Planet Rugby

Loose Pass

08th April 2013 09:18

Share:

SKY_MOBILE Peter Stringer Bath Jerome Fillol Stade Francais

Disgusting: Jerome Fillol

This week we will mostly be concerning ourselves with investment, insulting gestures, infighting and improvisation...

Not too long after Israel Folau dotted down for the most irrelevant of scores for the Waratahs in Wellington, the details of his contract were opened up to all in a New Zealand newspaper report.

Folau, the latest in a line of leaguies to cross the code and try his hand in union, is said to be the second-highest paid rugby union player in Australia (after Quade Cooper of 'toxic team atmosphere' fame), despite having completed only his sixth game in the code on Saturday. He is said to be raking in around AU$ 750k.

It is, as the newspaper pointed out, a monumental risk. The rate of return on big-name cross-coders succeeding stands at considerably less than 50 per cent globally. Some - Mark Gasnier and Willie Mason are good examples - pretty much sink without trace.

But for Robbie Deans in a Lions tour year, it's a pain in the backside he could well do without. No doubt there will be pressure upon Deans to make sure that Folau's ARU salary commands some ARU gold jersey time, yet not only is Folau clearly behind three other players for the 15 jersey, he is also extremely unlikely to fit in at any other position.

Granted one of those ahead of him is the disgraced Kurtley Beale, but it's tough to justify Folau's inclusion in a Wallaby squad on current form. Signs are there he is developing into a solid player, but nowhere near Test class yet.

For a union so often pleading poverty, it's a staggering amount of money - even if the cost of living in Australia is rising prohibitively fast and it's less than it sounds when considered in terms of purchasing power.

We'll see what happens when Wallaby squad time comes around. But in terms of the bigger picture, it also points perhaps a very clear picture that the ARU is so unconfident in what similar sums of money might be used to bring through the youth systems that it felt it necessary to clutch at Folau whatever the cost.

Lean times ahead for Australia?


There's been some pretty shabby stuff coming from French teams for a while now. There was Dimitri Yachvili's repeated stamp of a month or so ago, which remarkably yielded only the most lenient of bans. There was David Attoub's repeated attack on Stephen Ferris' eyes. There's been countless all-in brawls down the years.

The latest transgression plumbs a new depth though, with social media quick to pick up on this effort from Stade Franšais' Jerome Fillol in his side's win over Bath on Saturday...

What is it that makes spitting so offensive? After all, rugby players generally spend an hour and a half every Saturday engaging in a good deal of assault and battery which would, in PG Wodehouse's world, see the culprits reprimanded and given thirty days without the option. And yet it is an isolated incident of spitting which has the whole rugby world up in arms.

Spitting is just contempt. A complete absence of respect or acknowledgement. Punching someone requires risk, brawn, skill. Being punched is something to respond to, a challenge. Both sides have pride on the line, both sides engage.

Spitting is an extreme, a cheap shot on the part of the spitter, who must merely exhale heartily and with timing. He delivers maximum humiliation on the part of the 'spittee' who must cope with the vile feeling of warm viscous liquid running down his face, shudder with revulsion and yet try to work out why the surge of anger when a finger has not really been laid on him.

We can deal with punches and brawls in rugby, but this is abhorrent. Attoub got 70 weeks for his eye-gouge. Let us hope that Fillol gets at least 69 - at least he wasn't going to leave Peter Stringer blind.


The Wales union v regions power struggle is quickly reaching boiling point, with a wholly unnecessary war of words permeating the media. The union and the four regions are now taking to communication by press release, which is the kind of idiocy that results in people like Alastair Campbell getting PR jobs with the British and Irish Lions.

"We're available to meet at any time but when they choose to attack us through the media, it is difficult to turn the other cheek," said Scarlets CEO Stuart Gallagher to the media, while Cardiff Blues chairman Peter Thomas was even more eloquent: "I sum (the WRU's tactics) up with the words power, divide, conquer, wipe-out, that's the agenda for certain people across the way."

Not really sure about all that, but what is odd is that the WRU are not coming to the table, apparently refusing to accept the Professional Rugby Game Board - set up initially to arbitrate such clashes - as legitimate while it has a chairman with a casting vote.

