6 Best Beards of the 6 Nations

Geoff Cross, Scotland

Geoff Cross 8The king of them all, and possibly the greatest rugby beard ever seen. Unfortunately not long for this world as a new career as a doctor awaits and, let’s face it, that might not be the most hygienic thing.

Jake Ball, Wales

Jake Ball 4A true patriotic beard, almost the same colour as his Welsh shirt. If he stuck a bunch of daffodils in it, they’d probably make him First Minister.

Uini Atonio, France

Uini Atonio 2Uini Atonio is bloody massive. Over 6’5″ (1.97m) and 24st 6lb (155 kg), it’s not as if he needs the beard to be intimidating. But he does. Be intimidated.

Martin Castrogiovanni, Italy

Martin CastrogiovanniLet’s be honest, he’s not a looker. But in rugby, that doesn’t seem to be a big issue. The bedraggled Italian veteran  seems to be taking on the medieval knight look as made famous by Sebastien Chabal (And, you know, medieval knights…)

Joe Marler, England

Joe Marler 4Marler is another big lad that adds to his presence with his solid-looking beard. Leads the way for England.

Mathieu Bastereaud, France

Yoann Huget celebrates with Mathieu Bastareaud 7/2/2015Ireland have let the side down so here’s another Frenchman, and it’s so good that Yoann Huget can’t help but kiss it. Come on, we’ve all thought about it.

Geoff Cross – Beard of the Month February 2015

Ladies and Gentlemen, we’re potentially looking at one of the world’s great sport beards.Geoff Cross 6

November 2014 and February 2015’s Beard of the Month looks magnificent, but will not be with us for long. 32-year-old Cross is a qualified doctor and will soon be switching shin pads for stethoscopes, meaning the beard will have to go.
Until that day, we will enjoy it.Geoff Cross 7

Wikipedia states the beard origin story thus:

“I was at Glasgow for ten weeks last season and I talked to Josh Strauss, and he said, ‘You know, Geoff, you say that after rugby you’re going to work as a medic, and I see you haven’t shaved for a few days – really I don’t think very many people would be happy if they went to a GP practice to talk about their sore back, looking to be reassured, and there was this man with this enormous beard. So really, this is the only time in your life that you’ve got to grow a beard. You should seize that opportunity.”

Seize it he did.Geoff Cross 5

Geoff Cross’ international debut for Scotland ended prematurely when he spear tackled opponent Lee Byrne. This earned him a yellow card and a ten minute suspension from the game, but he also knocked himself unconscious and injured his knee.

lee byrne geoff crossThat’s the problem with tackling someone in mid-air, they could well take your head off. Needless to say, the evident lack of facial protection put Cross on his arse and out of action. The beardless fool.

He has since won 37 more caps for Scotland, played over 130 times for Edinburgh and now plays for London Irish.

The great tragedy of this beard is not that it will soon be no more, but that (please excuse me Scottish rugby fans) Scottish rugby union players aren’t usually in the international headlines. If Cross had been a footballer, or a New Zealander this beard would be much more well-known.

When it goes, money will be given to children’s charity Wooden Spoon and at the time of writing stands at just over £6,500 which BeardWatch is proud (but a bit gutted) to support.

Geoff Cross 2

Beard of the Month – February 2015

The winner is…


Geoff Cross

Geoff Cross 6Last year’s SBOTY finalist is back and it may be the last we see of this Hagrid-esque beard. Cross, 32, is a qualified doctor and can’t really carry around a bush on his face in a hospital so plans to shave eventually anyway. He’s now raising money for charity before the hedge trimmers come out.

Hafthor Bjornsson

The World's Strongest ManAttached to one of the strongest men in the world, Bjornsson’s beard helped him to break a 1,000 year old record. Bjornsson lifted and took 5 steps with a 10m long, 1,433lb Viking mast.

John Mooney

John MooneyIreland have been involved in two dramatic games in the ICC World Cup. Firstly beating West Indies against the odds, and then beating the UAE with only 4 balls to go. John Mooney has been a part of both of these wins and has also been fined for mouthing off at one of the West Indians.

Rob Ninkovich

Ninkovich and his beard won the Superbowl single-handedly. Probably. Maybe not, honestly, I’ve no idea about American Football, but it was surely a big factor. He also turned 31 on the big day, which is nice.

The winner is…

How Australia Used the Beard to Get Back on Top

Brought to you by Betfair

“With a great beard comes great responsibility.” Although Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben didn’t quite say this, if he were living today he most likely would have. We live in a world where the pen is once again stronger than the sword and the beard is better than the clean-shaven. Instead of having to save us from the Green Goblin, Spider Man now defends against Mach Three Turbos and discontenting mothers who are begging their offspring to shave.

