Eddie Jones, who is never short of a word or a couple of thousand, was at it again after his Saracens suffered yet another defeat at Kingsholm. They find it impossible to win there and Jones, as frustrated as hell, says he is finding it increasingly impossible for his team to play a proper game of rugby.
To be fair he has a point, although it is not best made when you've just lost. It was an engrossing game, but nowhere near great, with one try apiece and loads of penalties and it was the area of the breakdown that got the goat of both coaches, Jones and Dean Ryan of Gloucester.
Jones is almost allergic to the new laws, stupidly named the Experimental Law Variations and introduced by the International Rugby Board, and went at it again on Saturday night. "Something is wrong with the rules ... the game is very difficult to referee ... there's so much contest at the breakdown other things are being missed.
"The best side won but there was no rugby played. We have people out there who want to referee but the IRB have made the laws so difficult and the result is that the game is immeasurably worse than it was 12 months ago. The refs have not got worse and neither have the players so what is the one thing missing? The ELVs have stuffed the game."
He wasn't half finished, but steady Eddie, teams are still scoring tries and producing exciting matches. He claimed that his South African scrum-half Neil de Kock was punched. "One touch judge ran on and the other touch judge, who was in front of him, didn't see it. There's something wrong here. We get our half-back punched and there was no sin bin."
Although the ground was semi-frozen, there was a full house and they raised the roof when in the first quarter Ryan Lamb, Mike Tindall, Lesley Vainikolo and finally Olly Morgan combined in an excellent move that resulted in the full-back scoring near the posts. Subsequently, Lamb's kicking from hand was awful and Saracens were able to gain territory, establishing a 16-13 lead at half-time after Jackson cleverly took a tap penalty and kicked to the left corner where Richard Haughton was waiting. Gloucester had their backs turned and didn't have a clue what was happening.
By that stage Vainikolo had gone off on a stretcher with an Achilles injury – he slipped on the ice rink – and Andy Farrell, the Sarries captain, had departed with yet another hand-wrist injury. It all changed in the second half when Barkley stepped up to bang over three penalties and in the process Andy Saull, a replacement in the Saracens back row, got a yellow card.
Jones didn't understand that either. We have to be independent observers, of course, but to be accurate Fast Eddie got fed up explaining the weariness of the new laws and instead told the assembled rat pack to read his column in last Saturday's Independent. "It's all there, mate," he said. As indeed it was. Well, you've got to mention it.
Gloucester: Try Morgan; Conversion Barkley. Penalties Barkley (5). Saracens: Try Haughton. Conversion Jackson. Penalties Jackson (3)
Gloucester: O Morgan; M Watkins, M Tindall (capt), O Barkley, L Vainikolo (M Foster, 30); R Lamb, D Lewis (R Lawson, 56); N Wood, O Azam, C Nieto, A Eustace, A Brown, A Strokosch, L Narraway, A Satala.
Saracens: A Goode; K Ratuvou (N Cato, 46), K Sorrell, A Farrell (capt; A Powell, 16), R Haughton; G Jackson, N de Kock (J Rauluni, 56); M Aguero (N Lloyd, 62), F Ongaro (A Kyriacou, 74), TMercey (C Visagie, 58), H Vyvyan, C Jack, B Skirving,M Owen (A Saull, 47), W van Heerden.
Referee: A Small (London).Reuse content