But then perhaps they are at the table. Their latest press release read: "The WRU will outline, to the four Regional Organisations, a strategy for the professional game in Wales and would welcome input from all four regional organisations. The Board of the WRU, for the third time, offers the four Regional Organisations the opportunity to address them. It is now hoped that all discussions are conducted around the board table."

Perhaps they are all waiting at different tables? Are the secretaries to blame?


Finally: ever wondered how to get just a little more weight onto that scrum machine, to get just a little bit more resistance, push out that driving pyramid a little bit harder?

Perhaps, as the Khurasan Rugby Club of Afghanistan has done, you put a set of scrum pads on a 400 horsepower roller...?

Loose pass compiled by Richard Anderson

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 18
Harlequins vs LeicesterHarlequins vs Leicester Preview
Saturday , April 19
Exeter vs Sale15:00
Bath vs Worcester15:00
Wasps vs Gloucester15:15
Sunday , April 20
Northampton vs London Irish14:00
Newcastle vs Saracens15:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
RaboDirect PRO12
Friday , April 18
Leinster vs Benetton TrevisoLeinster vs Benetton Treviso Preview
Glasgow vs UlsterGlasgow vs Ulster Preview
Saturday , April 19
Zebre vs Edinburgh14:30
Connacht vs Munster18:15
Sunday , April 20
Cardiff Blues vs Scarlets14:00
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Ospreys16:45
More RaboDirect PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , April 18
Castres vs MontpellierCastres vs Montpellier Preview
Saturday , April 19
Oyonnax vs Toulouse14:55
Perpignan vs Toulon17:00
Grenoble vs Bayonne18:30
Biarritz vs Brive18:30
Racing Metro Paris vs Clermont Auvergne18:30
Stade Francais vs Bordeaux-Begles20:35
More Top 14 fixtures
Super Rugby
Friday , April 18
Hurricanes vs BluesHurricanes vs Blues Preview
Melbourne Rebels vs Western Force19:40
Saturday , April 19
Chiefs vs Crusaders19:35
Waratahs vs Bulls19:00
Sharks vs Cheetahs15:00
Stormers vs Lions17:05
More Super Rugby fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , April 13
Saracens 28 - 24 NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Report
London Irish 40 - 12 NewcastleLondon Irish vs Newcastle Report
Saturday , April 12
Worcester 33 - 38 ExeterWorcester vs Exeter Report
Leicester 27 - 15 WaspsLeicester vs Wasps Report
Gloucester 17 - 18 BathGloucester vs Bath Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Benetton Treviso 45 - 27 Newport Gwent D'gonsBenetton Treviso vs Newport Gwent D
Scarlets 27 - 20 ZebreScarlets vs Zebre Report
Munster 5 - 22 GlasgowMunster vs Glasgow Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Bordeaux-Begles 20 - 22 ToulonBordeaux-Begles vs Toulon Report
Toulouse 16 - 9 BriveToulouse vs Brive Report
Grenoble 30 - 36 Montpellier
Perpignan 22 - 12 Oyonnax
Bayonne 24 - 19 Stade Francais
Racing Metro Paris 37 - 7 Biarritz
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Chiefs 22 - 16 Melbourne RebelsChiefs vs Melbourne Rebels Report
Western Force 28 - 16 WaratahsWestern Force vs Waratahs Report
Lions 12 - 25 SharksLions vs Sharks Report
Cheetahs 31 - 52 CrusadersCheetahs vs Crusaders Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 11
Sale Sharks 12 - 27 HarlequinsSale Sharks vs Harlequins Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Ulster 58 - 12 ConnachtUlster vs Connacht Report
Edinburgh 22 - 29 Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Report
Ospreys 25 - 19 LeinsterOspreys vs Leinster Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Clermont Auvergne 23 - 11 CastresClermont Auvergne vs Castres Report
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Highlanders 27 - 20 BullsHighlanders vs Bulls Report
Reds 20 - 23 BrumbiesReds vs Brumbies Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens1976
2Northampton1966
3Leicester Tigers1963
4Bath1959
5Harlequins1954