I thought I’d take it upon myself to write a Blog each month as we’ve entered 2014. Its been an interesting 2013 for me, and a hard one, but 2014 is going to be just as challenging as I try to help Bristol Rugby to promotion and transition in their business. I’ll be continuing with my TV career with the Scrum V Team doing analysis, studio work and the Six Nations Statpad and I’ll be trying to develop the Rugby Nation Radio Show as best I can. On top of this I am writing for online coaching resource Rugby Coaching Weekly and Ireland’s Rugby Magazine, Emerald Rugby as well as public speaking at clubs and societies. Oh and my family might need to see me too!!
Get in touch for comments, bookings etc HERE or Tweet me @_SeanHolley . Here goes….
The first two games in January 2014 for my current club Bristol were the 5th and 6th Rounds of the British and Irish Cup. The first was a special occasion for me personally as my home club Aberavon RFC travelled for the return fixture to the Memorial Ground. Following the “Hole-Gate” incident at the Talbot Athletic Ground earlier in the season and then the replay in which a strong Bristol team completed a 78-0 victory, Aberavon brought a young team to ‘The Mem’ that contained many young Ospreys Development players including the likes of Ross Jones, Dafydd Howells and Nicky Thomas. Bristol still managed to play some attractive rugby and scored 10 tries in an emphatic 64-8 win that ensured qualification into the Quarter Finals. For the Match Report CLICK HERE
The occasion was made all the more special for me as a large group of mates – all of whom are Aberavon supporters – travelled to Bristol to sample some hospitality and enjoy the game. Despite the result, as you can see, these boys like to enjoy themselves at the rugby!
The final Pool Match was in Leeds at the Headingly ground. Leeds Carnegie, under the experienced eye of Sir Ian McGeechan, are developing a strong squad and a positive style of play. We were a bit rusty with players like Ross Johnston, Nick Robinson, Bryan Rennie and Ben Mosses playing their first games for a while, but the team grew stronger as the game went on and although out scoring Leeds by 3 tries to 2, we had to settle for a losing bonus point which however was enough to guarantee a home Quarter Final in the B&I Cup.
For the Match Report CLICK HERE
Lots of credit has to go to our coaches Matt Ferguson and Matt Sherrat whom have both taken a lot of responsibility in the preparation of the teams for this tournament. Matt “Jockey” Sherrat however needs to find a new chair for his Press Conferences (see picture below)
After a short but well deserved break for the players after the Moseley match on the 28th December, it was time to get them back together and into the thick of things again. As a bit of a team bonding session they went bowling. Have to say Adrian Jarvis and Ruki Tipuna have had mis-spent childhoods!!
It’s a difficult time for lots of players now as the season pushes on especially with new contracts up for grabs and the ever increasing speculation over new signings at Bristol Rugby.
The good news for fans however is that there have been some excellent signings for next year with Dwayne Peel signing from Sale and Anthony Perenise arriving from Bath. Both are tremendous acquisitions to the squad.
Coaching Cwmavon RFC Juniors
It was great to take some time out recently to go along and help coach Cwmavon RFC Under 13’s. Coached by a former Aberavon team mate of mine John Jardine and Julian Page whom I played a few youth games with, the boys turned out for the session on a wet and windy Friday night at my old school Duffryn Comprehensive. I thoroughly enjoyed the session and was impressed with the standard and commitment of the players. They have been going well this season so I wish them all the best for continued success. Here’s some photos from the night courtesy of coach Nigel Rees:
Sinair Award Evening
It was a privilege to be asked recently to host the Annual Sinclair Group End of Year Awards. Held at the Vale Resort, it really was a happy occasion and the company seems to be going from strength to strength. Employees were honoured for their hard work, diligence and outstanding performance throughout 2013.
One of the highlights of my night was being able to sit with the sister of my good mate Jonathan Humphreys – now coach of Scotland and her husband Ed. Thanks to all at Sinclair Group for making my job easy and making me so welcome.
Rugby Nation Radio Show
During January 2014 we’ve had some great guests on Rugby Nation. Gloucester bound Richard Hibbard was his usual charming and humble self. You can listen to the Podcast by clicking HERE
There was a surprise visit from former Welsh Rugby Union Group Chief Executive David Moffett – over in Wales again to try and resolve the Welsh Rugby Crisis with his own personal crusade. This was a very interesting show! You can check out this Podcast by clicking HERE
Most recently we were paid a visit by former Scarlets, Leeds, Brive and Wales No.8 Alix Popham and his lovely wife Jo who were promoting a charity bike ride called Gavin2Stacey organised by their new company Ripped Events.
