Pilates My Pelvic Floor And The All Blacks

There comes a time in every mans life, when he wakes up one morning, to discover that the passage of time has finally caught up with him.

I woke up to find my six-pack had turned into a bargain bucket, and my back had gone. (my front wasn’t too hot either !)

As the weeks went past, my gym and squash sessions were replaced with more and more outpatients appointments, and the calendar constantly filled up with dates to see yet another “ologist”

Protein shakes were replaced by blood pressure tablets, PPI inhbitors, and a ghastly fibre drink supplement, that tasted like a cross between toilet duck and polyfilla.

My sporting life had come to an end, my knees were shot to pieces, playing rugby and football were now consigned to happy memories of the past.

One of the “ologists” suggested I go to Pilates classes, to help the ever-increasing list of ailments I was collecting.

So, I booked a Pilates class !

Now when you have spent your sporting life getting the living daylights kicked out of you, to turn up at a church with my towel (purloined from a well-known hotel chain in Northern France) felt like a piece of cake.

Little did I know of the ignominy that was about to follow.

Whilst I was sweating, gasping and trembling, with the grace of a sumo wrestler, and collapsing face down into my stolen towel, two old arthritic pensioners were holding the plank position for what seemed like an eternity, and looking at me with the sort of glance you’d expect from Brian Moore at a scrum against the French.

I left my first class with my dragon’s tail tucked well and truly between my legs.

I sat at home that afternoon and googled “Pilates” I discovered that the New Zealand All Blacks did Pilates as part of their weekly training regime.

Suddenly the haunting image of being out muscled by two septuagenarian women was replaced with the image of Beauden Barrett and Kieran Read, with their mats and towels (not purloined) powering their way through “lazy angels” and the cat stretch.

All of a sudden I felt there was hope.

When the day arrived for my second class I strutted in, resisting the temptation to perform a mini Haka (the pensioners might not have appreciated the throat slitting finale) and juggling the red ball in one hand, with an insouciance that Cheslin Kolbe would have been proud of.

I “out planked” the pensioners that day, my bright red face staring them out, with grinding teeth and eyes bulging, before falling to the floor with a feeling of satisfaction, it felt like scoring the winning try against England.

I still go to Pilates classes, weekly, and although I may not have a six-pack, I do have a pelvic floor to die for.


Forget The World Cup Give Me The Six Nations Any Day

As Christmas and New Year drift away, my thoughts immediately turn to the six nations.

It has been this way for as long as I can remember.

This will be the 64th tournament in my lifetime and I am just as excited as I was for my first.

The history of this tournament, the rights of passage passed on by friends and family, and the memories of matches and weekends with people no longer with us, make it for me the best rugby tournament in the world.

Those of you of a certain age are guaranteed a smile or two as you scroll down the page revealing some iconic images and memories.



Black and white footage 

Bill McLaren

JPR with socks rolled down, stitches in one side of his face and blood running down the other side

Big moustached French front rows 

Pristine logo free international jerseys with the collars turned up

Match reports by JBG Thomas, John Reason and of course Stephen Jones

Twickenham car parks and wealthy car owners warming their claret on the bonnet of their vehicles with the engine running

Bobble hats leeks and watneys party fours

Saturday evening sports papers in colours of pink blue and orange

Referees who never visited a gym in their lifetime

Adidas shoulder bags

Match tickets that were a work of art

Brains dark, Felinfoel, Buckleys clarkeys pies, chip alley

Rugby special on a Sunday

Frank Bough on Grandstand


Jean Pierre Rives with more “claret” on his shirt than a Bordeaux bar owner

Whatever your nationality and allegiance, the 2023 tournament is only days away, so have a good one.

Those We Have Lost In 2016

Sadly the rugby family has had to say a lot of farewells this year, to both young and old.

We remember them with fondness and respct, and hope that the 2017 list is an extremely short one.


