Borthwick Threatens Return & Guinness Premiership Thoughts

27 04 2010

Johnson’s Favourite Returns

England's anti hero will soon return

News today comes that Steve Borthwick is nearing a return to domestic club rugby for Saracens. This will enable him to take part in not only the last few games of the season as Sarries push for a Premiership title, but also ensures that he is fit for the Summer tour to Australia with England. Martin Johnson, no doubt, has breathed a huge sigh of relief at this news,r contradicting the reaction of almost the entire English rugby supporting public.

The Compulsive Hooker would never wish ill on anyone, let alone hope that someone gets injured. Yet we can admit to a small thought hoping that perhaps Borthwick’s injury was not healing as quickly as it might, enabling new combinations to be tried out over the Summer. As has been covered ad nauseam, Johnson’s strange¬†predilection for picking underpowered lock combinations is legendary, and when one of these lumbering behemoths is the captain and therefore pretty much undroppable, what hope do we have. We had been dreaming about combinations involving Courtney Lawes, Nick Kennedy, Tom Palmer but sadly the chances of this are very slim indeed now. Look forward to that dynamic duo of Deacon and Borthwick once more…..

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Guinness Premiership Thoughts

Two separate reform ideas are circulating the premiership at the moment, one of which is a potential expansion to 14 clubs from 12, and the abolition of relegation. Both in our opinion are highly flawed ideas, based on incorrect premises.

The standard of the rugby this year in the premiership has not on the whole been as high as it has been in the past. Some of this, it is true, can be put down to the way the games have been refereed up until the final third of the season, yet essentially the innate quality is simply not there. England and English club’s performances in the Six Nations and Heineken Cup only confirm this, demonstrating amply where the real strengths of northern hemisphere rugby lie.

With this in mind, surely spreading this already thinly distributed talent pool is a mistake. It is fair enough to chase higher television revenues with more matches, but if the quality isn’t particularly good, then people will switch off and rather than having taken a step forward, English rugby will have slid backwards. Here at the Compulsive Hooker we are also not convinced that there are two more clubs in England capable of making that step up and challenging, rather than propping up the bottom of this new league.

Which brings us on nicely to relegation. The game at the weekend between Worcester and Leeds, whilst not perhaps being top draw rugby, lacked nothing for tension and meaning. This was of course the basement battle which both sides had to win to avoid relegation back to division 1 and this context gave it everything from a fans point of view. Imagine had that been played in a closed top league system, you have to think that possibly the players and definitely the crowd would not have cared one iota.

There are arguments of course that the current system encourages boring safety first rugby, yet in our opinion a game having meaning is more important than the need to play pretty rugby every time. Perhaps that is the English coming through in us, yet we would rather watch that game which finished 12-10 and meant something, than watch a 42-35 match between two sides placed 11 and 12 in the Super 14.

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