their tenants at the Athletic ground, who were promoted last year from this division, have lost their sponsor, who has gone over to London Welsh, just up the road, wiping out their 400,000 pound debt and guaranteeing them 3,000,000 pounds backing over the next two years or so, forgive me if my figures aren't accurate, but it's that sort of thing.

Also, the Scottish RFU, apparently allegedly, have failed to come up with 38,000 pounds worth of support for the Scottish exiles and a court case is in the offing.

Moreover, as a result of the increased support from the RFU to the 12 team Championship, teams lower down the divisions are receiving less, in this case Richmond and teams in their division getting 3,000 pounds as against 8,000 pounds last year.

So, all of a sudden Bristol's game against London Welsh tomorrow takes on a different complexion. Their new found financial backing makes them a real challenge and that wets my appetite.

When I quizzed Ding's officials about their plans for relocation they said that the University of the West of England were planning a massive rugby stadium on the fields beyond Dings and Bristol RFC were determined to get away from the Rovers after all the fiasco that they've been put through and would be in a partnership with UWE.

This was no secret but it was the first I'd heard of it. When I said "are you joking?" they said "no, there have been talks....."

Oh my giddy Aunt.......not another ground share saga....please.....

In the meantime it was great to get back to the game and be reminded how very enjoyable a good game of rugby can be, and this was one, and not a blood capsule in sight....thank God.

So tomorrow...come on Bris... all of a sudden we have a fight on our hands. A win tomorrow is no foregone conclusion. We may even have to fail before we succeed. We shall know more come 4.40 pm tommorow.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/09/2009 22:37 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: Dings Crusaders 29 Richmond 22
Hercules Spoons (IP Logged)
09 September, 2009 21:34
Thank you William, entertaining, interesting and also (possibly) informative.

Why has no one picked up on his comment about the likelyhood of a new UWE ground?

Re: Clifton 30 Henley 21
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
17 September, 2009 21:09
On a perfect late summer day, I cycled over to Clifton, by way of the hidden, deep wooded gorge of Coombe Dingle, past huge ancient pine trees and craggy heights up to the lawns and monkey trees of Blaise castle estate.

In the old Georgian Manor House, now a museum, an exhibition of butter making was being held in the dairy. Not to be delayed I pedalled on past a sumptuous new leisure and sports centre built on the grounds of Henbury School and on into the semi rural playing fields of Clifton RFC.

As always the welcoming party at the gate was headed by ever green finance director Mr Anderton, who with honeyed words invited me to become a member for only 25 pounds a year. This was so cheap I couldn't bring myself to rob him so I paid my 7 pound entrance fee, and chatting away asked where was the groundman who normally helps collect the entrance money.

"In hospital with emphysemia....alas."

His stand-in was a bright, youngish chap who was a freelance IT consultant who had been trying to fix Bristol RFC crashing website and online booking service.

The CEO Steve Gorvett was up a ladder all week replacing the dodgy wireless connection with a cable. Hopefully it will fix it...."

Out the back, Clifton were warming up under the leadership of Matt Salter. Mark Regan the new forwards coach was absent attending the SKY sports box as pundit analyst.

And then onto the field the home team trotted out in modish skin tight stretchy black and lilac hoops looking quite fetching, no doubt to the ladies eyes. Henley looked like they meant business and things went pear shaped big time when Clifton lost the ball on the half way line and the visitor's no 8 ran away down the hill and scored a try. 13 -5 .

Mr Salter, drawing his men under the posts as the conversion sailed over, went completely mental with more F words than Gordon Ramsay after hitting his own thumb with a hammer. The air was deep blue, if not lilac.

In the second half things got even grimmer as a bustling Henley camped on Clifton's line. But fierce resistance held out and at last a Henley knock on gave Clifton a scrum, wherefrom skilful solid play from Salter at the base shipped the ball to the scrum half to his fly half who cleared the lines to halfway.Classic piece of play.

And then Clifton clicked. Salter tore into the rucks, caught everything going, passed to the backs where old England and Bristol hero David Rees, aided by the young bucks, scored three tries on the bounce whilst young prop Marco Vainopolo showed enormous strength in the mauls. The tide had turned and Clifton had secured their first win at this new National League two South level to the delight of the appreciative home crowd.

After the game the match on the TV from Wembley between Saras and Saints was on in the background as reports of Bristol winning at Birmingham and Dings away to Lydney cheered the gathering. Only Bath losing to Wasps tempered the mood , even more so the next day when Glos got thumped at London Irish.

So what a splendid day, for Clifton in particular, and the game of rugby in general. My thanks to all those who entertained us so royally and thoughts to those who had to be on the losing side. Their day should come, but not this time.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 17/09/2009 22:36 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: Dings Crusaders 9 Barking 18
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
23 September, 2009 09:11
Once again Saturday came, a perfect late summers day for rugby at all levels throughout the land. Earlier that morning, in the local Tesco supermarket at Golden Hill, a Dings fan, of the more literate kind, gazing at his texts on his mobile, merrily informed me that.. "that chap from Bath who got banned, what's his name....Crocket....Adam Crockett....he's gonna be playin for Dings after they say....he's a friend of Stean Williams (the Dings captain) and he's signed for Gloucester for next season, so he just wants to get fit at Dings......"

"Alex Crockett?" I replied. "Yes.. Alex Crockett..." he said dashing away..."see you at the game!"

Later that day at the ground, the rumour was backed up by the very highest of authorities, on the crowded touchline, by the bustling bar where the great and the good gather, so that probably means it's just another wind up, but I can only report what I'm told with a straight face.

They gather there at the crucial corner, where, due to the slope of the ground, the fieriest of battles ensue, usually in Dings favour, and this game was no disappointment. If there are phases such as "ruck", "maul", "scrum" and "line out", we need to add another phase...and one that was unending from start to finish and that is, I suggest a "braul". This is to describe a "maul" that includes all 30 players, even the referee and touch judges by accident at times, not a "brawl" for that would mean the referee blowing his whistle to end it.

The "braul" is just one filthy great big scrap for the ball, a bit like the 100 years war, with intermittent schoolboy pleading to "sir" "the fugging dirty animal has just bit my shirt off" much to the amusement and jeering of the bear baiting crowd who, clutching their pints, pitch in with a volley of abuse at all come sundry.. Great fun...

The determination to win was shared equally by both sides, but Barking had a slight advantage in that their pack was frightenly huge, had Dings stuffed in all phases.... except for the "braul", a no hold barred arm wrestling match which reached it's highpoint as Dings defended their special corner with real pride and passion, the young scrum half, Ricky Jones, throwing himself fearlessy into a lethal combine harvester of thrashing arms and legs to win the ball for Dings and save the day.

And then the seas parted and Dings were away, free, in precious open space and powering for the line to score a try that could have won the game, but they too were cut down by a last gasp flying tackle, and so the moment passed. 12-9 to the visitors became 15-9, and with the last gasp of the game a drop kick denied Dings even a losing bonus point.

Scurrying away on my bike through the slumbering council housing estate of Lockleaze, I eagerly took up residence back in "posh" Horfield, in front of next doors TV to watch Leicester vs Newcastle. A nice new stand but I wondered who had enjoyed themselves the more at which game. The Premiership match involved strange things like "passing" and attempts at "running" with the ball, though the end result was the tries.., so you pays your money and takes your choice..(4 pounds at the gate for over 60's, sort of, at Dings ....or 8 pounds if you really isnt the be all and end all it would appear)

And so to the next day, Sunday, the sun still shone and after pounding around the common in a good time of 23 minutes and 10 seconds, straining my groin slightly in the process, I once again settled down in front of next doors TV to watch Man United vs Man city....and it was just getting interesting at 2-2 when, like a reluctant child having to go to afternoon Sunday school, I tore myself a way to watch Bristol vs Rotherham at the Memorial Ground, just a hundred yards down the hill.

It was still a nice day, but I became confused as to whom Bristol were playing. Apparently the "sat nav" on the Rotherham coach took them to the Westbury on Trym Womens Institute where a party of ladies from Rotherhams Knitting Club were due to share secrets in crocheting and the like.

At the same time, the Knitting Club went to the rugby ground by mistake, and by half time had created a multi coloured scarf long enough for Tom Baker's Dr Who to wear. Bristol meanwhile, had thought they were at a screening of "Come Dancing" and had merrily waltzed, cha cha chaad and tangoed unopposed to a 29 -3 lead.."Very strange" I mused as I lolled lazily against a barrier, chatting to my mate Pete who seems to enjoy the odd coach trip himself here and there in his old age to various religious sites such as "Lindisfarne oopp north.." "very pleasant" he said. Although his next door neighbour Mr Sedgley had taken a fall and was in hospital. (As a result Pete couldnt watch his SKY TV. "He likes golf and tennis mostly, but I get to watch the odd game of rugby and cricket..."

After half time the Rugby side from Rotherham arrived and trotted out and gave Bristol a thorough deep rectal examination which gave us pause for further thought. But looking at the argy bargy of the Premiership I'm not sure where the most fun is to be had, but once again perhaps rugby in all it's forms was the winner, especially "braul" and all.

And so as Autumn truly arrives and Gloucestershire CCC prepare for the very last game of the season against Kent with a very faintest chance of winning promotion, the rugby season gathers apace with the commencement of the University games to end next spring at Twickenham. Last season Hartpury College (Gloucestershire) narrowly defeated Loughborough College in the final. Hartpury also beat Clifton in the intermediate cup and continue to burn up the oposition in the South West One West Division they have won promotion to.

Bath University take on Bristol University at the Recreation Ground, Bath Wednesday 7th October 7.15 pm, entrance 3 pounds only...


Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 25/09/2009 07:04 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: A trip back in time.
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
05 October, 2009 08:31
I was on a train to London many years ago, so long ago it might even have been a steam engine, but I remember it had corridors and as I walked along, looking for a compartment, I noticed a spare seat, and sliding the door squeezed in next to a group of chaps wearing smart black blazers with badges and ties, white shirts, short haircuts. I asked the elderly gentleman opposite me, similarly attired, if they were a rugby club travelling away and who they were?

A few players looked up from their card game, cautiously wondering who this long haired wierdo was, ( I've lost the long hair, as to whether I'm still a weirdo, I'll let you draw your own obvious conclusions), and the old chap said "We're Exeter Rugby Club".

"Who're you playing ?", I asked. "Saracens" I think he said. I honestly can't remember who I was going to watch. It could have been Bristol at Blackheath for all I know. But I was indelibly impressed by their sober good manners, combined with a hint of James Bond like potential violence, if I stepped out of line.

