He's back! After taking a two-year sabbatical, News from the Far Side's chief editor and spiritual leader - the Scarlet Badger - has returned.
It's a well-guarded secret in rugby's inner circles that the NFS guru is also an Agony Aunt to many of the world's top players.
Despite the ongoing concerns for his safety, the Badger has returned from exile in the highlands of Guatemala to answer desperate calls for help from his flock.
Do you have a rugby-related dilemma? Send your Uncle Badger an e-mail.
Dear Mr. Badger,
I seem to have gotten myself into a tight spot. A couple of years ago this struggling team hired me to turn a bunch of whingeing $0%&s into a real team. I came in, laid the smack down, and we won a trophy. Boom! We've had a few injuries this season and haven't done too well, but that's not my fault, for %#1$?'s sake. Now those b1%d# *8^$%#ers have axed me because I don't say "pretty please with cherries on top" when I give the players my orders. What the %*$#?? Do they want to be pussy-cats for the rest of their lives or kings of the jungle? I've got my lawyers on the case, and I'm not going down without a fight, damn it! Who should I sue first? The Union? The pansy-arse players? The @?%&h#1e who ratted on me? Uh?
The Badger says...: Whoa, easy now! Why the potty mouth? To be honest, mate, you should have seen this one coming. I mean, it's not like it hasn't happened before. I thought there was trouble brewing when you told the players to call you "Mufasa" and I'm sure you crossed the line when you insisted their wives bake you fresh cookies. And what's this I hear about you parking in the president's spot? You know they don't like foreigners in those parts, who should have treaded lightly. But it doesn't really matter now does it? They're about to go down anyway, so I say sue EVERYONE and get some money out while you still can.
Do you know any good contract lawyers? My glorious comeback to coaching is turning into a bit of a nightmare and I need to pull the plug. I was out of the game for nearly three years because of...well, let's call it an enforced holiday, and I had plenty of job offers for next season but I took one with a club because they played in a big league. The future was looking gold. We signed a whole bunch of new players and everything was going swimmingly until, in a cruel twist of fate, they got relegated seven weeks after the end of the season. Now all the news guys are complaining and frankly I don't blame them. I gotta get outta here!
The Badger says...: We might have to bend the rules a little here, but I have a cunning plan! We'll use the old 'doctor's note' excuse. My mate Tom knows this physio who has a friend whose sister-in-law works in the film industry and can get us a few of those blood capsules they use in the movies. All you need to do is have an 'unfortunate incident' with an object that could draw blood - a gate, a door, maybe even a flying rugby ball, anything really. A bit of fake blood, then a nagging headache that won't go away - they'll be happy to let you go and bring in a replacement. It's the oldest trick in the book, everyone's doing it! Trust me, it's foolproof.
Please help! I'm a bit stressed. Actually, I'm very stressed. You see, not so long ago this new guy arrived on the scene, blew everyone away with his skills and then took my place in the starting line-up alongside my old buddy. The dude offloads more than a delivery man and his body looks like that Russian fella in Rocky IV. About a month back he told the coach he was leaving for Japan, meaning he won't be around for some huge games we've got in August. That didn't stop him from tearing up this touring side in June while I got given enforced 'rest' so I would be ready to take over when he goes off to cash his big cheque and eat sushi. I know I should be stoked to get my starting berth back, but he's set the bar pretty high. I haven't had a great season with my new franchise, and now I'm not sure I'll be good enough. What do I do?
The Badger says...: Heeeey, take it easy ma'an. You sound super sad. I suspect your blues really started when you changed teams in the off-season. My mate Mark reckons that move was like sending a lam to the slaughter, but my other friend Pat says the critics are being to harsh. Either way, it sounds like you're making a hurricane in a teacup out the whole situation. Just remember that times were never better than when you played alongside your old team-mate and the two of you are going to be reunited soon. If that fails, my mate Rupeni knows this guy who has a neighbour whose uncle knows this guy with some serious...er...spinach that should chill you out, nooo problem.
How do I get these frikkin' rugby journos to shut the hell up? My coach made one speculative comment that some day I should, perhaps, maybe, move to the other side of the scrum. Some old fart who once played 7 and then played 6 for a while agrees with him and all these scribblers jump on the bandwagon. Some unknown youngster plays one good game and suddenly everyone is flapping on about me getting old. What the hell is going on? I'm only 31!! Ok, I'll be 32 soon, but the way they're carrying on, you'd swear I was 40!
King Richard I
The Badger says...: Your Highness, if it so pleases you, I may have a solution. I hear they're paying top-dollar for your kind in the land of cheese and wine. I suggest you pack your bags, open a new bank account in Switzerland and cash in while you can. Then watch them all cry in their beer and ask you to come back! If you're not keen on croissants and fois gras, I have another suggestion. It's not pretty, but it just might work. I know a guy, who knows this other guy whose cousin knows a guy who can swing an iron bar like Babe Ruth. I don't care how young this new kid is, no one can play with only one knee.