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1940-1944 - Inside the Lodz Ghetto - A record of atrocity and resistance, buried in a wooden box -


How to revive Massachusetts’ first language -


Deliveroo riders seek to unionise and gain workers' rights -

Why did some French women walk out of work early? -

New benefit cap starts amid fears for single parents -

'One-fifth of cancer patients face work discrimination' -


Finalists For The 2016 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards - The eagle is my favourite.


AFL vows to work harder to eradicate racism after Adelaide incidents -


India v England: Stuart Broad says selectors' patience helped him to 100 Test caps -

Rugby League:

Ruan Sims: Cronulla Sharks deal is first paid women's league contract - All the Sims siblings are terrifyingly good at rugby.

Huddersfield's Eorl Crabtree retires from rugby league - Yes, he's the one wrestling fans might have seen lurking occasionally when the WWE come over here.

Rugby Union:

Ireland v New Zealand: Joe Schmidt says there is no gulf in class -
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Sport 'mechanic of the mind' brings Olympic expertise to firms -

Serial returners cause problems for shops -


'I cheated death and joined the Guinea Pig Club' -

Law and Order:

Dog attacks: When is a fatal dog mauling a criminal offence? - Apparently the answer is 'when the owner isn't a police officer'.


'Major failings' in DVLA medical fitness to drive cases -

Itchy business: The growth of head lice removal firms -

I went to Nigeria to meet the man who scammed me -

Costumes to go: Rolling out for Halloween -


10 real-life love stories and the heartbreaking songs they inspired -


Is a child bride really married every seven seconds? -

India Kashmir: The teenager blinded by pellets -


In pictures: Lagos photo festival on African identity -


What is it like when the PM is your MP? -

That black British feeling: Does the UK need Black Lives Matter? -

6 Reasons Why Donald Trump Is Not ‘Just Like Brexit’ - From before the last US elections. Actually more interesting for the wrong assumptions the analyst made.

US election: Why does the US have such low voter turnout? -


Palestinian women bring baseball to Gaza -


Live From Leicester Fuching City -

Rugby League:

Jack Smith: Four Nations role for ex-Royal Marine shot by a sniper in Afghanistan -


Inside the Cyberattack That Shocked the US Government -
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Italy earthquake: Why so many houses collapsed -


Frank Pantridge, the 'father of emergency medicine' -

James Lind: The man who helped to cure scurvy with lemons -

The hidden trauma of being torn during childbirth -


10 Bars at the End of the World - Should it worry me that I have been to one, and past another.

Humans: Unusually Murderous Mammals, Typically Murderous Primates -

Will Brexit be a boon for tourists? -

Do the clothes we wear define us? -

Plastic bag charge: Could fee be applied to other packaging? -

The magpie that saved a family -

Louis Theroux: Looking back on Jimmy Savile -


What a stupid Scrabble article taught me about Welsh -


A summer with Blossoms: 150 gigs, 45 festivals and two weeks at number one -


Whistle-blower who took on Spain's ruling elite -

Why Our Wonderful NHS Is So Close To My Heart -


Right Hand, Left Hand, Either Hand - Containing one of the best explanations of chirality I have ever read.


Daniel Wilkinson death: 'Too many are being lost to cardiac issues' - experts -


Rio Olympics 2016: Dutch cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten on horror crash -

Rugby League:

Jack Smith: Ex-Royal Marine shot on duty in 2010 becomes full-time RFL referee -


Is the world wide web a waste of water? -
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A United Kingdom: The interracial marriage that made front page news -

The man stuffed and displayed like a wild animal -


Jackie Chan Hasn't Seen His Original Stunt Team In Decades. Then Realizes They're All Standing Behind Him -

Why is the US 'tampon tax' so hated? - Ever get the feeling the headline was written by a man? There is trying to remain impartial and then there's this.

World's oldest man, Yisrael Kristal, 113, to hold bar mitzvah -


These are the last 10 tracks Carl Cox played at his Space residency in Ibiza -

Skepta: Seven things you should know about the 2016 Mercury Prize winner -


Is India in the throes of a fever outbreak? -


Rachel Atherton: 'I don't need an Olympic medal' -

A fresh chance to banish the curse of Mayo - Of course they lost, because they are Mayo.


