Anyone else here?

June 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

Afternoon chaps,

Looks like quite a few of the bugs have been sorted out after all. Good show. Just a quick test and a few questions if anyone can help . . .

What is “WangGuard” and where would I get a key if I wanted it?

Is there any way I can get rid of the “Howdy, Kitchener” in the top right corner of my current page? For some reason the word “howdy” always makes me want to slap someone or something quite hard.

Is there a Sport Bloggers group we can join?

What is a “Subscribe2 token”?

That’s it for now. Hope other members of the old Sport24 blogging community find there way here . . . except for PruvanC*nt of course . . . and Nelster . . . and . . . just joking, chaps.

Cheerio

Kitchener’s 2012 Tour de France preview . . .

June 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

Afternoon chaps,

Just one week to go before the world’s greatest annual sporting event, the 2012 Tour de France!

The Tour normally starts on the first Saturday of July which would have been 7 July this year but it’s been brought forward by a week to 30 June . . . I suspect to give the riders a little bit longer to recover and prepare for the Olympic Games.

The 2012 Tour de France begins with a prologue (short time trial) in the Belgian city of Liège and will end – as always – on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. In between, there are the normal flat stages, individual time trials, medium mountains, high mountains in the Alps and high mountains in the Pyrenees that the riders will have to negotiate before they reach Paris.

There is no team trial in this year’s tour but for time trial specialists like Fabian Cancellara, Tony Martin, Bradley Wiggins and Cadel Evans there are over 100km of individual time trial . . . the 6.1km Prologue in Liège, the 41.5 stage 9 ITT from Arc-et-Senans to Besançon and the 53.5 stage 19 ITT from Bonneval to Chartres.

Famous mountains to be crossed in the Alps include Col du Grand Colombier (for the first time in the TdF), Col de la Madeleine and the Col de la Croix de Fer while the passage of the Pyrnees includes Col de Tourmalet, Col d’Aubisque, Col d’Aspin and the Col de Peyresourde which are all climbed on the same day on stage 16. This is where climbers like Franck Schleck, Jurgen Van Den Broek and Sammy Sanchez – as well as last year’s two new climbing sensations Pierre Rolland and Jelle Vanendert – will stake their claims for overall honours if they’re good enough. Stages 11 and 16 in particular are both magnificent climbing stages and you can be sure that the overall winner of the Tour will be someone who is competitive in these two gruelling stages.

For the top sprinters like Mark Cavendish, Tyler Farrar, Andre Greipel, Alessandro Petacchi and Peter Sagan there will be many opportunities to score points in the first week and several other opportunities for mass sprint finishes between the big climbs. There are also several stages with difficult sprint finishes or challenging terrain that favour the fighters like Phillip Gillbert and Edvald Boassen Hagen or the breakaway specialists like Thomas Voeckler and Jeremy Roy. All in all, there’s something for everyone at the 2012 Tour and personally I won’t miss the Team Time Trial . . . although it may well have favoured Team Sky!

I suppose it would be no big surprise to anyone if I said I am tipping the in-form Bradley Wiggins for the Yellow Jersey this year and Mark Cavendish – The Manx Missile – for the Green Jersey . . . but note that Wiggins still has to prove he can stay with the big guns on the really steep slopes while Cavendish has stated that has prepared for the Olympics this year, meaning he’s lost a bit of weight and he doesn’t expect to be as dominant in the TdF sprints as he was last year.

Wiggins will face stiff competition from last year’s winner Cadel Evans as well as the likes of Dennis Menchov, Vincenzo Nibali and Jurgen Van Den Broek . . . although my idea of good value for money and an excellent outsider (at current odds of 50-1) is last year’s White Jersey winner Pierre Rolland who rode so bravely for Thomas Voeckler while Voeckler was in the Yellow Jersey and then won Alpe d’Huez when he was freed from his domestique duties. It’s been nearly 30 years since a Frenchman won the Tour de France and if something happens to Wiggins, I will be supporting Pierre Rolland in the overall classification.

I think I’ve listed most of the Green Jersey contenders but apart from the sprinters I named above, watch out for Matthew Goss, the ultra-consistent Jose Joaquin Rojas and also Mark Renshaw. I’m not sure if Renshaw will be the lead-out man for someone else in his team but if he’s the main sprinter in the team, we can look forward to some fascinating duels between Renshaw and his old team mate Cavendish.

