So another weekend where much knowledge was imparted. Mainly that...
1 Nobody does it better
This win from an imperious, entirely eminent Munster team might just have been their most impressive of all. Sure there've been miracle matches and Heineken Cup finals win even, but in hammering Sale on Friday night, they put together one of the more complete performances possible at a high level of rugby. Sale weren't mugged or taken by surprise; they simply weren't good enough and were blown away by the ferocity of Munster at the breakdown and the variety and cleverness of their rugby with possession. The first try was wonderfully worked. The second try was rugby at its most intelligent, probing for weakness and keeping the ball until eventually making that incision. One of the great nights at Thomond, and that's saying something.
Read the always readable Gerry Thornley's report here
Watch highlights here
2 There's no way back for Stevie Ireland
Not that Jumpthefence was getting carried away by alleged exclusives in the Daily Star (or pictures of his gran with her thumbs up saying he's coming back!) but I think we can put to bed talk of Ireland's most talented footballer of the moment making any return for now. We'll get back to the Man City star soon (tomorrow hopefully) and talk much more of the Ireland squad as Georgia approach, but today's squad announcement makes a few things clear. Ireland ain't for turning, or he'd be here for this. Andy Reid's possibly in permanent isolation now. We're desperately short in midfield if Liam Miller/ Andy Keogh are involved. We've a lot of guys either not playing or not playing well. Ah, pessismism returns, but we'll see.
3 United made their statement
It wasn't pretty or convincing but it was made. Tevez and Berbatov had been damn poor but pulled a goal from the bag between them when it was needed - don't underplay Giggs' influence either - and that may be the difference. Man Utd had three games to win in a week to go top and they did so. When Liverpool had three home games to pull away before Christmas they drew them all. I've heard the argument that when United scrape a last-minute winner it's called being resilient while when Liverpool do it, it's called lucky, but there's a reason for this. United do it far too often for it to be luck. And they've worked up enough goodwill and championships over the years to earn that kind of respect. When Liverpool win a championship title, they'll be entitled to put late, unconvincing wins down to bravery and strong mentality as well. Until then, there'll be questions. Everton tonight will be interesting, though recent history suggests a Pool win.