The West’s Awake – A view from the Bottom Paddock: Claw tackles Biarritz

Holy feckin’ Dog! I was expecting a warm welcome once we got to Biarritz, but to see that they had brought weather straight from our own Achill Island was a joy to behold. Or at least it was whilst I was indoors. In a pub.

After a quick yomp through the sodden streets of Biarritz, and one or two pints in our bellies, we bowled up to the Parc des Sports Aguilera around an hour before the match to imbibe the atmosphere and, erm, the beer too. We got a fantastic welcome, with the Basque band pelting out The Fields of Athenry and the two hundred or so Connacht fans getting stuck into it by singing along and responding with The Fields of Athenry. We may be a lyrical bunch in the West, but jeebers, we’re not good at remembering songs. A few mulled wines, a couple of local ciders and we were ready to get into the stands. Rumours were that Connacht asked for the game to be postponed due to the climatic conditions but were flatly refused. Further rumours implicated Sky in the refusal. Feck you, Rooooopert, you Oz-American octogenarian ballbag.

And so to the match. Into Tribune Serge Blanco we trudged, and what I had thought of as perfect tickets turned into what can only be described as a ballache of epic proportions. We realised that, being in the front row, we were completely open to the elements. I would have been better off wearing a wet suit. I’m still wringing out my socks now.

I wanted to fucking win – badly! – but we knew whichever team managed the conditions better would be the one to win.Claw001

And so it proved – Yachvilli giving a masterclass in the swamp, the Biarritz forwards playing a far more savvy game in the tight, ably aided and abetted by Connacht’s ability to spill the ball in almost any circumstance. I exchanged a brief bit of WORLD CLASS BANTER with Iain Balshaw. “Yer were shite for England!”, I bellowed at him. He responded with a shooshing gesture, and, two minutes later, he was in over in the left hand corner for a try.

That shut me up. The Yach conversion made it 10-0, and you could tell that this was not our night.

The most feckin’ frustrating thing, though, was the fact that we challenged well in the second half, put Biarritz under lots of pressure – to the point where they conceded two yellow cards – but we could not do anything with ball in hand, and, when Parks put boot to ball, he was unerringly inaccurate and too short. Every time he kicked, it came back with interest and Biarritz made thirty or forty metre gains. All our pressure yielded only one penalty, Parks kicking to the right and wide.

That was the story of the night for us, lots of puff and plenty of grind, but the wrong ideas and even worse execution. The night was summed up when Seremaia Burotu went over for the Basques in the last minute after a bit of a fortuitous grubber from Damian “Slow As A Trainful Of Shit” Traille. Yach made a peach of a touchline conversion and our losing bonus point disappeared into the sideways rain.

Match finished, many handshakes and warm commiserations from our hosts and a few more mulled wines, then we headed for the Red Café, Biarritz’s rugby pub. Several more pints and talking utter drivel to some locals, and I was a happy Claw. An even happier one when all the Connacht players showed up and I got to chat to several of them including Ronan Loughney, our tighthead and an utter gentleman. We discussed the departure of Mike McCarthy and the rumours Ronan had heard about his replacement – apparently someone from the Premiership – and his hopes for the rest of the HEC.

A good night, despite the result, and a seriously sore head in the morning, but thanks to flair – our resident French BTLer -and his top tips for nightlife in Bayonne, evening number two was just as successful, and I got nearly as plastered as Chek on the night bus home.

Great weekend all round. Roll on Munster next week.

About sagmog

Just the facts, man.
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565 Responses to The West’s Awake – A view from the Bottom Paddock: Claw tackles Biarritz

  1. PlanetoftheChimps says:

    Splendid day’s commenting, has brightened my evening no end. Been in Aberdeen for the day with no internet, actually had to work. Bah

    Super match report.

    Commiserations to whoever it was going through redundancy. Horrible process, went through it a couple of years back but clung on by my fingernails.

    Sure I saw a Full Metal Jacket quote in there somewhere. Classic film.

