Six Nations Round Four: England’s march to continue?

By Brian Rucker, My Club Betting Rugby Correspondent

After a week off, the Six Nations returns this weekend and it couldn’t be more tense!

As expected, it’s England and Ireland vying for the title, with Scotland sitting closely behind in third. They’ll be getting a nosebleed soon…

The Scots will be brought back down to earth at Twickenham this weekend though and while Italy host France in the basement battle, Wales and Ireland kick things off on Friday night.

That’s where I’ll begin…

Wales v Ireland (Friday @ 20:05)

I’ve given the Welsh a lot of flack in recent times, so why change the habit of a lifetime…

You wouldn’t think things could get much worse for Wales after their shambles of a display in Scotland, but they need to prepare themselves for the worst. It’s going to hurt!

Why? Because come Friday evening, the Welsh will have lost to Scotland, England and Ireland in the same year in the five/six nations for the first time since 2003… Ouch!

The Irish will punish Rob Cowley’s side, who make way too many unforced errors, which will set up a lovely title decider in Dublin next Sunday against England. I’m already rubbing my hands…

Don’t get me wrong though, Ireland haven’t got much boasting to do. Let’s face it, they’ve only beaten Italy and France so far and that’s not exactly difficult.

They’ll win this one. It’s just a shame it will only give them false hope ahead of England’s victory next week!

BEST BET: IRELAND TO WIN BY 1-5 POINTS @ 17/4

Italy v France (Saturday @ 13:30)

Is there any point to this one? Well it is the Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy I guess…

I suppose it does give France a chance to feel better about themselves following their defeat in Ireland two weeks ago.

To bounce back from their defeat against England, with a win against the Scots but then to lose against Ireland just proves that the French are as consistent as my bowel movements and trust me, that’s not a good thing…

They’ll surely have enough to beat the whipping boys in Rome, but this does look like Italy’s final chance to get any points on the board because they don’t stand a chance at Murrayfield next week.

Oh, who am I kidding, another wooden spoon is in the post!

BEST BET: FRANCE FIRST HALF HANDICAP -9.5 @ 10/11

England v Scotland (Saturday @ 16:00)

It’s Calcutta Cup action at Twickenham and I’d put my daughter’s new pony on England to continue their march towards back-to-back Grand Slams. My life wouldn’t be worth living if I lost that one, so trust me when I say it’s going to happen!

I could not think of a better opponent for England to secure a record equalling 18th consecutive victory against…

The Scots could actually win the Triple Crown on Saturday afternoon but there’s more chance of that happening than Donald Trump telling the truth.

Yes, they’ve picked up wins against Ireland and Wales but England aren’t Ireland and Wales. Thank god!

Eddie Jones’ side haven’t even put in a good performance yet and they’ve won every game. It’s been like taking candy from a baby…

Enjoy another win lads!

BEST BET: ENGLAND TO WIN BY 6-10 POINTS @ 15/4

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Six Nations Round Three: More Welsh misery on the cards…

By Brian Rucker, My Club Betting Rugby Correspondent

Are you ready for another scintillating weekend of Six Nations action? Well I am!

It’s only been two weeks since England crushed Welsh hearts, Ireland battered the whipping boys Italy and France brought the Scots back down to earth but it’s felt like a lifetime!

The weekend of action kicks off at Murrayfield on Saturday and ends at Twickenham on Sunday afternoon and here’s my thoughts on how things will unravel…

Scotland v Wales (Saturday @ 14:25)

I’ve had some unconfirmed reports over the last fortnight that every shop in Wales sold out of tissues following their 21-16 defeat to England!

Those shelves better be re-stocked because the demand will be high once again come Saturday afternoon when the Welsh get battered in Edinburgh…

john-barclay-scotland

Captained by John Barclay, the Scots will have to improve on their awful set-pieces which so far, have been as successful as a Wayne Rooney hair transplant.

Do that and they’re onto a winner. The Welsh will try to bully Scotland but what always happens to bullies? They get found out. Wales will be no different. Tissues at the ready folks…

BEST BET: SCOTLAND TO WIN BY 1-5 POINTS @ 9/2

Ireland v France (Saturday @ 16:50)

This game is being billed as the clash which could keep the title hopes alive of the winner but let’s be honest, it’s the decider for second place because neither have the balls to win it.

Yes, the Irish crushed Italy two weeks ago with nine touchdowns but come on, Sutton United’s former pie eating goalkeeper could get into that Italian side!

sexton-ireland

France did what the Irish couldn’t a fortnight ago in beating Scotland but they reminded me of a dying cat struggling to get home, as they stumbled across the line to record a 22-16 victory in Paris.

