Do You Know Someone Who Is Looking For a PA Role?


We are currently recruiting for a PA to join the SWC Team, providing the vital support needed to help our growing business (and mainly keep Simon, our CEO, in check…!).

We are looking for a highly-organised, sport and wine enthusiast (he/she doesn’t have to know a lot about wine but has to be willing to learn!).

To find out more about the job please click here: PA Job Description

If you are interested or you know of anyone that might be, please contact: rachel@sportingwineclub.com (there is, of course, a case of wine in it for anyone who helps us recruit for the role ūüėČ )

 

Epic 6 Nations 20% Discount Offer!


Save up to ¬£19 per case off selected rugby wines! To celebrate the end of Dry January (thank goodness that’s over!) and, more importantly, the start of the Six Nations, we are offering a whopping 20% off selected rugby wines.

Click here to see the offer in full: 6 Nations 20% OFF OFFER

Members get 20% off at M Restaurant & Gaucho!


We are thrilled to be able to offer our Sporting Wine Club Members a massive 20% discount off all M Restaurant and Gaucho meals!

We are very grateful to M Restaurant and Gaucho for this generous offer for our members to enjoy and you’ll be delighted to know you can grab a glass (or two!) of sporting wine along with your meal!

This offer extends across all their restaurants, so whether it’s M Twickenham or Gaucho Edinburgh be sure to make the most of it!

To redeem this offer email: Titus@sportingwineclub.com

Rugby Six Nations – Step Forward Someone!


It is always the same with a post-World Cup Six Nations. Some are in rebuild mode and others seek continuity with a little change to prepare for the next one!

With the domestic and European weekends just finished, no end of talking points but mainly one which will reverberate for a while. I have plenty of thoughts but not for now.

Rounds 5 and 6 in both the Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup were the best ever, even allowing for possible bias! The most cynical observers are wetting their lips in anticipation of the quarter finals – it remains the case that International Rugby in club jerseys has a supreme attraction for supporters and players alike. This season it filled gaps or cured hangovers from the Rugby World Cup.

This year I have decided to highlight a couple of thoughts per country – in a year of so much volatility it is as much as you can even start to predict. One thing I know is that it will not be a vintage year.

ITALY: Benetton could have won plenty of matches this season, and you hope that this will give them confidence. Parisse will depart the scene, cue much emotion but hardly helping the cold reality of their situation. Can a new coach change the trend? Surely Jake Polledri becomes a star this year.

WALES: Another new coach and a team with an injection of youth. I feel that a year of transition is upon them after years of outperformance. Louis Rees-Zammit gets a chance?

IRELAND: Worried about captain and new coach (again!) plus a team with plenty to prove but likely to win on home turf. Leinster unbeaten year to date, will it matter? Please can John Cooney start at 9.

SCOTLAND: Not enough depth to lose your playmaker for whatever reason. A call for a harder edge up front but difficult to see many wins this year. The Scots always spring one surprise a year. If only Darcy Graham could stay fit.

ENGLAND:¬†Always favourites especially post World Cup. But what damage done from the Saracens fall out and constant questions about leadership? Not enough to stop a Six Nations Championship if they can beat France, though no easy task. England’s form player isn‚Äôt even in the squad!

FRANCE:¬†I met Shaun Edwards when on my European travels. His defence coaching could be the missing link along with the stunning European form of many possible French selections. Toulouse and Racing backs could cut loose, Vakatawa currently the world’s best centre, The appalling weather forecast for the French capital could derail them in le Crunch.

H

My Thoughts On The Decade


On Sunday, two of England’s most successful teams of the decade Saracens and Exeter played out an error strewn contest rendered surreal by their relative positions in the league. Approaching a new decade, we are left to ponder seismic yet positive shifts in the game which we all love. Here are an appropriate ten thoughts for the decade just finishing, in no particular order:

1/ The hotbed of West Country rugby is now firmly based in Devon since Exeter’s promotion in 2010 and their subsequent dominance, but there are real and present signs of a Bristol recovery which is long overdue. Added to the proud history surrounding Bath and Gloucester, this region of the rugby world will go from strength to strength. NB!

2/¬†Saracens, Exeter’s weekend opponents, became the measure of Excellence through the decade as Champions of England and Europe but only after a few years of trying. The sanctions imposed on them this year, the inevitable salary cap review just announced and the advent of CVC as investors into the sport will all have long-term ramifications for the game at large. 25 years into professionalism and the growing pains are still growing and are still painful. But not forever, the arrows do point upwards.

