A Tale of Two Budgets?
October 19 2018
For the try-soaked London Irish fans it was the best of times. But for the few brave Yorkies at the Madstad it was the worst of times, when their team was pretty much dismantled in every facet of the game by an impressive Irish team displaying a ruthlessness that was seldom evident in our last visit to the Championship two seasons ago.
Four first half tries gave LI a comfortable 31-0 lead at half time, and in the second half a gluttonous Irish side rattled up an astonishing 8 further tries, to leave a final score of London Irish 72 Yorkshire Carnegie 5.
A posting on the Yorks MB earlier this week stated that their playing budget for this season was £1M. At a guess the LI playing budget is going to be at least £3m, and probably quite some more. It would be easy to simply conclude that this massive disparity explains this lop-sided result, and that if/when we get promoted we will suffer similarly against the better-resourced squad of the other 11 GP teams.
However, I think that were enough encouraging signs from yesterday to believe that we may be in the process of building a squad far more capable of standing up for itself next season, despite likely budget imbalances.
For starters we now seem to have a number of destructive ball-carriers in the pack, which was one of the most glaring problems from last season. As well as Matt Rogerson and Capt. Josh, Big Barney Maddison impressed yesterday with some great charges, and it was also fantastic to see Danny H-A back in action and looking full of aggression. Olly Hoskins celebrated his 50th LI cap with a hat-trick and also featured strongly in the loose.
OK, maybe the Yorkie’s defence was not up to much, but they did continue to dog it out bravely, and it was all so much more dynamic from LI than for the last 3 seasons.
Another promising sign was the better and more incisive play of the backs – Ben Meehan was a livewire as an emergency at fly-half (did anyone see Smyler getting injured in the warm-ups?), although it’s clear that if he is to play at 10 in important games we need a proper kicker on the pitch. Tom Parton continued to show skill and pace at 15 – he really does look the real deal.
I also thought Brendan Macken had an outstanding game at 13 - he looked quick and powerful and made some great breaks, and the backs appeared to be really gelling as a unit. A few times early in the second half especially however I felt that the ball should have been released to them sooner, rather than going for the repeated pick-and-drives - both Ben Loader and Topsy being under-used considering the comfortable score line at the time.
So, plenty of encouragement. And with a number of our top players still to feature eg. Nalaga, Bell, Coman and Gilsenan, we can surely hope for more results like this over the coming weeks.
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