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Trevor Brennan’s Diary

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    Trevor Brennan’s Diary

    @@@@SPAN style="font-weight: bold;">European Cup Diary:@@@@/SPAN> @@@@SPAN style="font-style: italic;">Toulouse have been crippled by injuries but it's win or bust now says Trevor Brennan@@@@/SPAN>

    Time flies, eh? The last time we played in the Heineken European Cup
    was on the last weekend of October. That was against London Irish and
    we got a good win, but now ourselves and 23 others are back in action
    again. For us it's back to Llanelli's Stradey Park for the third season
    in a row.

    They are playing very well in the Celtic League, second in the
    table but with games in hand. They've big, big performers, like Stephen
    Jones, back from his two-year stint in Clermont Auvergne, and his Wales
    and Lions half-back partner Dwayne Peel. Last season, when they didn't
    have Jones and were already out of contention, we were hard-pressed to
    beat them 49-42.

    A lot has happened to myself personally, and with Toulouse, since
    the end of October. I flew home on November 2nd to see the "Compromise"
    Rules between Ireland and Australia, and Compromise it wasn't. Well, we
    all know what happened, but there were so many off-the-ball incidents,
    you wondered if there was any need for a ball at all.

    From round balls to oval balls. We played Bourgoin on Friday November 10th.

    It was Fred Michalak's first game back after a six week lay-off
    with a knee injury. With so many internationals on Test duty and others
    injured, it was just the lift we needed. He had a fantastic first 40
    minutes, playing like only Fred can, but early in the second half he
    took a late tackle on the bad knee. Bang. Fred is out again for, more
    than likely, the rest of the season.

    His cruciate ligament was operated on a few days later. One minute you're on top of your game, the next you're in No Man's Land.

    I think back to the 2003 World Cup and Freddy was the wonderkid,
    the player of the tournament until the semi-final. I also can't help
    but think of a good friend of mine, William Servat. Dynamic in the
    loose, two years ago he blew onto the scene with Toulouse and France.
    Himself and Pascal Pape were the new French kids on the block. France
    won the 2004 Grand Slam and Will was voted onto a World XV at hooker.

    But then he had trouble with a slipped hernia disc in his neck,
    which he had to have an operation on. This season he's played a couple
    of comeback games for the Espoirs, but because he's over 23 the rules
    prevent him from playing in the front row, so he's been restricted to
    playing in the back row. The only three games he's got with the first
    team were when the international players were away, at home to
    Bourgoin, where he came on as a replacement and scored a try, and at
    home to Brive, when we lost, and away to Albi, when we drew.

    Willy probably won't be in the squad this week, instead playing
    number eight for the Espoirs. That's how fickle it can be. It could
    have been worse. He could be in limbo land. But the one good thing is
    that he signed a four-year contract before his neck problems.

    For the first Test between France and New Zealand the day after our
    win over Bourgoin, Yannick Bru asked a few of us, along with wives and
    girlfriends, over to his house for a party to watch the game. It was
    almost funny watching New Zealand run rings around France, and the
    second Test wasn't much better for France, before they scraped past
    Argentina by a point. The lads merely watched and admitted the All
    Blacks were playing in 'un autre monde' (another world).

    Like ourselves at Toulouse, France have their problems. There were
    a few calls for Bernard Laporte to go, but that won't happen before the
    World Cup.

    But there's also been a lot of stuff written about how the French players are suffering from fatigue and burn-out.

    There's a lot of talk about Ireland over here after their win

    Usual honest good read from Trev, anyone else get the impression his a little downbeat. Reckon the Scarlets have the beating of them on Saturday and a very good chance of topping that group, you can get 9/4 on them winning the pool.
    \"There\'s only 1 Dougie Howlett, only 1 Dougie Howlett, drinking in bars, dancing on cars, walking in a Dougie wonderland!!!\"


      Very downbeat indeed. Amazing those stats about thenumber of games the professional players in France play, and the balance of foreign players in the Championship.



        That`s the best of all his articles. Very honest as always. You get the feeling things aren`t right in the camp or maybe even French rugby in general.

        I met him after the Munster semi final over there a few years back. Top lad.