BBC BLOGS - Robbo Robson
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Oval and out

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Robbo Robson | 12:43 UK time, Monday, 8 February 2010

It's been an emotionally draining week for me and John Terry - he got very emotional and I drained the Blue Bell dry.

But a love-in at the Bridge and what looks like a charm offensive (that's an oxymoron if ever there was one) shouldn't kid him into believing the rest of us are back in love with the errant lad.

Still, at least it distracts the average football fan from the annual ritual of ducking and diving to avoid that festival of egg-chasing, the Six Nations.

I have to say the Beeb do their very best with the little trailers - tub-thumping patriotism trumpeted by all and sundry, fans of all nations tossing around inflatable hearts like lads and ladettes in love's first flush - and I think to myself that I must be missing summat here.
James Haskell and Andy PowellJames Haskell hands off Andy Powell
I'm beginning to get past the idea of union being nothing more than public schoolboy stockbrokers at play. When I were growing up you'd frequently watch a post-match Twickers interview with a man who had a face like a film noir heavy and a voice like Sebastian Flyte telling you how the guys had to 'dig for victory'.

In fact when I listened to James Haskell's nice-but-dim on-pitch chat, the memories came flooding back. (Yes, my daff-waving friends, I know it's never been like that in Wales).
But while the prole-ish chips on me shoulders are getting worn away, I'm still left with the feeling that rugby union makes Robbo feel a very dull boy. I just don't get it.

First, there's the scrums. In rugby league, they're a joke (it's like watching two ferrets in a birdcage kicking each other). But I thought in union there were rules - like the 'crooked feed' (there's a phrase straight out of Dickens). You're not allowed to toss the ball straight at your hooker's feet. But that's exactly what happens every time.

Then there's the lottery of penalising front rows (or Six Men in Search of a Neck). One gets punished for pulling his man down, another gets punished for pushing his man up. It looks arbitrary. If Brian Moore has no idea why a free-kick gets given then what the hell chance do I have?

I have to say Mooro is good value. I'm not saying I like the fella, but he's a vital ingredient. I mean I don't like cloves but show me a decent apple crumble without them.
The rule-makers have their work cut out too, 'cos from what I saw this weekend the game all too easily gets reduced to a brainless version of the Chuckle Brothers - to me, to you, to me, to you - as two gangling full-backs kick it back and forth for an epoch or two.

The only saving grace to the England-Wales game was the wondrous try by the lad Hook. That sidestep and sway was reminiscent of rugby union before every player on earth got shackled to the local gymnasium.

The one thing rugger always had going for it was that it was a game for all shapes and sizes. It worked like this:

Fat = prop.
Tall = lock.
Small = scrum-half.
Fast = winger.
Borderline psychopath = flanker.
Good at football = stand-off.
Handsome, fast but a little bit fey = full-back (everyone looked forward to clattering him).
Mathieu Bastareaud-shape = anywhere you damn well please.

Nowadays, everyone looks as wide as they are high. The creatures that strode out on to Murrayfield looked like the result of some horrible experiment in genetic engineering. Like 30 Dr David Banners on the cusp of turning green and angry.

Plus, there were times when the game was so static you'd have thought they were waiting for David Flaming Hockney to finish a Twickers water-colour before moving on.
I mean the blokes I used to enjoy watching - David Duckham, Gerald Davies, Phil Bennett, Andy Irvine, Serge '40 Gaulois a Day' Blanco - would snap like like KitKat fingers in the modern game.
Pierre Garcon (Colts) and Usama Young (Saints) tussle in the SuperBowl Pierre Garcon (Colts) and Usama Young (Saints) tussle in the Super Bowl
Much has been learnt from the gargantuans that take the field across the pond, if you ask me. I swore this year I'd stay up and watch the Super Bowl - especially with the New Orleans Saints in the final - but sure enough come the first commercial break the chin hit the chest and before I knew it the wife was downstairs gently rousing me from my sleep with the point of her elbow.

Besides which, even the crashing together of the men mountains of Gridiron would've been as nothing when compared to the pit-bulls at Anfield on Saturday lunchtime. It was a match that used to be called 'highly competitive' but nowadays gets the moniker 'X-rated'.

Not since the halcyon days of Tommy Smith has such shameless clogging been witnessed. Carragher started it off with a classic man-and-ball challenge. Pienaar's assault on Mascherano was worthy of three red cards. Kyrgiakos deserved to go but the master of mayhem was that marauding stick of candyfloss Marouane Fellaini.

Clearly, if he was at the Boro the lad would've earned the same cult status as he has amongst the Toffees. There's the drive, the commitment, the mane - but there's also the spite, the elbows, the really horrible challenges. Suffice to say, if the lad played rugby he'd be in the utter flanker category.

Nevertheless, the likes of Kuyt and Moyes couldn't quite keep a surly smile off their chops when asked if the game was a bit physical - and to be honest it was nice to see none of the participants have a post-match tizzy-fit about the challenges or the result.

Like, say, Arsene Wenger's men, who continue to show all the resilience of seeding dandelion-heads. Pretty, predictable, powder-puffy. Watching Drogba confront them was like watching a hungry bear gorging his way through a finger buffet.
Expect Arsenal to rejoin the race very soon. The race for fourth place that is.


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