I'm happy to say that Cardiff delivered the first shock when we beat Wasps at Loftus Road last Sunday and in Ireland on Wednesday both Harlequins and Leicester had narrow escapes. Quins just managed to avoid defeat against Ulster while the Tigers were under siege for most of their match against Leinster and survived eight missed penalties before winning 27- 10.
Far be it from me to say that the English came into the European Cup fancying their chances a little too much but I think they might have faced this weekend more warily. If they hadn't they should have, what with Wasps losing again at Munster and Pontypridd humbling Bath. A feeling of superiority was probably forgivable after their high-profile, high-scoring start to the Courage League and the hammerings they handed out in the Anglo-Welsh league.
But, as I suggested before our game against Wasps, it can be a different story when teams are at full strength and feeling in a serious mood. If nothing else, Cardiff's venture into the European Cup has proved that there's a bit of fire left in the old dragon country and I suspect Wasps were not quite prepared for our level of commitment.
I was disappointed to hear the London club moaning because their doctor had to be busy with the stitching needle afterwards. That was the result of a hard game and not any nasty intentions on our part. Neither was I impressed when Wasps' captain, Lawrence Dallaglio, criticised the referee for not penalising us more for killing the ball.
I like Lawrence, he is a good player and a tidy bloke but if he is going to be captain of England, as many expect, he is going to have to contend with a far more gruelling time from the Southern Hemisphere countries. And it is no good complaining to newspapers afterwards. He has to deal with the situation at the time and if blasting your way through is not working it is better to change tactics instead of bleating to the referee and the press.
In any case, he could have hardly asked for more penalties. The only difference was that Gareth Rees kicked theirs and I missed ours, otherwise the result wouldn't have been as close.
Friends who saw the game on television were upset because they could read Gareth's lips after I'd had treatment for a shoulder injury. He was indicating to his team-mates that my shoulder was a good place to hit me. But I would do exactly the same.
We played more intensely than Wasps expected but we also played better rugby. We normally like to play a more expansive game but, after all, we were away and decided to keep the ball in front of the forwards. The fact we won with my last minute drop-goal made it look a close game. But we scored three tries to none and if I hadn't been kicking like a prat we would have built up a lead that would have encouraged us to spread the ball.
If anyone had reason to moan last week it was Cardiff. Three days after Wasps we had a rugged game against Munster and yesterday we were at Toulouse. Show me a team who had a tougher week than that.
It was too much for me. I had a rib cartilage knocked out of place against Munster and missed yesterday's match. I think last week is best summed up by a slogan that applied to us all as well as the English - welcome to the real world.Reuse content