Head injuries: Football's continuing failure highlighted yet again by treatment of Anthony Martial -

Naismith earns Goodison cheers despite helping sink Everton -


Rio Olympics 2016: How last-second gold changed taekwondo fighter's life -


Gold medallist welcomed back from Rio – with gold wheelie bin -

Rio 2016: The people who fix broken legs at the Paralympics -

Rugby League:

Women's Rugby League World Cup to be held alongside men's -

Leigh Centurions: Journey from despair to Super League delight -

Rugby Union:

Saved from the dark side: how Hong Kong’s rugby ‘Pigs’ are giving Philippine street kids a chance -


German Masters: Anthony Hamilton beats Ali Carter to win first title - Yay! and Finally!


My grandfather Roald Dahl, the magician -
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Award Ceremonies:

Jackie Chan awarded honorary Oscar - I suspect I may have shared this before.


Slum photographs spark charity appeal -

Oscar Wilde love letter celebrated 'behind bars' -

What Al Capone can teach India about prohibition -

Mary Rose shipwreck skulls go online in 3D -


Single mum drags up for 'Donuts with Dad' - 1 - this Mum is awesome. 2 - why is it always 'x with Dad' events. It's like once again, father's get cookies for just doing the basics.

Downton's effect on the political mood -

Dying mum's letter found in book in second-hand bookshop - Update: letter's intended recipient found.

Marvel, Jack Kirby, and the Comic-Book Artist’s Plight -


What Is Aleppo? This Is Aleppo -

Workers must not pay the price of Brexit, says TUC -

Mapuche community in Argentina fights fracking site -


Why We Still Don’t Have Better Batteries -


The Old Firm rivalry opens new chapter -

USA star Megan Rapinoe kneels during national anthem to support Colin Kaepernick -

Football tackles conflict on the front lines -

FA Cup: Rio Ferdinand's body double & the ex-Man City player looking to spend £500 -

Formula 1:

Felipe Massa: the closing of an F1 career that has experienced ecstasy and agony - Obviously from before the un-retirement

Ice hockey:

Lightning's J.T. Brown speaks out on life 'as a black athlete in the NHL' -


Rio Paralympics 2016: GB stars hoping to shine on the big stage -

Rio Paralympics 2016: Lee Pearson to be Great Britain flagbearer -

Rio Paralympics 2016: 'It's not about how full the stadiums are' -

Rio Paralympics 2016: Ex-Liverpool junior Sean Highdale is heading to Rio -

Rugby League:

Batley Bulldogs fan banned over Keegan Hirst tweets - You'll notice that it's a life time ban because rugby league does not tolerate this.


In pictures: The Prisoner at 50 - Just ignore some of the text. I'm not sure the unnamed writer has ever watched the show.


Jun. 11th, 2017 04:21 pm
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What are the smuttiest ships? -


Pedro Almodovar: Why there was no room for comedy in my new film -

The best 100 films of the 21st century, according to 177 film critics around the world - Let the arguing begin, although the list is reasonable.


Third 'given wrong initial heart attack diagnosis' -


Centenary of 'Spitfires of the Seas' -

Joan of Arc’s Ring: A Question of Possession and Cultural Patrimony -

Pocket Guide to Northern Ireland -


REVERSE VOXSPLAINING: DRUGS VS. CHAIRS - More specifically, patent law

Law and Order:

Ramen is displacing tobacco as most popular US prison currency, study finds -

Cooking with ramen: Prisoners get creative -

Two articles based on the same report.


What parents really mean to say about exam results -

Parents 'struggle' to find holiday care for learning disabled children -

Go-getters in the ghettos: The bright side of France's migrant suburbs -

What US counties are named after -

'London is most educated city in Europe' -


The social housing tenants miles from home -

America’s elections are less swingy

Lopsided electoral-college margins now appear to be a thing of the past - (From before the last US elections)


The woman who discovered India's first HIV cases -

United States Just Placed Bumblebees on Endangered Species List for First Time -

Read These Before You Write That Op-Ed - About drug pricing

Could mouthwash combat gonorrhoea? -


Rio Paralympics: Two refugee Para-athletes named for Rio Paralympics -

The Olympic Games 2016 by Tom Jenkins -


Leicester fans light up stadium as floodlights fail in savage storm -

How hooligans exposed the ugly rift in Croatian football -

Celtic: Callum McGregor eager to learn Champions League opponents - Sorry, I am a sucker from ballboy to first team stories.

Wycombe Wanderers' Matt Bloomfield: 'I knocked the ref's front teeth out' - On the occasion of Bloomfield's 400 (!!!) game for Wycombe.

