Martin Crowson's five key points: Murphy the man to cover all bases
Martin Crowson looks back at five key points from the weekend's rugby action.
1 It was like a snippet from the amateur era on Saturday. Tigers' Geordan Murphy began the game at full-back, slotted in for 10 minutes at scrum-half when Ben Youngs was binned and then had 10 minutes as fly-half when George Ford was sent to the cooler. As you would expect from one of the world's most natural footballers, he did a cracking job in all three positions – although he loses marks at scrum-half for not putting the ball into a scrum at the feet of the second rows. Far too straight!
2 Northampton Saints were unlucky to lose again to Saracens on Sunday as Stephen Myler's last-minute penalty hit the woodwork. The defeat took them down to sixth place and they travel to Exeter this weekend. ESPN pundit Austin Healey suggested they should change their coaching staff if they don't win a trophy this season. The heat is on.
3 It will be an interesting week ahead to see if the powers-that-be take any notice of Richard Cockerill's "enough is enough" comments regarding Andrew Small's refereeing on Saturday. I genuinely believe Tigers are victims of their own success. Their wonderful scrum will continue to dominate teams this season. But will any referee have the guts to keep binning or even red-carding members of the opposition pack as Small should have done on Saturday? I doubt it.
4 It was one of the best lines of 2012 for me when Richard Cockerill said that Toulon's mega-rich president Mourad Boudjellal "couldn't afford" to back up his interest in prop Martin Castrogiovanni with a big enough financial offer to tempt him away from Leicester. If, however, the French giants do make a 'silly money' offer for the Italian it will be an interesting call for him and Leicester as to whether or not they accept that bid.
5 Finally, a happy New Year to one and all. It has been a fantastic year to cover Tigers. Those people I work closely with at the club have been their usual brutally honest selves – and I thank them for that. I have travelled the equivalent of London to Singapore covering the team and seen more wins that losses. I know every service station in the country by name and have eaten 43 Zinger Burger Meals at KFC. I have also met some terrific Tigers fans through my Twitter feed. 2013? Bring it on.