For those that are sceptical about the power of the beard two things: one, why are you here, and two, why are you still here? Facial here instills confidence in anyone, and if a man is confident he can just about do anything. Why do you think some of the most beautiful women in the world are with bearded men. It is not because they find the beard attractive – they do but that doesn’t matter – it is because the man now has the confidence to approach these women and woo them with his personality, all the while his beard plays a supporting role, a role that probably would have won it at the 2015 Oscars – oh wait who has a white beard.

The scepticism is still rife in the air. So let us give you a case study to showcase just how facial hair improves your performance.

It has been a pretty rocky road for the Australian cricket team up to now. The side dominated the game for most of the 2000s but once notable players like Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath – the bowler who is currently in trouble for his hunting pictures – Darren Lehmann and Adam Gilchrist retired the form of the Baggy Green diminished. Between the years of 2009-2013 Australia lost The Ashes on three consecutive occasions to their arch rivals England.

However, when England went down Down Under for the 2014 series they were tonked 5-0. The reason was clear, Australia were reaping the benefits of the Movember hangover – many of their players grew facial hair for charity and then realised what they had been missing. Now the side are back where they belong; they currently occupy second place in the Test rankings, first in the ODI rankings and, much to the chagrin of Betfair and the like, practically perennial favourites in the cricket betting

A quick glance at the stats for that series tells you all you need to know about the tremendous benefits of facial hair. Australian pace bowler Mitchell Johnson had been England’s whipping boy whenever they faced him in the past. He struggled that much against England in the past that he wasn’t even included in the Australian squad for the 2013 summer series, the two previous series had seen him take just 35 wickets combined.

Last year, armed with a handlebar moustache that would make any beard aficionado weak at the knees, he went on to take 37 scalps, which is nuts. To average more than seven wickets a game in a five match series is staggering. In fact, it is that good that you feel that Johnson must have been embarking in some satanic ritual that would instil in him this god-like bowling presence. Or perhaps, and much more logically, the facial growth gave him back his confidence, and when confident Johnson is very much the fast-bowling equivalent of Samson.

mitchell johnson 3Image by NAPARAZZI – Mitchell Johnson

Johnson was very much a player that everyone believed could make it to the top, he just never had his head screwed on properly. So is it a coincidence that his return to form coincided with his facial growth? You bet it isn’t. Both require plenty of determination, self-discipline, commitment and practice. In a similar vein to Mr Miyagi training Daniel LaRusso via the “wax on, wax off” approach, Johnson was subconsciously furthering his mental strength – a prerequisite for all bowlers – while all the while grooming.

Mitchell Johnson 2Image by NAPARAZZI – Johnson with someone in his sights

But it wasn’t just Johnson who had some facial hair on show during that Ashes series. David Warner, who had an absolutely torrid time in the UK in the summer of 2013, came back with a vengeance, and a moustache, once those Brits crossed the equator.

David WarnerImage by NAPARAZZI 

While in England in 2013, Warner was involved with an off-field fight with England cricketer Joe Root in Birmingham. Warner was rightly dropped from the playing squad for the first two matches of the series. He did eventually return during the series but as a shell of himself, the fact that he managed to notch up 138 runs in three matches should tell you all you need to know about his form.

Much like Johnson, Warner welcomed the England side to Australia in the very late stages of 2013 with some new facial hair and a new attitude. In all fairness England shouldn’t have bothered coming as Warner was every bit as ruthless as Johnson. The batter chalked up 523 runs in total – he claimed two centuries during the series – more than 200 runs more than England’s most prolific batter Kevin Pietersen.

David Warner 2.pngImage by NAPARAZZIShaving foam to the eye!

What is exceedingly surprising is just how long it took Warner and Johnson to embrace the facial hair. Merv Hughes was one of Australia’s greatest ever bowlers, and what he did he have? You guessed an ingenious bowling action. He also boasted one of the finest works of facial art in the history of cricket, rumours circulated that it was at one point insured for $200,000. There is no beard comparable to that of Merv’s, the thickness, shape and colouring were all spot on, and in Mitchell Johnson his bowling/facial hair legacy lives on. Hughes is currently a contestant on the Australian version of I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here, you doubt the lack of shaving equipment to be too much of a problem for Merv. You know, he’s practically feral already.

Merv HughesImage by nic_r  – Merv Hughes

Whereas Johnson is very much the modern-day ‘Swervin Mervyn’, Warner is the embodiment of David Boon, whose moustache served as the inspiration for the current Australian batter. Boon knocked more than 7,000 test runs for the Baggy Greens, whilst Warner has just over 3,000 but has not had facial hair for anywhere near as long. Watch his runs grow in tandem with his facial hair.

