Into my fourth week here at Jaguar/Landrover, the training on the IT systems is pretty intense as they’re desparate for me to get to my team which is In Vehicle Software or IVS as it’s known here.
This is a new area for me as I was used to working on physical bits of the car, not zeroes and ones that don’t exist in the real world. It’s taking me some time to get my head around how this works in relation to the engineering changes I’ll be working on. I’ll get it though.
As for cycling I’ve been out on a few MTB rides and a few trail bimbles with my lad. Also I’ve been doing the 30 days of biking although my tweets and Facebook updates have been a bit sporadic. Sorry. Food has been good too.
Onto Rugby, I’ve applied for a big job at my club. That of running the U19s or Colts as they’re generally known here in England. I hope I get the job as it’s a vital age group and I can’t wait to get back to a competitive team environment. The skills coaching I do now across age groups is very satisfying, but you can’t beat the cut and thrust of coaching a proper squad. My Colts playing days were some of the happiest days of my life. If I get the job I hope I can transmit some of that fun and joy into the team.
Onto rugby news in general, there is a bit of controversy about the lack of English Clubs in the Heineken European Cup semi finals. The media is quoting all sorts of reasons (excuses) why this should be the case. The main one they’re citing is the salary cap forced upon English Clubs.
I believe this is not the main reason why. Just look at Edinburgh who beat French giants Toulouse, are they a rich squad? Nope, most certainly not.
The English are handicapped in Europe though. They have smaller squads (due to the salary cap), they have to qualify every year, whereas the Celtic teams don’t have to, therefore they’re guaranteed the windfall that euro rugby brings.
The English Club competition is generally recognised as the most attritional in the world so the players are usually more battered by the business end of the season, added on the fear of relegation from the Premiership and you get a more attritional tight game anyway. Almost a self fulfilling prophecy.
Have I an answer? Not in a month of Sundays. A structured season might be a start, RFU compensation to the clubs for fielding more English qualified players rather than expensive foreign imports and my particular hobby horse, better coaching. That one is a book all by itself!
Anyway, the semis, Ulster v Edinburgh and Clemont Auvergne v Leinster.
If you take the Scots win over Toulouse as an abberation then you have to fancy Ulster at home. By a good long way. Their front 5 are world class and they have a good kicker and defend well. Not very exciting to watch but then they don’t have to be. Ulster by 15 points.
Clermont v Leinster will be the match of the weekend. The Clermont power game v Leinster creativity, plus the French are at home. If Leinster can win their own ball cleanly then this will be a hell of a match. If the French baby eating pack of forwards strangle the Irish 8 then it will be hard going for Leinster and it will become a kicking game as seen at Vicarage Road last Sunday where the French battered and kicked Saracens to death and out of Europe. But if the Irish get their own ball watch out, O’Driscoll wants his career swansong…