    Oh, and Check, I was at Murrayfield in 1990 as a nipper. Tony Stanger scored about 30 yards in front of me. Happy days. Long past now, though, boo hoo.

  2. Underdog says:

    Thaum – what had it been for her Pre-surgery? An amorphous, distance-distorting blob? I think I’d be perpetually sick if the floor was that for me.

  3. laraxwell says:

    the ladies here are welcome to travel back to my childhood
    I had 3 older sisters
    they ruled me with iron fist

  4. triskaidekaphobia says:


    You put the text between <blockquote> and </blockquote>
    So it appears so

    this is blockquote

    You can copy the same template for italics <i>text</i> — italic and bold <b><i/b> — bold

  5. thaumaturge says:

    UD – she knew she was short-sighted, but knew no better. Seeing perfectly was a revelation. ;-)

    Regarding Guardian redundancies, the NUJ has balloted for action and the paper itself reports this:

    On Thursday, GNM, following consultation with the National Union of Journalists, for the first time outlined how many posts it was seeking to cut from each editorial department – including 22 from Guardian news (including the business, media, society, education and consumer desks); 15 from culture, features, Saturday Guardian and Guardian Weekly; eight from sport; three from comment; eight from the Observer and six from pictures.

    I’d guess they aren’t going to lay off any Wendyball sporty types, so….

    Not to mention the ridiculousness of laying off proper hard-news journos, who are the ones I buy the paper for.

  6. paddyirish says:

    Hi all.

    Great ATL DtC- fantastic.

    Back in time moments – 2 rugby ones both involving Ireland vs Australia – 1991 WC QF Michael Lynagh drops the ball over the line. 2003 WC Humph Makes a drop goal and we win our group.

    The life one would be not accepting an offer to do a PhD – I’d f*cked up my 1st degree and thought I could improve my chances. Cost me 6 years of my life (last 3 writing up in the evening after a day’s work and about £10 grand in overdrafts and credit card limits…)

    Lions team – f*ck knows. For clubs, Ulster were the form team up to November Quins now, and dog knows who will be come April/May. England are nailed on for the 6N and I think a lot of them should tour – I think a lot will be good tourists… But maybe Wales wil come back or Scotland will mount a challenge.

    Agree on use of moderation in extreme circumstances only

  7. triskaidekaphobia says:

    Ach – damn

    That should be <i> italic </i&gt: — italic and <b>bold</b> bold

  8. thaumaturge says:

    Trisk – I won’t comment on the formatting, but are you afraid of BOD?

  9. Handsoff7 says:

    @ underdog

    Me too, the embarrassment of failing where Trendy is welcomed!

    On the Falcons, I’ve seen them a couple of times this season, and whilst they got the job done, they weren’t playing expansively and simply grinding teams down. However I was talking to a season ticket holder today and he reckoned that they had turned a corner recently and had started to put together some impressive performances, especially Joel Hodgeson at fly half, He also said that the management are on a serious charm offensive and spending a lot of time with the fans after the game, which is going down pretty well.

    Anyhow off now, early start tomorrow.

    Thanks and night all

  10. Underdog says:

    Cheers Handsoff. It’ll be interesting to see who Deano attracts/repels in terms of recruitment should they gain promotion.

    I don’t imagine Tom Williams will be signing up, for example.

  11. paddyirish says:


    Any chance of them laying off Bella Rusbridger Mackie?

    Thought not…

  12. thaumaturge says:

    I’m off too; see youse tomorra.

  13. thaumaturge says:

    Paddy – well, there’s a rumour that dad’s going elsewhere, so you never know.

    Really off now.

  14. meadesian says:

    @Lara, it is, although that’s not all I’m fond of. Although the Barbican is probably my favourite single building, my favourite place/collection of buildings is in Katajanokka, a district of Helsinki. One of the finest collections of jugendstil architecture anywhere, interpreted through Finnish national romanticism. Beautiful beyond my efforts at description.

  15. meadesian says:

    Well, that killed the fecker stone dead.

