This February the Rugby season continues as normal for most of the English teams as they try and get the best out of the domestic matches as they start to come towards the last leg of the season. There is no European Rugby for a couple of months. We do however have the 2012 6 Nations starting this month. So what’s on in February.
Right from the start of February the 2012 6 Nations starts. Each team will be playing 3 times this month. England start away at Scotland before a visit to Italy and then a home match against Wales at the end of the month.
For a detail preview of England’s 6 Nations go to
Even though the 6 Nations has started that doesn’t mean that the Aviva Premiership stops. The teams might have lost some of their stars player to their country teams but they will still be pushing for all the points they can get. There are 3 League matches being played this month. There are some good matches to look forward to. On the 11th of Feb there is the West London Derby between league leaders Harlequins and London Irish. Newcastle Falcons come down south for an important regulation match against Bath. For Newcastle it is a must win match if they are to stay up. Leicester Tigers go to Sandy Park to see if they can get revenge against an Exeter Chiefs team that beat them at Welford road early in the season.
The next week on Saturday we have the West England derby when Bath host Gloucester. The following day we have 2 mite’s of English rugby facing up. Saracens will look to take out a potential title challenger when the Tigers come to Town. If Tigers lose they will be all but out of the race for 1st.
In the last big match of the month Northampton Saints come to London to face London Irish with both team fighting for the playoffs and with Northampton still hoping they can have a go at the top spot.
The LV Cup
The English and Welsh teams will be playing their last games of the Pools to see who makes it through to the Semi’s. The last Pool Matches are being played on the 4th and 5th of February. If Bath beat Exeter they are defiantly through. They also have a good chance of going through even if they loss. This is because Saracens need to beat Newport Dragons by a bonus point to just draw level with Bath. Then it will be down to tries scored and that could be close. If Exeter do win and they might, due to the home advantage. Then they will be hoping that Northampton are stopped by Wasps which is unlikely. Exeter will probably need the help of a bonus point win.
If Leicester Tigers beat Newcastle Falcons, which they should then they will be in the semi’s. If they don’t then London Irish will have a chance of taking that spot but they will have to beat Gloucester and Gloucester are fighting for qualification themselves. They will be looking to beat Irish and try and overhaul a flying Scarlets. They will need to do so with a bonus point win. Sale are the team facing the Scarlets and they will just be playing for pride because they have no chance to qualify. Harlequins have a very outside chance of qualifying and will need to beat Cardiff blues away. Cardiff are already out and will not be fielding a strong team. With Harlequins being such outsiders for the semi’s there is a chance they may rest players and give the young and inexperienced players a go so that they can keep their big boys fit for the Premiership battle they are going to have over the next couple of months.
What are you looking forward to this month?
On February the 4th the 6 nations 2012 started. England’s opened their tournament with a visit to Murrayfield to face the promising but never successful Scotland team. England looking for their 1st victory in Scotland for 8 years.
England had a much changed squad from the World Cup and their starting 15 showed that. The team was Corbisiero, Hartley, Cole, Botha, Palmer, Croft, Robshaw(c), Dowson, Youngs, Hodgson, Farrell, Strettle, Farrell, Barritt, Ashton and Foden.
The game had a fast pace opening to the game with both teams going for it. England started the slightly better team keeping the ball down in the Scottish half for the majority of the opening 20mins. The Scottish kicking wasn’t great and often it just looked like they were given possession back to England to come at them again.
Farrell had a long range chance to get England and his 1st points on the board but went wide. Not long afterwards he got another chance from much closer and almost straight infront of the posts. He converted it with ease. Parks then brought Scotland back on level terms with a penalty of his own. Not long afterwards put Scotland in the lead when Ashton conceding a silly penalty. That is how it stayed as they went in at half time. Scotland feeling they had every chance of winning having dominated possession with 64% of the ball in the 1st half and controlled all of the half time stats. England missed 11 tackles in the 1st half.
