Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Have Tiger's dared to disrespect the RFU??

Everybody knows that Richard Cockerill is a passionate man in regards to Leicester Tigers, so passionate he has the odd tendency to overstep the mark. 

Passion is a good thing and shows commitment to the club and sport, crossing the line can be a detrimental choice.

To use abusive language directed at any official in rugby is a definite no-no and goes against the fundamental ruling of upholding respect in rugby.

Cockerill has fallen foul of this on more than one occasion. On this occasion his outburst was viewed by a vast array of rugby fans worldwide in the Aviva premiership final, not the best advertisement for English rugby and leading the RFU to take action.

Cockerill was hit with a nine week touchline ban after being found guilty of using obscene, inappropriate and/or unprofessional language and behaviour towards fourth official Stuart Terheege in a reaction to a tackle on Toby Flood. 

Tigers found this punishment to be harsh and opted to make an appeal against the judgement. The appeal hearing failed to agree with Cockerill and Leicester Tigers and up held the ban, although took the decision to amend the fixtures involved in the suspension. The suspension now begins on the 24th of August and runs until the 18th of October, including two pre-season fixtures against Jersey and Ulster and ends with a Heineken Cup tie with Treviso.

24 Aug - Jersey (away) 31 Aug - Ulster (home) 8 Sep - Worcester (home) 14 Sep - Bath (away) 21 Sep - Newcastle (home) 29 Sep - Exeter (away) 5 Oct - Northampton (home) 11 Oct - Ulster (away) 18 Oct - Treviso (home)

With the offence taking place in the Aviva premiership final would it not be more apt for the punishment to be served in that competition? Including friendly fixtures is a reduction in its self. 

I have no issue with the length of suspension just the rearrangement to appear as if they're still being vigilant but in reality easing the pressure on Cockerill and Tigers. This re-timing of Cockerill's ban still isn't to Tigers liking and have released this statement-

"We are pleased that the judgement vindicated our decision to appeal and we are grateful to the panel for the consideration that they showed, although we await with interest the written judgement to see why the pre-season game against Montpellier falls into a different category than those against Jersey and Ulster.

"We remain disappointed with the RFU's conduct in this matter but, as we have previously stated, this is a matter we shall pursue privately.

"The focus now is on the remainder of our pre-season and our preparations for the start of the new season."

To release a statement stating that you are 'disappointed' with the RFU's conduct is not only showing a lack of respect for the RFU but also condoning Cockerill's behaviour. It would of been more appropriate if they had stipulated they were disappointed with Cockerill's conduct, not the governing body who are still trying to install respect in rugby!       

I have raised the point before in regards to keeping respect going in rugby http://bathbytes.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/referees-respect-at-all-times-or-lot-to.html the game it's self is growing ever popular and more and more children are taking up rugby, is Cockerill's behaviour and Tigers open disregard of the RFU what we want the future players to believe is now acceptable? Do we also want the rest of the rugbying world to look at Cockerill and Tigers and believe this is the way English rugby is going? 

To support your director of rugby is a very admirable and appropriate thing for any club to do, but to publicly hit out at the RFU for actually easing Tigers pain by moving the suspension to include non-competitive fixtures shows very poor form. Although I truly now believe the scrutiny that will now be heaped upon Tigers and Cockerill will be very intense, from the RFU, fans and media will all be paying a very close attention but will it make any difference?

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Here comes the Henson affect!

The signing of Gavin Henson was met by many of the fans with great trepidation!! A lose canon with a history of losing sight if why he's famous..........he's a rugby player!!!

For many people the major issue with Henson is his ego arrives five minutes before he does. Another problem I have with him is the factor he's an extremely naturally gifted rugby player, his belief of self worth appears to overshadow that.

When I heard Henson had signed I hoped and believed that what Nick Blofeld told us'I think Gavin is much more settled and mature person than that image we have in our heads.' I thought let's give him a chance and let his rugby do the talking.

All of Henson's history with drunken incidents will always be a concern, and once again it's raised its head. A night out with new fellow team mates she Henson ending it being knocked out by Carl Fearns, possibly not the best start he could of hoped for with the controversial move to Bath. Apparently waltzing around as if he owned the Pig and Fiddle in Bath aggravated his fellow team mates and they try to calm him down, unfortunately it appears Henson wasn't in the mood for listening and subsequently Fearns took the action to release a telling blow for Henson. 
As it would be wrong to condone Carl Fearns actions, and I expect him to be punished accordingly, the main concern is Henson's attitude on the evening and what did he say to Fearns for him to react in such a manner? It's not pretty viewing and does no favours for Henson, Fearns or the club. http://youtu.be/1hY5OqBki7Q 

Bath have had their fair share of incidents that have put them in the news for all the wrong reasons. Matt Stevens was handed a two year ban for testing positive for cocaine in 2009,this was followed shortly by a huge drug scandal resulting in 5 players leaving the club. Michael Lipman, Alex Crockett and Andrew Higgins receiving a nine-month ban after being found guilty of failing to submit to drugs tests on two separate occasions. Former wallabies player Justin Harrison also received an eight month ban after admitting to drug use and stating 'everyone's doing it'. All of this came to light after an end of season night out in London finished with an altercation with a group of Quins players, who also were celebrating the end of season in the same pub, it resulted in Harrison being knocked out and taken to hospital. Bad press is not what Bath want and they have been managing to appear to be cleaning the club up. 

