Loose Pass

Date published: June 4 2013


This week we will mostly be concerning ourselves with early British and Irish Lions thoughts, Castres and Heinrich Brussow.

This week we will mostly be concerning ourselves with early Lions thoughts, Castres and Heinrich Brussow.

Very very little was to take out of the Lions tour opener on Saturday, much less than would have been wanted. We saw the tourists enjoy a steady scrum superiority and we saw them looking remarkably sharp for a bunch of successful players at the end of a long season. Fair play to the conditioning gurus.

Beyond that it struck us as a bit of a waste of time. It was hardly coherent and high calibre opposition, generally ruined by the humidity and quite obviously a stop off en route to Australia to drum up some cash. No wonder Warren Gatland's summary was frequently punctuated by the words 'no injuries'.

As Brian O'Driscoll pointed out on Sunday, only now does it really feel like the tour has begun. This stop-on-the-way stuff is not a benefit to anything but the tills.

Still, we did learn a few things:

1. Owen Farrell desperately needs to get his inner child out of his system if he is to develop. The whole Schalk Brits incident was just pathetic and wholly unnecessary.

2. The Welsh contingent, especially the older heads, are in terrific form.

3. Paul O'Connell can be added to the list of those in fine form.

4. Sean Maitland could be one of the tour bolters.

5. Warren Gatland is definitely adding an element of national flavour to selections. If Saturday was about the Welsh, Wednesday looks to be about the Irish. Will there be an English day or are the English set for supporting cast roles?

Elsewhere, hats off to Castres. Written off by pretty much everyone ahead of their Top 14 final against star-studded European champions Toulon, the Tarnats delivered perhaps the most clinical display of rugby we have witnessed this season.

Under heavy pressure, the defence was magnificent, while they scored a gem of a try.

But most of all, and ironically considering they were up against Jonny, they found a way to make every visit to Toulon territory count. Particularly the first, which was not two minutes after the Toulon forwards had been hammering hard at the Castres line but had given away a penalty, was a dagger to Toulon hearts.

A well-earned win. So how much do Toulon spend now?

Finally, the most baffling soundbite of the week has to be from Heyneke Meyer.

Does he pick the player who is clearly his country's best openside? Nope. Why? Because he is concerned that some strange referees might penalise that player for his style of play.

Not an unreasonable excuse at amateur level, but we are talking an excellent professional player in the age of exhaustive video analysis here.

Could Meyer not simply spend some time and attention to fine tuning Brussow, rather than trotting out such limp excuses?

A poor effort at disguising the fact that both Marcell Coetzee and Willem Alberts are taller and bigger. Don't expect the Boks to start a passing game any time soon.

Complied by Richard Anderson