    Coming up next, on Meadesian’s holiday slideshow….

  16. Kocktopuss says:

    Finally finished reading back over all the comments.

    Excellent stuff from everyone and sorry I missed out on contributing the past few days.


    Cheers for the well-wishes regarding the laser-eye. I will off course (once I can look at monitors again) give you all an update, especially those of you considering getting it done.

    Loved the idea of ‘back in time’ tangent. Agree with Sag, it would have to be dinosaurs first and foremost.


    Compys? I’d like to think it would take raptors to take me down. Thus, it’d be four or five compys in reality.

    If we’re limiting the time-travel thing to the course of human events then here’s Crash’s Events He’s Like To Travel Back And Witness XV;

    1. Battle of Britain – knights of the sky, Spitfires, Hurricanes, 109s, the tension, the consequences.
    2. To witness the rise of Genghis Khan. To see how a simple Mongol boy rose to become one of the most controversial and influential men in world history.
    3. Battle of Thermopylae – To see what it was really like. To see how few Spartans and their allies did fight, to see how many the Persians fielded against them. To see if the last handful really did fight tens of thousands with their bare hands at the end.
    4. Kursk – the big one. 2 million men, thousands upon thousands of tanks, vehicles and aircraft, the breaking of the back of the Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front.
    5. Battle of Alesia – Romans, Gauls, Caeser, Vercingetorix, miles and miles of trenchworks, an army surrounded by an army thats surrounded by another army. What more do you want?
    6. To sit on the deck of the Marie Celeste and see what the hell did happen.
    7. Paris, around about 1789 just to see how it all happened.
    8. Ireland back when it was Hibernia just to settle once and for all whether the Romans did land here in force/invade or just sent over some merchants to trade from time to time.
    9. The trial of the Templars. To see what actual evidence was offered before they were accused of heresy and burned.
    10. To plonk myself down in Da Vinci’s workshop and sit back and watch genius at work.
    11. The Battle of Jaffa – Richard Couer de Leon (The Lionheart to our English cousins) vs Sallah ad-Din (Saladin). The greatest Crusader versus the greatest Islamic general, both far more chivalric than most of the men they led.
    12. D-Day – no explanation needed.
    13. To follow George s. Patton through WW2 and see what he was really like.
    14. The Council of Nicea. To see what bits and pieces were left in and out of the bible and the justifications for both considering the ramifications said book has had on history.
    15. To march beside Alexander the Great and see him earn that title.

    Sorry if it’s a little military-history heavy but that’s the side of history that fascinates me the most.

  17. Kocktopuss says:


    My above comment; now that’s how you kill a blog!

  18. Great post kock. What a way to sign off for a few days. What a ine blog this is.

  19. Underdog says:

    Crash, that’s a belter of a list. For morbid curiosity, I’d add almost any major Civil War to that list. To see what can drive families to take arms against each other would be unsettling and fascinating in equal measure.

    Also, every time you say ‘Laser eye’, I assume it’s a type of Borg upgrade since your lads were assimilated at the weekend.

    Re: dinosaurs, I’d like to think I could take on a big slow one like an anklyosaurus, but would probably be crushed to death within seconds. I guess it would be less ignominious than being pecked to death by the dino equivalent of a chicken…

  20. avsfan says:

    Great list there Crash. Personally, I’d add sitting outside the tomb three days after the crucifixion. That could settle a lot of shit right off, possible negating most of the events you list there after.

  21. avsfan says:

    What are you lot on about dinosaurs for? The world is only 4000 and something years old, innit?

  22. Kocktopuss says:

    @RoS & UDL

    Cheers, lads. Could’ve done a XV on WW2 or the Romans alone but wanted to give it a bit of variety. Maybe Chek will have a bash at a WW2 XV.

    UDL – one of the options was to have the incisions made by essentially (as I understand it) a miniature robotic can opener on a miniature robotic arm (hopefully the operated won’t be aled-up). That sounds pretty hoffific and Borg-like to me. Unsurprisingly I went for the somewhat more expensive option that involves the incisions being made by laser.