If I’m not posting much on the blogs during this year’s Tour de France that’s because I am going to be following the Tour live . . . and I can’t wait! I will be at the finish of the 10th stage from Mâcon to Bellegarde-sur-Valserine, the next day I’ll be on the slopes of the final climb of stage 11 from Albertville to La Toussuire and then I’ll be at the feeding point of stage 12 from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to Annonay Davézieux. We then stay in Nice and Monte Carlo for a few days (and we may try to watch the finish of stage 13 in Le Cap d’Agde) before going to Paris. From Paris I’ll catch up with the Tour again for stage 19 – the individual time trial from Bonneval to Chartres – and then we’ll be on the Champs-Élysées for the final sprint on the last day. I’m sure I’ll be able to post on the blogs every now and then but I doubt if I’ll be around here much until the Tour finishes. Then it’s back home for the rest of the cricket series and the Olympic Games! I do love summer! 

If anyone wants a closer look at the route and the stages, the best place to go look is the official website of the Tour de France. This is also a good place to get overall standings, news and live coverage if you don’t have access to a TV.

For those who are keen to play in a Tour de France Fantasy League, go and register here (the same competition we played last year) where I have set up a pool called Sport24 Bloggers. The League Code is 16184286850074.

Come on Bradley, come on Cav and come on Team Sky!

Cheerio

Lancaster rings the changes . . .

June 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

Morning chaps,

Stuart Lancaster has made 6 changes to the England team for Saturday’s 3rd and final test against the Steroid-Boks.

Alex Goode will start at fullback with Ben Foden being moved again to the wing to replace the singularly unimpressive David Strettle. Strettle drops out completely.

The injury to Ben Youngs means that Danny Care will get his first start of the tour . . . assuming that Care doesn’t get imprisoned for something stupid between now and kick-off.

In the pack, Ben Morgan is dropped for the fat and rather ordinary Thomas Waldrom. This is the one change that annoys me somewhat because Morgan is a lot better than Tubby Tom.

James Haskell gets his first test of the tour and replaces the injured Chris Robshaw. Haskell will definitely bring an edge to the England loose trio and we know that one or two Steroid-Bok bullies will be looking over the shoulder anxiously during the match. Dylan Hartley will captain the side in Robshaw’s absence.

Tom Palmer replaces the rather disappointing Mouritz Botha at lock. I’ve long had the suspicion that Botha hasn’t the breeding or the bottle to play lock for England and this tour has certainly highlighted his inadequacies. He’s a decent enough club player but he’s clearly not international quality.

The final change is Alex Corbisiero in for Joe Marler and this could prove to be the game-changer. We had to wait until the last quarter of the 2nd test of this tour before we finally saw England’s best front row combination in action and we all saw the Boer fatties given a brutal beasting when the Corbisiero/Hartley/Cole combination finally packed down together.

The team is:

15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Manusamoa Tuilagi, 11 Ben Foden, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Danny Care, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 James Haskell, 6 Tom Johnson, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Tom Palmer, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Alex Corbisiero.

Replacements: 16 Lee Mears, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Mouritz Botha, 19 Phil Dowson, 20 Lee Dickson, 21 Owen Farrell, 22 Brad Barritt.

I think we all know what the outcome of Olivier vs Tuilagi is going to be. Should be fun to watch!

Come on chaps, once more unto the breach and all that!

Cheerio!

Triangular series . . .

June 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

Morning chaps,

I say, have any of you Yarpies got an update on the Swish-Klunk triangular series currently being played between the Proteas and those giants of world cricket, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh?

I was rather surprised to see there have been no match reports of the first game, considering how seriously you chaps take this Swish-Klunk stuff nonsense.

So, did your boys give the Zimbabweans a bit of a clobbering?

Toodle Pip

The greatest of all time?

June 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

Morning chaps,

He’s been called one of the greats and the world’s greatest miler, but after Frankel’s facile win in the Queen Anne Stakes at Ascot on Saturday, I think it’s time to stop beating about the bush and give Frankel the title he has earned . . . the greatest racehorse of all time! There, I said it!

After Saturday’s race, Frankel’s Timeform rating went up from 143 to 147 making him the highest rated horse in history so, quite apart from the manner in which he wins his races and his huge public appeal, he has a valid claim to being the greatest ever. The only argument against giving Frankel the title of greatest racehorse ever is the fact that his best distance is a mile and most of the great classics in world racing like the Derby, the King George, the Arc and the Belmont Stakes are all over a mile and a half, meaning Frankel will never win any of the most famous races in the world . . . but there’s no doubt that in terms of dominance over his contemporaries, he’s right up there with the likes of Ormonde, Nijinsky and Secretariat. 

I know the vast majority of bloggers here don’t care about racing but one should be able to appreciate a true superstar whatever the sport. Don’t take my word for it, just go to Youtube, type in “Frankel” and gaze in wonder!

Cheerio

Well done Springboks . . .

June 16, 2012 in Uncategorized

Evening chaps,

Congratulations to the Springboks on the series win. Hard cheese England on a brave second half performance.

