' />

Toby's troubles I

Poor old Toby Flood. Any half-sane watcher of rugby can see he's a better footballer than Jonny Wilkinson and yet Martin Johnson persists with his fellow 2003 World Cup winner. Here's Johnson on his selection philosophy: "We can't change fundamentally which way we're going as a team. We can tweak stuff, but all the areas mesh together. That's the game of rugby."

Now there's talk of poking Flood in at No 12. But Flood, it seems, is sick of standing in the shadow of 2003's man. "You want to be selected on current form, not on how eight years ago I was this and I was that," he said yesterday. "I was great when I was 12."

Toby's troubles II


Toby's troubles don't end there. When the fill-in first five was making his way to the team room for a meeting last week, he forgot his pass and was denied entry by a security guard.

No mate, we don't know who you are.

Toby's troubles III

Toby comes from theatrical stock. His paternal grandfather was Gerald Flood, who provided the robot voice of Kamelion in Doctor Who. His grandfather on the maternal side was a famous German actor, Albert Leiven.

Toby's troubles IV

Grandad Albert was a German who bailed out of that country in 1937, when things were getting hairy for his Jewish wife, heading to Britain, where he spent the war years playing Nazi officers in British propaganda flicks.

He appeared in the subversive classic The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp and - check this out - he played General Rommel in Foxhole in Cairo and he was in The Guns of Navarone.

So one of Toby Flood's grandads was in Doctor Who and the other was in The Guns of Navarone! And the security guard still wouldn't let him through! Outrageous.



Also on a cinematic note. A reader on the Guardian message boards has a handy movie tip: "Anyone seen the film Meloncholia yet? If not, just imagine an SA v England final ..."

A new lingerie line

Daniel Carter's groin injury has opened up new marketing possibilities for the people at Jockey. The plaster-on-box range (see left) did the internet rounds yesterday.

Sleep talking

It's fair to say the World Cup is getting into some people's heads. An associate was shaken awake at 1am by her Welsh boyfriend. "I just want to shake your hand," said the sleeping Welshman. "Good game. Well played."


Body count

Shontayne Hape had his turn fronting up to play down the myriad scandals dogging the England team. "It's not like anyone killed anyone," he said.

Hmm, are we sure about that? Has someone counted the dwarves?

The Unspeakables

Chris Hewett in the Independent on Le Crunch: "It is, all things considered, quite a prospect: a quarter-final between an England team unable to behave and a French team impossible to second-guess. The unspeakable in pursuit of the unfathomable."

Well said, that man.


Dom's thoughts I

Dominic Rumbles, media boss of the IRB, takes issue with a CupShorts piece yesterday noting that an Englishman, Chris Quinlan, QC, handed out the suspension that rules out a Frenchman from Saturday's 'Le Crunch' quarter-final. Putting down his Chateau Lafayette and dusting the remnants of the caviar from his shirt front, Dom finds time to fire us an email.

"As I am sure that you are aware [I have previously written a similar email], the RWC 2011 Judicial Process is an independent system. The panel are independent in nature, are all top lawyers or QCs and are not employees of the IRB. It is both misleading and incorrect to suggest that Quinlan, a highly experienced [judicial officer], would be in any way anything other than utterly professional.

"The sanction handed down to the French player was also entirely consistent with the appropriate process."

Thanks for clearing that up, Dom. If there's no need for neutrality in judicial officers, what about a Kiwi ref for the All Blacks' matches ...

Dom's thought's II


Hang on a minute, that would mean the All Blacks get refereed by Bryce Lawrence. Scrap that, Dom.

From the Politburo I

There's a school of thought out there that says the NZRU are a bunch of iron-fisted megalomaniacs trying to control all public discussion of rugby in New Zealand in a manner akin to Joseph Stalin handling the minutes of a Politburo meeting. This is an absurd notion - and anyone who says otherwise is off to the gulag!

And the experience of a glamorous, flaxen-haired TV producer should be ignored. The producer wanted to get an interview with Colin Slade's parents for her current affairs show, so she gave the family home a call. They said no thanks, which is fair enough.

Cue: Three phone calls to the producer from three separate NZRU commissars (all ominously called "Joe") demanding all future inquiries for players' families go through the Kremlin.

Da, comrades!


From the Politburo II

What were Ma and Pa Slade likely to say that could cause offence? "Actually, we're Stephen Donald fans"?

Two halves

Here at CupShorts we're too proud to engage in plagiarism (the nefarious journalistic practice of lifting someone else's idea and claiming it as your own). So as we lazily run this gem of a guide to rugby journalism we'll attribute Sean Kenny, of the Irish Times.

Q: Which equivalent fractional components was the game of?

A: Two halves.


Q: Which activity, regarded by personal grooming industry professionals as inimical to the health of cuticles, did the close match induce in viewers?

A: Nail biting.

Q: By which process of subcutaneous insertion is pace applied?

A: It is injected.

Q: Which piece of plumage is applied to millinery to represent achievement?

A: A feather (in their cap).


Q: It's tough out there. In which form of abyssal excavation will the players have to engage?

A: Digging deep.

Q: What is weathered?

A: The storm.

Q: What is ticked?

A: All the boxes.


Q: What is laid down?

A: A marker.

Q: To what typically medieval stronghold must the stadium be compared?

A: A fortress.

Q: To which elevated level is the referee going?

A: Upstairs.


Q: Is there a downstairs?

A: No.

Q: Why not?

A: Don't ask me; I just work here.

Q: Sorry; you've just been hammered. Which affirmative forms will you take from the match?

A: Positives.


Q: In which form of intimate embrace has the winger enfolded the touchline?

A: Hugging.

Q: Good Lord! That chap is playing splendidly. Which state of engulfment by flames might describe his performance?

A: On fire.

Q: At which juncture characterised by commercial activity do we find ourselves?

A: The business end.