England Women’s Rugby World Cup Bonus You’re Fired


Many of the England squad, the favourites to lift the Women’s Rugby World Cup trophy at the end of August, will return from the tournament, win or lose, to find themselves unemployed.

England rugby bosses have informed the squad that their current professional contracts will not be renewed when they expire on 31 August.

Now I’m no expert on psychology and squad preparation at the highest level of elite rugby, but I would have thought that informing your national side that they will get the boot straight after the biggest tournament of their lives, is probably not a good thing in terms of morale and motivation.

Fifty players are currently employed on either a full or part-time basis, but as from September only seventeen full-time sevens contracts will be offered.

The reason given for this incredibly ill-timed decision is that England’s focus will be switching to the World Cup Sevens, to be held in San Francisco next year, and the Olympic games event in Tokyo in 2020.

Privately I have been informed that morale in the squad has been affected, as you would expect in any walk of life when you face the sack when there are mortgages and bills to pay, although I guarantee that every loyal England player will not admit it publicly.

So when they should be focussing on rugby, these poor souls are having to fit in job hunting and CV preparations around their rugby world cup preparations.

Some of the squad will be offered sevens contracts but relatively few.

It will be interesting to see how England start the tournament, on August 9th, when they face Spain in the opening match in Dublin.



First Class Mail At The Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017

On July 13, 2017 AN Post, Ireland’s postal service issued a stamp to commemorate the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup.

Ireland have always been keen to celebrate rugby via the postal system, particularly Rugby World Cup tournaments.

The wonderful 1995 tournament in South Africa was celebrated by many dogs in Ireland as the stamps issued, shown below, landed on the doormat to be chewed to pieces by hungry Labrador’s all across the Emerald Isle.

Not many gingers have had their “boat race” splashed over a 55c philatelic special, but in 2007 the great Paul O’Connell received the special treatment, to commemorate the World Cup in France.

The canine population of Eire celebrated equally vociferously dancing on the doormats of Dublin with a quadrupedal Riverdance.

Now, in 2017 the eighth Women’s Rugby Cup takes place in  Ireland.

Matches are planned from August 9 to August 26 in University College Dublin, Queens University, Belfast and in Kingspan Stadium, home of Ulster Rugby, in Belfast.

The pool stages take place in University College Dublin from August 9 to August 17, with the semi-finals and play-offs in Upper Malone, Queens University, Belfast from August 22 to August 26. The final will be played at the Kingspan Stadium which is one of the shortlisted venues for Ireland’s 2023 Rugby World Cup bid.

The postal services have come up trumps once again with a 1 Euro stamp featuring Niamh Briggs, captain of Ireland and Limerick Garda officer.

The stamp you see here was designed by Zinc Design Consultants, and shows the Irish captain in the thick of the action on the field.

So the Labrador’s wolfhounds and Irish setters will be rubbing their paws with glee as a new Irish rugby face is about to greet them through the letterbox.

Adopt A Homeless Lion

A sad tale, Pence was enticed to France where he was part of the circus run by that cruel ringmaster Mourad Boujallel

Pence now finds himself surplus to requirements and without a home 

For just 55,000 euros a month he can be yours

Think of the hours of fun you can have, he loves chasing high balls

Adopt now

Paradise Lost And Found In The Garden Of Eden

A day for searching for Paradise in the garden of Eden or perhaps a more earthly shangri la,an imaginary, beautiful place, often far away, where everything is pleasant and you can get everything you want.

A test series win was almost touchable for the British & Irish Lions heading into the third and deciding test in Auckland.

The imagined nearly became reality for the Lions at Eden Park, but paradise is a pretty elusive beast.

At 67 minutes it looked like paradise lost as Beauden Barrett kicked a simple penalty to put the All Blacks in front at 15-13, yet ten minutes later it became paradise found as Owen Farrell’s right boot brought the scores level at 15-15 with 77:26 on the clock.

A series drawn, but in the cold light of day a huge achievement for the men in red, to play the best in the world three times in three weeks and only lose once is quite a feat.

In the process the Lions have been saved, they can surely no longer be an endagered species, on social media tweets about fans saving up for South Africa in 2021 are already in abundence.

Who knows even the money men of the English Premiership may be swayed to assist the Lions in their preparation for future tours, although that is a clash perhaps even more daunting than a NZ test series.

For now we can sit back and bask in the warm glow of a drawn series where there was one clear and undisputed winner.. the wonderful game of rugby.

The Colour Red

In Ancient Rome the colour red symbolised blood and courage, whilst in China, it is regarded as a vibrant optimistic colour symbolising success, happiness and warmth, along with good luck and wealth.

