It’s that time of season yet again. Time for us to roll out yet more of the tired old reasons why we can’t beat Wasps at Wycombe. Wrong kind of traffic. Wrong time of month. Dallaglio wasn’t playing. Dallaglio WAS playing etc etc etc.
Well, you can stuff that where the sun don’t shine. Anyone remember April? Go on, remind me of the score. Read the Match Report again. http://www.london-irish.co.uk/viewtopic.php?t=866
Now tell me we cannot beat a full strength Wasps outfit at Wycombe.
Of course we can. But that is a long long way from saying we WILL beat them. You won’t find that kind of arrogant tabloid claptrap on this here website. Oh no, we don’t do forecasts, either way.
It really does depend upon who turns up, on both sides, and again that partly depends on attitude and side-of-bedness, partly on availability for selection, and partly on whether Ian McGeechan, with last week’s loss to Cardiff under his belt, really thinks they can pull one from the fire and not only win but get a bonus point into the bargain.
At present London Irish sit magnificently astride this Group with 5 points, followed by Cardiff with a measly 4 and then Sarries and Wasps with nothing, zilch, de nada. Spare me the ‘A’ level maths computation which says that if Sorries mash Cardiff (some hope) and/or Wasps annihilate Irish, then it’s all to play for in the final game of the rubber, with all teams eligible. That’s not going to happen, is it? Is it?
Were I Brian Smith, I’d be firing fully on my half a cylinder (for that’s about all we have left in our old Austin 7 right now) and telling myself that 10 points from two wins is going to make it hard for anyone to go past us, apart from Cardiff, whom we meet on 1st December, in Cardiff. By that time of course our walking wounded will have had time to recover and get match fit again, Mapusua and Tagicakibau will surely have returned from their South Sea Islands tour unscathed – and we won’t have added any new injuries, will we? Cardiff, on the other hand, will have had ample opportunity to lose their entire first pick 22 to tripping over dead daffodils.
Well, why on earth would anyone want to win this tinpot trophy, based on ancient druidic hatreds? Money, that’s why. The EDF is reckoned to bring in gadzillions more loot per game to the participants than the Heineken Cup or even the GP. It is also an entry point into next seasons HC, useful if you face our kiss of death HC pool. I mean how can anyone reckon we’ll beat Toulouse, Llanelli and Ulster. Any one of them once, OK, I grant you, but ALL of them - twice?
Well, anyway, Planet Rugby says “It takes just five matches to win the trophy (EDF) - and for English clubs a place in Europe - but the income generated swells each club's coffers by £600,000 each year. The Guinness Premiership brings in around £1million and the biggest prize of all, the Heineken Cup, just £300,000.” Must be true, then.
So, back to Wasps. How will the cunning McGeechan play it? My money says cunningly. What everyone forgets, as they think they are watching the (temporary and very relative) demise of this former God among clubs, is that the guy is a coaching genius. He is capable of motivating a side composed of pregnant nuns, of getting failures to believe in themselves, of loners to believe in their colleagues and everyone to believe in him. He is also more than capable of devising many a cunning plan to exploit our ‘weaknesses’ although to be fair to the man, I doubt he knows any more than Brian Smith did early doors about the shape and playing plan of our team this weekend!
This planning for the opposition game really is anybody’s this week.
They are a proud lot, those Waspies, too. Forget everything you’ve read or seen. This lot won’t lie down until they are dead, and possibly not even then. Were I a Wasps player I’d be itching to secure my place after a couple of below par performances, or itching to secure the other guy’s place after ditto. Not necessarily with the EDF Cup in mind, but looking ahead to the GP, international selection, the RWC and fame and fortune in the fleshpots of Buckinghamshire.
I am not, I admit it, totally up to speed on the injury situation at Adams Park, but it really doesn’t concern me greatly. What I am saying is that whoever features in black this weekend will give an account of themselves, and if we want to win we’ll need to be up for it, in every sense. As will they.
If we indulge in the lazy, slack, sloppy approach we endured for the first 15 minutes against Saracens we’ll be as many points down before you can say boo. Our tackles need to go in first time; we need to stop the likes of Lewsey and Voyce from charging around in open space, coming off the wing with our failed touch-finders, and we need to police the breakdown like, er, Dallaglio, but please with the volume control turned down. I’d also be after giving some respect to the Wasps front five, of whom we hear so little these days.
If we play to our current best, London Irish can win - and I am a long way from convinced that our current best is anything like our potential best. When we are dealing from a full deck of players, I think one of our opponents is going to get a horrible surprise. Meanwhile look at last weekend’s hospital rota for no comfort at all. http://www.london-irish.co.uk/viewtopic.php?t=1376
Could that moment of mega-performance be now? Why not? The guys left in the frame can all play a bit, when and if they accept that they can. And just like their counterparts at Wasps, there’s a fair few of them going to be wanting to cement their places, or even to earn a place when everyone is available again.
Will Smithy use this fixture to change the shape and profile of our now predictable back row of Roche, Magne and Leguizamon (or is he still going to be away at boot camp with the Argies?) Or will he go the specialist flanker route to block the channel close to the scrum, and even to win some more ball on the deck? Will he slip Mapusua in, while no one is looking and the equally large Erinle is off games? Well, he did it this time last year with Riki Flutey. Do we have any props left? I reckon we have Tonga and Skusey and that’s it unless Hats is faster-healing than he used to be. Will Paicey make a come-back at hooker? Is that what we should read into all the publicity currently surrounding our ‘wee man’?
Whoever plays, for either team, this game is not going to die away in a whimper. For my money it’ll be another belter, well worth even Wasps’ outrageous ticket prices.
Go on, Smithy. Pick him. You know you want to.