BBC BLOGS - Ben Dirs

Archives for March 2010

The Cat hopes Haye has learnt his lesson

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Ben Dirs | 19:28 UK time, Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Pain is relative, so when Carl Thompson tells you David Haye hasn't been tested since he beat Britain's current heavyweight world champion back in 2004, it would be foolish not to take into account Thompson's stratospheric threshold.

There were times when watching a Thompson bout was like watching a sculptor working with a set of children's tools, his opponent's blows ricocheting off all parts until the tools were bent and broken and pretty much useless.

"I was thinking, 'I'm going to knock him out'," says Haye of the night he suffered his only professional defeat to date. "And it didn't happen." "I was a very hard person to fight," explains Thompson. "To David that fight was hard, to me it was just an everyday thing."

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Time for England to make changes

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Ben Dirs | 22:06 UK time, Saturday, 13 March 2010

The final 10 minutes of Saturday's Calcutta Cup match resembled two bald men fighting over a wig, both sides desperate to secure a win that might have partially concealed their inadequacies, inadequacies that were all too glaring under the Murrayfield lights.

Andy Robinson bristled when it was suggested the match hadn't been much of a spectacle - "I was very entertained," said the Scotland coach, "and the players will tell you it was very dynamic" - but those who paid 70 quid for the privilege would surely have disagreed. As one Scotsman said to me at the final whistle, "Why the glum face? At least it's over..."

The buzzword at the post-match press conference was "frustration": at the result, at the number of mistakes made, at wrong options taken - again and again and again.

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Murrayfield misery for England?

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Ben Dirs | 21:57 UK time, Thursday, 11 March 2010

"In international rugby, passion is very important. It is a warrior sport, you are searching for the toughest competitors who will put their bodies on the line - players who inspire the nation." Andy Robinson, Scotland head coach, talking to BBC Sport

It's a fantasy many of us have indulged in: the spurned employee, handed the chance to put one over his or her old boss. The chance to say, "things are going just fine, thanks, how about you?"

Just as Andy Robinson could be forgiven for saying the very same thing if his Scotland side rumble England on Saturday: the RFU's worst nightmare, hand outstretched, eyes narrowed and wearing just the ghost of a smile.

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Johnson leaves the dice alone

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Ben Dirs | 15:49 UK time, Tuesday, 9 March 2010

When a golfer goes a few tournaments without breaking par, he admits his game isn't up to scratch and that changes might need to be made, either that or he risks disappearing without trace. The biggest gamble a failing golfer can take is not to take a gamble.

In sharp contrast, Martin Johnson puts me in mind of Tim from The Office, a man paralysed by caution: "If you look at life like rolling a dice, my situation as it stands may only be a 3. If I go for something bigger and better, I could easily roll a 6. I could also roll a 1. So I think, just leave the dice alone."

And so it was that the England manager, happy with his 3 in defeat against Ireland at Twickenham, decided to make just one un-enforced change for Saturday's Calcutta Cup clash against Scotland: Joe Worsley in for Lewis Moody in the back-row, hardly major surgery.

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