My other treat is a brilliant Sunday lunch, wifey is doing a topside of rare breed beef, hung for 5 weeks so it’ll be lovely and flavourful, that’ll be served with Yorkies, roasters and asparagus. She’s making her sorrell and water cress soup for starters and her famous cheesecake for pudding. Sensible portions naturally. Yum yum!
Had a really good rugby day yesterday, I watched New Zealand v Wales, The all Blacks blew Wales away, somehow the Welsh looked a yard off the pace and kept missing tackles, and at that level of Rugby that is the game. Dan Carter the New Zealand fly half is looking to be nearly back to his best, but it is hard to judge against a tired looking Welsh defence.
I was then totally amazed by the events in Sydney, England actually won away against a Southern Hemisphere side for the first time since that famous day in November 2003 when Rugby suddenly became the favourite sport in England amongst the chattering classes for a short time.
Again, any victory which was Aus 20 – Eng 21 must be tempered by accepting that the Australian pack of forwards are nowhere near the standard for an international side, maybe even be a normal league side, Nathan Sharp and Rocky Elsom aside who both battled manfully in what was a lost cause. The Aussie back line were their normal brilliant selves though, but without any ball going forward it was a credit to them that they kept their team in the game. Indeed if Matt Giteau had brought his kicking boots the result might have been very different.
Given that the English pack and therefore the English half backs were both permanently on the front foot the result should have been a done deal.
It was really refreshing that Martin Johnson gave some youngsters a run, Ben Youngs the Tiger’s 9 was in my opinion man of the match, Courtnay Lawes the Saint’s lock was doing damage to the Aussie defence around the fringes and Dan Cole the Tiger’s prop is shaping up to be the next Jason Leonard. His scrummaging and workrate around the park is just amazing.
Young Chris Ashton, at last took his Premiership try scoring onto the international field with a hard won try and his quite natural jubilation at scoring was infectious. It was good to see an English Rugby team with smiles on their faces.
But lets not get carried away, one swallow does not make a summer. The next hurdle for this team is the Autumn internationals then the 6 Nations all leading up to the World Cup in New Zealand next year. Remember you heard it here first, but I am tipping South Africa to retain their title next year. I cannot detect any weaknesses in their side and they can only keep improving. If (and in rugby it’s a big if) they can arrive in New Zealand with a fit full squad then it’s their trophy to lose.
And finally I watched the final of the Churchill Cup played between the England Saxons, (the rebranded England A team) and the Canadians who were the surprise victors last week against France A.
The result was England 38 – Canada 18, this was a fantastically fast paced game with both sides going hammer and tong at each other for 80 minutes, as it was played in New Jersey I hope there were some Americans watching as it was a great advert for rugby.
The fully professional English team were always going to be favourites as the Canadian team did contain some amateurs amongst their ranks, even some of their professionals play at English Level 2 which is the level of my rugby club. The Canadian winger Justin Mensah – Coker even plays for our deadly local rivals Moseley. All that said, rugby is a cruel sport and the English superior fitness and conditioning did tell at the end and they never looked like losing. But a huge credit to the Canadians, their fighting spirit was there for all to see and they must look back with satisfaction once the pain of defeat has worn off at their first ever Churchill Cup Final.
Apologies for all the rugby stuff, it is my first love after all!
Back to normal commuting tomorrow, bikes are ready, kit is ready and I enjoyed my week of MTBing, even if it did knacker me out!