Stylish New Trophies Launched for European Rugby

European Professional Club Rugby have launched two new European Club Competitions for 2014-15 and with it have created two beautiful new trophies.

The European Rugby Champions Cup will take over from the Heinieken Cup, which ran from 1995 and saw seven French winners, six English and six Irish, the most successful club in that time was Toulouse.  20 teams will compete in the new European Rugby Champions Cup and the Final will take place at Twickenham in May 2015.

The trophy itself was created by famous London silversmiths Thomas Lyte.  The silver cup is a unique five handle design, made from Sterling Silver and 18 carat gold.  It is 70cm high and weighs 13.5kg.  The star trophy has a gold star, representing Europe, at the centre of the design.  It also incorporates a coronet effect to reflect the ‘Kings’ of Europe.

Rugby Trophies

The new European Professional Club Rugby Trophies

The European Rugby Challenge Cup has been created as a second tier competition, similar to the Europa League in football.  It will also be competed for by 20 teams, being primarily the mid placed teams in the top European divisions, but also the Champions from some Second Divisions, which is quite a nice touch to recognise the emerging clubs. The Final of the inaugural competition will also take place at Twickenham, the day before the Champions Cup Final.

This trophy is 60cm high and weighs 10kg.  It has a Sterling Silver rugby ball held by silver rods topped with the stars of Europe.  It’s a striking design but at Challenge Trophies we feel that it’s too close in design to American Footballs prestigious Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Nevertheless, we feel these two trophies will become the iconic rugby trophies across Europe and maybe the world.  Recent history has shown us that new trophy design has overshadowed heritage.  Think of the iconic English Premier League Trophy compared  to its predecessor the Football League Trophy.  These two new trophies will soon cement their place in the minds of sports fans.

Trophy Design Chosen for QE Prize for Engineering

Euan Fairholm, an engineering student from Edinburgh has won the competition to design the trophy for the 2015 Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering.

Following a Facebook vote, his unique design called ‘The Golden Crown’ will be made into a finished award and will be presented by Her Majesty The Queen to the winner of the 2015 QE Prize.

Trophy

The Golden Crown Trophy – 2015 QE Prize Design Winner

The judging panel was chaired by Ian Blatchford, director of the Science Museum who said “We felt that his work illustrates our dependence on engineering and technology, and demonstrates the fact that modern engineering builds on the work of the past. His use of a crown in his design recognizes this as The Queen’s Prize. He has produced a trophy that represents all that the Queen Elizabeth Prize stands for. We look forward to seeing the final trophy being presented to next year’s QEPrize winner”.

The winner of this bespoke award will be announced early next year.

Phil Taylor Looks for his 12th Title: Who Can Stop Him?

As we go into the 2nd round of the World Grand Prix Darts, we take a look at Phil Taylors biggest challengers as he looks to win the darts trophy for a 12th time.

 

Phil Taylor

 

  1. Raymond van Barneveld

Age:  47

Best Performance in World Grand Prix:  Runner Up (2008, 2009)

The Dutchman won the Premier League this year and whilst he lost to Ian White in a European event recently, he put up a strong fight, and could be one to watch in this event.

 

  1. Adrian Lewis

Age:  29

Best Performance in World Grand Prix:  Runner Up (2010)

He’s had a bit of a hit-and-miss season, but if the right Adrian Lewis comes out, then he will be a force that’s hard to match. An exciting player that is unlikely to win the event, but should be involved in the later stages.

 

  1. Gary Anderson

Age:  43

Best Performance in World Grand Prix:  Quarter Finals (2010, 2013)

A dark-horse to win the competition, Anderson is playing some of the best darts of his career at the moment, and he is loving it. He’s renowned for missing doubles so this may be his downfall, but he is certainly in with a shout thanks to his fantastic scoring rate of late.

 

  1. Michael van Gerwen

Age:  25

Best Performance in World Grand Prix:  Winner (2012)

The fact that he is the current World Champion is enough to show why he is almost certain to do well in the competition. He has been slightly erratic this year, but he is certainly entertaining and will provide strong competition for the Power Taylor if he wants to win that trophy.

