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Electric Las Vegas

» idealservices 12/03/14 11:27:55 » comments: 0

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Are home-loving Six Nations referees becoming a law unto themselves?

» vantise 11/27/14 06:56:15  » soccer » comments: 0

vantise Anyone who thinks referees are bit‑part characters does not watch enough modern Test rugby. One weekend into the Six Nations Championship and Ireland are already weighing up whether to make an official complaint regarding the French official Romain Poite. A penalty count of 13-5 against the Irish almost sunk them in Rome, made worse by Nick Mallett's revelation that Poite had previously written to the Italian Rugby Federation apologising for his handling of the same fixture 12 months ago.

Cue conspiracy theories and much Irish muttering. The possibility that their front row might have been skewered by a superior force was, clearly, inconceivable. Yet, as observed last week, the 35-year-old Poite is renowned for his stern refereeing of the scrummage and, with the International Rugby Board on the warpath over collapsed scrums, there was always a good chance of acrimony. Ireland knew trouble was brewing the moment Poite's appointment was announced.

Every coach in the Six Nations nowadays can tell you more about a leading referee's quirks than he can his ownwife's. Under forensic scrutiny all sorts of trends emerge. Did you know, for instance, what was unusual about Louis Deacon's sin-binning for a blatant professional foul on Friday nigh http://www.sellsoccerjerseys.com t? It was England's seventh yellow card in their past 16 Six Nations matches. More pertinently, all the previous six were brandished by South African referees. Given the assortment of nationalities who take charge of England games, it is an extraordinarily lop-sided statistic.

There are other curiosities, for instance the rarity factor of Craig Mitchell's yellow card. On Friday he became the first Welsh forward infive years to be sin-binned in a Six Nations game at the Millennium Stadium. Think of all the hundreds of rucks, mauls,lineouts and collapsed scrums at which Wales – like everyone else – have tried to pull a fast one. Do referees subliminally bow to the urgings of the home crowd? There is plenty of evidence to suggest they do.

Ireland, even more remarkably, have lost only nine men to the sin-bin in the 11-year history of the Six Nations, including Denis Leamy on Saturday. That's less than one per season. It is an almost freakishly low figure, unless you believe that every Irish player is a finely calibrated model of restraint.

Drill the Ireland stats down further and you find that one man – Jonathan Kaplan – is responsible for almost 40% of their yellow cards, while in the past two seasons only English referees have car cheap soccer jersey ded them. And who is taking charge of this weekend's Ireland-France game in Dublin? England's Dave Pearson, the same Pearson who has flourished three yellows in his four championship games to date. Suddenly it is easier to understand why Declan Kidney is so keen to ensure a level playing field this weekend.

As for those in France tempted to imagine that dark anti-Gallic forces are at work, there is bad news. Did you hear Wayne Barnes speaking to the French forwards in their native tongue on Saturday? And did you know France have had only one player sin-binned on home soil in the Six Nations in the past decade? Or one solitary yellow card anywhere in the tournament since 2006? So much for the cliché of habitual French indiscipline.

One could go on. The fact is that certain referees seem to give certain teams more leeway than others, particularly in front of their home supporters. It is not a question of dishonesty; it is simply the way it is. It is one of the main reasons why winning away is so hard, particularly now Italy are reliably competitive at the Stadio Flaminio.

As for England they will not be complaining about this Saturday's Twickenham referee, Craig Joubert. For a start the 33-year-old South African was in charge of t Thailand Barcelona Jerseys 2015 heir spectacular contest against Australia in November. They will be hoping to retain that game at the forefront of his mind, rather than Ireland in Dublin in 2009 when Joubert yellow‑carded Danny Care and Phil Vickery and Ireland won by a point.

More of a worry is New Zealand's Steve Walsh, with whom they have a bit of history, for the France game on 26February. And who is whistling the Scotland game a fortnight later? Why, none other than Monsieur Poite. Even as Kidney pores over the footage from Rome, at least two rival coaches will be doing likewise.
French lessons

Another week, another England player re-energised by a spell playing club rugby in France. Tom Palmer, just like Jonny Wilkinson and James Haskell, cannot speak highly enough of the French experience. The Rugby Football Union's impending post-World Cup clampdown on foreign-based players representing England makes sense on paper but the expats are having the (well-paid) last laugh.
Worth watching this week ...