And so 40 years on what has changed?

Bristol 25 Exeter 36 October 4th 2009......

Yes, it was an enjoyable game, a bit like the old amateur days when the result was important until the final whistle and then all was forgotten as players shook hands and everyone merrily went their way to the bar and beyond. I half expected to see an advert for the Beatles at the Colston Hall, although the mountains of uncollected rubbish littering the streets hark back to the bin strikes of the 70's.

Yes, it was a pre season friendly, of sorts but the next question is whether there is much advantage to be playing in the Premiership for Bristol? Both these sides would have lost by about 40 points to most Premiership teams. The best they could have hoped for was a win once a season against perhaps Leeds.

To Exeter such a fate would be a novelty worth trying but for myself, the attendant grief, team chopping and coach persecution worthy of Montezuma at his most boodthirstiest, is of doubtful pleasure.

As Exeter are the only other team in the Championship that fulfil Premiership criteria, how about establishing a pact that ensures they win the play off finals?

For real drama I have particularly enjoyed two Premiership games played at 6.05pm on Saturday nights. This new kick off time has permitted me to watch either Clifton or Dings Crusaders at National Division Two South level in the afternoon. A week ago I became a season ticket holder at Clifton for 25 pounds and the standard of rugby is high and the ability to watch the play, close up and in the corners, really permits one to appreciate the skill and courage of these players.

So this simple rescheduling by SKY and the Premiership is bound to increase gate takings throughout the country especially at the lower levels and, I would imagine, increase TV viewer figures at the same time.

The only people it might not suit is the supporter of the teams being televised, but what's new? As an impartial observer of the Bath Vs Leicester game a week or so ago I thought it was a tremendous match. Imagine my surprise to read Stephen Jones in next days Sunday Times comprehensively rubbishing the match. These critics should take a break sometime to rediscover their appetite. Being an "expert" can blind one to the simple facts of a thrilling game.

And if the Bath Tigers game was a cliff hanger, the Quins Bath game this weekend topped the lot. But thats what you get when there is something to play for. The designers of the "Championship" in contrast take us back in time to a gentler age. As it is, Bristol supporters can enjoy both eras at the same time.....perhaps.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/10/2009 21:33 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: Dings Crusaders 29 Richmond 22
Two Sheds (IP Logged)
06 October, 2009 10:23
Hercules Spoons
Thank you William, entertaining, interesting and also (possibly) informative.
Why has no one picked up on his comment about the likelyhood of a new UWE ground?
As an outsider from the Glaws board, where Bill also posts his musings, I suggest that the answer to your question is that most readers lose the will to live after the first paragraph.

Re: A trip back in time.
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
06 October, 2009 20:52
Two Sheds,

I appreciate that what I write is not of interest to the vast majority, thats why I keep it all in one thread so that you can easily avoid it, if you wish. However there are a few who enjoy reading my posts almost as much as I enjoy writing them. I like to have a giggle when I write, a chuckle about saying something just a little bit silly perhaps, a smile as I wander down Memory Lane, hopefully shedding light on the darker corners of lower leagues, such as the "Championship" which gets virtually no exposure in the National Press. I think we are all interested in rugby first and teams second, because without the one there isn't the other.

Of course I risk the ire of some when I put my posts on their boards, I try not to annoy and I really do feel uncomfortable if I upset, but then some posters respond positively. That really makes it all worthwhile, for example from the Saints Board the following gentleman makes the following response.....if you haven't dropped off by now Two Sheds......(I can't blame you)...

Re: A trip back in time new
Posted by: Howlin (IP Logged)
Date: 06 October, 2009 15:08

As usual many interesting points made most subtly. Thanks William. It sounds like you, as with I , have little time for the new "Championship" structure.

With the ko times though. Many people with Sky now have Sky+. Sky themselves are trying to kill off the standard box and replace with + or HD which has the facility built in. It therefore seems to me that what time a game is shown on TV will have decreasing relevance to those who do not wish to attend the game. As they can record it and watch it at whatever time or day they wish. I also wonder whether Sky themselves can tell from the viewing figures which viewers are watching live and which are simply recording for future consumption. It just makes it all the more irritating to me when Saints games are moved around the schedules at whim, causing no end of issues for the loyal fee paying supporter; including negating flights and hotel bookings with the subsequent loss of cash.

Perhaps one more reason to ally oneself to "lower" league rugby which can be visited at 3.00pm on a Saturday afternoon; when God intended it to be played.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/10/2009 20:55 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: A trip back in time.
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
21 October, 2009 09:58
There has been a debate recently on whether the Bristol coaches should be pitch side urging our team on and shouting instructions. One poster on the Unoffical site, Yorkie Boy enlightens us

Re: Memo to Paul Hull...

..makes me laugh with all the folks on here who say the coaches should be on the touch line but the championship regulations state only the team manager or who is acting as team manager is allowed in the technical area so, before sprouting off, know the rules people.

I responded ...

Yorkie boy,

I take your point, but, alas if we all knew what we were talking about we wouldn't be on these boards, myself included. None the less I thank you for your shining light on the problem. I'm always irritated by football managers such as Fergie and Wenger standing on the touchline, like nerdy trainspotters with their every ranting grimace and spittle flecked raving on show to the viewing public, followed up by their one eyed mind bending distortion of the obvious truth about whether it was a foul or a goal or whether the ref was too fat.

I prefer our rugby coaches to remain in dignified silence with our own very dear to our hearts Mr Brain in his usual position, high up in the "Centenary" stand, hanging upside down as it were, in the belfry with his batman suit on, blood dripping from his fangs, closely accompanied by "Robin" Mr Hull, as they looked on at the truly Halloween Horror Show put on by the lads last Friday night against "Sir Oswald" Moseley RFC.

Watching him closely in his towering erie I realised that, what I thought was blood dripping from his jaws, was in fact splurges of an over generous appication of tomato sauce on his mid game jumbo burger, which came as relief considering recent past events at other equally famous rugby clubs .

Once again I came away with a mild sense of happiness, a win is a win, and I shall refrain from tearing the few remaining threads of hair and shooting myself in the head for the play offs in Spring, as like lemmings, we all once again run head long for the oblivion of promotion and a trip over the side of the cliff.

Next stop Doncaster!

Re: A trip back in time.
Blott (IP Logged)
21 October, 2009 16:26
Ah William, I do so genuinely enjoy reading your contributions.

The style and content never fails to make me smile.

Thank you.

Re: A trip back in time.
rambling sid (IP Logged)
21 October, 2009 16:27
Nice one as always William. Don't let the likes of "Two Sheds" put you off. Are you familiar with the writing of Peter Tinniswood. Some of your musings bear a similar comparison to his articles from Witney Scrotum, behind the giant earthworks of Bothams Gut. He often used to refer to that cricket commentator now no longer with us, Don "Sir Oswald" Mosey.

Re: A trip back in time.
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
21 October, 2009 17:34
Thanks Sid and Blott,

I really do appreciate your kind words, as I never know whether I'm really as universal a bore as some would lead me to think.

Last Friday night I found myself standing, at one stage in the Blackthorne End right next to a jolly bunch of Moseley supporters, clad in their famous red and black scarves resembling Dennis the menace of the Beano, and one merry old Brummy chap, holding his pint of beer seemed to be an inexhaustible dynamo of energetic cheering, and chanting at the top of his voice, "Moseley....Moseley.....Moseley" and I really wanted to get a refrain intoned, just before the Moseley bit, of "Oswald...Oswald....Oswald...." but thought the better not to in the current political climate...what with Nick Griffin of the BNP going on "Kwvestion Time and Vee Have vays of Making you Talk Jah?" and anyway it probably wouldn't have been understood at the time.

Anyway Graham has enlightened us further on whether Mr Brain should come swing down from the belfry on a rope like the Lunchpack of Notre Dame......

Re: Memo to Paul Hull... new
Posted by: Graham_U_nli (IP Logged)
Date: 21 October, 2009 13:19

Champ Regulations
Personnel permitted in the Technical Area
a. No more than two medically trained persons (certified doctors or physiotherapists only) and two water carriers (who may not be coaching personnel) per team are permitted to operate from the technical areas.
b. One Team Manager (who may be coaching personnel) is permitted within the Technical Area and will identify himself as the Team Manager to the officials.
c. No other person (including other team officials) is permitted in the technical area.
d. One other medically trained person (in addition to those identified in a. above) may be positioned on the far side of the playing area on the touch line opposite the technical area.
e. Where practically possible any medical person operating on the far side of the field from the technical area must stay outside the advertising hoardings. The medical personnel may keep up with play, but must pay due regard to the needs and rights of players, match officials, spectators, broadcasters and commercial partners.
f. All medical personnel may enter the field of play in accordance with Law at any time a player is injured. They must not obstruct, interfere or aim comments at match officials.

Whilst the number of people is restricted, I'd still expect one of the coaches to be acting as team manager in this respect. Last week I noticed the fitness guy had replaced chalky.

I think Two Sheds must really be soundly dozing off by now so it's safe to come out and play everyone.

British Universities and Colleges(BUCS) prem Divs A North and South Pool games results
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
30 October, 2009 07:48
The battle to the BUCS cup final at Twickenham in Spring has got into full swing with the first four rounds providing, as ever, some marvellously entertaining games played in a true Corithinian spirit embellished with a touch of modern day fisticuffs that even pre video monitoring days of the 70's would be proud of.

In the Northern Division Premier A, Leeds Metropolitan and Loughborough University remain unbeaten whilst in the Southern Division Premier A, Hartpury, last years champions, top the table after beating Bristol University 30-15.

The Hartpury College ground is about 5 miles north west of Gloucester on the Ledbury road. I can tell you exactly where it is because I keep cycling there from the train station, the latest ride being exceedingly pleasant in the warm sunshine of this exquisite Indian summer we are enjoying.

Looking back towards the Vale of Gloucester, surrounded by the Cotswolds to the east with the tiny figure of the towering cathedral nestling in the town around, one could wonder at the picturesque nature of rural England, occaisonally rattled by the roaring swirl of a thundering 40 ton lorry sweeping by.

Bristol entered this game in fine form having the previous week turned over UWIC 33-30 at Coombe Dingle in an astonishing game which ended with one team jumping in the air with joy and the other slumped on hands and knees in despair. Bristol's win, after conceding two tries in the opening 10 minutes could not have been guessed at and we spectators turned our minds to our favourite past time of slagging off everyone concerned, past, present and future with the fortunes, or lack of it, with our city's main side, Bristol Rugby Club, only now and then desisting as a present encumbent wandered by with steely eyed hautuer.

