Terrible nights sleep = Rich up early, and some #rugbyunited bizzniss to attend to later on means this unexpected awaken-ness has given me the perfect opportunity to write This Week in Rugby! (the #rugbyunited business may lead to another blog later this week....... maybe even 2!)
The first 'episode' of the new blog series was pretty well received, so thanks to all for the kind words, shares and RT's....more of the same for this one would be hugely appreciated!
Bowe-ver and out
Tommy Bowe announced his intention to retire at the end of the season in a pretty unique way. For those who missed it, he Tweeted out a limerick. I kid you not.
"I’ve spent most of my career in Belfast. At first George said I wasn’t very fast, I eventually found my gears, Had some incredible years, But it’s time to tell you - this is my last!"
Honestly, Bowe will never be remembered as the Ireland and B&I Lions legend he should be (as well as Ulster and Ospreys) as he was robbed of most of his peak years through a series of injuries. He's one of them players that everyone seems to like, despite allegiances or preferences, and his on-field performances more often than not backed up the respect and hype he had earned. A former Young player of the year, players player of the year (twice), 6 nations player of the year and rugby writers player of the year award winner should give you a measure of the player he was. These awards don't happen by accident.
So thank you Tommy Bowe, enjoy a long and happy retirement from playing. I look forward to seeing the next steps!
Sopoaga wings his way to Wasps
As hinted at last week, New Zealand number 10 Lima Sopoaga will be plying his trade at the Ricoh Arena next season, effectively ending his international/World Cup ambitions whilst he plays over here.
One of the biggest turning points this has thrown up, is what will become of Danny Cipriani? The emergence of Marcus Smith seems to have curtailed his international hopes, not to mention that Eddie Jones has said outright he'll only use Cips if Farrell and Ford were both to be sidelined, so does France beckon for DC? There have been rumours of a return to Sale, I've seen Ulster mentioned too, but the smart money is on a trip across the channel and a big payday. I don't expect we'll wait too long to find out,
Also on the move
Worcester Warriors back Jackson Willison is going to be in Bath colours next season and may yet be joined by former Warrior Cooper Vuna, who is said to be about to sign for Bath as cover due to Rokoduguni's injury and potential losses to the six nations for several of the Bath backline. Vuna was decent for Warriors and it surprised me he was released, so it wouldn't surprise me if he earned a long term deal should he head to the Rec
Dragons continue to bring Welsh players back to Wales with Josh Lewis signing after not really getting a chance at Bath behind Burns and Priestland. The fly half has inked a 2 year deal with Bernard Jackmans revolution.
Marcus Smith - hitchkicking all the way to the bank
The England 'apprentice' and Quins starlet has signed a deal making him the highest paid teen in world rugby. Early signs show he may well be worth every penny. The new contract runs to 2022, when Smith will still only be 22. The 22 theme continues with the contract reportedly being worth 220k a year (which I've not seen confirmed anywhere).
The only real issue I have with this deal is that in 2022, Marcus Smith, if he continues to develop as fledgling signs seem to show, may well end up priced out of a deal to stay in England, although, a call up to the full England side would see Premiership sides (you'd think with Quins as fore-runners) subsidised partly to stay, but the world will be at his feet, and there's an obvious chance he could have his head turned and eye up a big money move to France. He seems a well grounded lad though, so time will tell on this one.
A wanted Man!
Sale Sharks have a knack for unearthing some decent back rowers at the moment, and Sam Moore (if his nickname isn't Please Sir, there's something wrong with people) is joining the ever growing list, which has thrown up yet another international eligibility 'row'.
Hot on the heels of Eddie Jones calling up Scottish born Gary Graham and also 'tapping up' Ben Vellacott - English born and raised, but capped for Scotland at Youth levels, the likes of Mat Protheroe (Wales to England), Ross Moriarty (England to Wales) who've already made international switches - and lets face it, there's a lot of Wales players that were born, raised or schooled in England, and all the home nations are guilty of a few Kiwi's, Aussies, Saffers and Pacific Islanders in their ranks.... Sam Moore has apparently been earmarked by Warren Gatland for a call up to Wales 6 Nations squad. Sam is Cardiff born and has strong links to Wales with both his dad and his uncle both donning the red jersey, but was actually bought up in the north east of England and has worn the red rose at Under 16's through to Under 19's level.
The squad is named later today, so we will soon see if Sam is the latest 'tug of war' between British nations!
World rugby need to look into this as for me, it's getting too common, too ridiculous and too easy. You may as well start a transfer system through national sides if it's to keep going. I know the qualifying period has been extended, but is that enough??
The round up
Another non-controversial red card this week, and it was James Haskell on the receiving end this time. Yet again, some ex pro's and the 'the games gone soft' posse had a field day on social media, but players need to learn that ANY shot to the head is off limits and adapt their tackling to suit the new laws, so I have NO sympathy at all, they are aware of the laws when they step on the field, the ref isn't making it up as he goes!
More controversy as Toulon's Mathieu Bastareaud was clearly heard on the ref mic calling Seb Negri of Treviso a F***ing Fa***t at the end of their match at the weekend. Andy Goode on commentary picked it up straight away (although some of his old tweets and his take on the Marler gypsygate scandal have since paid his indignation off as very fake!) and Bastareaud has kind of, sort of, publicly apologised but there will surely be a heavy sanction from World Rugby.
Not much else to add for this week, so I'll sign off!
feel free to share this post, the more reads it gets, the more likely I am to keep this series going!!!