Thursday, 18 October 2012


Satire in Rugby League, b Aug 29 1895, d 18 Oct 2012.
Satire in Rugby League died peacefully in it's sleep on the morning of Thursday October 18 2012, when total, utter failure of a coach Rob Powell, erstwhile of the London Broncos and off the back of a terrible season where he was replaced in order that the club didn't finish last, was appointed defence coach for Cardiff RU.
Satire in Rugby League is survived by Satire in rugby union which is thought to be in rude health.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Accentuating the positive

News of Paul Wood's misfortune in the Grand Final has gone mainstream. All the dailies are carrying the story with the general air of awe and sympathy matched by Wood's own stoicism. But alongside that, there's a nasty undercurrent, the general gist being "if that was a footballer, he'd never have played on".

Has it come to this where the Rugby League public is so unsure of itself that it needs to exploit one man's testicular misfortune to make a petty point about... who knows what at the expense of players in a totally different code?

Yes, diving in football and feigning injury to gain an advantage are the hot topics du nos jour, but to suggest that footballers would act any differently to Wood is specious nonsense. It also paints fans of the thirteen-man game as the stereotype would have it; with a chip on both shoulders. It does the game no favours. Football has it's problems, but attempting to jump on those and seek to exploit them with a straw man argument about someone losing a part of their anatomy is downright bizarre.

It happened during the Olympics too, with athletes lauded for, ostensibly, not being footballers. It's difficult to know why or what point was trying to be made. The point is that footballers are under far more scrutiny than any other sportspeople. Their on-field and off-field conduct is pored over in excruciating detail in all the national dailies and while there are a number of deeply unpleasant characters in that game, so there are in others. By the same token, there are a much greater number of characters that aren't deeply unpleasant. Moreover, to laud an athlete from a different game simply for not being a footballer is an infantile argument that also undermines the actual achievement that one would be seeking to praise.

As far as Rugby League goes, talking up the positives is absolutely fine and Paul Wood's is a story that has universal appeal. While we're not as big a sport as football, we can get away with pushing that line rather than Ben Blackmore getting convicted of assaulting Father Christmas being the major talking point of the week. In football, both would be big news spread across a number of back pages. With limited room for Rugby League, it's lucky that Wood's misfortune, courage and good humour have bumped what would otherwise be an embarrassment to one side.

By all means, seek to push the good side of our game. There is much to celebrate. But having a needless and cheap shot at a different sport while doing so undermines the point and comes across badly. And neither should we ignore those issues that aren't so positive and get all uptight when they're reported. We can't have it both ways

Anyway, Phil Babb (from ages ago) and Lukas Piszczek (from last weekend) reckon anyone attempting to make a ludicrous point about footballers not carrying on after suffering a hugely painful blow is dead wrong.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Take two

Awarded a penalty, the questions arises: to kick for goal or not to kick for goal?

Regular readers (welcome, both) may not be surprised to know that I've got a theory about this and it runs thus: kicking for goal is almost always the wrong thing to do.

There's a similar adage in cricket where someone old and wise said 'nine out of ten times you opt to bat first. The tenth time, you think about putting them in and then ddecide to bat first". The classic example came in the first Ashes Test of the 2002/3 series. After winning the toss, Nasser Hussain said "we'll have a bowl" to the astonishment of everybody. A day and a half, 130 overs and 492 runs later, it looked a colossal mistake. It's not quite that extreme in the case of kicking at goal, but a lot of things have to be in play to convince me that the shot is worth taking. Allow me to elaborate.

The fundament of my thesis is a belief in that it's always better to do what your opponent would least like you to do. At any stage of any game, high on that list will be defending another set while very low down it will be the opportunity to spend a minute and a bit getting some much-needed oxygen into the lungs while not getting pounded by another wave of attacks. Working from that standpoint, the list of occasions where that is not top of the list becomes tiny.

There are also occasions where your own interests trump inflicting misery on your opponents such as stretching the lead beyond six or taking time out of a game. The Huddersfield v Leeds game at the Kirklees Stadium threw up a good example. After being reduced to twelve players and leading 22-4 early in the second half, Huddersfield were twice awarded penalties in kickable range. In those circumstances, the need to preserve energy combined with stretching the lead to outweigh forcing Leeds into defence as the best option.

Any other time, just don't do it. Doing the thing the opposition would prefer you to do gives them a boost, as could the admission on your own part that you don't reckon you break them down. Neither does the notion that you get the ball back hold much water. Anyone who has seen more than half a dozen games has seen enough fluffed restarts or short kick-offs regained. A potential two-point gain can quickly and easily become a four-point loss. The other side of that coin is that you could easily knock on early in a set after putting the ball in touch, but I'd counter that by pointing out that you'd still be turning the ball over at the far end from your own line. Arguments about percentages fall apart.

Kicking for goal is the weak, negative option in almost every circumstance. The sight of experienced coaches waggling two fingers about in circumstances that don't require a shot at goal is a depressing one. Lets hope that the new wave that recently have been or shortly will be appointed to head coaching jobs are a little more progressive and we get back to an attacking, positive ethos.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

James Graham and National Poetry Day

A flame-haired prop forward called James
Went to Aus with the dutiful aims
To play with no fear,
But he bit Slater's ear
And he'll sit on his arse for twelve games.

Top 10: Stupid things to get arrested for

It transpires that Huddersfield's new signing Ben Blackmore has been a naughty boy. He'd not informed the club that he, along with former team-mate Richard Owen, was due in court to answer charges of affray, charges that were brought after he was caught brawling with Father Christmas.
He has been spared jail - he received a six-month suspended sentence and was ordered to do 120 hours community service - but will start his Giants career with a written warning on his file.
The main point coming out of all this though is: who brawls with Father Christmas? We know Rugby League players are generally big daft lads, but that is low.
Here, though, are ten things lower:

10. Shooting Bambi's mum

9. Burgling the seven dwarves house while they're off down the mine

8. Using an artificial wind machine to blow the first two little pig's houses over

7. Blowing the third one up with gelignite

6. Trolling the three billy goats gruff on Twitter

5. Pushing Jack and Jill down the hill

4. Giving conflicting military advice to the Grand Old Duke of York

3. Spitting (or worse) into bear porridge

2. Making chops out of Mary's little lamb

1. Mugging the tooth fairy