Ruck and Maul: May double completes miserable February for falling Saints

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The Independent Online

Northampton's fall from the upper reaches of the Aviva Premiership continued yesterday when they were beaten 18-16 by Gloucester at Franklin's Gardens.

The Saints – without Dylan Hartley, Chris Ashton, Ben Foden and Tom Wood, thanks to England calls – have lost five Premiership matches in a row and are in danger of falling off the play-off pace. The Gloucester wing Jonny May scored two tries in the first half; Greig Tonks scored a try for Northampton in the second. Nicky Robinson kicked two penalties and a conversion for the Cherry and Whites and Stephen Myler kicked three penalties and a conversion for Saints.

In the other early match, London Irish beat Harlequins 15-9 at the Madejski Stadium to join Saints and Quins on 39 points. Chris Malone kicked four penalties for the Exiles and Tom Homer one; Rory Clegg kicked three for Quins.

The buzz is White for Wasps

Could it be that Jake White is finally about to land a full-time role in Britain, as the director of rugby at Wasps?

In the three and a half years since he won the World Cup with South Africa, White has been linked with almost every job going, from coaching Wales and England to the RFU's new post of performance director.

White would have had time to pop in to Twickenham for a look-see during his two recent stints as a coaching consultant with London Irish. The first was for a week leading up to and including the match against Munster in Limerick in January, and the second was in the fortnight covering this month's matches with Newcastle and Gloucester.

Together with offering a few ideas on the playing front, White gave professional development advice to Toby Booth, who before yesterday's meeting with Harlequins had presided over a run of two wins in 12 league and Heineken Cup matches.

Straight-talking Shaun

The shallow slope of decline at Wasps has not passed Shaun Edwards, the head coach, by. "People don't realise we have only made the play-offs once in the last five years," Edwards pointed out after last week's defeat at Leicester.

"In 2008 we won the title and the last time we were in the play-offs before that was 2006." The target for the remainder of the season is Heineken Cup qualification, Edwards said, as his side prepared to host Saracens – who have never won at Adams Park – today. Wasps' troubles are fairly easy to identify.

Since 2008 they have shedded a quality first team's worth of players through retirement, injury or signing for rival clubs; among them Lawrence Dallaglio, Josh Lewsey, Phil Vickery, Raphaël Ibañez, Tom Palmer, James Haskell, Paul Sackey, Danny Cipriani, Fraser Waters, Tom Voyce, Jeremy Staunton, George Skivington, Lachlan Mitchell, Mark Robinson and Dan Leo.

Lolling about on Desert Island

More of the Dallaglio in-yer-face attitude that was occasionally evident at Leicester would do Wasps no harm. The celebrated No 8 related to BBC's Desert Island Discs last Sunday how a defeat would render him uncommunicative for the next three days – "but by the time Saturday came around I'd have convinced myself we were unbeatable. We didn't often lose two in a row, I can tell you".

Music-wise, Big Lol was mostly mellow, choosing 'One Love', 'Champagne Supernova' and 'Where Do You Go To, My Lovely?' among his eight-track castaway playlist.

hughgodwin@yahoo.co.uk

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