David BoonImage by Nagarjun – Shrine to David Boon

Surely this is enough evidence to prove that there is very much a correlation between sporting prowess and facial hair. Johnson and Warner are evoking memories of Hughes and Boon, together they form a dynamite, and albeit hairy combination that is enough to put any team to the sword.

Ali v Amla – BeardWatch Showdown

The Cricket World Cup 2015 has been dominated by two enormous presences: England’s Moeen Ali and South Africa’s Hashim Amla. Both Muslims of, respectively, Pakistani and Indian descent, they’ve upheld their religion’s fine and upstanding tradition of beard growing.

In this post we will analyse their beards to discover who truly has the Greatest Beard in Cricket.

Moeen+Ali+England+v+West+Indies+ICC+CWC+Warm+w2PGG77rL_0lHashim-Amla-Pictures-Photos-Images1-1024x576

Length

Amla must surely be in the top 1% in terms of beard length in the sporting world, but in this showdown he is unlucky enough to be up against one of the longest face rugs in modern sport beard history. Whilst Amla has a beard that can hide his whole neck, Ali’s often dips down below his collar-bone and almost to armpit level.

Ali 1 – 0 Amla

Density

This is a tough one to call. Both beards have a similar facial coverage in terms of cheeks and sideys and avoiding the top lip. On close inspection of many HD photographs (BeardWatch – zooming in so you don’t have to) it would appear Amla has marginally thinner beard hair though this may be a result of a different beardcare regime. This is a draw.

Ali 1 – 0 Amla

Moeen Ali 2 web Hashim Amla web

Colour

Their shared south Asian heritage mostly dictates this category, and both sport pure black beards. However it would appear Amla’s 4 extra years in this world are taking their toll with a few strands of grey peeping through. While there is nothing wrong with a dignified grey beard, the strands are a little thinly spread at the moment to look anything more than incidental. Ali takes this one by a hair.

Ali 2 – 0 Amla

Style

It would be difficult to attribute a particular style to either beard other than “letting it grow long”.  In terms of grooming, disregarding in-game photos where a beard can get all messed up, they still cannot be separated. Both seem fairly content with letting their beard take its natural course without over-brushing. Another draw.

Ali 2 – 0 Amla

Moeen Alihashim-amla_650_021715075659

Sexiness

In many beard profiles, sexiness will be all important because, let’s face it, beards are sexy. However, to be honest in this particular showdown it’s not the deciding factor. While there are plenty who will love a good long beard to hang onto, neither would fit most people’s sexy standards.

Final score Ali 2 – 0 Amla

The scoreline may seem like a comfortable win for Ali, this was more like the ground out win you expect from a champion at the end of the season against their bitter rivals.

Both beards are way up there in the sport beard world and should be applauded and shown to youngsters for inspiration.

For this tournament, we can definitively say England’s Moeen Ali has the World’s Best Cricket Beard.

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Top 5 Hipster Beards in Football

Brought to you by Bet365

The popularity of male facial hair has sky rocketed these past couple of years. Long gone are the days when having a beard was reserved to those who were members of the hipster community; i.e., anyone who lived in Shoreditch.

Alongside baggy Adidas sweat tops and New Balance trainers, the beard has left the known realm of the alternative and has firmly headed for the mainstream, which is by no means a bad thing.

Beard love right now is at a fever pitch, with more and more people opting to let their facial hair grow out. What may have started as a shaving hangover from Movember has now turned into a full blown craze.

When one does think about beards you almost certainly think towards musicians or perhaps actors. The classic Paul McCartney during his time with The Beatles was certainly close to the zenith of facial hair excellence. However, much like how beards themselves have left their social surroundings in society, it is no longer musicians and new-age actors who get to revel in the warm glow of facial hair perfection. Moreover, we are now seeing a rise of beards on the football pitch, which is a particularly good thing.

There are more and more players nowadays taking the plunge and allowing themselves to grow a beard, despite the intense media glare that is fixated on them every weekend. It takes great commitment to a cause to be willing to play football in front of millions of eyes with a beard that is still in the formative stages of growth.

Beard growing is perhaps one of the only times you can tilt your cap to a footballer and give them your respect, for we all know about the demands of a beard. But which five footballers have the best beards in the game?

Raul Meireles – Fenerbahce

Raul Meireles - Bet365

If there was to be a generic football hipster it would be Raul Meireles. The former Liverpool midfielder is undoubtedly the man. When the tattoos – which cover nearly every part of his body – stop, you reach the facial hair, which for a time was nearly reaching his pectorals.

Meireles was an advocate of the noted bald head and bolder beard look for most of 2014, but has started 2015 with a Mohawk look; again another popular hipster image.