Anthony Foley   Aged 42   Ireland

Seb Adeniran Olule   Aged 20   (Harlequins)

Alastair Biggar   Aged 69   Scotland and British Lions

John Gwilliam  Aged 93     Wales

Fran Ten Bos   Aged 79   Scotland

Seru Rabeini   Aged 37  Fiji

Dickie Jeeps   Aged 84   England and British Lions


Don Rutherford  Aged 79   England and British Lions


Norman Hadley   Aged 51   Canada

John Cannon Aged 35  Canada

Gareth Griffiths Aged 85  Wales and British Lions

Roddy Evans Aged    Wales and British Lions  

Segi Hirao   Aged 53   Japan


Walter Argus  Aged 95  New Zealand

Chilla Wilson  Aged 85   Australia

Peter Johnson  Aged 78  Australia

Gordon Strachan Aged 68  Scotland

Martin Roberts  Aged 48  Gloucester

Hurtis Haiu  Aged 31   Auckland






Women’s 6 Nations Should Welcome Back Spain In 2018

One of the great injustices in the history of rugby took place in 2007, it was noticed by many but largely ignored by the majority of global rugby followers.

Disculpas a todos mis “amigos” españoles por no poder escribir este artículo en español mi conocimiento del idioma consiste sólo en café con leche tostada y mantequilla y la cuenta.

At the time Spain were a competitive and integral part of the women’s 6 nations tournament, they joined in 2000 and were placed as high as third in the table in the 2000, 2001 and 2004 championships.

As RBS were being announced as tournament sponsors, the 6 Nations governing body decided to remove Spain from the tournament, permanently in 2007 and replace them with Italy.

With the obvious huge implications of such an event, there would, you imagine, be a long list of compelling reasons to justify such a course of action.

But in fact there was only one !

The reason Spain were replaced by Italy was so that the women’s tournament would directly mirror the men’s, in terms of the identity of teams competing.

So because their male counterparts did not play in the men’s 6 nations tournament, Spain women were cruelly cast aside.

To add insult to injury Spain’s record against Italy was, and is still is,overwhelmingly in favour of the ladies in red, Spain have beaten Italy nine times in a total of eleven matches.

Women’s rugby has moved on in leaps and bounds since 2007,both in popularity, skill set, and the very high standards of refereeing, by a group of officials that are a credit to themselves and the game.

So as we endeavour to capitalise on these factors, and promote the women’s game at international level ,let us increase the current tournament to make it the women’s RBS 7 Nations.

We owe Spain big time for the shoddy treatment that was handed out to them, for setting them back, both financially and developmentally, and for depriving them any top quality opposition on a regular basis.

The hard facts are indisputable, when you look at Spain’s record against the current 6 nations teams.

Spain have beaten Wales in 6 out of 9 meetings , Ireland  in 5 out of 9, and Italy in 9 out of 11 encounters.

When you also take into account the fact that Spain have beaten Scotland, home and away, in recent weeks, to qualify for next years women’s rugby World Cup in Ireland, the case for Spain’s inclusion is hard to ignore.

Spain would enhance the tournament without doubt, I haven’t met one player who doesn’t support, and indeed welcome, the concept of Spain joining, so to those that run our game, you have a moral obligation to right a big wrong, to do the decent thing, and in 2018, exactly eleven years after Italy took their place in the 6 Nations, invite Spain back where they belong.

Vamos Leonas ! 

Starry Starry Night The Top 14 In Marseille

In 1888 Vincent Van Gogh left a dull grey Paris and headed south by train for the unique almost heavenly light of Provence.

“May artists come together in Provence” was Van Gogh’s wish, and on a warm weekend in May, the Impressionists of the Top 14 came together in Marseille for two semi final matches at the Orange Velodrome.

On a Friday night as the dusky colours of the Var framed the brightly lit stadium hosted the first semi final between La Rochelle and Toulon.

The blistering heat of the day gave way to a warm sultry evening and the 9pm kick off was a meteorological relief to both players and spectators.

I have never encountered such an atmosphere at a rugby match, the 63,642 at the Orange Velodrome created a deafening gladiatorial cacophony of noise from the start to finish.

The yellow flags seemed to vastly outnumber those of the Toulonais as they draped down the stands like an Atlantic wave from their coastal home, “yellow submarine” was belted out as the Beatles never intended, but it was joyous expression from fans of a team that has shaken the old order of the Top 14 this season.

