GAMEPLANS EXPLAINED: The Matt Banahan Sprint Continuum

The Bath winger, the bloke that just last weekend Austin Healey said should be playing for England, has his unfathomable lack of turn of pace explained by our boffins in the analysis bunker.

International rugby needs this type of variety, surely eh?  Oh…

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RWC warm-up, Cardiff, 2011. Sat with an English friend in a pub next to the ground before the game. He is bemoaning the selection of Banahan on the wing.
“Cheer up!” I tell him, “If you can get him in space, maybe somehow he’ll end up one-on-one against Shane…”
An hour or so later…

The most embarrassing moment in the history of English rugby – the only thing I can think of that comes even close was Carling being carried over the dead ball line, but at least that wasn’t for England

Banahan could have complained that it was a high tackle but I think the shame just overpowered his vocal cords

Actually now I watch the video carefully, he wasn’t “one-on-one”, was he? He was in nearly a quarter-pitch-width of space, possibly closer to the line than Shane was to him. Matt only had to run the short side of a right triangle and fall over, while Shane had to make up the hypotenuse and attempt a tackle. Even a frame-by-frame replay fails to explain how Banahan didn’t score. Not scoring seems by far the more impressive option here.

Whilst Banahan was pretty sh*t when he played for England in the past – has anyone actually watched him for the last couple of seasons at Bath?

He’s been consistently excellent. Not just scoring but offloading, creating, defending, chasing kicks and even putting in some deft grubbers and chips. He was Bath’s best player in their miserable last season. In the narrow away loss to Toulon he was the best player on the pitch.

Sure, he’ll probably never get back in for England but he’d do a good job if he ever did.

I don’t know how slow he isn’t but if Alex Goode can get in the squad at fullback then pace clearly isn’t a prerequisite.

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