What a splendid game of rugger! So much better than the endless kick and chases that we saw in Durban.

I do have to get one thing off my chest however . . . there are two nations that hate the English even more than you lot and it’s the Irish and the French. Centuries of beastings at the hands of the English have instilled a hatred of the English in the Paddies and the Frogs . . . so who do the English get to referee this evening’s game? A smelly little Frog who’s taken up Mick citizenship!

I must say, I was rather livid inside the first 5 minutes when Rolland allowed a Steroid-Bok try which clearly came through the scrum and should have been a reset (Tom Johnson was penalised in the 1st test for doing exactly what Alberts did  today) . . . but you know what, despite making a few mistakes this evening, I can’t blame Rolland for the loss, your chaps were simply too good for us in the first half and there’s no getting away from that. England showed a lot of spirit but in the end, the Springboks were too good.

I would however just like to point out one really stupid decision that denied England a winning chance at the death . . . England were 9 points down with 2 minutes remaining on the clock when Toby Flood decided to pump a kickable penalty into touch for the lineout. If he’d slotted the penalty then England could have been a lot more patient in the final minute and they would have been within a score of a thrilling victory. Flood’s decision to kick for touch meant England had to find two scoring opportunities in the last two minutes and they simply didn’t have the time for a long patient build-up through several phases. Poor decision by Flood but I think the result was a fair one . . . and to be honest Rolland was actually decent on the day. Good game all round.

Must say, hard cheese to Wales and Ireland as well. 

Cheerio

England team to play the Steroid-Boks . . .

June 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

Morning chaps,

Stuart Lancaster has made several changes to his starting XV for the test against the Steroid-Boks in Johannesburg on Saturday.

David Strettle comes in on the wing with Ben Foden moving to fullback in place of the injured Mike Brown;  the young flyer Jonathan Joseph comes in at outside centre with Manu Tuilagi moving to inside centre to replace the injured Brad Barritt; Toby Flood starts with Owen Farrell being relegated to the bench and there are two new faces ion the bench in the form of Alex Corbisiero and Alex Goode.

None of the changes are wholly unexpected. I think Lancaster has made the right call by switching Tuilagi to inside centre rather than using him as a winger which was suggested as a possibility earlier in the week . . . and certainly Jean de Villiers will be hugely relieved after the humiliating public man-shaming he received from Tuilagi in Durban! What’s the bet Francois Steyn discovers a sudden hamstring injury before Saturday?

The England team is as follows:

 15 Ben Foden (Northampton Saints), 14 Chris Ashton (Northampton Saints), 13 Jonathan Joseph (London Irish), 12 Manusamoa Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), 11 David Strettle (Saracens), 10 Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers), 9 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers), 1 Joe Marler (Harlequins), 2 Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), 3 Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), 4 Mouritz Botha (Saracens), 5 Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers), 6 Tom Johnson (Exeter Chiefs), 7 Chris Robshaw (capt, Harlequins), 8 Ben Morgan (Scarlets)


Replacements: 16 Lee Mears (Bath), 17 Alex Corbisiero (London Irish), 18 Tom Palmer (Stade Francais), 19 Phil Dowson (Northampton Saints), 20 Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints), 21 Owen Farrell (Saracens), 22 Alex Goode (Saracens).

All in all I think it’s a jolly good team considering all the crippling injuries. Come on chaps!

Cheerio

The Kitchener US Open Challenge . . .

June 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

Morning chaps,

Today sees the start of the 2012 US Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, USA.

Now I know that many of you fellows will be going a bit pale at the thought of yet another Kitchener Challenge beasting for your hapless Yarpies (I think the current score is 11-1 to England) but – just in case any of you chaps are new to the game of golf or don’t know any better and still believe that the Yarpies are a match for the English – I will be keeping score as usual and I will put up the results of the Kitchener Challenge after the tournament.

For those who don’t know, there is a Kitchener Challenge for all 4 Golf Majors every year where we compare the best English golfers with the least pathetic Yarpie hackers. The way it works is whichever country has the fewest players to make the cut, we count that many scores from the other team and total up the scores at the end of the tournament and the team with the lowest aggregate score wins. If that sounds complicated, it’s not. It’s really very simple. For example, if only 3 Yarpies make the cut then those 3 Yarpie’s scores are compared to the top 3 English scores. If 6 Yarpies make the cut then 6 English scores are used.

