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Gladders on a Bike – One year on

With last Thursday the 15th October being the one year anniversary of my arrival in Argentina and  Monday the 19thbeing the actual start  of the cycling and the departure date from Ushuaia, I thought I‘d give you an update on the trip. Some of you will already know that I am currently in Chile, on the coast about 75miles west of Santiago, in a place called Concon.

My trip has taken me across Tierra del Fuego from Ushuaia in Argentina, the most southerly place on continental America (oddly enough it is actually an island) to Porvenir (480km) where I took a ferry to the mainland proper and the Chile’s largest southerly city – Punta Arenas.

I then headed north to Puerto Natales for a week or so and explored the Torres del Paine National Park. Breath taking. I had met an Italian cyclist 150km from Ushuaia who was about to end his own odyssey from Mexico City south and he recommended the Carretera Austral as an option north. Pampas are flat(ish), very windy and with nothing special to see.  One of the best bits of advice that I’ve taken.

I hopped on a ferry north which went through the western Isles and canals and fjords. Yet more remarkable scenery – like Scotland on steroids.

I joined the Carretera  Austral at Caleta Tortel and headed north through Alpine-like valleys, over mountains, alongside lakes, glaciers, rivers and the odd Guanaco (think Llama).

The road was mostly ripio (gravel) and it is very hard going, especially the uphill parts– the bike kept sliding sideways and I had to push it up several ascents.

I had one or two moments when I did ask myself what I was doing but as Slamma suggested, I looked for a hairy, strawberry blonde hand to give me a boost.

I eventually made it to Puerto Montt, the end of the C Austral with a feeling of trepidation. So many cars and people after 6 weeks of relative solitude.

Onwards east across and along half a dozen lakes and into Argentina and Bariloche; where I parked my bike and flew to Buenos Aires for Christmas.

New Year brought a renewed vigour and desire and I travelled along Argentina’s fabled Ruta 40 through the region of Los Lagos (Villa La Angostura – one of my favourite places) and on to San Martin de los Andes and back into Chile. More lakes, ferries and so many volcanoes. Fantastic. After weaving north west for a bit, I reached Temuco where I joined the Ruta 5, part of the Pan American highway system, which runs north/south for approx. 3,500 km.

This part was fairly dull and the only thing of note was getting sprayed with tear gas in Rancagua by Chile’s finest – the carabineros. If ever there was a wrong time and wrong place moment, this was it. Travelling on the hard shoulder (can you imagine doing that in the UK?) I managed to get some serious mileage (700km) in a relatively short time, averaging 20kmh+ and 70-80 km a day against 8kmh and 40-50 km a day through the mountains and gravel.

After 3 and half weeks in Santiago, I headed west to meet some mutual friends from Kabul who live south of Valparaiso. A quick side trip to Easter Island (another remarkable place) and I caught the second last flight back to mainland Chile and the onset of the bastard CV19.

I have been sitting out the pandemic now since March and have decided to stay here until next year.

The numbers:

Distance travelled 4,000 km excluding the 7,000km return journey out into the south eastern Pacific and back.

Accidents – 0

Flat tyres -0 for 3,700 km and then 3 in 75km!

Nights wild camping -6

Ferries taken -7

Lakes crossed – 4

Brits met – 3

And most importantly money raised for Deany’s nominated charity My Name’5 Doddie

£ 2,781 plus gift Aid of £372.50

An enormous thank you to all of you have donated or followed my journey so far, you know who you are…and, in particular, to my family, friends and the Rugby Refugees.

For the moment the odyssey is on hold until the world becomes a less crazy place but it is my intention to reach the Caribbean coast of Colombia – only 8,000km to go.

Would I do it again? You bet I would.

Donate Here

The Grand DepartHanging Glacier at PuyuahpiA serious low point. 6pm, no camp site and that climbLake & Volcano...what could be better apart from a pie & a pintBack in Chile100km from SantiagoCerro San Cristobal, Santiago

England Squad

FORWARDS

Tom Curry, Sale Sharks
Alex Dombrandt, Harlequins*
Tom Dunn, Bath Rugby*
Charlie Ewels, Bath Rugby
Ellis Genge, Leicester Tigers
Jamie George, Saracens
Joe Heyes, Leicester Tigers*
Ted Hill, Worcester Warriors
Maro Itoje, Saracens
Alex Moon, Northampton Saints*
Beno Obano, Bath Rugby*
David Ribbans, Northampton Saints*
Will Stuart, Bath Rugby
Sam Underhill, Bath Rugby
Billy Vunipola, Saracens
Mako Vunipola, Saracens
Mark Wilson, Newcastle Falcons

