Ever had one of those weekends when all the sports teams you follow decide to somehow implode and leave you wondering why on earth you do it? As an England and Sale Sharks rugby, Tottenham Hotspur football and Chicago Bears American football fan I’ve just been through such an experience.
I won’t bore you with the details of the traumas my football teams are going through, suffice to say the English one lost at home to Stoke (apologies to any Stoke fans) whilst the American one had 50 points put on it for the second week running, something that has only ever happened once before in the league’s history.
Of more interest to you, I’m sure, were the performances of the two rugby teams this weekend.
From the outside England’s 21-24 defeat to New Zealand doesn’t look too bad. Given a different bounce of a ball here and there maybe England deserved more out of the game. However, with the World Cup final almost a year away to the day do we really think this current England squad is good enough to go all the way and win it again?
I realise both teams were missing players, I would even argue the loss of Manu Tuilagi is just as important to England as Dan Carter is to the All Blacks. And, after all, what are the chances any team in a World Cup will have a fully fit fifteen to chose from during the tournament? But to me it just felt New Zealand had another gear, possibly even two, to go through whilst England were playing on the very edge of their ability.
I hope the rumours are true about George Ford playing 10 against South Africa. To get this England back line (and team) going forward we need a flatter, ball playing fly half who can bring players into the game.
Stuart Lancaster has these Autumn Internationals and next year’s Six Nations to find that right blend behind the scrum. Maybe a little to early to call it a panic but the next three weekends will make interesting viewing.
The same can’t be said about the goings on at Sale at the moment as anyone who saw their LV Cup ‘performance’ against Leicester on Sunday will attest to. In thirty second half minutes a near full strength Sale team was demolished by a near full strength Leicester third team! What makes it even more depressing was at half time Sale were actually leading 13-3, a more dominant half of rugby you couldn’t wish to see.
However, not for the first time (Bath and Munster) Sale’s second half team looked like they had just met in the changing room. Leicester scored four tries, Sale scored no points. Even more worryingly it seems that every hooker at the club has forgotten how to throw the ball in straight to a line out. You see more accuracy on a school playing field.
There are only so many times Steve Diamond can appear in front of the tv cameras angry after a game. It’s starting to rub a bit thin. How about using some of that anger on the training pitch during the week, channeling some of that aggression into a full eighty minutes performance for the team? AND TEACH THEM HOW TO THROW STRAIGHT!
Confidence can’t be high at the moment (two wins all season finds us tenth in the league). It will be even less after a performance like that.
What’s the old adage? “Too good to go down”. I’m now hoping my rugby and football teams don’t put that to the test this season…