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2005 A Year Review - Unofficial England Rugby

By ClaireJ
December 31 2005

As we roll on from Christmas and into the New Year celebrations, I thought it was time to take a look at all the fun and frolics we have had bringing you news of the England team. 2005 Unofficial England Rugby Review

A Year In The Life of Unofficial England Rugby…

As we roll on from Christmas and into the New Year celebrations, I thought it was time to take a look at all the fun and frolics we have had bringing you news of the England team. It’s been a difficult year to be an England supporter – the worst performance since 1987 in the Six Nations, an unsettled side, poor performances from many in New Zealand on the Lions tour. There was a little hope in the autumn with wins against Australia and Samoa and a cracking game against the All Blacks. For Unofficial England Rugby, this year saw us gain new writers, gain and lose a graphics editor, get some cracking stories and find a new way of bring you both pictures and video. Not bad for a part-time team where only one of us had any formal training!! So what happened…

January – Don’t you just hate the dark days of gloomy January where rugby pitches are sodden and in the case of England very quiet? On UER, the build up to the Six Nations started with us launching our annual Six Nations Prediction League competition – the prize was a rather fabulous copy of the game Rugby Manager 2005. We met Patrick for the first time who did a rather natty review of all those rugby DVDs that you just could decide on which one to buy. And lastly we did a player dossier of Trevor Woodman – more of Dougie later.

February – March previews and reviews abound as England first met Wales in the Six Nations. A Falcons centre partnership caught the eye – Tait and Noon. The match was won by the golden boot of Gavin Henson. Kath who wrote the Wales review was taken by the atmosphere

“What a fantastic atmosphere today for this match. The singing of the Welsh Choir,CS2_IMG_8098_001.jpg the patriotic passion on the faces of the Welsh fans both young and old was a sight that will be remembered by both English and Welsh supporters for a long while. For today the Welsh Dragon finally awoke and roared the fire we knew it could and England fell on the battered turf of the Cardiff Millennium Stadium to the revitalised Wales, under the guidance of their head coach Mike Ruddock.”

For the French game, we had Shark of Norfolk and me lamenting the ridiculous performance of the England team against the French – I still can’t work how we lost that match.

The match against Ireland was controversial as England were convinced they had scored two tries and for the second the referee failed to use the help available. Kath quoted Andy Robinson:

"I'm absolutely spitting. I'm livid. There's two tries we've been cost…" “We've got to go back to technology. I don't know why we didn't."

IMG_6243new013March – And the first signs of spring, as the now forlorn England chariot rolled on to Italy and Scotland. England comfortably won against the Italians and the Scots – in the Calcutta Cup game Jamie Noon secured a rare hat trick in the Calcutta Cup.

On the site we had by March, run a series of Twickenham tales with Kath, Strinesian Saleaian and Dave and Dan all telling us of their adventures in the world of rugby. Patrick had begun his Caption This! competitions and Kath tried to keep up with the news from the Sevens Series.

051704April and May are dominated by club rugby (something the writer will move swiftly on from;-)). England met and lost to the Barbarians – for Northampton Saints supporters it was a chance to see Carlos Spencer in England and linking up with his new (and old) scrum half partner Mark Robinson for the first time.

Whilst the Lions tour fever took hold, the England site kept its end up by following the Churchill Cup and managed a few news scoops along the way. Ayoola Enrinle was interviewed by Barney Burnham. The Museum of Rugby at Twickenham provided the answer to the history of the England rose to settle a debate on the site. England went on to win the Churchill Cup with Pat Sanderson’s team beating Argentina in the final.

As the long hot days of summer rolled on into September, I mused on the structure of the game and whether the Scots had the right idea – I came to the conclusion that the SRU’s structure disconnects the supporters from the game and is confusing and disjointed in developing the Scottish team (come on Stirling County get up that league table!!!). Kath was still doing sterling stuff with the Sevens. By October, Ed Budge was writing regularly for the site – his direct and tough reviews of Andy Robinson’s squad and tactics have added some welcome spice to the board.

IMG_5054_jpgThe November autumn internationals saw many changes – Jason Robinson had retired (nice review Patrick), the squad was ravaged by injury yet saw a welcome return to form for some (Big Ben’s celebration ruffled a few feathers yet proved how much that white shirt means). First up was Australia – Patrick writing up his last preview and review as Graphics Editor. Paddy has elected to stretch his undoubted talents on his own England site (watch out world in the spring of 2006!). England beat the Aussies but there was much to ponder – the midfield and back row didn’t click. On to the All Blacks where I let rip in both the preview and the review upsetting those down under – the new Haka had a going over and I wasn’t convinced by the midfield; Tindall let me down. But it was a great test match and I saw much that was good.

On to the Samoans – the tour schedule that team had to deliver was criminal. How 10 of the team could turn out on the Wednesday before a Saturday Test match is beyond me. Well done to Quins for donating half the match receipts to the Samoans. A footnote to that match is that my boss who has never watched a team sport in his life was so taken with the experience that he has asked that we go to see the Quins A team in the New Year! Sorry we digress – needless to say England beat the Samoans. The strange moment of the match being a punch between two Leicester team mates – sorry that isn’t strange apparently!;-)

And so December and the busy year is almost over – so busy and fraught the Editors forgot to post a story and we deactivated the site – oops sorry all!

Thanks to all that have supported the site – our stories are some of the most popular on SportNetwork – what is with you lot – wallpapers, Josh Lewsey and Jonny Wilkinson stories bring you in in droves. We might not have the most hits on our site (well done but we do regularly win the the most IPs award for a rugby site and are usually found in the top 5 for most IPs on SportNetwork.

My thanks must go to Kath who tirelessly works on the site, comes up with new ideas all the time and takes on new technologies with gusto. This year alone Kath has learned about blogging, Flickr photo sharing, video editing and sharing on Google. She has suffered all sorts of trials and tribulations with her PC yet still manages to come up with the goods week on week. Thanks Mrs M!

Last word goes to Patrick Khachfe – Paddy won story of the month on SportNetwork with his excellent piece on Trevor Woodman. The glowing review from the SportNetwork team seems a fitting way to end 2005:

“The sort of stuff which would have graced The Times or The Telegraph and a testament to how our rugby publishers are regarded in the rugby world. Well done Patrick”

Happy New Year!

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