BACKS

Ali Crossdale, Saracens*
Fraser Dingwall, Northampton Saints*
Owen Farrell, Saracens
Piers Francis, Northampton Saints
George Ford, Leicester Tigers
George Furbank, Northampton Saints
Willi Heinz, Gloucester Rugby
Jonathan Joseph, Bath Rugby
Ollie Lawrence, Worcester Warriors*
Joe Marchant, Harlequins
Jonny May, Gloucester Rugby
Alex Mitchell, Northampton Saints*
Ollie Thorley, Gloucester Rugby*
Anthony Watson, Bath Rugby
Ben Youngs, Leicester Tigers

*denotes uncapped players

England announce second training squad

JONES ANNOUNCES SECOND ENGLAND TRAINING SQUAD

England head coach Eddie Jones has named a 26-man training squad to convene for a three-day camp at The Lensbury.

It is the second three-day training camp for the squad ahead of the return of international rugby this autumn and will run from Thursday 15 until Saturday 17 October.

In addition, seven players will be in camp for reconditioning.

“We had a good three day camp last week working on the basics and developing our cohesion as a group,” said Jones

“This week the focus is to raise the standard as we continue our preparation for the Italy game.”

England have six upcoming fixtures this autumn starting with the uncapped Quilter Cup against the Barbarians (25 October, KO 2pm GMT, live on Sky Sports).

Following a trip to Rome to face Italy (31 Oct, KO 4.45pm GMT, live on ITV) in the final round of the delayed 2020 Guinness Six Nations, England will play four matches as part of the Autumn Nations Cup.

England will play Quilter Internationals at Twickenham Stadium against Georgia (14 November, KO 3pm) and Ireland (21 November, KO 3pm), an away match v Wales (28 November, KO 4pm) before returning to Twickenham for a placing match to determine final position in the competition (6 December, KO 2pm). All Autumn Nations Cup games will be live on Amazon Prime.

Forwards

Tom Curry, Sale Sharks

Alex Dombrandt, Harlequins*

Tom Dunn, Bath Rugby*

Ellis Genge, Leicester Tigers

Jamie George, Saracens

Joe Heyes, Leicester Tigers*

Ted Hill, Worcester Warriors

Maro Itoje, Saracens

Simon Kerrod, Harlequins*

Beno Obano, Bath Rugby*

David Ribbans, Northampton Saints*

Billy Vunipola, Saracens

Mark Wilson, Newcastle Falcons

Backs

Ali Crossdale, Saracens*

Elliot Daly, Saracens

Tom de Glanville, Bath Rugby*

Fraser Dingwall, Northampton Saints*

Owen Farrell, Saracens

George Ford, Leicester Tigers

Willi Heinz, Gloucester Rugby

Ollie Lawrence, Worcester Warriors*

Joe Marchant, Harlequins

Jonny May, Gloucester Rugby

Alex Mitchell, Northampton Saints*

Ollie Thorley, Gloucester Rugby*

Ben Youngs, Leicester Tigers

Reconditioning

Charlie Ewels, Bath Rugby

Jonathan Joseph, Bath Rugby

Joe Marler, Harlequins

Will Stuart, Bath Rugby

Sam Underhill, Bath Rugby

Mako Vunipola, Saracens

Anthony Watson, Bath Rugby

Semi-Final Match Thread

Wasps most recent final appearance came in 2017, when they lost to Exeter 23-20 after extra time.

Bristol are taking part in the play-offs for the first time since 2007, and have never reached the Twickenham showpiece or won the league title.

The Devonians are aiming to get to a fifth consecutive Premiership final and add to their 2017 triumph at Twickenham.

Bath have previously reached two finals, losing to Wasps in 2004 and Saracens in 2015. They haven’t won away at Sandy Park since 2016.

Good luck everyone.

