It's amazing how just one weekend of Heineken Champions Cup rugby can act as a palate cleanser for the stodge we had to endure in November.
Maybe highlight reels give a false sense of how good the fare was, but I did watch the full 80 in a lot of games last weekend to try and exorcise the sheer awfulness of the Autumn Nations Cup - the European entertainment levels were, I think, as good as I imagined them to be.
There is, I think, the same debate about cricket when you compare one-day internationals to the five-day bores. Why not just play one-day cricket all the time? Why is it that European club rugby is just so much more watchable than the Six Nations or Autumn Nations series?
It is hard to take one week's worth of games in isolation. There were a number of high-scoring games and a few blow outs but the fact is that even the low-scoring games were entertaining - very watchable.
In the aftermath of the autumn series, and while the concussion/dementia debate rages on, there are the usual theories about how to fix the game; the need predicated more on watchability than safety.
The trick is to alter the game but not take away the ethos - that has unfortunately already happened with the slavish obsession of the collision over evasion. Safety and space have to be the reason for change.
It is incredible the amount of people who have suggested to me that World Rugby reduce the number of players per side to 13. That is a great idea if you are missing half your temporal lobe. If you think past which two players you remove, well, then you run into the realms of Article 3, Paragraph 14, Subsection 12 of the laws of unintended consequences.
It is a given that all of the people who want rugby union to reduce the code to 13 players want to keep all seven of their backs. The idea, after all, is that the backs - with a reduction in tacklers on the field - would have more space and therefore score more tries.
It would be silly, say, to get rid of your centres. That would be a long pass from your out-half all the way out to the wing. You have to have seven backs, otherwise it is self-defeating.
That means you have to take two from your forward pack. For me, I would get rid of six and seven straight away. They just kill everything.
You can't take off your hooker because he strikes the ball and throws into the lineout. You need your props to scrummage. You need your second-rows to win kick-offs and lineouts and you need your No.8 to carry and, well, do the work of three at the breakdown.
So, all agreed then that we just get rid of six and seven? That will fix the game and we can all watch high-quality end-to-end rugby and live happily ever after.
The problem here is that coaches won't really accede to the wishes of the people because if you take out six and seven it has significant knock-on effects in every other aspect.
The nature of tight play would change dramatically - six-man scrums, five-man lineouts. The scrum would be unwieldy, there would be no scrum domination, but mercifully that would probably be offset by fewer scrum penalties and fewer scrum collapses. The ball would be in and out in a flash and you would pick a fast-breaking scrum-half because there aren't any wing forwards to tackle him.
What a brilliant concept. Cool your jets, though - if rugby was an all-action running spectacle, what would the coaches do?
I have played rugby since I was eight and even to this day somebody still has to explain to me about the game's certain metaphysical philosophies. I never did quite understand the "give it a lash" concept, even though I was in the squad during that time. Today, nobody has told me what "heads-up" rugby means. I think it means playing what is in front of you - could someone explain what the alternative to that is?
The reality here is that many tries are scored when fast, skilful guys end up with the ball after several phases and they are marked by those who are slower. The fast, skilful guys stand them up, skip by them and score a try.
Now, if I was a coach and I looked at the scrum and realised that it had been de-powered, and further realised that scrum domination was no longer really relevant, I would come to the conclusion that the scrum was just a way of restarting the game. If that was the case, I would just replace one and three with six and seven because scrummaging has become passé, and I would select props who look and play like flankers. What's the point in having larger lads who can't tackle and move quickly in defence?
In a game which allegedly caters for all shapes and sizes, that's the larger guys gone. The lankies? Well, they are just as useless on the line, a 6ft 8in giraffe that will be left in quick sand by a Garry Ringrose type. Can front five forwards pass or run as efficiently as flankers either?
Remember also that there would be no picking or driving or one-out runners. The second-row will not be required for driving or close-in tackling because we are now throwing the ball about. There would also be no mauls or rolling mauls because it would be pointless with so much space available outside.
If I was the coach, the lankies would be dispensed with too. Pick a pair of 6ft 3in blindside wing forwards who can jump. It doesn't matter if they aren't great scrummagers, there will be no meaningful scrum contests.
This would revolutionise the game. Speed it up - no stoppages, no scrum resets, no committee meetings for lineouts.
No lankies or larger lads - no real scrums or lineouts. Why not go and watch Hull KR every weekend? The proposal, in essence, is rugby league plus.
Dropping two players won't solve anything. It is significant that the elite club game can play the brand of rugby that the watching public enjoy and the international game play a brand of rugby that the watching public can only endure.
I have played European and Test rugby and I understand the jump in quality. I understand the heightened levels of pressure, the lack of space and the increase in speed and intensity. It is almost a completely different type of game. Yet there is this slavish devotion to a one-dimensional game to the detriment of everyone, from the watching public to the wishes of the TV people.
Watching Leinster play last week gives a sense of what could be. If Leinster played against Scotland in the Autumn Nations Cup third/fourth place play-off and they had a full-strength side out and were told to play the way they did against Montpellier (who had nine internationals in their team), they would have wiped Scotland off the board. They would put close to 50 on Scotland in an entertaining way.
The reason the Heineken Champions Cup is so popular is because the rugby is so good. It is more than watchable, and for improving the game you don't have to come up with daft suggestions, you just follow what's going on at European level.