But all of a sudden the young Bristol team, lead by a small speedy centre, Tom Mitchell scored a brilliant try, Mitchell skipping, swerving and ducking past a series of belligerent but unsuccessful cover tackles by the visitors.

Somehow half time arrived with Bristol still in the game and in the second half Bristol continued their fight back with outstanding play by their quick No 8, a roll over try that left the hardened UWIC coaches spitting fury with their team, and Tom Mitchell once again putting Bristol in the lead with another brilliant try from centre.

A late penalty to UWIC levelled the scores and with the final play of the game Bristol's fly half, a dead eye kicker, dropped a winning goal to leave Bristol the most unlikeliest of winners. After the game Professor Bob Reeves of Bristol University entertained an invited party of ex University players, including Bristol legend Dave Rollitt and good wife, an annual event all the more poignant as Bob retires after a life time of distinguished service to the game.

A week later Bristol attempted to repeat the magic trick but it ended up with the conjuror going to pull a rabbit out of the hat to find nothing was there. Hartpury, who play a stronger team on saturdays in newly promoted to South West One West, were their normal speedy selves, but turned around at half time 13-12 down. But Tom Mitchell pulled a muscle, Hartpury grew in strength and Bristol succumbed as I hot footed it on my bike back to Gloucester train station, the sun setting to the west over the hills of Wales.

Next Wednesday 4th November Filton College play London Wasps at home 2.30 pm at their excellent Wise campus opposite the AXA building near Parkway railway station. This a team I intend to inspect and hope to report back on, their having recently won at home to London Irish 10-9 with two second half tries, the latter in the closing minutes.

Northern Division

P W D L F A Diff Pts
1 Leeds Metro Carnegie Men's 1st 4 4 0 0 111 46 65 12
2 Loughborough Univ Men's 1st 3 3 0 0 106 47 59 9
3 Uni of Nottingham Men's 1st 3 1 0 2 65 80 -15 3
4 Northumbria Uni Men's 1st 3 1 0 2 90 103 -13 3
5 Newcastle Uni Men's 1st 3 1 0 2 51 45 6 3
6 Nottingham Trent Univ Men's 1st 2 0 0 2 20 67 -47 0
7 Uni of Durham Men's 1st 2 0 0 2 37 92 -55 0

* = points deducted/awarded
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Leeds Metropolitan Carnegie Men's 1st 31 - 15 University of Durham Men's 1st
Loughborough University Men's 1st 56 - 14 Northumbria University Men's 1st 1st XV
Nottingham Trent University Men's 1st 12 - 41 University of Nottingham Men's 1st Directions on
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Northumbria University Men's 1st 15 - 25 Leeds Metropolitan Carnegie Men's 1st
Newcastle University Men's 1st 26 - 8 Nottingham Trent University Men's 1st
University of Nottingham Men's 1st 17 - 24 Loughborough University Men's 1st
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Leeds Metropolitan Carnegie Men's 1st 44 - 7 University of Nottingham Men's 1st
Loughborough University Men's 1st 26 - 16 Newcastle University Men's 1st Towers
University of Durham Men's 1st 22 - 61 Northumbria University Men's 1st
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
Newcastle University Men's 1st 9 - 11 Leeds Metropolitan Carnegie Men's 1st

Data maintained by: BUCS Fixtures - Rugby

Premier Division South A

1 HARTPURY 3 2 1 0 68 43 7
2 UWIC 4 2 1 1 104 53 7
3 BATH 2 2 0 0 46 22 6
4 BRISTOL 4 2 0 2 85 97 6
5 EXETER 3 1 0 2 34 57 3
6 ST MARYS 3 1 0 2 31 78 0*
7 SWANSEA 3 0 0 3 42 60 0

Playing today/results awaited: 1* = points deducted/awarded
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
UWE Hartpury Men's 1st 30 - 15 University of Bristol Men's 1st
University of Exeter Men's 1st - UWIC Men's 1st Fixture reversed -now playing at Sandy Park 1930
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
St Mary's University College Men's 1st 14 - 24 UWE Hartpury Men's 1st
University of Bristol Men's 1st 33 - 30 UWIC Men's 1st
University of Exeter Men's 1st 20 - 10 Swansea University Men's 1st
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Swansea University Men's 1st 22 - 29 University of Bristol Men's 1st
University of Bath Men's 1st 31 - 14 University of Exeter Men's 1st
UWIC Men's 1st 44 - 6 St Mary's University College Men's 1st
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
St Mary's University College Men's 1st 11 - 10 Swansea University Men's 1st
UWE Hartpury Men's 1st 14 - 14 UWIC Men's 1st
University of Bath Men's 1st 15 - 8 University of Bristol Men's 1st

Edited 7 time(s). Last edit at 31/10/2009 11:47 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: British Universities and Colleges(BUCS) prem Divs A North and South Pool games results
Vorny (IP Logged)
01 November, 2009 13:21
keep the reports coming William...very informative and enjoyable, thanks

Clifton RFC 6 Dings Crusaders 6
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
06 December, 2009 14:50
Clifton 6 Dings 6 Saturday 6th Dec 2009

Steve Hill in Friday nights preview of the game in the Bristol Evening Post informed us that Clifton, traditionally the higher ranked of the two teams, have only beaten Dings once in the last twenty or so years.

The key to understanding the form that lead up to the game is that Clifton's recent resurgence, after a period of decline, has been linked to sort of jumping into bed with big, bad, hairy,ugly Bristol RFC, whose decision it was to relocate their training and administrative headquarters from the leafy University ground at Coombe Dingle to the semi rural and cheaper environs of Cribbs Causeway, where a cow or two can look over the hedge to wonder "what's going on?"

I say "semi" rural as on one side in the distance the roar of the M5 south thunders down towards the Avonmouth bridge, to the North the twinkling lights of a mega shopping centre allure, whilst overhead a varied assortment of planes from Tiger Moth trainers up to jumbo sized jets being overhauled give the fleeting impression of being in a damp version of Pearl Harbour in 1943 under attack by the Japs.

This deeply welcome boost to the coffers has relieved the "posh" side of the city from years of stress and no doubt has somehow encouraged David Rees, ex England winger, the man who ran , not through but under Johno Lomu at Twickers to score a try, to now ply his trade, supplemented as a personal fitness trainer. Dings couldnt tempt Matt Salter with a coaching position as he wanted to continue playing and leave the coaching to Mark Regan, so their loss is Clifton's considerable gain.

As Matt was busy all day coaching the Bristol rugby academy he wanted to make the most of a flame that still burns bright and his entry into the Bristol "Hall of Fame" marks a half way stage, hopefully in some capacity with a club back in the Premiership, Bristol.

Clifton tend to get the pick of the academy boys, and Paul Hull's policy of selecting some of them this weekend for the bench of the "big" match against mighty Birmingham Bees at the Memorial Ground denuded Clifton of highly talented young prop Marco Vunipola and lock Darren Barry.

Dings in contrast follow a vigorous no pay policy, but as most of them are in the building trade, I suspect that that is probably mainly for the benefit of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Taxis (Shurely shome Mishtake Mr Blessing...when were taxis run by the government? Ed.)

Who knows? Pure conjecture. But Dings do somehow pay the expenses of an illustrious coaching panel lead by the young and approachable James Farndon augmented by ex Bris favourite Dave Hilton and overseen by quietly spoken if slightly ancient Pete Johnson who are all employed by the RFU. Pete was a star centre back in the 19th century or so for Clifton and the same trio oversee Bristol University who continue to play effectively in the Premier Division of the BUCS cup. It was Pete who was entrusted by Malcolm Pearce to keep the good ship Bristol from sinking leading to the Hilly Haagy era. He has been around and this year coming into Dings found their best forwards had done a runner up to the Forest of Dean where a few bob or two was knocking about at Cinderford.

But Dings have steadied the ship, and recent results made Clifton only slighty the favourites. The steady drizzle slowly turned the rugby ball into a bar of soap and a few penalty infringements gave Clifton a 6-0 lead coming up to half time. As Clifton laid seige to the Dings line in the left hand corner at the "Motorway" end, a turnover and a breakout by the defending Number 8 swept play up field to the far opposing corner in a series of desperate off loads as the Clifton defence crushed the player but not the move. Now encamped on the Clifton line it was no surprise that in a modern day version of the trench warfare of the Somme, it was Clifton's time to turn defence into attack. It was to and fro' and with the last play of the first half, with Clifton down to 14 men as their hooker was yellow carded , Ding's captain and flanker Stean Williams asked his young fly half to take the points.......6-3 to Clifton.

I'm wondering if anyone actually reads this but hey ho, who knows and anyway nobody pays me to do it and anyway I can post it on the Gloucester and Plymouth sites where I always get warm thanks of appreciation.....however to return to the derby at Cribbs Causeway....the second half had Dings playing up the slight incline but with a light wind moistened by ever increasing heavy drizzle. (Weather forecast over)

They kicked for the corners, got a penalty, took the points and levelled the score, tried to play a bit of rugby with the slippery bar of soap, fielded a series of ping pong baseline rallies until they started to drop the ball left right and centre. Like a pack of howling wolves Clifton descended on the bobbing ball and eventually "Galactico Supremo" Johnny Barnes, no relation of huge footballer of same name I believe, got his chance with a longish range drop kick from behind the posts, only for to it graze the wrong side of the left hand posts. The posts, by the way, are the tallest in England and although a trifle rusty came from the Memorial Ground. A draw was an honourable result and so we look forward to the return at Landseer Road.

A word in recognition of the old groundsman who now out of hospital is unable to continue. His smiling face is missed and one thing you will always get at Clifton is a refined but sincere welcome. Like Dings but so different, both jewels in the rugby firmament and I suspect that all over the country, in their own special way, local clubs bring so much pleasure to our lives. For that we are most thankful.

Edited 5 time(s). Last edit at 11/12/2009 23:34 by WilliamBlessing.

Bristol 28 Birmingham 0
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
08 December, 2009 08:27
I'm really torn between two different camps on how to appreciate this game. On one hand, my natural inclination is to simply enjoy the company, admire the courage and skill of the players and perhaps only criticise because that's what we lesser mortals do. Considering Birmingham are bust and also ravaged by swine flu, they did well, tackled ferociously and frustrated Bristol famously.

But there's another side, perhaps a devilish one which wants Bristol to be the best and to do that one has to be brutally honest. There's no room for sentiment. And the professionals within the club want to be the best, right from the ladies earning vital money doing the cleaning and washing, through the stewards and turnstile operators to the players, executives, shareholders and Chairman and Board who sink their hard earned cash in the hope of reward, be it not in monetary terms.