Rugby League:

Challenge Cup final: Warrington captain Chris Hill on plumbing and Wembley -


Innovators vs Exploiters: Drug Pricing And The Future Of Pharma -

The tech helping disabled people dance, run and compete -

The Australian town that wants to get off the grid -
redfiona99: (Default)
Last weekend, as I was in Newcastle, I took the opportunity to go to Magic Weekend at St. James’s Park.

Magic Weekend is when all 12 Super League rugby teams play in one stadium over the course of 6 matches, 3 on Saturday and 3 on Sunday.  It’s £40 for all 6 matches, which is a very good deal.

Now, I’m not saying I had the best view in the house, but I pretty much did. ) [View from the seat I had at St. James's Park].

I missed the first ten minutes of Wakefield Wildcats vs Widnes Vikings.  On the way down to St. James’s I saw a couple in full Viking dress.

Complete with hat and horns.

Other important Widnes information includes the fact that the Viking fanclub is called the Stronghold.  Because of course it is.

The Widnes mascot was fantastic fun.  In between hitting the Wildcat mascot with his axe (don’t worry, they hugged and made up ) [Widnes Mascot (a Viking) and the Wakefield Mascot (a wildcat]), and lending a Widnes fan in a wheelchair the axe and running her up and down the side of the stadium so that she could hit people with it, he was fun chaos. Trust me, if you’re anything to do with Widnes, you need your fun from somewhere.

I did figure out what Widnes’s problem was.  They’ve got nothing going forward, so they have to defend constantly.  That leads to them tiring, their opposition scoring late on and Widnes losing.

Then came Saints vs Hull FC.

Now, I am a Saints fan.  I had no hopes going in.  I mean it, if they’d only lost by 10 points, I would have been happy.  They had been that bad.  It was also the new manager’s first game.  Low expectations were the order of the day.

They won.

45 – 0.

No, I can’t explain it either.
the dear wonderful boys lining up before the match )
Cheerleaders holding aloft Saints flags when they scored )

I have no idea how Justin Holbrook did it.  At the time, I wasn’t sure if he’d just told them that he didn’t mind them playing badly he just demanded that they play like professionals, or if it was Saints being their usual inconsistent selves and being awful one week (vs Castleford, I have legitimately never seen them play worse) and good the next.  Since then, it seems to be that it’s Holbrook being a damn fine coach because Saints won the derby this week.  (The Saints vs Wigan derby is often held up to be the origin of the phrase “derby match”.  It’s a big thing locally, and the first official one was 122 years ago.)

The last match on the Saturday was Wigan (them, the great sporting evil) vs Warrington (who are so perpetually the bridesmaids that even they make jokes about “this being their year”).

It was a 14-14 draw.

Warrington had the lead, but they blew it.  Because they are Warrington.
Stefan Ratchford, because he is my favourite Warrington player )

I think Warrington’s problem is that their line is too high up the pitch when they attack so it just needs one good kick or one line break to completely destroy their defence.

The first match of Sunday was Catalan Dragons vs Huddersfield Giants.
the flags before the game )

It was always going to be the least well-attended match of the weekend because Catalan are, obviously, a foreign team so, understandably, they have fewer travelling fans.  I still say that there were more Catalan fans than Hull fans though.
The Catalan fans )

Half time and between the matches entertainment included mini rugby, touch rugby and various sets of dancers. )
And the St. James’s house band.  I discovered that “Take Me Home, Country Road”, “Wonderwall”, “Seven Nation Army” and “Chelsea Dagger” are universal rugby league songs.

There was also a Mushy Pea mascot because one of the Super League’s sponsors is a brand of mushy peas. )

The Huddersfield Giant mascot was very good and shook the hands of the mini rugby players as they left the pitch.

The next match was Leigh Centurions vs Salford Red Devils.  I’m not sure why the Leigh mascot is a pig, but here he is doing one armed push-ups. )
I am impressed.

Last match of the weekend was Castleford Tigers, league leaders, vs Leeds Rhinos, their local rivals.