The 2nd half started and with in 30 seconds Hodgson had blocked Parks 5 meter line clearance kick and fell on the ball to score the 1st try of the game, the 1st try for this new England team and the 1st international try for Charlie Hodgson in 6 years. Farrell then got the conversion to put England up 10-6. Scotland then took control of the game and had chance after chance after chance and it was a mixture of great England last ditch defending and Scotland dodgy handling that meant that Scotland couldn’t get the ball over the line. They had one chance that had to go to the video ref who decided after what seemed an age to not allow the try.
Both England and Scotland threw on replacements all over the place with England giving 5 players their debuts. The fresh legs would help England in their defence because Scotland kept pushing and with the tension increasing and the feeling of the fact that they would eventually score creeping into the mind The match became each of your seat stuff. Scotland were going for the try and if it wasn’t for their own mistakes they might have got over the line. Farrell then had a go at goal from a penalty exactly on the half way line and the kick was on target but just a little short.
Farrell did make his next kick that he was given and put England 13-6 up and all but give England the win. England held on and won their opening match and also claimed the Calcutta Cup. This England team looked very different from the England we saw a couple of months back. There was no where near as many conceded penalties as normal and we weren’t a kicking team we played it in the hands. There were still too many missed tackles and errors but nothing alarming. England’s defence was strong and even though Scotland are famous for not being able to score a try England still had to work had to keep them out.
England didn’t look flashy and didn’t look like a team that can beat anyone but they did get the win and look like a team on the up. England can certainly be proud of this result and performance.
Next up is Italy away. England will need to be better and get a big score win to convince the likes of Wales, France and Ireland that England are a threat to the 6 nations crown. But well done England it’s a good start.
This weekend the 6 nations start. England will be looking to defend their crowd. England have made some major changes since the World Cup. Martin Johnson has gone and Stuart Lancaster has been install as the temporary manager for the 6 nations competition.
The players have changed hugely as well. A few big players have retired from international rugby. The main players are former Captain Lewis Moody and the Legend that is Jonny Wilkinson. James Haskell is having a year off rugby and Nick Easter is thought to be to old.
England have massively changed their squad bringing in 9 uncapped players. Toby Flood is now the most experience player in the squad. There are 18 forwards and 14 backs. The oldest player is Lee Mears at 32. The squad is very much chosen as the start of building a great team for the 2015 world cup. This will take some time but the players will need to get use to the big matches and get prepared for everything on the pitch.
There has been a lot of talk about who is going to be the new England Captain. Flood, Youngs, Hartley, Wood and Robshaw were the one’s that were being talked about the future captain and taking the reins for a while to come. It eventually got decided that Wood be Captain but because he is injured and so is Flood and Youngs that Robshaw would be given the Captaincy for the 1st 2 games of the 6 nations. It seems that all of the thinking with the players has been for the long term future and not necessarily the short term.
England need to win the 2015 Rugby World Cup. The tournament is being held in England and if England are to confirm themselves as a World power they need to win. This 6 nations is the start of the campaign to get the Webb Ellis trophy in just under 4 years time.
England have got 3 away matches and 2 home matches meaning that it will tough for them to retain the trophy.
England’s 1st match is at Murrayfield against Scotland at 5pm on the Saturday the 4th of the Feb. The following week on the 11th England go to the Stadio Olimpico to face Italy at 4pm
After a 2 week break England having Wales coming to visit England for thier 1st match at Twickenham stadium for a 4pm kick off on the 25th. Then following another 2 weeks gap. England go to face France at the Stade de France for 3pm kick off on the 11th of March.
England’s final game of the competition is on the 17th of March at Twickenham against Ireland at 5pm.
England’s 2 home games against Wales and Ireland are where England should be able to use the home support to beat them. However neither will go away without a battle and they could very easierly beat England even at Twickenham. I’m not sure that England will be able to get anything from the World cup finalist (and nearly winners) France away. I think the French are going to be too much for England especially this new side. England should be able to beat both Scotland and Italy even if they are away. Scotland will be doing all they can to beat England and may even come very close with a up and coming team and with the every improving Italy nothing is for certain.
