Blogs & Opinion


Championship play-off final: Dewi Morris previews London Welsh v Bristol

Dewi Morris - Dewi Morris Posted 27th May 2014 view comments

This is what coaches prepare for and what the players have been prepared for - it'll be a titanic battle.

Everyone knows it all comes down to this. Whether the coaches agree with the play-off system doesn't matter but in a perverse way it's fascinating rugby. It all comes down to two games, four halves, and how you manage your team.

Ryan Jones has bolstered Bristol

Ryan Jones has bolstered Bristol

In the semis we saw London Welsh do that very well against Leeds - who made far too many mistakes - while Welsh managed their forwards very well.

Form goes out the window, and for Bristol you can't negate the affect Ryan Jones would have on any side because of his vast experience. They've lost their captain Ruki Tipuna but the Welshman has come in to steady the ship, which he did in the second half against Rotherham.

Who blinks first?

To the team that turns up, doesn't prepare and thinks it will just happen - it won't.

You can top the regular table, you can score 100-and-something tries but it doesn't matter, it comes down to 160 minutes of absolutely sweat and tears.

Dewi Morris
Quotes of the week

I commentated on Stade Francais v Wasps in the European Rugby Champions Cup play-off and Stade were 15-point favourites at the start of that game. As the bells rang out to close the game, it was an ugly performance, it was like Quasimodo - and they lost by 15!

Bristol have prepared for this for well over 12 months, that's why they brought the big coaches in, that's why they brought the big players in - but that means big pressure.

They've brought players in looking at promotion and that's not arrogance at all. Coach Andy Robinson said from the outset that if it doesn't happen this year (and he's got to say that), it's a case of when, because Bristol is a mad rugby city. They're moving stadiums, which means next Wednesday will be the last game at The Memorial Ground; everything is geared and planned for going towards the Premiership.

Robinson said pressure is a privilege - well, it can also be a pain in the backside.

Sweat and tears

These two teams know each other inside-out - it's who blinks first. You don't have to blast anyone away with brilliant rugby, you just have to win.

You can top the regular table, you can score 100-and-something tries but it doesn't matter, it comes down to 160 minutes of absolute sweat and tears.

It will be interesting - that first penalty, where will Nicky Robinson go? Will he go for the corner or will he go for posts? I reckon he'll goes for the posts.

Justin Burnell's London Welsh side will go out and know that they've already beaten them at home in November.

Don't miss this one.

Armitage Angst

To England, and I'd like to see Steffon Armitage go on the tour to New Zealand. I know everyone's on the bandwagon but I've been on it for two or three years.

It's absolutely ridiculous that the European Player of the Year is overlooked purely because he plays in France.

They used to use the excuse that their season goes on an extra week or two because of the French 14 final but look what's happened now - it's at exactly the same time as our final with Saracens and Northampton.

I spoke to Philippe Saint-Andre, who said that if Armitage was French he'd have him in his squad.

They've got to eat humble pie and get that guy on the plane because he'd add something to any team.

back to top

Other Rugby Union Experts:

Latest Posts in Rugby Union:

Jonathan Davies

Davies: The need to succeed

Jonathan Davies talks about the Wales squad and his team's winner-takes-all clash with Saracens this weekend....

Stuart Barnes

Barnes: Inspirational Bath

Stuart Barnes looks at the latest round of Champions Cup matches and what it means for the final round this weekend....

Latest News RSS feeds

Bath barge into quarter-finals

Two penalty tries saw Bath to a hard-fought 20-15 win over Glasgow and a Champions Cup quarter-final trip to Leinster.

Toulouse out after dramatic loss

Toulouse crashed out of the European Champions Cup after they suffered a stunning 27-26 defeat at Montpellier.

Saracens lose but progress

Saracens progressed to a Champions Cup quarter-final with Racing Metro despite a 18-6 defeat to Clermont in France.

Away draws for English quartet

Aviva Premiership quartet Wasps, Bath, Northampton and Saracens all face daunting away trips in the Champions Cup.

Nine-try Munster thrash Sale

Munster ended their European Champions Cup campaign on a high with a 65-10 hammering of Sale.

Features

Six Nations: Paul Wallace believes Joe Schmidt delighted with Ireland's strength in depth

Six Nations: Paul Wallace believes Joe Schmidt delighted with Ireland's strength in depth

The concentrated strength of talent in the Irish squad is a credit to the work Joe Schmidt has done for Ireland, says Paul Wallace.

Live European rugby on Sky this weekend

Live European rugby on Sky this weekend

Sky Sports will bring you the best of European rugby action from a crucial final round of pool fixtures as we broadcast six live games.

The Off Load: Rupert Cox's best and worst from the last week in the world of rugby

The Off Load: Rupert Cox's best and worst from the last week in the world of rugby

Rupert Cox shares his highlights from the week's rugby action in his round-up blog...