Aviva Premiership Round 9: 5 things we learned

1. Is Clive right?
In recent weeks, Sir Clive Woodward has whined nonstop that Danny Cipriani should be England’s starting 10, and he may have a point. Owen Farrell’s form was sketchy at best over the autumn whereas Cipriani has been playing some the kind of rugby that thrust him into the international spotlight a few years ago. He was the best man on the park against Saracens and the week before against Worcester, and if he keeps up this form for the rest of the season, a Six Nations call-up may be heading his way.

2. Wade and Yarde will be missed
Probably the two biggest dangermen in the Premiership are now injured for a lengthy amount of time and nobody is going to miss them more than their clubs. Christian Wade is out for six months with a foot injury, and with Tom Varndell still on the sideline, Wasps may find tries hard to come by over the next few weeks. The same goes for London Irish who have Marland Yarde injured. Irish haven’t won for four rounds and with their most lethal finisher out, it may be another four rounds before their next win.

3. Bottom v Bottom
Worcester Warriors have been dire this season, with precisely zero wins and two losing bonus points to their name, so they will be hoping to start afresh at the weekend when they face Biarritz who are rock bottom in the Top 14. A cold night at Sixways is not something the Frenchmen will be relishing and a win against a once impressive team could give the Worcester players motivation to kick on in the Premiership.

4. Gloucester must look to strengthen
Do Gloucester have the worst pack in the Premiership at the moment? It’s between them and Worcester but Glaws are looking to change all that. They signed Tongan international prop Sila Puafisi last week and they are being heavily linked with superstar Adam Jones. They need to strengthen quickly because they are at the wrong end of the table and Nigel Davies may find himself out of a job before too long.

5. Same old, same old
Is it just me or has the Premiership been a bit boring this year? The league table is pretty much what everyone predicted it would look like – Gloucester’s unanticipated slide aside – and there haven’t been too many exciting games this season. It is all getting just a little predictable and it is easy to see the gulf in class between the top half and the bottom half of the league. Would the introduction of Welsh teams change any of this? Discuss.

By Calum Gillon (@C_Gillon)

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

11 thoughts on “Aviva Premiership Round 9: 5 things we learned

  1. Cipriani is an interesting one. Hell of a talent, he has everything. For ages I’ve said that he can’t come back and be Englands 10, but I am starting to think that I might be wrong. He has been class this season, particularly in his game management.

    There a lot of English 10s putting their hands up at the moment, particularly with Ford also playing well. There are effectively 5 options – Farrell, Flood, Burns, Ford and Cipriani.

    Farrell is still first choice in SLs book. The other four are effectively fighting for a bench spot going into the 6 nations. On current form, Burns is at the bottom of the list. Ford is obviously one that needs looking at, Flood is reliable.

    To be honest, I actually don’t know who I’d pick.

  2. I’d suggest that there is a 6th option that hasn’t been listed. Myler at Saints is playing extremely well at the moment.

  3. Given the liklihood of a Sarries/ Tigers final SL will be mad not to try alternatives in the 6n. If Farrell and Flood are unavailable for the first NZ test and SL has not had a look at Cips amd Ford in the 6n then he only has himself to blame. Hopefully he’ll use the schedule mess up as an opportunity to experiment without damaging egos. Wales aside (who we must beat for psychological reasons ahead of 2015) I’m prepared for Eng to roll the dice this 6n (didn’t really harm us in2012). This really is the last chance to do so before world cup.

  4. Is it a gulf in class or a gulf in budget? Money is dictating a lot of things in the rugby world at the moment; future if the Heineken cup, Wales playing an extra autumn international, player release from the premiership, the list goes on. After last season it looked as if Saracens just had the pick of the players they wanted, recruiting billy v and James Johnston was impressive to say the least. Every team needs that spark of world class talent to score tries and left the team, even Exeter have gone and found a load of firepower now they’re a mainstay in the premiership. Went from a hard working team that are hard to beat, to playing some of the most watchable rugby in the prem with their speed of play with the ball in hand. Newcastle on the other hand have a team where most would struggle to name a player, (bar Clegg formerly of quins and Newcastle and Andy Saul who’s good at being injured) and have only scored an embarrassing three tries all season. Everyone needs some firepower, just think of how blunt South Africa were before la roux came along and habana returned to form.

  5. Oh, and Danny cipriani is comfortably the best ten in the prem at the mo. He’s running the show and he’s not behind a monster pack like farrel, ford, flood. His magic works on the back foot too. He might not have the outrageous confidence of quade cooper yet, but I think he more gan makes up for that with the face he is as fast as a winger on the front foot and has a step to boot. I read an article with the wasps lads when he first appeared as a whipper-snapper and he was apparently the fastest player in the squad. Impressive gas for a fly half.

  6. After Quaid Cooper’s performance I’m beginning to think that the most successful sides have a maverick at 10. Arguably even the ABs were more entertaining and just as good with Carlos Spencer at the helm. Maybe Cipriani’s time has come, he certainly fits the bill in terms of personality and he is very much in the Cooper and Spencer mould of flaky but at times sublime.

    1. Not sure the facts bear that out. In the past 5 world cups the winning fly halves have been Merhtens, Larkham, Wilkinson, Steyn and Carter/Cruden/Donald. None of them mavericks. The All Blacks were entertaining with Spencer at 10 but nothing like the force they are now, and Australia didn’t get close to New Zealand or South Africa this year.

        1. Got me there! Maybe it should be most successful teams with pragmatic 10s, if so Farrell and Myler with Ford in the wings. Sounds boring though.

      1. It was actually Butch James at 10 in the ’07 final and that bloke was the least calm and collected player I’ve ever seen

        1. Fair enough – I’d forgotten. He still was hardly a maverick in the sense of Cooper or Spencer though, and the Boks were at their best with Steyn in 2009

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