Rugby on a rollercoaster of disruption

Jack Walsh of Exeter Chiefs is tackled by Piers O'Conor of Bristol Bears during the Gallagher Premie

Jack Walsh of Exeter Chiefs is tackled by Piers O'Conor of Bristol Bears during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Match between Exeter Chiefs and Bristol Bears at Sandy Park on 9 Jan. Photo: Cameron Geran/PPAUK/Gallagher - Credit: Cameron Geran/PPAUK/Gallagher

It’s been another topsy turvy week in the rugby world. 
Following confirmation that both European club competitions have been suspended due to fears over the new Covid-19 variant, the Premiership has also been put on hold for a fortnight. 
On the face of it, this would appear to be an inconvenience but dig a bit deeper and the ramifications reach to the far corners of the game. 
The last thing the players want, or need, is any further disruption after what has been a nightmare 12 months. 
Routine and momentum are crucial in top-level sport and this latest hiatus will only compound any underlying issues some players will no doubt harbour as a result of the rollercoaster ride they have been on. 
It also creates a huge headache for the international coaches, with both the Six Nations and the Lions tour looming. 
How on earth do you pick your best team when you’ve not had chance to see them in action on a regular basis? 
I don’t envy Eddie Jones or Warren Gatland with their upcoming tournaments. 
The only consolation is that the same applies to the opposition. 
Looking further ahead, any games that are delayed now will have to be played later and that, in turn, will turn up the dial on the pressure cooker teams find themselves in at the moment. 
Despite all this chaos, it’s good to see Bristol making a decent fist of the season so far. 
They spent well, recruited well, managed to hang on to their decent players… a similar story to another Westcountry club that thrived in the Premiership when they won promotion 10 years ago! 
Their style of play reminds me of that early Chiefs team. They chuck the ball around, play an expansive game but, crucially, change their style of play to suit the opposition. 
I know they are our closest rivals but I wish them well. Bristol used to be a powerhouse in the sport and it’s good to see this renaissance. 
Having said that, I wouldn’t want to see Exeter on the wrong side of any more scores in future derby matches. 

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