Our Premiership expert, Jon Hobbs, spoke to Robbie Russell about his career with Scotland and London Irish, the last round of the Six Nations, his predictions on which teams will make the Guinness Premiership playoffs, and his passion for shoes.
With professional rugby getting more serious than ever, at which stage of your career would you say you had the most fun?
When I first started playing for Scotland in 1999. It was an amazing time for me earning my first cap and playing in a World Cup.
What was the best tour you went on and why?
Australia World Cup 2003. There was just a great atmosphere the whole time.
Are Scotland any better now than they have been for the past 5 years? Will this squad be able to challenge in the 6 nations in the years to come?
I am not sure we are any better than 5 years ago but of course I may be a bit biased! Most definitely the team will be able to challenge the top sides in the Six Nations but unfortunately don’t have the same player base to pull from so it maybe a greater challenge.
How do you rate Martin Johnson’s tenure as England coach so far? What could he have done differently to gain better results?
I think it’s too early to rate his performance so far and don’t think they should go making any major changes. I believe he and his team will get their successes as well.
Who is going to win the championship this weekend?
Wales – I think the Irish will be devastated again.
Who’ll win between Scotland and England?
I think both sides are improving throughout the tournament but home advantage may see England through this one.
Who will be the four teams making the premiership play-offs this season?
London Irish, Harlequins, Leicester and Gloucester
Will London Irish flatter to deceive again or can they get their act together and win it this year? If not then who will win it?
I think for London Irish it really depends on a few key players. If they are fit then I can see them getting to the Guinness Premiership Final but I am not certain if there are enough old heads in the team to win it.
What will become of a Saracens team filled with South Africans? Will the fans stay loyal?
I think a lot of the fans will remain loyal even if it is regrettable for them. This will depend on where they play as well. The fans have already been through so many changes at Sarries that I am sure this one will be no different and they will still have their support next year. It’s more of a concern for some of the players.
Who was the dirtiest player you ever packed down against?
There were a number of cheapshotters out there. I would be taking a cheap shot myself however if I was to name them!
Why can’t the Northern Hemisphere break the South’s stranglehold on the IRB world rankings?
I think the southern hemisphere breeds a different game and this generally comes down to Back play. For most of the season they get to hone their skills in great conditions and that is the difference.
If you could change one rugby law, what would it be?
Bring back rucking.
Have you always had a passion for shoes?
My wife has. I have a greater passion for business and trying to make a success out of something. We started Shudoo and it is really going from strength to strength.
Robbie Russell used to play for Scotland and London Irish at hooker, and since retiring has setup Shudoo – an online designer shoe store