Larry is an outside centre & captain of Racal Decca RFC and he will be bringing his views on all things Rugby from the Gallagher Premiership to the grassroots!
Rugby is back!! I for one am very, very happy…. About 2 months after premiership football came back. The Gallagher Premiership was in action and in full flow. With something a little different I might add…. Midweek games!!! Something that has never been done before (apart from the odd European fixture where Saracens got beaten by Clermont on a random Monday evening) …
Also, midweek fixtures in rugby is something that we may ever see again (unless Covid-20 appears in the near future…. Did you see what I done there???? OK. I will take my leave.)
With match day revenues pretty much non-existent as a result of the Covid-19. There was a massive urge to complete the season by any means necessary – clearly for clubs to obtain receipts from BT sports coverage (and ultimately keep afloat) …Not like France…. who just canned the whole thing.
Anyway, we are where we are…. And unfortunately, some of the games witnessed in the Gallagher Premiership have been severely underwhelming. The 2019/2020 season is a bit of a strange season…. Notwithstanding Covid-19. But Saracens confirmed relegation from England’s top tier competition…
Long story short. They were doing a lot of dodgy finances that wouldn’t be out of character if listed as a line item in the Panama papers. As a result, they resisted a forensic investigation (but of course) … And ultimately took the fine (sofa change for Nigel Wray), a severe points reduction (Premiership Rugby had to make sure that not even Leicester Tigers could finish lower) … and will be playing in England’s 2nd tier
This ultimately gave a free reign for the other bottom feeders (London Irish, Worcester and Leicester Tigers LOLLL) to do what they want with this season without the threat of relegation.
As much as the Twickenham showpiece is the pinnacle for any season – seeing who might have got relegated is also something people pay close attention to…. (Especially when every bonus point starts to get treated like a golden egg from Queen Elizabeth’s famous Geese in Sandringham House) …. The last couple of games of the season in a relegation battle can be just as inspiring (and watchable) as those who make the top 4 playoffs…
Let’s be honest. There isn’t a team in the World (apart from Leinster and maybe the Crusaders) that can fulfil the match day obligations set about Premiership Rugby to complete the season. So, we had to expect teams fielding rotated teams and targeting games methodically. However, the actual outcome of these policies has surely brought the game in to some disrepute …. Seeing some teams field England internationals (and British and Irish lions) against teams who field youngsters (who appeared in England u20’s) just doesn’t make a great spectacle does it? You can look on team sheets on twitter and BBC Rugby Union and just know who is going to win right? Can’t give the guys a lot of confidence to go into a game without a fighting chance…. !!! But there have been exceptions hasn’t there? Exeter and Bristol where Exeter won…. And my personal favourite…. Saracens British and Irish Lions vs Wasps “B” team.
What is to be said about London Irish though? Something clearly isn’t right…. Whether it’s their B team or their full squad. They seem to be losing hand over fist every game. The days where they were Top4 contenders seems to be a relic of a gone era. Now they seem to be a team with individual superstars who cannot play together and have an academy that get picked off by Bath when they are ripened!
Anyway…. Enough with the ramblings about Premiership Rugby… I am here to talk what actually matters.
Covid-19 has absolutely destroyed amateur participation sports up and down the country. The RFU has issued six step plan to ultimately return to full contact rugby. At the moment we are now at “stage D” which is “adapted contract training & non-contact fixtures”
I like James Hook, am I Jack of the back line, but master of no single position (I can also be seen doing a shift at prop where needs must). I thrive off contact!!!!
There is no better feeling than:
1. Being bruised and bloodied after a game, and pretty much bedridden on a Sunday.
2. Scoring a diving try in the corner
3. Stopping a try (and holding it up)
4. Legally sacking a maul
5. Putting a MASSIVE hit / tackle on the opposition and causing a knock on
6. Winning a penalty turnover (especially when the opposition have tried their hardest to get you off)
7. Winning the opposition line out
8. Selling outrageous dummies (that even Matevasi would be proud of)
9. 5 metre scrum
10. A quick tap (that ultimately doesn’t go anywhere)
11. A kiss from a loved one at the end of a game
12. Being in touch, but the ref doesn’t see it
13. A cross kick that gets intercepted by the opposition for a try
14. A hug from a loved significant other at the end of the game
15. Shaking hands with the opposition
16. Getting a “you played well” from the opposition and their coach
17. Getting a cheeky Nandos after the game
18. Ending up in spoons and telling stories of a by gone era
19. Ending up in Ministry of Sound after a game (or Bacchus is you’re local to Kingston and Surrey)
The list goes on…
If we be completely honest, returning to normal games (at the grassroots level and above) will not happen until there is an unprecedented step in the world where Covid-19 has been nullified.
Topflight rugby players are pretty much tested every couple of days. At a grassroots level this doesn’t (and probably will not) happen.
People are not going to engage in contact sports with the risk they could get infected and bring that home to their families.
As much as I commend the RFU for their plans. We’re still in some very murky waters with no clear dates to aim for.
One thing to ponder (and discuss amongst yourselves)…..:
• This Autumn Nations Cup tournament finishes in December
• Boris and his Eton crew confirm they have a vaccine to the virus.
• The vaccine is recognised by the WHO and say it is “safe” to be given to the general populous
The question is…. Do you take this vaccine???
The reason why I ask. Is that there are people who do not trust vaccines (especially as new as this one would be) or will wait a significant amount of time until the rest of the “cannon fodder” have reported no adverse symptoms.
How does rugby return (at our level) when some of the population take the vaccine and some don’t? At a very, very amateur level do we now restrict those who cannot prove they have been vaccinated? At this level, most teams are happy to get a bare 15 out. If we now reduce that number what happens then?
As a captain, I’ve had many situations where my 17 players on a Friday… Soon transpires to 13 on Saturday morning. For that number to be reduced even further would be depressing…. I am a bit old school in my mindset. I like having a normal complement on each side. Going down to 12v12, and 11v11 is a necessary evil, but I find it upsetting (Like when Trump see’s half of California burning down, but doesn’t believe in Climate change)
One thing that made me laugh, but also made me ponder, was Luke Cowan Dickie’s try early on at the restart of Premiership Rugby…. I am no stranger to witnessing people throw up the previous night’s Sambuca on the side of the field. But imagine that was to happen to you during an actual game.
I am not sure how much sick got on to the opposition player but imagine that happened to you (especially with what we know about Covid). I’ve seen fights on a rugby field start for less.
In all seriousness, Covid-19 has had an effect on everyone worldwide (let alone sports). Keep safe where you can all. Protect yourselves, protect your family, protect each other
Larry – @Centre13_Larry