Rob Burrow, who is my favourite player, despite the fact that he plays for Leeds, was playing. Now, for reasons, some of the teams were wearing superhero-branded kit.  Wakefield were wearing a Spiderman inspired kit, Hull an Incredible Hulk one, Warrington a Thor one (which makes sense because of all the Ashton Sims is Thor jokes), Catalan Dragons wore an Iron Man themed one and Leeds got Captain America.  This is a problem because Rob Burrow looks like Steve Rogers pre-serum, in comparison to the other players. the unfortunate proof )

Tiny Rob Burrow’s vital stats are he is 5 foot 5 (165 cm) and 10 stone 6 (66 kg).  And he’s a pro rugby player.  His lack of size may have some bearing on my love for him.  That he is also awesome also does.  Despite the final where he came on at half time and stole the championship from my team by hustle and moxie.

Castleford won.  I think the Castleford fans won for loudest fans of the weekend.


It was great fun.  I recommend going to Magic Weekend if you get the chance.

It’s an amazing experience getting to be around so many people who love rugby. For example, there was a try-saving tackle by a Widnes Vikings player that got cheers from all the crowd (except the Wakefield fans, justifiably) because it was an excellent piece of play.

Seeing all the teams play, particularly from the vantage point I was at, meant you could get a much better feel of how they played than you can from the TV.  On TV, you often don't get to see off-the-ball play as much. I got to see some marvellous rugby, both attacking, such as Tommy Makinson’s try, and a lot of the tackling.

The atmosphere was great too.  I’m 5 foot 3 and a woman and I went on my own but I knew there wouldn’t be any trouble despite all the fans sitting together, not being separated by team affiliation.

There was a fair bit of banter, such as the Wigan Warriors fans walking round the pitch with a banner saying “We came, we conquered, we ate all the pies”, which got the expected response (and the Widnes mascot giving them the thumbs down).  Or the Warrington banner saying “it’s always our year”.  Then there was the back and forth “stand up for St Helens,” “stand up for the champions” and “stand up if you hate Wigan” chants.  Or the Wigan and Saints fans joining together to taunt Warrington.  Or the Wigan and Saints fans having a throw football match. The stewards were most disapproving, because they are used to football fans but the supervisor steward knew rugby fans are mostly harmless and threw the ball back.

On Sunday, there was an adorable child Leeds fan who ran round a group of Castleford fans when Leeds scored and just got chuckled at.

I love how much colour and sound there was.  Fans of every team took the idea of striking the colours seriously, repping their team.  This included fans of teams that weren’t at Magic Weekend, like the Crusaders fans in front of me or the Toronto Wolfpack fans to my left.

St. James’s facilities were excellent, except they could do with a better PA system because it was full of fuzzy reverb.

I had a fantastic time, would recommend going, and plan to go again as soon as I have the time and money again.
redfiona99: (Default)
Dear UK NFL fans (who don’t already have a rugby league team to support),

Support Toronto Wolfpack.


Because Toronto are trying to do what any NFL franchise based in the UK would have to do.

Now admittedly there are differences between the two: size of squad, overheads and relegation into and out of various leagues for a start...but you can bet your bottom dollar the NFL are keeping an eye on what happens to the Wolfpack, and they will include it in their calculations about whether a UK-based franchise would succeed.

The hurdles Toronto are having to overcome would also be a problem for a UK franchise:

- The distance (although, as several commentators have pointed out, the flight time between several US NFL teams is just as long as the US/UK flight time)

- Getting homegrown players into the team. Toronto have done something sensible and clever, they've run trials in Canadian and US cities to find people who haven't quite made the grade in the NFL or CFL (Canadian Football League) but who could transfer their skills to rugby league. The homegrown player thing is obviously less of a thing in the NFL because of the whole draft thing (and the franchise thing), but I think it would help embed the putative UK team better in the UK.

- Transport, although that’s not a problem for an NFL team as the NFL pay transport costs. But because the RFL don’t, Toronto have done another clever thing. They have signed a sponsorship deal with an airline, Air Transat. The airline are covering the cost of Toronto’s flights and, and here’s the clever bit, the flight costs of the UK teams that are playing Toronto. Toronto are also being nice and covering some of the travel costs for the UK fans coming over. Presumably to keep costs low, the matches are being played in sets of 5, so Toronto have 5 games over here, and then five home games back in Toronto. The putative NFL team won’t need to do that.

- Competition from other sports teams. Toronto is a good proxy for London (and the UK in general) because it already has a lot of sports teams. The Maple Leafs, the Blue Jays, the Raptors, the Argonauts and Toronto FC are just some of the teams that the Wolfpack will need to compete against to gain fans and an audience share.