Badminton Given The Sky Sports Treatment

Badminton is the latest sport to be given the Sky Sports viewer-friendly treatment, and arrived on our screens in the shape of The National Badminton League last night.

Sky are excellent at reformatting a sport to make it more appealing to the general public.  The positives for the sport and it’s players are an injection of much needed cash and increased awareness, which will hopefully create more aspiring newcomers.  In the past they’ve revolutionised darts, which is a hugely popular TV sport, and they also were instrumental in transforming cricket’s reputation for meandering matches to the crash, bang, wallop entertainment of Twenty20.

So, they’ve now turned their attention to Badminton, and have constructed a league of 6 franchises, and a new format which includes Powerplay points, Time-Out’s, Tiebreaks and Substitutions.  Having watched some Badminton on the first night it captured my attention by being a quick and skilful sport.  The format’s good, there’s a team element which means you always attach yourself to one side or another, and it all moves along at a good pace.

Badminton Trophies

Sky Sports launch the National Badminton League

It has also attracted the big names from English badminton and some from overseas.  England’s  highest ranking mens player Rajiv Ouseph plays for Team Derby, and the highest ranking woman Sarah Walker plays for the Birmingham Lions.  I’ve no doubt that their main focus for now will be the National Championships, the Europeans and the World Champioinships, but I can see the National Badminton League quickly establishing itself as an important title.

At Challenge Trophies we naturally have an interest in the trophy that will be created for this event.  There isn’t an iconic badminton trophy that is widely known, but when Sky Sports are involved they normally create something eye-catching.  We’ll await the conclusion in April 2015 to find out.

The next round of matches will be shown on Sky Sports on 3rd November.

 

 

5 Man of the Match performances this weekend

With the Premier League season well into full swing now, the table is starting to take shape and everyone is looking to include the best players in their Fantasy League team. We’ve taken a look back at the weekends action and picked 5 players who deserved the ‘Man of the Match’ trophy in their respective fixtures.

 

 

Lloris

 

  1. Hugo Lloris
  • Spurs boss Pochettino hailed Lloris as one of the “best 3 goalkeepers in world football” after his stunning performance in the North London derby on Saturday. The pick of his saves was the one which somehow denied Mertesacker a winning goal, topping off his all-round solid display.

 

  1. Mile Jedinak
  • The Australian skipper capped off a strong performance, in which he controlled the midfield, with a header that sealed Palace’s 2-0 victory over Leicester. He now has two goals in as many games, but what was more important was his solid performance in front of the back four.

 

  1. Graziano Pelle
  • When Charlie Austin scored a stunning goal for QPR to equalise against Southampton at the weekend, Pelle just had to go one better. The skill and athleticism that the Italian forward showed when scoring the winner would have impressed any football fan.

 

  1. Craig Dawson
  • West Brom have sprung into action, and they capped off an impressive week with a 4-0 victory over struggling Burnley. Captain Craig Dawson was particularly impressive in this fixture, keeping a clean-sheet whilst also being on hand to head in the first goal of the afternoon.

 

  1. Edin Dzeko
  • Dzeko put in a match-winning performance that included two goals on Saturday, to help Man City edge past Hull after a nervy first-half. The first strike was particularly good, as the Bosnian striker curled it into the far corner from the edge of the box.

 

Whether it’s for your Sunday league side, or your Fantasy Football league at work, you can get your own man of the match trophies here.

Gleneagles Ready For Battle

The Ryder Cup gets under way at Gleneagles tomorrow with the first Fourballs teeing off at 7.35am.

Eight years ago I was lucky enough to stand on the same tee at a very similar time of day.  There was nobody else on the course, we were the first group out and other than the starter offering some words of encouragement, the scene was as peaceful and serene as you could wish to have.

Tomorrow there will be tension, anxiety, excitement, noise and adrenalin.  No matter how experienced Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson, Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson are, I’m sure they will feel the nerves on the first tee.  What I’m even more sure of, is that their tee shots will travel a lot further and straighter than ours did eight years ago!!

And then the battle commences, two evenly matched teams will compete over 3 days, battling to reach 14 1/2 points for victory.  Irrespective of the fact that these players compete for millions all year round, the quest to get their hands on this 17 inch trophy will mean more to most of them, due to the responsibility that goes with representing your team and your country (or continent!).

