KELLY@S EYE ON RUGBY: Franks a million


IF you ever asked me to name five rugby players who I never thought would be a captain, this fella’s name would be somewhere near the top.

But Ian Francis Coulson is performing his skipper’s role at Hartlepool Rovers with some gusto, whatever that means.

Funtime Frankie is unlikely to deliver a Churchillian speech or devise intricate tactical manoeuvres.

But he’s no fool. He’ll lead by example and, my goodness, he’s doing just that, and if the players need a word or two of rebuke or encouragement he’s not shy to supply it.

Coulson commands respect.

He has a good CV, after coming off the conveyor belt of young talent at the Friarage, he joined Darlington scoring try after try in the National League.

Frankie had power, pace, aggression and as opponents found to their cost, he took some stopping. He wouldn’t sidestep the defender, he’d simply run through them.

After leaving Darlington he had a spell at Hartlepool before returning home.

He scored tries, as always, but this writer recalls the club’s final win in North One East when Chris Sainty’s dramatic injury-time drop goal beat Cleckheaton.

Coulson joined forces with Brian Foreman in the centre and smashed the heart out of Clecky. Ian even helped set up the winner.

The pace may have eased but the strength is still there.

It still baffles this writer how Coulson finished on the losing side in the Durham Intermediate Cup final in May.

Consett found him almost unplayable, the 33-year-old running in a hat-trick of tries.

Some wondered if the boots would be hung up, Kelly’s Eye being one of them.

But Graham Puckrin and Carl Robinson have coaxed more service from him and made him skipper following the shoulder injury suffered by Andrew Dring in the summer which has ruled out the club captain for a long spell .

The centre scored twice on Saturday as Rovers registered their first away league victory of the season, scoring 19 second-half points without reply to win 33-15 at Novocastrians.

It’s a result which may not rock the world but it lifted Rovers to sixth and they really now should look to step up from here.

With the exception of Morpeth, who have won all five games, the rest of the league looks pretty much wide open.

Coulson is one of my favourite players I make no secret of that and he played alongside a certain just-on-the-wrong-side-of-tubby full-back for the Mail Sports Special footy team on a Sunday.

Now, he is leading by example for Rovers and doing it well. Keep it going Frankie.

DERBIES. They can be the most eagerly-anticipated occasions in the build-up and then, on the day, be the biggest let-down as the teams get dragged into a tense struggle.

How will the big one pan out this Saturday?

Hartlepool play Boys Brigade Old Boys at Mayfield Park in Durham Northumberland Two.

Now, BBOB had Pool’s number last season. In fact, they had everyone’s number.

Brigade won all four derbies last year, against Pool and Seaton, but the Mayfield Park side are above their neighbours after two wins and a draw.

It promises to be tight. While BBOB lost heavily sat Whitley Bay Rockcliffe at the weekend there was no lack of spirit.

And there will plenty of the s-word at Easington Road on Saturday, especially as Hartlepool are staging their reunion day.

ANDREW Davies has always fancied himself as an all-round talent.

Davies is no Jonny Wilkinson, but Chock is a big unit and I’m not brave enough to tell him that playing in the forwards is his best (and perhaps only) position..

The ex-West star is putting in some graft at Boys Brigade Old Boys and was a little miffed to have missed out on a try at Whitley Bay Rockcliffe on Saturday.

BBOB were well behind but their dominant scrum shunted back the hosts with the referee awarding a penalty try.

The number eight, feeling robbed of a try, nominated himself to drop kick the conversion. It wasn’t Jonny at Sydney in 2003 stuff as his effort struck the upright and dropped just inches over the bar.

Stick to the forward play Chocky.

TALKING of skilled stand-offs, Tech’s comeback has had to continue minus the talents of Paul Moss.

The former West number 10 has been sidelined with a foot problem after scoring a boatload of points for Tech Phoenix.

Tech have had a bit of a mixed time without him in the Tees Valley Social League, losing 48-12 at home to Guisborough and 25-5 at Whitby.

But it was nice to see Tech bounce back in style with a 43-19 victory over Barnard Castle Second XV, a match which featured an old hand in MIchael ‘Mixie’ Parker.

Our Tech insider remarked how “his experience and organisational know-how proved an important factor in the victory.”

And while the gas may be lacking (he would say it has always been lacking) he has the nous, selling a dummy to the Castle defence who bought it, with the ex-West man going through for a deserved try.

TO say Newcastle Falcons are not really my cup of tea would be an understatement.

But I know a few people from around here trek up to Kingston Park to watch the Aviva Premiership even though there are seven rugby clubs in town.

And it would be amiss of Kelly’s Eye not to congratulate the Falcons after a magnificent 29-24 victory over high-flying Exeter Chiefs.

It ended a 20-game Premiership losing streak and they may even make it two wins in a row as next up are London Welsh.

WORLD Cup fever has begun.

OK, not quite, it’s still 12 months away, but Kelly’s Eye noticed Jonny Wilkinson was back in his former home Toon last week to promote Newcastle being one of the host cities.

Apart from being upset that a certain rugby writer had not been invited to the gig, it was good to see rugby, for once, doing a bit of PR.

Sid James’s Park will host three games, South Africa v Scotland, New Zealand v Tonga and Samoa v Jockland, which is canny.

On the subject of the World Cup, this weekend we’ll discover which country will become the 20th team in the competition.

Uruguay host Russia in the second leg of their play-off in Montevideo on Sunday.

With the South Americans trailing 22-21 after the first leg, it looks as though they will be joining England, Australia, Wales and Fiji in Pool A.

KELLY’S Eye has already mentioned the match of the day in town on Saturday, when Hartlepool host BBOB.

But there are other games going on, Rovers entertaining Ryton and Horden meeting Ilkley at Welfare Park.

Horden will hope to register their first point though having watched Ilkley win at West on Saturday it won’t be easy.

West played badly and they will be looking to bounce back in a North-East derby at Northern.

Seaton Carew go to Barnard Castle flying after a 73-12 romp over Ashington at the weekend.