RUCK picks out five talking points from another exhilarating weekend of European Champions Cup action.
1. Bath Rugby back to their best?
The answer honestly is no. Bath showed an abundance of character to defend resolutely, making 162 tackles, while having their talented superstars use their potent attacking skills to do the business at the other end.
In terms of territory and possession Wasps were the more assertive side, especially in the midfield, although that won’t upset the triumphant visitors too much since they headed back to the Rec with the points.
The criticism of George Ford, who kept his cool to slot the winning conversion in overtime as they edged past Wasps 25-23, has been wholly out of order. When a team loses four Premiership games consecutively it has to be something more than one player firing below par. In a team of 15
In a team of 15 men, it is troublesome to rely on just one player although the amount of work the fly-half gets through he certainly tries to drag his team through sticky patches.
Mike Ford, Bath head coach, needs to use this win as a building block back towards them becoming the team they’ve been in the past. A win at home against Wasps in the reverse fixture next week would be a real statement of intent from the black, blue and whites.
Do you think this could be a turning point in Baths season?!…
2.Who laid a claim for an England call?
New England coach Eddie jones recommenced his odyssey this weekend as he continued to travel around various club and grounds to watch what talent he has available for the upcoming Six Nations.
It was an exceptional weekend of rugby with a few English-qualified players in putting impressive performances, specifically Thomas Waldrom, Mitch Lees and George Ford, which perhaps gives Jones a few selection headaches already as the weeks until the six nations kicks off continuing to count down.
I’d not like to be the one to pick between Ford and Farrell at 10 as the pair are without a doubt two of Englands best players at club level on a consistent basis with their creativity and goalkicking making them both stars in their own right.
Despite these glistening individual displays, the England coach nevertheless must maintain his perspective as he doesn’t need players who can impress in Europe; he need players who are competent of competing on the global stage, starting with what will be a testing tour of Australia in the summer of 2016.
Who do you think made a claim for an England call?!…
3.Are Exeter the world most upwardly mobile club
Unarguably the most impressive of all the victories by English clubs over the weekend was that of Exeter Chiefs against the vastly experienced and current Top 14 league-leaders, Clermont in convincing fashion at Sandy Park.
Many people are waiting for the Chiefs to hit the wall and although that could happen, they are for now riding an invcredibly wave of momentum, which looks destined to take them to the top.
With so many young English players in their squad, they are always a club I hope to do well each and every week. Their supporters have every reason to be excited about this team going forward.
4.Saracens serious contenders to win it
Absolutely. Sarries maintained their 100 per cent record in Pool 1 of the Champions Cup with an emphatic 45-10 bonus-point victory over tournament newcomers Oyonnax.
They knew backing up their strong start with another win would put them in firm control of the pool at the halfway stage.
The reigning Premiership champions had only won three of their 10 Champions Cup pool games in France, but they had been victorious in the last two and they proved far too strong for a side sitting bottom of the French Top 14 table.
Saracens ability to play the game different ways is a major strength with them these days winning by better skills, eschewing the temptation, as they have in the past, to simply try and win through greater size and power. All-around they are the English club with the best chance of getting their hands on the trophy.
The Toulon star scored both of his side’s tries in their 24-9 European Champions Cup win over Leinster on Sunday and after the match admitted he hoped to still be in England’s thoughts.
‘I definitely wouldn’t say no,’ said Armitage of his interest in international rugby on Sky Sports 3.
Our opinion: Call him up.