I think England will come 3rd this year but if they are not careful then they could end up as low as 5th and if they do well they could even win it. England manager Lancaster wants the job long term and he is being judged on this 6 nations performance only so if he wants to keep the job then he needs to make sure England are a force to be reckoned with and to make them look impressive. This is very possible and is what should happen if the right things are being done which so far they seem to be. However with all the change that has happened recently it is easy to slip into trouble and struggle to get out of it. I hope the later doesn’t happen and England challenge for the Trophy.
Who do you think is going to win and how do you think England are going to do?
The odds for the Trophy are
France 5/4 Wales 10/3 Ireland 4/1 England 5/1 Scotland 25/1 Italy 150/1
If you want to make a bet go to
This year has started fast. We are already into the month of February and the match’s in all competitions are becoming that little more important. The Champions League Knockout stages start this month as does the Europa League. We also have the League Cup final and the FA Cup 5th round. Lastly all the domestic leagues continue.
The Premiership continues as usual this month with 3 regular league matches. Nothing is decided yet so all will be trying to get as many points as they can. The more points gain this month the less needed later. The 1st big game of the month is on the 5th of Feb. Chelsea meet Man Utd at Stamford Bridge. If they win they could start to put some pressure on the top boys. United will want to win to officially get ride of Chelsea as a title threat and to continue to keep the pressure on Man City. On 6th of Feb Liverpool host Tottenham. Liverpool needing points if they are to get into the champions league spots. Tottenham are closely behind the Manchester clubs at the top of the table and would love to stay in the title chase.
A week later on the 11th the biggest match in English football happens when Man United host Liverpool. This is always a match that can never be predicted regardless of form and league positions. That match will likely be a lunchtime kick off. Later that day there are a couple of big regulation 6 pointers. QPR go to Blackburn and Wigan go to their North west rivals Bolton aswell as Tottenham hosting Newcastle. On the 12th of Feb there is a Midlands derby of Wolves vs West Brom.
On the last weekend of the month there is a west London derby with QPR hosting Fulham. The following day is the huge North London derby. Arsenal vs Tottenham with the tides having changed this year compared to the last 20 years. Totenham are riding high at the moment with Arsenal outside the Champions League places. So more than just pride will at stake in this match.
The 1st legs of the last 16 knockout stage are played in February and there are only 2 English teams left in the competition. Arsenal go to European giants AC Milan on Wednesday the 15th of Feb. The following week on Tuesday 21st of Feb Chelsea are also in Italy against Napoli. Both English teams will be looking to get a good result away so that they can come back to their home matches with the advantage of being home for the 2nd leg. AC Milan can beat anyone on their any given day and having won 7 title making them the 2nd most successful club in European football they should not be underestimated. Napoli having been starting to become a good side that can cause teams a lot of problems. They kicked Man City out of the group stage so have no problem with big teams.
The Europa League restarts this month with last 32 knockout stage. There are 3 English teams still in the competition all with tough draws. The 1st legs of the draw are held on the 16th of Feb and the 2nd legs are the 23rd of Feb. Man Utd start away at Ajax for a mouth watering encounter. United should get through tie but they should have got through the group stage of the Champions League. Ajax use to be a big force in European football but have come down a peg or 2 in recent years. However they still have some players that can cause United some trouble.
Man City go to the reigning Europa League Champions FC Porto in the 1st match. City are suppose to be a powerhouse of football these days with the money they have and that is very much the case domestically, however they are yet to prove themselves in Europe. They will need to be on top form to get past Porto which they can do.
Stoke have got a nightmare draw against Valencia. There only saving grace could be that Stoke are a very physical side. Valencia may never have face a side as physical as Stoke before. Stoke will cause them problems at home but when they go to Spain I cant see them staying with Valencia. Who held Barcelona at home recently. Stoke will scare Valencia but I don’t think they will beat them.
The FA Cup
Firstly there are 3 4th round replays to be played on the 7th and 8th of Feb. Once a winner of these matches has been sorted then we move onto the 5th round. The 5th round happens on the weekend of the 18th and 19th of Feb. Not including the replay teams there are 8 Premiership teams, 3 Championship team, 1 League One team and 1 League Two team. However there is no all Premiership matches unless Sunderland beat Middlesbrough in the 4th round replay then they will play Arsenal. Crawley Town have got Stoke coming to visit them while Stevenage have got Tottenham coming to town.
