Archive for June, 2012


June 22, 2012 1 comment

With all the rugby being played in the Southern Hemisphere right now as knackered tourists predictably struggle against the various host nations instead of having some proper time off from the game, many of us have filled our evenings watching soccer`s European Championships.

I quite like the big football tournaments but to date I haven`t enjoyed this one. It`s not because the whole thing is in Eastern Europe and neither is it because all the Stadiums look the same with a real lack of genuine atmosphere pervading the television broadcasts.

I`m not out of love with Euro 2012 because so many pundits covering the competition offer the same dull, two-dimensional lack of insight every time they are asked a question and I`m certainly not going to pick on referees, Uefa or even the Germans for my malaise.

My disaffection with the whole thing is simply because the football has been rubbish and being the anorak that I am I have watched nearly every minute of every game. I was late home one night last week and missed a bit of a game I have already forgotten, and fell asleep last night for ten minutes as Portugal bored me to death but other than that I have been there, on my own for the most part, and in front of the telly.

Last night it was Jurgen Klinsmann`s turn to tell us how good the football has been, although I`m sure there was some wry Teutonic sarcasm in there, whilst the ever-tanned Mr Lineker grabbed the strap-line that this, and by that I`m sure he meant two teams who cannot put the ball in the net, is what tournament football is all about. It didn`t work either when Adrian Chiles grimaced his way through the same words on ITV last week.

It seems that the fear of losing is now paralysing the ambition of success and in fairness we did see some of that last year at the Rugby World Cup when New Zealand decided to shut up shop in the final.

But being the naive fool that I clearly am I always thought that sport was about winning things and not, as the Czech`s tried last night, turning up and defending for all you are worth in the hope that you might get a lucky break. That is akin to going to work and doing nothing. For the record the Czech`s did do nothing but their luck ran out.

There were a few minutes in the England v Sweden match when my pulse quickened slightly as Roy`s men were forced to do something after the Swedes had had the audacity to take a 2-1 lead. I think I mumbled something at the telly screen forcing my dozing cat to raise an eyelid out of curiosity, but that has been it. The rest of the competition has just been flat and plain boring.

In truth I don`t really care who wins. I just want somebody to set a fire under the whole bloody thing and liven it up (Note to Croatian fans – leave your flares at home).

Foolproof tactics, solid defensive systems and sound passing games are great and have their place but some open attacking football, individual skill, passion, drive, commitment, and a real ambition to go out and play the other team off the park wouldn`t go amiss right now.

There`s still time I suppose but all I`m seeing so far are millionaires from across Europe strutting their stuff in 3rd gear and pristine kits. That is not what tournament football is all about.

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The Season That Refused to End

The Season That Refused to End.

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The Season That Refused to End

June 15, 2012 1 comment

For most rugby fans who follow the game at Championship level the season finally ended on May 30th when London Welsh deservedly lifted the league title at Oxford`s Kassam Stadium.

Apart from the Welsh and their opponents, the Cornish Pirates, the campaign for many teams had ended well before that and we all settled down for a summer of other sports and the Olympics.

But then London Welsh handed formal notice to the RFU that they would appeal their non-promotion to the Premiership over ground eligibility criteria stipulations, and many of us duly made a mental note to keep an eye on that story when it all kicks off later this month.

However there was another sub-plot to the season finale at Oxford which has also rumbled on and resulted in me being contacted over, and I quote, my “vitriolic attack on the RFU in the West Briton newspaper”.

I had taken the RFU to task over their shoddy handling of the post-match presentations at the Championship Final amidst a chorus of prolonged booing and jeering from the three thousand strong crowd.

For the record London Welsh were ushered through on a hastily erected dais to collect their winners medals and then were immediately called back to lift the trophy and be sprayed with champagne. Whilst this took place the Cornish Pirates squad looked on, politely applauded their opponents, and then eventually left the field in dribs and drabs long after the RFU delegation had beaten a retreat back to the Stand.

I stated in my article that the fact they had been blanked by officialdom was “disgraceful”. A view shared by many others. But that was not the end of it.

A senior figure at the RFU contacted me this week to explain that the Pirates had received runners-up medals. They were presented in the players` tunnel, out of view of the majority of the gathered media and travelling supporters, after the game had ended as the squad members found their own way back to the dressing room and in their own time. I checked this with Pirates Head Coach Ian Davies who confirmed that it was true.

The official reason for this was that the host broadcaster, Sky Sports, had overrun their schedule slot because of a lengthy period of deliberation by the TV Ref following an Alex Davies penalty kick which did not appear to go between the posts.

Because Sky were running late the trophy presentation had to be curtailed and the Pirates were effectively shunned by the cameras in order to get everything back on track.

I don`t intend to say who the RFU member was who explained this to me as it was a private conversation but they admitted regret at what had happened and the fact that there was no Plan B to deal with a TV broadcast which had exceeded its alloted time.

Now I always thought that live events took precedence in broadcasting schedules and that having a Plan B was absolutely crucial in covering a live event because they rarely stick to any script. The potential for things to change without warning is immense and if the only response from the production team is to roll the credits when they get outside their comfort zone then maybe they need to reach for the Situations Vacant pages in the local rag.

I won`t beat the RFU over this matter anymore and accept the explanation I was given. It was honest and sincere. I, in turn, have subsequently penned a piece in the West Briton to set the record straight on the issue.

But the burning issue here lies with Sky Sports and the power surrendered to them by allowing a media company to dictate the terms and duration of a trophy presentation to athletes who have toiled for ten months to get to a cup final.

Their treatment of both teams on that night at Oxford was shoddy, contemptuous and unprofessional. Sport at all levels is all about the participants and not about those covering the event for the media. This fact should never be forgotten and a foul-up such as this must not be allowed to happen again.


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