The brutality of semifinals is that no one remembers the loser. However, for Saracens, Wasps, Toulouse and Racing 92 there were many mitigating circumstances…
I feel compelled to reflect on last weekend’s European action simply because the quality of what was on offer reached a new record in my view and also there were some conclusions reached I feel are premature. I know I am biased but the adage of the European Cup being like International rugby played in club jerseys was never truer.
The Double-Header weekends of the Heineken Champions Cup have been one of the season’s highlights so far. The last 16 format created supreme drama and stunning quality between Europe’s top clubs. These formats and dates have been moved around partly through Covid driven necessity and partly in a constant search to improve the competition. I know that personally, having spent many months at that particular negotiating table. You cannot stand still, and with both the domestic leagues and International tournaments rightly seeking to generate more relevance and interest, the world’s premier club competition is doing the same- and to great effect.
Just as we are all ruminating on the right structures to give England rugby success, some fascinating takes have appeared in the press on the England coaching job by Rob Baxter and then Mark McCall.
I said it was complicated and in a whole generation of English rugby, only three groups have ever been really successful and all three had the same characteristics.