This weekend we saw two episodes of stamping that, although the older generation may disagree, has no place at all in the modern game. Ospreys’ Ian Evans was correctly shown a red card after stamping on Mike McCarthy’s head in a maul on Friday night and on Saturday, Brad Barritt was the recipient of a similar incident in which he was at the wrong end of Nathan White’s boot. Referee Leighton Hodges went to the TMO and even after everyone in the stadium and watching at home agreed that this too was a red, White only received a yellow. Now we don’t like to criticise referees here but more consistency is needed.
2. David Strettle
For some reason, many people don’t agree with the fact that Strettle’s form was deserved of an England call-up for the Six Nations. He is leading try-scorer in the Premiership and he scored a hat-trick in the Heineken Cup, and even though Connacht were poor, this is no mean feat. With England having a host of injuries on the wing, surely Strettle is an experienced back to call upon?
3. Unbeaten Ulster and the Pienaar Show
Ulster go into the quarter-finals of the Heineken as top seeds after a superb victory at Welford Road at the weekend and this was down to one man – Ruan Pienaar. The South African scored all of his side’s 22 points but it was his game management that won the match; his territorial kicking was superb, as was his decision making that left Leicester unable to play. The scrum-half has quite frankly been the best player of the tournament so far.
4. Worcester finally win
It may have been an irrelevant match, but Worcester’s win against Oyonnax and the confidence that the players will get from it is a result in its own. The Warriors hadn’t won a game at Sixways for nearly a year and they are still to record a victory in the Premiership, but Dean Ryan will be hoping that this is the win that can kick-start their campaign. Oyonnax have, after all, beaten Castres, Clermont, Perpignan, Racing and Toulon this season.
5. Irish pain
You have to feel for London Irish. They conceded the least amount of points in their Amlin Challenge Cup Pool, scored the most points and tries, finished with the same amount of Pool points as Stade Francais, yet they still finished second and failed to progress to the quarter-finals. This is because Stade had a better head-to-head record against London Irish so they will now face Harlequins at home. Do the ERC have to look at this rule with the option of changing it?
By Calum Gillon (@C_Gillon)
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images