Ireland will win this one but that’s only because the French wings are as strong as the British economy…

Don’t get too excited though. It’s only second place after all.

BEST BET: GAME TO BE TIED AT HALF-TIME @ 10/1

England v Italy (15:00)

Are you ready for a cricket score? I hope so because that’s what we’re going to get!

In fact, England’s class of 2001 should enjoy their last few days of being the record point’s scorers in a Six Nations game.

Surprise, surprise they registered 80 points against Italy 16 years ago and it’s the Italians who will be on the end of yet another drubbing on Sunday afternoon.

owen-farrell

They’ve managed 17 points so far, but Eddie Jones’ men will have scored more than that in the opening 20 minutes at Twickenham!

It could be that bad that the Italians have to declare a national day of mourning on Monday.

RIP Italian Rugby…

BEST BET: ENGLAND TO WIN BY OVER 50 POINTS @ 9/5

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Six Nations Round Two: Time for England to take control of this group

By Brian Rucker, My Club Betting Rugby Correspondent

The second weekend of the 2017 Six Nations is upon us and there’s some mouthwatering rugby ahead of us. Well that’s if England and Ireland turn up this week!

Ireland suffered an embarrassing defeat at Murrayfield, while Eddie Jones’ men were like an alcoholic struggling to the bar as they narrowly edged past the French.

Oh and Wales beat Italy 33-7 on the Sunday. Nearly forgot about that!

Better look at this week’s fixtures…

Italy v Ireland (Saturday @ 14:25)

Once again we’re off to sunny Rome… Get the worst out of the way I suppose!

The Irish have had a week of sulking after losing to the Scots. I don’t blame them but they’re lucky enough to face the whipping boys to get that one out of their systems.

donnacha-ryan-ireland

Donnacha Ryan has been named in the Ireland side and that comes as no surprise after a shockingly unorganised line-out display in Scotland. My dead Grandma could have done better!

Sergio Parisse has literally shaken off a neck injury to be fit but it’s not going to make a difference for Conor O’Shea’s side. Is he still trying to change the face of rugby in Italy? Don’t worry it’s not like I’m in a rush to be anywhere…

BEST BET: IRELAND TO WIN BY 11-15 POINTS @ 11/2*

Wales v England (Saturday @ 16:50)

Wales couldn’t have had a much easier start but those smug smiles will soon be floating away down the River Taff.

In front of their home support they’re expecting a massive win to signal their intent but to put it bluntly, they’re not going to get it and England’s fantastic run will continue.

Oh ‘England’s back row is inexperienced’ I hear the Welsh shouting. Good to see you can count but you’ll be a lot quieter when Maro Itoje crosses the line for his third try of the evening!

maro-itoje-england

Thinking about it, this Welsh side actually reminds me of my 13 plate BMW which offers so much but pretty often disappoints.

I really can’t wait for this one. Well the celebrations afterwards anyway…

BEST BET: MARO ITOJE TO BE FIRST TRYSCORER AT @ 28/1*

France v Scotland (Sunday @ 15:00)

I feel for the Scots. No seriously I do. They’ve been so excited since defeating the Irish last weekend but all they’ll be doing by Sunday evening is eating a snail in a pool of tears… or IRN BRU, whichever floats your boat.

Skipper Greig Laidlaw is targeting a win in Paris but there’s more chance of me waking up next to Beyonce and trust me, that’s highly unlikely…

Greig Laidlaw

Last year the Scots lost two of their three games away from Murrayfield and they’ll lose their first of this campaign on Sunday. While I’m at it, they’ll actually fail to pick up a single point on the road this year… Ouch!

Have a good journey home boys!

BEST BET: FRANCE TO BEAT SCOTLAND BY 1-5 POINTS @ 17/4*

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England to secure back-to-back Grand Slams? The view of a confident Englishman…

By Brian Rucker, My Club Betting Rugby Correspondent 

This weekend sees the Six Nations Championship get underway and it has the potential to be one of the most competitive and exciting tournaments yet.

Yes England may have remained unbeaten throughout 2016 but with several sides improving and having a point to prove, get ready for a whole load of twists and turns in the coming weeks.

The opening weekend sees the favourites England host France at Twickenham and while Ireland travel to BT Murrayfield for what could be the most exciting match of the first two days, Wales take on Italy in Rome.