As a supporter looking in there seems to be a good sense of unity between the players, a group of players who all seem have a good bond with each other. To use the #BathFamily at times seems very appropriate, they look like a solid unit and that helps build a team and will transpire onto the pitch. 

So this raises the point - how would a primadonna fit in with the team? It appears not very well. As it is very early into preseason and already Henson's behaviour has aggravated his team mates this doesn't bode we'll for the following season. It appears that Henson has a few lessons to be learnt on how to conduct yourself in public, and Fearns demonstrated what will happen if you misbehave in Bath, it's about respect if Henson wants support in Bath he needs to earn that! 

With a talented player but continuously shrouded in controversy and already demonstrating its going to be a bumpy ride, can the fans get behind him a support him on the pitch or is it now just a call for Bath to cut him lose before he's even played in Blue Black and White, can he be controlled or will bad publicity continue to follow. As Henson is such a well known player anything he's now involved in that goes slightly amiss there is going to be huge publicity and is that good for the clubs reputation? 

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Bring on September!!

Now that the Lions have successfully defeated the Australians and we've revelled in their victorious tour it's moving on to that time of year, the time where we get to embrace our beloved club rugby. The time where we get to parade around in our teams colours, turn ourselves into a knowledgeable pundit and fill our hearts with expectations of a successful season.

Things are now slotting into place for the next season at Bath, could we be looking at a much improved run out for the boys in Blue, Black and White? We had a promise of a "new beginning" last season, with a new collective of coaching staff. The success wasn't quite up to the expectations, but a first seasons tenure with somebody else's squad is never going to be easy.

There was some moments of brilliance from the squad and a few woeful displays. The true display of a "new beginning" comes with the second season, time to acquire new players and allow players to move on as they may not fit the desired plan.

So Gary Gold has done just that, and with his shopping list in hand appears to of made some exciting purchases. With his acquisitions it's easy to see the future is where he is directing the squad and using a few mature players to help guide the youthful members, aiding their already rising skills to help become an accomplished solid team. With a squad now designed on Gary Gold's ideas and visions of where the club should be going as supporters we need to fully support the Team and believe the clubs expectations are the same as ours.

A  list of 10 players have announced over the last few months who have been drafted in, some we knew long before their announcements and some a little surprising. Rumours and speculation flew around last season linking everyman and his dog to Bath. As the squad and the new batch of players all join up slowly together for pre-season excitement and anticipation is drifting in to see how the reformed team can perform this season.


Matt Garvey- @MattGarvey5
Coming along the M4 from London Irish comes an interesting utility forward, being able to cover the  second and back row is an unusual ability for a forward. For the last couple of seasons at the exiles  have seen him raise his profile and become a quality player, using Gary Gold's words to describe the 25 year old "He is a big unit and can do the rough stuff, but he can also offer a real threat in attack." On the fringe of the Saxons a promising player and a good call for Bath. 

Leroy Houston- @leroyhouston8
An Australian number 8 that has impressed Gold for some time. Houston arrives at the Rec following a two year stint at French club Colomiers. "Leroy is a guy I have admired for a long time and we are delighted to have secured him. He's very dangerous with ball in hand and loves to hit hard in defence."
At 26 he's already experienced glory while picking up the super 15 title with the Queensland Reds in 2011, let's hope he can replicate that with Bath and becomes a key player within the squad.

David Sisi- @DavidSisi
Joining his fellow ex-exile team mate Matt Garvey in the forwards comes an exciting prospect for Bath. Being 6'4" and 120kg the back-rower Sisi at only 20 is what is known as a big lad! A truly natural player and a huge rising talent, with his displays for London Irish last season and a phenomenal showing for the England u20's in the junior world cup, where they returned as champions it's plain to see why Bath were keen to sign him.

Juan Pablo Orlandi- @Jpiolandi
Joining Bath from Racing Metro 92 Orlandi becomes the third Argentine to join Bath in the last year, joining his fellow countrymen winger Horacio Agulla and hooker Eusebio Guiñazú  forming a strong Puma contingent at Bath. 
As the Argentine's are renowned for their scrummaging prowess the 30 year old tight head prop lives up to that billing. Another powerhouse in the front row will help add an extra dimension to an already formidable front row.


