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It was one hell of a snowball fight in Leicester. Fortunately for the Tigers, Toulouse failed to land a single accurate blow.Back to story
Stuart are you not doing Exeter an injustice after their first adventure into the European top flight with the statement that they "robbed the draw of the quarter-final that most neutrals would have liked;" when in reality it was Leinster's inability to beat Clermont at home as well as the lack of tries scored in the early rounds.
Posted 11:41 22nd January 2013
Harlequins are certainly flattered by their pool,which was very weak, nevertheless it's hard to see the English Champions slipping up at home against a limited Munster side. The break in the competition suits Ulster as they were starting to look a little jadded, they are however a side on the up, their performances last year away to Clermont in the pools and beating Munster away in 1/4 final are testament to that, Sarries have their work cut out. Tough ask for Leicester but you never know, either way I think its Clermont's title to lose ultimately On a separate note Exeter's performance against Leinster in the last pool match deserves a mention and great credit, despite having nothing to play for they played with great integrity which they must be applauded for, unlike the performance from Toulon and Racing (once the first Munster try went in) who obviously decided it wasn't worth their while playing for dead rubber.
Posted 10:25 22nd January 2013
Stuart, I'm afraid Owen Farrell will be nowhere near the Lions squad; it'd be generous to name him as one of the top 5 English fly-halves, so I'm assured he'll be way out of the fold. Furthermore, to speak of Jonny Wilkinson's 'Owen-Farrell-like ability' is naught but sensationalism (and sacrilege to boot).
Posted 20:16 21st January 2013
Hi Stuart, love the column. As a Leinster fan I don't begrudge Munster their place, they scored two home BPs and two losing away BPs- fair play to them. My gripe is with Racing - the team they sent over was an insult to the competition, & made Leinsters efforts moot. Munster would have probably beaten their best team, but the thirds/academy crew they sent over...if it happened in football they would be seriously punished. No mention of any sanction....are the ERC afraid of criticizing the French? No hint of Exeter taking that attitude, what a belter of a game on Saturday!
Posted 14:14 21st January 2013
Hello Stuart, I think the Premiership clubs should modify their salary cap as follows: 1) Anyone who started in the team's academy should not be included in the salary limit. 2) Anyone who has been on the books for at least ten years should not be included in the salary cap. 3) Promoted teams to have slight leeway on the above The above would benefit clubs who develop their own players
Posted 13:16 21st January 2013
Hi Stuart, I couldn't help but allow myself a little chuckle on Saturday evening when during the first half of the Leinster Exeter match, you commented that Cian Healy was a possible Lions contender. The basis for your argument against Healy seemed to be that he is an inferior scrummager and the lions may want to put the squeeze on in this department. If I could draw your attention to Eden Park RWC 2011, Healy absoultely dominated his opposite number and put in a man of the match display in tough conditions to lead Ireland to a convining win over the Wallabies. This is not the Healy who was pushed around by the Toulose pack in the Heineken Cup semi final 2010, an almost impossible task for a then 22 year old. He has now gathered the necessary experience which ensures he can hold his own in the scrum while continueing to be a rampaging bull in the loose. In my view, he has been the stand out loose head in Northern Hempisphere if not world rugby over the last 18months and should be one of the first names on Warren Gatland's teamsheet. A foot note to this, obvioulsy I have to mention that you did award Healy the man of the match award on Saturday, I trust this performance had elevated him another step up the ladder in terms of lions selection. Thanks Stu
Posted 11:57 21st January 2013
The qualification of Sarries, Quins & Tigers signals an improvement in English teams but also highlights the decline of the Saints who were in the final 2 seasons ago but have failed to quailfy for the quarters for the 2nd successive season. The game has moved on but the Saints haven't, they have a 1 dimensional style of play which just does not work against the better teams, the back play is unimaginative and lateral with a distinct lack of quality players. A massive immediate change is required in attitude, players and tactics or the Saints will become a middle table team with the ground expansion being a white elephant
Posted 11:33 21st January 2013