As for the beard itself, Meireles is a man of fortune who can grow an exceedingly thick beard. He managed to get superb volume and bounce on his facial hair while the precision in the styling of it is something that can only be achieved by a nicely-paid stylist.

While Portuguese team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo may have won World Player of the Year, he will be the first to admit that Meireles is out there on his own when it comes to facial hair. The world’s best player and the world’s best beard will be in action together next month when Portugal take on Serbia in the European qualifiers, with the odds for that match now available with bet365.

Raul Meireles - Bet365 2Josh Brillante – Fiorentina

Josh Brillante - Bet365 2

Let us start off by first giving credence to this young Australian’s name. Unsurprisingly, the 21-year-old has a beard to match his name.

It is a beard that is very much Australian outback in style. It is unkempt, slightly bedraggled and altogether massive. For those familiar with WWE wrestler Daniel Bryan and his beard; Brillante looks like his younger brother, a brother who at times is willing to wear a top-knot.

Brillante has that slightly deranged-looking beard. A wild-man’s beard. The type of beard that would bite you for just looking at it funny, making it perfect for a football pitch.

George Boyd – Burnley

George Boyd - Bet365

Boyd plays for Burnley, a side that is just like Boyd’s beard, they are alright. There are those days when both are on fine form, sending both compliments and goals flying. But just as numerous as the good days are the bad days, in which the football is lacklustre and the facial hair is looking a bit thin on the ground.

The Scot is a good example for how far the beard has come in certain areas of society. Boyd is not a hipster. He doesn’t care about places like Camden or who the next Pete Doherty is. He is a lad who has worked his way up from non-league football to the Premier League. He is a grafter and that is very much reflected in his beard. He has laid the foundations, now he just needs to build on them.

George Boyd - Bet365 2Tim Howard – Everton

Tim Howard - bet365

Fair does to Tim Howard, he committed to his beard and my word doesn’t he look all the better for it. The Everton goalkeeper has the previously mentioned bald head phat beard vibe.

Here is a man who almost single-handedly took America to the quarter-finals of the World Cup. He is a stopper, a behemoth of a man and thus it is only right he has the facial hair of a warrior knight from the 16th Century.

Howard’s beard has a really nice colouring which compliments his natural skin tone, but away from the pretentious talk it is simply a sick beard. Whilst the 35-year-old may have struggled with injuries in the past, one thing has remained; his exquisite beard.

Tim Howard - Bet365 2Andrea Pirlo – JuventusImage Flickr  NazionaleCalcio

The Italian midfielder is not far off perfection. He is the man that everyone woman wants to be with and every man wants to be. Regardless of his beard, Pirlo just oozes cool. Here is a footballer that has no problem drinking wine and eating cheese the night before a match. Speaking of playing, there are few that can do what Pirlo can do on the pitch, which is achieve brilliance whilst seemingly looking like you are doing nothing.

Here is a player who is very content with his football career and it shows with his beard. His thick, black, matted facial hair conjoins perfectly with the longer hair that sprouts from his head, giving Pirlo a slightly untamed looked. In fact, you could go as far as saying that thanks to the facial hair’s marriage to Pirlo’s natural hair, the midfielder’s look is the perfect melange of rough-and-ready and Italian chic.

Pirlo 2

Iwan Roberts – Beard of the Month January 2015

The big man is a legend to many of his former clubs including Huddersfield, Wolves, Leicester and Norwich, and they’ve paid him back by voting him as Beard of the Month.

Roberts has been seen punditing his way around Wales recently sporting a truly magnificent bushy ginger beard in stark contrast to his neat cropped hair. He’s always had a…

Iwan Roberts toothless…let’s say ‘distinctive‘ look during his playing days, but I think we can all agree that this beard marks his peak.

Iwan Roberts 6Here he showing BBC colleague and former Welsh striker John Hartson how it’s done.

Iwan Roberts 2Iwan Roberts 3

Wiki:

Iwan Wyn Roberts (born 26 June 1968 in Bangor, Gwynedd) is a Welsh former international footballer who played as a striker from 1986 to 2006. Since retiring, he has worked as a sports commentator.

Roberts notably played in the Premier League for Leicester City and Norwich City, as well as earning 15 caps for Wales. He also played in the Football League for Watford, Huddersfield Town, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Gillingham and Cambridge United. Local Norwich football newspaper The Pink’un described him as “one of the greatest goal scorers ever to pull on a Norwich City shirt” and he was elected to the Norwich City F.C. Hall of Fame.

Since retiring as a player, Roberts, who speaks fluent Welsh, has worked as a commentator for Sky Sports, Radio Cymru and BBC Wales.


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