By all accounts, this has been anything but a good season in English rugby. The way they tell it, you have to feel sorry for all those television experts, former players and rugby correspondents who have each and every Saturday afternoon ruined as the First Division clubs systematically destroy the sport.
Leicester's win at Bath on Saturday - only the fourth there by a visiting side in the history of the league, remember - was roundly rubbished, especially by the grand figure of Norman Hadley on Rugby Special on Sunday afternoon.
The fashionable view seems to be that the English club scene is a desert - devoid of ambition, genuine competition, skill, emerging talent, ideas, facilities or hope for the future. Leicester's win was a disgrace. We will never compete with the Southern hemisphere at this rate, will we? We will never have a game into which television will be eager to pump its millions; never have decent grounds or decent games played upon them this way, will we?
Well, certainly not just yet, but we should not be without hope. Let us begin in the middle - the pitch - where the evidence of a wandering watcher, armed with his satellite dish for home comfort, is that more sides are at least trying to play Jack Rowell's much-vaunted "dynamic" game than at any time in the past five years. In the First Division, only Leicester (whose forwards are too far ahead of their backs), Bristol (who are not very good) and Gloucester (even worse) have seldom tried to set a decent pace. Even West Hartlepool have stuck to their principles, despite their parlous position.
Of the others, Bath have often taken the game to a different level (their first half-hour at Harlequins earlier in the season was simply dazzling, for example), Wasps and Saracens, who have met in two of the faster games of the year, have tried, while Sale have been a constant joy whenever (and it has not been often enough) the cameras have been on them.
Which leads us to Saturday's game at the Rec, and the scathing comments of the experts. Good grief, here are Leicester, desperate to close ground on Bath, with that front row, that man in the second row, and that giant in the back row, playing against the most mobile, flexible side in the league on a pitch where rice would grow happily, and they are expected to fling the ball about. It would not happen in Auckland and it was never going to happen here. …