Golf Trophy

The famous Ryder Cup Trophy

Europe have won 7 of the last 9 contests, including the most recent and most dramatic ‘Miracle at Medinah’ or ‘Meltdown at Medianah’ as it is sometimes referred.  Their team boasts the worlds number one Rory McIlroy, who lifted the Claret Jug at Hoylake in July.  They also have the flamboyant Ian Poulter, who they have nicknamed ‘The Postman’ because he always delivers a point.  Despite never winning a Major Championship, he has the best win percentage of any Ryder Cup player who has competed four times or more – 80%.

There’s sure to be drama, and lets hope it’s as exciting as Medinah two years ago.  I also hope that the result’s the same and that we get to watch Paul McGinley lift that famous golf trophy on Sunday evening!

5 other crazy penalty shootouts!!

Last night Liverpool edged out Middlesbrough in the Capital One Cup thanks to a mad penalty shootout that lasted 30 penalties and saw Liverpool win 14-13!!

Here are a few more dramatic penalty shootouts:

2005 Namibian Cup Final – KK Palace 17 Civics 16

This game currently holds the World Record for the longest penalty shootout, lasting 48 kicks.  The mad thing is that nearly a third of them (15) were missed!!  The other crazy thing is that 2 players on each side must have taken 3 penalties each in the shootout – I wonder if anyone went left, right and centre??!!  Titus Kuunamuene from the Namibian Football Association said afterwards ‘At the end of the game everyone was more relieved than anything else’.  I bet they were!!

2013 Hampshire Senior Cup – Brockenhurst 15 Andover Town 14

This match set the record for the most successful penalty shootout in English football history.  29 consecutive penalties were scored before Andover’s Claudio Herbert missed.  ‘I never thought I’d have to take the 30th penalty in a shootout’ said Herbert afterwards.  It’s hardly surprising that he never though that!!

2005 FA Cup Preliminary Round – Tunbridge Wells 16 Littlehampton Town 15

This FA Cup game holds the English record for the longest penalty shootout, lasting a total of 40 kicks.  The match lasted 3 hours 10 minutes in total and finished at 10.55pm!!

Soccer Gold Medal

Pierre Wome wins Olynpic Gold for Cameroon

2000 Sydney Olympics Gold Medal Match – Cameroon 5 Spain 3

The only time a penalty shootout was needed to decide a Mens Soccer Olympic Gold Medal saw Cameroon defeat Spain 5-3.  Some of the penalty scorers that day went on to great things – Samuel Eto’o, Geremi, Lauren, Xavi, Capdevila and Albelda.

2012 Champions League Final – Chelsea 4 Bayern Munich 3

The most remarkable thing about this high profile shootout was the contrasting records of the two teams.  Chelsea had never previously won a European penalty shootout and Bayern had never lost one.  Howeever, on this night in Bayern’s home stadium, Didier Drogba’s penalty gave Chelsea the trophy that had escaped them for so long.

 

Champions League Statistics

The UEFA Champions League group stages start tonight, and with it comes 9 months of matches before we reach the Final in Berlin on June 6th.

It’s very difficult to predict who will get their hands on the trophy, no team has successfully defended the title since the Champions League started in 1992.  The last two finals have seen unlikely Finalists in Borussia Dortmund and Athletico Madrid, and Chelsea’s victory in 2012 defied the odds given their poor domestic showing that year.

Champions League Trophy

Real Madrid winning the UEFA Champions League in 2014

Here’s a few stats from the Champions League since 1992:

Average Points Per Game

  1. Barcelona – 1.938
  2. Real Madrid – 1.935
  3. Manchester Utd – 1.865
  4. Bayern Munich – 1.813
  5. Paris Saint-Germain – 1.796

Average Net Goal Difference Per Game

  1. Real Madrid – 0.965
  2. Barcelona – 0.964
  3. Manchester Utd – 0.78
  4. Chelsea – 0.735
  5. Bayern Munich – 0.695

Hardest to Beat – Games Lost Percetage

  1. Barcelona – 18.13%
  2. Manchester Utd – 20.50%
  3. Chelsea – 21.97%
  4. Real Madrid – 22.50%
  5. Liverpool – 23.17%

