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Jeremy Guscott Q&A

Jeremy Guscott (left) and Jonny Wilkinson (right)
Guscott (left) was criticised in Jonny Wilkinson's autobiography

Jeremy Guscott

Former England centre Jeremy Guscott answers your questions after a busy weekend of European action

Among the topics Jerry discusses this week are:

- Jonny Wilkinson's criticism of Jerry in his autobiography

- The importance of Shaun Edwards to Wales

- Can the Pro12 now claim to be the best league in Europe?

- Was Mike Tindall's fine and removal from the England elite squad an over-reaction?

- Is Ireland fly-half Ronan O'Gara over-rated?

If you have any questions for Jeremy, please use the post form on this page. He will answer as many as possible next week, but unfortunately not every question submitted can be used. This week's answers appear below.

How important was it for Wales to re-sign Shaun Edwards as part of their coaching set-up and how big a loss is that for England? Also, would you say that the continued chaos at the Rugby Football Union is to blame for missing out on the opportunity to sign such a quality coach?
Alec Jones, Wales

It was very important for Wales to re-sign Edwards: the whole coaching team has gone through a lot together and it would appear they have their team in the best possible place right now. Listening to some players speaking about Edwards you would have to say he has been a big contributor during the squad's journey over the last four years.

I really don't think the uncertainty that hangs around the RFU had anything to do with Edwards's decision to remain with Wales. Looking at the talent in the Welsh squad the only better jobs going at the moment would be coaching Australia or New Zealand.

Do the results at the weekend show that the Pro12 league is at least on a par with the Premiership, if not higher?
Dave, Scotland

A good weekend for all the Celtic teams in the Heineken Cup. On the back of this weekend's performances, which do you think is the strongest league in Europe at the moment?
Sandy M, Scotland

Rugby is a results-based business/sport and last weekend the Celtic nations did much better than the Premiership sides, just as Wales and Ireland performed better than England during the Rugby World Cup. I would say currently the Pro12 league has better players because if a Lions squad were selected now, the majority would come from that league.

It's still debatable it's the best league in Europe, though. If you took the top four teams from Pro12, the English Premiership and the French Top 14 and had a round-robin tournament, I would think it would be pretty even home and away.

With the three Welsh regions all winning their opening Heineken Cup games, do you think any of them will reach the final?
Joe Sheppard, Wales

The reality is it's too early to predict whether a Welsh region will make the final, there's such a long way to go. At the moment it looks as though the confidence of the players in the national team has flowed into the regions and that's great for Welsh rugby - it's about time the Welsh regions performed in the Heineken Cup.

Has Mike Tindall been made a scapegoat for the England management in terms of our poor performance at the Rugby World Cup? Surely it's no coincidence that the players who are seen as the future of England rugby who were involved in incidents weren't reprimanded as severely?
Anthony, England

Mike Tindall
Tindall was fined 25,000 and removed from England's elite player squad

It would appear to me that there is more to Tindall's disciplinary action than we have been privy to, but without knowing all the details the fine seems to be disproportionate and unfair.

Now that Tindall is out of the elite squad, who do you think will replace him? Does this pave the way for a Tuilagi/Banahan combination or would you like to see a youngster such as Henry Trinder or Owen Farrell given the nod?
Andy Goldsmith, England

England's centre partnership over the last few seasons has been a dilemma, although in Tuilagi it looks as though they have at least one player nailed-on - whether he's 12 or 13 will depend on who else is selected. Farrell is certainly an option at 12, although if he was a little quicker I'd be more confident. Banahan and Tuilagi would certainly be a powerful combination but with little creativity, which would make the backline pretty predictable.

Apart from Tuilagi the real problem is that we have not seen a centre dominate the Premiership midfield in such a way that he should be nailed-on for England. The choice of centre to partner Tuilagi will be down to which other centre from quite a few plays the best between now and selection time.

