So the group stage is over and the Rugby World Cup now goes on for another three weeks of knock out rugby. I've loved it and its been great. Well not if you're a hooray Henry in red corduroy trousers and a tweed jacket. Then you're probably still frothing at the mouth over England and banning Alesana Tuilagi for bending his knee when he runs.
But what can Tigers learn from the last month of rugby? What new ideas, or maybe old ones, can we take for this festival of rugby?
1. The Quick Heel
Look I know better people than me insist that it can't be done but the evidence is before our eyes. The quick heel, channel one ball, is back. The Japanese scrum has been a revelation, with Canada also excelling, in getting the ball in and away quickly. This is an invaluable tool when your scrum is under the cosh or you just fancy your chances out wide. Against Samoa the Japanese also showed that a quick heel can be combined with a dominant pack, choosing an 8 man shove near the Samoan line and earning a penalty try.
2. New Zealand do not have a monopoly on quality players
Admittedly hardly a revelation for a club that picked up Dave Lougheed from Canada in 1998. Georgia's props are well known but their centres Sharikadze and Mchedlidze have impressed hugely with lion like defence and clever attacking brains. Both are 22 and play in Pro D2, the division from which we signed Vereniki Goneva. Namibia's Johan Deysel and Renaldo Bothma have caught the eye, whilst Romania's Florin Vlaicu's nerveless kick to win against Canada will have caught the eye of scouts.
3. Error free rugby is possible
In Japan's wins against South Africa and Samoa they only dropped the ball 11 times in total, won all 18 of their scrums and 24 out of 26 of their lineouts. Last year Tigers did win 92% of their own lineouts so we know that can be done but Japan also conceded just 4 penalties in their win against Samoa. You can play without conceding penalties. You can play without errors.
4. Experience is crucial but no guarantee
England showed that nothing can prepare you for the white heat of the battle; South Africa and Tonga picked their oldest and most experienced sides
ever but were beaten by vibrant sides offering something new. Radically
different to each other as Japan and Georgia are they shocked their
opponents with tactics or an intensity their opponents just weren't
expecting. Tigers have experience of winning Premiership titles but little in Europe's later stages. The only starting players remaining from our last European knock win are Marcos Ayerza and Tom Croft whilst Jordan Crane came off the bench. That win was in 2009, or 7 seasons ago. It is time the Youngs bros and Dan Cole tasted European success, do we have the experience necessary or the ability to surprise a team with out tactics or intensity?
5. Match day build up can be improved
One thing that has massively impressed me at the Rugby World Cup games I've been to is the match day presentation team. Basically its having a TV presenter and pundit pitch-side as usual but they are presenting to the crowd in the stadium. They show the history of the two nations involved, highlight players to watch and generally preview the game. At half time they offer a bit of analysis and insight and after the final whistle they interview the captains and the man of the match.
Tigers now have the two big screens and could really use them better. We have a never ending supply of injured players to provide the punditry, or we could turn to a recently retired legend, and there is always highlights and news to share with the crowd. Tigers could show great moments from history on the screen, preview that day's opponents, show highlights from previous weeks, youth team & reserve games or other teams games that weekend.