Monday, February 25, 2008

A stranger in town

If your are Scottish and a Reading (kind of) supporter, then this weekend was not for you. Saturday was a feast full of Rugby, and watching Wales demolish Italy, it was with some expectation that I sat back to watch the Ireland v Scotland game at Croke park. At my side was the inevitable group of J....(Australian- does things with wood) and S.....( Welsh- with a natural bias of all things Welsh) and young P....(Irish- with a weird to do list !). Needless to say the game went the way of previous endeavors - we got thumped ! - so with the first three round now complete, it is fair bet that Scotland are heading for the wooden spoon. (is there actually a wooden spoon ?).

Now it has to said that the village lounge was actually packed for all of these games, in particular for the Ireland v Scotland game. In the main it was group of young Irish persons, all of whom it appeared were staying at F.....(Australian-keeper of behavior) hostel. I did not see one alcoholic drink being consumed by one of them, but they did tuck into what passes for an Irish breakfast at the village lounge, albeit that it was 4.30 in the afternoon. Perhaps they were saving themselves for the evening.

Now it was during this spectacle that a stranger wandered in to join P....(Irish with Russian connections) - and to a man we all stared at him- before we finally recognised him. Now for reasons of national security I am not permitted to name him, as it transpired he was travelling incognito, and just wanted a quiet beer and to watch the rugby. Frankly he was not doing a very good job in disguising himself, check it out for yourselves.

Just goes to show, you never know who will meet, when watching a game of rugby in Riga !

As for Sunday, well best not to dwell on the probability of Reading heading back to the Championship next season, but at this moment in time all does not look well.

On the domestic side, Chris Rea was back in town last Friday, presumably to say farewell again, but from what I am told this time around he was playing blues & gospel, but if any you blog readers went to the show, perhaps you can enlighten us as what you thought of the concert.

Going back to the Rugby for a moment and the Six Nations competition, as of now I have only one person with a 100% record, but this does not include the Welsh entries.

I have not commented on Zvannieki for a while, but I am hopeful that this week will se the conclusion of the kitchen saga, as well as being able to get approval from the Rietumu Bank in regards to the audit in regards to the second traunch of money which they gave in November of last year.

So to the Irish, Welsh and English contingent congrats on good weekend, but to England I say watch out for next game at Murrayfield, as everyone knows that Scotland are always up for the game against the "Auld Enemy" - but then again as the only award we have a chance to win in the wooden one, then perhaps we should continue to do what we are proven masters at - losing !!

Now to answer my own question in regards to the "wooden spoon" - here is what I believe is the definitive answer

The wooden spoon was originally associated with the Mathematical Tripos at the University of Cambridge, and was a kind of booby prize awarded by the students to the person who achieved the lowest exam marks, but still earned a third-class degree. In contrast, the highest-scoring student was named the senior wrangler.

The custom dates back at least to the early 19th century, if not before, and continued until 1909. From 1910 onwards the results have been given in alphabetical rather than score order, and so it is now impossible to tell who has come last, unless there is only one person in the lowest class.

There were actual wooden spoons which became increasingly large, and in latter years measured up to 1.5 metres long. By tradition they were dangled in a teasing way from the upstairs balcony in the Senate House in front of the lowest-ranked recipient when he came before the Vice Chancellor to receive his degree.

How the Cambridge wooden spoon idea came to be used in rugby union is not exactly known, but in the early years of what is now the Six Nations Championship there were many Cambridge graduates playing, so they may have attempted to preserve the concept after the last one was awarded in 1909. It is certain, in any case, that the tradition first arose in Cambridge and rugby adopted and perpetuated the tradition.

The Wooden Spoon is awarded to the team who finishes at the bottom of the table in the RBS 6 Nations held every year between France, England, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales. No physical wooden spoon exists or has ever existed in the case of rugby, however.

Such is the stigma of the award that the 'winners' will sometimes claim that the Wooden Spoon should only be held by those who win no games at all, but this achievement is properly known as a whitewash.

In 1983, a group of English rugby union supporters, while drinking in a Dublin bar and commiserating over England's award of the Wooden Spoon in the then Five nations championship for that year, decided to form a charity. It was named the Wooden Spoon Society and raises funds for disadvantaged children in the UK and Ireland. Today (2007) it is recognised as the official charity of British and Irish rugby. It has a small central office, over 40 voluntary regional committees, 11,000 social members, and has distributed over £12m.

So there we have it there is no Actual wooden spoon !! - but through it has been founded a Wooden Spoon charity web site - which is charity to support disadvantaged children and young people. So it just goes to show that good can come about by finishing last !


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