Semi-Final Team News

 Bath Rugby

15. Anthony Watson, 14. Ruaridh McConnochie, 13. Jonathan Joseph, 12. Cameron Redpath, 11. Joe Cokanasiga, 10. Rhys Priestland, 9. Ben Spencer; 1. Beno Obano, 2. Tom Dunn, 3. Will Stuart, 4. Josh McNally, 5. Charlie Ewels (C), 6. Tom Ellis, 7. Sam Underhill, 8. Taulupe Faletau

REPLACEMENTS

16. Jack Walker, 17. Lewis Boyce, 18. Christian Judge, 19. Elliott Stooke, 20. Miles Reid, 21. Will Chudley, 22. Josh Matavesi, 23. Tom de Glanville

Wasps (First-team appearances)

15 Matteo Minozzi (17), 14 Zach Kibirige (24), 13 Malakai Fekitoa (22), 12 Jimmy Gopperth (104), 11 Josh Bassett (125), 10 Jacob Umaga (29), 9 Dan Robson (122)

1 Simon McIntyre (171), 2 Tommy Taylor (69), 3 Kieran Brookes (40), 4 Joe Launchbury (c) (150), 5 Will Rowlands (92), 6 Jack Willis (60), 7 Thomas Young (118), 8 Brad Shields (33)

Replacements

16 Gabriel Oghre (27) 17 Tom West (32) 18 Biyi Alo (14) 19 James Gaskell (119) 20 Alfie Barbeary (5) 21 Tom Willis (20) 22 Ben Vellacott (7) 23 Michael Le Bourgeois (34)

D&T DTRR Cup Regular Season end

After the longest regular season known to mankind we are finally at the playoffs. Finally clarity on the Sale – Wuss match. Think it was inevitable but now official. PRL have hardly covered themselves in glory here. The SARU which used to be the epitome of bad governance has been surpassed.

At this pont in the table obviously positions 5 to 8 are fixed. I’m going to extend this to the playoffs which I think was the original intention. So Final winner first, loser 2nd. the 2 semi final losers will be 3rd and 4th dependent on their positions before the playoffs. I’ll come up with something for next season and do a post on that after the final.

As promised a summary of the clubs and how they’ve done this season. From last to first. All obviously my thought so probably as much wrong as right.

Sarries – Not going to go into the salary cap shenanigans its been done to death. Unknown as to where they would have finished without it as they may have done squads differently but if my aunt had balls etc… . From what I’ve seen of the youngsters there and the international players they are retaining they should come straight back up. However who knows if there will even be a championship next season. Its a mess and without playing how do you equitably promote them? Not sure Pirates Ealing etc (and of course Nottingham Mr Wu.) are happy to just concede. Sounds like a lawyers paradise or hell to everyone else. There progress and matches in Europe shows what the squad can do and salary cap or no salary cap they’ve built something pretty good there.

Tigers – Even back in SA in the amateur days I’d heard of Leicester. How the mighty have fallen. Watching them recently they really don’t deserve to be any higher than they are and they can thank the salary cap manager they are not being relegated. Personally and this is without any first hand knowledge I think the failure is at management probably board level. Their squad while not brilliant is not that bad but their is no real team there just a collection of individuals. It might actually have better to have been relegated just to give themm the sort of shock required for real serious change. English rugby without a decent tigers isn’t quite the same. Mind you I’d have said that about Richmond at one point.

LI – On the few times I’ve watched them I’ve not been overly impressed. Still looks like a club with a decent academy that produces a few decent youngsters that then get snaffled by bigger clubs and a bunch of journey men that can do a job but aren’t going to set the world alight. Not sure if a new ground will help them and I can’t see them attracting a large audience. Will be among the strugglers next season as well I think.

Wuss – very similar to LI. Nothing special a decent side that may have an occasional good day with a few promising players but nothing on the whole exciting. They might need a new coach to spark something. Probably not relegation candidates but mid table mediocrity is probably as good as they can hope for.

Saints – With the change in coach at first it looked promising but has become less so. Trying to do too much fancy stuff without the basics. Some excellent players (Lawes etc) but also some real dross (whoever the large PI wing is). I’ve been to Franklin gardens and I think they are one of the teams that miss home support the most but not really good enough this season. If they can get a few more nasty forwards and actually play in the right areas perhaps they could challenge. Without that they’ll be stuck in a similar position next year.

Glaws – Regardless of change in coaches and personnel they always seem to be the most consistent team at being inconsistent. The shine seems to have worn off Cips and I’m not sure they have a way of playing. Some brilliant players but can’t seem to put it together. Unless something dramatic changes they will be perennial underachievers and it will always be next year that will be glaws year.

Quins- Would have hoped for a little bit more from Gustard although some signs of the fight are starting to show. Another team that is shockingly inconsistent. Still think a few forwards required. In Smith they have a potential superstar but he needs more from those around him and he’s not getting it yet. They could actually challenge next year and for the sake of Deany (after all this is the Tom and Deany cup) I hope they do but remain unconvinced.

