Sunday, March 30, 2008

Five Foot Ace of Clubs

Great YouTube clip of a fake David Blaine.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Rugby Notes

A great win for Ebbw Vale over the evil townies Newport last night. Ebbw ran out 16-12 winners in a great performance reminiscent of the last home game against Pontypridd. Strange, then, that there was the anomaly of the dismal performance at Llandovery in between. Glad I missed that one.

Hit again by three players on Sevens international duty (the Lewis boys and Simon Hunt), the team bounced back from the 31-22 defeat by the Drovers in great fashion. Again the defence was immense, organised by Kristian Owen, John Bowd had another storming game and led the pack well.

Here’s a report from the Ebbw website website.

It was as if Llandovery had never happened. Ebbw picked up where they left off against Pontypridd a couple of Fridays ago, with the forwards in aggressive, controlled mode and the backs tackling tigerishly. The final score flattered Newport as Ebbw controversially had what looked like two perfectly good tries disallowed. In the first half, John Bowd, who had a superb game, crashed over and appeared to ground the ball successfully, only for a Newport defender to arrive late - but before the referee - and get under it. The second incident, late in the match, followed a wondeful break by Aaron Bramwell who was halted just a couple of metres short of the Newport line by Adam Frampton's excellent cover tackle. Ebbw recycled quickly and the ball reached Andre McLaughlan who had an easy run in. What happened next was the subject of some debate: there's no doubt that McLaughlan tried to get behnd the posts to offer an easier conversion but then decided to ground the ball because he was tackled. He appeared to do so successfully, the touch judge agreed, but the referee decided that he'd slid over the dead ball line and ruled the try out. While these decisions didn't affect the game's result, they did deny Ebbw a bonus point and allow Newport one.

It was 13 - 6 at half time, Ian George and Richard Wilkes scoring close range tries after controlled drives and, although Bryan Shelbourne missed the conversions, he did slot a penalty. Newport hadn't threatened the Ebbw try line but had Dan Griffiths to thank for a penalty and well struck drop goal that gave Newport a brief lead. The same player repeated the sequence after half time and Newport went very close to crossing the try line when livewire scrum half Andrew Quick ran turnover ball but was tackled into touch as he dived for the line. Down to 14 men with John McPhail in the bin, Ebbw had to fight hard to keep the visitors out of drop goal / penalty range and managed to do so, Griffiths' long range attempts falling short. In the end it was a Shelbourne penalty that settled the affair. For the third time this season - Glamorgan Wanderers and Bedwas were the others - a late yellow card for an opposing front row forward led to the farce of uncontested scrums, immediately removing the advantage Ebbw Vale should have had. Never mind the ELVs, law makers should look at this oft-abused sanction!

Scrum half Gareth WIlliams, on permit from Neath, shone for the Steelmen and formed a very effective partnership with Bryan Shelbourne, while the pack had the better of the forward battle with John Bowd leading by example and Matthew Griffin always in the thick of the action.

So here’s my solution to the passive scrum situation: if there are passive scrums because one of the only two ‘fit’ props is in the bin, then the prop should have to play and another player serve his time in the bin. I reckon that the other team should be able to pick who should go off, which may discourage teams to be sneaky (cheat? surely not) with the rules in future.

Team: A McLaughlan, J Williams, K Owen, A Bramwell, A Bevan, B Shelbourne, G Williams, I George, R Wilkes (M Williams 74), A Lott, M Griffin, W Jones, N Aiono (R Dicks 71), J McPhail, J Bowd (captain).

Scorers: Tries for Ian George and Richard Wilkes, and two penalties for Bryan Shelbourne

Man of the match: Gareth Williams, the scrum half on permit from Neath.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Rugby Notes

The pitch was heavy, it was foggy and it rained hard – perfect conditions at Eugene Cross Park for a valleys derby between Ebbw Vale and Pontypridd.

After a string of poor (ands sometimes unlucky) results, Ponty must have made themselves favourites. But they struggled to come to terms with the conditions and Ebbw’s defence, and never really threatened to take control of the game. Ebbw ran out 13-6 winners.

