Planet Rugby

Loose Pass

11th February 2013 06:50

Share:

Scotland v Italy Stuart Hogg dives try

Scotland: Led the way with four tries over the weekend

This week we will mostly be concerning ourselves with the Six Nations, turf, Mourad Boudjellal and a little Lions nostalgia...

One week, that's all it took. One week of daring to dream that the northern hemisphere had turned a corner and was going to provide a tournament echoing its southern counterpart. One week it took for the assorted coaches to gather, think a bit, and then spend their interim time on making sure that none of last week's tries were echoed rather than look for ways to keep the momentum going.

As a result, we had six tries altogether in three games, four of them from Scotland. You know it's come to something when you are set to rave about Scotland as an international weekend's star turn. We couldn't remember more than one time when the whitewash at either end was seriously threatened at the Aviva, while there was only one time it was threatened in Paris too. Fortunately for Wales, the threat was realised.

The weather played a part to be sure, but there was clear evidence that the tacticians of the respective teams had shut down any attacking desire. Wales ignored open spaces wide and deep on many occasions, as did England. Ireland were so awful that had they tried to get the ball out they may well have failed to do so, Italy were moving outside at half the speed they were last week. France were moving at the same speed they did last week, which was about half of Italy's. Only Scotland, with Sean Maitland growing into his role and Matt Scott a real prospect, looked like they had spent a week running some actual handling moves.

But it was the sheer amount of kicking which was so disappointing. England and France especially have some of the best steppers and carriers in the game, but just don't seem to be prepared, tactically, to use them.

The quality of the kicking was also dire. Coaches need to set targets for their players at kicking plays, need the team to understand why they are kicking, need to impress upon the players a minimum acceptable standard for a kick to gain. Our guess is that a good 50 per cent of the time this weekend, players kicked because... well, because they were in a certain position on the pitch and that was what they were told to do. Not to do something specific with the kick, just to kick. Get the bloody ball somewhere else.

A shame. Last weekend we saw what Europe is capable of. The next step has to be seeing what it is capable of on a regular basis.


Something else we'd like to see on a regular basis is pitches which don't ruck up like rugs on a stone floor at the mere sight of a scrum. The Millennium Stadium's pitch's woes have been long-documented, the Stade de France now joins the ranks of shame.

It is beyond comprehensible that the finest facilities a country has to offer simply are not able to host what they are set up to host, what millions of Euros are ploughed into making sure they can host. Don't even get us started on the safety issue. Adam Jones was pretty well dismantled at scrum time, but the pitch let him down on many an occasion - and just imagine if someone's Lions dream had disappeared down a Parisian divot.

French rugby has problems on the pitch in every way right now.


Possibly off it too, although we're taking a pinch of salt with Mourad Boudjellal's latest outpouring.

The Top 14's person voted least likely to call a spade an earth-moving implement has, after what has been a welcome silence, once again hopped on his soapbox and had a good rant, this time on the subject of paying wages to internationals who miss a quarter of the season for international duty.

Which is vaguely understandable... except that let's have a look at those internationals Boudjellal's knickers are so twisted about. Gethin Jenkins, Jocelino Suta, Mathieu Bastareaud, Fred Michalak, and Maxime Mermoz, (there were also two Georgians missing from Toulon this weekend) none of whom have exactly been developed by Toulon's academy.

Boudjellal can moan all he wants, but frankly, having chosen to spend a huge stack of cash on signing seasoned internationals, he must have known what he was letting himself in for. No sympathy here - there is less and less for him in any situation the more he rants anyway.

What was really weird was Toulon's capitulation in Bordeaux though. Ok, they are missing seven players and one or two to injury as well. But that was still a team containing Rudi Wulf, Matt Giteau, Jonny Wilkinson, Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, Bakkies Botha and Andrew Sheridan. with Joe van Niekerk, Alexis Palisson and Carl Hayman on the bench just in case.

41-0 down at one of the league's bottom teams? Something doesn't add up there.


Finally, it's Lions year, so we're going to take you back a bit.... to 1997. A scene from that epic video 'Living with Lions' is still talked about wistfully in bars today, with forwards of all ages especially remembering the epic speech delivered by Jim Telfer.

No idea what we are on about? Have a look here.

Sixteen years on.... he's still got it. Even if the calibre of the recipients is not what it was...have a look here.

Loose pass compiled by Richard Anderson

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 28
Bath vs HarlequinsBath vs Harlequins Preview
Saturday , November 29
Leicester Tigers vs WaspsLeicester Tigers vs Wasps Preview
Exeter vs SaracensExeter vs Saracens Preview
Sunday , November 30
London Irish vs GloucesterLondon Irish vs Gloucester Preview
London Welsh vs NorthamptonLondon Welsh vs Northampton Preview
Newcastle Falcons vs Sale SharksNewcastle Falcons vs Sale Sharks Preview
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
International Match
Saturday , November 29
Wales vs South AfricaWales vs South Africa Preview
England vs AustraliaEngland vs Australia Preview
More International Match fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , November 28
Munster vs UlsterMunster vs Ulster Preview
Cardiff Blues vs TrevisoCardiff Blues vs Treviso Preview
Saturday , November 29
Zebre vs EdinburghZebre vs Edinburgh Preview
Leinster vs OspreysLeinster vs Ospreys Preview
Connacht vs ScarletsConnacht vs Scarlets Preview
Sunday , November 30
Glasgow Warriors vs DragonsGlasgow Warriors vs Dragons Preview
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Thursday , December 4
La Rochelle vs Exeter19:45
More European Rugby Challenge Cup fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , November 29
Toulon vs Clermont AuvergneToulon vs Clermont Auvergne Preview
Oyonnax vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
Lyon vs Montpellier18:30
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:30
Castres vs Racing Metro Paris18:30
Toulouse vs Grenoble20:45
Sunday , November 30
Stade Francais vs Brive18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 23
Saracens 24 - 31 NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Report
London Welsh 5 - 26 Leicester TigersLondon Welsh vs Leicester Tigers Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Georgia 35 - 24 JapanGeorgia vs Japan Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Treviso 24 - 24 LeinsterTreviso vs Leinster Report
Edinburgh 28 - 13 Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 22
London Irish 23 - 33 BathLondon Irish vs Bath Report
Exeter 31 - 15 WaspsExeter vs Wasps Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Italy 6 - 22 South AfricaItaly vs South Africa Report
England 28 - 9 SamoaEngland vs Samoa Report
France 13 - 18 ArgentinaFrance vs Argentina Report
Wales 16 - 34 New ZealandWales vs New Zealand Report
Scotland 37 - 12 TongaScotland vs Tonga Report
Ireland 26 - 23 AustraliaIreland vs Australia Report
Romania 18 - 9 CanadaRomania vs Canada Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 21
Harlequins 12 - 16 Sale SharksHarlequins vs Sale Sharks Report
Newcastle Falcons 20 - 10 GloucesterNewcastle Falcons vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Fiji 20 - 14 USAFiji vs USA Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Dragons 12 - 38 MunsterDragons vs Munster Report
Ulster 25 - 16 OspreysUlster vs Ospreys Report
Connacht 43 - 3 ZebreConnacht vs Zebre Report
Scarlets 19 - 9 Glasgow WarriorsScarlets vs Glasgow Warriors Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 16
Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 SaracensLeicester Tigers vs Saracens Report
Wasps 71 - 7 London WelshWasps vs London Welsh Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Ireland 49 - 7 GeorgiaIreland vs Georgia Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 15
Sale Sharks 36 - 8 London IrishSale Sharks vs London Irish Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton830
2Exeter828
3Bath828
4Saracens825
5Leicester Tigers821