There was an interesting shot of George Ford, Jonathan Joseph, Owen Farrell and one or two other red-rose luminaries huddled together watching the Saracens-Bath game in north London 10 days ago. Interesting because it reminded the television audience how the very grandest Premiership matches are diminished when played at the wrong point in the season. So will the elite club game in England continue to chuck bricks through its own shop window by staging a top fixture on International weekends, or will it take steps to protect its property?
If Farrell was watching from the stand because he was not fit enough to do anything more energetic, the others were there for Six Nations reasons, having just played for their country against Italy. Back in the time of Noah, they would probably have turned out in both games and drunk themselves silly after each, but top-end professionals can barely countenance two outings in six days, let alone two in 24 hours. While football has the midweek option to help it through a congested fixture list, rugby is in a very different place – and as a result, the Premiership suffers.