Even the mountains peeped in to watch Brock James and Leigh Halfpenny in their kicking dual, and as La Rochelle built up a 15-6 lead an undisputed red card for Pierre Aguillon on fifty-five minutes turned the match.

As Leigh Halfpenny clawed back the deficit, it looked like extra time was on the cards, with the scores level at 15-15, but with 80:26 on the clock, Toulon conjured up the spirit of Jonny and Anthony Bellau dropped a goal from in front of the posts to send Toulon northwards to the final in Paris.

The second semi final, on Saturday, kicked off in blistering heat at the earlier time of 6pm, a record Top 14 semi final crowd of 64,123 witnessed a match that had pretty much everything, seven tries, a red card and an incident where a spectator climbed into the press box.

Clermont led 19-6 at half time looking the better side, then a minute in to the second half Clermont’s Phillip Van Der Merwe was red carded for taking out a player in the air.

Dan Carter kicked two quick penalties for Racing bringing the score to 19-13.

Down to fourteen Clermonts choking tag was gripping tightly around their collective neck, but on this occasion they went for broke and ran Racing ragged with breath taking lines of running, and offloads, that created tries for Lopez and Lee and with ten minutes left Clermont were home and hosed at 37-12

Masoe scored two tries in the 70th and 77th minute and Tameifuna scored a third on minute 80, ultimately Racing left it too late, and the celebrations began for the Michelin men who now face Toulon in the final at Stade de France next Sunday.

So as the “artists” packed their bags, some for the season, others to exhibit their work in Paris next week, the beautiful light of the Var dimmed as the Top 14 semi final weekend came to a close.

As we drifted off to sleep another starry starry night brought dreams of rugby, and of the artists coming together again for a semi final exhibition next year in Lyon.

Marseille we salute you.

Womens Rugby In Spain


Spain national women’s team

All talk in the bars and cafe’s of Spain is of Ronaldo and Bale or maybe Messi or Xavi, but you may be surprised to know that Spain has a thriving Women’s rugby scene.

Currently there are over 200 women’s teams in Spain and a very competitive league.

The origins of women’s rugby in Spain can be traced back to 1913, when women played in secret in school, but rugby first began to be played seriously at the School of Architecture of Madrid in the early 1970s by a group of architecture students.

In the late seventies a group of female PE students taught by Jose Antonio Sancha, a professor of Rugby at Barcelona INEF, decided to train with the men and played the game seriously, although they were not recognised by the Catalan Federation rugby until 1983.

The first game was played in Barcelona between the BUC and INEF, other clubs quickly formed in different parts of Spain, but in the early years most of the clubs were centered around Barcelona and Madrid.

The game then spread to the Basque Country and Valencia, and In 1991 there were 27 women’s teams participating in regional competitions.

Spain played their first international match on 2 May 1989, against France, losing 8-0. For

The Spain national women’s team played in Cardiff at the Rugby World Cup, where they were placed fifth, behind the United States, England, France and New Zealand.

In 1994, the Spanish team suffered because of budgetary problems, and were unable to travel for international tournaments.

In 1995 Spain became the unexpected champions of the first European Championship by defeating France, in the final 21-6, and 1996 championship brought a repeat of that final but this time the Spanish lost 15-10.

In January 1997 Spain visited England to take on the World Champions and nearly caused an almighty shock, they led England until 10 minutes from the end of the match, and only a last-minute try by England gave them the win.

The 2002 World Cup was held on home soil in Barcelona, New Zealand retained its title beating England 19-9 in the final at the Olympic Stadium.

Spain were also members of the Five and Six Nations from 2000 to 2006, finishing third on three occasions and winning 10 of the 33 games they played.

However in 2007 they were replaced by Italy because the Six Nations Committee wished to align the women’s tournament with the men’s,and  they were replaced by Italy.

This severely reduced Spain’s opportunities to play top-level international rugby, and may have been a factor in Spain’s failure to qualify for the 2010 World Cup.

However in the last World Cup held in France, in 2014, Spain beat South Africa 36-0 in the 9th place play off, having beaten Kazakhstan 18-5 , and losing to England and Canada in the group stages.

Spain could be a leading light in the future of women’s rugby.