Sunday, 21 February 2010

Nine points and moving words from Cipriani

IF you were sad enough to spend most of your weekend on the rugby forums, you might think, among the abuse and foul language, Danny Cipriani was a waste of space. That he deserved to be consigned, at 22, to the rugby's international dustbin.
Yes, the same Danny Cipriani who booted Wasps to a 9-0 win over Saracens in the Guinness Premiership today. Okay, it was no classic. There were better sporting events over the weekend. Manchester United's 3-1 defeat against Everton, Amy Williams's skeleton gold medal in Vancouver, the all-British final at the World Matchplay golf, England's penultimate over defeat against Pakistan in Dubai, and Chiltern Under 15s epic 5-5 draw at chilly Chinnor this morning.
But there was Cipriani, hours after the official announcement of his move to Melbourne Rebels and the Super 15 at the end of the season, coolly booting his side to victory at Adams Park.
I suggested in my blog on Thursday Cipriani might be a better choice than the fading Jonny Wilkinson for the England No10 shirt after Wilko's uncertain performance against Italy a week ago.
That if England coach Martin Johnson had kept him in his plans rather than demoting him to the Saxons bench, he might just have developed a bit of confidence after his serious ankle injury. That he may have become a realistic option for the 2011 World Cup as he is eight years younger than the great World Cup winner Wilko.
This led to copious abuse and explusion from rugby's internet following, for reasons that are hard to comprehend - bitterness and envy have always surrounded the youngster whose mum drives a taxi and father has returned to Trinidad, who needed a scholarship to attend the Oratory School in Reading. Oh, and he goes out with Kelly Brook. That really makes the sad anoraks uptight as the hurl their crude expletives around on what are supposed to be open, democratic forums. I kid you not, there are some unpleasant types out there.
As Wasps move into the play-off positions, just above London Irish, Cipriani attempted to explain his move Down Under in the Sunday Times.
He said: "There has been so much negativity surrounding me, from coaches, pundits, all sorts of others. It has been depressing.
"I have never made any secret of the fact that I want to have a career with England. I have now lost 15 caps I could have won and I could have improved so much by now if I had been given the chance. The best way to get away from all the negativity is to go to Melbourne.
"My rugby has made me depressed and I have got to get back to feeling good about myself and back to being called confident, not arrogant."
Crucially, here's his verdict on England coach Martin Johnson: "It is fair to say that I would have liked to be treated with a little more sympathy by people in the game. I would liked to have spoken to Martin a lot more. People write things about me every day and sometimes it would have been good to set the record straight.
"I was interested in listening to Alex Ferguson discussing Cristiano Ronaldo. I am not for a moment suggesting that I am in his class as a sportsman but he was saying that every person in a team is different and they have to be treated differently – not singled out for special attention, just different."
Spot on Danny. Given Johnson's precarious situation at the helm - the World Cup winner never coached at club level before his elevation to England boss - Cipriani may yet get the chance to play at the World Cup in New Zealand. Under a new coach.
Cipriani's parting shot: "I will be 23 when it happens, hopefully at a peak. I can be back for all the training."


  1. Neal, I'm starting to think there is something suspicious in your championing of Cipriani whilst simultaneously attempting to ridicule Martin Johnson. Why do you continue to ignore the fact that Cipriani has not reached the heights of 2 years ago? Why is that impossible for you grasp? I don't understand it. Presumably you've watched Wasps play this season? Presumably you've noticed that Cipriani is not always the first choice fly half, and sometimes gets picked at full back? Did you notice how poor he was last summer when he represented the Saxons?

    Cipriani is not a proven international performer; he does not have the requisite track record to earn selection in the light of decent but unspectacular club form. In fact, his performances for England bar one have been scrappy. It's not a surprise that he hasn't been selected recently for England, and if you were to talk to Wasps fans you would find just as many prefer Dave Walder to Dan Cipriani in the fly half position.

    There has been a lot of nonsense written in the press about Martin Johnson ignoring Cipriani when that is clearly not the case. He is in the second 32 of the Elite Player Squad - something that absolutely reflects his potential and youth but also his experience and form.

    Moving to Australia may be a good decision for a host of reasons and the very best wishes to him. However, for an aspiring England player it is the wrong decision.

    A lot of rubbish gets printed about Cipriani, as you would expect what with his girlfriend, his looks, his modelling contracts etc; but is it wrong to question his attitude? Josh Lewsey does not strike me as the sort of person who goes around thumping people, so you have to wonder what sort of character would cause a former army officer to knock him out. I'll bet Cipriani's comment to him that day was the straw that broke the camel's back rather than a one-off incident. The reports of an England coach having to put him in a headlock are widely believed to be true. Now the fact that he has temporarily given up on rugby in this country adds further insight into his personality.

    Having just discovered your blog I will be happy to read it for rugby articles only, assuming they are fairly regular, but I must admit to being a little put off by the ill-thought out pieces on Daniel Cipriani so far.

    I'd be very interested in hearing your views on my comments.

    Thanks, Matthew.

  2. Neal

    Having seen most of the thread on Planet Rugby before it was pulled and you were banned, I have a few observations.

