Moles dig. Sometimes to make a molehill. Sometimes to get to the bottom of something. Sometimes for no reason other than curiosity. Just as spiders can’t help spinning webs, moles can’t help digging. DNA is something we don’t fully understand, but we know it exists.
The Mole wondered about the Richie Gray story. He has signed for Sale, and will join them next June. Certainly, it’s probably a large increase in wedge, but no figures have been even rumoured and it’s surely not as much as some of the French clubs, or even the wealthier English clubs, could have paid . So, Sale … and not Leicester, Harlequins nor even Saracens, any one of which clubs would likely have offered him a better platform for his undoubted talent and a launching pad for a place in the 2013 British and Irish Lions Squad to tour Australia.
Richie is 22, a young man. Richie at 6’ 10’’ and 130Kg is a very big man. Richie is quick and has good hands, and for a man his size, is a very agile chappie. Richie is experienced with two seasons of international rugby in the bank already. Richie is one of the best 2nd row prospects in the world, but he’s not a Lion….yet.
Of all the positions in the Squad, the Lions selectors have probably got more choices at 2nd row than any other. Not a normal situation for many Lions Tours, but this time around that is the reality. They have very good, and some nearly great, options in all four countries:
- Alun Wyn Jones – (28 in 2013); 6’ 5’’, 118 Kg, a Lion already;
- Bradley Davies – (26 by Tour time); 6’6’’, 119Kg; experienced and mobile
- Alistair Kellock (32 on Tour) 6’8’’, 119Kg, Hard-nosed experienced Scottish captain;
- Courtney Lawes (25) 6’7’’, 114 Kg, mobile aggressive, a new breed, experienced;
- Tom Palmer, 6’6’’, 112Kg weekly experience of the French abbatoir that is Top 14;
- Paul O’Connell, (33 by Tour time), 6’6’’, 110 kg, Lions captain, crème de la crème;
- Luke Charteris, (30 on Tour), 6’10’’ 130 Kg, emerged in RWC 2011 as top class.
With this competition in mind, the Mole cannot satisfy his curiosity about Gray’s decision to choose Sale. Maybe this is the start of a brave new world in northern rugby? Maybe Steve Diamond is the best Executive Director of Rugby Development in world rugby? Maybe they have the best throwing-in hooker (Tom Taylor or Marc Jones) in the Northern Hemisphere?
So the Mole is still digging, and as is often the case, not sure exactly why. Is there a whiff of something different in the air? Is there something buried that can’t yet be seen? Maybe the Mole will end with a morsel; maybe it’ll just be a hole.
- … Must be a big wedge?
- … Maybe he doesn’t like capital cities?
- … Maybe he wants to drive home after games?
- … Maybe he doesn’t know the French love him? The crowds in Stade de France were in raptures with his performance against the French for Scotland during the Six Nations – every time he got on the ball they were clapping and chanting his name. It’s difficult to imagine that he wouldn’t have been the target of big bucks offers from the likes of Racing, Clermont, Bayonne and Toulon, who have all shown readiness to flash the cash around
Still digging …
- … Maybe Richie Vernon is his best mate?
- … Maybe he rates Alisdair Dickenson as a great Prop?
- … Maybe he thinks Tony Buckley is a great scrummager?
- … Maybe he wants to be part of the biggest pack ever assembled in English rugby? Steve Diamond put in dibs on Tony Buckley [6’5″, 130kg] to pack down alongside Big Ted Sheridan [6’4″, 122kg] in the front row. Andy Powell [6’4″, 115kg] was introduced to line out alongside Richie Vernon [6’5″ 104kg] and Hendre Fourie in the backrow, and Gray will lock out the scrum with one of Fijian Wame Lewravu [6’6″, 119kg], fellow Scot Frazer McKenzie [6’6″ 113kg] or Russian Andrei Ostrikov [6’6″ 110kg]. That will genuinely be a monster pack when all the pieces are in place.
Still digging …
- … Must be a very big wedge?
- … Maybe he’s a Man City fan and wants to meet his Club idols?
- … Maybe he’s a Man City fan and wants to meet the Club owners?
- … Maybe the Sheiks would like to own a rugby Club? Far-fetched? They could certainly run a club for the cost that it takes to fuel Carlos Tevez alone, even if nobody came to see them play. Tevez’ wage bill comes in at £250K/week, which weighs in at a staggering £13m p.a. Seeing as the salary cap in the Premiership is pitched at £4M p.a., you could probably compare the cost of funding an entire Premiership squad to the cost of a James Milner or a Joe Hart, rather than a Tevez.
Still digging …
- … Wonder is Fran Cotton – Sale board member, RFU bigwig and former Lions manager – still involved with the touring outfit?
- … Wonder is Bill Beaumont – who was a Lancashire regular alongside Cotton, was manager of the 2005 Lions tour, and is currently bidding to be named Chairman of the IRB – a Lions selector this time around?
- … Wonder does Richie Gray have a weekly poker school? If he’s getting his ducks in a row this early to optimize his chances of selection for the Lions, you’d be a dummy to underestimate his smarts.
Moles mostly don’t know why they keep digging, or what makes them stop.
Moles are crap at poker anyway, not enough toes to calculate the odds!