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Stade Francais have never lost a group match in the Heineken Cup. They have now!

At test match levels in pressure and intensity though not perhaps in technical accomplishment.

The vagaries of the fixture list mean that there is  an added frisson : the return leg at the Twickenham Stoop is next saturday.

It should be a cracker.
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We had a great time at the Harlequins v Coventry match on Saturday. Dad came over to stay and really enjoyed himself. You can read about it, in my match report here:


more later, about new job etc etc.

I definitely don't want to be another one to add to the statistics of those only use LJ for three months and then stop...
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(i was inspired and bored at work..)and this was originally posted on the board at comeallwithin.co.uk

From the desk of our esteemed (he used to play when tries were scored differently) Rugby Correspondent - Charlie Scrumm-Downe

“The Refrigerator sends a chill down Rugby Union’s Spine.”

It appears that the rampant silly season speculation in the transfer market has borne some fruit at last.

William “The Refrigerator” Perry, outhouse-sized star of the classic Eighties Gridiron team, the Chicago Bears is poised to make a summer move to London Harlequins (XV man code) Plc. Inc. Pty. Ltd.

Speaking from his management eyrie at the top of the mile-high South Stand International Conference centre and Health Spa (and soon to be Heathrow Terminal 6) Harlequins Supremo Marc Evans said,

“All of the team at Harlequins are extremely excited that Mr Perry is joining us. We believe that this is a groundbreaking move for Rugby Union in general and will bring much needed attention to the game in London.

We saw the increase in season ticket sales at Cardiff after their signing of Jonah Lomu and thought we can do that too.

We are of course aware that “The Fridge” hasn’t played professional sport since the battle royal at Wrestlemania 2 in 1986 but the coaching team are convinced that he has something valuable to add to the Harlequins brand both on and off the field.”

Standing 6'2" (188 cm) tall and weighing as much as 370 lbs. (168 kg) in his prime, “The Fridge” is short of match fitness and currently weighs a shade more than this.

Andy Friend, first team coach at Quins said,

“We are unsure whether to utilise William’s particular strengths at centre or number eight, and think that we might ‘mix things up’ a bit to keep the opposition guessing. For example, we may choose to play him on the wing in our pre-season game against the Ospreys to ask questions of Shane William’s defensive abilities.”

Harlequin’s Director of Rugby Dean Richards noted at the press conference to announce the signing that,

“Looking for talent outside of Rugby of either code seemed like a natural progression in our forward thinking approach at Harlequins. I was originally targeting the Mongolian-born East Yokozuna, Asashoryu for tight head prop as a way of countering the threat of Sale’s Andy Sheridan but the Japan Sumo Federation blocked the move.”

Speaking from the office of his South Carolina based Construction Company Mr Perry said

“I feel that the desire to win in sport is something that you never lose. I can see myself regaining match fitness quickly with the support of the professional back room team at Quins and making a big impact on rugby union in general. Let’s face it I am only a couple of years older than Gareth Llewellyn and he’s right at the top of his game”.

Mr Perry would not be drawn on whether he intends to stay in London for the full three year residency period in order to become available for selection for England. His granny did once get a postcard from Auchtermuchty so he might yet turn out at Murrayfield.
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Another weekend report for my exclusive readership…

Saturday turned out to be really good fun, even though we had arranged to do one thing and ended up doing another. The whole weekend turned into an extended celebration of Georgina’s 31st birthday. We managed to start festivities by the Saturday lunchtime even though it was officially on the Sunday

Last year I bought Georgina a clever locket in silver and enamel by a jeweller called Nick Hubbard. It is about an inch tall and has a hinged door on the front. This opens to reveal a hidden night sky with moon and stars on a blue enamel field, and the saying “…to the moon and back” engraved on the inner face of the door.

I found this at a jewellery exhibition run by a company called Dazzle (their show is in the Olivier foyer at the National Theatre). They showcase a variety of decorative work, though mainly jewellery, by a large number of artists and manufacturers. This covers work in both precious metals and other materials like glass and feathers etc. By virtue of being on their mailing list, I received an invitation to this year’s preview show with the added bonus of a voucher for a glass of wine. So dear reader, I ask you what would you have done in my place?

Of course we went! The ‘free’ wine was surprisingly good for this sort of event, almost quaffable! The exhibition was good fun and, I thought, more everyday wearable pieces this year than last. Some of the work was very much in the Hollywood red carpet bracket but fun nevertheless. Two things stood out for us, the first was the bracelet that Georgina decided she might quite like for her birthday and the second was a box of curiosities that bore further investigation.

