The driving maul, friend or foe?: Five talking points from the weekends Premiership action
The rolling maul to me is like a game of chess and once all the pieces are in place, it’s incredibly hard to stop.
The mechanics of how they operate is fascinating and when it’s done right, especially when they have the brute force of a pack such as Leicester or Exeter Chiefs, it can be entertaining to watch if you learn to appreciate the precision and skill that goes into pulling it off.
It’s an integral part of the game, which with many of our league clubs using it effectively, should be a weapon utilised by Eddie Jones and the national side. The more dimensions you have to your game and the more ways you can score tries the better.
It is something very prominent in the Argentina team, who as well as playing breathtaking free-flowing rugby, know how to get the job done up front with their dominant pack.
Ugly, annoying and boring? We’d say no. What do you think?!…
2. Henry Slade’s injury/Exeter’s title chances
The loss of Henry Slade will be a major to the high-flying Chiefs (and England), but they have a squad, built by Rob Baxter, that has strength in depth with the highly-rated Michele Campagnaro now likely to step into the fold to play a more integral role in the centre.
The Italian international, who missed the first few weeks of the season through injury, certainly has the raw talent and perfect attitude to make an impact in the Exeter team in the coming months.
Exeter Chiefs are also without doubt title contenders. There, I’ve said it. Unlikely ones, yes, but they are definitely going to be in the run nevertheless and it is time to stop pretending that they aren’t.
They were unfancied ahead of their trip to the Ricoh this weekend but travelled back to Sandy Park with maximum points nevertheless, displaying a ruthlessness and relentlessness that the other, bigger, more fancied clubs haven’t.
Here are five reasons why we think the Chiefs will definitely finish in the top four: https://www.ruck.co.uk/?p=12690
3. London Irish were simply awful
Although Newcastle Falcons were also thrashed this weekend, it was the Exiles’ poor performance what was particularly saddening to witness.
London Irish, in fairness, have had an extremely tough start and the European break has come just in time for them as confidence looks on the brink of crisis.
They have the quality available to perform much, much better and will be hoping their new signings can at last establish some combinations as they should be already at this stage of the season.
If they can do that, then they should rediscover some form, which will be crucial in the next few weeks with important Premiership games, which includes fellow strugglers Newcastle, to come over the Christmas period.
I doubt Irish will mirror London Welsh’s calamitous campaign last term. They simply have too much in that dressing room.
The relegation battle could be the tightest it’s been for many years.
Comment below with who you think will go down!
4. England Captaincy dragging
You had your little rendezvous with Robshaw, now Eddie Jones, please sort the captaincy as soon as possible. The question has now spanned longer than England’s Rugby World Cup campaign.
No, I do not have the answer to this tricky conundrum but it may, in my opinion, be effective to let Robshaw recapture some pride by leading the side during the Six Nations. The 29-year-old, to be fair, is playing as well as he ever has for Harlequins, turning out some outstanding displays in recent weeks.
This also would also give the Australian head coach more time to make the best judgement on the role somewhere down the line when hopefully some of the younger, more appealing contenders such as Wasps’ Joe Launchbury and Sarries’ uncapped Maro Itoje will hopefully have more caps and significantly more experience in big games on their CVs.
Comment below with your thoughts who should skipper England at the Six Nations?!…
5. Unbeatable Sarries too good
Saracens are the team to beat in Europe, albeit in the early stages of the club rugby season.
The London-based club have become established in the division’s upper echelons over the past few seasons and displayed all that ability, tactical awareness and sheer aggression as they romped past Newcastle for their 11th win in a row in all competitions.
They lead the Aviva Premiership and their Champions Cup pool and have a number of players who appear to be in the process of taking that next step from quality player to total outright superstar.
Sarries to win the Aviva Premiership and the Champions Cup is certainly something I’d not rule out!