Here’s how I think the 2017 Six Nations will pan out…

England

It will be England and Eddie Jones celebrating again in March.

Bold prediction? I don’t think so. Unbeaten throughout 2016 and having won every game since Jones’ appointment, this England side is invincible.

Eddie Jones

The Irish and Welsh may well disagree with me but I’ll be the one saying “I told you so” in a few months time.

That’s all depending, of course, if skipper Dylan Hartley can refrain from gouging, biting and headbutting. It would be appreciated Dylan!

Even with an injury list longer than the number of Welsh titles, I expect England to come out on top, starting with a 12th Twickenham success in a row this weekend against a France side which is as convincing as a Russian athlete telling you they haven’t been doping…

Prediction: Champions 

BEST BET: ENGLAND TO WIN THE TRIPLE CROWN @ 7/4 

France

gael-fickou

Speaking of the French, I expect them to suffer another miserable campaign.

An injury crisis has left them like a rabbit caught in the headlights and in Guy Noves, they have a coach who simply isn’t up to it at international level.

Yes he’s won all the accolades on the Club front but what does that matter when your hunting a first Six Nations title since 2010? Exactly…

I admit I’m looking forward to seeing Gael Fickou in action but he’ll be the only exciting spark in another woeful Six Nations for the French boys.

Prediction: 5th 

BEST BET: FRANCE TO FINISH BOTTOM @ 16/1

Ireland

Ah yes… the Irish! They’ll run England close this time but when has close ever been good enough?

I’m the first to admit they’re an improving unit, with Rory Best leading them and Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose formidable in the centre.

rory-best-ireland

They beat all three of the Southern Hemisphere giants in the second-half of last season but did they come up against England? No…

That’s a completely different kettle of fish and I’m not one to say I told you so but when Joe Schmidt loses his unbeaten home run in March against the English, I’ll be there to give you a gentle nudge.

Prediction: 2nd

BEST BET: IRELAND TO OUTDO ENGLAND & WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP @ 9/4

Italy

Do we have to? Really? Urgh… Where to start…

Fair play to new Head Coach Conor O’Shea who is trying to completely change the mentality towards rugby in Lo Stivale but let’s face it, he’s a little deluded.

sergio-parisse

You’d have thought Donald Trump had been assassinated when the Italians celebrated their win over South Africa in November. Why shouldn’t they get excited? Because the prop that holds up the Six Nations table every year then lost to Tonga…

The man I feel sorry for is Sergio Parisse. He must have enough wooden spoons to set up his own shop!

Prediction: 6th

BEST BET: ITALY TO BE LEADING WALES AT HALF TIME IN THEIR OPENER @ 14/5

Scotland

Now the Scots are an interesting proposition. Nobody can begrudge that they’re a vastly improved side but anyone who thinks they have a chance of winning this thing need to sit down and grab a quick IRN BRU.

Boss Vern Cotter is leading them into his final Six Nations and of course that will give the Scottish lads extra motivation but they simply just don’t have the quality to make the top three.

vern-cotter-scotland

Captain Greig Laidlaw is right in saying it’s probably one of the strongest Scottish sides ever but that’s only the equivalent of an average English or Irish side…

They’ll give it a good go as always and they might even spring a surprise or two… Think I need an IRN BRU!

Prediction: 4th

BEST BET: SCOTLAND TO BEAT IRELAND ON HOME SOIL BY 1-5 POINTS @ 5/1

Wales

There’s no need to take offence, you’re only last on this list because well, erm… I nearly forgot about you.

Jokes aside, the Welsh will slip a place this year. Not getting any better is it? Oh, wait, I’ve got something, new captain Alun-Wyn Jones and new coach Rob Howley will at least add a bit of freshness to this Wales squad.

alun-wyn-jones

Naming seven uncapped players is a risky move however and it could come back to bite Howley on the arse…

Many are pinning Welsh hopes on home games against their main Championship rivals, England and Ireland, but all that says to me is that Wales will go into Super Saturday with nothing to play for in Paris.

Prediction: 3rd

BEST BET: WALES TO BEAT ITALY ON THE OPENING WEEKEND BY 16-20 POINTS @ 5/1

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PRIDE & PASSION. BLACK & WHITE

Below, we take a look at the history of one of our biggest clubs, Sutton and Epsom RFC…

Sutton and Epsom RFC are one of the many UK clubs currently benefitting from a MyClubBetting service, after partnering with us in May of 2016.

It took minutes for them to setup a personalised betting site, and in turn, they are now rewarded whenever people use it.