As the Six Nations approaches Rugby Nation will continue to get great guests, deal with the issues and news and involve the listens as much as possible. We may even venture out on the road very soon !
RRW & WRU Row
It has been a nightmare time for Welsh Rugby with the major disputes between the Regions and the Union. I wrote a recent article for the Emerald Magazine in Ireland and in it I suggested a potential Wales XV for next season. It looks like this:-
15 Lee Halfpenny (Toulon)
14 George North (Northampton Saints)
13 Jonathan Davies (Clermont Auvergne)
12 Jamie Roberts (Racing Metro)
11 Tom James (Exeter Chiefs)
10 Rhys Priestland (Wasps/Gloucester??)
9 Mike Phillips (Racing Metro)
1 Paul James (Bath Rugby)
2 Richard Hibbard (Gloucester)
3 Adam Jones (????)
4 Bradley Davies (Wasps)
5 Ian Evans (Toulon)
6 Dan Lydiate (Racing Metro)
7 Sam Warburton (W.R.U.)
8 Jonathan Thomas (Worcester Warriors)
16 Ed Shervington (Worcester Warriors)
17 Rhys Gill (Saracens)
18 Luke Charteris (Perpignan)
19 Andries Pretorius (Worcester Warriors)
21 Dwayne Peel (Bristol Rugby)
22 James Hook (Perpignan)
23 Gavin Henson (Bath Rugby)
But its when you dig a bit deeper that the worry for the depth in the Welsh game is highlighted. How about if this side played in the Pro 12. How do you think it would do ?
15 Martyn Thomas (Gloucester Rugby)
14 Phil Dollman (Exeter Chiefs)
13 Sonny Parker (London Welsh)
12 Ceri Sweeney (Exeter Chiefs)
11 Aled Brew (Biarritz)
10 Owen Williams (Leicester Tigers)
9 Martin Roberts (Bath Rugby)
1 Rhys Gill (Saracens)
2 Dan George (Gloucester Rugby)
3 Cai Griffiths (London Welsh)
4 Dominic Day (Bath Rugby)
5 Jonathan Mills (Sale Sharks)
6 Keiran Murphy (Brive)
7 James Merriman (Bristol Rugby)
8 Gareth Delve (Japan)
And then a bit further…..how would this lot do in say, the British & Irish Cup ?
15 Barry Davies (Coventry)
14 Ryan Edwards (Bristol)
13 Dan Newton (London Scottish)
12 Nick Macleod (Sale Sharks)
11 Rheon James (Cornish Pirates)
10 Nick Robinson (Bristol Rugby)
9 Darren Allinson (London Irish)
1 Nathan Trevett (London Welsh)
2 Ross Johnston (Bristol)
3 Eifion Lewis Roberts (Sale Sharks)
4 Mike Powell (Moseley)
5 Shaun Jones (Leeds Carnegie)
6 Nathan Thomas (Hartpury College)
7 Ed Siggery (Ealing Trailfinders)
8 Rhys Oakley (Plymouth)
I could easily list quite a few more such as Matthew Jones at Coventry RFC and Matthew Jarvis at Nottingham RFC, Rhys Buckley at Moseley RFC and so on. My point is that all of these players are lost to the game in Wales and could be fuelling and enhancing the depth charts and the standards underneath and in Regional Rugby. As it stands the situation in domestic competitions is that NO Welsh Region is in a European Quarter Final, NONE will likely reach the LV Cup Semi Finals, only Pontypridd RFC have reached the B&I Cup Quarter Finals (to their huge credit) and realistically only one Region has the ‘possibility’ to make the Top 4 in this years Pro 12 competition. Wales WILL do well in the 6N and the RWC but it’s looking a bit like the England cricket team from a few years back with no-one playing in or watching County Cricket…and we all know whats happening to the England cricket team !
I’ve really been enjoying the “Man in the Truck” work this season, and particularly over the Xmas Derbies. The Six Nations again means its StatPad time again so I’ve got my hands full turning around the Stats from the games to the studio along with clips and analysis for the next days programme. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes and I was particularly excited to do my first voice-over for the 6N Preview show recently. Hope you can tune in and enjoy the Shows.
See you for my next Blog in February. Enjoy your rugby!