Following the withdrawal of Paul Casey, there are 9 Englishmen and 8 Yarpies in this year’s field:

England

Matthew Baldwin
Luke Donald

Simon Dyson

Samuel Osborne

Ian Poulter

Robert Rock

Justin Rose

Lee Slattery

Lee Westwood

South Africa

Tim Clark

George Coetzee

Ernie Els

Retief Goosen

Brandon Grace

Trevor Immelman

Louis Oosthuizen

Charl Schwartzel

It looks like a very strong field this year and note that there is a splendid 3 ball for the first two rounds that includes defending champion and world #2 Rory McIroy, world #1 Luke Donald and world #3 Lee Westwood. Let’s hope we get to see plenty of TV coverage of the three best golfers in the world rather than endless replays of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson!

Good luck to your Yarpies . . . I suspect they’ll need it.

Cheerio!

PS I’m still a bit stunned by the news this morning that Harry Redknapp has been sacked by Tottenham Hotspur but more on that later.

Problems for Heineken Mayor . . .

June 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

Afternoon chaps,

Breaking news from the Steroid-Bok training camp . . .

Coach, sniff, it’s not fair that I have to play #13! I’m a #12 and everyone knows I’m a #12. I hate playing #13 and that horrid Tuilagi guy hurt me in the last game! It was really sore! Sniff. It’s not fair, I want my #12 jersey ba . . .

 

 

Hang on Jean, before you go any further, have you heard this news that Manu Tuilagi might be switched to #12 for the next test?

 

Really? Wow, that’s great! I was just saying how much I love the #13 jersey. That is great news! Thanks coach!

 

Hey, that’s not fair! I prefer the #13 jersey! I don’t want to play if I’m the #12 again. It’s not fair!

Oh shit . . .

 

Looks like Mayor has a few tough decisions. I’ll put up any other inside info if I get any.

 

Cheerio!

A spiffing sporting weekend . . .

June 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

Morning chaps,

What a splendid sporting weekend for the English!

Lewis Hamilton won the Canadian Grand Prix, Bradley Wiggins won the Criterium du Dauphine (which is always an important pointer to the Tour de France) and later tonight, England’s football team will give the smelly Frogs a jolly good beasting!

Lewis Hamilton drove a magnificent race to win the Canadian Grand Prix, overtaking both Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettell in the closing stages to take the chequered flag after a storming drive. None of this nonsense of using the pits to overtake, Hamilton is willing (and good enough) to do his overtaking on the track, even when there are only a few laps of the race left. Jolly good show, that’s what Grand Prix racing should be all about!

Bradley Wiggins of Team Sky completed his second successive victory in the Criterium du Dauphine to add to his victories this year in the Tour de Romandie and in the Paris-Nice. Another Team Sky rider – Australia’s Michael Rogers – was second, 1 minute and 17 seconds behind, with last year’s Tour de France winner Cadel Evans further back in 3rd. Wiggins is clearly in superb form but with typical English modesty, he’s downplaying his chances in this year’s Tour de France, pointing out how difficult this year’s Tour will be and remembering his tragic exit from last year’s race when he broke a collarbone. Splendid effort, Bradley old chap, now for the big one next month!

Euro2012 will finally come alive tonight as England open their account against the Frogs. It’s a tough game in a tough group and the England side has been plagued by crippling injuries to stars like Frank Lampard, Gary Cahill and Gareth Barry, not to mention the unavailability of Wayne Rooney for two of the group matches due to suspension . . . but the chaps will get on with the job at hand and I fully expect Roy Hodgson’s men to give the unpredictable Frogs a jolly good thrashing in Donetsk this evening.

The only thing that spoiled the sporting weekend somewhat was on the rugby front with England’s narrow loss to the Steroid-Boks on Saturday in Durban but – as we all know – this is a rather experimental “B” team that England sent over, missing stars such as Alex Corbisiero, Tom Wood, Tom Croft, Courtney Lawes, Charlie Sharples, Joe Simpson, Rob Webber, Matt Stevens, James Haskell and Delon Armitage. Now I believe they’ll be missing Brad Barritt and Mike Brown for the second test as well, so a lot of the gloss has been taken off the series. One must remember that it’s also just an end-of-season tour that doesn’t really count for much in the grand scheme of things and the fact that a depleted England side was able to get within 5 points of a much-vaunted full-strength Steroid-Bok test side at home with a SH refereee in charge will have sent a shiver of fear through the Southern Hemisphere pretenders. Well done to the Yarpies anyway. The Natal chaps in particular played jolly well . . . even if it was a rather fortunate win and England looked the better team for the most part.

Luckily, the narrow and rather unlucky loss by the England “B” team was offset with a splendid win by the England youngsters in the real rugby that was played this weekend . . . the IRB Junior World Championships. England’s juniors put the hapless Irish to the sword and they are now the only unbeaten team in their group which includes the hyped up Cry-Baby-Boks. Keep it up chaps!

Toodle pip!