    When the surgeon switches on the machine I’m gonna give him the Simpson’s line; “Scopio, you’re totally mad!” and see if he joins in the skit.

  23. Kocktopuss says:


    Good choice with the tomb. Avoided direct Jesus-ey-interaction myself lest it spark a bit of religion vs atheism agro at this hour (I’m tired) but you’re a good bit behind us time-wise so have at it should you fancy it.

  24. Underdog says:

    Imagine Dr K. Line at the controls of this eye/can-opener, swigging away at some bottled ale as they strap you in. At the moment, I picture him as a Lobbe lookalike. This may be comforting or even more scary, I haven’t decided.

    That Simpsons quote is quite niche, so I imagine they’ll just think you took a huff of the gas when they weren’t looking.

    avs – right you are. Got carried away with those made up stories about infidel-devil-lizards.

  25. beadleclawuk says:

    All the best crashkockop on your eye-op. Good selection of history too. I’d choose following Hannibal with his elephants for the audacity or being in mission control for the first moon landing off the top of my head.

    I’m manfully trying to keep up with the fantastical posting capability demonstrated here whilst rushed off my feet in the ‘real world’. Would love to contribute ATL but definitely stuck until new year, trying to ferment some ideas nonetheless.

    Tried to post on the Graun today on the mental health vs gun control thread. Shite, that nesting is SuperBad, makes me lose the will to live. I’ve created a wordpress thingy to feel part of the gang.

    Especially nice to see that there are new posters following over from the Graun and taking the plunge.

    The rugby moment in history for me is a cheesy one – to have been there for the Baa-Baas vs All Blacks game in ?1973. It’s now a bit of a cliche but when I think of how the finest rugby can be played I picture this game (and in general the Welsh team of the 70s that I remember growing up watching on the 5 Nations). I think it’s why supporting England has been such a chore really.

    Alternatively, a cherished moment to revisit for me was watching the Lions SA in 1997 in the Tut’n’Shive pub in Gloucester when the narrative went from:

    “what the fuck is that fucking Guscott doing lining up a…”


    “…you fucking beauty”

    and a subsequent (short-lived – NEVER forget he’s Bath, mind) love-in for the otherwise irritating nobhead.

  26. Kocktopuss says:


    It’s niche but a true Simpson’s afficianado would get it. I say ‘bah!’ to all these fair-weather Simpson’s fans.


    Cheers on several counts. Real World has disrupted my posting the past few days and will for the next few and it does feel a little weird to not even be able to lurk, let alone contribute. Still, there’s worse ways to spend a quiet evening than catching up on a few hundred great comments.

  27. crovier says:

    lot to catch up on today!
    thats the problem with not being able to access this site at work- when i log on at here at night (kids in bed, chores done etc) i feel a bit like the guy who turns up at the party at 5am in the morning to find everyone gone home or comatose

  28. crovier says:

    btw cat- if you’re about
    i’m reading the master and margharita at the moment- i never realised what behemoth the cat referred to before

  29. wallofmouths says:

    That’s a great list, Crashtopuss, and may I add my best wishes for the lasering.
    Off the top of my head, my time travelling exploits would include Crecy and Agincourt, to try and settle the arguments over the numbers involved, and also to get in on the (supposed) origin of that most English of obscene gestures, flicking the Vs. I’d take a look at Waterloo as well, for a hat trick of the French having it handed to them by an inferior force. And to avoid appearing so anti-French that people will think I’m Jeremy Clarkson, I’d check out Julius Caesar, see how short and bald he really was.

  30. bedfordbluesfan says:

    NOw Baldy is getting stuck with the evil twin brother.

    In the past, some posters have suggested that Kitson deliberately and cynically posts controversial statements to increase the number of posts. I have generally disregard, however given the current mass exodus from these boards, it would seem to be the only possible reason for his selection.

