All Blacks dating agency, papal curses and tackling drag queens
April 22, 2012
Sartorial shocker: England Sevens stars Chris Cracknell and Michaela Staniford model the RFU's latest questionnable kit - we're not sure what the wigs and glasses are all about © RFU
Welcome to the first edition of The Sin Bin - our new regular feature that will bring 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.
Henry to play cupid?
Graham Henry said goodbye to the All Blacks in the wake of their recent Rugby World Cup triumph but it appears he can't stop caring about the welfare of his former charges - in particular Richie McCaw. Henry went all Midnight Caller earlier this week as a guest host on Radio Live in his native New Zealand during which he interviewed McCaw.
Henry opted to grill his long-time captain about his love life and asked if there was a lucky lady in his life. "There's actually none at the moment. I'm still on the lookout," said McCaw, surely considered New Zealand's most eligible bachelor since team-mate Dan Carter's decision to tie the knot with Honor Dillon last year. Henry suggested he put out an advert, to which McCaw responded: "Sounds good Ted, you can vet them all."
You may have heard about the urban legend that suggests a pope dies whenever Wales win a Grand Slam - what do you mean you haven't? In 2008, a pair of Welsh doctors dug into the history books and discovered that of eight Roman Catholic pontiffs who had died since 1883, five passed on in a year when Wales claimed a clean sweep in the battle for the northern hemisphere crown. Now, word reaches ESPNscrum Towers, courtesy of AFP, that it is reportedly 'gaining statistical ground' with Edward Snelson, a paediatrician at the Sheffield Children's Hospital, finding cause to pen a letter to the British Medical Journal (BMJ).
With his tongue planted firmly in his cheek, he wrote: "This year saw the death of the Coptic pope, Shenouda III, on the very day that Wales won the grand slam. He was pope for 41 years and succeeded Cyril VI, who died in 1971, in the same month that Wales won the Grand Slam again." The observant Snelson added: "Although the association between these deaths and the sporting events may not be fully understood, this research has created a false reassurance and may be putting the lives of other popes at risk."
Rugby player who 'woke up gay' after stroke
Famed American author Mark Twain once urged us to "never let the facts get in the way of a good story" and it is a saying we were reminded of this week when a headline in the The Daily Mail caught our eye. 'Rugby player who 'woke up gay' after stroke' offered the tantalising intro before recounting the story of '19-stone rugby player Chris Birch' who suffered a stroke during a freak accident and found his sexuality had completely altered when he regained consciousness. A little further reading revealed the stroke did not happen whilst playing rugby while a quick cross-check with the original story - that emanated from a BBC3 documentary - tells us that the 'old' Chris was merely a 'rugby fan'.
This also reminded us of the upcoming Bingham Cup - the 'world championship of gay and inclusive rugby teams' that is set to be staged in the UK in June. Named after gay rugby player Mark Bingham who died on United Airlines Flight 93 on September 11, the tournament is set to welcome teams from 15 countries ranging from Australia and Canada to France and Portugal.
Big-hitting boom takes down drag queen
Another cracking headline - and this time with equalling entertaining video. The clip of Bath's Olly Barkley taking down a pitch invader during his side's Aviva Premiership defeat to Sale last weekend is a monster hit on YouTube having racked up almost half a million views.
With stewards apparently in no rush to eject the man - wearing a blonde wig and blue dress - a clearly frustrated Barkley - who saw his side slump to a 16-9 loss to the Sharks - took the matter into his own hands and dumped the clown on his backside. A textbook tackle as well as you can see below:
Tweets and tweaks
Question marks still surround the likely return to action for Wallabies playmaker Quade Cooper following the serious knee injury he suffered at last year's Rugby World Cup and with the Reds struggling in the defence of their Super Rugby crown it could not come soon enough.
We have no doubt he has adopted an intense re-hab regime but he clearly still has plenty of time to keep his 420,000+ Twitter followers entertained. His tweeting exploits never fail to cause a stir with his efforts to organise an impromptu game of touch rugby sure to have sent shockwaves through the Reds' camp. The 24-year-old, who has been sidelined for six months following surgery, subsequently tweaked his injured knee during the game in question but the damage was only minor.
Thankfully he was soon back up and running - and tweeting:
Foden in stag night strip
There was a time not so long ago that an England player drunk in a nightclub would knock the world off its axis but not on this occasion. Northampton Saints fullback Ben Foden even got his kit off but it still failed to cause the sort of seismic shock felt throughout the country following Mike Tindall's eventful night out in Queenstown during the 2011 World Cup.
'Star cavorts behind back of Saturdays' Una' spilled The Sun's intro in reference to his pop-singing girlfriend who recently gave birth to their first child. England boss Stuart Lancaster wasted no time in cracking down on the squad's off-field exploits on taking up his post - to which Danny Care and Delon Armitage will testify - but given the lack of action on the part of the RFU since his exploits came to light, it appears his actions fall within the required standards of behaviour - if not decency. We sense he may be in more trouble with his wife-to-be rather than his national coach.
England plumbed new depths with their latest playing kit that was unveiled this week. We all remember the purple change strip a couple of years ago, then there was the anthracite (grey to you and me) number and now we have the purple and day-glow stripe combo. Suppose it is alright if you are cycling home after burning up the Sevens stage I guess. Bring back the Tequila Sunrise - all is forgiven.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September