For a 4th round review go to
The Carling Cup comes to end for the season on the 26th of February. Cardiff meet Liverpool at Wembley to decide who gets the 1st major Silverware of the season. Liverpool are going to be clear favorites as they have won this tournament more than any other club in history. Cardiff have never been in the League Cup final even though they made the FA Cup final in 2008. For Liverpool this could be the bit of good news they need this year as they are not looking like they will make the Champions League. The winner of this Final will get a place in Europe next year and this could be so important for Liverpool who might not qualify otherwise. Cardiff would also love the extra money that Europe would bring to help them get into the Premiership, which is their main aim.
For information on the Carling Cup Semi finals go to
What are looking forward to this month?
This weekend the 4th round of the FA Cup was played out. There were some big teams battling it out against each other. Also there were some lower division teams trying to get through to the 5th round and hope to be drawn against a big team and get the big payday. Lets see what happened in the 4th round.
It was nice to see a couple of matches being played on Friday night. 1stly Everton took on Fulham at Goodison. Everton had to come from behind after a Murphy scored from the spot. Stracqualursi equalized before Fellaini headed Everton into the next round. Tottenham went to Vicarage rd to face Watford. Watford were the better team throughout and it didn’t look like there was 35 places between them in the league. Van der Vaart got the only goal of the game just before half time to give Tottenham the win.
At midday on Saturday Chelsea went to QPR and the 1st thing that didn’t happen was the handshakes. The 2 Chairman’s agreed that the handshake was not to take place due to the racism comments from Terry at Ferdinand that happen the last time these to meet. The game was a bit of bore in compassion to the thriller last at Lotfus road . Mata scored from the spot after a soft penalty and take Chelsea into the next round.
At lunchtime the biggest game in English football began. Liverpool had Man United come to town. When this 2 met in October the Suarez racism comments happened and got him that 8 match ban. This rivalry normally brings about lots of cards and big tackles but this match was a bit tame compare to normal. Liverpool went ahead through a header from Agger. United then started to dominate the game and they jumped on a mistake by Enrique and Park slotted the ball in to level up the game. United continue to be in control after the break. However with 2 minutes to go Kuyt turned up and smashed the ball into the back of the net infront of the Kop to take Liverpool into the 5th round at the expense of their arch rival’s.
On Saturday afternoon the main chunk of the 4th round was played. There were 9 matches kicking off at 3pm. The shock result of the round was League 2 Crawley Town beating Championship side Hull 1-0 at the KC stadium. Crawley were rightful winners and got their goal in the 57 minutes through Tubbs. Norwich City beat WBA away 2-1 with late winner from Jackson in the all Premiership match. In the all League One match Stevenage just beat Notts County 1-0 to reach the 5th round for the 1st time in their history. Stoke City were too much for Derby County and came away from Pride Park with a 2-0 win.
Bolton beat Swansea 2-1 at the Reebok after coming from behind. Birmingham destroyed Sheffield United 4-0 at Bramell Lane to give the other 5th round teams something to think about. Leicester were 2-0 comfortable winners against Swindon Town with Beckford getting both goals.
There were 2 matches on Saturday that will need replays to separate the teams. The all Championship match between Millwall and Southampton finished 1-1 at the Den with Southampton being in the lead for nearly an hour before Millwall equalize late on. The other at Bloomfield road Sheffield Wednesday were unlucky not to progress through this game. They gave away a last minute penalty which Blackpool converted and breathed a sign of relief after they had been the better team throughout the game.
In the late kick off Brighton played Newcastle at the American Express Community Stadium. Brighton will be over the moon with this 1-0 win. Putting them in and amongst the big boys again thanks to a Willliamson own goal.
On Sunday the last couple of matches were played out. Sunderland drew with Middlesbrough 1-1 at the Stadium of lights. Robson scored a screamer after 16 minutes before a long injury returning Frazier Campbell scored the equalizer on the hour to set up a replay.
