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Tuesday, 8 October 2019

The Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan – the Rotherham Connections

Japan is wonderful – a beautiful, crazy country, with a warm welcome for rugby fans from all corners of the world. The fact that the home team have been involved in the best matches of the tournament so far has seen the interest and enthusiasm grow, until you can’t find a ticket for a game, or a t shirt to buy as a souvenir! We’ve been here for two weeks, with just one week, and two more live games to go, and it’s been an incredible experience.

We’ve watched the Japanese games in local bars – no chance of actually being at those game with the demand from the home fans being so huge. The celebrations are getting crazier every time, and you have to wonder just how far they can go, especially with the home support being so passionate.

I have to admit that I expected the Japanese team to be one of the casualties early in the group games, not heading the table and moving towards a quarter final place!

When we started planning this trip, about two years ago, we had no idea that the connections to our home club would also be quite so important. The decision to go to Japan was an easy one, as two friends live and work on Kyushu, and we’d been out to see them, and celebrate their weddings to local girls. The connections start there as they both went to school in Rotherham.

Their advice was helpful in planning the trip as we had a limited budget, and time, so the decision to focus on games in the south of the country, travelling mainly by train, helped us get tickets in the ballots for games that didn’t seem to be the most popular. Just how this tournament has grabbed the attention of the locals is easy to see in the huge queues at every game, no seats available and packed out bars in every town and city.

Last season (2018-19) at Rotherham, a young Canadian guy arrived to play in the second row. He’d had a few games for Canada at senior level, but wasn’t a regular in their starting 15. His ambition was to get to Japan and the RWC, and we talked about the chances of this happening as he worked alongside me, and other Rotherham Titans players, in lots of primary schools.

It’s been one of the highlights of our trip, to watch Conor line up for Canada, facing the All Blacks and their haka, and perform so well against the best side in the world. Speaking to him after the game, he’s making memories that will last a lifetime, and he loved the fact that our little club back home were all celebrating with him.

We’ve also seen Chris Harris and Vereniki Goneva out on the pitch and both spent time with our club. The most surprising Rotherham connection has been Lewis Ludlam. A late arrival in Eddie Jones’ squad, he spent part of the 2016/17 season with us on loan as he couldn’t get into a Premiership match-day squad. He looked a good player, always trying hard, but no-one then was looking at him and seeing the potential to be an England star at the RWC just two years later!

I’m just hoping that the final Rotherham link will get a chance in the last few pool games, as Santi Socino, in the Argentinian squad, was one of my favourite players back in that same 16/17 season.

By the time we get home later this month, we will have travelled over 17,000 miles, by plane, bus, and train, plus a fair bit on foot as well, especially when lost! It’s been an epic adventure, seeing the big cities and places on the tourist trail like Kyoto, Nara and Hiroshima, as well as spending time with friends, eating, drinking and catching up on lives lived in a very different way to back home in Rotherham.

As for the rugby, we’ve still got tickets for 2 Wales games, in Oita and Kumamoto, typhoons permitting, so lots of singing, daft fancy dress, weird celebrations and catching more matches on big screens in bars and fanzones. It will be strange to see the final stages back home, in a proper rugby club, early in the mornings, but we will treasure our Japanese memories and then start planning the next rugby adventure.

If you want to see more about Japan and our travels, check out rothshirtontour.wordpress

Thursday, 26 September 2019

Have a beer and STFU

Good job Wayne Barnes is hanging up his whistle after the world cup given there's about you be an influx of new referee talent about to hit leagues all over the world following the World Cup.  He wouldn't get any work.

You know, with all these twitter 'experts' now coming to the forefront it's like they've swallowed a law book all of a sudden.  Its making the games painful to watch or read about. "oooooohh the citing office will be busy this week" oh have a beer and STFU will you, it's sapping all the enjoyment out of the games.  It would appear every tackle now needs to be heavily examined by 3 officials, 30,000 in the stand, the millions on twitter, 16 magnifying glasses, the players mum and second cousin... INDIVIDUALLY and if it's not gone the way you want... the ref is shit and you could do a better job.

After every game there is a social media created controversy, almost a negativity behind every game.  England let ONE try in today once the game was won and their own fans are claiming they're useless and don't stand a chance.  I personally thought that USA try was one of the most entertaining parts of the RWC so far purely due to how comical the handling errors were from both sides.  Claims that England are yet to start their WC are harsh, you play whats infront of you and not picking up an injury against a smash and grab Tonga, defending like bosses and staying clean against a proper up for it USA tells me England are well up for it and oiled for Argentina next week.

