“I have a crush on Billy Twelvetrees…” -Junoir Blaber
RENTED MOVING VAN, BRONX, NY – I have been very busy this week and I will be very busy next week, moving to a new place. It is a short move, but moving is never fun. With the idea of moving in mind, I thought I would look at the key players and coaches moving to new teams for the fall 2012 season.
Al Caravelli– I have to talk about Al , because unfortunately Al Caravelli resigned this week from his position as Head Coach of the USA 7s National Team. It seems like he was pushed. With Polar Bear Hawkins on the staff, we at RWU view Al as a friend. However, a National team coach is always gonna be in a caretaker position. The only person possibly untouchable as a National team coach in 15s or 7s right now is Gordon Tietjens of New Zealand and that is only as long as he keeps winning. Al brought the team very far from where it was, in terms of fitness and ability to compete, unfortunately, it appeared that the team plateaued. Al may move back to coach NYAC on the club 7s circuit but don’t be surprised if he pops up in Argentina where he has close ties.
Jonathan Davies – Jiffy Jnr as he is known to Welsh fans, shocked most experts and delighted Llanelli Scarlets fans by spurning the offer of English side Northhampton Saints by deciding not to move. The 23-year-old is having a great 6N on the back of quality RWC campaign. He could have made more money but decided that what they were building at Scarlets, and the great relationship Scarlets have with the Wales National Team, are a beautiful thing. He has the flexibilty to make all national team training camps and at the end of the day, he is just local boy who wants to stay close to home.
Billy Twelvetrees – I know it appears I have a crush on Billy because I seem to always be talking about him, however his move from Leicester to Gloucester in the English Premiership will change his career and if successful as hoped will hurt his old club as much is bolsters his current club. It will also change the national team landscape as the competition for the England 12 Jersey between him and young Owen Farrell will be a nip and tuck race and may end up a horses for courses kind of situation.
Gethin Jenkins – Melon, one of his many nicknames, is one of the top 3 looseheads in world rugby and arguably the best in the Northern Hemisphere. Gethin decided to cash in on his reputation and join our friends at Toulon. You remember Toulon, the club with the owner that said the referee sodomized his club…. Someone should tell the owner Mourad Boudjellal that this is not a fantasy league; you can’t just buy the best players around and stockpile them. Anyway, the move will help Toulon’s depth and allow them to push toward the top of Top 14 and closer to a Heineken Cup. Gethin should enjoy the weather, and and as Deccie Yates will tell you, props always enjoy their food – especially new and foreign food.
Dan Parks – His retirement from International rugby was not lamented by most Scotland fans, including yours truly. His move from Cardiff Blues to Connacht, however, had Connacht fans incredibly excited. Connacht suffers from being the place where players from the other 3 Irish provinces go to end their career – or when they can’t get game time. They are categorized as a development zone by the IRFU but through sound investment and quality player development, they are starting to compete. They have some good young talent, but a cool old head who can kick for points and keep the opponent stuck in their half on a windy rainy day at the Galway Racetrack, is vital. It is the reason they are not 4th in the Rabodirect Pro 12 division. I expect Connacht to turn some narrow defeats into victories.
There have been other moves, some that may end up bigger than they seem on paper, like Casey Lualua to Munster, but we’ve got a good start here. The whole process of dropping and signing players is a mix of gut instinct and research. Only time will tell if it these moves backfire and sometimes it is the least-hearlded move that has the biggest effect. What are your thoughts?