Richie Gray (Scotland)

If he plays half as well as he did in Paris, Scotland will know for sure they have a new giant in every sense. The 6ft8in Glasgow lock, still only 21, is just the sort of marauding opponent Wales could do without at the moment.

Nations Cup struggles at box office but Ireland hope for happy ending

» vantise 11/27/14 06:54:23  » soccer » comments: 0

vantise Given the epic scale of Ireland's recent economic collapse, it was impossible that football would not feel the pinch. That is likely to be demonstrated within the next 48 hours as the Celtic Cup, or Carling Nations Cup as sponsors insist on it being labelled, gets under way in Dublin. The Republic of Ireland's meeting with Wales is unlikely to attract a crowd in excess of 30,000 at the 51,700-capacity Aviva Stadium while just a third of that number could attend when Scotland face Northern Ireland on Wednesday.

Ireland's desire to host this four‑team tournament in its debut year – a second round of fixtures will take place over a week in May – had finance as a backdrop. The rebuilding of the old Lansdowne Road cost in excess of €400m, with the Football Association of Ireland's commitment to that estimated at €74m.

Events such as the Nations Cup are designed in no small part to offset at least some of the cost of stadium redevelopment. A pre-season competition featuring Manchester City and Celtic will n http://www.sellsoccerjerseys.com et the FAI another €1m.

However, planned ticket prices for Ireland's match against Wales of €50 and €75 have been lowered to €35 and €50 after only 30,068 attended Norway's visit to the Aviva Stadium in November.

Put in context, that was a lower crowd than had turned out for the Irish domestic cup final days earlier at the same venue. Three months on, a mere 300 Wales supporters are expected to hop across the Irish Sea. The struggle to shift tickets for the Scotland v Northern Ireland clash is highlighted by a flat-rate ticket price of just €20.

Early thoughts of a bumper television deal, worth as much as £10m, have proved wildly optimistic; a fifth of that figure may not be collected. Competing associations will cover costs but are not banking on sharing a meaningful commercial surplus. Wales has been mooted as the host of the tournament in two years' time; that prospect is fully dependent on this first run proving successful.

Yet the competition was derived with the best of intentions. The Thailand Soccer Jersey competing nations had been keen to have England involved at the outset of their talks but a desire to play more glamorous friendly matches – partly with politicking for the 2018 World Cup in mind – was the response of the Football Association.

To complicate matters, the FA is now hopeful of reviving the Home International tournament in 2013 to commemorate their 150th anniversary. That would unquestionably prove more lucrative and commercially viable than what will take place in Dublin this week.

The unwillingness of the Scots, Welsh, Irish and Northern Irish to freely welcome such a prospect in public is out of respect for Carling, which has committed to the Nations Cup in its present format. Another sponsor, Vauxhall, is believed to be the key mover behind the potential involvement of England.

If not a cash cow, the Nations Cup has obvious football merits. Managers of all four countries are happy to play friendly matches which edge towards competitive in nature; a lack of travelling for all thos Thailand Arsenal FC Jerseys e involved also appeals to club coaches.

"It is a friendly but there is a twist to it," said the Ireland captain, Shay Given, of the visit of Wales. "There is an added edge, it is not just a friendly. With the tournament being in Dublin, we would like to win it."

The Scotland manager, Craig Levein, has been equally emphatic about his wish to come out on top in the event. The withdrawals which have beset each nation – Darren Fletcher, Robbie Keane, Aiden McGeady, Aaron Ramsey and Craig Bellamy will be the notable absentees – are more endemic of a hectic club schedule and the diminished role of international football than indifference towards this particular tournament.

"It's the height of the season but look at the small number of call-offs," said the Scotland assistant manager, Peter Houston. "Darren Fletcher never misses games so we know he must be injured. We've only got one or two this time, whereas in the past we've had seven or eight."

On the field, if not elsewhere, optimism is high.

Jack Wilshere lives up to the hype in a short but sweet England start

» vantise 11/27/14 06:49:10  » soccer » comments: 0

vantise Jack Wilshere had kept his Twitter habit in check all day. The final communication to the outside world came 23 hours before the kick-off, when he proclaimed his success in finding a football match – the Republic of Ireland versus Wales – to watch on the TV in his Copenhagen hotel room. "It's on mute though cos I do not speak Danish," he wrote. "Shame Ramsey not playing!"

