Guinness Premiership final: certainly the end of one career, but could it be the end of another?


The climax of the Guinness Premiership takes place this weekend, with a familiar showdown between Wasps and Leicester at Twickenham.

Lawrence Dallaglio will be keeping his fingers crossed for the perfect send-off. Capped 85 times by his country and described by Ian McGeechan as “the rock on which the club (Wasps) has been founded, there is no questioning Dallaglio’s status as a rugby legend.

His sniping comments following the World Cup in October left a bitter taste in many a mouth, mine included, but future events have seemed to prove that they were probably true. Now he faces one last hurdle before ending his career at 36.

Leicester Tigers will obviously be looking to spoil the party, in a rematch of last year’s Heineken Cup final when Wasps won as underdogs. The Tigers fill that role this time however, having crept into the final thanks to two narrow-margin victories – a stark contrast to Wasps’ steady march to the top of the table since Christmas.

The other interesting backdrop to the game is the story of Leicester coach, Marcelo Loffreda – he’s desperate for a win to hold onto his job, just a short while after leading Argentina to an unlikely World Cup semi-final. His forwards coach Richard Cockerill had written off Leicester’s chances, but now the players will do everything they can to keep the head man in the job.

Wasps may miss Danny Cipriani, this season’s form player, especially given that back-up fly-half Dave Walder is also injured. Riki Flutey may have to line up against the experience of Andy Goode, whose last-minute dropped goal put the Tigers into the final.

Goode has been involved with five successful Premiership campaigns, and he is still only 28. His England career stuttered slightly following the demise of Andy Robinson, but his club credentials are pretty impressive. His kicking game will be key on Saturday, and tight games like this will inevitably be decided by only a few points.

It is certain to be a thriller, two of the oldest foes going toe-to-toe. Loffreda will be desperate to keep his career going, whilst Dallaglio will want to end his own on the highest note. Make sure you are watching.

3 thoughts on “Guinness Premiership final: certainly the end of one career, but could it be the end of another?

  1. Like King Martin Johnson, I have a feeling that Larry Dallally’s swansong party might be gatecrashed by the Tigers. They’ve scraped through the last couple of rounds with some average play, and with their big-game experience have some game winners. Wasps fans might have noted the ominous barn-storming try from Tuilagi which could show him back to form. There is obviously the massive dilemma of no out-and-out fly-half for wasps. Flutey has been the fulcrum of their back-line and to move him back to 10, although the most probable option, would leave an imbalance. Also, when playing at 10 for London Irish not so long ago, he was often prone to the odd self-implosion. Add to that the fact that Wasps really need to slide Van Gisbergen into the starting line-up to have a goal-kicker and you could see the whole back line re-jigged, with Lewsey moving to wing. That would leave a fallability at the back, especially under the high ball – Goode could happily sit back in the pocket and pound howitzers down all day long.

    Wasps are by far the form team and have played a level of rugby far higher than Leicester have achieved at the latter end of the season, but I can’t help feel that the Tigers will creep up and pounce on the trophy once again.

  2. I agree Justin, this is a potential banana skin for Wasps. If Goode plays well, I think the Tigers will take it. Surprised to see the odds (Wasps 8/11 and Tigers even money – I would make it closer than that). Expect Leicester will use Goode to kick, kick, kick, exploting the potential weaknesses at the back and testing the Wasps often weak line-out. Wasps will have to keep things tight up front and fight for territory, but the Tigers will be up for the fight. May not be the best game we see all year, but definitely the one I am most excited about watching.

  3. Well who can say they honestly saw such a howler of a performance coming from Goode eh?! Very surprising, and that was what made the difference.

    Speaking as a relative neutral (I say relative because I did want Wasps to win and LD to go out in style)I thought it was a good game and from an England point of view it’s great to see Ellis getting back near his best and strong performances from Haskell and Rees. And if only Simon Shaw was 10 years younger eh?

    I should have followed Lol’s example and gone out on a high, but instead this game just made me want to watch more rugby, so on Sunday I watched England v Barbarians. Dear oh dear!

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