The Sin Bin
Quade's costly game review and a political scrum
November 2, 2012
England captain Chris Robshaw's face does a great impression of a Global Hypercolour T-shirt © PA Photos
Welcome to the latest edition of The Sin Bin - our regular feature offering you some of the quirkier stories to emanate from the game we love.
There's not a ruck we will not delve into or a hospital pass we will avoid in a bid to bring you some of the more bizarre, humorous and downright daft stories, videos, pictures and soundbites from around the rugby globe. Got anything you think warrants a mention? Let us know
This one made our main news output but the seemingly ludicrous nature of part of the story warrants a mention here. Australia's Quade Cooper was quite rightly punished for an ill-advised outburst regarding what he saw as a "toxic" Wallabies environment but he was also fined for criticising a computer game - yes, a computer game. When asked by a fan if he preferred FIFA 12 or Rugby Challenge, the avid game-playing Cooper replied: "Rugby Challenge is the s*******t game." The problem is the game is an Australian Rugby Union-licensed product. But the game's developers, the Wellington-based Sidhe, didn't seem to mind with them telling the New Zealand Herald: "Perceptions of quality are subjective. Mr Cooper, like any gamer, is entitled to his opinion on our games and we don't begrudge him that."
Black the new white
Ireland unveiled their latest change strip this week with the side swapping their white strip for a black one. Unsurprisingly they were soon deflecting criticism from New Zealand fans who accused them of being "All Blacks wannabees" just as England were slammed when unveiling their black shirt ahead of last year's World Cup. Ireland's 'alternate' strip may see as much daylight as England's controversial strip with the Irish Times reporting that after its debut against South Africa on November 10 it will not be used for at least two years.
A political scrum
Prime Minister David Cameron played host to some members of the England and Wales rugby league squads at Downing Street this week to promote next year's Rugby League World Cup. In an effort to endear himself to his guest he offered an insight into his own playing career. However, his claims to have been a "hooker" were met with disbelief. According to the Daily Telegraph, upon hearing that one of the players was a hooker, Cameron replied: "I was that. It is quite tough in there, but it is a good work-out. You've got to watch out for your ears." Cameron did not elaborate on whether it was rugby league or rugby union that he had played or whether it was as Eton or Oxford or elsewhere. When asked if he thought Cameron would make a good rugby player, England's Eorl Crabtree replied: "Not with that hairstyle. He would have to change it a little bit. He would have to get rid of that side parting, it would be all over the place."
This week saw the 40th anniversary of Llanelli's historic victory over New Zealand. The Scarlets notched a famous 9-3 victory over the All Blacks at Stradey Park on October 31, 1972 where a try from Roy Bergiers, that was converted by Phil Bennett, and an Andy Hill penalty proved decisive. The Llanelli Star recalled Delme Thomas' legendary pre-match rallying call. The three-time Lion and Grand Slam winner told his fellow players that he would give up everything he had achieved in rugby to secure victory for Llanelli over New Zealand. "I had been part of the Lions squad that defeated the All Blacks a year earlier and I had been on three Lions tours, but I wanted to win desperately that day, so I told the boys I would swap it all for Llanelli to beat New Zealand," he told the newspaper. "I meant every word because beating the All Blacks with my club did mean more to me than anything I had done in the game. The message seemed to hit home."
All-conquering All Blacks
New Zealand touched down in the UK this week for their end of year tour but before boarding their flight they could not resist a squad photo and a chance to parade their hard-earned silverware. They've been so successful that even fly-half Dan Carter appeared to be struggling to name all their trophies in this photo. Can you? If you are stumped - they are the Bledisloe Cup (v Australia), the Dave Gallaher Trophy (v France), the Steinlager Series Cup, the Webb Ellis Cup, the Rugby Championship trophy, The Halberg Award, the Freedom Cup (v South Africa) and the Hillary Shield (v England).
Pulling their weight - and then some
England decamped to their footballing counterparts' luxurious new training base - St George's Park in Burton - this week to being their preparations for the end of year internationals. The £105m hi-tech facility is the official home to England's 24 football sides but officials revealed that the gym had received its first real work-out during the rugby boy's four-day camp. Sensing that their football rivals might be a little shy when it comes to pumping iron, England brought some extra weights with them to make it feel more like home.
Ref raises a smile
Now it is not often that a referee brings a smile to our face so this video was a welcome addition to our week. The official in question is Frenchman Romain Poite who will take charge Wales v Argentina and England v Australia later this month but on this occasion was the man in the middle for the Top 14 clash between Mont-de-Marsan and Bordeaux-Begles. So determined to be in the thick of it, he got a little too close to the action - see below.
© ESPN EMEA Ltd
"The fans could not be happier with the opposition and it adds an exciting element to a game that is shaping up as a thriller." Ben Kay previews the Premiership final showdown
"If there was a cross breed of canine called an Underdogdoodle it would win best in show at Crufts." Mark Durden-Smith looks at the Aviva Premiership Final
With the Lions' tour to Australia fast-approaching, ESPN's Austin Healey and Mark Durden-Smith sat down to share their memories of the 2001 trip Down Under
Ask John answers questions on the Leopards' tour to Italy in 1974, brotherly Test sides, Pat McGrath, England's games against the Barbarians and Jacques Brunel