If Toronto show that a transatlantic franchise could succeed, they might well be a stepping stone to getting the London Jaguars. So get cheering for them, UK NFL fans.
redfiona99: (Default)
This is a late response to the RFL's ambassadorial contracts. The new salary cap and marquee player rules might have put an end to this nonsense. However, the RFL still win some sort of prize for really bad ideas with the ambassadorial contracts.

It's not just the not informing all the teams. Although that is the level of communication I expect from the RFL. It's that it's a bad idea no matter which way you look at it.

First of all, I look at it as a fan. Okay, there is an advantage to my team. It should mean that my team can keep hold of players that would otherwise go to the NRL (or another Super League team). But that relies on my team being one of the ones whose players are chosen to play for England. I'm lucky, the occasional Saints player does get picked. Other teams aren't so lucky, see any number of Wakefield and Castleford players who have deserved a call-up and didn't get one because they played for unfashionable clubs. Or there are players who are the victim of an oversight by a particular coach e.g. Steve McNamara's refusal to pick Danny Brough.

There's no way that this idea is fair on Catalan Dragons. They are, understandably, unlikely to produce any English players through their academy.

It gives an advantage to the teams that are already big. It also puts any team coming up from the Championship at an even bigger disadvantage than they would have been.

Also as a fan, and using a personal example, I'd rather James Graham have moved to the NRL than to another English team. One of those is annoying, the other one would have broken my heart.

I think that would also be true if I was an owner or manager. I'd rather a player leave for Australia rather than play for one of our competitors.

As an England fan, I want the players playing in the best league possible so that we might, eventually, beat the Aussies. That means the NRL. One year of results in the World Club Championships does not change that. I understand that the reason why they brought this in (or tried to) was to reduce the gap. The RFL think that the NRL are stealing all of the Super League's best players. They also think that stopping that will make the gap between England and Australia smaller.

This seems to ignore that the players that go over and succeed are mostly props, not creative players. Now, I love me my props, see also James Graham, but GB/England have always been able to equal Australia in the forwards. It's in the backs where Australia are so much better. Stopping the backs from getting experience against Australian teams is not going to solve that problem.

What might solve the problem is stopping the English teams bringing in over-the-hill Australians to play in the backs. Instead English teams should be encouraged to promote players from their own youth systems.

No Super League team is going to agree to that though, because why should they cut their own throats for the national team. I think there will need to be a carrot and stick approach. Somehow said carrot (or stick) also needs to be applicable to the Catalan Dragons. That is where it gets difficult. There's no reason for the RFL to help the Dragons, but just as much, there's no reason for the Super League teams to help the RFL without some sort of reward.
redfiona99: (Thinking)
(Warning, will get long)

So my hometown team won the league this year. However, several years ago, the powers that be in rugby league decided it wasn't enough that a team be the best over 27 games, no, to be the champions, they have to win a play-off series as well.

As I may have mentioned, Saints won the league despite being without their two most creative players for most of the season (Luke Walsh and Jonny Lomax) and then lost the next nearest they had to someone with creativity just before the end of the season (Jon Wilkin). So, obviously, being down to the bare bones being minus a few more players on top of those three, we weren't going to win the play-offs.

First off Saints were drawn to play Castleford Tigers who they narrowly held off to win the league leader's shield. Despite the vexed forces usually at work against Saints (see also Alex Walmsley getting banned), they beat Castleford.

Next up, it was assumed that we'd pick Huddersfield when they beat Catalan Dragons but Huddersfield forgot to actually beat Catalan so we picked Catalans instead.

So everyone jumped on the Catalan Dragons bandwagon. Now I don't mind it when it's fans of other teams but when the press does it too ... they'd never have done it to Leeds or Wigan*.

Saints win vs the Dragons, in keeping with the example of St George, not Illawara, and as luck would have it, in the play-off final, we have to play our nearest and most hated adversaries - Wigan.

Who are evil.

And no-one gives us a hope. Because they've got Joel Tomkins back from union, and we have our 3 most creative players injured and Saints choke and we allegedly only won the league by a fluke and so on (missing that, in games played this season, Saints were 1-1 against Wigan).

It's the day of the game and the trains are slightly late so I get in the house 5 minutes after the game had started.


I told you they were evil.

Basically Lance Hohaia (of Saints) put a forearm into Ben Flower's face. Which is naughty, so no one minded Flower's first punch. Only the first punch knocked Hohaia spark out and Flower's decided to punch him again why Hohaia was on the floor. The second punch was what got him sent off.