Top Goalscorers (Playing in the 2014-15 Competition)

  1. Cristiano Ronaldo – 68 goals
  2. Lionel Messi – 67 goals
  3. Didier Drogba & Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 42 goals
  4. Karim Benzema – 36 goals
  5. Steven Gerrard – 28 goals

Most Appearances (Playing in the 2014-15 Competition)

  1. Xavi – 147 matches
  2. Iker Casillas – 142 matches
  3. Zlatan Ibrahimovic & Cristiano Ronaldo – 107 matches
  4. Ashley Cole & Andrea Pirlo – 105 matches
  5. Petr Cech – 103 matches

Trophy-Less Top 5

Generally the best players in the world end up at the best teams, and therefore increase their chances of silverware. However, despite their talent and endeavour, some players just never seem to be able to get their hands on a trophy or winners medal. Here we put together a top 5of quality players who are trophy-less.

Jermaine Defoe

 

 

  1. Robert Lee

– Few players were as popular as Robert Lee was during his time at Newcastle. One of the most respected names in football during the 1990’s, Lee was a great all-round attacker for Newcastle, leading to international recognition, but even that couldn’t help the Geordie’s in a quest for silverware.

 

  1. Malcolm MacDonald

– Another of our top 5 comes from Newcastle, and in the form of the big favourite Malcolm MacDonald. He was an instant success at the north-east side and went on to score 5 goals in one game for England in 1975. He looked set to be on his way to the top, and surely would win trophies along the way, but after a big-money move to Arsenal, injury cruelly ended his hopes of any medals.

 

  1. Jermaine Defoe

-One of those great players who came through the ranks at West Ham, Jermaine Defoe developed into a fantastic finisher, terrorising defences all over England. However, his move to Portsmouth  in 2008 saw the England striker miss out on a trophy by just a few weeks, as Spurs beat Chelsea in the League Cup final in the following month.

 

  1. Giuseppe Signori

– Another prolific striker to add to the trophy-less list, but this time from Serie A. He was a star player for Sampdoria and Lazio amongst others but was somehow never able to win any major competitions.

 

1. Matt Le Tissier    

– Southampton’s second top goalscorer of all time spent his entire 16 year senior career at the South Coast club, a time span in which they never picked up a trophy, despite his fantastic eye for goal.

Are England on course for Euro 2016?

After a miserable Summer with an abject World Cup display, it’s difficult for even the biggest optimist to get excited about England’s chances of reaching Euro 2016, let alone getting their hands on the trophy.

The Summer was followed by a drab friendly against Norway, watched by the lowest crowd for an International in the new Wembley.  That crowd were treated to a fortuitous victory, some slapstick defending and some pretty toothless attacking.  Our record before that game was 1 win in 6 matches, and our slide down Fifa’s world rankings is much publicised and sees us lying 20th behind the footballing might of Greece, Costa Rica, Croatia, Mexico and even Bosnia & Herzegovina.

But is it all so bad?  Well probably not.  All stats are there to be twisted, and how bad does the current stat of 2 losses in 9 games sound? On Monday night England beat Switzerland 2-0 away, the top seed in the group and also ranked 9th in the FIFA rankings.  UEFA have also decided to expand the Euro 2016 tournament to include 24 teams meaning that the top 2 teams from each group qualify, and there are play-offs for the third place teams.  When we look at previous qualification groups the likelihood is that 16 points will see you into a play-off and 18 points should see you qualify.

Football Trophies

Danny Welbeck opens the scoring against the 9th best team in World Football!

England have 100% records against San Marino and Estonia and would be confident of maintaining both of those, so that would leave them needing 3 points from their home games against Lithuania, Slovenia and Switzerland.  All in all, following an excellent first result, qualification should be straightforward.  Whilst we’re tempted to say ‘Yeah, but this is England – anything can happen’ we should try and remember that they have a pretty reliable record in qualifying.

What happens if and when they get to France is another matter totally, and the chances of Wayne Rooney getting his hands on any silverware haven’t improved on the back of one win against Switzerland!