Yes, another Six Nations version. To be honest, it’s not been a great week – Joost died, Trump didn’t and one of us lost their internet connection for 72 hours and almost chewed his arm off in frustration – and we couldn’t be arsed to look for news about anything else.
(But at least we’re honest about it)
1. The Cardiff Roof Story
As Eddie Jones put it, you know it’s a slow news week when the issue of whether the stadium roof is closed or not becomes a lead story. But as other coaches like to say, we are where we are, and where we are is that the roof in Cardiff will be open for tomorrow’s game because the English wouldn’t let the Welsh close it.
Frankly, here at B&M we’re on Eddie’s side. In fact, the only time any decent rugby player should have to concern themselves with the words ‘open’ and ‘close’ is when they are being used in the context of the nearest bar. The game’s going to be pretty much 80 minutes of the likes of Brown and Halfpenny hoofing the ball to one another, so at least with the roof open there’s a chance of some moisture to make them slip over once in a while.
2. The Jack Clifford Story
What’s the only thing worse than Dave Grohl? A Dave Grohl impersonator.
What’s the only thing worse than a Dave Grohl impersonator? A bad Dave Grohl impersonator.
On this, Eddie agrees with us, which means that Tom Wood has been banished to the benches of Cardiff and young Jack Clifford will start in his place. Clifford may be inexperienced, but he has three advantages over the man he replaces, being (a) better hair (b) not having a scrofulous beard and (c) not being Tom Wood.
Of course, this means that the experiment with Maro Itoje on the blindside continues, despite him being the only man in international rugby history to be outplayed by Damien Chouly.
3. The Damien Chouly Story
Outplaying Itoje wasn’t enough, as he’s been dropped by Guy Noves. Not literally – you’d have to actually find him to do that – but to the French bench. His replacement is Loann Goujon, who is definitely the first rugby player named after what I’ll be having for dinner tonight.
4. The Ryan Wilson Story
Playing opposite Goujon for Scotland will be John Barclay, who makes it into the XV as Ryan Wilson has an infected elbow. We’re not sure why that amuses us, except that it seems a bit of a lightweight injury compared to hooker Fraser Brown, who will play despite suffering an eye injury last weekend. And by ‘eye injury’ we mean an injury to the actual gooey white bit of his eye.
5. The Sergio Parisse Story
He’s fit. All of Italy can breathe again. Until they realise that Thomasso Allen is still their second choice fly half.
6. The Irish Lineout Story
Ireland’s lineout continued to be rubbish against the Scots, so they’ve recalled Donnacha-cha-cha-cha Ryan to try and add some talent to it. This will, of course, make no difference if they don’t deal with the root cause of the problem, which is that Rory Best has all of the aiming skills of a two year old boy. At the time of writing Best is struggling with a stomach bug and may not be fit to play (James Tracy has been flown to Rome as cover), which may be a blessing in disguise for everyone in the Irish team who isn’t sharing a room with him.
7. The Howley Story
Talupe Faletau fit but on the bench. George North probably out. Both props changed for a game against a team that struggled to win their own ball last weekend. No wonder Rob Howley wanted the roof shut, if he flaps much more he’ll disappear through the open one.