Can we from here on in stop being negative ninnys, stop analysing every single tackle and enjoy our beautiful game as this World Cup is already setting the scene to be the best one ever.. even better than 2003 (OMG, I KNOW, I said it...)

We have a day off tomorrow, we're all unsure on what to do with it I know, if you're a woman and fancy popping any thoughts or musings down on paper send me a DM and I'll happily publish you.


Saturday, 21 September 2019

Super Saturday - The ramblings of a rugby Mum!

Super Saturday 
The ramblings of a rugby Mum!

What have I learnt from Super Saturday? I have learnt that my rugby brain will not allow me to sleep in on a game day & that I was wide awake early Saturday am ready to watch.

Fiji would be a side to be feared if they could play with intensity for more than 50 minutes, had more time together as a squad & had fewer players “poached”. 

Argentina were very unlucky and France had multiple penalties which should have led to a yellow which may have had an effect on the result. 

The New Zealand & South Africa game as usual came down to very few mistakes made by the Kiwis who were just more clinical. 

What I also learned is that the “Crisp people” who have adverts during the Rugby World Cup games make no reference to the Women’s Rugby premiership. This would be a perfect opportunity to subliminally enter the mind of the rugby watching public in England to increase the attendance at these games. It is almost as if they do not want it mentioned. So until I see any mention of the Women’s premiership on the adverts or the packets I will not use their name.

Today was the first day of the TP15s. A chance to see how the new summer signings have settled. Most of the games were closer than last years encounters, apart from the encounter in South West London. It was not a faultless performance by Quins but there seemed to be a cohesion already that was absent at times last year. None of the Premiership teams were at full strength with various players missing & Richmond had many players new to this level. You have to admire their hard work determination and never say die attitude & with an away fixture at Saracens next week they will need to keep their resolve.

~ Anon

What was encouraging for the continued evolution of the Women’s game was the development teams all played after the Premiership teams. There were over 500 at The Stoop and given attendance at recent women’s football matches getting people to “show up” has to be the emphasis for the RFU.

What I also learnt was that I have missed watching live rugby and it’s going to be a very long season.

Friday, 20 September 2019

Andddddd we're off

Day 1 complete, well game 1 anyway.

A World in Union, unless you're a daytime TV watcher of course.  Those Loose Women won't know what to do with themselves.  The opening ceremony really highlighted Japans culture and their blossoming love for Rugby.  Involving lots of children like any good opening ceremony, you wonder if any of those children could one day become a rugby legend, afterall, Japan are a nation desperate to be on the main stage and taken seriously and they seem to be doing the right things to make it happen.  This World Cup could propel them there.

Within a few minutes we had a very unexpected Russian score from Kirill Golosnitskiy in just 5 minutes the fastest try in a World Cup opening match.  Written off before they even touched a ball and proved so many of us wrong.  We all assumed Russia will be one of those teams like Uruguay where team's wack 50-60 points on them without breaking a sweat and we have very much been proved wrong.
Luckily for the hosts centre Timothy Lafaele threw a beauty of a backhand pass to Tupou, who pushed Matsushima through for a try on the right wing.  Russia did throw a few potentially problematic kicks in the direction of Japan but they held up and continued to put points on the board.

A few glistening line breaks and more nearly tries than I've seen in a while.  An opening fixture of Japan v Russia I personally didn't think would be a game to get me hooked in but how wrong was I.  I watched the first half secretly from my desk then dashed over to the pub ready for the second half and I was hooked.

Now looking at all of the pools you question if this is the hardest to get out of with Ireland, Scotland and Samoa all eyeballing the knockout stages all of which could easily do it.  This pool will simply be a case of who messes up rather who who blows everyone away.  4 teams including Japan who could potentially top it meaning Russia could have a rough ride but they showcased today how they very much deserve to be playing rugby on the main stage.

SO, onto game 2.  it's now 9.15pm, I have a 5am alarm, as do most of us.


Saturday, 31 August 2019

World Cup Warmed up....

World Cup warm ups can be funny...

All this optimism, we MUST fly their with plenty of wins under our belt etc etc.. but really..  do you?

England's warm ups have overall been great, heavy wins and a small loss away to Wales.  England have rightfully so sheltered some of the must starters the best they can in preperation for Japan, I appreciate a luxury most other nations don't have.

I think I learnt the most and I hope this also is the case for the England coaching staff from the Wales loss rather than the Wales win.