And we the paying public, perhaps we expect something. I know everyone is trying and certainly any player worth his salt wants to get back to the Premiership.

But should we openly criticise certain players? Well someone once said "All the world's a stage and we are but simple players who strut the boards and wander off" etc etc. and it takes all sorts. I don't like to hear spectators being rude from the terraces, but maybe I'm a bit sensitive. But if we step out into the limelight, and even us wimps on the boards risk embarrassement every time we commit pen to paper, we have to take the hits and hope to work towards the occaisonal applause. We are all here but to please each other, are we not? So we learn from our mistakes and thus do better.

Each game is a fresh page on which to write. And it is on the pitch that the player has the chance to prove his critics wrong, and where we can respond as we think fit. But the worst thing that can happen for any entertainer is to be ignored, and I think we are unlikely to ever do that, are we?

Re: Bristol 28 Birmingham 0
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
26 December, 2009 20:34
Should Bristol field an academy side this Sunday against Exeter ?

It's so very easy to criticize the architects of the Championship and the play off system. But it's slightly more difficult when you actually have the responsiblity for the welfare of rugby within England, as does the RFU. A chance remark from someone behind me on the terraces at Bristol caused the alarm bells to ring, not for the first time in the past 30 odd years since we began to wrestle with new formats. Remember the first league system with 12 teams playing each other only once a season, giving just 6 home games a year, if you were lucky, and five away? No wonder so many famous clubs have slipped away from the top table.

Anyone complaining about the present Guiness Premiership set up leading to boring, safety first rugby should have been around then, when at a stroke, all the other games against Cardiff, Swansea, Newport, and others were relegated to "friendly" status with the best players rested and the seasons success or failure, both sporting and financial, were dependent upon the outcomes of those just 11 meagre league games .

So what was it said to me that made me go into a slightly cold sweat? I was told that Bristol's latest recruit, Alex Crockett, would not be eligible to play in the business end of the season, as to qualify, a player must have played in at least six of the 22 pre play off games. I searched high and low through the regulations on the RFU website but despite being enormously impressed by the extensive detail on virtually everything under the sun, including bankruptcy, nowhere could I find what requirements a player has to meet to be eligible if either they are dual registered or signed after the pre play off games.

I haven't the heart to publish my thoughts on the Bristol site, until perhaps after the game, because I know the game this weekend, Sunday the 27th December, is being eagerly anticipated by both sets of fans and the players alike. But I shall be distinctly uncomfortable no matter who wins. If Bristol win, then so what? It just makes us favourites in the play offs, and that's no advantage. If Exeter win, well it could be at a cost to Bristol of losing players through injury. If we were really hard headed and had no thought of the paying public we might as well not let them have a look at our best team, our moves and keep our powder dry for the play offs. That is assuming Bristol and Exeter get to meet.

I couldn't quite work out how Moseley RFC last season so dramatically upset the apple cart in the infamous double header defeat of Exeter. A defeat that cost them their head coaches's job and promotion hopes to rivals Leeds. I couldn't work it out because I didn't know then what I do know now, that Moseley had two dual registered Gloucester players, flying wing young Afro Carribean Dan Norton, late of Hartpury College's Hall of Fame, and ex Bath centre Jack Adams. Watching them play now for Bristol,these two really are a classy combo and making a big difference.

And for this season Bristol have the experience of Jason Spice at scrum half. Cardiff's loss is Bristol's gain. The back line with him marshalling it seem to be so much more creative, and Junior Fatiolofa, fit again, gives us punch through the centre.

In the pack,at No.8, a youthful Dan Montagu, a pinch from Nottingham, grows stronger by the day, showing good ball handling skills, strong carrying power, supported by a couple of fresh and fit, strapping young flankers with pace and power to burn in Ian Grieve and Redford Pennycook. The front row, are rejuvenated by a fit again David Blaney and two young props, and they are thrust forward by two old boilers in the engine room at second row, Nathan Budgett and captain Roy Winters.

Even Lee Robinson, resembling the mythical creature Pegasus, a winged horse, on the wing spurred on by abrasive criticism from the terraces is playing with a barely concealed fury and no small amount of skill, his delicate chip and chase against a very well organised Bedford defence being out of the conjurors bottomless hat. So Bristol, maturing under Paul Hull, mentored by the experienced and even smiling John Brain are beginning to blossom. Spring time for Hitler and Germany!

But will the Spring see pink flowers, sunshine and showers and eventual little apples that will mature into next Autumn's new arrival of fresh product on the Premiership supermarket's shelves ?

Or will someone at the RFU responsible for "moving the goal posts" decide to move them just as Bristol take aim at a conversion, so as the ball flies through the air towards where the posts were, the kicker will look up and to his amazement see the posts scuttling off towards the corner flag, leaving our dreams in ruins?

Perhaps. That's why it would be useful to know if and where the rules are written down about "dual qualification" and late season signings elegiblity. Not that it would make much difference as we all know "Rules are there to be broken, especially by those who dream them up in the first place." But in the meantime it would help to know if any actually exist? Anybody care to enlighten me?

Re: Filton College vs Truro College Wed 2pm 27th Jan 2010.
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
27 January, 2010 11:54
For those of us who enjoy a Wednesday's afternoon rugby, Filton College entertain Truro College today at their splendid sports complex opposite AXA's headquarters, on the left, just before Parkway railway station in Bradley Stoke, North Bristol.

It's a league game, contested between the 12 academy based teams that at the group stage are divided into North and South. Truro, I am guessing, are based around the Cornish Pirates, and of course, Filton are linked to Bristol, but not exclusively, as these teams are RFU funded.

This game could be close as Truro, despite losing to Filton earlier in the season in the home leg by 21 points to 3, are strengthened by players returning from injury.

The six teams in the Southern division are Wasps, London Irish, Filton College, Ivybridge School, Truro College and Exeter College. As ever, in rugby matters, one can spend time guessing, but I believe Ivybridge Community College could be linked to Plymouth Albion RFC, but I stand to be corrected. Hartpury College, feeder to Gloucester RFC, are in the Northern Division, at least their new academy Coach Alan Martinovic, late of Colston's and Dings "thinks so but can't be sure".

Filton's form has been patchy in this league so far. A 10-9 early season last minute win over London Irish at Clifton RFC along with a good win by 58-12 against Exeter College at home, has been tempered by a 30-28 loss home to Wasps and a defeat away to London Irish last week by 6-14.

So, whoever wins this afternoon stands a good chance of progressing to the dreaded play offs. When these will be are shrouded in the swirling mists of time, and anyone with further information or who can correct any assumptions or inaccuracies on my part are kindly invited to post below, with thanks. Hopefully, I shall do a report of sorts as they seem to be thin on the ground on the otherwise excellent website devoted to schools rugby which you might like to keep in your "favourites".[]

Meanwhile, I gather Bristol University's game at home to Hartpury College has been postponed, although there is a Third XIII rugby league match on for those so inclined. It is rumoured that University West of England are playing Cardiff University at Clifton today even though the BUCS website has them away.

On the wider stage, for those of you wishing to read the thoughts of the informed and distinguished wits posting on Richard Lowther's excellent website devoted to the Championship and below, save this site.


Latest insider info states that only two teams have put themselves up for audit by the RFU for promotion to the Guinness Premiership. Guessing I think it could be....Bristol and Exeter? London Welsh meanwhile continue in a state of flux, having discovered that someone slipped them a fake million pound note at the bar and gave out change for a packet of crisps. Rugby...don't cha love it!

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 27/01/2010 12:18 by WilliamBlessing.

Bristol 40 Coventry 15 Saturday 13th British and Irish Cup group stage.
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
13 February, 2010 21:06
Bristol 40 Coventry 15 Saturday 13th British and Irish Cup group stage.

The eyes of the rugby world, apart from the odd 2,500 spectators at the Memorial Ground, Bristol, were trained on higher things no doubt, but for those who attended, this was a pleasant afternoon of rather interesting rugby in which Coventry played their part in ensuring it was not all one way.

I missed the first fifteen minutes as I had had to work until 1 pm and by the time I arrived Bristol had already scored two tries and led 12-0. But Coventry in their bright red and white hoops, bustled Bristol into a series of errors and then scored twice to bring themselves back to 12-10 at half time.

In the interval, much fun was to be had by watching Scotland, on the club house television, embarrassing Wales at the Millenium Stadium, by leading 18-9 at half time.

But the fresh air beckoned and out for the second half trotted the two teams. Bristol soon got into their stride, the diminutive figure of James Merriman, in his scrum cap, showing his fitness from his spell with England's seven a side team by literally and metaphorically rocketing through a gap in the Coventry midfield defence for a try that started a sort of mini avalanche of points.

The crowd were brought to their feet as the young powerfully built dusky prop, Mako Vunipola, showed incredible strength and pace in scoring his try. As he struggled over the line and touched down he had half the opposition pack on his back and the other half around his legs and ankles.

This young man should be put straight into the first team. He is destined for the Premiership. Let us hope that is with Bristol RFC and next season. To be honest, and not wishing in anyway to discourage some of the other young hopefuls, the team performance showed how important it is to be experienced and aware of each others pattern of play, and that can only come through playing games. At times, both teams displayed a lack of cohesion, but that is to be expected. What it did make me appreciate was how well Bristol's first team have been playing this season, despite their own harsh self criticism.

They are well coached and playing some powerful and brilliant rugby. Instrumental in this has been Jason Spice at scrum half, who has brought a rare creativity to Bristol's back play, a feature of which marked last season's style at his former club, Cardiff Blues. He deserves a season or two in the Premiership.

In the interminable "qualifying" 20 or so games so far Bristol have managed to get one hand on the door handle to the Premiership. We know the door is not locked and one twist and a push will see us through? Can anything stop us? Who knows? Soon we will have to all go back down to the foot of the mountain and start all over again with our equally determined partners in the new fangled Championship. Could there be a crueller form of deciding who enters the the Big Room? Possibly, and if there is, you can bet on someone to think of it and introduce it.

One wonders if perhaps the winners of the British and Irish cup, presuming that there is one, could qualify for next seasons Amlin Cup, just as the winner of that cup qualifies for the Heinken Cup. Just a thought.

So the second half whizzed by, Cov scored a good try and as the final whistle blew it was back to the TV screen in the bar intending to enjoy further Welsh misery. But zounds! They scored a penalty and a try with the last two passages of play to send Scotland and Andy Robinson to the bottom of the Six nations Table.

All in all, a good days rugby for the fans! And England in Rome tomorrow!

Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 14/02/2010 09:08 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: Bristol 40 Coventry 15 British and Irish Cup group stage Saturday 13th Feb 2010
rambling sid (IP Logged)
14 February, 2010 12:47
Nice read as always William. Can you remind me what is Vunipola's history.

Bristol University and UWE go through to the knockout stage of the BUCS Cup.
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
02 March, 2010 21:38
The British Universities and Colleges Cup reaches the first round of the knockout stages tomorrow, Wednesday 03 March, when the top 16 teams in the land go head to head.The top six teams in the Northern and Southern Divisions are joined by the top two Scottish teams along with the top two teams in the second divisons,Leeds and UWE Bristol, who are promoted.

Nottingham Trent University and St Marys College respectively are relegated from the Northern and Southern Divisions into the second tier cup.

The draw is seeded on the basis of the final positions in the qualifying league table. In the Southern Division they finished thus

2 Hartpury
3 Exeter
4 Bath
5 Bristol
6 Swansea

In the Northern Division

1 Loughborough
2 Leeds Metropolitan
3 Newcastle
4 Nottingham
5 Northumbria
6 Durham

The two top Scottish team were Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

The draw is

1 Loughborough v Edinburgh
2 Bath v Northumbria
3 Newcastle v Swansea
4 Hartpury v Leeds University
5 Leeds Metro v UWE
6 Exeter v Durham
7 Nottingham v Bristol
8 UWIC v Aberdeen

The quarter finals are to be played next week Wed 10th March with the winners of games 1 and 2 meeting, 3 and 4, 5 and 6 and 7 and 8. The home team is decided on the toss of a coin. For results go to []:

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 02/03/2010 21:45 by WilliamBlessing.

Leeds RFC (Ring Fencing Club)
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
06 March, 2010 10:41
Why would anyone want to play in the Premiership if it weren't for the fact that the teams that do so are the best? And how can one be sure that they are the best if they are not exposed to the challenge of the teams below them in the Championship?

Why is it that Scotland are still losing if their regional sides benefit so much from the protection of a relegation free Magners League?

Why was the the Scarlet's stadium so deserted last night for the visit of Ulster last night if the ring fenced model is so "entertaining"?

Why is that the championship offers young players the chance to prove their worth on the field rather than in the gym and on the bench for a would be Ring Fenced Grimmest Premiership set up?

Why is it that Northampton, Harlequins, Leeds and Bristol have been relegated and come back stronger, both on and off the field. How was relegation so "fatal" in their cases? Au contraire, it was perhaps the most enjoyable seasons they have had, but only because they knew they could return to the fray, afresh.

Why is it that Leeds, under the threat of relegation are now beginning to turn the tables and in so doing prove their right to be and remain at the top?

Why is it that Sale, now in free fall, suffering perhaps from the withdrawal of a beleaguered sugar daddy's cash or whatever afflicts them, should not relinquish their place to a club such as Exeter that have transformed themselves into everything a modern professional rugby club should be?

Why is that despite all the failings of the new Championship, a genuine fever of anticipation is beginning to rage within all 12 teams as their fortunes are to be decided on the one place that matters.....on the field?

Why is it that attendances continue to grow at all levels?

Because of promotion and relegation.

Why can't the Grimmest Premiership be expanded to 14? Because the RFU have entered an agreement with PRL to limit the number of games in the hope that England might improve at the International level.

Why is Neil Back so keen to safeguard his club's position in a Ring Fenced Premiership? Because he thinks that clubs exist soley to benefit England?

Sorry but I beg to differ. Clubs exist for themselves. Supporters, be they chairmen or members or spectators through the gate support their team because they want them to win...on the field.

And if they lose they eventually go down to a level where they start to win again. If Neil Back can't handle that then perhaps he's in the wrong job, along with his chairman.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/03/2010 10:51 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: Leeds RFC (Ring Fencing Club)
rambling sid (IP Logged)
06 March, 2010 11:17
Nice one William. I think you ought to post that on the Leeds site. Might get some interesting responses.

Re: Leeds RFC (Ring Fencing Club)
apb (IP Logged)
06 March, 2010 11:50
Its something that comes up every year whichever club is threatened. There were some folk when harlequins were under threat (and actually went down) that thought owning your own ground was a thing that should keep them up.

Whatever your situation, you look for ways to improve it. Leeds aspire to be a top club, but it will take 5-10 years of investment to do it. With the threat of relegation more or less constant, as Backy says, planning is difficult if not impossible. Having to rise from the dead every couple of seasons will ultimately ruin any club. And the set-up of ND1 and now with the championship makes it even harder to do anything other than yo-yo.

An expansion of the Prem to 14 teams immediately is an obvious path that should be taken. What you do after that - automatic promotion and relegation, SuperLeague style licencing, promoted teams protected from relegation for a season or two, a voting system to be elected to the top divison, or full, no holds barred ringfencing - each have their own strengths and weaknesses. But while PRL and the RFU are separate entities, nothing constructive will get done.

Waiting for the good times ...

..and waiting ....

... and waiting ...

Re: Leeds RFC (Ring Fencing Club)
rambling sid (IP Logged)
06 March, 2010 12:11
Ring fencing has no strengths whatsoever, only weaknesses. Such a system would weaken the sport, make it flabby, and ultimately result in a lot less interest in people coming through the turnstiles.To depend on ring fencing indicates an inherent weakness in the organisation of a sport and will ultimately show up in a much weaker national team apart from any other consideration.
One specific point concerning Leeds. Their last home match against Wasps, a game which i would have thought was fraught with interest, attracted a gate of I think 4100. Less than any of our home league matches. You need to address the interest level in the area in addition to any onfield problems.

Re: Leeds RFC (Ring Fencing Club)
apb (IP Logged)
06 March, 2010 14:17
Their last home match against Wasps, a game which i would have thought was fraught with interest, attracted a gate of I think 4100. Less than any of our home league matches. You need to address the interest level in the area in addition to any onfield problems.

I thought performance on the pitch was the only criteria needed to be in the Prem? Or are we now arguing on crowd sizes, and then perhaps heritage will come up - I know a few folk here think Bristol or other clubs deserve to be there because they are older than we are! winking smiley

Of course we want bigger crowds. But given the way we've been getting beaten up to now, the "walk-up" supporter has been turned away. We are trying to do this with one arm tied behind our backs - we get less central funding that anyone in the Prem (and I believe less even than Bristol at the moment), and we have a couple of other football codes to contend with. Our fan base is from all over the sprawling county of Yorkshire and it is a difficult thing to encourage the dyed-in-the-wool RL fans to take a game in, and that's without considering the massive rivalry between Bradford Bulls, Huddersfield Giants, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, Castleford Tigers all within a 20 mile radius, fans of which would never dream of setting foot inside Headingley as a home supporter. We have unique challenges, and Backy is doing an amazing job with the resources he has. We may yet become a big club in spite of the current setup.

You say ringfencing has no strengths, yet - whatever you or I think - some strengths have already been pointed out over many years. There are also some weaknesses, and many of us would argue that those weaknesses are far and away larger than any strengths could make up. But they are there, whether you like it or not.

Anyway, I'm out of here. I'm off to go and actually play this game!

Waiting for the good times ...

..and waiting ....

... and waiting ...

Re: Leeds RFC (Ring Fencing Club)
Bristol Welsh (IP Logged)
06 March, 2010 15:53

If ringfencing was such a good idea, why did you not put iy forward last year, or give up your promotion place on a point of principle?

Re: Leeds RFC (Ring Fencing Club)
apb (IP Logged)
06 March, 2010 17:02
I didn't and haven't.

The arguers for ringfencing of course look at it from a point of view where they would be the beneficiary. The Leeds CEO has put it forward as an argument based on the SuperLeague model, which, in theory doesn't rule out clubs coming in, but that there is a licencing model, licences being awarded by the governing body every three years. The idea is that, if a licence holder is persistently poor in the league, and/or has a substandard off the field set-up, they will be removed and replaced by another club more suitable. There are therefore elements of ringfencing, and elements of promotion/relegation.

William's well written article above puts a strong case for the status quo. However he puts in all the factors which support his argument (and why not? I would too!). But as Loosehead pointed out in response to the same thread on the Leeds board, there are losers in the promotion/relegation camp. Old stalwart clubs like Orrell, Wakefield, London Scottish, Richmond went to the wall. Four Championship clubs this season alone have struggled with administration. London Scottish (resurrected) and Cambridge have been pumping money in to come up the leagues, but we hear that the Cambridge benefactor is already having second thoughts.

The old Corinthian values are at odds with a professional sport that needs to target a marketplace - and the RFU at least have made attempts to draw the distinction between amateur and pro sport with the Championship setup (how successfully this has been brought about is another question altogether).

I am not an advocate of Ring Fencing. But neither am I an advocate of automatic promotion and relegation per se. The tensions between building a sustainable club in the top flight and those of pure "being there because you're good enough" are extremely difficult to solve, and I really don't know what the answer is. What I do know is that there are many people involved, most if not all with vested interests, and therein lies the biggest problem of all.

Waiting for the good times ...

..and waiting ....

... and waiting ...

Re: Leeds RFC (Ring Fencing Club)
Bristol Welsh (IP Logged)
06 March, 2010 17:22

I'm sorry. I don't watch rugby so that a club has a chance of establishing some stability forthier business model, or so the powers that be can determine whether a club should be allowwed in the top tier (I don't for instance support minimum ground standards as it is ringfencing by another route, nor do i support a salary cap.) I watch to support my club, and if the result of this is they go bankrupt (once) or relegated (more than once) then so bit. Perhaps the only criteria apart from winning the league should be that clubs caanot operate at a loss and therefore will cut their cloth accordingly. this means teams will find their level both through playing ability and what they can afford.

I certainly do not believe that a league should be restructured that has increase attendances brought about by the excitment that relgation brings - that for me is ignoring what the market wants.

Re: Leeds RFC (Ring Fencing Club)
gran (IP Logged)
06 March, 2010 19:46
there are some contradictions in your arguments.
You dismiss the interests of 'heritage' clubs, yet in another posting, bemoan the loss of several such clubs.
You rghtly state that professional rugby needs to target and develop its market, yet point out how difficult it is in your area given the cometition from other sports.
You appear to be supporting ring fencing, not surprisingly in view of your Chairmans advocacy, and then reveal in one of the posts that you dont know what the answer is.
I appreciate that there are a number of arguments back and forth, but there is one fact that stands out for me, and that is that there are well supported clubs in the Championship well able to replace those at the bottom of the Prem.