Hohaia, meanwhile, was taken to hospital with a broken face. Which, other than the obvious 'you don't like seeing players hurt' is a bit of a bugger because Hohaia was the last creative/flair type player Saints had left.

But still, even Saints couldn't lose to a team that's going to have 12 men for 78 minutes. Right?

So, of course, Saints immediately go behind to a Matty Smith penalty. And the entire Saints team forget how to play rugby. Catching a ball becomes impossible to them. To quote the BBC commentary "When Paul Wellens starts making mistakes, you may begin to think it is not your day." And every Saints fan starts getting that sinking feeling.

Thankfully Mark Percival (whose name is not Lance) evens the score up with a penalty.

Then, with 30 seconds to go to half time, Wigan score a try. And every Saints supporter goes, 'no, not this' because we do not want to be the other party in a story of Wigan's triumph over adversity, particularly not when they'll never shut up about it for the rest of forever and it'll be mentioned every time a player gets sent off in a big match.

Now, because I was watching on the radio, I have no idea what was said at half-time, but what I do know is that Nathan Brown earned his pay, because the Saints team that came out in the second half couldn't have been more different. They stuck to their tasks, the played sensibly, they didn't panic. It was wonderful.

This forced Wigan into errors. And two of them in a row lead to a try for Sia Soliola who will be going back to Australia next season. We will miss you.

Then, after a bit of loose play from our lot, and Matty Smith** missing a penalty for them to even the score, the ever-wonderful Paul Wellens set up the dashing Tommy Makinson for a try.

Cue pandamonium in the Saints fans because it has been some time since we won the league and there's been 5 losing grand finals since and they hurt. Especially against Wigan.

But this time they won, because they are glorious, glorious boys.

I shall leave you with the most important photo:

*Saints fans aren't paranoid. Everyone is out to get us.
** who, in one of those stories, is the younger brother of someone I went to school with.
redfiona99: (Thinking)
Which does have a Roman numeral, but I can never remember what year we're up to.

The good news being that Saints won the league part of it somehow. With accent on the somehow given our best player has been out since July, our second best player has been out since June, and we've had 5-7 of the first choice team injured at every single point of the season. And then had a form collapse at the end of the season. But such is the way of being a Saints fan.

The funniest thing was the way the entire Rugby League press decided that no, it would be better if Castleford won because obviously, Saints have been this glorious, victorious all-conquering monster the past few seasons (we've won nothing for 8 years). I totally understand that Cas are the ultimate underdogs (they've won nothing in 86 years) and I am totally okay with people cheering for them if they admit their biases see also Brian Noble who willing admitted he was cheering for them so I don't mind him doing it.

Anyhow, despite being the best team over the season, all we get is the plate, and there's still the play-offs to be won. We're doomed, but at least we've won something this season.

The other funny thing is that the Dream Team (so a season XIII) got announced and Saints got one person on it (the ever wonderful Tommy Makinson) while Leeds, who finished 6th, got 5 players on it. Cue outrage from everyone. Not on Saints's behalf, admittedly, because everyone agrees that Saints were terrible this year. I'm willing to admit it, I've been following them via radio, but if we were terrible, how bad was everyone else ;)
redfiona99: (Thinking)
Seriously, there is no way they should have won the Challenge Cup match against Huddersfield.

Partly I feel it's my fault for watching them. Apparently they've been playing wonderfully all season (even against Leeds with 7 of the starters out) but the minute I watch them they start playing like 13 strangers who've been thrown together. The first 20 minutes were good, the rest was dire.

But you know, they won, and without picking up any more injuries.

However I, like every other person I know, Saints fans, coach and various other attendant Saints personages, thought that Danny Brough's kick went over.

And now we've got Leeds! Ack!
redfiona99: (Thinking)
I bring video evidence of two of the cool rugby league things:

Fiji hit the right notes to book Wembley date -

Warrington's stadium falls silent for Fijian/Samoan prayer -
redfiona99: (Thinking)
Three lovely things from the Rugby League World Cup.

Item 1 - The players have been doing a really good job of the fan interaction thing, Sonny Bill Williams in particular, but Billy Slater, having just been helped off the pitch with a re-occurrence of a knee injury that he had to have known would probably be tournament-ending, went above and beyond. I'll let the official RLWC 2013 facebook page, take up the story.