Don't get me wrong, in terms of moral and needing a small ego prior to a World Cup getting on the flight Japan bound with good challenging wins under your belt is so important but from a team selection perspective those losses are just as key knowing what works v what doesn't work be that partnerships, formations, tactics whatever.

The same will apply for Ireland and Wales, their loss to England generated a much bigger performance the following week and the same for Ireland who topped Wales in Cardiff today.  Even if the team changes nothing, a loss generates a new level a player can reach, a new hunger.  Now we just need to hope that they're able to hold onto it until mid September and then the momentum will follow from here.

I'll be honest, following a patchy spell from England of late the World Cup wasn't exciting me... now we're almost at the end of the warm ups, the home nations doing well in the run up and seeing counties touch down in Japan I have a new found optimism, not just for England but for Wales, Scotland and Ireland too...

I think we can all collectively say... BRING IT ON


ps. remember if you want to write a guest blog contact me on twitter at @LadiesITLoose or @WhatKatysSaid

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Why Grassroots Matters...

Why Grassroots matters.

Last weekend I got to fulfil a dream, a once in a lifetime unattainable dream. I got to go to the home of not just English rugby, but the game of rugby. The physics embodiment of our global game, Twickenham.

This wasn’t like the last time I was here on a bleak day in November to see England robbed against the All Blacks. (It was a try.) for every fan a trip to HQ is an experience, be it for an epic 6 national battle or to watch the Baa Baa’s play their unique brand of champagne rugby.

This time the players taking the field would include me amongst their number. Me, a player of just two seasons, a senior in age rather than skill. How did this happen, well it was thanks to NatWest who provide grants to rugby clubs across England. This year they decide to showcase the game at the opposite end of the spectrum to those normally seen on the hallowed turf at Twickenham. The NatWest Grassroots Invitational invited players from across the country to put together a women’s and man’s teams from the North and South. The teams were invited to come together for one training day only before taking the field together on 9th June.

Belatedly I get to my main point. Why grassroots matters. It matters because, yes it’s how we begin those precious few players on their journey to stardom, but it really matters because of what it means to all of us who took part, our families and our clubs. The players all gained new skills and friends for life. Our families got to experience their loved ones on the biggest stage and sit in seats normally reserved for the great and good,  and take those stories home to their friends, colleagues, etc. Our clubs got to have one (or more) of their own actually play at their national stadium, they get to share that message with their other members, the local press and show that in rugby, grassroots matters.

Grassroots matters because it’s for the love of the game, it’s for the friendships made and stories shared, the experiences to come and those gone by, we live by our core values, we like a drink and a singsong and we love our game. Grassroots matters because it is a community and open to everyone. Come down to you local club and see what you’ve been missing.

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Does it really matter?

So, ladies in the loose is a blog on rugby written by women. As it's written by us I feel I should touch on a topic that's effect not only women but men too. It's not about rugby, not really about sport but derived from the below image of Nikes marketing campaign..

I fully expect some to switch off now but if you follow me on twitter @WhatKatySaid you'll see I did briefly touch on the image, what it means to me and what it should mean to society.

So... onto the rant (sort of)

So Nike are now making clothes advertised specifically to plus size women yeh? But little did people know they already catered up to 2XL for women... granted not talked about but just within their normal range. Because of this I have always shopped nike for my active wear. Why? Because it made me feel 'normal' I didn't need to go over to a fat bird section, I could go to a rack, pick up my XL leggings and trot off to the till.

The average UK womens size now is 18. Partly due to clothes getting smaller but also due to waists simply getting larger due to us getting busier or frankly lazier. So if the average is now deemed as 'plus size' why should anyone now be treated differently? Why can't we all have the same clothes, on the same rack at the same price point? Why do I now need to be isolated? Why are there people out there now saying Nike are glorifying obesity? The same people who tell us to get off our arses and exercise are now saying we can't have sufficient clothing to do so?

Why are you any better than me because your clothes are smaller than mine? Why are you allowed an easier accessed life than mine because your clothes are smaller than mine? Why do you feel the need to tell me what I can and cannot wear because your clothes are smaller than mine?

Why can't we live in a world where people just look at a person and see a person? Accept them for what's inside? Not the bingo wings and back fat?

Why can't I buy my clothes the same as everyone else without being worried an internet troll deems that me being able to wear clothes is glorifying obesity?

Why can't we all just be the fekking same? Stop isolating people by colour, race, religion and clothes size!!!

Nike.. thank you.

But there was simply no need.