The club receives 20% of the net revenue created on the site and are also provided with free kit and equipment whenever certain incentives are reached.

sutton-epsom

As one of our most historic clubs, Sutton and Epsom Rugby Football Club started life in the autumn of 1880 as an off-shoot of the famous Sutton Bicycle Club – hence the iconic penny-farthing logo which still adorns the club’s black and white hooped strip.

Their early years took them to the cusp of first-class status, playing before crowds of up to 3,000 – beating the likes of Wasps and Saracens along the way. In fact, the club once managed to defeat the famous Stade Français in Paris.

The Sutton and Epsom club of today is one of the largest in the country, capable of putting up to 25 sides in the field.

This has not been achieved by chance. The club is supported by 3,000 members – 1,200 of them past and present players as well as 1,800 social members.

Indeed, the club’s social scene is second to none, with themed festivities and parties, along with the prestigious, season ending ‘Black and White Ball’.

Over the years, a number of international players have graced the club’s ranks, most recently the former England scrum-half, Paul Hodgson.

He began his career at Rugby Lane as a mini, before progressing through the junior ranks and eventually ending in the first team.

Hodgson then embarked on a 15 year professional career which saw him play Premiership rugby with Bristol, London Irish and Worcester, before his honours with the England national team.

That said, his roots at Sutton run deep. Last season, Hodgson returned to the club of his boyhood, playing a pivotal role in the side that stormed to the London One South title.

Sutton certainly drew great strength from Hodgson, who has now taken on a major coaching role at London Irish. However, their success was underpinned by a team of genuine talent and an intelligent coaching staff – headed by Lee Cholewa and Jeff Parsons.

Head Coach Lee Cholewa was a fine fly-half who represented Yorkshire and the England Counties. Cholewa broke just about every club scoring record in his years with Harrogate, also playing for Rotherham, Wakefield and London Welsh during his long career.

Jeff Parsons is a doyen of Sutton rugby. An indomitable prop forward who played alongside the above mentioned Hodgson at the turn of the millennium.

During the Spring, when it became clear that Hodgson could no longer be as closely involved with the club because of his new duties at London Irish, Sutton & Epsom had the immense good fortune of welcoming Mike Schmid into their coaching staff.

Schmid won 24 caps for Canada and enjoyed a splendid career with Rotherham, playing more than a hundred games for the Yorkshire club. On coming south, he was recruited by Esher, and as Director of Rugby, he helped pilot the Surrey side into the Championship.

“We are trying to learn from every game and improve each week. The boys are honest, work hard and want to improve, so the credit lies with their efforts really. It is a pleasure working with the team and the other coaches.” He added.

Despite returning to the National League, there is not a hint of complacency and the club is well aware of the great challenges ahead.

Challenges are meat and drink to Sutton rugby and the atmosphere at Rugby Lane today is charged with pride and passion.

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FORGED IN FIRE. GREEN AND BLUE.

In all honesty, you couldn’t make up the recent history of Old Reigatian Rugby Club – even if you tried!

As of today, the club can boast thriving mini/junior sections for boys and girls aged four and upwards, along with highly competitive colts and under 21 sides.

Add to that, the success of their four senior teams – with the first XV currently competing towards the top end of the prestigious ‘London 2 South West’ league.

The club also have expert coaching and physio staff, with a massively experienced Director of Rugby in Richie Andrews.

On the facilities front, Old Reigatian are fortunate to have excellent pitches, more land to expand their training areas and newly acquired floodlighting.

In addition to this, the club has recently partnered with MyClubBetting – an organisation that focusses on giving back to grassroots sports clubs.

Old Reigation now have a fully personalised betting site, and are in turn, are rewarded when supporters use it.

20% of all net losses created on the site goes back to the club’s development fund, with free kit also being provided when certain sign-up incentives are reached.

reigations

The stage is set for a very bright future indeed, however, it could all have been so very different.

At 4.30am on the morning of Saturday 28th June 2014 the telephone rang at the home of Club Chairman, David Forsyth.

The voice at the other end of the line had some heart-breaking news: “We have a fire at the club.”

By the time Forsyth got to the club, 10 fire appliances had convened on Old Reigatian.

Fortunately, the blaze was spotted early by a local resident before it had a chance to completely take hold of the brand new £1.7m clubhouse.

The clubhouse that had taken 12 years to plan, develop and build, and was awaiting the start of its inaugural season. This was heart-breaking stuff for the hundreds of members who had given their time and effort to making the enterprise possible.