Sale – I’m going to ignore the last game fiasco and blame PRL. On results and trajectory they probably should have made top 4. Definite improvements and now a squad that can seriously challenge and I’d expect them to be up there or there abouts next season. Bit too much reliance on SA imports but no club is squeaky clean on the using foreigners front. At least with Dimes you’l get some interesting quotes. Its good to see Northern rugby getting a bit of a boost.

Barf – Once oc the biggest turnarounds from where they were last season. Used to be one of the powerhouses of rugby in England and getting back there. In previous times known more for the backs than the forwards but have decided on getting a bit more forward orientated and playing off 9. Generally working for them. Still not the finished article and probably need a season or 2 to get there but on the right trajectory. Definite contenders for next year. Think there journey this season will end at Sandy Park but something to build on.

Bris – From 9th to 2nd is quite something. They are the new money bags of the premiership. Pat lam has done a brilliant job of knitting it all together and actually seems to be getting value for money from most of the big signings. The addition of a few players from sarries didn’t hurt. They definitely have a style and if you let them play it expect to be torn apart when it comes off. It does have some risks but they seem to believe and results back that up. Decidedly one of the contenders for next season. Here I’m more hoping rather than expecting that there journey will end at the Ricoh as a wasps fan can’t yet be confident.

Wasps- Another team that have completely changed there fortunes mid season. As much as I liked Dai and will be forever grateful for what he did with the club the influence of the new coach has been startling. I know we got lucky with the squads we faced after the covid break but some decent rugby has been played and the defence seems to have actually turned into a proper defence. Some decent yougsters brought through as well. Hoping for a good result on the weekend but not expecting too much. They have already done better than I dared hope.

Chiefs – Easily the best team and probably more importantly squad in the premiership. A definite identity and those that think its all pick and go from 5 yards out aren’t noticing how they got to 5 yards out. With a prolonged campaign in Europe and short odds favourites to win the premiership the problem for Ex now is just keeping to the standards that they have set. The youngsters coming through aren’t there yet but there’s a nucleus that can be drip fed into the team. Probably the team where everyone knows what they are doing the most. And with Baxter obviously a canny operator will be favourites next season too.

So good luck to all for those playing this weekend. Hope we get some crackers to watch. The cup still looks to be between mani and Monty.

1Mani2.33
1Monty2.33
3Anonymouse2.83
3B2P2.83
3Travel Exec2.83
6Exlock2.92
7Grump3.00
8Bart3.17
8D Hanley3.17
8George3.17
8JD Kiwi3.17
8Novo3.17
8Slamma3.17
14Bigger Picture3.25
15Adrian3.33
15Firepies3.33
15Gladders3.33
15Global Fan3.33
15Ruck3.33
15Tanker3.33
21Hugh3.42
22CMJS3.50
22Dalton Lad3.50
22GEPC3.50
256mph3.67
25Tomski3.67
27Bris3.83
27Coshie3.83
27Mr Wu3.83

England Training Squad

Minus the Top 5 so don’t reach for your pitchfork, yet.

Backs

Ali Crossdale, Saracens*
Elliot Daly, Saracens
Fraser Dingwall, Northampton Saints*
Nathan Earle, Harlequins*
Owen Farrell, Saracens
George Ford, Leicester Tigers
Piers Francis, Northampton Saints
George Furbank, Northampton Saints
Willi Heinz, Gloucester Rugby
Joe Marchant, Harlequins
Jonny May, Gloucester Rugby
Alex Mitchell, Northampton Saints*
Ollie Thorley, Gloucester Rugby*
Ben Youngs, Leicester Tigers

FORWARDS

Jack Clement, Gloucester Rugby*
Alex Dombrandt, Harlequins*
Ellis Genge, Leicester Tigers
Jamie George, Saracens
Joe Heyes, Leicester Tigers*
Maro Itoje, Saracens
Simon Kerrod, Harlequins*
Lewis Ludlow, Gloucester Rugby*
Alex Moon, Northampton Saints*
David Ribbans, Northampton Saints*
Jack Singleton, Gloucester Rugby
Billy Vunipola, Saracens
Mako Vunipola, Saracens
Mark Wilson, Newcastle Falcons

* Uncapped players

Round 22: Match Day Thread

The longest season of Premiership history concludes this afternoon for all but 4 clubs, who will go through!?

The Premiership says goodbye to Robshaw on his 300th game for Quins, against a fitting opponent in Leicester Tigers. Thank you Robbo!

We also say goodbye to Brad Barritt, captain of Sarries who unfortunately won’t be taking the field after failing concussion protocols.

Finally, Sarries say goodbye to Wiggles but we may yet still see him in the Premiership…

Good luck everyone.