Good Day for Swansea – ish

Well, the Ospreys won the game, but they didn’t stop Leicester getting a bonus point, and therefore haven’t won the pool and face a nervous wait to see if they qualify for the quarter-finals as one of the two best losers. They have a fairly good chance, but it is not certain.

It was, however, a typical Ospreys performance: so much talent, so much promise, such poor execution. The one person they badly missed was Lee Byrne. Without him the Tigers were able to put up high kicks with impunity. No one else seemed capable of covering them. No wonder Geordan Murphy got the man of the match award.

Meanwhile, the Swansea soccer team covered themselves with glory in the FA Cup, putting out the cup holders, Portsmouth, with a 2-0 away win. Karen Traviss is not going to be happy.

Busy Weekend

Lots and lots of interesting sport on TV over the weekend. It is the final weekend of the Heineken Cup pool stages, and there’s FA Cup action. Good job there are some nasty rain storms keeping me inside.

The Quins looked in excellent form in the first half. I haven’t spotted Will in the crowd, but I hope he’s enjoying it somewhere.

Michael: I hope you are not getting blown away in France.

Ospreys – Tigers later. Cardiff – Arsenal tomorrow.

More Rugby

Well, that’s more like it. 🙂

I didn’t give the Dragons much chance at all against Bath, but they very nearly pulled off an upset win. Nice to see them putting everything into the game even though they had no chance of qualifying.

Cardiff were very impressive – winning away at Kingsholme despite being a man short for most of the game is a significant achievement. Their lineout needs a bit of work, and I’d like to see Blair and Tito back fit before the finals, but other than that they are doing alright. Andy Powell and Leigh Halfpenny are certainly the finds of the season for Wales.

Now if only other results can work out so that they don’t have to play the Ospreys in the quarter-finals.

I didn’t see anything of the Scarlets game, but as I promised this morning, they gave the Parisian poster-boys a bit of a thumping. Say “thank you”, Will.

Back With the Rugby

Aha, I have real sports again. None of this stopping play every 30 seconds for a breather.

It has been a good weekend in the Heineken Cup. The games between Perpignan and Ospreys, and Wasps and Leinster, were both very entertaining despite the wrong side winning both. Thankfully this just means that both pools go down to the wire next weekend, so there is more excitement to come.

Will, commiserations if you are reading this, but Quins still look well placed.

There should be some great games tomorrow as well. Thanks to Glasgow’s amazing win in Toulouse, Bath have a chance to go top of their Pool. The Gloucester-Cardiff game should be a cracker.

In other news my little local team are having a great run in the EdF National Cup, which is sort of like the FA Cup for rugby except that it doesn’t include the Premiership sides. Today we won a 4th Round match, which puts us into the last sixteen and provides a very real chance of a game against a glamor 1st Division side such as Leeds Carnegie, Exeter Chiefs, Cornish Pirates or London Welsh. All very exciting.

Rugby Romance, Anyone?

According to The Guardian‘s Book Blog, the RFU and Mills & Boon are to team up to raise the profile of rugby by producing rugby-themed romance novels. It didn’t take Alison Flood long to work out that this was a pretty dumb idea for a sport where one of the players is known as the “hooker”. But really, why stop at romance? Who knows what goes on in the England scrum? And as for Stade Francais… Rugby slash, anyone? Butler/Moore?

(Actually, come to think about it, the slash thing might work better with the NFL. I mean, Troy & Buck? It is almost is if they were designed for it.)

On a rather more serious note, Nigel Owens talks to The Guardian about being the only openly gay top flight rugby referee.

All Our Fault – Sorry Vatican

According to the British Medical Journal, there is a very strong correlation between the success of the Welsh rugby team and the death of popes. Doubtless this is something to do with Wales being a hotbed of ranting dissenters and the like. I am looking forward to a congratulatory post from PZ Myers.

The good news for the current incumbent is that he only has a couple of weeks to survive in order to beat the curse.

By the way, the current issue of the BMJ is full of fun articles, including one on the health risks of headbanging and a bit of seasonal mythbusting. It is all online.

Weekend Rugby

Kevin and I have just finished watching the downloads (we spent most of yesterday getting the apartment ready to be torn apart so that the leaking pipes can get replaced). A few quick thoughts:

– Ireland looked scrappy beating an under-strength Argentina;

– Scotland needed to put out a full squad to beat Canada;

– Wales went toe-to-toe with the All Blacks for 40 minutes but were unable to raise their game in the second half, so there’s still a way to go for them;

– I wish I could have seen the England – South Africa game.

As for next weekend, I think Wales have a decent shot against the Wallabies, and I hope England manage to get their act together a bit better or the All Blacks might run out of digits on the scoreboard.

