The world of professional sport is a notoriously fickle one, and nowhere is this more apparent in rugby than in the treatment of Six Nations coaches.
After two consecutive Six nations titles some Irish fans have begun to question Joe Schmidt’s ability to take the team forward in light of the team’s opening two results of a draw and a loss in 2016.
There has been little mention of the fact that Wales followed by France away is easily the most treacherous opening fixtures (not to mention the most physically taxing), let alone that Ireland have been decimated by injuries to seven starters.
With a trip to an eager England side up next the journey gets no easier, but with the burden of retaining their crown lifted, expect a fully focused Ireland side at Twickenham.
All great coaches have had to guide their teams through darker days (even Graham Henry and Sir Clive Woodward) and when Ireland come through this difficult patch, the world better beware.
Ireland's injury-enforced selection delays "unsettling and frustrating" ahead of France clash, says Joe Schmidt: https://t.co/y1CZ2AvrHt— Nick Purewal (@NickPurewal) February 11, 2016
Wales and Scotland prove that northern flair exists
After a competitive but dour opening round of Six Nations, a 10 minute period during Wales’s victory over Scotland shone like a beacon in the dark for enterprising rugby.
Dan Biggar‘s cute chip was the catalyst for the new-found ingenuity. The kick was tapped back by Jaime Roberts for scum-half Gareth Davies to streak in with an electric burst of pace.
However the Scots hit back immediately with Scotland playmaker Finn Russell’s dink over the Welsh defence being collected superbly by Tommy Seymour to dot down.
With fine individual scores from George North and Duncan Taylor in the second-half, the southern hemisphere’s opposition analysts finally had something to report to their coaches ahead of the summer tours.
Now is the time for Warren Gatland and Vern Cotter to encourage more of the same attacking endevour and to avoid going into their shells against the bully boy packs of England and France as pace will always win the day in contests with the Rugby Championship teams.
Wasps laying the foundations for a new dynasty
What a week it was for the Wasps! A 64-23 mauling at Premiership pacesetters Saracens followed by the capture of Danny Cipriani’s signature on a bumper deal.
The more bitter Saracens fans will point to the fact that the Londoners were missing some eight players through Six Nations duty, but they were absolutely outplayed in every facet of the game and Wasps were very good value for their win.
With a more consistent paying standard coupled to new found financial clout, the Coventry-based side’s are now able to attract the top names in world rugby once more to their home, as proven by the recapture of Cipriani.
Of course, the fact that the talented playmaker’s best rugby days were spent in the black and yellow shirt will have played a major role in securing his services, but it means that Wasps will likely be able to persuade an even larger marquee signing to join him alongside Elliot Daly and Charles Piutau in a potent backline division.
Wasps will always look back on their European success at the turn of the century as a missed opportunity to build a dynasty, but with finances and results getting better by the month, it looks like Wasps may be great again.
Al Ain gain first win for a year in West Asia Championship
Al Ain recorded a 33-23 win in Muscat, a first win in five outings in the competition.
Even more of a morale booster for the Garden City club will be the fact that it is a maiden win in 15s rugby for Amblers this term, having lost their opening seven fixtures of the UAE Premiership too.
The paltry return this campaign after a year in which the team had gone the previous campaign with a 100% win record highlights the gulf in difference between the region’s top clubs (which have semi-professional players in some cases) and the conference teams where the sport is purely a social past time.
That said, Al Ain coach Andrew Rouvi believes Al Ain’s first win of campaign will insert a massive injection of confidence into the club ahead of a daunting game against the league’s best side.
“We’ve got Exiles up next and obviously we would love to win but if we can get a bonus point that will be something,” he said.
For this week’s extra time video highlight we travel to the dark side (rugby league), but it is well worth the trip. It is often said that while union players have a more well-rounded skill set and tactical nous, league players enjoy superior handling ability. After seeing this finish from winger David Mead, it is difficult to dispute the latter. Simply breathtaking.
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