Connacht are stepping it up this year in terms 0f the Champions Cup; making Pool 2 look pretty tasty going into 2017. Although they are a side which aren’t really associated with cup runs, usually winning around half of their games in the Champions Cup, except for 2011, where they only won one! Although, this year is definitely looking a lot different for Lam and his side, only losing one game so far; to an on form Wasps side.
Although, since this loss they have definitely turned things around, beating Wasps by 2 controversial points at the weekend, finishing 20-18. The game which has been dubbed by some as one of the most dramatic games in competition history, should have in fact gone the other way, as a replacement referee who took over Jerome Garces in the 75th minute allowed Connacht to kick the ball to touch for a line out after time, which is a rule that does not come into effect until mid 2017 globally.
This decision was not made on his own either, as Connacht’s Muldoon swayed the official’s mind, making himaware of next years rule. The ref’ then changed the decision to allow this play to happen, against the current World Rugby guidelines; this play then led to the Irish side’s decisive try which has put Pool 2 in a 3 way lock with Toulouse, Wasps and Connacht all on 13 points.
This sort of officiating isn’t really what we need in Rugby, especially as rules and Rugby itself are changing. Raynal (replacement referee) allowed a bias point of view to make his decision, and no one besides other officials should influence a referee’s decision.
But with the game still ending in a Connacht win, Pat Lam’s last year in Galway is looking rosey, with it being anyone’s guess who is going to come out on top in pool 2, and Connacht being right in the middle of it all. They are looking to their next game against Zebre with 5 points in mind to get as much of a boost as they can as Wasps and Toulouse go head to head in their next games, with as you probably know, the top 2 progressing.
The news of Lam leaving, which was expected to shock his boys doesn’t seem to have made such a dent in their performance, as they are still pushing hard on the gas with eyes filled with the famous Champions Cup. And things keep getting better as they are lucky enough to be able to watch the Wasps – Toulouse game allowing them to see what work they need to put in to cement their place in the knock-out stage.
Although they are currently in the driving seat, they still have it all to do, as nothing less than a premium performance against Zebre will do for Pat as they look to the future with star filled eyes; will Pat and his boys be able to stop Saracens from getting their hands on a second consecutive year, and will they be able to put another year in between Toulouse’s Champions Cup run.