Re: Leeds RFC (Ring Fencing Club)
apb (IP Logged)
06 March, 2010 23:12

That's one of the main points - the whole thing is riddled with contradictions, and this is what makes it such an insoluble problem.

Bristol Welsh
I watch to support my club, and if the result of this is they go bankrupt (once) or relegated (more than once) then so bit.

And therefore how long will it be before you don't have any club left to support? You sound as if you will simply move on to another club if yours disappears. I find that difficult to believe.

Waiting for the good times ...

..and waiting ....

... and waiting ...

Re: Leeds RFC (Ring Fencing Club)
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
07 March, 2010 08:08
All of this talk of teams going out of existence is nonsense.

When Malcolm Pearce was threatening to take the "franchise" of Bristol Shoguns to Oxford, of all places, supporters of the club were secretly hoping he would do so that we could get back to rebirthing our club, playing at the Memorial Ground,at a lower level, amateur if need be, but professional in the sense we would not spend more than we could earn, with the willing agreement of Bristol Rovers, our new Masters and landlords.

Rugby clubs only die when suppporters die, and that is to the best of my knowledge, not going to happen in this City for sure, at least I speak for myself.

There were all sorts of alternative plans. My favourite was for Dings Crusaders to become Bristol Crusaders and they were up for it. Clifton weren't on the scene like they are now. Other supporters had arranged for Bristol to play at the bottom level and use Colston's ground.

More realistically, a consortium of ex-players lead, by Nigel Pomphrey and Alan Morley, wanted to take over the club along with it's valuable assets of Premiership shares worth about 2,500,000 pounds.....for er.... nothing.

Malcolm was on the point of resigning which was a shame in my opinion as this man had shed blood, sweat and tears, and about 5,000,000 quid, and I asked him to stay and set up a new club based on the academy.

He had a change of heart and appointed Pete Johnson and Martin Haag to get a team together, which they did and then the Consortium did a deal with Macolm which was to have him still on board and pay him back for his shares, depending on the club making a profit. Couldn't be fairer than that.

Incidentally it was the Consortium's decision to bring in Richard Hill as Head coach without consulting either Martin Haag or Pete Johnson, and as there had been "issues" between Martin and Richard when they were players at Bath, insiders shook their heads and said it would never work. But it did until Richard took the seemingly incomprehensible decision to replace Haag with John Brain.

After that it was downhill all the way, although to be fair to Hill and Brain, no coaching team could have coped with the disclocation of the temporary move to Newport whilst The Gas Board, (Rovers are known as "the Gas" because their previous famous old original ground at Eastville, now a Tescos and IKEA site used to be next to a huge Gas holder and the whiff of gas was never far away).

At least it was, until the outgoing directors failed to renew the insurance on the ancient wooden stand and it "mysteriously" burnt to the ground one hour before the insurance expired and they were forced to relocate to......Bath of all places...Twerton Park, home of Bath City. Incidentally their wooden stand was also destroyed by a fire and two Bristol City fans were found guilty of arson!

And now Chris Booy and John Leycock have stepped into the breach left when the original consortia inevitably sought additional strength and it was they that carried us through the fraught period last year when the temporary move to Newport stalled.

Nothing comes easy but where there is a will there is a way.

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 07/03/2010 10:32 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: British Universities Cup last eight Wed 10th March.
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
08 March, 2010 20:53
Lat week's results in the final 16 round were as follows..

1. Loughborough 61 Edinburgh 0

2. Bath 36 Northumbria 15

3. Newcastle 30 Swansea 15

4. Hartpury 53 Leeds 0

5. Leeds Metro 25 UWE Bristol 13

6. Exeter 15 Durham 18

7. Notingham 10 Bristol 24

8. UWIC walkover against Aberdeen

On Wednesday 10th March

The Quarter finals. (home side decided on the toss of a coin)

1. Bath v Loughborough

2. Newcastle v Hartpury

3. Leeds Metro v Durham

4. Bristol v UWIC

The stand out result in the previous round was Durham's away win at Exeter and their reward is a battle of the North, away to Leeds Metropolitan. Hopefully someone might post a match report on this thread if they attend any of the games.

Also, winning away from home against a higher seeded team, was Bristol University who play their difficult home tie against UWIC at Coombe Dingle kick off 2.30, rearranged from Clifton RFC at late notice.

Hartpury, possibly the favourites, have a tricky journey up North to Newcastle, whilst close contenders for the title Loughborough travel to Bath, who may provide them with something to think about.

So, the draw has given away games to the top three. Could one or more fail to progress? Could there be a cup upset? Could their be a new rugby power in the land? We shall see.

The semi finals, to be played at neutral grounds, will be on Wednesday 24th March and the final at Twickenham on 21st April. Anyone who has not watched this level of rugby will be sure of a treat. Fast, skilful, determined and for the most part sporting, they are the perfect anti dote to those who might groan at the sight of another bout of aerial ping pong from the Grimmest Premiership. See you there!

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 10/03/2010 09:49 by WilliamBlessing.

British Universities Cup Semi Finals Newbury RFC 3pm Wed 24th March and other random thoughts.
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
22 March, 2010 08:40
Letter from Bristol. British Universities Cup Semi Finals Newbury RFC 2.30pm Wed 24th March and other random thoughts.

University rugby is the Cinderella of the British game, eternally overlooked by the sporting press, apart from an annual frenzy around the Varsity match, where the two ugly sisters of Oxford and Cambridge get to enjoy their brief spell in the limelight.

The semi-finals of the BUCS Championship, from which the latter snootily exempt themselves, are to be played at Newbury RFC, this Wednesday 2.30pm, 24th March.

The tournament remains unheralded, even by specialist rugby newspapers, despite the fact that these games are far more likely to contain the stars of the future.

Search as I do, I can find no confirmation of my belief that both games will be played simultaneously on adjoining pitches, with a 2.30 pm kick off. That so little effort is made by the RFU and the Universities themselves to promote these games seems to me to be inexpicable. Professional journalists, such as Stephen Jones in yesterday's Sunday Times, reached an all time low by harping blindly on about how Martin Johnson and his men "have to go" after England finally came of age in a thrilling performance at the the Stade de France. Now Sir Larry Delaallio is getting in on the act, rubbishing Rob Andrew. If these were unpaid internet loonies like you and I, who have no reputation to risk except for our ability to sound off without fear of contradiction, then that's perhaps alright.

But the obsession with only the highest end of the game and the endless introspection of just one aspect of rugby belies a narrowness of outlook in the press. Even the dramatic events of the weekend in the Championship are unlikely to get anything other than a cursory comment in the broadsheets as economics curtail the coverage.

However, I hope that what I report can be corrected if inaccurate and I would appreciate anyone going to the Semi finals on Wednesday to include a match report or comment as I won't be able to go myself.

The quarter finals, played a fortnight ago on the 10th March, saw the top three of UWIC, Hartpury and Loughborough proceed to the next round. The scores were as follows

1. Bath 6 Loughborough 21

2. Newcastle 22 Hartpury 26

3. Leeds Metropolitan 33 Durham 21

4. Bristol 10 UWIC 53

I can only assume that the away win for Hartpury at Newcastle was a cracker, as was the close Leeds Metro win at home to Durham. The two other games were less close, Bath performing creditably against a powerful Loughborough team, whilst the only mismatch was Bristol's trouncing by a very professional UWIC team. This was the game that I had the misfortune to witness as Bristol were outclassed from start to finish. Despite the difficult conditions I have never seen in my forty years of watching Bristol University such a woeful performance. It happens.

The draw for the semi finals are thus

1. Hartpury vs UWIC

2. Loughborough vs Leeds Metropolitan

UWIC were mumbling about the RFU arranging a fix to ensure that a team from the Northern draw went through to the final and that Hartpury's players weren't proper full time students. A fix? By the RFU? Moving goalposts? Fake students at bogus colleges? Shurely shome mishtake? Impossible! Would never happen!

Continuing on the theme of woe, a nervy Bristol on Friday night struggled against a committed raiding party of Cornish Pirates who came to plunder the good ship Bristol and very nearly succeeded. Teams are like chemical experiments and coaches spend months, if not years, labouring in underground laboratories, surrounded by flasks of bubbling green and blue liquids, with an inarticulate monster prostrate on the operating table, feeding them bolts of electricity in an attempt to get them off the ground. I suspect that Martin Johnson himseslf, in resembling Lurch, is the result of one such successful experiment by a mad Dr Frankenstein's apprentice, Professor Sir Woody Woodentop Woodward.

Once up and running there's no stopping them.....and in that category you could include England in France. France were terrible. They won, but England were by far the better team. But one thing that teams need is momentum. Take them away to another competition or give them a break and all of a sudden they are back on the slab.

Bristol, on Friday night, were just about able to get out of bed and remember what day it was by which time Pirates had been climbing the rigging and hoisting their flag. Another day like that and Bris will be joing Exeter in the madhouse that is next years Championship and Nottingham RFC, like Robin Hood will have robbed from the rich and given to the poor, in which case, themselves, if they haven't gone bust three times by the start of next season.

My apologies to all and sundry if this latest missive has made no sense, but then what does in the Mental Hospital of the contemporary world of Rugby Union? London Welsh beating Nottingham in a Championship finals and then getting relegated to the third tier for failure to meet certain er..."financial requirements".

I can see the infamous moving goalposts at Twickers beginning to rev up and flicker from side to side before my very eyes.

BUCS semi final announcement from the UWIC website..


Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 23/03/2010 08:49 by WilliamBlessing.

Filton College in AASE plate semi's away to Prince Henry's Leeds Wed 21st April.
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
30 March, 2010 10:20
I am indebted to a Rugby Times article for 12th March under the banner headline of "Form Matters" Schools Rugby (page 12) by Sam Francis who begins by writing..

"As we build towards the climax of this years Daily Mail Cup, last years champions, Truro College, have been a notable absentee all season.

Truro's non-appearance this year, however, has not been due to a dip in form, but due to the College's recent move into the Advanced Apprenticeship for Sporting Excellence(AASE)circuit.

Steve Larkins, Truro's head of rugby, explained: "Since we began running a rugby apprenticeship course at our college and setting up links with Exeter Chiefs, we had to move into the AASE league to compete against simililarly set up squads out of necessity. According to the RFU, though, it has meant we are no longer entitled to join the Daily Mail competitions."

This interesting article goes on to describe how Truro College are looking forward to the play offs and finals of the AASE league, to be held on April 21st with finals day at Henly RFC on April 28th.

Their fortunes however in the league have been mixed.

The final positions in the two divisions North and South were as follows..