Weekend Rugby

Well, that wasn’t great.

Wales v South Africa was a competitive game, but really Wales should have won. Warren Gatland was right to give the boys a rocket.

Scotland v New Zealand wasn’t competitive, though the Scots did actually do better than I expected.

Ireland v Canada was bordering on cruelty. It served to give the Irish players a training run, and that’s about all.

Where’s She Been?

Yes, I have been a bit quiet. I have been out all day. In Cardiff, actually. Maybe more about that some other time, but I did get to walk around the place a bit, worship at the Millennium Stadium, and be generally touristy. For the benefit of Mr. Garcia I have taken a photo of the River TAFF. I have also taken photos of a number of things that I am assured will be instantly recognized by people who watch Doctor Who and Torchwood. I’ll let you know when they are online.

Stade Francais Calendar 2009

OK, so I know most of you won’t have bothered to read a post about rugby laws, but this one might be a little more popular. A new European rugby season means a new Stade Francais calendar. For the benefit of my straight female and gay male readers, I present cover of that calendar. And the totally awesome Warhol-inspired third strip that Stade has produced for this season. (The first strip is still pink and the second strip still blue with pink orchids, though the designs have changed). Click through from the pictures to the Stade web site to see these things in all of their glory.

Stade Francais Calendar 2009 Stade Francais Third Strip

Trouble with ELVs

The new rugby season is now well underway with the EdF Cup kicking off last weekend (Ospreys get very lucky against Quins) and the Heineken Cup this weekend (good performances by Blues and Dragons, Scarlets woeful). Much of the interest from the commentary point of view has centered around the law changes being trialed this season. Termed the Experimental Law Variations, or ELVs, by the IRB, they have quickly become known as “the elves” by commentators.
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Translation Entertainment

Over dinner I have been watching the rugby match between the Ospreys and Ulster. To be honest, it wasn’t much of a game. Ulster were shut out and leaked 6 tries. But it was hugely entertaining. Why? Well it was on S4C, and as neither my mother nor I speak much Welsh we had the English language subtitles enabled. I have no idea how this is being done, but it is being done very badly. For example, when a possible try went to video replay it was pretty obvious that what the commentators had said was, “Ryan Jones thinks he’s got it,” but the subtitles said, “Ryan Jones thinks he’s God.” And then there was the point where the subtitles came up with, “The obvious thing to do is arrange loans to pass the ball to Shane Williams.” I knew rugby salaries were on the up, but I didn’t know that Shane had become that expensive!

Given that the subtitles often got the players’ names wrong (“James Fox” for James Hook, “Gamin Henson”) I suspect that there is some voice recognition software in there somewhere. I think what is happening is that someone with a Welsh accent is translating what the commentators say on the fly, and that audio feed in being put through voice recognition software that was trained on American accents. Either that or the whole thing is being done by a troupe of enthusiastic but very confused monkeys.

Commercial Cuteness

I’m slowly catching up with the Tri-Nations action and I was delighted to see that MediaZone’s coverage of the weekend’s NZ-Australia game included the local advertising. Much of it is very local, but I did see the car ad below, which is so seriously cute I felt obliged to share it. (The music, by the way, is “Come to me” by the very wonderful Koop.)

End of An Era

So, Lawrence Bruno Nero Dallaglio has played his last game of top-flight rugby. Who are we going to boo now? I guess we’ll find someone, but whoever it is I suspect that they won’t be nearly so well suited to being the pantomime villain of international rugby, nor as effective a player and leader. Nice to see him go out on yet another win, even if I was, of course, cheering for the other side.

Busy Weekend

It seems like I’m finally getting caught up on the various projects I have had backed up since mid-April, so I can afford to take it fairly easy this weekend. That’s just as well, because it is serious couch potato time. Early tomorrow morning we have the semi-finals of the Super-14 rugby, beginning with the Hurricanes having to visit Christchurch where the Crusaders probably haven’t lost since the 4th Century. That’s followed by the Warratahs and the Sharks duking it out for the right to be the sacrificial non-New Zealand team in the final. Then in the evening attention switches to the Millennium Stadium where it is Ireland against France as Munster and Toulouse contest the Heineken Cup final. And on Sunday Bath play Worcester in the European Challenge Cup final. There are also two test matches going on (though I guess the chances of play in Manchester are not good), more games in the IPL, and of course the Monaco Grand Prix.

The good news for you lot is that not only will all this TV watching keep me away from the keyboard, but Kevin will be wanting to watch recordings of a lot of it when he gets home from MarCon so I won’t be talking about the Super-14 games or the F1 race here.