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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 in the final week of the European rugby union season.

Some of the major topics he analyses are:

- Leicester retaining their Premiership title with a 33-27 win over Saracens in an epic game at Twickenham

- The Ospreys winning the first ever Magners League Grand Final with a 17-12 win in Dublin over Leinster

- England embarking on their Australasia tour with a 35-26 win against the Barbarians

- Exeter reaching the promised land as they beat Bristol 38-16 on aggregate to reach the Premiership for the first time

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.

Jeremy, the Premiership final on Saturday was, for me, one of the best games I have ever seen. What was the best game you played in?
George, UK

George, I played in some very exciting games throughout my career for Bath, England and the Lions.

The second Test for the Lions v South Africa in 1997 stands out because of what was at stake.

We were massive underdogs on that tour, all experts expected us to lose the series 3-0, so to beat the world champions in their backyard was a tremendous achievement for all players and management.

The second Test was exciting because it went down to the wire and we managed to hold on for victory.

Hi Jerry, what did you make of the second leg of the Championship play-off final between Exeter and Bristol? Also, how do you think the Chiefs will do in the Premiership?
Matthew, Exeter

Matthew, Exeter thoroughly deserved their victory and promotion, I have to say with Exeter only leading by three points going into the second leg I thought Bristol would win.

I don't agree with the Championship process for promotion but it is what it is.

Exeter will find it hard to survive in the Premiership but many didn't think they would be there in the first place so this is a massive challenge for the players, management and the club as a whole.

Gareth Steenson has shown his class throughout the Championship and when he needed to kick the important penalties he did. I wish everyone at the club every success because you deserve to be where you are.

Mike Tindall scores
Mike Tindall breaks free to score for England against the Barbarians

Jerry, with the season over and the home nations preparing for the various summer tours, what do you make of each of the sides as they progress towards the World Cup? Which do you believe is in the best shape at this point and how do you rate Wales's chances with the harsh test of New Zealand to come?
Dan, South Wales

Dan, England look very much the unfinished article with many positions not rubber stamped.

Their Test matches against Australia should show Martin Johnson who really can hold their own at the highest international level. At best MJ would hope that players like Ben Youngs, Toby Flood, Dan Cole and other young inexperienced players, together with the experienced players, really step up and perform.

I liked the way Scotland played this season's Six Nations and they were very unlucky to win only one game; their performance deserved more. Argentina will be tough but if they can get some parity up front then I would expect them to come off winners.

Ireland have in my opinion the best players but suffered in the Six Nations after losing against France; their heads went down and they struggled.

During the autumn series they were efficient and very cut-throat in their approach to the games, very Munster/Leinster like.

Ireland need to find more tempo in their game to release the likes of Heaslip, Ferris, O'Driscoll, Kearney and Earls. They have the talent, it just seemed to be harnessed too little for my liking. They should fancy their chances against New Zealand and the Aussies.

Wales also have the talent but but appeared to find creating tries a bit of a problem all season. They have to get over the mental block a lot of teams have when facing the All Blacks. The Kiwis are vulnerable, their Super 14 teams didn't play all that well and the expectation of the Kiwi public is massive, creating pressure. Wales at their best can beat New Zealand.

Jeremy, after England's lacklustre display against a poor Barbarians side (although it was admittedly a weakened England line-up), do you concur with Stephen Jones that England need to win all their other tour matches and all four autumn internationals if they are to challenge for the World Cup next year? Also, in the event of a poor tour showing, do you think the RFU would shake up the current coaching panel so close to a World Cup?
Benjamin, England

Benjamin, at this present time we all know England are unlikely to win the World Cup and the performance against the Barbarians didn't change anyone's opinion.

I thought England did reasonably well in the first half and then struggled in the second half because the Baa-Baas realised they had to play, England thought they had won the game already and stopped playing.

Clearly a very good team would have put the Baa-Baas away by more points but England aren't a very good team.

We all know it would be a miracle if England won all their matches on tour and in the autumn; that just isn't going to happen.

For me the England tour is all about finding out which players are good enough and then giving them a good run in the team. MJ has to get a settled side by the autumn internationals. At the present time not many rugby pundits would give England any chance of winning the World Cup and rightly so.

Hi Jeremy, with Brian O'Driscoll not performing the way he used to, do you think it's time to bring in other centres with more appetite for the game and winning? Is his selection for Ireland based on his reputation?
Akbar, England

Akbar, I think you are way off the mark. BOD is still one of the best centres in world rugby and I believe come the World Cup he will be in good shape and perform as we know he can.

Leicester celebrate their Twickenham success against Saracens

Jeremy, a few weeks ago I asked you if the Ospreys were still the nearly men after beating Munster away, and you replied firmly that they were. Following their victory against last year's Heineken Cup winners, and this year's semi-finalists, in their own backyard, are the Ospreys still nearly men? Or have we managed to get the monkey off our back? Finally, could we justly talk about a good season for domestic rugby in Wales?
Josh, Wales

Josh, the Ospreys have confirmed that they are the best team in the Magners League this season and that is recognised as much as Leicester winning the Premiership in England.

Ospreys have the respect of the Magners League but in terms of Europe, in my opinion, they have underachieved. To be considered a real force in world rugby the Ospreys need to win the Heineken Cup and only then will they have shaken the monkey off their back!

I am a big fan of both James Haskell and Tom Croft and with the World Cup next year I would like to see them both in the same team. Do you think they could play together with Haskell at eight and Croft at six?
Richard Capstick, England

Richard, I see no reason why these two talented players couldn't be in the same team but until Haskell finds the form he showed when playing for Wasps a couple of seasons ago he can't always be guaranteed a place.

As for Croft, MJ needs to speak with Ian McGeechan to find out what made him play so well for the Lions. These two players at their best are a match for any back-row player in the world.

I am currently out in Australia, and getting my fair share of Pommie bashing from my Australian friends. I will be at the ANZ stadium in Sydney on the 19th, how do you think our chances are looking as I can't keep using cricket against them as a comeback!

The Australian Super 14 teams fared pretty well, and their backs are looking in good form, such as Quade Cooper; do you think that the English backs have what it takes to not only tame them in defence, but create and score tries in return? Matt Brown, Horsham

Matt, I've seen little evidence to make me believe we can seriously outplay the Aussie backs so let us hope the England cricket team keep on winning! Seriously, the Aussie backs are world class and their showing during the Super 14 was superb. Everything points to a convincing victory for the Wallabies.

Do you think Johnno has made yet another big selection mistake in overlooking the obvious talents of Paul Sackey?
Jimbo, UK

Jimbo, Sackey has been unlucky with injuries but his showing for the Barbarians on Sunday was enough to make me believe that MJ has possibly made a mistake in not taking him.

Having watched the GP final and the Barbarians match, I would bet Leicester Tigers would have beaten that England side. Since Tigers beat South Africa earlier in the season, are the top club sides now better than the international sides?
Chris Swain, UK

Chris, Leicester are the best English club but, to be fair, I don't think the Tigers would have beaten a full strength Boks team. Leicester against England would be a close-run match if England didn't have the option of including the Tigers players.

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see also
England 35-26 Barbarians
30 May 10 |  Rugby Union
Cockerill hails try hero Hipkiss
29 May 10 |  English
Leicester 33-27 Saracens
29 May 10 |  English
Leinster 12-17 Ospreys
29 May 10 |  Welsh
Bristol 10-29 Exeter
26 May 10 |  English
Hill takes over as Worcester boss
27 May 10 |  Worcester
Banned Richards advised Worcester
27 May 10 |  English
Jeremy Guscott Q&A
25 May 10 |  Rugby Union

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