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Leinster form a boost for Joe Schmidt while Eddie Jones is left to ponder the same problems


Schmidt: Plenty reasons to smileball

Schmidt: Plenty reasons to smileball

Schmidt: Plenty reasons to smileball

European cup rugby is back and though the first round was not scintillating, it was, as always, full of incident and drama.

What you can read into the fortunes of the respective domestic leagues and, by extension, the portents for the respective countries in the November internationals is open to debate, but here goes.

It was not a great weekend for the England Premiership, apart from the beacon that is Saracens and a notable win for Newcastle Falcons over in Toulon.

I suppose we must mention Bath and the unfortunate Freddie Burns. Like the Chris Ashton splash, showboating before you actually score the try is always a risk.

There is plenty of time to do it after you have touched down, if you need to do it at all. At the risk of sounding like an old git, the trend towards more elaborate celebration, especially those with advanced choreography, is getting tedious.

All we need now is for players to remove their shirts and swing them overhead, as they prance down the touchline, for the descent into chavish excess to be complete.

Nobody needed to tell Burns that he had let his team and club down; he knew. If nothing else, it was a perfect demonstration for watching kids that hubris is not desirable.

As an aside, at least Burns had the courage to commit to running the ball and making the break after he had just missed a kick from in front of the posts.

In truth, Bath did well against a Toulouse team who are shadows of their former imperiousness and a victory would have been no more than they deserved.

Gloucester saw out a win that might have eluded them even last season and to beat Castres, a team of comparable standing, is not to be rubbished, especially as it was achieved in awful conditions.

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Many said that the game was affected by poor officiating, but to make this comment it would help if the critics actually knew the relevant laws.

To call a referee rubbish when you do not appear to know what constitutes a ruck and when a player is or is not bound is equally poor, especially as the simple way to rectify ignorance is to read the law book.

Meanwhile, Leinster continued their quest for European hegemony and when you look at the depth of their squad, you see why some people are suggesting they could comfortably compete in the Six Nations in their own right.

Their demolition of Wasps was as impressive as it was certain and it was achieved in style.

More worryingly for the other protagonists was the fact that they appeared to have another couple of gears available, too.

Central contracts could work against them as a province, but such is the care exercised by them and Ireland that their top players are given every chance to maximise their performances.

Whilst they are not certainties to reach the European final, anyone who beats them will be.

The accuracy and precision with which they approach every facet of the game extends not just to the breakdown and in attack, it is in their kicking and chasing game and in the discipline with which their runners get into the right support lines.

You could make a slightly weaker, but still arguable, case to say that Saracens could achieve as much as an England XV at the moment.

Their clash with the leading Scottish team, Glasgow Warriors, saw the leaders of the Premiership face off against a team leading their conference in the PRO14.

Both sides went into this game having scored tries with alacrity, but it was the defence of Saracens that saw then come out on top.

The development of their defensive systems has taken many years to perfect, but they are now ingrained to a point that borders on instinctive.

The form of Leinster and Saracens make them the teams to beat and Joe Schmidt will be happy that the players who form the nucleus of his Ireland team are fit and on form.

For Eddie Jones, the England head coach, the problems remain the same - will his leading players be fit and can he inculcate the discipline and sodality shown by the country's leading team? (© The Daily Telegraph, London)

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