International – Borat suit is OUT!

Not this piece please

Police in New Zealand have banned fans from wearing Borat’s skimpy one-piece bathing suit to a rugby tournament because they want to protect innocent children.

Police turned a blind eye to the dozens of men who donned the distinctive high-riding neon green swimsuit last year but say they will crack down at the world rugby Sevens event in Wellington this year.

“It’s a family event and there will be children there,” an officer said on New Zealand television today. He appealed to fans to have “a sense of decency.”

The Wellington round of the Sevens traditionally attracts thousands of fans who don all kinds of fancy dress.

But anyone who turned up in the swimsuit made famous by British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen in his hit movie Borat will be turned away, police said.

Source: FoxNews

International – French Rugby ring of Change

there goes the veterans …

start of a new era … bye bye ibanez

New France coach Marc Lievremont picked six new faces and left out Sebastien Chabal when he named his 22-man squad for the Six Nations opener against Scotland on Feb. 3 at Murrayfield.

Lievremont, who took over from Bernard Laporte following France’s semi-final exit at last year’s World Cup, included backs Morgan Parra, Francois Trin-Dhuc and Julien Malzieu plus forwards Julien Brugnault, Lionel Faure and Arnaud Mela.

“We wanted coherence with (the next World Cup in) 2011 in mind and we also wanted a team that could be competitive at this year’s Six Nations,” Lievremont said.

The powerful Chabal, a flanker who was controversially used at lock by Laporte, rose to fame during the World Cup on home soil but the burly Sale player failed to convince Lievremont.

Instead of picking Chabal, the new coaching staff decided to recall number eight Elvis Vermeulen, who missed the World Cup through injury.

“Elvis Vermeulen is actually the best in that position,” said assistant coach Emile Ntamack. “We could have chosen Chabal because of his versatility but we went for Elvis because we believe he’s better. There’s no plot against Chabal.”


The Six Nations tournament will mark a new era for France after stalwarts such as Raphael Ibanez, Fabien Pelous and Serge Betsen quit in the wake of the World Cup.

Backs: Jean-Baptiste Elissalde, Morgan Parra, Francois Trin-Dhuc, David Skrela, Florian Fritz, Damien Traille, Vincent Clerc, Julien Malzieu, Cedric Heymans, Aurelien Rougerie

Forwards: Julien Brugnaut, Lionel Faure, Jean-Baptiste Poux, William Servat, Dimitri Szarzewski, Loic Jacquet, Lionel Nallet, Arnaud Mela, Julien Bonnaire, Thierry Dusautoir, Fulgence Ouedraogo, Elvis Vermeulen.

Source: Reuters

Local – School Championship starts this week

Under 15 finals 2007

Rugby in schools is here to stay

The Brunei Under 16 and Under 18 rugby championship will commence this week. Here is the schedule for this week :-

  • BRFU Under 16 National Championship (23rd January 2008)
  1. JIS vs SOAS – Venue JIS / Kick Off 1500hrs
  2. Sekolah Menengah Rimba vs Sekolah Menengah Sharif Ali – Venue Berakas Army Camp / Kick Off 1500hrs
  3. Bandar Blacks U-16 vs Sekolah Menengah Awang Semaun – Venue Sekolah Menengah Awang Semaun / Kick Off 1500hrs
  • BRFU Under 18 National Championship (25th January 2008)
  1. SOAS vs JIS – Venue SOAS / Kick Off 1500hrs
  2. Sekolah Menengah Sharif Ali vs Sekolah Menengah Awang Semaun – Venue Berakas Army Camp / Kick Off 0900hrs
  3. Sekolah Menengah Rimba vs KB Pythons Under 16 – Venue Penanjung Camp / Kick Off 1000hrs

C’mon Students / Teachers / Alumnis / Parents …. Support your boys!

International: Vainikolo of Gloucester – “Andrew Who?”

Vainikolo of Gloucester
Hello there old chap, care for a cup of tea …

It was little surprise that Lesley Vainikolo qualifying for a British passport coincided with a call from Rob Andrew, the RFU’s director of elite rugby, whom the Gloucester and former Bradford Bulls and New Zealand rugby league wing failed to recognise. The gist of what Andrew told him, nevertheless, was ringingly clear – was he interested in representing his adopted country? “Of course,” was the newly qualified Englishman’s response.