On a rain lashed night in Wellington, the Westpac stadium was a sea of red, every tour party member wearing their customised red waterproofs ,the large collected droplets of rain cascading from the dark night skies reflecting on the jackets  like a sea of mirrors in the floodlit arena.

For the All  Blacks, the colour red came to symbolise the lost opportunity of sealing a series  win in which they are overwhelming favourites

With twenty four minutes on the clock, Sonny Bill Williams’ shoulder made contact with Anthony Watson’s head, referee Jerome Garces  pulled a card from his pocket, the colour ? Red.

The men in the red shirts were not going to let the chance of a lifetime slip through their fingers and end up with red faces, they levelled the series with a 24-21 victory.

The decider in Auckland next Saturday will be a noisy vibrant colourful affair and maybe, just maybe the colour red, will be the one in which the Lions and their amazing followers paint the town.

Abroad Thoughts From Home Lions And All Blacks

It has been a strange week, whilst Jonsey, Slotty, Barnesy, Moose and almost every other rugby writer was experiencing the Endless Winter in New Zealand, I found myself walking my lovely little boy around the lake, daily, at 6am, when the temperatures were already in the mid twenties, and yes I am in Britain, or at least my body is.

My mind and soul are 11,400 miles away in Auckland, by the way my lovely boy is a seven month old black Labrador, who is most perturbed that we couldnt play rugby in the garden this week due to temperatures reaching the mid thirties.

Social media brought everything instantly to my iPad, even whilst I was in a perspiring puddle at 2am and unable to sleep I was getting updates from the boys down under.

It is strange to think that forty-six years ago,in 1971, I was in a similarly sleepless, albeit cooler state, as my radio battled to bring me commentary on the first test between The All Blacks and the Lions.

Yesterday I didn’t have to conjure  up images from Wilson Whineray’s excited radio commentary, as I did all those years ago, these days it’s razor-sharp pictures preceded by hours of analysis and predictions, and that’s just me sorting out my breakfast.

When a man called Moses is chosen to sing the NZ national anthem before kick off you know the writing’s on the wall,  and the commandment thou shalt not lose at Eden park is unlikely to be broken.

As night fell in Auckland it was ironic that a man called Daly crossed the All Blacks line within two minutes of the start, had he managed to ground the ball who knows what might have been.

The All Blacks were leading 13-3 when the score, that from this day forward will be known as “That Try” , swept ninety metres in twenty one seconds.

Touched down by O’Brien it was started ten metres from his own line  by O’my  goodness (Liam Williams) and on reaching  half way his pass started the O’key cokey between Jon Davies and Eliot Daly who took the ball to the All Blacks five metre line with an in out in out exchange before Sean O’Brien,with Knees bent arms stretched,dived over for a try that sent almost every Lions fan airborne with 35:23 on the clock.

For a while I dared to dream, but the All Blacks  are pretty good at delivering reality checks and they didn’t need their sponsors DHL to get a signature for this one.

The weather has now cooled by the way as has my optimism, but the series is not over yet, and Wellington next Saturday could yet be the start of a glorious sunny spell for the Lions.

Meet The 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup Match Officials

There are some old and some new faces in the nine-member panel selected to referee at the Women’s Rugby World Cup in Ireland from 9-26 August.

Four of the team are no strangers to the Women’s Rugby World Cup stage.

Amy Perrett refereed the 2014 final between England and Canada, and the two English ladies, Sara Cox and Claire Hodnett along with Alhambra Nievas of Spain, were also among the match officials for that wonderful tournament in France.

World Rugby High Performance 15s Match Official Manager Alain Rolland said:

Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 is shaping up to be a massive tournament and the match officials are preparing with that in mind”.

“I’m really happy with the performance of those selected over the last season and it was very difficult to narrow it down to a panel of nine referees and five assistant referees”.

“The competition at the top-level of the women’s game has grown rapidly, even since the last World Cup in 2014, and I’m confident the panel will match that and perform well at the elite level”

So here are the officials for what should be the biggest and most widely covered women’s rugby World Cup of all time.

Alhambra Nievas (Spain) 🇪🇸

Joy Neville (Ireland)

Aimee Barrett (South Africa)

Sara Cox (England)

Amy Perrett (Australia)

Claire Hodnett (England)

Graham Cooper (Australia)

Tim Baker (Hong Kong)

Sean Gallagher (Ireland)



Assistant Referees

Rose Labreche (Canada)

Beatrice Benvenuti (Italy)

Marie Lematte (France)

Helen O’Reilly (Ireland)

Ian Tempest (England)