Is there a double-standard when it comes to Danny Cipriani? Martin Johnson spoke about discipline and avoiding showbiz stuff, but Ben Foden is with a pop star and players messed around in nightclubs during the World Cup. Surely it is just personal between Johnno and DC?
Geoff, England

Cipriani made the choice to leave and ply his trade in Australia. Had he stayed and played well then there is little doubt he would be in the frame right now. The questions surrounding Cipriani aren't all about his ability or potential to play rugby, they're more about him as a person.

The reality was that when he left he wasn't the best fly-half out there - he thought he was and felt victimised for whatever reason. He felt as though he was wasting his time here and needed to go somewhere he felt he would be appreciated. Has it worked out for him in Australia? From where I'm sat it all still looks a bit wobbly.

Ronan O'Gara gets to me. He is an OK player in my eyes. Do you think he'd be given the credit he's given without the immense pack he ALWAYS has in front of him?!
Luke Davies, England

Ronan O'Gara
Fly-half Ronan O'Gara made his Ireland debut against Scotland in 2000

That's not a very fair appraisal of O'Gara - that's like saying would toast taste the same without butter. It's not O'Gara's fault he plays for Munster, who happen to have a very good pack. O'Gara has proved himself time and time again. Yes, he has had the odd shocker, but who hasn't? He's very consistent - and what 10 wouldn't struggle behind a poor pack?

Once again a dodgy display by a referee has cost the dominant team the win, in this case Northampton against Munster. A similar thing happened in the World Cup final. Do you feel that the refs need more support whilst refereeing in such important games? I'm trying to be as polite as possible, but the display by Nigel Owens was shocking.
Tim Jaynes, England

I find the apparently arbitrary decision-making at key points in vital games is ruining my appreciation of the highest levels of rugby. This is especially so with the scrum which I consider an absolutely key part of the game. I suggest that one approach would be to have special prop jerseys, designed to facilitate opposing props binding on each other.
George Mathewson, Scotland

Yes, I agree it's about time prop shirts had something for the opposition prop to bind on to. This wouldn't eradicate all the scrum problems we have in the game but would help a great deal. As for refs, no matter what they did there would always be someone somewhere not agreeing with every decision made, me included.

I don't believe the refs need that much more support. Maybe the decision to use the television match official on the grounding of the ball when a try is scored could be broadened to the last phase leading to that score, but would everyone be happy? What if there was a knock-on in the last but one phase… where do we start and finish? The refs don't get it right all the time, that's impossible, but overall I think they do a good job.

In Jonny Wilkinson's autobiography he speaks about how unhelpful you were when he first broke into the England squad. Do you look back and regret this?
Nick McLellan, England

What do you make of the fact that the most calm, friendly and down-to-earth sports star in the world feels necessary to comment on your poor behaviour twice in his autobiography?
Stephen Roberts, UK

I don't believe it was poor behaviour on my part at the time and have no regrets. Individuals react in different ways to what is said to them by whoever it might be in whatever situation. In reply to JW, I would say back then he was a little too sensitive - as far as I remember, no-one else mentioned it at the time or has mentioned it since.

Follow Jerry on Twitter: @JeremyGuscott

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see also
Wales confirm Edwards signs deal
16 Nov 11 |  Welsh
Glasgow Warriors 26-21 Bath
14 Nov 11 |  Rugby Union
Toulouse 21-17 Gloucester
14 Nov 11 |  Rugby Union
Munster 23-21 Northampton
13 Nov 11 |  Rugby Union
Ulster 16-11 Clermont Auvergne
15 Nov 11 |  Ulster
Scarlets 31-23 Castres
13 Nov 11 |  Welsh
London Irish 19-20 Edinburgh
12 Nov 11 |  Rugby Union
Montpellier 16-16 Leinster
12 Nov 11 |  Leinster
Ospreys 28-21 Biarritz
13 Nov 11 |  Rugby Union
Aironi 12-28 Leicester
12 Nov 11 |  Rugby Union
Harlequins 25-17 Connacht
12 Nov 11 |  Rugby Union
Racing Metro 20-26 Cardiff Blues
12 Nov 11 |  Cardiff Blues
Tindall to appeal over RFU fine
12 Nov 11 |  Rugby Union

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