- Rättelse: Bosse Högberg har på annat håll skrivit att jag är 80 år! Skandal, skärpning Bosse! En elementär kontroll hade gett vid handen att jag inte fyller 80 förrän den 13 december 2019. Tidig Luciauppvaktning efterlyses.
- Rugby i svensk TV. Hamish Mabon kör amerikansk fotboll på ViaSat fram till Superbowl om några veckor. Sedan tar Sex Nationer vid på samma kanal, där Hamish får brodern Allan som bisittare. Allt naturligtvis på svenska. Sedan blir det samma kanal och gäng när VM drar i gång i höst och gissningsvis även OS 7-manna 2020.
Bröderna Mabon har hållit på med sådana uppdrag i flera år nu utan att SRF en enda gång nämnt att högklassig internationell rugby bjuds på svensk TV med pedagogiskt insatta svenska kommentatorer. Att strunta i sådana utmärkta tillfällen att marknadsföra rugby i Sverige var tjänstefel. Jag hoppas att inte SRF på nytt försummar chansen att puffa för sådana sändningar.
ViaSat lär för resten besöka ett Exiles träningspass på Bosön inför 2019 för att göra en blänkare inför Sex Nationer.
- Returning to Exiles and the coming season: Head coach, Henry van Niekerk, feels the club will be stronger this year than last when injuries and national 7s commitments caused havoc with selection. Some of the older stars who have won us seven titles in a row have been mumbling about retirement as they approach 30 but it is felt that they have a few good years left. Exiles brought in what proved to be some very useful players as replacements last year, almost all of whom are still with us. Other newcomers are arriving, some from abroad and some from other clubs, and Henry is confident that we can field two decent men´s teams every week. Exiles will be able to field a full international team in 2019 with 4 or 5 others on the bench. And we will also be entering the 7s once more. The first Exiles´ training session this week had a very good turnout of males and females and a few juniors. The ladies will be very keen to regain the title they have lost in the last two finals by a few points.
Allsvenskan will it seems consist of six teams, with Troján being given the chance to remain at the top level. This gives a more balanced league system, with two more games and a team that is only marginally weaker than the other five. Exiles Twos have entered Div. 1 where they could be facing Hammarby. Kalmar Södra, Erikslund and perhaps Uppsala and Karlstad.
Exiles´ men have, as pointed out, won seven titles in a row. It would have been nine if Enköping hadn´t intercepted a certain try for Exiles, run 95 m. and scored a 14-pointer in the second final in 2011. This won them the title with a 5 point aggregate advantage. Games are won on the pitch, however, and not in fantasy land, so this year we´ll be heading for 8 in a row and not the magic 10, previously achieved by Pingvin in the 90´s and Enköping in the 70s/80s.
Can anyone challenge Exiles this year? It is always dangerous to be overconfident but I´ll stick out my neck and say No. Pingvin have been in the last four finals but have only won one of the eight matches and that by one point. Their best chance was probably in 2017 when they had a number of good imported players from Northern Ireland and where Exiles only won by 7 aggregate points. But last year the gap extended and Pingvin were never in with a chance in either final.
Exiles´ squad is pretty settled while Pingvin and Enköping will no doubt be searching for foreign reinforcements. Pingvin especially are a well organized club with strong finances and we´ll see how well they can recruit to raise the standard of their home grown players.