With so many stand out performances over the weekend, I really didn’t think I’d be sitting down this Monday evening ready to write about an international doping scandal.
No sport is immune from cheating and the use of performance enhancers; but rugby has done well over the past few seasons to remove it from the upper echelons of the game. The South African rugby union has sent a clear message that they will not condone cheating by sending Chiliboy Ralepelle and Bjorn Basson who have both tested positive for an illegal stimulant straight home.
More details will filter through over the next few days and as a rugby community we can only hope that this deception does not spread further throughout the team who are of course, current world champions.
England v. Australia
More comfortable with the neutral tag and delighted by the feast of talent in front of me I was excited at kick off on Saturday. My prediction was for the Aussie backs to be rampant, "James O'Connor will set the stadium alight" I promised. But I was wrong. The gulf between northern and hemisphere rugby that I talked about last week was closed and YOUNG English talent came to the fore.
Chris Ashton's sublime talent is no secret to Northampton fans, after taking the Premiership player of the season for 2009/10 it was inevitable that his try count for England would start to climb imminently and on Saturday he lived up to expectation.
A first half try and second half run in that will go down in Twickenham legend should've been enough to earn the 23 year old the man of the match award.
...but alas a huge performance that ended with injury just before the hour mark landed Tigers scrum half Ben Youngs the end of game bottle of champagne.
England are finally putting faith in the younger players coming through and are reaping rewards for that.
My only criticism of the side though is of Courtney Lawes. The boy is probably one of the biggest second rows in the world at the moment but just doesn't seem to have the confidence to back himself. When the Northampton player finally does realise his strength and capabilities no one will stand in his way.
(Let's hope this doesn't happen before the next 2 rounds of Heineken Cup action when my Blues boys face the Saints in back to back matches!)
Wales v. South Africa
Frequent score updates flew through on the text from my dad whilst I was at work on Saturday. I watched the first half of the England game from the gantry and the second half in the 3D production truck, but the majority of my time was spent with my eyes firmly transfixed on my phone...
It means nothing now when I say it in retrospect, but I had predicted a big performance from double try scorer George North. Wales wingers were starting to look processed, like they'd all come from the same mould; a short, nimble, Shane Williams shaped, mould.
North's tremendous physicality served him well on Saturday, combine that with his great step and natural flair and he really is a prospect for the future... specifically next year's world cup!
The world cup is less than a year away and as a nation we have faith in Gatland that, whilst we're losing matches, he is building for next year's competition. Which begs the question, why is Stephen Jones still our starting stand off when there are so many 10s waiting in the wings.
And is Gatland's decision to persevere with Phillips the right one? There is no denying his abilities but a change at scrum half earlier in the game on Saturday would've made the world of difference. Ben Youngs showed for England last weekend that good, speedy service is key, we have world class backs and quick ball could make all the difference for us.
When you look at Wales as a team there are many top class individuals but unfortunately it's small margins that mean we're losing games.
...and terrible refereeing. I don't want to blame Steve Walsh for Saturday's loss and I don't want to dwell on his negative impact on the match. However it's worth a mention that a vote of no confidence meant he lost his refereeing position in New Zealand and he now works under the flag of Australia. There are many marks on Walsh's record with many arguing he has no place in international rugby, it is unfair that it was a Wales game that was his first game back on the international stage. Let's hope it's his last.
LV= Anglo Welsh Cup
Finally, a quick mention of the LV= cup and with the exception of the Dragons a good weekend for Welsh teams. The Ospreys 8 tries in Bridgend and the Blues draw against a strong Exeter side were great spectacles on Friday night, not to mention the Scarlets victory over London Irish on Sunday.
If the Anglo-Welsh offers nothing else as a competition, the glimpse of the young talent that Wales has to offer was unbelievably exciting. Let's hope these young stars get further chances to shine this season.