1. Moulton College(Northampton)
2. Hartpury College (Gloucester)

3. Prince Henry's (Leeds)
4 Myerscough (Sale)

5. Oaklands (Saracens)
6. Worcester Sixth Form College (Worcester)


1. Twyford (Wasps)
2. Ivybridge (Exeter Chiefs)

3. St Pauls (London Irish)
4. Filton College (Bristol)

5. Truro College (Exeter Chiefs)
6. Exeter College (Exeter Chiefs)

The Championship semi finals have top North 1 at home to second South 2 i.e Moulton vs Ivybridge and Top South, Twyford vs Second North, Hartpury.

The Plate semis have 3 N vs 4 S and 3 S vs 4 N

and the Bowl semis has 5 N vs 6 S and 5 S vs 6N

all semis to be played on the 21st April with the three finals of Championship, Plate and Bowl being played on the 28th April at Henley RFC.

Whether this set up will improve the standard of English Rugby in general right up through the leagues at Championship, Guinness Premeiership level and on to the final target of England itself is open to debate. Time will tell, but in this the first season of the AASE league Truro have not made the Championship finals finishing 5th in the Southern Division.

What cannot be debated is that the only way to improve is for the best to play the best, and for that you need a league format. That the AASE league provides and it's up to the rugby playing public schools to get organised, find a champion and then challenge the AASE Champions. I hope the Headmaster's Conference Schools get their act together. The result should be very interesting.

The debate on Rolling Maul website
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
07 April, 2010 22:36
One of the unforeseen pleasures of being expelled from the Premiership is discovering the website "Rolling Maul" set up by Richard Lowther that provides a forum for discussion amongst fans at all levels below the top tier. There are dedicated forums for the Championship, National Division One, Two North and South and below, where supporters and chief executives of the RFU and all kinds between engage in informed and sometimes witty debate. Because posters pitch in from all clubs it's at times a bit like arguing blindfold in a very darkened room, but slowly identities emerge. Of course the controversial subject of the Championship format is never far away, along with with dual registration, financial failures and clubs popping up again out of administration.

But musing on the subject a few novel thoughts occurred to me which surprisingly seem to argue for something of a need for not rushing into ever more changing of the set up.

The argument for the play offs in the Premiership is completely different from that in the Championship. In the Premiership, clubs who provide players who are part of the English Elite Squad, are disadvantaged during International windows, whilst the GP continues, and so they have the chance to "peak" after the Six nations and then go on to the play off semi-finals and then win the Grand Final.

It's primary justification is not just to "make money", per se, as certain sceptics might suggest, but to give the clubs and the RFU the grounds for a compromise so that the National team are able to compete on a more equitable playing field than the one that has, so far, favoured the Celtic nations.

The cost to the Celtic regionalised teams is a devalued Magners league, which as a consequence, fails to gain the SKY revenue that the Guinness Premiership generates. The new binding contract between the RFU and PRL, which limits the clubs to 22 games in a 12 team league this year, enabled the England squad to have a complete break between a gruelling draw at Murrayfield and a showdown at the Stade de France.

Thank heaven, England played some great rugby that night in Paris and despite losing 12-10, the French were frankly poor. But they didn't have the benefit of a break. Their top 14 schedule had them playing a club game in between, and it showed. The attempt of Stade Paris to get James Haskell to play and break an unwritten agreement displayed how tortuous and detailed the agreement had to be in the first place to stick.

None the less, a degree of "credibilty" was restored to England RFC, and as a result to English rugby, at all levels.

I certainly wouldn't say that the national team comes above all others. Far from it, but it at least deserves an equal footing along with minis, Schools, AASE league, colts, junior, intermediate, county and senior levels, including the "Championship".

Some rugby fans who follow their Premiership teams may not be aware of this strange beast lurking hidden, deep within the rugby jungle. If they were to rely upon the national press, only the Daily Telegraph gives anything other than the barest of bones in the form of the scores. Television even less so.

But in fact this season has seen an incredible boiling of rage and indignation within the twelve towns where Championship rugby is played and both the promotion and relegation battles are poised on a the sharpest of knife edges after this Easter weekend's results.

The "play offs" here are based on a different logic from those in the Premiership. It starts on the premise that RFU funding has to be concentrated on only those 12 teams who are deemed as being viable contenders for eventual promotion to the Premiership. In making those clubs dependent on a centrally controlled "handout" it weakens the 12 clubs independence.

It imposes a farcical 22 game "pre season" qualifying period" that won't wash with the paying public next season. The RFU closely monitor gate receipts, attendance levels, number of tries scored, difference in points, yellow cards, red cards, you name it, they monitor it and they report their findings in a well written review after each round on the RFU website that you can read for yourself, if you care to search for it.

But at the end of the day there is "the bottom line". Revenue, minus expenditure, equals profit or loss. I'm not sure how many of the 12 championship clubs include the six play off games for promotion or the four play off games for relegation in their standard season ticket price, but I assume they do. Bristol, for sure, include them. So the lower attendance figures must be leaving the architects of the structure scratching their heads. As a supporter I am both engrossed and fascinated and the emergence snarling from the undergrowth of a fully fanged Birmingham RFC has caught us all by surprise, none more so than their neighbours and rivals Moseley RFC.

Less of a surprise is the stumbling form of the favourites, Exeter and Bristol, the only two teams who meet the entry criteria set by PRL for promotion. With three games to go they are dead equal on points with Cornish Pirates and a boisterous Bedford, with Bristol having to play two of their games away from home, but crucially their game with Bedford at home. Anything can happen. Isn't that what you want in a competition?

Moreover, the Guinness Premiership is coming up with some incredible games. Gloucester's win against Saracens was perhaps the finest game of rugby I have seen in my life. And Wasps defeat of a rampant London Irish not far behind. At all levels the game is thriving. On the local front the derby game between Dings Crusaders and Clifton in National Division two South was fit for any broadcast by David Attenborough of the BBC Natural History Unit entitled "Life of the Hippotomus". In hushed tones he could have recorded 30 beefy blokes mud wrestling in cold water alternatively politely applauded by the toffs on one side when their team took the lead, and loudly jeered by the hoi polio on the other when their team went ahead. In the end a late penalty miss by the generally dead eye Clifton fly half was trumped by an assured penalty conversion by the Ding's replacement fly half Lukjanevic, Dings winning 17-15.

At the final whistle there was a mass outbreak of good humoured baiting by the Dings crowd with their singing, "One team in Bristol, there's only one team in Bristol.....One team in Bristol, oh there's only one team in Bristol", I think you know the tune to something like "Juan tamapara" or such like. The delated Clifton camp were left to reflect upon the fact that their successful season "does not hinge solely on winning one game". Dings might beg to differ.

But to return to the Future, the recent announcement by Martin Thomas of the RFU to consider expanding the Guinness Premiership to 14 when the TV contacts come up for renewal in 20011 and then think about ring fencing, perhaps, threatens the present hard won sense of equilibrium beginning to be achieved between the Professional clubs and the National team.

It is Sky and other rival broadcasters. who pay the big bucks that fund the game, they who are the paymasters and it is they who will dictate it's form at the professional level. With Ofcom suddenly throwing a big oily spanner into the "smoothly" running works, Chief Executives are once again faced with the one thing they don't like, apart from a poor product, and that is "uncertainty".

The Guinness Premiership, as it stands, is providing the goods. Even the Six nations with a possibly renaissacent England is meeting audience targets. But the credibility of the Guinness Premiership is based on the real threat of relegation. And that threat is dependent upon a credible Championship.

Incredible? Certainly. Credible? Not so sure. If the economics don't add up and changes have to be made I've suggested a championship of six teams North and South playing each other home and away twice before the top three of each go into a promotion group of six and the bottom three into a relegation play off group of six.

Of course it's a lot easier to throw one's hands in the air and shout "Bonkers". Returning to the old 16 team league? May not go down well with the TV executives.

One thing for sure. Plenty of thought is going into it. And by the end of next week the fate of Bristol, Cornish Pirates, Bedford in group One, and Nottingham RFC, London Welsh, Doncaster and Exeter in Group 2 will becoming clearer.

Not that you would know if you only used the traditional professional media of the Press and the airwaves. But the Directors of Rugby of the clubs in the relegation battle in the Premiership will be praying for an upset as much as those of Bristol and Exeter will be nervously counting their worry beads.


Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 02/11/2012 09:24 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: The debate on Rolling Maul website.
Albionation (IP Logged)
08 April, 2010 09:06
Nice mention of Albion in Group One William, thanks.

Until We Get Some News.......
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
31 July, 2010 09:52
Until We Get Some News.......

I was idly talking to someone at the Cheltenham cricket festival yesterday, and they told me that Bristol Rugby Club are on the brink of moving into Ashton Gate because the Bristol City chairman, Steve Lansdowne and new City manager, Steve Coppell, are keen to replicate the set up the latter had up at Reading FC, groundsharing with London Irish.

The departure of previous City manager Gary Johnson, who was adamantly opposed to pitch sharing, has apparently opened the door. This, to an extent, is old news, but things have moved on rapidly since.

The ongoing attempted renegotiations between the notoriously tight fisted Rovers board and the hard up Rugby Club of the rental fee based on the shock horror calamitous failure of Bristol Rugby to win promotion on the bounce, is proving to being unrealistic, on the part of the Rovers.

Bristol Cty are keen to show a spirit of helping fellow strugglers, and if the Rugby Board were to be forced to leave their spiritual home raving sugar daddy Mr Lansdowne is anxious to put the boot into Rovers, who would lose the precious rugby rental and potentially snooker Rovers move to Stoke Gifford as they would have been banking on the Rugby Club swelling their empty coffers.

And also in some small way, show up dim witted, tree hugging, corner shop loving Lib dem council planning committee, who are of course blocking the chance of City hosting the World Cup.

Would we be happy to play in a 41,000 seater stadium in the Premiership making monkeys of Barf and Glos?

Or groundshare with Clifton at Cribbs Causeway?

Will someone wake me up for the play offs in April next year?


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/11/2012 09:06 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: Rover's reluctance to renegotiate forcing rugby to the Gate.
rambling sid (IP Logged)
31 July, 2010 10:07
Interesting to hear this piece of news William. I'm sure there could be more than a grain of truth in it. Troiuble is we've heard so many rumours along these lines that I shant believe anything until it actually happens. If it is true its a pity it couldn't have happened a couple of years ago when the Newport business was in the air.We'd probably still be in the premiership now, but as you say Mr Johnson was still around then.
Did you enjoy your day at Taunton the other day. I've had a couple of good days there this week. It's such a nice change to follow at least one team who seem to be on the ball both from a playing and a financial point of view.

