Posts Tagged ‘ Europe ’

Welsh Regions Warm Up

What a difference a few weeks makes, or does it? Going into this year’s Heineken Cup, all the talk surrounding the Welsh regions was one of pre-emptive disappointment, a funeral parade held in advance of the inevitable crashing and burning of the so called professional elite of the Welsh rugby community. Well, two rounds in and the Welsh regions, over two competitions stand undefeated. Unlike in previous seasons, this is not a case of remaining undefeated by virtue of only having defeated fellow Celtic League cohorts or Italian regions, no, this time the Welsh regions stand undefeated over the elite of Europe, English and French clubs no less!

Now, while it is far too soon to start hailing this as anything more than a couple of very good weekends for Welsh professional rugby, it can at the very least be seen as something very promising. This is not just Welsh teams putting in backs to wall defences at home to secure their victories either, this is Welsh teams going into the backyards of England and France’s best, and winning with conviction. There is even a growing sense of frustration that some Welsh teams are not offering enough in their victories. The Cardiff Blues for instance were pointed by the BBC punditry as disappointing in their victory over London Irish. Regardless of the man advantage, this was the Blues beating London Irish, a Welsh team beating an English team, in Europe, and we are disappointed in them. Not so very long ago we would, as collective followers of Welsh rugby, have sat back in stoic acceptance, that a defeat in Europe to the English or French was just an accepted norm, to be frustrated by yes, but not so much to take disappointment from. Now we win, and we are disappointed, maybe the Gatland/New Zealand mentality is asking something of the fans as well as of the players these days.

Of course, no Welsh team is going to win either European Cups on the back of these performances alone, but for the first time in many years, we conclude the first round of European fixtures with all Welsh teams still competing in their groups, and in most cases, running the show so far. Is this a knock on effect from the Welsh teams’ relative success at RWC2011? Is this perhaps an indication that in terms of development, the regional system is actually producing some positive results? After all, look over the Scarlets line-up that looked so strong against a Northampton team lacking in cohesion, it was young, it was Welsh, and much of it was home grown. Again, it’s not a team that has won anything yet, but the signs are certainly promising. Whatever the reason, it is a heady position to be in, to have four competitive Welsh teams in Europe’s elite rugby competitions.

We will all wait with baited breath to see how these performances develop, as ones of consistent success or flash in the pan victories that will ultimately be forgotten. Yet, the displays produced by talented Welsh teams so far should bring smiles to the collective fan base. More so because these are performances being delivered by teams containing very few of the men who starred in red in New Zealand. Wales has an excellent first international XV, but game by game, the regions seem to be showing that there is an increasingly talented pool of players knocking on the door, and that, more than initial success in rounds 1 and 2 of the Heineken, should be a reason to smile at this point in the season.

 

After this was first drafted the Ospreys managed to embarrass themselves into a draw in Italy, however, even that result should bring some cheer, as promising young outside half Matthew Morgan saved the blushes of the outift…though that might be clutching at straws on that particular game…

The Eurozone Crises – So, to War then?

Ever since this Greek financial debacle got underway, I’ve found it increasingly difficult to prevent Sharpe style dreams infiltrating my sleep, as visions of a Napoleonic Europe seem to get closer and closer. It’s a vision not helped by a seemingly unhinged, unnervingly short Frenchman, merrily declares that if things aren’t sorted with the Eurozone, then Europe will explode. This is not long after a stern authoritarian German, who seems to have the whole of Europe bending at the knee to her fiscal power, came out with very similar sentiments. With the powers in play, and the stakes so high, is it time to have some real concerns about what is actually meant by the phrase ‘Europe will Explode’?

Now, this may be letting my imagination run away with things, but I would like to suggest that the phrase ‘Europe Will Explode’ can, and indeed does, mean only one thing – war. France and Germany seem to be spoiling for it, after all, Germany is so close to the total victory it has craved over Europe for so long, that the slow grind of absolute financial dominance might just be proving a fractionally too slow a process for their ambition to cope with. Of course the new Boney won’t stand for that and will have to meet the German challenge with usual French posturing. Italy has her issues, but Berlusconi has essentially modelled much of his political approach on that of Mussolini’s already, and given that he is close to exhausting all legal routes to holding onto power, as well as all legal loopholes, a full scale war would be the ideal tool for him to make use of to remain in the seat of power.

The UK is of course doing what it does best in preparation, staying behind the sea defences and pointing lots of fingers. ‘Don’t do that with the Euro’, ‘please don’t do that to it’, and when all falls on deaf ears the same sentiments will be backed up with a firmly worded letter.

Of course, we need something to fight over, hating the fact that we all have to work together as ‘Europeans’, while being a reason, is probably not quite reason enough to trigger a war (but not by much), so why not over Greece. Greece, in terms of the amount of money that has been directed into its coffers, must be one of the most on-paper affluent nations in the world by now. Even if it squandered all of the billions dropped on its doorstep, it has assets enough to go around, I’m sure for instance that the British Museum would like to finish off its collection to classical Greek friezes, and what better opportunity to go and pick up what Elgin left behind than a war.

So there we have it, the big players all have reason enough, the respective world leaders are generally barmy or desperate enough to get on board, and of course, nothing artificially stimulates an economy better than a good ol’ fashioned war. It’s how we solved these problems back in the day, and let’s face it, diplomacy and fiscal measures just aren’t cutting the mustard. So get your muskets ready, and don the caps, Europe is about to blow, and it’s going to blow Napoleonic style!   

The Royal Family is the Single Most Important Thing In the World – BBC.

Staggering really, staggering on a number of levels. Here we are, the world as we know it, buckling under the weight of 7billion hungry mouths, all of them scrabbling around for what remains of the world’s currency, which is not much given that so much of it is being pushed around in Greek wheelbarrows, the eastern world is sinking under successive waves of floodwater, while the middle eastern nations are taking it in turns to cut the heads off of successive world leaders, and the top story, the very top story according to the BBC, is the rules regarding succession to the Royal throne, are being tweaked. So important a story this is, that David Cameron, a man who one might expect to be focused on tackling his own parties internal squabbling, or the fact that the leaders of the European nations seem to be attempting to forewarn the world that the good ol’ days of the Napoleonic Wars are about to come back (presumably led by a host of nations looking to recoup their financial losses by simply invading Greece to take it all back), is flapping around in Australia, kissing the royal arse as if this is the most pressing matter on the world stage today.

It’s hard to gauge which is more disgusting, the fact that the leader of British politics is wasting what seems an incredible amount of time and resources during a crippling period of economic austerity, to reword some mind bendingly irrelevant pages of documentation regarding who gets to stand where when the inbreds line up to sit in a chair and wear a shiny piece of metal the moment the previous inbred drops dead from a well covered up case of hereditary syphilis, or whether it is more outrageous that the BBC should commit so much air time and debate (at time of writing, ‘Girls equal in throne succession – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-15492607, is the top story on the BBC website) to a story that surely can have no more relevance to British or World society today than whether or not I put socks on today.

Seriously the BBC, the fact that I chose to put on a pair of black socks as opposed to the blue with green trim socks that I briefly pondered upon this morning, is as, if not more, socially relevant to Britain and worthy of ‘top story’ billing, than the rights of some royal tart to follow in the footsteps of some royal twat. Cameron, the BBC, get a hold of yourselves. The World is on the cusp of falling over itself and crushing us all when it lands, and you think that this is what we all want to hear about?

To summarise, The BBC = Idiots, David Cameron = Idiot, the Royal Family = Socially irrelevant idiots.