Rugby

Neil Francis Targets Teddy Thomas' "Hair" & "Name" In Baffling Attack

Neil Francis Targets Teddy Thomas' "Hair" & "Name" In Baffling Attack

Prior to Johnny Sexton's late match-winning drop goal in Paris two weeks ago, Ireland's opening Six Nations tie had appeared to have been settled by France's Teddy Thomas.

Receiving the ball on the half-way line with ten minutes remaining, Thomas bolted toward the Irish try line without ever looking like he could possibly be stopped. Safe in the knowledge that Sexton's drop goal will arrive thereafter, you can watch that moment again here.

A week later against Scotland, Thomas brought his try total to three for the tournament; although France again found themselves on the losing side.

What followed was an ill-advised run in with the law; Thomas one amongst a number of French internationals who proceeded to take to the Edinburgh streets that night and now may play no part in France's remaining three Six Nations games.

Writing in the Sunday Independent today, it is players like Teddy Thomas that Neil Francis believes rugby could do without:

Thomas's first score against Scotland last week was a beauty. ... The problem with Teddy is that he gave one up again almost immediately.

How can you trust a man who wears a bun in his hair and has a name reminiscent of a 1930s tap dancer from a Hollywood musical to defend your line?

Why is it that when seeking to criticise the performances of certain young athletes, particular analysts will so often target these aspects of their wider personality?

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Does Francis believe that how Teddy Thomas wears his hair, or, more speculative still, what he was named, really reveals anything of how effective the Racing winger is as a player?

In reality, Francis' fairly accurate perception of Thomas' unquestioned shortcomings as a player cannot be just that if he is willing to question the person behind the player.

So, what problem does Francis truly have with Teddy Thomas?

Not immune to saying and writing things that he later comes to regret, Francis' criticism of Thomas is strikingly similar to the means and motive Francis reduced Simon Zebo's decision to join Thomas at Racing 92 to:

If money comforts you, fair enough.

It was interesting that Zebo never mentioned that he was joining his new club in the hope of winning European Cups or the Top 14 title. A financial tipping point had been reached and that was enough.

There are a few ways to examine this.

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You could take it for granted that in joining a side that had claimed the Top 14 in 2016 whilst concurrently reaching the Champions Cup final Zebo's professional ambition was plain to see.

While Zebo's discussion on the matter generally revolved around fulfilling an ambition to play abroad, and, as Francis alludes to, the huge jump in pay, the Munster man's own take on events changes the emphasis somewhat:

I have always noted the draw to play abroad one day, and in not taking this decision lightly I have decided on what's best for my family.

With my partner and two young children, Jacob and Sofia, we are planning for our future and this is the right time for us to make the move.

For Francis though, players like Thomas and, to a lesser extent, Zebo, are dispensable. With their interests apparently veering too far from the rugby pitch, it is perhaps best to leave the final word with a man who knows both figures personally and professionally.

Speaking on Second Captains last week, former Munster man and current Racing 92 man Donnacha Ryan spoke of the accusation of indifference from some of those on the losing side for France against Ireland:

Teddy himself is Zebo-esque, he's very happy and very personable, and when the whistle is gone, the world keep spinning.

Why is it that Francis has such a problem with this?

See Also: James Lowe Proves Himself To Be As Entertaining Off The Pitch As He Is On It

Arthur James O'Dea

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