George Ford- @George_Fordy
Picked to a future fly half for England a future prospect that helps build greater expectations for the club. 
Joining his father at Bath, who is now promoted to head coach, Ford is expected to make big steps at the club.
At the ripe old age of 20 he already has an impressive list of statistics.
Including 14 appearances for England U18s and 11 for England U20s then handed a promotion to the England Saxons squad. Not only wad he the youngest player to make his debut at professional club level, making 33 first team appearances for Tigers amassing a total of 220, but in 2011 he became not only the youngest but first English player to receive the IRB junior player of the year. 
Micky Young-
Another ex-Tiger joining Ford in the path to Bath is 24 Micky Young. As with Ford well decorated in caps for England, up through the age ranges all that's missing is an EPS cap to add to his tally. Moved to Tigers in 2011 from Falcons after 79 caps within 3 seasons, under used at Tigers hopefully we will get to see his best at the Rec, and after seeing him play at Twickenham and scoring the winning try in the IRB Sevens in 2008/09 against New Zealand I know there's a lot to come from this nippy little scrum half.

Anthony Watson- @anthonywatson_
The third of the of the London Irish quartet to join Bath Watson is a 19 year old fullback who with  footwork and pace may rival Kyle Eastmond in the excitement stakes, anybody lucky enough to see him run out for the England U20s would of seen what he has to offer. With the likes of the truly unpredictable running Bendy to work with as a potential mentor he appears to be another shrewd signing for the future by Gold.

Jonathan Joseph- @JonathanJoseph0
The final member of the quartet of new recruits from London Irish is Joseph, possibly one of the most exciting centres in the premiership. Enjoyed a good tour of Argentina in the summer with England, seeing him pair up with Kyle Eastmond and proved what we'd been hoping, Bath are looking at having one if the most electric centre pairings with the potential to destroy many defensive lines. With good support around them I believe we are going to see many a try in the 2013/2014 season.

Martin Roberts-@martin_Roberts9
Sneaking in quietly us the treble cap winning welsh Roberts. He has donned the Welsh red jersey un every capacity be it school, junior, elite and sevens. Adding to the scrum half collective of Stringer and young fast ball seems to be the target for next season's game plan, but with Roberts we may see him taking it on alone to make that extra yardage and stretch the oppositions defence.

Gavin Henson- no twitter account but @UnrealGavHenson
The final purchase is Roberts fellow Welshman and possibly the most scrutinised purchase for Bath, the player known more for off the pitch activities as those on the pitch. Love him or hate him the pure fact is he is a naturally talented player and still has plenty to offer the game. Henson a utility back will be able to fill in a selection of positions from fly half, centre or full back, a very useful asset to have around when international duties call. His 33 caps for Wales and his experience will help aid the younger members if the squad, a quality kicker which could assist Heathcote and Ford and potentially be the difference between a win or a loss, which has been an issue at the Rec over recent seasons.

New recruits in place and meeting up with the rest of the squad learning to gel as a team, the next step was to learn who Bath will be facing in the new campaign. 
With a starting fixture against newly promoted Falcons at Kingston Park, no easy fixture as newly promoted teams come out with all guns blazing and want to make a mark showing their worth top flight rugby. 
The next two fixtures will be a large test for Bath. Tigers at the Rec and the Tigers potentially hurting from Richard Cockerill's ban, the possibility is there for Bath to be able to grab some points from them. Sarries up next at the Allianz Park will be a huge task and may be a gauge where Bath are in comparison to the big boys.
A added bonus this season is the fact that six out of Bath's first fixtures will be televised, obviously only a bonus if your lucky enough to have BT Sport.

6/9/13 19:45      Newcastle Falcons           Away

14/9/13 15:15    Leicester Tigers               Home

22/9/13 14:00.   Saracens                         Away

28/9/13 15:00.   London Irish                    Home

4/10/13 19:45.   Sale Sharks                    Away

25/10/13 19:45  Gloucester Rugby.          Home

1/11/13 19:45.   Worcester Warriors         Away

23/11/13 15:00  London Wasps                Away

30/11/13 15:00  Exeter Chiefs                  Home

21/12/13 15:00. Harlequins                      Home

28/12/13 15:00 Northampton Saints        Away

4/1/14 15:00     LeicesterTigers               Away

8/2/14 15:00.    Newcastle Falcons         Home

15/2/14 15:00   Exeter Chiefs                 Away

22/2/14 15:00   London Wasps               Home

28/2/14 20:00    Saracens                       Home

22/3/14 15:00   London  Irish                  Away

29/3/14 15:00   Sale Sharks                    Home

12/4/14 15:00   Gloucester Rugby          Away

19/4/14 15:00   Worcester Warriors        Home

3/5/14 15:00     Northampton Saints       Home

10/5/14 15:00   Harlequins.                     Away

The only thing still missing from the complete jigsaw puzzle is the new kit, we know there will be a new one but as of yet no news. As Puma have pulled out of rugby it was announced that Bath will have a whole new kit. In the normal trend from Bath there's a deathly silence in regards to this, no manufacture or even a hint of design. My own preference and I know that many agree, we need a return to the classic hoops!

Bring on September and lets get the Blue, Black and White ball rolling and hope for a successful season!