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Assertion disproved?


Watson Grand Slam Try

For many decades England Rugby Football Schools Union was responsible for selecting U16 Divisional Squads, for arranging a Divisional Festival and selecting / coaching England U16 teams. In recent years its competence to do so was challenged in some corridors of the Rugby Football Union; there were claims that we picked the wrong players, not least by selecting early maturers.

The inevitable occurred last season: the Professional Game at Twickenham took over the responsibility, creating (very reasonably and understandably from the perspective of its remit) emphasis on searching out and developing those aspiring to play professional rugby. No interest is now shown in those talented school players who don’t want to go to Academies, don’t want to play professionally; just want the chance to represent their country as an U16.

However, this post is about challenging the claim that we (I was Chairman of Selectors of London & South East Division (LSE) and an England selector for the last 5 seasons) made poor selections. Yesterday (19th March 2016) England completed an historic season by winning the Grand Slam. The England squad included 8 of our LSE players:

Jack Clifford (2008/2009)
Elliot Daly (2008/2009)
Owen Farrell (2007/2008)
Jamie George (2006/2007)
Maro Itoje (2009/2010)
Joe Launchbury  (2006/2007)
Kyle Sinkler (2008/2009) (Harlequins) [update 27/11/2016]
Anthony Watson (2010/2011)
Marland Yarde (2007/2008)

There were others in the squad from divisions elsewhere in the country and whilst I can’t recall all the boys who played for us (I just did my job!) George Ford and Luke Cowan-Dickie did, Michael Haywood (LSE)  and others are in contention. Some of the “older” players were in our U16 England teams (like Ben Youngs), but I wasn’t directly involved when they were around.

A plethora of others are in the professional game: From LSE U16 squads mainly 2007/2008 to 2010/2011 (ie not including players in the other three divisions)
Harry Allen (2007/2008) (L Irish)
Nick Auterac (2008/2009) (Bath)
George Catchpole (2009/2010) (Leicester)
Danny Cipriani (2006/2007) (Sale)
Nathan Earle (2010/2011) (Saracens)
Jamie George (2012/2013) (Saracens)
Matt Hankins (2008/2009) (Saracens)
Will Hooley (2009/2010) (Exeter)
Harry Lightfoot-Brown (2011/2012) (L Irish)
George Merrick (2008/2009) (Harlequins)
Ben Ransom (2007/2008) (Saracens)
Tom Smallbone (2009/2010) (L Irish)
Nick Tompkins (2010/2011) (Saracens)
Sam Twomey (2007/2008) (Harlequins)
Jackson Wray (2006/2007) (Saracens)
etc, etc – my memory is fading

So there! lol

Anyone have a mallet?


DT Mallet (1)I thought I’d post a few examples of how the best laid admin can be of no avail.  I could quote a lot more …… and may do as I recall them!

I am Administrator for Kent Schools’ Rugby Football Union and keep in touch with schools by email and on our website;

  1. In November I sent an email to all schools saying that it was time to enter our U13, U14, U15 and U16 Sevens Competitions. It said entries can only be done on line and explained (highlighted in yellow) how to navigate to the right page and stated the link to click on
    Immediate email response from one teacher: “Great Dave! How do we enter?
  2. Today I emailed the few schools that had gone on line to enter but had yet to pay, explaining just that and that the closing date was getting near
    Immediate email response from one teacher: “Thanks. Have we paid?”



Reminiscent queues


Flu jab queue

I drove past a long queue of older people and thought we were back to post-war rationing!

In fact it was a cohort of our sensible residents getting their flu jabs. One of the benefits of me spending plenty of time at the surgery is that I can get mine without queuing!

Faith restored!


After the disappointment of the lack of community spirit reflected in my post of last February (10th) my heart has been warmed by the generosity of an Istead Rise business man whose company puts aside significant funds each year to support projects that encourage young people to be involved in meaningful activity. He has set up the Alpha Foundation for that purpose.

Alpha - Scouts (1)

1st Istead Rise Scouts lost its hut several years ago, for a number of reasons, and has been working feverishly to raise £100,000 to dismantle and remove the dilapidated structure and build a new home. Many fund raising events and some council (Gravesham and Kent) grants have got them on the road to success and Alpha has just contributed £5,000! But there’s a long way to go; they are looking to complete in three years. Can you help shorten their wait?

Follow their efforts on Facebook: “Help the Hut” ………. and help if you can!

Long May She Reign


1730 BST on 9th September 2015. The Queen has reigned for 23226 days, 16 hours and approximately 30 minutes, so surpassing the length of reign of her great-great grandmother Queen Victoria

                Longest Reign (16)

Longest Reign (8)Longest Reign (15)

On 9th September, the day Queen Elizabeth II became the longest serving monarch in English history, Gravesham Council staged a splendid commemoration service on a wonderfully sunny evening at sunset.

I thought I’d mark the occasion with this post

I remember her accession. I was at Days Lane Junior School in Sidcup and a teacher came into my class and told us that the King had died. My friend, Clifford, said, “That means Elizabeth will be Queen” and I thought “Clever sod” (the 1950s version of “Clever bastard”).  I did know she existed because I was keeping a daily log of press cuttings about her tour and making a scrap book. I remember having pictures of her and Prince Philip with Maoris, visiting hot springs and in a tree house. If only I’d kept that scrap book ……

Village Sign – Project End


Blog sign and planters

Earlier blogs mention “my” village sign project. Well now it’s finished (except for cleaning up the adjacent footway) and I thought I’d put a picture of it here to remind myself what a good bloke I am.

I’ve already had lots of favourable comments – so don’t spoil things!

Next May I will complete 40 consecutive years as a Gravesham councillor. The sign project is a small effort to show that after all that time I have at last done something useful.

Great news – if you love Conservative types!


Prom Adizone May

Adizone by our Historic Thames Riverside

You probably noticed the General Election and even if you were slightly interested in it you would most likely not have noticed that we had a council election in Gravesham on the same day.

We (Conservatives – if you hate us close blog now – if you love us prepare to clap) turned a six seat deficit into a two seat majority so, as has happened regularly during my 39 consecutive years as a councillor, the pendulum has swung. Instead of being an opposition member who respected and worked effectively with the majority party, I am now in more influential policy-making mode as deputy leader of the council. It is, of course, very exciting to have the opportunity to shape the next four years (at least!).

I have responsibility for mentoring three new councillors who have been given cabinet portfolios and overseeing their work. That covers my specialisms of sports development, the arts, events, heritage, leisure centres and theatre, community cohesion, young people and older people and so on; and will prove to be a good tool for succession planning.

I have direct responsibility for public health (the health and wellbeing agenda – I’m a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health), environmental health, communication including “channel shift” (need to set a good example by tweeting more!)  and a number of internal functions that the leader presumably feels are a bit boring for him! Channel shift is a new local government term used to confuse people: It just means “using IT and social media more, rather than paper, radio, etc to communicate”.

Amongst a number of exciting projects on the horizon is Paramount Park ( which we must  influence; it has massive opportunities for economic generation.

Like all councils, we have lots of opportunities and lots of challenges; that’s what running things is about. As far as politics goes – not interested – just want to use what little energy my ageing body has left to do my best for local people. So all looks good, if we can cope with Mr Cameron’s commitment to reduce our expenditure by around  25% during the next four years.

I shall, of course, continue my commitment to serving young people through Kent Schools Rugby, England Rugby Schools and Kent Cricket. That’s what I’ve been doing for over 40 years and I don’t know how to stop!  One day I will learn that skill – or the Good Lord may save me the trouble  ……