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PRLalaland 2014-15

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    PRLalaland 2014-15

    Noticed we don't have a thread about this august competition for this season. So, I'll throw out this article to get things started.


    Why London Welsh’s horror start could spell bad news for the Premiership

    Thrashing by Exeter and paltry crowd asks all sorts of questions of the English game, so let’s hope it was a blip not an omen

    One bad result does not necessarily wreck a season. One paltry crowd is not conclusive proof of declining interest. Mix the two together, though, and the omens are distinctly worrying. London Welsh, beaten 52-0 at home in front of 2,776 paying customers on their Aviva Premiership return, would seem to have a difficult year ahead of them.
    Their opening weekend horror show is also potentially awkward news for the Premiership’s organisers, English rugby in general and at least one major broadcaster. The big selling point of the Premiership is its wintry claustrophobia, its relentless competitiveness and the slimness of its margins. Spectators are not supposed to know from one week to the next who is going to win. The struggle to avoid relegation usually guarantees significant interest in the bottom third of the table from start to finish.
    Yet, suddenly, a major question mark hangs over all of that. If the Exiles slump to another heavy defeat in Bath this week it does not take a genius to work out their Premiership stay may be brief. The relegation fight, in that event, will be a non-starter and the suspense element at the bottom of the league will instantly evaporate. This, in turn, may well have an impact on attendance figures throughout the league, both live and on TV. People tend not to relish predictable one-horse races, even if their horse is the one doing the romping.
    It also raises other uncomfortable issues. Overall, aggregate crowds on the opening weekend were down by almost 5,000 fans compared with last season’s opening weekend. Much, if not all of this, was down to the paltry attendance at the Kassam Stadium. But the London double-header attracted fewer spectators than last year, which in turn was also down slightly on the 2012 figure. With next year’s World Cup looming, Premiership Rugby is seeking more bums on seats, not fewer. If Welsh can barely attract 2,500 people on a glorious September afternoon – and several hundred of those were from Exeter – the all-important end-of-season totals could take a significant hit.
    Nor does Welsh’s lacklustre start greatly help those trying to promote the Championship. If the promoted club struggle to be competitive having signed 26 new players, whither automatic promotion? What does it say about the efficacy of the play-off system, which is staged so late in the season it allows scant time for the winners to stitch together a half-decent Premiership squad? Admittedly Bristol and Worcester attracted an audience of 8,549 to Ashton Gate for their weekend game but Bristol were well beaten by Welsh in last season’s play-offs and Worcester lost 20 of their 22 top-tier games. There will always be exceptions to the rule – Exeter, in particular – but bridging the gap is not getting any easier. If that trend continues, there are all sorts of implications.
    Black Sunday in Oxford was also sobering, therefore, for Yorkshire Carnegie, Rotherham, London Scottish and Nottingham, all of whom quietly fancy securing Premiership status for themselves. But will it be worth the money and effort? Nine months of pain and misery can seriously damage a club’s self-esteem. Better for some, maybe, not to chase unattainable rainbows, or at least be more realistic about what long-term success actually looks like. The Premiership grass is not always greener.
    None of this is intended to heap further misery on Welsh; if anything it reflects the rising standards of professionalism which all ambitious clubs now need to match. And, let’s not forget, there are 21 more rounds of matches to go, plenty of time for the Exiles to rise off the canvas and prove people wrong. It would be some story if they can do so from such a gruesome starting point; hopefully last Sunday was a grisly one-off for all concerned.
    But if not? Well, at least it will allow other lower-placed sides to play with more freedom and blood more English-qualified youngsters, the spectre of relegation having been prematurely lifted. Premiership organisers can already point to the 34 tries scored on the opening weekend, compared to 25 last time. The flip side, of course, is that a tournament is only really as strong as its weakest link. If Welsh cannot pull their socks up, the effects will be felt way beyond the Thames Valley.

    England will be heading off to Denver, Colorado, for a high-altitude fitness camp next July ahead of the 2015 Rugby World Cup. The idea is to ensure they hit the tournament hard with their bodies in peak condition. It already sounds a far cry from the 2007 tournament in France when, as Lawrence Dallaglio revealed in the Sunday Times at the weekend, things were slightly different.
    Keen to escape a sub-par hotel room in Marseille he persuaded his squad-mates Joe Worsley and Peter Richards to accompany him to St Tropez for lunch, as you do. The lobster and rosé were going down a treat when Richards popped off to the loo. In his absence Worsley seized the opportunity to pick up his mobile phone, rifle through his contacts and substitute his own number for the head coach Brian Ashton’s. Shortly afterwards, a text duly arrived, ostensibly from Ashton, revealing there was a scrum-half injury crisis and Richards was needed urgently. Cue near-heart failure on the opposite side of the table, cruelly followed by another text telling Richards not to worry because the management had decided to pick Shaun Perry instead. Only at that point was the panic-stricken victim put out of his misery, after which the party trotted off to a barbecue at Brigitte Bardot’s house. England duly went on to beat Australia that weekend and somehow managed to reach the final. Their big-match preparations this time threaten to be somewhat different.

    The Pro12 season kicked off in intriguing fashion last weekend with defeats for both Leinster and Munster at the hands of Glasgow and Edinburgh respectively. With the Scottish referendum looming next week, can we expect another brace of Scottish wins, this time against Cardiff Blues and Connacht? On recent evidence the answer could well be “Yes”.
    The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves

    Sewa's dead, so someone has to take up the mantle of Croft embiggener, here's Lofty talking about his upcoming return to PRLball:

    Click image for larger version

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    Leicester flank Tom Croft says he will be "mad for it" if he is selected for his first start of the Premiership season against Exeter Chiefs on Saturday.

