Baker boys, bust-ups, hashtags and saddle sores
May 18, 2012
Quins' Will Skinner shows off his all-conquering Victoria sponge © Twitter
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.
The icing on the cake
At this time of year, the words "rugby player" and "cooked" are normally the preseve of end-of-season drinking sessions but not at title-chasing Harlequins where flanker Will Skinner has seen off the challenge of team-mate Mark Lambert to be crowned 'Champion Cake-Maker'. We kid you not. The duo were joined by Olly Kohn, Rob Buchanan, Joe Marler, Matt Hopper and Nick Evans in the event that benefited Sport Relief and the Rugby Players' Associations' Benevolent Fund.
"We have a forwards baking club at Harlequins so I knew the forwards wouldn't let the side down," explained Lambert, whose Victoria Sponge wasn't quite up to the task. "On top of this, we've raised loads of money for Sport Relief and the RPA Benevolent Fund which is the icing on the cake!"
"Just very sad scenes"
Some notable work from some TV cameramen this past week. There was the brave soul who ventured in for a close-up following Joe Marler's crucial try for Harlequins against Northampton only to be told: "Oi! P*** off! The game's on!" But our vote goes to the foolish cameraman who ventured into the middle of a fiery brawl between the Stormers and Cheetahs during their Super Rugby clash.
Twitter was a hive of activity this week after rugby clothing company Dump Tackle threw down a hashtag gauntlet. Tasked with blending the big screen and the game we love, users did not disappoint. Among our favourites were: 'Moulin Rougerie', 'Dude, Where's My Kearney?' and 'The Good, The Bad and Leo Cullen'.
The world is watching - or maybe not
RaboDirect PRO12 officials announced with some fanfare this week that the season finale between Leinster and Ospreys later this month will be broadcast in more than 80 countries. So don't be too concerned if your summer holidays are taking you to the likes of Malta, Somalia or Mongolia - someone in those countries will be broadcasting the game - good luck finding a pint of Guinness or Brains. And not to be outdone, European Rugby Cup bosses soon trumped that offering with the news that this weekend's Heineken Cup finale is set to be shown in around 125 countries. But why you would want to be anywhere but at Twickenham, the pub, or your front room come Saturday afternoon is beyond us.
The Irish invasion
Around 20,000 fans are expected to make the trip from Belfast and Dublin to Twickenham this weekend for the Heineken Cup final showdown between Leinster and Ulster. Leading the way will be Neil McConkey who left his home in east Belfast on Tuesday and began cycling to the big game. The BBC reports that the only long rest he will get on the 1,200-mile round-trip is the boat crossing to Liverpool. "I'm hoping some 'lubrication' will help ease the pain ahead of kick-off once I get to the match," he said.
If Carlsberg did pre-season fixtures
If you didn't know already, Premiership side Saracens do things a little differently to everyone else. Whether it is a mid-season break in Miami or Cape Town, team bonding at the Munich beer festival and the 'El Clasico' clash between Barcelona and Real Madrid, or the chance for a fan to kick for a £250,000 windfall - the free-thinking Sarries are no strangers to the headlines. To this growing list of eye-catching exploits we can now add their pre-season schedule that will take them to Buenos Aires in Argentina for back-to-back clashes with La Plata. We are only surprised it does not coincide with the Pumas' Rugby Championship debut against South Africa.
Not too sweaty please
Ulster and Leinster T-shirts are already being sold in Dublin airport with the tag 'European Champions' printed. So what happens if you see your team lose in Twickenham? Well there's a money back guarantee but with the disclaimer - 'Can be worn, but not too sweaty please'.
"Confidence isn't something that I lack"
Some good news to report that was also greeted warmly by the great and the good of the rugby world on Twitter. Reds fly-half Quade Cooper will make his long-awaited return to action this weekend for the first time since his knee reconstruction. Coooper hasn't played since rupturing his anterior cruciate during the World Cup but has lost none of his swagger. "Confidence isn't something that I lack," he quipped this week.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"If I miss the first kick of the match, it shouldn't have any impact on the second. They are different entities." Tom Hamilton talks to Northampton Saints' Stephen Myler
It's time for those running Welsh rugby to stop trying to prevent its players heading to France and to start planning a future without them, writes Martin Williamson
Paul Eddison explains how the French sold English clubs down the river and why their domestic game will go from strength to strength
'Nothing can prepare you for the noise of the Millennium Stadium though, you just can't hear anything." Tom Hamilton talks to Cory Allen