His addiction to tweeting seems to provide evidence of an infectious enthusiasm not necessarily evident in his poker‑faced demeanour on the pitch, and when the time came for his own match, and a debut starting appearance quite uncharacteristically hyped up by his own manager, the 19-year-old made a fine early impression. In the opening 60 seconds, as England played their way out of defence, the young man measured a succession of careful, thoroughly rational passes to Michael Dawson, Wayne Rooney and Glen Johnson.

Given that he stands no more than 5ft7in, Wilshere is never going to be much of a deterrent to the opposition at set pieces, and although his principal duties were defensive he could not be blamed when Denmark took the lead in the eighth minute after Christian Eriksen returned the ball on to Daniel Agger's head from a half-cleared corner.

Two minutes late http://www.sellsoccerjerseys.com r, however, he was at the heart of England's equaliser. When Theo Walcott won the ball and fed his Arsenal colleague, Wilshere launched the ball with instant vision and immaculate technique out to Ashley Cole on the left. The full‑back's long cross, perhaps overhit, found Walcott ready to skin Mathias Jorgensen and slide in a low centre that required no more of Darren Bent than good anticipation and a tap-in.

By comparing Wilshere to Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini and Raúl, Fabio Capello had raised the stakes to a remarkable degree. Perhaps he and his team of coaches have detected something in the young man's nature that might respond to such a build-up. Nicklas Bendtner, another Arsenal team-mate and one of his opponents last night, warned during the week of the dangers of putting undue pressure on young English players. Wilshere's footballing temperament, however, appears to tend towards the precociously phlegmatic, and he seemed disinclined to allow the manager's words to disturb his composure.

We think of Wilshere as a prodigy, but Eriksen, interestingly, is six weeks younger. The Danish playmaker will be 19 on StValentine's Day, and this was his 11th senior cap. Two years ago Ajax paid his junior club, Odense, £1m for his services, an Thailand Soccer Jersey d last spring they extended his contract until 2014. He was expected to be one of the young stars of the World Cup last summer but was hardly used as Denmark struggled.

Here he played in a trequartista position behind Bendtner and Michael Krohn-Dehli, which is the kind of role many – although not Capello, at least at the moment – envisage for Wilshere. Eriksen moved the ball around smoothly, and with 10 minutes left in the first half he cut in from the right and rapped Joe Hart's right-hand post with a smart left-footed shot.

In his 45 minutes before being replaced by Gareth Barry, Wilshere did most of what could be expected of him, given that he was in a partnership with Frank Lampard in the centre of midfield and that neither of them is a natural defender. Asking Wilshere to screen the back four is a little bit like asking Paul Scholes to do the same thing – although Scholes could be relied on to give away more free-kicks.

What England's supporters must hope for is that Josh McEachran graduates quickly from the Under‑21 team, for which he made his own first starting appearance on Tuesday night. In a 1-0 defeat against Italy in Empoli, the 17-year-old Chelsea player hardly put a foot wrong and created fine scoring opportunities de Thailand Manchester United Jerseys 2015 stined to be wasted by James Vaughan and Scott Sinclair. As Stuart Pearce remarked, with amusing modesty, McEachran and Wilshere "see" the game – in other words, spot openings before they actually occur – better than he does.

The two of them, in conjunction with a more defensive midfield player such as Bolton's Fabrice Muamba – McEachran's partner in Italy this week – or Everton's Jack Rodwell, surely represent England's future. Where Ron Greenwood and Bobby Robson failed to turn the equally gifted Ray Wilkins and Glenn Hoddle, along with Bryan Robson, into a fully functioning unit, Capello – or, more likely, his successor – must not waste the kind of quality so seldom produced in England.

In a lively opening half, Wilshere did nothing to undermine the expectations that had built up around him. As usual on such occasions, the proliferation of arrivals from both substitutes' benches disrupted the momentum and shape of an entertaining game. But it was noticeable, before England scored their second goal, that Eriksen had continued to create alarm, turning Johnson with flamboyant ease on the left before materialising on the right with a backheel that put Dennis Rommedahl in for a shot from close range. Good enough and therefore old enough.


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