Because it seems to be the rules that, if you’re writing about rugby this week, you have to mention Jimmy Gopperth. And we can’t afford the fines for not doing so.
Not that we begrudge the Wasps’ back the attention. When you hoover up two player of the year awards, the Golden Boot for top points scorer and try of the season you’ve had a pretty special time. It’s all the more remarkable when you consider that he’s been shunted around the back line all season, wearing 10, 12, 13 and 15 at various times.
The Champions Cup has hauled the Pro 12 into the 21st century by insisting that from next season only the seven highest ranked teams will qualify for the Cup. Until now there has to have been one representative from Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Only a cynic would note that this decision has been reached in the first season in years when any Scottish team has looked like consistently beating any side based west of the Franco-Italian border…
Lions, Part 1
More injury worries for Warren Gatland, as hooker Ken Owens has gone down with an ankle injury which means he is unlikely to play again before the opening games of the tour. Having elected to only take three hookers, one of whom is the internationally-inexperienced Jamie George, this pretty much condemns the Lions to starting the first Test with Rory Best and his scattergun lineout throwing which may effect some odds at www.bonus.org.uk
Two surprises this week. Irish lock Mike McCarthy has been forced to quit due to an elbow injury, but even more unexpectedly RFU chief Ian Ritchie announced that he was retiring ‘before the start of next season’. Leaving aside the typically ham-fisted, ‘don’t let the right hand know what the left one is doing’ RFU approach to announcing a departure date, we are sure that Ritchie’s experience at the helm of English rugby will make him an ideal man to run a cat-herding startup.
Lions, Part 2
Owens aside, the only real Lions news this week was that Gatland isn’t going to announce in advance who his preferred replacements are. This is a shrewd move, bearing in mind that on the 2013 tour they got to the point of calling up Tom Court merely because he was playing club rugby in Australia at the time. On the other hand, it does mean that he’s going to have Dylan Hartley ringing him up every evening, just ‘on the offchance’ that someone’s been broken.
Speaking of Hartley, who could fail to be tempted by one of the other jobs now going at the RFU, Head of Discipline. How could you resist the chance to throw the book at Hartley, Chris Ashton and all of the favourite miscreants? Here at B&M we’d give the job to anyone who could come up with more creative punishments than a fine and a ban. Making Hartley Wayne Barnes‘ butler for a week, or something. Feel free to submit your own suggestions below and we’ll forward them to whichever poor sod does get the job*!
*With thanks to reader Caroline for spotting the advert