Re: Rover's reluctance to renegotiate forcing rugby to the Gate.
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
31 July, 2010 13:51
Indeed Sid, Somerset CCC are a very professional set up and the ground improvements from last year match the successful team on the field. In some ways they resemble Bath RFC in that their fans keep a vibrant website, The Grockle, bustling with learned, intelligent and sometimes warmly debated topics, such as "Who shot Jack Frost?", the controversially made redundant groundsman, much like their sister site Bathere, (Everytime ref everytime) where such sturdy citizens as Coochie Coo can always be relied upon to encourage us Brizzlers with his ever positive thoughts about Bristol Rugby Club.

I would go on the Grockle site more often, but my 20 year old lap top has only 0.5 gbites of memory whatever that means and it takes ten minutes to go from page to page. Why is that? Other sportsnetwork websites are quite quick. Is it me?

There is a similar tendency amongst Somerset supporters to write Glos CCC off, as Barfers do Bristol in the rugby field. But there is more to Gloucestershire CCC than the city of Bristol, and the recent win at Cheltenham against mighty Yorkshire CCC, top of the group in the Clydesbank 40 over competition, was a reminder that the north of the county from Stroud up to the Cotswold is a hotbed of sporting activity and history, and one day Glos will be back along with Bristol Rugby Club at the top table.

When I was told about the "certainty" of the relocation, like you I didn't give it much thought, but it could be true. Who knows? Perhaps it's bargaining tool. But with the changes at Ashton Gate over the World Cup bid, an offer of financial support by a mega sugar daddy could be in the air.

Personally I think Chris Boyd and the board have done well to keep the club afloat. He's a hard man who expects results and until now he has always got them. Somehow or other with supporters old and new we shall evenually prosper

How soon, where and with whom we shall see.

Re: Rover's reluctance to renegotiate forcing rugby to the Gate.
rambling sid (IP Logged)
31 July, 2010 17:44
Your comparison between Somerset and Glos and Bath and Bristol is valid. There are various similarities. The one thing which sets Somerset aside from Bath is that they seem to have done it all themselves, whereas Bath seem to have been dependent on a never ending series of millionaires.
If you can remember the Somerset ground of the 60's and 70's it was a dump, and they even had to resort to greyhound racing to try to keep afloat. I remember the newspaper headlines "Somerset go to the dogs". I used to think every season, will this be their last before they go under. Thankfully they didn't have a leader who gave the ground away when the going got tough. Bit by bit they have built up the ground to what is now one of the best non test playing grounds in the country. They have numerous income streams, and probably make more from non cricketing activities than they do from the cricket side, which is enough anyway, judging by some of the recent crowds.I just wish a bit of their good fortune could rub off onto Bristol.

Re: Rover's reluctance to renegotiate forcing rugby to the Gate.
Meng (IP Logged)
01 August, 2010 19:16
Hmmmm. I thought Coppell hated rugby being played at the Matdejski?

Rugby Union vs Rugby League.
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
26 September, 2010 09:14
I have been forced to choose for my TV viewing between Union and League since Union farmed two out of every three games to ESPN, and when it came to watching a Mangers League game on a foggy Friday night from a deserted Murrayfield and compared it to a throbbing semi final play off in the Rugby League being played on Sky at the same time, I was amazed how dull rugby union can be.

Like a tart who ups her price and loses trade to a new girl on the block, I began to look forward to last night's other semi between Leeds Rhinos and Wigan Warriors.

A packed Headingley contrasted with the empty terraces for the Leeds Carnegie's union games, a thunderous and skilled away win by Wigan reinforced my conviction that 18,000 Yorkshire people might just be right after all.

Flicking over to the competing Newcastle Falcons London Irish game, although better than the sorry Mangers scraps on BBC2 Wales, did nothing to change my mind.

Watching Bristol at the moment is like having to go to Sunday School when you want to be out somewhere else having fun. How seriously are Bristol taking it? If the newly appointed captain can miss the first game of the season for a wedding, not is own by the way, then isn't it understandable us paying customers who do, for some strange reason, put sport high on the list, look for teams who do put it seriously?

The same old shambles goes on in Union. Both teams playing in blue strips etc etc.

When Union is played well it can more than match league. The recent All Blacks and Australia tri nations games showed that.

But Union can't expect to ask the TV viewer to pay more and more and then demand the supporter keep coming through the gate to watch pure unadulterated dross.

And that was what was on offer at the last home game two weeks ago in the first half of Bristol against Doncaster. We will see this afternoon against the Pirates if the professionals of Bristol rugby club can offer something that would warrant their name.

Otherwise I would say to Chris Booy and fellow board members, yes, thanks for running the club, but can we go down to an amateur level and start enjoying ourselves?

It's up to them. I'll still be supporting them wherever they play.

Re: Rugby Union vs Rugby League.
rambling sid (IP Logged)
26 September, 2010 10:06
Interesting to hear your comments on the oldest profession. I didn't realise you were so knowledgable.
I must confess my watching of rugby on the screen is very limited these days having neither sky or ESPN. The last time I watched rugby league fairly seriously was a few weeks ago, when to my amazement both sides seemed to be wearing the same strips.Can't remember the game
I shall be going this afternoon with some trepidation as I fear we could be in for a hammering. I hope I'm wrong, and I was at least lucky enough to miss the last home game as I was away.
I personally think it is in our best interests to make sure we come in the top two this season, as from what I can see of things so far this season, there could be two teams in the premiership who are in serious trouble by the end of the season, Newcastle and Leeds. There may be the opportunity for two championship teams to take their place. You never know, stranger things have happened.

Re: Plan C
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
08 October, 2010 13:36
I was watching Dings Crusaders versus Old Abanians last Saturday when a spectator from the adjoining Bishopston pitch wandered over. He told me a mass brawl between both sets of players, coaches and supporters totalling about 50 altogether, broke out as Bishopston RFC went into a 13-8 lead over their arch rivals, the slightly "downmarket" Ashley Down Old Boys.

The referree abandoned the game after 55 minutes much to the astonishment of all concerned who now wish to play it again. "It was just a tussle between two spectators and we just broke it up really." said a committee man.

Meanwhile there's no trouble at the mill after all...

The Chairman of Bristol Rugby Club expresses his intention to continue to support the club..but cannot afford to finance a return to the Premiership...

I would suggest that by being prudent and at the same time remaining stable we might benefit from other more flighty ventures crashing to earth. Solvency might be a rather attractive quality to anyone considering whether Bristol might be suitable for an enlarged Premiership.

Anyone looking at the utter dirge like show put on by Newcastle Falons last night in their inaugural game at home to Bourgoin in the Amlin cup must surely wonder how anyone could wish to pay to watch it either on TV or even worse through the gate.

I spent the time watching an excellent documentary on the SKY History channel about the scuttling of the German fleet in Scapa Flow in 1918. When the adverts came on I flicked back to the Falcon's semi second team and to my surprise they had scored three tries and Luke Eves was "man of the match".

As far as a new sugar daddy coming along goes, it would need another boom in share prices or property or such like and that, at the moment, Prudent Dave, (our new Prime Minister) would seem to be ruling that out.

As for Mr Lansdown selling £50,000,000 of his shareholding, one can only begin to imagine how he must be feeling what with having bought a village green to build on without planning permission and the City propping up the Championship with big haired, expensive celebrity, David James, letting in goals left right and centre.

Meanwhile over at The Rec last Friday weekend Bath's very own new owner was looking distinctly queasy as the cameras snooped on him as he sat enthroned in his box overlooking the revolting masses who were spitting venom at their struggling team against a strangely urgent Glos, who not so long ago were enduring similar tongue lashings from their own good fans.

Perhaps those two worthy gentlemen might find running Bristol Rugby Club something of a relief!

Money comes from all sorts of places. Dings Crusaders committee men returned from their trip to Jersey telling of the sumptuous pavilion their hosts had had built for them for a million pounds, paid for by the past owner of Blackburn Rovers, Jack Walker, who made his money in steel.

Old Albanians who narrowly beat Dings, share their gound with Saracens but are funded by Markit, some sort of hedge fund, I believe to the tune of about £50,000.

One thing we must as supporters do, is be grateful to anyone who takes on the running of our club, and showing understanding, if and when, the burden becomes too much, as it must inevitably one day become so.

That way the next in line might be more encouraged to step up to the plate.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/11/2012 08:59 by WilliamBlessing.

Filton College 18 Ivybridge College 12, 22nd Feb 2012
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
23 February, 2012 01:10
This was a stirring performance by a young Bristol academy team up against effectively the Exeter Chief's rugby academy. Victory kept alive the hopes of the Bristol team progressing to the playoffs in the AASE league.




Bristol played into the stiff wind in the first half and succeeded in keeping the score down despite persistent attacks by the very large Devonian pack. They engineered a brilliant try through the outstanding running of the fly half, a very gifted Will Thomas.

In the second half Bristol once again played with a combination of flare and determination to win the game, leaving us Bristol supporters confident that the future lies in capable hands indeed.





Edited 6 time(s). Last edit at 23/02/2012 06:48 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: Filton College 18 Ivybridge College 12, 22nd Feb 2012
chris d (IP Logged)
24 February, 2012 13:23
William; re:

"In the second half Bristol once again played with a combination of flare and determination to win the game"

Was it the spectators or the players that were using flares? Either way it doesn't seem very sporting...


Re: Random ramblings from the past.
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
15 October, 2012 15:52
Looking back. I hope you don't mind. They might interest a few. Your comments, critical especially, are very much appreciated. One tries to entertain and if one doesn't, it's useful to know.


10,199 views since counting came in 15th oct 2012
11,269 views on 30th Nov 2012
11,850 views on 21st Jan 2013

Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 21/01/2013 13:14 by WilliamBlessing.

Re: Tales from the Riverbank
WilliamBlessing (IP Logged)
28 September, 2013 06:12
So as an almost Golden Summer for cricket lovers draws it's thick purple curtains and one falls exhausted into bed praying to be still alive next Spring when the apple blossom's pink flowers bring joy once again to our weary hearts, the fires are lit, the winter clothing road tested and memories of happy Christmas Dinners, crisp white snow covered fields and glorious clear blue sky's enter into one's thoughts to feed upon during those expected tundras of cold and damp and wet and wind certain in the knowledge we only get through it all with the help of one's friends.....of which I will speak more at a later date...Until then adieu mon braves, the dawn has broken and one must seek the morning air.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 28/09/2013 06:26 by WilliamBlessing.

This Thread has been closed
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