>>You may have seen Billy Slater being helped from the field during his side's win over USA today. What you didn't see was the Kangaroos full-back putting a smile on the face of a young fan, who had plucked up the courage to tap Billy on the shoulder in the tunnel area and say 'hello'. The Australian spent time with the boy and his family, before heading back into the changing room and hobbling back out to hand the boy a gift - his match-worn Kangaroos socks.<<

The man's magnificent.

From the comments section, very much [sic] - >>Coming from an English, I think every Australian player are the best(not playing wise) but like this, and also not so long ago Greg Inglis went up to a little girl at a souths match after a ball hit her on the head and rubbed it better and asked how she was. The Aussies also, 1st game of the WC were stood in the tunnel speaking to the mascots having a full convo with them! High respect for them all!<<


Item 2 - The various Pacific Islands tend to start their matches with a war dance. Not this Fijian team. They start with a hymn. They've also apparently managed to find the only rugby players in the world* that can sing. Because it sounds beautiful.

*I will grant that the French rugby league team are less out of tune than their union counterparts but dear lord, there's someone on the England team who sings like me and my mother, and with the same voluminous enthusiasm.


Item 3 - After the match, the Samoan and Fijian teams join together and prayed. The crowd, spontaneously, fell silent for them. It was nice.


The Formula 1

Short US Grand Prix Notes )
redfiona99: (Thinking)
Pre-match there was a little Roby and Graham featurette. I was grinning like the Cheshire cat. Actually given that the half-time bit was about Mal Maninga talking about how the only English team he could ever play for is Saints (, it's like they suddenly remembered my team exist. I'm all stars and hearts.

Match )

*Sorry, Rangi Chase vs Olivier Elima, my vote is on Elima's side.

** I'm not picking on Ashley Klein, he is the worst referee in rugby league.
redfiona99: (Thinking)
So Eddy Pettybourne ( of the US team is moving to Wigan next season, and his co-commentator was all "I'm so looking forward to it." And Jamie Jones Buchanan goes "I'm not, I've got to tackle him."
redfiona99: (Thinking)
Listening to Jamie Jones-Buchanan commentating on the US vs Australia, and he's talking about rugby league game for the Xbox and how his son plays it a lot (and frequently beats him). Other commentator goes "but does he pick Dad for the team?"

And JJB says "he often plays the Rhinos and he always comes and tells me when I score." Dear Jamie Jones-Buchanan, you are adorbs.
redfiona99: (Thinking)
As the mighty US Rugby League team has managed to qualify for the quarter-finals of the rugby league world cup, I felt it might be an idea to briefly cover the basics of the game for any new fans watching. The information is taken from here and here.

Somewhat worryingly, both of the rules pages start with the information that you're trying to score more points than the other team, but I'm going to assume that you can guess that.

The very basic rules of the game are that each team is given six chances to score. Each chance ends with a tackle (a tackle is a tackle when the referee calls "held"). If, after six tackles, they have not scored, the ball is handed over to the other team who then get the chance to score with their six tackles.

There are 4 ways of scoring:

1 - A Try - A try is worth 4 points. Similar to a touchdown in American football, except you actually have to touch the ball down with control and downward pressure. I've highlighted those last words because if you don't do them, the try will not be given to your team.

2 - A Conversion - A conversion is worth 2 points. They can be scored only after the team has scored a try. The kick is taken from a position perpendicular to the goal line where the try was scored. The ball must pass between the goalposts and over the crossbar. If the team scores a conversion after a try, it is referred to as a converted try.

3 - A Penalty Kick - Also worth 2 points. Often just referred to as a penalty, this is one of the two options a team captain can take when the referee awards his team a penalty. The other option is to get another set of 6 tackles with which to try to score.

4 - A Drop Goal - worth 1 point. This is scored when the ball is kicked between the goalposts and over the cross bar in open play.

A match lasts 80 minutes, split up into 2 halves of 40 minutes. The time is kept by a separate time keeper who sounds a hooter to signal the end of each half. If you're really unlucky and playing at one of the French stadiums, it sounds like an air-raid siren.

Both teams will have 13 players on the pitch at any one time. These will be the team you are cheering for. These will be the opponents. As in ice hockey, there are rolling substitutions with no need for a stoppage in play. There is a limit on the number of these interchanges, with a maximum of 12 per team per game.

When passing the ball, it must go level or backwards. If the ball goes forwards, this is called a forward pass and the referee will award the other team a scrum and give them the ball. The rugby league scrum is formed of 6 players from each team. The scrum half puts the ball into the scrum, and the hooker from his team hooks the ball backwards to gain possession of the ball for his team.