    Hasnt WAG already stated that he will base his lions picks more on the AI’s then the 6N, as it is performances vs the SH that will count on the lions tour, not the 6N comfort zone.

    Having had 6 chances in little over a year, it would seem ridiculous to give the welsh players yet another chance to earn a place on the team. Ditch them.

    Anyway, he’s clearly on a wind up, even if he could find a bizarre reason to pick the welsh, Tuperic has been far better then Warbs.

    In response to Canary comment “No argument over the rest of the squad except would perhaps add Zebo and P O’Mahoney as possible bolters.”

    I would certainly agree..

    Zebo would cause mayhem on hard ground! He’s a hell of a player in the NH winter, genuine xfactor winger for me.

    Always been impressed with mahoney too, just not sure where to fit him in. is he best at 7 or 6?

    Robshaw has a better record vs the SANZAR in 11 caps then Gatland has in his entire coaching career..
    He might not be a better athlete then Warbs, but he’s a better leader, and he’s a better rugby player. He’s also a winner.

  31. raceofstalwarts says:

    All of the above is true :D

  32. raceofstalwarts says:

    I watched a program called Instruments of Death last night. excellent trash history looking at the strategic importance and destructive capabilities of the weapons in famous battles. Last night was waterloo, something I thought I knew a bit about.

  33. titimanionga says:

    I find myself agreeing with Baldy. How strange. You still on the sauce, ROS?

  34. sagmog says:

    I’m going to put a new blog up shortly.
    Last orders….

  35. titimanionga says:



  36. titimanionga says:

    Sorry, got nostalgic there all of a sudden.

  37. sagmog says:

    It’s a shame, the next blog up was written by Crash, but he won’t be able to see it ‘cos of being lasered in the face today.
    Sometimes fate can be cruel…

  38. Tovarishch says:

    I watched a program called Instruments of Death

    Bet it wasn’t as good as The 80’s – Rallying’s Craziest Time or whatever that I watched iPlayer. Bog, I miss those Group B cars!

  39. titimanionga says:

    I can’t help but picture him shackled to a steel table, with a massive laser device shooting a beam through the steel and working its way slowly up towards cutting him in half. Crash lying there going ‘is it done yet?’, the operator saying to himself ‘oh, it soon will be, Mr Bond…..’

  40. sagmog says:

    I miss those Group B cars

    You and me both.
    Just ‘cos they were a bit “dangerous”, bastards.
    And we never got to see the 288GTO race on a track.
    Double bastards.

  41. MichaelVaughanMyLord says:

    I had laser eye surgery. Took 10 minutes. Doesn’t hurt. Piece of p!ss.

  42. killerline says:

    Still no HC announcement Claw………..fuckers

  43. killerline says:

    I’ve got a HeNe Ar ion laser in the room next to me….

    Crash should have said something.

  44. Chekhovian says:

    Chek will have a bash at a WW2 XV.

    You do me an honour, sir. I’d love to have had a ringside view for this lot.

    1. Battle of Britain – knights of the sky indeed, no quibbles there
    2. House of Commons, June 1940 – to listen to Churchill’s ‘fight them on the beaches’ speech. Still gives me shivers when I hear it.
    3. D-Day – especially to see the British troops march off the landing craft into enemy machine gun fire accompanied by the skirl of the bagpipes. One piper was shot in the legs but carried on playing. Commitment.
    4. Stalingrad – I’d probably last five minutes before being overwhelmed by the horror
    5. Dambusters Raid
    6. The Royal Navy operations room during the chase and sinking of the Bismarck – the stress and pressure must have been immense
    7. Kursk – especially the massive tank clash outside Prokhorovkha.
    8. Battle of Midway – three Japanese carriers sunk in three minutes.
    9. The Commando raid on St Nazaire
    10. Dieppe – epic Allied failure
    11. Arnhem – epic Allied failure
    12. Attack on Pearl Harbour
    13. The interaction between Roosvelt, Churchill and Stalin at Yalta. The Big Three carve up the world
    14. The VE Day celebrations in London
    15. My grandfather’s bedside in some sodden airfield in Burma, 1944, when he woke from a malarial fever to find a native cobra sitting on his chest. Just to tell him everything’s going to be fine.

