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Jeremy Guscott Q&A

Jeremy Guscott
Former England and Lions star Guscott is a BBC rugby union pundit

Former Bath, England and Lions centre Jeremy Guscott is on hand to answer your questions after an exciting penultimate week of the European rugby union season.

Some of the things Jerry discusses this week are:

- Cardiff Blues becoming the first Welsh club to win a European trophy, beating Toulon in the Challenge Cup final

- England suffering an injury scare in the same match as fly-half Jonny Wilkinson is injured

- French aristocrats Toulouse becoming the first side to win the Heineken Cup four times

- England hooker Steve Thompson leaving French side Brive to join Leeds Carnegie

If you have any questions for Jerry, please use the postform on this page. He will answer as many as possible this week, but unfortunately not every question submitted can be used.

After winning the Amlin Cup in the backyard of a French power house, coupled with the arrival of Dan Parks, do you think the Cardiff Blues now have the experience to win the Heineken Cup? Or are they still lacking something?
Owen, Cardiff, Wales

Owen, it was a great result for Cardiff Blues and well deserved. Dan Parks has shown this season with Scotland and the Warriors that he can cut it and produce match-winning performances. The Blues have certainly suffered this season, they have found it hard to replace the experience and understanding that Jason Spice and Nicky Robinson had at half-back.

Cardiff Blue celebrate their Amlin Cup win
Cardiiff Blues celebrate after beating Toulon 28-21 in Marseille

Parks will do a good job at 10 for Cardiff, but he needs a good nine alongside him and Gareth Cooper or Richie Rees will have to step up and deliver. The Blues should have been in the Magners play-offs this season but their performances have been so inconsistent. This, coupled with their inability to pick up try bonus-points or losing bonus-points, probably denied them a play-off spot.

In round three of this year's Heineken Cup the Blues beat the eventual winners, Toulouse. So we know the squad can produce the goods, they just need to do it more consistently. Before saying if they have the ability to win the Heineken Cup, I would like to see if Xavier Rush is staying. If not, who will be replacing him?

Jeremy, after watching this week's Heineken Cup final, to what extent would you agree that cup final rugby is boring for the neutral fan, with both teams intent on making sure that the other team does not score a try, rather than trying to score one themselves?
Teddy, England

Teddy, sometimes finals go the way of Toulouse v Biarritz and they are not the spectacle all us neutrals would like. There is a lot at stake in finals and sometimes a team just has to do what it takes to win. Toulouse believed that even playing within themselves they had the measure of Biarritz, and so it proved. As a neutral I'm not too disappointed, Toulouse can play many ways and are generally one of the more entertaining teams. In general I would not agree that most finals are boring.

Jerry, do you think Jonny Wilkinson's injury could actually be quite a good thing for England? I think it might be, as it will encourage Martin Johnson to select a more dynamic fly-half like Toby Flood, rather than the mechanical JW, and thus we could see a more inventive England side this summer.
Baz, Holidaying in France!

Jonny Wilkinson is helped off the field after getting injured against Cardiff
Jonny Wilkinson is helped off the field after getting injured against Cardiff

Baz, I don't think it would be a good thing for England if Jonny Wilkinson doesn't go on the summer tour. Whilst he's playing well he deserves his place in the squad. Don't forget Wilkinson was only dropped by England for the last game of the Six Nations and Flood is the man in possession of the number 10 shirt. Wilkinson adds a lot more than just playing, his appetite for the game hasn't diminished and he's keen to compete. Team-mates want to be as good as he was. I hope he does recover from his injury and makes the tour.

Jeremy, over the past decade, we have seen the English Premiership boom as players have been brought in from all over the world to play for the best clubs. Is this an approach that European rugby should consider, if only to spread the appeal of rugby union beyond the traditional powerhouses of the game?
Peter Wanyonyi, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Peter, the Premiership has boomed in terms of crowd numbers and we have seen some very good overseas players playing - albeit a bit over the hill sometimes! Has the Premiership been successful in producing very good English-qualified players? That is what needs addressing at the moment. We have seen players from all over the world arrive, not just in England but Wales, Ireland and France. The Heineken Cup has been won by Toulouse, Leinster, Munster and Wasps over the last four seasons, that's a pretty fair representation of the countries involved.

Jerry, sfter The Blues' fantastic win on Sunday, what do you think it will take for the Welsh regions to push on and have a real go at the Heineken Cup?
James Mckay-Mount, UK

James, it takes a big squad that is performing with mental toughness and not carrying too many injuries to win the Heineken Cup. For me, of all the Welsh regions, Ospreys have been the big under-achievers. Given the international quality in their squad they should have at least made a Heineken Cup semi-final over the last few seasons.

Hi Jerry, ahead of this weekend's Premiership final, I was wondering how Leicester can still be so vilified as a boring team when they have scored 60 more points than any other side this season. Surely this indicates that we are now building more on the solid foundations that we've always had?
Matt, England.