The last match of the round was the final big match. Arsenal took on Villa at the Emirates. Villa went ahead through Dunne and then Bent to lead 2-0 at half time. However these 2 scores would come down to earth with a bump in the 2nd half. Arsenal fought back straight after half time. Dunne fouled Ramsey in the box to give Van Persie a chance from the spot. Which he took with ease. Walcott brought the teams level 2 minute later after a luckily deflecting a clearance. Then only 4 minutes after that Arsenal went ahead after Bent brought down brought Koscielny down in the penalty area. Van Persie scored from the spot and Arsenal had complete their comeback and a place in the 5th round was their reward.
What did you this of the 5th round?
This month we had the Carling Cup Semi Finals. All four teams would be going all out to win their matches with the possibility of silverware at stake. The semi final were Liverpool vs Man City and Cardiff vs Crystal Palace.
Palace haven’t been in a Cup final since the 1990 FA Cup final loss. While Cardiff’s last final appearance was only 4 years ago when they lost in the 2008 FA Cup final. The 1st leg between Crystal Palace and Cardiff was at Selhurst Park. Cardiff put a lot of pressure on Palace in the 1st half, with Palace goalkeeper Turner keeping them in it on more than one occasion. However Palace were the 1st to score. Doing so just before half time when Gardner netted from Ambrose’s cross. That goal was the only goal of the game in the end and Palace came away with a 1 goal advantage going into the 2nd leg.
In the other 1st leg Liverpool visited Man City. Liverpool are looking for there 1st English cup final in 6 years. Man City looking to get to another final after last years FA Cup win. Both teams fielded as strong a team as they could but City were missing both the Toure’s at the African Nation Cup and Kompany who is suspended while Silva was injured. Liverpool being without suspended Suarez. It was Liverpool that broke the deadlock early on with a Gerrard penalty after Agger was brought down by Savic. Liverpool did look the better side in the 1st quarter of the match test Hart on several occasions. City didn’t really get into the game until the 2nd half, which wasn’t enough coming away from this match with their 2nd home defeat in 3 days.
Onto the 2nd legs. Cardiff got off to great start and got a goal after 7 minutes when Gardner trying to clear the ball put it into his own net. Cardiff continued to dominated and piled on the pressure throughout the match but couldn’t find the net. Speroni was keeping Palace in it with some excellent saves and McCarthy heroically saving on the line. However he went from hero to zero when he got sent off for a 2nd booking. Cardiff still couldn’t get the goal that would put them through even with the extra man. Extra time came and went with no change. So onto dreaded penalties. Cardiff went 1st. Miller missed, Easter’s shot was saved, Conway scored, Scannell’s penalty was saved. Gestede and Jedinak scored. The score is now 2-1. Whittingham scores. Parr needs to score keep Palace in it but he missed. Cardiff win 3-1 on penalties and progress to the final and the chance of a major for the 1st time in 85 years.
The other semi finals 2nd leg was a battle between 2 heavy weights. City went ahead after half an hour with a special rare goal from De Jong. However only 10 minutes later and just before half time Liverpool equalized from the penalty spot through Gerrard. The penalty looked like a harsh decision and it could have gone either way. So at half time it was 1-1 and Liverpool looked the better side. Liverpool came out firing after the break with Hart keeping City in it with many good saves. City then took the lead again against the run of play after 67 minutes when Dzeko tapped the ball in for the lead. Bellamy was on hand however to settle the now nervous Kop by scoring the equalizing goal and that goal put them into the final against his last club and the club he supported as a kid. The match finished 2-2 with Liverpool winning 3-2 on aggregate.
So Cardiff meet Liverpool in the final at Wembley on February 26th. Cardiff are appearing in their 1st Carling Cup final while Liverpool are in their 11th. Having won 7 of the their last 10 finals. Liverpool will sure be favorites for the trophy. They have won more League Cup’s than any other team and will more than likely being adding to the 7 they already have. This is unless Cardiff have something to say about it. Cardiff will give it everything to beat Liverpool but I cant see it happening. I think Liverpool will be to strong for them. The bookies are giving Cardiff 9/1 odds and Liverpool 1/3. Go to the link below to make a bet.
So who do you think will win the Cup?