By 10 o’clock of the next morning, the rugby spirit was showing as neighbours Dorking RFC and Reigate RFC both contacted the club to offer whatever support was required.

The first challenge? There was a party booked for that evening – the community made sure it happened.

Okay, you get knocked down and you get up again. It would take time but they would undoubtedly do it. However, disaster then struck again….

Forsyth’s telephone rings again, this time at 4am on Saturday 12th July 2014: “We have had another arson attack.”

This time the arsonist has attacked the opposite end of the club but again, miraculously, the fire was spotted before it took hold.

By 6am local radio had been in touch. They wanted to know “How are you feeling?”

 A club spokesman answered with the only answer they could possibly give: “We will come back stronger.”

By the following Monday, Old Reigation had been offered the use of temporary portacabins and a generator – the club was again, back in business.

It wasn’t fun, it wasn’t comfortable, it wasn’t what they wanted, but it was what had been dealt, and the club were determined to plough on.

Fast forward 18 months and Old Reigation are finally able to move back into the magnificent clubhouse. The club were even fortunate enough to have two of the greatest names in English rugby, Lawrence Dallaglio and Jason Leonard, join them in their celebrations during the re-opening event.

None of this was planned, nobody asked for it, but sometimes, as in rugby, the game just goes against you.

The only response the club could give in either situation was to dig deep and push on, knowing that teamwork would deliver in the end.

Now, the future for Old Reigatian looks even brighter for the battles fought and won – but absolutely nothing is being taken for granted.

Join Old Reigation RFC and setup a free, fully personalised betting site that could earn cash and equipment for your beloved club: signup.myclubbetting.com

CHAPPERS’ CHAT: THE FESTIVE PERIOD

In this week’s column, England U20 prop, Luke Chapman explains how rugby players deal with the Christmas and New Year period…

It’s finally that time of the year again! The Christmas jumpers are being dug out of the back of the wardrobe and the fear of putting on weight over the festive period is really starting to kick in.

As rugby players, the ever-dreaded Christmas weigh-in looms over all of our heads. Let’s just say, training on December 27th is going to be a very nervy day for all of us!

Although we have a busy schedule over Christmas, we are still given some time-off to spend with our families.

It is always portrayed that rugby players eat a ridiculous amount of food (which in some cases is very true) but we really do have to watch our weight as we don’t have a break of games over the Christmas period.

My tactics going into the festive period are very strategic. I try to eat as little as possible from December 22-24 and then on the big day, I go crazy!

sproutsMy plate at Christmas dinner looks like a meal fit for a bear. In fact, I currently hold my family’s record for the most brussel sprouts eaten in a minute. I managed 21, and this year I hope to beat it. At least the coaches can’t complain that I’m not stacking up on my greens!

My Christmas week is a bit different to that in a normal job – but that’s a sacrifice you have to make and I have always known that.

This year, I have trained with the boys on Tuesday and Wednesday and if selected, will then travel up to Ealing on Friday for our Christmas Eve fixture.

Once the game has finished, we will then have a jolly bus journey home, which is a good excuse to have a few drinks with my teammates.

That said, it won’t too mad as I don’t think my family would appreciate me being hungover on Christmas Day!

After the Christmas period, when our bloated belly’s start to deflate, it is straight back to rugby with a training session on the 27th as we will be preparing for our game against Nottingham on New Year’s Eve.

If selected, the tie against Nottingham will be my first ever New Year’s fixture and I am really looking forward to it.

It should be a great day. Everyone down here in Cornwall lives for rugby, and to have the chance to watch a game on New Year’s Eve is going to special for our fans.

I’m sure there will be a record crowd – complete with a lot of drunken Cornishmen preparing for their big night out.

Once the game is over, I too will be preparing for my favourite night of the year, where I will be meeting up with friends and family in my local town of Looe.

chappers-xmas-2

It is now a tradition for us all to dress up and hit the local pubs. I’ve even been known to grace the town dressed up as a fairy, smurf and even a nun.

This will be my last column of 2016 and I really hope that you have enjoyed hearing my side of the Rugby Union story. I will back in 2017 with more tales.

Myself and the guys at MyClubBetting would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Cornish Pirates prop, Luke Chapman works with MyClubBetting – an organization that focusses on giving back to grassroots sports clubs. For further information on My Club Betting simply visit myclubbetting.com or call 01883 772929 within office hours.

If your club already has a MyClubBetting service, head to our club directory and find their site!