Matt, I can only guess it's perception, that neutrals might be judging Leicester against the performances (definitely not results) of Saracens and Bath over the last few weeks leading up to the play-offs. Leicester's performance against Bath was very professional and some have seen and judged that as boring. Leicester have been winners for many seasons now and unfortunately winners get tagged with the boring tag. The stats prove you right Matt, Leicester have more try bonus-points than any other team in the league. The Tigers were also second in tries scored during the regulation season. I don't think Leicester are always boring Matt, just sometimes!

As a 43-year old part-time second rower I can only marvel at the high levels of skill, teamwork and fitness of the players on show last weekend at the London Sevens. How big a part can Sevens play in bringing youngsters on in the game? I'm sure the All Blacks play touch from the age of two! We (England) won the Sevens World Cup in 1993; 10 years later two of those youngsters (Lawrence Dallaglio and Matt Dawson) lifted the 15s World Cup. PS, Did you play it much, as the game was suited to your set of skills?
Andy Watson, England

Australia beat South Africa to win the London Sevens on Sunday
Australia beat South Africa to win the London Sevens at Twickenham on Sunday

Sevens will always play a massive part in attracting people, young or not, to rugby especially with its inclusion in the 2016 & 2020 Olympics. The game is so exciting and these days is very physical. It's not a place for all kinds of players because you are so exposed to space, speed and skill. Players are isolated and under the microscope, there is no hiding place in sevens. I played a bit of sevens in my very early days. It wasn't my thing at that time because I wasn't fit enough to produce run after run like these lads do today. I would have loved the opportunity as a youngster to play in the IRB World Sevens Series.

With Jonny Wilkinson possibly out of the Australia tour, do you see Stephen Myler going? What with Martin Johnson's crazy reluctance to choose the in-form Alex Goode. Also do you not think the inclusion of Shane Geraghty instead of Myler highlights flaws in the selection process? Myler has played the bulk of the rugby at Saints, since the Six Nations.
Josh, England

Josh, I've commented many times during this season's Q&A that selection is so subjective, very rarely are we all going to agree with all of the choices. Myler has played instead of Geraghty at Northampton because it's Jim Mallinder's choice, and it's his job on the line. Remember how well Shane Geraghty played against Munster? That kind of performance got him into the England team for the autumn internationals, but playing at inside centre! If Jonny Wilkinson doesn't go then Myler stands a very good chance of replacing him.

If Jonny Wilkinson is injured for the trip to Australia, who would you start at 10 and would Danny Cipriani get a place in either England squad?
Matt Stenning, England

Matt, in my opinion Flood would start even if Wilkinson was fit and there's zero chance of Cipriani going on any tour.

Jerry, do you think there's a proper future for number 10 in England, or just back-up for Wilkinson? Do they treat younger players as stop-gaps? I think Geraghty would do fine. Also, on Thompson joining Leeds, hopefully he's a positive contribution and not a drain on finances as he has been at Brive.
Tobin, Hong Kong

Steve Thompson in training with England
Thompson formerly played in England with Northampton

Tobin, Toby Flood has won the England number 10 shirt for now but Jonny will still be fighting to regain it. I don't believe stand-off is a position where we have much quality in depth. Look at the 10s going on tour - Flood, Wilkinson and Hodgson - and compare them against the best, Matt Giteau and Dan Carter. Leeds head coach Neil Back knows Thompson very well and will have thought long and hard about bringing him into the set-up at Leeds.

Hi Jeremy, looking at the sides that have really done well this season (Bulls, Toulon, Toulouse), they all have monster packs. How do you see England's pack comparing? Who, in your opinion, are our key forwards?
Charlie Garner, UK

Charlie, England don't yet have a really world-class set of forwards, but they did compete well in their last game against France. England will be relying heavily on the likes of Dan Cole, Simon Shaw, Tom Croft (if Martin Johnson picks him), Nick Easter and Lewis Moody. It's not a terrifying proposition, which means all of the forwards going on tour have a huge opportunity to stake a claim for selection.

With the signing of Steve Thompson, do you think Leeds will try to push for Heineken Cup rugby this coming season?
Phil Wilson, England

Phil, Leeds only just survived relegation and with the signing of Steve Thompson, you are talking about European rugby in 2011-12! I love your optimism, that would be amazing!

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see also
Cardiff Blues 28-21 Toulon
23 May 10 |  Welsh
Wilkinson fit to face Australia
26 May 10 |  Rugby Union
Hooker Thompson agrees Leeds deal
31 May 10 |  Leeds
Biarritz 19-21 Toulouse
22 May 10 |  Rugby Union
Boks replace James with De Jongh
03 Jun 10 |  Welsh
Cardiff Blues v Toulon as it happened
23 May 10 |  Rugby Union
Scarlets hail Blues Heineken help
23 May 10 |  Welsh
France half-back Elissalde quits
22 May 10 |  Rugby Union
Japan reach 2011 World Cup finals
22 May 10 |  Rugby Union
Grove poised for Edinburgh switch
22 May 10 |  Edinburgh
Jeremy Guscott Q&A
20 May 10 |  Rugby Union

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