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The 2011 Ireland Rugby Management Team Challenge took place the other night in the Killiney Castle Hotel and it proved to be as much fun, if not more, than previous years.

We hired a 'Bucking Bronco', well actually a 'Bucking Sheep', and the management were put through their paces with three judges awarding marks for endurance and style during the challenge. I would imagine there could be some pretty good video footage out there in cyberspace.

In previous years we have had a 100 metre sprint and a 'Biggest Loser' contest - although in the case of the 70-kilogram dripping wet Les Kiss that morphed into the 'Biggest Gain'. From a comedy perspective though there was nothing to challenge this year's event.

Rala, our bagman, couldn't get on the sheep, a two-to-three minute process that was hilarious to watch and he eventually required assistance.

It didn't end there though as he couldn't keep his footing in the required area and then refused point blank to only use one hand to hold on, instead clinging on with both for dear life. I'd say they could hear the laughter in Dalkey.

Some of the management took the challenge very seriously and there were a number of impressive performances, notably Les Kiss, Gert Smal, Greg Feek and Cameron Steele. Unfortunately there were a couple of injuries with Gert suffering a groin strain and Phil Morrow damaging a calf.

Having tried it in the past, I can vouch for how the muscles smart if you don't do a little warm up beforehand. The four boys made it to the final, as far as I could determine. Les was pronounced the winner.

There were also contests to pump balloons until they burst, and pinball. Brian Green announced to anyone who'd listen that as an American he'd excel at pinball but true to his form - he's brutal at most things - he didn't. At no point did the players take any pleasure in the ritual humiliation of the management. Yeah, right!

A small rain forest has had to be cut down to accommodate what was written about last weekend's game in the Millennium Stadium. There is nothing further to add.

It was good to catch up with the Welsh boys, with whom we get on well, at the dinner but overall it was a quiet night.

Most had trouble sleeping so the team room was pretty full into the small hours as we looked out the windows to watch the traditional carnage of a match weekend in Cardiff.

Cian Healy has been asked to sketch a number of players and it was my turn on Monday morning. He's exceptionally good and I was deeply appreciative that he gave me massive Sean O'Brien arms in my drawing!

The whole squad were upset by the freak accident that Tomas (O'Leary) suffered. The first I knew was when the bus stopped on the way back to training and the Doc (Eanna Falvey), Sinead (Bennett) and Deccie tried to hail a passing taxi. They couldn't and when we got back to the hotel they jumped into a car and returned to the training.

Tomas was both lucky not to have lost the sight in his eye and unlucky on the basis of the freak nature of the accident. He didn't have any vision for half an hour afterwards and as you can imagine that would be hugely scary.

The squad is taking delivery of the Lloyd & Price 'Tommy Bowe Collection' shoes, and needless to say there'll be an unseemly scramble for ones that are semi-wearable.

Those without an iota of fashion sense will just choose the most popular ones just to fit in, while for others who don't wish us to look like a primary school outing in public, they may opt for more quirky choices.

The only way to show them off at their best is probably the method chosen by Rala - tracksuit bottoms, white socks and shoes. Wonder if it'll catch on as a trend?

Related Links -

Brian's blogs are on www.bethedifference.ie

Paul's Blog: Sleds, Soccer And Slaying The Dragons

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20 June 2018
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