So much to concern us both on and off the pitch
IF THIS were football there would be some serious buying being considered.
Gloucester's front-five cannot support the game, whatever the plan.
You can be the cleverest coach in the universe, but you will be hard-pushed to gain success if your side is beat- en up in the forward exchanges.
There may be the odd miracle, but they tend not to occur in the real-life, unforgiving physical and confrontational world of Premiership rugby. It is going to be a long season: sides will start off by having a real go up front – and, on current form and information, they will probably succeed.
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The Heineken Cup start this week has had an edge of lustre removed.
The distinct buzz of expectation is not quite the same, thanks to the political wrangling and also Glouc- ester's desperate performance at Kingsholm against Exeter Chiefs.
Both leave far too many unanswered questions on the field and in boardrooms.
Gloucester were awful against Exeter, the committed visitors battering the home pack into oblivion.
Defence at best porous, handling imprecise – the score could have been far worse in already an embarrassment on home soil.
The Heineken shenanigans hold no obvious resolution.
English and French club bodies remain adamant they will break away next year.
ERC boss Derek McGrath is hopeful negotiations can continue, but don't bet on it.
PRL chief executive Mark McCafferty is adamant they will be out of the Heineken and into their own brew.
There has to be a degree of sympathy for the Anglo- French position as they do have a harder route by which to qualify than the rest in the competition.
But would we hear such bleating from, say, the USA sprinters if they asked for preferential treatment at the Olympics or World Championships because their own qualifying process is so brutally hard?
If you are from what most agree are the two top league structures, strut your stuff and annihilate the rest of the minnows when the Heineken comes along.
But it is not really like that and, Ireland especially, some of those from 'easier' leagues punch well above their weight when they come up against their 'betters'.
There is much that is being left unsaid about money.
The English and French purport a moral crusade when they are probably just after more loot.
But let there be a word of warning to the English politicos: be very careful about a total treaty of chumminess with a national body that many have never dealt with before.