  45. Absolute genius:

    “I am proud to tell you it was here in London in 1871 that a group of burly, moustachioed, mildly inebriated Victorians met at a pub and decided they’d had enough of the namby-pamby pussyfooting around of the spheroid fetishists of Association Football.”

    Good bless Boris. Useless as tits on a hog, but he certainly has a way with words.

  46. tcod says:

    15. My grandfather’s bedside in some sodden airfield in Burma, 1944, when he woke from a malarial fever to find a native cobra sitting on his chest. Just to tell him everything’s going to be fine.

    Was it?

  47. Karl1976 says:

    Tov, I pine for those grim mornings in November, tuned to the TV, watching the Quattro S1, Lancia S4, RS200, 205 S16 E2 fly round the Welsh forests. Those cars were amazing. A regret I never managed to persuade my Dad to take me to see some of the Cumbrian stages.

    Were the group B cars that dangerous or was it just a case of them getting a bad rep with the bad crash in Portugal and then the Finnish driver crashing down the hillside (memory getting a bit sketchy here). Or were they just too far ahead of their time in terms of power without the control that modern cars have?

  48. Lindsay Hilton, who plays scrum-half for the Halifax Tars women’s team in Canada against able-bodied players, despite being born without hands or lower legs.

    And still has a quicker pass than Mike Phillips.

  49. tcod says:

    Baldy posted that on the Kitson blog Cat

  50. killerline says:

    Baldy posted that on the Kitson blog Cat


  51. Karl1976 says:

    Baldy’s come in for a bit of stick over on the graun blog. The Xenophobe card has been played. It’s quite funny, because the factual bit of what the Ogre has said is dead accurate, it’s just his unique way with words that is causing the issue…

    Like many, including some real-life Welshies I know, aren’t too keen on a Welsh-dominated Lions tour based on current Welsh team form. But, much like assuming Richie Gray is crap just because he’s playing for Sale, it would be an error to make that connection.

    Some deserving players will tour, and some undeserving players will tour. The only thing that in 100% true is that we’ll all disagree on at least one of of the deserving vs undeserving lists.

  52. Chekhovian says:


    Well, he didn’t get bitten, and he also lived til he was 89, so yes, I suppose everything was fine in the end.

  53. PlanetoftheChimps says:

    Quality historic moments here.

    I’d quite like to visit the battle of Trafalgar. As Nelson died did he really say ‘kiss me Hardy’? Honestly, these navy types

    Being a fly on the wall during Hitler’s last days in the bunker would be an experience.

  54. killerline says:


    4 chances and 4 narrow defeats don’t fill anyone with hope though do they?
    I’m English but I was livid with Wales on that tour. Genia’s genius aside: it just wasn’t good enough.

    If the tour was to SA I’m sure people would say that’s England’s bogie team…and how could we argue back?

    If Wales had won 2 or 3 of the 4 I’m sure they be using it as an oar to lever their players into Lions shirts.

    I’d still be taking Welsh players mind, and the less we look into Kitson’s bizarre selection the better.

  55. I know. I saw it after I posted.

    Damn him. Mind you, my fault for going for such an obvious gag.

  56. Moderation:

    I’ve done it a few times. Approved when people have ended up in Spam, and deleted some nonsense that got through the filter. In terms of offensiveness, I’m not moderating anything as we self police and idiocy should be allowed to stand.

    I reserve the right to repeatedly delete trendy, though, if he ever shows up.

  57. Back in shit office today. Using 1990’s looking wordpress. Hate this.

  58. tcod says:

    Well, he didn’t get bitten, and he also lived til he was 89, so yes, I suppose everything was fine in the end.

    Good to hear Chek.

  59. Tovarishch says:

    @Karl1976 – Answer on t’other blog!

Comments are closed.