Vainikolo broke the news to former Bradford teammates at a function before Christmas that “I’ve had the big boss man on, someone called Andrew and they want me to play for England”. Had Tonga called first, he would have had little hesitation in opting to represent his birthplace; they did not. Although Andrew was swift to act, the irony is that Vainikolo, unlike expensive cross-code recruits such as Jason Robinson, Henry Paul and Andy Farrell, was not on the RFU’s radar when he switched codes in July.

The 28-year-old’s purpose was twofold – to learn a new sport and extend a career that was beginning to be hindered by the attrition rate in rugby league. As for England, the thought of representing them had not crossed his mind.

When “The Volcano” erupted on the Guinness Premiership, though, with five tries on his Gloucester debut against a shell-shocked Leeds Carnegie in September – despite regular such feats in compiling a remarkable 149 tries during 152 appearances for Bradford – England, their World Cup campaign crumbling at that stage, glimpsed the potential of having the 17st powerhouse on board for the RBS Six Nations Championship.

Tevita Vaikona, a fellow Tongan and erstwhile Bradford teammate, used to joke about seeing Vainikolo running around his native Nuku’alofa “dressed in leaves”. On February 2, Vainikolo could be sporting his trade-mark beads in his hair at Twickenham against Wales after a voyage quite unlike any other cross-code player.

Brian Ashton, the England head coach, referred to Vainikolo’s “wow factor” in including him in his 32-man squad yesterday, controversially, considering the home-grown talent available, Vainikolo’s fledgeling union career, troublesome knees and state of mind after the recent deaths of his father and one of four union-playing brothers from a heart attack, aged 38, that have meant trips back to New Zealand in quick succession.

Ashton said: “His transition to union has been fairly straightforward. He doesn’t look like a league player playing union; it’s not a new game to him. You don’t see that many English wings of 6ft 2in and 17 stone. He’s due back in the country next week and you’ll have to talk to the guys who play against him and see how dodgy they think his knees are.

“He’s strong, explosive, a good and intelligent footballer. He has good footwork and he’s not been caught out defensively in union. He’s a tryscorer, a threat all over the field and he’s pretty quick as well. I’ve seen him playing in the centre in league. He’s pretty much the all-round package.

“I spoke to Lesley about three weeks ago, down at Gloucester, and he was very excited about the possibility [of playing for England].”

Knee surgery in the winter was a near annual occurrence for Vainikolo at Bradford, where for the last 18 months he barely trained because of the pain he was in after matches. He would skip half the week and just cycle and swim, yet without any compromise to his finishing prowess.

“The difference is he’d crawl off after a league match and these days he walks off the pitch,” Stuart Duffy, the Bradford club spokesman, said. “The physical toll is less severe and that means he can train fully. As for playing union internationally, that was the last thing on his mind when he left us.”

Gloucester and now England have invested in not only a try machine but a showman. He once appeared at a league Man of Steel ceremony in an electric-blue suit with cane and an exploding afro. Each of his tries is greeted with a kiss on the tip of the ball and quick prayer. The Bible is the dressing-room book of choice of a big man with a larger-than-life personality, whose plaits and braided ponytails are as much a feature as his bass-rumble guffaw. “Big Les will certainly enliven the England camp,” Duffy said.

Although from a family of union players, Vainikolo loved the impact of league. Mal Meninga, the Australia league legend, offered him a contract at Canberra Raiders after seeing him on the rampage for Tonga in the World Nines. He scored 35 tries in 68 NRL appearances before Bradford signed him at 22. There were times when The Volcano looked more likely to evaporate in a troubled first year in Yorkshire, before the tryscoring eruptions that marked the Bulls’ all-conquering 2003 season.

It is doubtful whether his feats in the British game would have been possible without the faith placed in him by Brian Noble, the former Bradford coach, who worked wonders on developing Vainikolo’s confidence and defensive ability. His strike rate in league was similar to that of the legendary Billy Boston at Wigan and included 14 tries in 12 appearances for New Zealand, nine on the Kiwis’ way to the 2000 World Cup final.

After his first international appearance, Vainikolo said: “I’d never seen so much money. I spread it out on the hotel bed, counting it to send some back home.” Tonga, Auckland, Canberra, Bradford, Gloucester, now England; it has been an amazing journey.

