FIVE Things That Won't Happen This Season

Mid-winter break takes them to Zimbabwe

In an ironic twist of fate, Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall smokes 40 Benson & Hedges during a game and gives a clear and concise post-match interview with the voice of an angel. Sarries’ mid-winter break takes them to Zimbabwe, because they have already been to everywhere in South Africa. But they get taken captive by Robert Mugabe’s regime which charges them with single-handedly propping up the South African economy for the last five years. They miss three LV= Games in captivity but still top their pool. They are eventually released when CEO Ed Griffiths hires 100,000 supporters for Mugabe’s next election push and claims they have supported him “all of their lives”.

Pleasant and passive viewer of the game

Leicester Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill is so chastised by spending the opening nine weeks of the season cocooned away from his team on Row 68, seat 75 of the big stand at Welford Road, he decides it is time to change his character once and for all. His successful transformation to a pleasant and passive viewer of the game on his return from an RFU suspension is so all-consuming that he regularly praises officials and opposition coaches in post-match briefings. His press conferences change from soundbyte-laiden, journalistic gold dust to bland and anodyne affairs. He wears a suit on game day and regularly invites fans and media in to watch his team train. Tigers lose their hard-nosed edge as a result and Cockerill is sacked after his team finish third and lose in the semi-finals. The RFU charge him with disrepute for failing to get his side through to Twickenham.

Bath squad move into a down-trodden training base

Frustrated by their lack of progress on the pitch, Bath owner Bruce Craig brings in an entirely new coaching and playing staff in one fell swoop. But the pay-off cost are so astronomical that he is also forced to sell the renovated luxury of their Farleigh House training facility to raise funds for new players. The new Bath squad move into a down-trodden training base on the edge of town which means members of the new squad have to travel over two whole miles to get a latte. Undeterred, the new players find some grit to win big games and even manage to win away from home on the odd occasion. Tee-total Gavin Henson lectures students around the country about the dangers of alcohol. Meanwhile, plans for an expansion of The Rec are given the green light.

The Heineken Cup is safe

The Heineken Cup is safe after all parties get around a negotiating table and reach a quick consensus to their problems in less than an hour. Delegates are stunned at the speed it is achieved in and are forced to spend two days debating the problems in Syria to avoid the truck loads of biscuits and Guinness going to waste.  The French and English clubs apologies to the Celtic sides and admit they have been holding them to ransom and give them huge wads of cash from a lucrative TV deal achieved when BT Sport and Sky have an unexpected love-in and decide to go into partnership. In return, the Celtic sides – led by an all-Irish negotiating team in Dublin – agree that England and France can have 11 teams each in the new-look Heineken Cup - with Munster and Leinster making up the 24.

Mourad Boudjellal walks on the pitch demanding to take the potentially game-winning kick himself

Jonny Wilkinson’s squeaky-clean career comes to a controversial end as he walks out on Toulon before the end of their Top 14 campaign. After watching Wilkinson miss a crucial touchline penalty at home to Clermont, flamboyant owner Mourad Boudjellal walks on the pitch demanding to take the potentially game-winning kick himself a few minutes later. He misses and Toulon lose but Wilkinson’s pride is hurt to such an extent that he criticises Boudjellal in the media while refusing to speak French. He then goes on a drink-laiden rampage after the game. He is seen leaving nightclubs early in the morning looking disheveled, covered in sick and with a different girl on each arm. Danny Cipriani and Gavin Henson both try to cover Wilkinson’s face from the paparazzi but it’s too late. Wilkinson punches a journalist on his way to a taxi. With his move to a media career in tatters, Wilkinson opens a low-key bar on a Greek island and lives the life of a hermit.


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