Scrums are also awarded for knock-ons. A knock-on is when the ball is dropped forwards by a player and hits the ground or another player.

Don't worry if you're not sure whether that's happened, because the referees wear microphones and have a set of hand-signals that they use to indicate what is going on. These have been handily summarised  photo rugbyleaguerefhandsignals_zpsdd7881a8.jpghere.

The offside rule does nothing but cause everyone headaches but basically, the defending team have to be 10 meters away from the attacking team when they play the ball after the tackle, and the person on the attacking team receiving the ball from the play the ball must be directly behind their team-mate.

Obstruction is when one of the attacking team runs across the line of a defender trying to tackle their team-mate.

Tackles are not allowed to be above shoulder height. Above that is a high tackle.

For something like that or other foul play that is deserving of more than a penalty to the opposition, a referee can give one of 3 punishments:

1 - A yellow card - the offender has to spend 10 minutes in the sin bin. Their team has to play the 10 minutes with 12 players.

2 - A red card - the offender is sent off and cannot play for the rest of the match. Their team has to play the rest of the match with 12 players.

3 - The player is put on report - while better for the team in the short run, the player gets to stay on the pitch and carry on playing, it means the disciplinary panel will look at the offence and decide what punishment is appropriate. This can be anything from nothing to a 4 match ban.

I think that covers the important things.

Oh yeah, also people like the  photo Sims_zps109459ce.pngSims brothers will be playing. Not in that game, but I am getting all the mileage I can out of that photo.

For your interest and delectation may I also recommend this article which explains why everyone that loves an underdog will be rooting for the US.
redfiona99: (Thinking)
Nor am I only watching TNA.

Mostly I have been going to the gym, which sort of takes 6 hours out of my week rather quickly. If we ignore my sucktacular chest press (oh how I loathe thee chest press), it's not going too badly, I can deadlift more than half my bodyweight and my squat is getting there slowly.

I've also been typing stuff up for secret website stuff. Now that that's finished I hope to do my yearly round up of WIPs which I always find helpful for clearing my folder either by way of finishing stuff or by forcing me to accept defeat and shoving it in the "never going to be finished" folder.

And then there's been the rugby. The way they scheduled the group stages of the world cup, there's been matches on on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The radio coverage has been mostly excellent, and the whole tournament has been so much fun. I've been cheering and shouting and cursing, frequently for and at teams I never imagined I would. One really good thing to have come out of it, other than the glorious and mostly good press for the game, is that everyone now sees what I see in Danny Brough*.

I've not been posting about it much because I know I have been doing a lot of Fantasy Managering of England and squeaking over Scotland, Fiji and Samoa. Part of the problem is that very few people complained about more than 1 or 2 of McNamara's choices for the original squad but that everyone feels they have a much clearer idea of who their starting 13 is from that squad than McNamara does. I think he's gotten closer to it as the tournament has progressed. Basically, dear Mr. McNamara, play the 13 you had on from minute 40 to about 65 of the Fiji match, or as close as you can given injuries, and I think you're sorted. And don't make that weird interchange that leads to James Graham playing hooker. I don't know how he can be so bad at it given that it's league and he's a prop, but he is.

I've also been trying to put together a beginner's guide to rugby league so that any passing Americans who want to watch the quarter final against Australia will know what's going on.

*who could have been English for the tournament, Steve McNamara. And I know he plays in the same position as Kevin Sinfield but I'm sure he's a better scrum half than Rangi Chase and he can play there too.
redfiona99: (Thinking)
I am indulging myself a little in one of the fics I'm writing and giving a character a Ferrari 360 Spider (, which is very close to being the (modern) Ferrari of my dreams.

I count it as behaving myself because I didn't given him an Enzo (, the actual (modern) Ferrari of my dreams. Mostly because there are only 500 of them in the world and I'm trying to maintain some level of plausibility.


I am also grinning with glee that Saints will have this guy on the team next year -


I delivered a fiendishly polite put down to someone claiming I'd been stomping on the WMF VE developers. I pointed out that I was just following their orders i.e. if you see a problem, see if you can narrow it down to what the problem is with and then report. And it was a major error (replacing all accented characters with garbage). I am 100% behind the idea of VE but like everyone else who has ever had to use it, I've got some issues with how many bugs it has.


redfiona99: (Default)

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