3/ Japan showed the world this year that rugby can be a ‘Beautiful Game’. Pace, wit, passing skill, passion and pride, supreme technique. Please can the rest of the world take notice as it should have done when they downed the Springboks in that famous rugby city of Brighton! The honourable exception is Fiji, the most skilful rugby nation in the world per capita.

4/¬†I never thought we would see again the degree to which rugby can change lives, remembering the 1995 ‘Mandela’ Rugby World Cup. Yet RWC 2019 winners South Africa took it up a level, Sya Kolisi embodying the hopes and aspirations of the Rainbow Nation. Their World Cup triumph over England was founded on a deep, intense and collective self-belief to lay down an irresistible challenge. They rounded it off with supreme skill out wide to seal the deal. What a combination, bring on the Lions Tour !!

5/ The legendary All Blacks culture became the reality and mixed with a humility that others could only aspire to, embodied by Richie McCaw and Dan Carter. A back to back World Cup was quite something and possibly unrepeatable.

6/¬†The two stunning victories by Ireland over the All Blacks, Grand Slams, Six Nations titles and Heineken Champions Cup wins for Leinster have elevated the men in Green to a permanent position among the world’s rugby giants if they weren’t already. Maybe not at World Cups yet, but the Irish player development programme could well peak in France 2023, unlike in 2019.

7/ Equally stunning has been the decline of French rugby through the decade allied to the influx of foreign players. Change is now afoot, the giants of Toulouse, Clermont and Racing leading the charge in traditional near-forgotten French style. Bordeaux, Lyon and La Rochelle are not far behind and surely under a new and imaginative coaching team (Inc. Sean Edwards!) Les Bleus will be the team to beat in RWC 2023.

8/¬†Player health has never been more in focus after some tragic deaths on the playing fields of France and numerous examples of career ending concussions or serious injury worldwide. The excessive physicality of the game is being partly addressed by law changes but must be accompanied by a change in attitude from coaches and players alike. Add to this the well advertised problems of mental health and we should all understand how important this is for the next decade, whatever one’s involvement in the game.

9/¬†The growth in the women’s game has been arguably the story of this decade. It will suffer from inevitable structural and tactical challenges from time to time, but no question it will get stronger and stronger.

10/¬†England’s wasteful underperformance was another story of the decade, in stark contrast to Wales’ judicious use of their limited but proud resource and who had the temerity to eject England from their own World Cup. The country of my Birthplace continues to defy the statistics, but England’s semi-final performance against the All Blacks will stand the test of time and can be used – surely – as a blueprint for the future. England will always be the¬†team people love to beat, they simply have to live with it !

Finally…

The game played by 99.6% of players is one where we enjoy friendship and play for fun, win or lose. We have to look after the amateur game. They are also the supporters who fill our stadia and expect values to be upheld, examples to be set and to be entertained. We forget at our peril, and this is what makes it a game for all. Let the next decade embrace this wholeheartedly and we will be celebrating again in 2029.

Happy New Year!

Hallers

SWC Ambassador Jake Ball Samples Our Favourite Christmas Sporting Wines!


Jake Ball is not only a Rugby World Cup Semi-Finalist but a proud Scarlet. The way he faced up to Faf De Klerk is already getting rave reviews and pride of place in caption competitions.
As important is his appointed position as ambassador to Sporting Wine Club! Jake, we admire you as an exceptional rugby player, and hope that you enjoy your relationship with our club. You and your fellow Scarlets will hopefully enjoy some Xmas Sporting wines – after the match of course. Delighted to have you on board.
Compliments of the season to all the Scarlets family and we wish you success and happiness in 2020!
Simon and the SWC Team x

Spiritual Rugby Home Sends Hearts Racing


The euphoria of a defining Rugby World Cup was fresh in the mind and the stunning win by the Springboks was resonating across every level of society reminding us of the power of sport, let alone rugby. Suddenly we wandered into a proper crisis which has sent clubs, players and administrators into a state of conflict and questioning both themselves and the game at large.

I started to wonder where the next forward step could come from and I found it in Munster/Limerick this weekend.

