Oval Talk has had enough of hearing about how the English game is
being held back because of the wage cap.
A lack of money is just the default answer for why English teams
have done so poorly in the Heineken Cup in the last two years.
But the problem is far deeper than that.
It's not the lack of talent or depth of squad but the style of
play. Would Bath have lost twice to Ulster or would Leicester have beaten Leinster had they had a bigger wage bill to play with?
In Oval Talk's humble opinion rugby is still won on the field and
not in the accountant's office. If Bath and Leicester worked on changing their style they would have
far more success.
Had Leicester focused less on the
breakdown and more on creating space they would have posed more of a threat to
their Irish opponents. You will always get more points from two quick, flowing
moves than 30 recycles of the ball.
Trying to ruck and maul your way the length of half the pitch
before kicking for position is so antiquated no teams are reaping the rewards
of those tactics anymore. It may work in the Premiership but on the highest
stage it just does not pass muster anymore.
Saracens are second in the Premiership having only scored 27 tries.
Not exactly what you call dynamic and when they adopted the same style in the
Heineken Cup they finished at the bottom of their pool.
The most entertaining and tactically superior game on English soil
this season was when the Crusaders played the Sharks at Wembley last month.
Fly-half Dan Carter and Sonny Bill Williams were at their rampaging
best, offloading the ball at tackles with ease and carving through lines.
Premiership teams could learn a lot from Super Rugby. It has its
detractors in the Northern Hemisphere who see the forwards as under-used and
the game as overly dictated by the backs.
However, nobody can argue the fact that the competition
consistently produces players who look completely at home on the international
Admittedly, Northampton have made it
through to this year's Heineken Cup semi-finals but they will be found wanting
when they play Perpignan.
The Saints need more variety as do all of the Premiership teams if
they want to be the elite in Europe once
again. And it will only be done by changing things on the training ground and
not adding a couple of zeros to the budget.