All in the game
Compiled by JOHNNY WATTERSONand GAVIN CUMMISKEY
Fitzpatrick can scrum - when he's not laid up
The fast-tracking of Kiwi tighthead prop Michael Bent into the Ireland team last November has, clearly, been revised as he is the only change in the Irish forwards not injury-related. Ulster’s injury-prone Declan Fitzpatrick (inset) has usurped him.
In the seven seasons since Fitzpatrick’s career commenced in Ulster, the 29-year-old has started 34 matches.
Last season he ran out for just nine matches, coming off the bench on three occasions, with one of those starts the Heineken Cup semi-final against Edinburgh – when he scrummaged well – but his injury problems are by no means behind him.
Ireland took him on tour to New Zealand and due to Mike Ross’s injury, Fitzpatrick started and lasted for 56 minutes of the first Test and came on for the last 20 minutes of the record-breaking third Test defeat.
Injury reared its head again this season, the neck being his main problem, along with concussion. It limited him to just four appearances, none of them close to 80 minutes.
But, hey, at least he can scrummage.
Meeja not for all
Omar Hassanein, pointed out the importance of third-level education as Hibernia College launched their athlete scholarship scheme this week.
He said that 75 per cent of Irish rugby players have or are engaged in third-level courses and warned that the media won’t provide jobs for everyone.
“Theres only a select few, like Brian (O’Driscoll) and Paul (O’Connell), who can use their profile,” he said. A lot of guys have this perception the media’s there and they can get a role.
“There’s a finite number of positions in the media, but also the players may not be suited to the role. The media is one avenue, coaching is another but there are finite jobs in both areas.”
Twelvetrees' father branches out, literally
First up. Billy Twelvetrees’ father is actually a tree surgeon. No joke. Secondly the outside centre, who makes his debut for England today in the Calcutta Cup match with Scotland, is nicknamed 36 at his club Leicester.
The nickname comes from former club captain and Irish back Geordan Murphy. When Murphy said Twelvetrees, the Leicester players thought he was saying “Twelve Threes” because of his Irish accent.
So Twelve Threes became 36.
The name comes from the centre’s mother, Beverley. When they married his parents broke with tradition and decided to use Twelvetrees instead of father Kevin’s name, Fentiman.
Tweet of the week
Sometimes you think when people tweet they don’t full understand that everyone can read it.
In that frame of mind perhaps, Mike Brown, the England and Harlequins fullback, has failed somewhat to capture the mood of the opening Six Nations Calcutta Cup match at Twickenham this afternoon by striking the fear of God into the opposition.
“I really dislike people who don’t say thanks when you hold a door open for them or you let them go first,” he said this week.
It didn’t stop England coach Stuart Lancaster from keeping the door open for him on his team, selecting him on the left wing, though.
You can Singh it, dope testing serious alright
As Vijay Singh has come to know, dope testing is a serious business. The Six Nations organisers have conducted in-competition testing since it was the Five Nations and subsequently extended to include the under 20s in 2003 and the Women’s Championship in 2007. The total number of individual tests is approximately 60 per championship.
So far there have been no positive tests that led to disciplinary proceedings, although, occasionally abnormal results such as raised testosterone levels do occur. Happily the Six Nations can clarify that all of those “abnormal” levels have had proper follow-ups and explanations.
Ladbrokes predict a close fight between France (15/8) and England (2/1) for the title. Ireland are 7/2 to claim the championship in Rome. Ireland go into their opening Test in Cardiff as 5/4 outsiders, with Wales 4/6 favourites despite their poor November.
England and France are expected to have it all their own way. England (1/14) are minus 15 points in the handicap betting for their clash with Scotland (13/2) at Twickenham. France are odds at 1/9 as they travel to Italy .