Thursday, 15 July 2010

Summer Sevens

Bored of the off season?  Longing for some rugby action?

Well dust off your replica shirts, it's Premiership Rugby Sevens time.

The first J.P. Morgan Asset Management Premiership Sevens series kicks off at the Twickenham Stoop on Friday 16 July at 7:30pm.  All 12 Aviva Premiership teams will be in action over four consecutive Friday nights with Harlequins, London Wasps, London Irish and Saracens battling it out in Friday's opener to try and win Group A and book their place in the final on 6 August.

Fellow premiership rivals Leicester Tigers, Leeds Carnegie, Newcastle Falcons and Sale Sharks will face off at Welford Road on Friday 23rd, before Northampton Saints host Exeter, Gloucester and Bath on the 30th July.

How much?  £10 for adults, £5 for children plus a booking fee.  Not bad.

But is this just a cash cow to milk the rugby loving public?

Maybe not.  Today the RFU broke new ground by awarding ten Sevens players central contracts in a bid to help with preparation for the Commonwealth games.  Maybe they are starting to take Sevens rugby more seriously?

Either way, it's a chance to catch a bit of rugby before the Premiership return at the start of September.  It's just a shame the games aren't being held on Saturdays as more people might have been able to make it....  like me, for example.

If you go, please let me know if it was any good, ta.

For more details you can visit

Friday, 2 July 2010

Gavin Henson: Hardly Electrifying

When you were young did you ever try to create a giant battery using an orange and a couple of electrodes hooked up to a lightbulb? Well last night, TV channel Bravo tried to do exactly that - with 750,000 volts of electricity and everyone's favourite satsuma-skinned rugby player, Gavin Henson.

Gavin Henson: Human Guinea Pig - a show which seemingly had the ultimate aim to let its host, ex-BBC news presenter Dermot Murnaghan, electrocute the Wales and Ospreys centre.

How? By convincing the sometime rugby player, or to quote Murnaghan, "superstar", to take a direct hit of 750,000 volts of electricity to his head from a Tesla Coil - a specially designed mega-generator.

First, to build the anticipation, we watched a tent burst into flames after a direct hit from the Tesla lightening bolt. Then we saw Gav start to sweat as he witnessed a shed explode after the electrifying treatment.

In an effort to convince our Gav that taking almost a million volts to the head was an excellent idea, scientist Greg Foot jumped into a telephone box and survived a lightening strike. I mean, surely Gav's hair gel alone would protect his, erm, intelligence?

'Daredevil' physicist Foot constantly dumbed down his science speak to the increasingly vacant Henson, who had less charisma than the now smouldering wooden shed.

Only when Gavin uttered the fateful words "I don't want to mark this face" did it seem that the reality of his quest for fame had finally hit home.

However, Foot persuaded the father of two to jump into a clapped out Rover Metro and be struck by a bolt from the Tesla. Gav nervously awaited the 750,000 volts and in an effort to protect himself he put on his seatbelt.  Bless.

The question on everyone's lips was: "Would he sit in the hot seat and take a direct hit?"

Of course he would.  Our Gav wasn't going to chicken out of the potentially lethal experiment now, was he?

After a few more minutes of Murnaghan annoyingly trying to build the tension, it was finally time for the pièce de résistance.

Henson, clad in a ridiculous 16th century chain mail outfit and sweating under the studio lights, sat on a solitary chair and waited for almost a million volts to land on his orange little head.

The studio audience lined up like witnesses to a US style death row execution.

The Tesla machine fired up.

Henson practically sharted himself.  Murnaghan rubbed his hands together in eager anticipation.

The blue bolt of electricity crackled towards Henson's head and landed on his bonce.

As if by magic, the electricity was dispersed by his natty metal outfit, and shock horror, he was fine.

So was it an anticlimax?

A bit, although it was obvious that nothing too dramatic was going to happen. Not even a singed eyebrow.

However, it does beg the question - what on earth is Gavin Henson doing?  With this and his recent exploits in the Arctic Circle for ITV, he's certainly not playing rugby.
Please Gavin, get back to the game that made your name and stop titting about.

Fancy a Flutter?

If there is any proof needed that you can bet on anything then this is it.  Place your bets for the wedding of Ireland international Brian O'Driscoll and Amy Huberman.

O'Driscoll will tie the knot with his actress girlfriend in Leitrim today and if you fancy a flutter there is a whole host of big day betting specials.

Bookies Paddy Power are offering odds of 4/7 that the Ireland skipper will start blubbing during his speech and a controversial 10-1 that his old flame, model Glenda Gilson, will turn up at the wedding.

Then of course there is the traditional bet on the the length of the best man's speech.  Just how long will Damien O’Donoghue talk about Ireland's favourite son?  More than 10 minutes pays out at 9/4.

Another bet that could grab your imagination is who will catch Amy's bouquet. Rob Kearney, Brian's Leinster and Ireland teammate, might be sweating as current squeeze Susie Amy is looking likely with odds of 8-1.  Kearney's ex-girlfriend, Ruth O'Neill, will also be jostling for position at 12-1. Then again if you fancy an outside bet you could plump for Ms Gilson at 100-1 - if she turns up that is.

Finally, if you're feeling fruity, why not have a punt on when the happy couple will have their first baby?  With odds of 6/5 that we will hear the pitter-patter of tiny feet sometime next year it seems the bookies think it's almost a certainty.

All this is very romantic I'm sure you'll agree.  Still, the newlyweds could be laughing all the way to the betting shop in a few years' time as the bookies have given them two free €100 bets - the first will pay €100,000 if their first daughter wins an Oscar while the second will pay €10,000 if their first son follows in his dad’s footsteps and plays rugby for Ireland.

Betting aside, I would like to wish Brian and Amy a lovely day and a long and happy marriage.  Aw.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Man of the Month: July

Following today's sad news, Thom Evans is my Man of the Month for July.

The 25-year old Scotland and Glasgow wing has been forced to retire from rugby after medical advice following a spinal injury he suffered during the Wales v Scotland clash in this year's Six Nations.

Evans had to be stretchered from the field after colliding with Wales full-back Lee Byrne in Cardiff's Millennium Stadium in February.  Team doctor James Robson later revealed that Evans' vertebra was so badly knocked out of alignment that if it had been moved by just one more millimetre he could have been paralysed or even died.

Now, according to The Scotsman, Evans has taken on board medical advice that he would not be able to return to the mobility required to play at the highest level, and has told friends and family he will hang up his boots.

It's a sad day for such a young and talented player and I for one wish Thom all the best in whichever career he chooses next.