ROMAIN TAOFIFENUA is a big lad. Just how big remains something of a mystery. According to which paper you read in France, his weight in the last few months has fluctuated between 125 kgs and 133 kgs. Then again, assuming the official Perpignan website hasn’t got a wonky set of scales, Taofifenua comes in at an eye-wateringly impressive 140kg, making him in all probability the heaviest player in professional rugby.
Posted 107 days ago
Posted 113 days ago
RESTAURANTS IN France have Michelin Stars, rugby players have Midi Olympique stars. They are awarded in each Monday’s edition of the newspaper to the players who have caught the eye over the weekend. The judging is roughly along the lines of: One star: good performance; two stars: very good performance; three stars: great performance.
Posted 120 days ago
Posted 127 days ago
SPORTING CLICHES are often abused. Every tournament has a Group of Death and every player is weighed and measured to see if they will be found inferior or capable of cutting huge swathes through the mustard. Of course, same old sayings and hilarious malapropisms from colourful commentators aside, it’s hard to avoid something simple and obvious about the Heineken Cup.
Posted 128 days ago
FOR ALL the talk in recent weeks about Jonny Wilkinson, and will-he-or-won’t-he sign on for another stint at Toulon, there’s another Englishman in the south of France in a similar situation. In fact the similarities don’t stop there. Iain Balshaw and Jonny Wilkinson first played in the same team in 1997, the all-conquering England schoolboys’ side that also featured Mike Tindall.
Posted 134 days ago
GET THE chopping block ready. Remove the ceremonial stretching-rings. It’s time to put my neck on the line. The season has, so far, provided very few genuine shocks. However, as all competitions enter the business end in a few months time, the increased impact of collisions and desperation in the faces of season-wearied professionals will ensure the edge of our seats will be as worn out as Emeli Sandé after her Olympics sing-athon.
Posted 136 days ago
JONNY WILKINSON brought down the curtain on 2012 in fine style, signing off with a 26-point haul as Toulon crushed Perpignan 46-13 and consolidated their position as the Top 14’s dominant side in the first half of the season. Toulon have won 12 of their 14 matches, giving them a seven point lead at the top of the table over Clermont with reigning champions Toulouse lying third a further three points adrift.
Posted 150 days ago
THE CHANCES of a white Christmas in Perpignan would seem about as likely as Wales one day beating Australia. Down in the deep south of France, the winters are mild and usually sunny, which goes to explain why James Hook’s house has been receiving a steady stream of visitors in recent days. His parents have just returned to Wales after a mini-break in Catalan country, and now the Perpignan fly-half has the in-laws staying for Christmas.
Posted 157 days ago
RUGBY IS a subjective old sport. When it comes to talk of who is top of the pile, it’s hard to come to a definitive answer, with pub-know-it-alls basing opinions on one performance, one eye-catching run or one cobbled cliché. It is true that statistics can be used to say whatever you want, torn out of context and pasted into whatever scheme you would like to champion.
Posted 158 days ago
IT’S THE half-way stage of the Heineken Cup and for the French clubs things are looking good. With three of the six pool matches gone, only Biarritz of the seven Top 14 teams look to have no hope of qualifying for the last eight. Their 22-14 defeat away at Connacht last weekend leaves the Basque outfit third in pool 6, nine points behind leaders Harlequins and three adrift of Connacht.