Chris Bentley: Saracens may be pioneers but I hope we don't lose variety
LOOKING at the result on Saturday, I should really follow the point made last week and quote old man Bentley 'it's a shame about the Titanic' again.
The game is lost, Saracens had the housewarming they wanted and we've a very important task to come with London Welsh visiting Sandy Park this weekend.
However, there are a few points about the North Londoners, their new pitch and their 'hospitality' that have rankled a bit and I feel we do indeed need to look back at the ship at the bottom of the sea!
Copied from the pioneers of professional sports entertainment (American football), Saracens have a completely artificial pitch made of synthetic grass and millions of rubber crumbs.
It takes a stud, needs minimal maintenance and allows for rugby to be played whatever the weather. Sounds like a fantastic concept but I for one can't abide it!
Memories of battling to get out of Hellfire Corner in Redruth, adapting to the slope at Bedford and even dealing with the mud pit that was our very own County Ground are all forged in my mind. Rugby needs to be a game of variables. The playing surface must be one of them. If we homogenise the pitches we take some of the heart away from our game.
Some folk don't appreciate 30 men covered in mud wrestling in a five-metre square for 15 minutes on a mid-winter's afternoon, but to me that's as important a skill as a flowing phase that sees a winger gliding down the flank to score.
Rugby is a winter sport and to take away the season's effect on the surface negates an essential facet of our game.
If we all go down the route of Sarries and get artificial pitches, I can see the commercial benefits, fans on the pitch and a surface that can be used 24/7, 365 but why stop there? Why not move the game indoors, or play in the summer? I am all for innovation, but feel this to be an innovation too far.
Continuing on the subject of innovation, I think it is fair to say that, as the current market leaders, Saracens are innovating. A lot of what they do is at the forefront of product rugby. As innovators, they are bound to make a few mistakes and I for one hope that the events of the last few minutes at the Allianz prove to be one of them.
The stunt of the fat lady singing was really in bad taste and underlines a creeping arrogance that seems to exude from the pores of the Saracens squad. I truly hope this was merely a glitch as they continue to push the boundaries of what is deemed acceptable in the eyes of the greater rugby public.
However, I know for a fact what the Chiefs boys will be watching in the weeks leading up to our next fixture with them.
A quick glance at the latest statistics from the Premiership shows we have beaten the most defenders, have the most clean breaks and we are second on metres made and total passes.
You can see that we are evolving into a team that plays total rugby. Unfortunately we aren't quite putting these opportunities to bed and, although the team are going through something of a bad patch at the moment, it's reassuring to see the bulk of the current squad keeping faith and signing on for more.
I tipped Jack Yeandle to make something of an impact when he first ran out for the club and the Crediton tyro has done just that, securing another deal that sees him bolster the club's very impressive hooking stocks.
Additionally, the signing of Dave Lewis is another coup for the club. Having been raised in Devon and been a part of the club's academy side, it's great to see another Chiefsman return home.
However, of arguably greater significance than future Chiefs heroes signing up was the putting of pen to paper by two of the current squad's talismen – Jim Scaysbrook and Tom Johnson. Both of these guys exemplify the fighting spirit of the Chiefs and their signatures are a real coup as they have attracted a lot of interest elsewhere.
The signing of Jonno is of further pertinence as this is a clear signal that he believes the club will allow him the platform to continue his international career, a fact further evidenced by the signature of current under-20s coach Rob Hunter. Alumni of the Northampton Saints, Rob has a sparkling pedigree as a player and coach and will fit nicely into a coaching team with two Robs already in situ!
And finally, for those of you following the quest to line up our Sarah from the office with a date to local hero Luck Mclennan, things didn't work out too well. But, just when you thought all was lost, another suitor has jumped to the rescue and offered to take our very own office angel out on a date.
Hopefully, much like the Chiefs, our Sarah is about to witness something of an upturn!
Until the next time, stay safe, enjoy your rugby and tenete fidem.