The box was nearly a foot square and no more than a couple of inches deep. It had a wooden carcass and was topped with what looked like a sheet of silver. The silver had been lightly incised so that it looked like an astrological map with marking the orbits of the planets that were inlaid into the top in a variety of metals and stones. The silver lid was spilt into four sections, seemingly irregularly sided with an almost crenellated effect. Inside the box were twelve or thirteen niches containing items wrapped in shagreen (sharkskin?) and salmon leather. Meant by the artist to represent the fruit of a lifetime’s collecting, these included (from memory) an insect in amber, fossils, semi precious stones, crystal and the like. Much too classy to be considered a film prop it was, nevertheless, the sort of item that would grace the living room of a thoughtful wizard or perhaps wealthy retired adventurer. The price? Well the display ticket in the case is marked as POA. I think we overheard one of the staff say £3000 and we assumed that it was for this fine item. Overall, this was an heirloom quality piece that would need a substantial win on the lottery for me to be able to afford but I covet it anyway because of the sense of craftsmanship and thought behind it.

Afterward we wandered along the South Bank, taking in Gabriel’s Wharf where a very fitting Christmas present was bought though I won’t elaborate for obvious reasons. We then investigated the Bankside gallery near the Tate Modern, it is opposite the Founders Arms, a brick Young’s pub that looks like a cross between a gun emplacement and sewage outfall.

The current show at the gallery is in conjunction with Radio 4: the various artists describe having their favourite programmes on playing whilst working in their studios. There was a really broad range of prints, etchings etc some of them even affordable! My favourite was a print by Simon Brett, and one that I thought at first glance was of King Arthur, it was actually of Sigmund and the sword that was broken from the Saga of the Volsungs. I think because it reminded me of Boorman’s Excalibur and the scene where Arthur breaks the sword when duelling with Lancelot. Though having found out more about the Sigmund story the parallels with Narsil and Anduril are pretty clear. These engravings had been commissioned by the Folio Society for their book: Legends of the Ring: Nordic and Germanic legends.

We were then planning to go to see Whiteread’s boxes at the Tate but got sidetracked after a location report on the England v NZ rugby game from Simon who was ensconced in the Rising Sun pub in Richmond baiting Kiwi fans. We ended up in Feng Sushi at Borough Market whose improvements are impressive but there is an almost visible aura of gentrification about the place, there were two new pub/bar/restaurant things within 20 yards of Feng Sushi that weren’t there the last time I went to the Market Porter. Vegetable Tempura + Mackerel sushi + green tea = perfect feast for a crisp cold day.

The rest of the evening was passed trying to find a pub in Richmond that had any space, we actually sat outside the White Cross down by the riverside despite the chill and heavy dew, followed by a delicious trip to Gourmet Burger Kitchen. According to one newspaper report the three people who originally set up the first restaurants have sold out for £10 million, and the venture capital firm is looking to roll out 40 restaurants in the next couple of years: go before the accountants ruin it.

Sunday was another day of rugby, though more importantly it was Georgina’s birthday. We had a big Sunday lunch in the St Margaret’s Tavern, with a whole group of us: Me, George, Simon, Helen, Tracey, Emma, Chris, Jim and George’s boss Dorne and her husband Patrick showed up toward the end. We then waddled down the road just managing to get to the Stoop for the start of the Harlequins versus Cornish Pirates game.

This was a cracking clash between the two teams at the top of the ND1 table and was hard fought in the first half. After the break the Pirates made the running for the first few minutes perhaps having realised during half-time that they couldn’t defend for the entire game. They broke forward and got into our 22 which hadn’t happened much in the first half, but almost immediately the threat was cleared. Soon after the Quins were pressurising at the other end, and the Pirates replacement lock (who had only been on the pitch for about two minutes!) was sin-binned for a professional foul. This was the turning point of the game. Although the momentum in terms of possession and territory had thus far been firmly in Harlequins’ favour they had not been able to breach the Pirates determined defence. Having an extra man on the pitch allowed Quins to take the initiative and they scored two tries during the sin-binning. Soon after the bonus point for scoring four tries was achieved and the game was rounded off with another to leave the final score 50 – 6 in Quins favour.

This was a powerful performance from the Quins team and given that the tie was billed as one of the sternest games this season demonstrated that Quins are making the most of the resources that they possess. There are tough games coming up, including Bedford away, but there is now the real possibility that the team will go through the season undefeated. However the return game at Kenwyn versus the Pirates now seems like a mouth watering prospect, and there is always the possibility that we could meet them again in the Powergen Trophy perhaps even in the final at Twickenham. But first it is Samoa on Wednesday night and then Bridgwater and Albion in the cup away on Saturday, both good chances for those in the Academy and on the fringes of the first XV to stake their claim for a regular place.


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May 2009

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