Great Chance To Qualify

Great Chance To Qualify

It was good to be back out there on the pitch in a winning effort last weekend after struggling to shake an illness over the New Year period.

We had a cracking crowd of nearly 12,000 at The Rec for our 46-14 win over Northampton last Saturday.

It was also a win that kept us at the top of Pool 1 in the LV= Cup and given us a great chance of qualifying for the semi-finals.

The nature of the Anglo-Welsh competition means that you can find yourself in a final very quickly if you have a good run in the pool and that brings the chance to land not only a trophy but to secure a place in the Heineken Cup for next season.

I have some very fond memories of that competition.

Back in 2007, while at Leicester under Pat Howard, I started the Anglo-Welsh final at Twickenham in one of the most amazing games of rugby I have ever played in.

There were some great players on that turf on one of the hottest April days I have ever known.

We had Daryl Gibson, Harry Ellis and Shane Jennings in our side. The Ospreys had the likes of Shane Williams, Lee Byrne and Justin Marshall.

Everything went right for us in the first half. Lock Ben Kay ran in untouched from 25 metres – although he always claimed it from 50. We even ran in an ambitious score that we practised from a cross-kick. Our wingers Alesana Tuilagi and Tom Varndell were in red-hot form too and Tom Croft really announced his presence on the big stage with a superb performance.

We led 28-9 at the break – but still could have lost it. The Ospreys found their range in the second half and one more try would have seen them sneak past us.

But we hung on for the win and Leicester lifted its first trophy since 2002.

The feeling of getting that monkey off of our backs was tremendous but we couldn’t really celebrate because it was the year we went on to win the Premiership too and we still had some huge games to come.

We had a few beers on the bus back but, as far as title wins go, it was about as low key as you could get.

As luck would have it, our first chance to celebrate that, or the Premiership win came at the end of the season – when we had just lost to Wasps in the Heineken Cup final going for a treble – and, funnily enough, we didn’t celebrate then either.


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