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
Heineken Cup
Saturday , April 26
Saracens vs Clermont Auvergne15:40
Sunday , April 27
Toulon vs Munster15:30
More Heineken Cup fixtures
RaboDirect PRO12
Saturday , April 26
Glasgow vs Edinburgh19:05
More RaboDirect PRO12 fixtures
Amlin Challenge Cup
Friday , April 25
Northampton vs Harlequins20:00
Sunday , April 27
Wasps vs Bath13:00
More Amlin Challenge Cup fixtures
Super Rugby
Friday , April 25
Blues vs Waratahs17:35
Brumbies vs Chiefs17:40
Sharks vs Highlanders19:10
Saturday , April 26
Hurricanes vs Reds19:35
Western Force vs Bulls17:40
Cheetahs vs Stormers17:05
More Super Rugby fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , April 20
Northampton 36 - 21 London IrishNorthampton vs London Irish Report
Newcastle 18 - 23 SaracensNewcastle vs Saracens Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Cardiff Blues 17 - 13 ScarletsCardiff Blues vs Scarlets Report
Newport Gwent D'gons 10 - 20 Ospreys
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , April 19
Bath 32 - 20 WorcesterBath vs Worcester Report
Exeter 12 - 55 SaleExeter vs Sale Report
Wasps 38 - 30 GloucesterWasps vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Zebre 26 - 13 EdinburghZebre vs Edinburgh Report
Connacht 23 - 32 MunsterConnacht vs Munster Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Oyonnax 19 - 19 ToulouseOyonnax vs Toulouse Report
Perpignan 31 - 46 ToulonPerpignan vs Toulon Report
Biarritz 19 - 13 Brive
Grenoble 21 - 21 Bayonne
Stade Francais 37 - 23 Bordeaux-Begles
Racing Metro Paris 22 - 6 Clermont AuvergneRacing Metro Paris vs Clermont Auvergne Report
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Chiefs 17 - 18 CrusadersChiefs vs Crusaders Report
Sharks 19 - 8 CheetahsSharks vs Cheetahs Report
Stormers 18 - 3 LionsStormers vs Lions Report
Waratahs 19 - 12 BullsWaratahs vs Bulls Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 18
Harlequins 24 - 20 LeicesterHarlequins vs Leicester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Leinster 62 - 7 Benetton TrevisoLeinster vs Benetton Treviso Report
Glasgow 27 - 9 UlsterGlasgow vs Ulster Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Castres 22 - 15 MontpellierCastres vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Hurricanes 39 - 20 BluesHurricanes vs Blues Report
Melbourne Rebels 22 - 16 Western Force
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens2080
2Northampton2071
3Bath2064
4Leicester Tigers2064
5Harlequins2058