What is the point of rules if they are ignored?
NIGEL Davies stood up and said what everyone has been thinking in the wake of the victory over London Irish on Sunday.
As per Aviva Premiership rules, Leicester shouldn’t have been speaking to Freddie Burns and Freddie Burns shouldn’t have been speaking to Leicester before January.
Instead, it seems a deal is already done and Gloucester are resigned to losing their fly-half to the Tigers for next season.
What’s the point of having rules if they are going to be roundly ignored when it comes to the crunch?
This is a Premiership-wide issue, brought to the fore by Leicester’s pursuit of Burns as they lose Toby Flood to France next season.
Up to this point it has been brushed under the carpet, but now Davies has been brave enough to come out and say something the issue must warrant some investigation.
There may be some sour grapes on Gloucester’s part because they look likely to lose a star talent, but setting that aside there is clearly an issue that needs to be addressed and certainly a loophole that needs tightening if agents are allowed to speak on a player’s behalf to avoid breaching the regulations. This sort of ‘you tell him we said this’ approach is more reminiscent of a canned laughter sitcom than a way to conduct recruitment in professional sport.
As for Burns, this season is in danger of doing serious damage to his reputation, both on and off the field.
His form has plummeted in a manner which has clearly damaged Gloucester’s prospects – and he admits this is down to having his head turned by off-the-field matters.
The indication is he wants to leave for the Tigers to better his chances of playing international rugby.
To that, I would say this: He has achieved international recognition playing in the cherry and white of Gloucester.
Once you have been recognised as international quality, it’s up to you to go out and live up to it on the field.
The sort of inconsistency Burns has shown, however you want to explain it, stains his international reputation.
Owen Farrell will always get the nod at international level because of his kicking consistency. Burns has shown it in fits and starts, but never regularly enough to be trusted in the England number 10 shirt.
We needed those wins to ease the pressure
TWO ugly wins over the last two weeks will have given morale around Gloucester a huge boost, as well as the position in the Premiership table.
To back up the hard-fought Worcester victory with success at London Irish was a huge step for Nigel Davies’ men.
It provides clear evidence the players are ready to pull together to drag Gloucester out of the situation they are in.
Once again it was a performance that lacked any kind of fluidity or continuity. Glouc-were outscored three tries to one and the one score they did manage came from cheeky opportunism.
But Billy Twelvetrees and latterly Freddie Burns kicked the kicks and in the end it was just enough to see the Cherry and Whites homes.
London Irish were given a lesson in how important it is to land those conversions and penalties, a lesson Gloucester have been on the receiving end of too many times this season.
It was the much-maligned forwards who won most of those penalties.
They deserved the plaudits as a unit for the last two games. Clearly they have pulled together in the face of adversity and dragged their team over the line.
Whether these wins can be building blocks for some true form remains to be seen, but for the time being trouble is a bit further away.
Saracens will be tough
WHETHER Gloucester will be able to play poorly and win against Saracens this weekend is another case entirely.
You would imagine the Cherry and Whites will have to take their game up several notches to get within range of the Premiership leaders, who have only lost once in the league all season.
But if you think back to the corresponding fixture at Saracens at the start of the season, Gloucester stayed in the game until into the second half despite going down to 14 men so early with Nick Wood’s sending off. It’s time to start showing visiting teams what coming to Kingsholm is all about.
Four teams have beaten Gloucester at home in the league this season, and that simply isn’t good enough.
The wins over Worcester and London Irish have dragged Gloucester clear of trouble, but they can’t be satisfied with just that. It’s time to make a statement for the second half of the season and there is no better way of doing that than getting on over on the league leaders.