Saturday, 4 December 2010

Strictly Bonkers

I'm not sure what is more idiotic:

- the suggestion by Wasps and Wales coach Shaun Edwards that half a dozen games should be enough for the artist formerly known as Gavin Church to waltz his way back into the Wales team (did you see what I did there?) after what will be an absence from the game of the best part of 2 years; or

- the suggestion by former Wales skipper Michael Owen that Wales should consider selecting the UK's 2nd worst ballroom dancer at number 8.

Rough, tough number 8?
If the first idea is silly (as well as being a slap in the chops for the current members of the Welsh backline), the second is strictly bonkers. Or is it?

Owen's suggestion is based, it seems, on the changing nature of the role of the number 8 which these days requires pace and footballing abilities as well as the more prosaic attributes of forward play.

Owen points to the likes of Pierre Spies and Sergio Parisse as examples of modern number 8s who display these qualities and predicts that that the Number 8 role will become very similar to the loose-forward role in Rugby League where the number 13 often acts as an extra play-maker.

So far the logic is impeccable...I've written before about the role of the number 8 and how about how it has evolved in recent years and it's true that modern number 8s are fast and dynamic - Spies and Parisse are good examples as are Kieran Read and Imanol Harinordiquy.

And then then the argument falls apart...

“If you are asking your No.8 to do so many things that a back normally does, then why not play a back there?" asks Owen.

Because, dear Michael, those footballing skills you so rightly admire in Messrs Spies and Parisse are in addition to, and are no substitute for, the hard-nosed graft required of a number 8 at close quarters. How many backs do you know who would be prepared to put in the type of  brutal shift that Spies did, for instance, last week at Twickenham? Jamie Roberts? Possibly. Henson? Not a chance.

What next? Tell Martin Johnson to pick players with no handling skills in the centres to act as extra forwards?



Anonymous said...

It is an interesting and not all that implausible train of thought. I do believe a big back can graft with the best of them but it is hard to think of Gavin Henson as anything but a stepchild with regard to size with that behemoth Spies. It makes for some thinking and a laudable thought at that. I need some time on that one.

Nursedude said...

You cannot even begin to compare Gavin Church to fast, but physical 8 man like Parisse or Pierre Spies.

It seems as likely as the FIFA World Cup being played in Qatar...oh, wait..I'll come up with a better comparison.

Anonymous said...

If Pierre Spies, a former wing, can play eight for South Africa, as , as an example, and SBW at flanker as well as Andy Farrell in similar roles. well, nothing is impossible. Luke Watson at just over six foot play at eight amongst a host of others. France's Jauzion and Traille and Rougerie are all 6'4" or better and could quite easily play at eight. The suggestion today of playing Jaimie Roberts of Wales, who is also a big man, at eight isn't too far fetched. If hookers can play wing and locks chip kick then centres at eightman is within reach. Mallett's selection of flanker Bregamasco at scrumhalf could have been a success had he had another opportunity. We will never know. That is the bright side of rugby.Miff

Geoffrey said...

Henson show-pony.