“It wouldn’t be the first time an overseas player has played for England,” Andrew said. “It happens round the world. We didn’t set the regulation, it’s set by the IRB. This guy wants to play for England and he’s eligible to play for England.

“We have the other issue around developing our own players, which is the union’s responsibility. There are talented young players, many of whom have been capped, and a huge amount of good work going on.”

England 32-man squad for RBS 6 Nations Championship:

Backs: I Balshaw (Gloucester), D Cipriani (Wasps), M Cueto (Sale Sharks), T Flood (Newcastle), A Gomarsall (Harlequins), C Hodgson (Sale Sharks), J Noon (Newcastle), P Richards (London Irish), P Sackey (Wasps), D Strettle (Harlequins), M Tait (Newcastle), M Tindall (Gloucester), R Wigglesworth (Sale Sharks), J Wilkinson (Newcastle), L Vainikolo (Gloucester).

Forwards: S Borthwick (Bath), T Croft (Leicester), G Chuter (Leicester), L Deacon (Leicester), N Easter (Harlequins), J Haskell (Wasps), B Kay (Leicester), L Mears (Bath), L Moody (Leicester), T Payne (Wasps), T Rees (Wasps), M Regan (Bristol), S Shaw (Wasps), A Sheridan (Sale Sharks), M Stevens (Bath), P Vickery (Wasps, capt), J Worsley (Wasps).

Source: The Times

International : こんにちは、私の名前はスティーブ である

How the %*&^ do you use this Japanese script mobile phone?

How the %^*& do you use this Japanese Script Mobile Phone

Former Australia flyhalf Stephen Larkham has signed a three-year deal to play club rugby in Japan before he retires from the game.

Larkham, who quit international rugby after last year’s World Cup in France, said he would join Tokyo club Ricoh Black Rams later this season.

Larkham had originally signed to play for Edinburgh but had to look for another club when the deal fell through.

“I’ve always wanted to play rugby in Japan, and now get the chance to do so a little earlier than expected,” Larkham said in a statement on Wednesday.

“My family is very excited by the opportunity to live in Tokyo and I am looking forward to playing for Ricoh. I’m currently enjoying the longest rest of my rugby career and I’m feeling mentally and physically refreshed.”

Larkham is regarded as one of Australia’s greatest players. He earned 102 caps since his test debut in 1996 and played in three World Cups.

He was a key member of the Wallabies team that won the title in 1999, kicking the decisive drop goal in the semi-final win over South Africa, and was on the losing side in the 2003 final.

However, he was plagued by injuries in recent seasons and played only one match in last year’s World Cup before suffering a knee injury that prematurely ended his international career.

Source: Reuters

International – Bye Bye Betsen!

Enjoy your retirement thick lips!

France’s veteran flanker Serge Betsen announced his immediate retirement from the international arena on Wednesday in what he said would be his final season of playing.The 33-year-old Biarritz star – capped 63 times and twice a Six Nations Grand Slam winner – made the announcement at the town hall in the Paris suburb of Clichy-la-Garenne where he started his career.

“I have decided to end my international career,” the Cameroon-born Betsen said.

“Before last year’s World Cup, I told myself that would be my final challenge on the international level.

“I am still under contract with Biarritz until the end of the season, but when that is over, I will be through with playing.”

Betsen, who was named world player of the year in 2002 and twice appeared in World Cup semi-finals in 2003 and 2007 where England beat them both times, will join fellow French greats in Fabien Pelous, Raphael Ibanez and Christophe Dominici in announcing their retirements since the World Cup.

One of the first black players to break through into the full French international side, Betsen has long been held up as a role model for introducing rugby to disadvantaged French city suburbs.

He battled his way against the odds into the France XV for a Test match against Italy in 1997, but it was not until three years later that he became a fixture in the lineup.

His standing rose dramatically in 2002 when he hammered England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson in a Six Nations game that propelled France to the Grand Slam and Betsen to the Player of the Year award.

The following year Wilkinson revenged himself by kicking all of England’s points in a 24-7 World Cup semi-final win in Sydney en route to outright victory in the competition.

Betsen continued to terrorise fly-halves in the years that followed but he struggled for most of last season with injuries including during the World Cup.

“I was injured just before the World Cup and that posed me a lot of problems,” he said.

“Even if I was able to get back playing for my club, I am not in a position to play again at the top international level.”

source : Agence France-Presse (AFP)