    Anybody who has lurked on PR for even a moderate length of time would not have been surprised at the "welcome" you found so offensive. All new posters suffer the same initiation, that's the nature of the PR beast. Many on there disagreed with your assessment of Cipriani, and expressed it in normal terms for that Forum. If you didn't like the nature of the debate on those boards, you should have avoided them. Horses for courses and all that.

    From my perspective as a Scot with no real axe to grind, (I'm equally as dismissive of all things England;-)) Cipriani is a real dilemma. He clearly has potential, but only the most fervent of his supporters would suggest he's made the best of his talents to date. His form (at least since his leg injury) simply hasn't been good enough on a consistent basis to warrant Johnson bringing him into the England Squad when balanced against the baggage which goes with Cips' "celebrity" lifestyle. Should the England door be closed on him for good? I think not. I don't know what your relationship with Cipriani / Johnson is, but your articles do appear to be very one-sided.

    Returning to the Planet Rugby issue, as far as I'm aware, you were banned, not for expressing an opinion on Cipriani/Johnson but for breaking board rules by posting links to your blog. There are continuing threads on PR discussing your brief presence there, and it's fair to say that your self-publicising didn't go down well. However, in some ways your posts were a success. If you hadn't visited PR, I (and others) wouldn't have visited your blog.

  3. Neal,

    As has been mentioned, you were banned not by the users of the Forum, but by the owners of the forum. Those of us that are members enjoyed having you there.

    The greeting you received is standard to anyone new on the forum (or the "bored" as it is known), and it typical on many web forums. If you'd not been banned you might have found out that everyone gets the "F*** off n00b" greeting.

    I, and I think many of us on the "bored" disagree with your portrayal of our comments about Cips. None of us said he was worthless, should be consigned to the dustbin etc. Also, none of us give a damn about his relationship with Kelly Brook, we're all married to supermodels, didn't you know that?

    The simple fact is that the form that Cips has displayed over the past six months has not been good enough to put him ahead of the players that are wearing the England #10 jersey ahead of him. If he can return to the form that he displayed when he demolished Ireland a couple of years ago then he will earn a recall.

    Come on back Neal, all is forgiven. Just remember that your new login will require you to accept the standard greeting.



  4. Neal,

    An excellent article. I agree with your condiments totally.


  5. Eager to return to Planet Rugby and fight my corner. Loved the Wikipedia sabotage, no problem. But surely just expelling all tabloid twats takes away half the fun. I demand reinstatement. If any Planet Rugby readers see this (doog22, colonel, bobbity, blindcider etc) please fight my cause... I deserve a second chance.

  6. Neal
    As a regular Welsh poster on PR, I was actually surprised by the warm welcome you got there as I pointed out yesterday. The forum is one of the spicier rugby message board with a varied and sometimes volitile vaiety of poster.
    If you are of a sensitive nature then I suggest that you do not visit there.
    As was ponited out you broke forum rules set down by the SKY masters of Murdoch, in publicising your blog and by association your work. I see that Gwlad gave you a health welcome as well.

    I for one would welcome more discourse of the nature you posted, the PR forum is a peculiar place with rugby not really the main focus at times.

  7. We didn't ban you. There's at least one poster who wants to discuss Freddie Michalak with you. Just don't go in his cellar.

  8. neal, youll be welcomed back under a new login, join the party, you just wont be able to link to or advertise your blog

  9. cheers neal

    i'll see if i can get kelly to mention your book on loose women


  10. Neal,

    That place is a haven for spiteful unintelligent rugby 'pundits', 'journalists' and 'stars'. I caveat all of those names as no one on planetspite actually meets the true definition. As a journalist I’ve had many incidents with them over the years - especially with FitzSimmons & Quinn.

    Stick to your guns like I have - truth will win out.


  11. Neal,
    You were deleted for the blog link, which goes against PR policy. You can't be re-instated but if you clear your cookies, don't promote the blog overtly and re-register then you'll be fine, random localised spite aside. To be clear, the Blog issues are not about your particular blog, it's more to do with other spam blogs.

  12. A good friend of mine died, he was changing a tire on a highway for a lady when a truck drove past and hit him. When his wife posted about his death those cretins on Planet Rugby laughed at her.

    He was a good man, fantastic with children and knowledgeable about things, a teacher, a defender of the meek.

    RIP Coogee.

  13. it's Amy Williams, not Wilson. thank me on Sat.

  14. neal

    i recently left planet rugby after a constant stream of abuse which i felt i didnt deserve, all i did was perpetually allow my dislike of brown people to seep into every post of mine. Theyre an intolerant lot over there to be sure.

  15. Neal,

    Be advised we are investigating a complaint of unlawful advertising filed by 365 Media Group. We will be in touch.

    Det Derek Noble
    Metropolitan Police
    e-Crime Division

  16. Thanks for your comments. I'll be back! Thanks for your correction Mark, thanks for your encouragement Ann. I champion Cipriani because I believe he has been badly treated. And I think there's a good chance he will prove himself in Super 15 which is, indeed, watched by bigger crowds than the Guinness Premiership. Official.

  17. I've just reactivated your PR account.


  18. Neal, you have yet to state why you think he has been badly treated. I presume you have an opinion on this - why not state it?

  19. Sefton is a cunt.

  20. Sards likes cock