The foggy first half saw the bizarre sight: the ball disappearing into the foggy gloom after a huge kick by Andrew McLaughlan. Everyone stopped for a moment until it reappeared and normal service was resumed. Ebbw’s defence was magnificent again, and the pack, missing lineout guru Neil Edwards, had a good game led by John Bowd and dominated at scrum-time.

Makeshift flyhalf Bryan Shelbourne organised things well, and Nio Aiono made some storming runs in the loose. Ponty scored first but Ebbw responded well and from half-time on there really only looked like being one winner.

There’s a match report on the Ebbw Vale website and on, and one sentence in Saturday’s Western Mail, the paper that sponsors the league. It couldn’t find room amongst its 16 pages of build up to the Wales/France game to report on the rugby that provides the players to the national team. A disgrace.

Next game is now traditional bank holiday “local derby” game at Llandovery on Easter Saturday, and the following Tuesday, 25 March, Ebbw host Newport.

Scorers: All the points went to Simon Hunt, a great individual try, a conversion and a couple of penalties.

Man of the Match: As Danny Cipriani would have it “the whole pack from one to eight should been ***ing men of the match”.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Cricket Notes

Best cricket highlight of the winter. Andrew Symonds deals with a streaker during the recent Australia v India test match. Richie Benaud's commentary is priceless.

Music Notes

Here's a spoof video of Nickeback's "I want to be a rockstar". This one is called "I want to be a pop star". Very funny. Now that's what YouTube is for.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Rugby Notes

What a disappointing game. Ebbw Vale travelled to lowly Bedwas last Saturday, and came away with a 20-23 loss.

With a howling gale blowing down the ground towards the clubhouse, it was always going to the proverbial ‘game of two halves’ and everyone realised that the game would boil down to who could make best use of the elements.

Ebbw were never in the game in the first half playing into the wind, and were lucky to end the first half only 20-0 down.

'International' referee Huw Watkins had a shocker of a game, spending more time preening than refereeing. He stopped the game to remind coaches about how many could stand in the ‘technical zone’ and how many could sit in the dugout.

Then he decided to referee the crowd as well. After the touch judge made a mark for a lineout, the Bedwas forwards stood directly on the mark. Rather than get them to move back a yard, the touch judge moved downfield. When an Ebbw fan in the crowd pointed this out to the touch judge, the referee waded in and threatened to send off the spectators and demanded to see club officials.

All the while the stop-start game was dying on its backside.

The second half was better for Ebbw although an injury to Neil Edwards slowed lineout possession and a cynical move by Bedwas to ask for passive scrums in the last minutes of the game following a prop’s yellow-carding spoilt any chance of Ebbw making its forward superiority count.

On the stroke of full time Ebbw got their third try which tied the game at 20-20. However, the ref somehow conspired to find 11 minutes of injury time in the second half, which allowed Bedwas to claim a late penalty and kick the winning points.

There are match reports on the websites of Ebbw Vale RFC and the South Wales Andrex.

Scorers: Tries for Ian George, Anthony Lott and Gareth Maule. One penalty and one conversion for sub Simon Hunt.

Man of the Match: Matt Griffin, for a pile of hard graft.

Next game: home to Pontypridd on Friday night, 7:30 kick off.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Ava's Diary

29 February – I had a bad bout of colic, and rather than suffer in silence I made sure that Mam and Dad knew. They comforted me all evening, until I eventually fell asleep around 11.

1 March – Catching up on my sleep today. Dad took me to my first rugby match: Bedwas v Ebbw Vale. I cried when Bedwas scored their first try, but slept the rest of the time. I told that I didn’t miss anything that could be called rugby. Slept through a trip to Tesco’s too.

2 March – Mother’s Day. I was well organised and remembered to get flowers, chocs and the latest Foo Fighters CD for Mam. They were all well received too. Visited Nanna Ena in the afternoon.

3 March - Learning to smile now, especially when Mam comes to get me out of my Moses basket in the morning.