    Croft was a late withdrawal from the Tigers line-up last week with a shoulder complaint, with the team beating Newcastle Falcons 36-17 on home soil.

    But having shaken that off, he's determined to make a big impact at Sandy Park if selected.

    "If I'm required I'll be mad for it," the 28-year-old English forward told BBC Radio 5 live.

    "It's getting a bit frustrating now."

    The Lions back-row, who broke his neck against Harlequins in April 2012, admits he had taken a glass half full approach to the injury absence.

    "After that, I learnt you have to be positive," he said.

    "There are not many injuries that are worse than that, apart from going the full way and not playing any more.

    "You can always sit there in the physio room moping around and moaning, but that's not going to help your recovery.

    "Or you can put a positive spin on it; get stronger, and come back better when you actually do return to playing.",2...464314,00.html
    I am the million man.


      I'm sure Stuart Barnes will write a fawning article shortly.



        Harlequins fullback Mike Brown lays into "annoying" Premiership rivals Saracens' squad, ground and SINGING

        "They’re a club with all the cash and they have a fake pitch just to annoy everyone. They also have that silly song they sing. Just winds everyone up, doesn’t it?"

        Mike Brown has lit the fuse on a potentially explosive Premiership London derby against Saracens, describing it as Harlequins’ biggest grudge match.
        Saracens have lost only once to Brown's Quins in their last 11 meetings.
        And not only have they bossed the fixture, they have got under their opponents’ skin.
        “They’re a London club, they’re a club with all the cash and they have a fake pitch just to annoy everyone,” said England fullback Brown.
        “They also have that silly song they sing. Just winds everyone up, doesn’t it? But that’s why they do it. Is it our biggest grudge match? Yeah, probably.”

        Quins have not lost a regular-season game since they last played Saracens and have not lost at home since Sarries’ last visit.

        Their most recent meeting, a Premiership semi-final in May, was notable for a half-time tunnel bust-up caused by* Saracens wing Chris Ashton distractingly shouting “push it” as Nick Evans attempted a conversion.
        Quins were furious, but Ashton escaped punishment and while their opponents seethed, Saracens came from behind to win.
        “They’re a team that wants to niggle you and to frustrate you,” Brown added ahead of Friday night's tussle. “They want to make you do things you wouldn’t normally do – like we did in the second half of that semi-final.
        “It’s about getting your heads around that and focusing on your job. This time we’re on our home patch so we need to be the enforcers straight from the off.”
        Asked what he thought of Saracens, Quins’ boss Conor O’Shea appeared to distinguish between the club as a whole and the playing side.

        “Our respect for their rugby department – their coaches and players – is huge,” he said. “I think they’re outstanding in everything they do . . as a rugby *department.”
        As tickets for next year’s Rugby World Cup go on sale, Brown insists he must improve on his player-of-the-year form for England last term just to make the hosts' squad for the *tournament.
        “I’ve put to bed last season, it’s about *stepping up again,” he said. “I really believe that unless I improve I won’t make the World Cup squad. I’m the lucky one who started the last game for England in the 15 jersey, but I’m the one being chased now so I can’t stand still.
        “It’s a pressure I enjoy. How can you not when the goal at the end of the season is a World Cup in your own country playing in a team with a realistic chance of winning it.”
        So focused is he on the big prize he and fiancée Eliza have delayed their wedding until 2016.
        Brown added: “I’m lucky that she’s very *understanding.”


          72' harlequins 0 sarries 32


            not so impressive sarries, never seen so poor harlequins


              3rd try


                Mike Brown probably feels like a right tit now.
                The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves


                  Originally posted by The Word Is Born View Post
                  Mike Brown probably feels like a right tit now.


                    Doubt it to be honest...
                    Excellence is hard to keep quite - Sherrie Coale


                      Jeez O'Sheas stock is plummeting in the last year.
                      Please support Milford Hospice. Click here to donate.


                        Originally posted by The Word Is Born View Post
                        Mike Brown probably feels like a right tit now.
                        Why, what he said was correct.
                        "Everything good about Ireland can be found in County Cork"....Lonely Planet Guide 2012


                          Originally posted by fitzy73 View Post
                          Jeez O'Sheas stock is plummeting in the last year.
                          Nah, it,s still a decent pub out the ballysimon road.


                            Originally posted by fitzy73 View Post
                            Jeez O'Sheas stock is plummeting in the last year.
                            He's a bit of a spoofer.
                            The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves



                              Premiership salary cap increase expected to be confirmed

                              By Chris JonesBBC Radio 5 live

                              Senior figures at Premiership Rugby are confident that plans to change the salary cap will be agreed this week.
                              The new initiatives include the allowance of a second marquee player from overseas - whose wages will fall outside the salary cap.
                              The cap is also likely to rise above the current £5m limit, with more money available for fielding academy players.
                              It is hoped the changes will keep English qualified players playing in England up to the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
                              Basic cap is £4.76m, up from £4.26m in the 2013-14 season £240k in academy credits, covering players who are under the age of 24, joined the club before their 18th birthday and are earning more than £30k a year
                              Clubs can nominate one player to be excluded from the salary cap Clubs can apply for one injury replacement when one of their players has been injured for a period of 12 weeks or more

                              Premiership Rugby say that an increase in revenue through TV and sponsorship has meant the clubs can afford to invest more in their playing squads.
                              The meeting takes place on Wednesday when these changes are expected to be approved.
                              The £5m salary cap for the 2014-15 season, which included a basic cap of £4.76m as well as an additional £240,000 in academy credits, had risen by £500,000 from the 2013-14 campaign.