When you need to re-affirm traditional values in this great game, you need to return to  places where the rugby heart and soul beat loud. We were reminded pre match by the President of Munster  just how their great province is enmeshed in the fabric and history of the Heineken Champions Cup. How lucky that another rugby romantic, Jacky Lorenzetti, was in town with the sky blue Parisian rugby artists, Racing 92. In a World Cup year, they have suffered like many with International commitments, but they brought their best to Thomond Park. Not sure whether Jacky’s love for rugby exceeds that of wine, but the vintages are world class either way.

Given that their pool includes Saracens who racked up their first points of the competition, a dramatic draw may not have satisfied either team but you will not see five better tries in such a high octane environment. It was a true classic and both sides were applauded off the field. The Munster crowd know their rugby and appreciated what they had seen. I also love the pin drop silence when kickers line up – class.

What else after Round 2 – Exeter have a glint in their eye, maximum points so far and a further understandable edge to their game this season. Toulouse has the World Cup hangover to deal with, but make no mistake when on form they play rugby from a different league. Thomas Castaignede the former French great and now on Toulouse Board smiles with anticipation when he talks about the revival and it feels very sustainable. No-one will underestimate Connacht in their pool however – Galwey Bay is a fortress, both Toulouse and Gloucester have to go there so just ask Montpellier!

Leinster’s sternest tests are yet to come, Northampton Saints for example home and away. They have history and  I cannot wait for those two crackers pre Christmas.

Bristol catch the eye in the Challenge Cup as they have in the domestic league, I think that they mean business. So many strong sides populate the Challenge Cup these days – Leicester, Scarlets, Edinburgh, Toulon e.g – that we will be waiting until end January before any trend emerges.

The Back to Back rounds approach in December and it’s another chance for European club rugby to put a smile on our supporters faces. Marseille is a distant dream at the moment, but it is starting to come into view. 50,000 tickets sold already!!!

Lastly, another wonderful reality check on our game. I attended a Doddie Weir/Matt Hampson fundraising dinner in London last week and Sporting Wine (¬†www.sportingwineclub.com¬†) was providing the wine and auction prizes from our wonderful winemakers (Schalk Burger and Jacky Lorenzetti thank you). The outpouring of emotion was strong and heartfelt, a full 50 rugby Internationals were also on hand to show support. Then we hear the sad news of Tom Smith’s illness and already a dinner is planned for this legendary British Lion and Scotland Prop. In attendance last week were many other big names in rugby – we have a duty to our players past, present and future and none of us will forget that.

Best,

Hallers

Scarlets v Benetton


Sometimes themes and people converge to make a wonderful and memorable time.
Scarlets v Benetton on Nov 9th was one such moment.
Two of Europe’s top teams contesting in the Pro 14, only a last minute penalty separating them at the end.
Scarlets committed to the Armed Forces Covenant in the presence of senior military personnel and the pre match was accompanied by the Last Post in memory of the fallen ahead of Remembrance Sunday. Then a special charity event for Help for Heroes to highlight the ongoing need to help our wounded, Injured and sick from the Armed Services. A number of beneficiaries were invited to watch the match and had a wonderful time.
All the while the best of Sporting Wines were being sampled and enjoyed by the assembled supporters in the Quinnell and Bennett Lounge. Those two Welsh legends were comfortably installed alongside Schalk Burger’s Meerkat range. Raffle winners were treated to the Lio Messi Malbec and Torrontes, both real winners in the Sporting Wine Club portfolio.
Another step along the way with our growing relationship with Scarlets.
S

The 30 best South African wines under £20/$30


Sporting Wine Club is so proud to announce that two of Schalk Burger’s reds – Cricket Pitch and Bohemian Syrah- have made it into the Decanter list of best SA wines under ¬£20 and with thanks to MW Greg Sherwood at Handford Wines who made the selection. ¬†It is such an accolade given the competition in this section of the market. Cricket Pitch is the iconic heart and soul of Sporting Wine Club, an outstanding Bordeaux Blend made from the grapes circling the boundary at Schalk Burger’s Welbedacht Cricket Oval on his wine farm.
The Bohemian Syrah captures the sense of freedom of spirit in the Webedacht range and enjoys an exceptional reputation in the Cape and beyond. We all owe ourselves a case or more to keep us smiling through the winter months and it will look ideal on the table for Christmas Day. The back label describes a Bohemian as a person with artistic or intellectual tendencies, who lives and acts with no regard for conventional rules of behaviour! There is something of the Bohemian in all of us ?
Decanter knows it’s wines and we are ready for the surge of interest but be assured our members will come first so do not delay !
S