Sunday, November 28, 2010

Ospreys-19 Leinster-15

leinster ospreys

PIONÓIS

Leinster got the game’s only two actual touchdowns, overall we played the better rugby, but you just can’t give up 19 points of penalties in Swansea and expect a good result.

We even had over twenty minutes at the end to get back into it during which time the Welsh outfit played more like a visiting team clinging on for a win, but sadly it was infringements from our own more senior players (Leo & Jennings both holding on after the tackle & Shaggy forward pass) which held us back.

And having just thrown away an attacking lineout and been awarded a penalty of our own not far outside the Osprey 22, although it was the conventional option to kick for extra territory, I thought we had shown plenty of ability to gain ground across the 80 minutes to avoid risking another poor Harris-Wright dart and go for the scrum to pummel the opposition line to the final whistle.

But it wasn’t to be and I suppose to come out of a such a ridiculously-scheduled fixture with an away bonus point and two tries thanks to Isa magic can be considered a silver lining.

The first was the perfect case of making something out of nothing.  Up the point when he was tragically stretchered off Andrew Conway had continued to show he has star quality for the future and it was his line break which got us down into their 22.  A series of phases which included a very dodgy reverse pass from Boss was rescued by Nacewa’s improbable lob over his own shoulder for Conway to swivel and touch down.

Then in the second half it was Ian Madigan’s turn to impress with a line break and after some phases our super full back chipped a ball through which he was able to scoop up himself, after Conway over-ran it, to touch down in a fashion very similar to BODs score against the All Blacks the week before.

That gave us a 15-12 lead, and normally you could count on the Leinster defence to bring that scoreline home but a combination of senseless penalties and a bizarre series of events led to what turned out to be the final score of the evening.

Ed O’Donoghue got sent to the bin on 56 minutes.  But I contend Jon Lacey only did so in an attempt for consistency having yellowed Duncan Jones for a similar offence early in the first half, that being deliberately lying down on the ball in the ruck.  Both were extremely harsh calls if you ask me.

Then the resulting penalty & phases led to a spear-tackle by Jason Harris-Wright.  Now HE should have gone to the bin, but Lacey seemed to bottle it by claiming not to have seen his number.  So he stayed on the park and the next kick to touch put the Ospreys on our line, the only time they really had the chance to exert such pressure all day. 

Now normally, the referee lets a goal-line defence commit one foul and issues a warning before whipping out the card.  And since we were already down one man, many officials may have even given us a second chance.  But since Lacey had just told Leo Cullen he would card the next transgression, when Ian Madigan fooled around with ruck ball on the deck, he had to go.

After all that, with a scrum on our line and two men down, a try was inevitable. By the way – even as a Leinster fan, I have no complaints about the penalty try itself, or indeed Madigan’s card.  That’s how those sequences are meant to go, and it’s just a shame the refs in the Wales v South Africa and Ireland v New Zealand matches didn’t do likewise under similar conditions.

Overall we couldn’t use the ball when we had it, and on top of that we added to our injury count from the Ireland squad - poor Andrew Conway will probably miss out on a chance to fill the void.

And though there were some impressive showings from the youngsters like O’Malley and Madigan, I continue to be worried about Jason Harris-Wright.  Not his fault like I said last week, Fogarty’s retirement has thrust him into to the fore ahead of schedule, but if we suffer an injury to Richardt Strauss any time soon I fear our chances of silverware will suffer too.

Doesn’t bode well for our chances in Llanelli next week.  I have a feeling the Scarlets will feature a lot more returning internationals than we will, and it will take an extraordinary effort to come out on top.

PS. Pionós is Irish for “Penalties”…Once more, I have to ask: of the three, count em THREE radio stations, NewsTalk, Spin 103.8 & 98FM that are happy to appear on the Leinster rugby site’s sponsor page, could ONE of them manage to provide commentary of our matches?  Nothing against the Gaeilge on TG4 but to have an English-language option would be nice - Munster radio seem to manage it courtesy of Limerick Live95, Connacht manage it courtesy of GalwayBay FM, why can’t we??? If they’re looking for a commentator I’ll do it for a reasonable rate!

  

IRELAND-29 ARGENTINA-9

 

ENDING ON A HIGH

Tony Ward had already given the man of the match award to Jamie Heaslip when D’Arcy chipped through and touched down for his superb series-ending try, but truth be told I thought the inside centre had already earned the accolade before then.

It was impressive outing all round from Ireland on a chilly Dublin Sunday afternoon, albeit against the Argentina A side, given that the A stands for Apathetic. 

The visitors pressured our line in the opening minutes, but only got there thanks to an errant kick out on the full from Jonny Sexton.  Thankfully for the 30,406 who didn’t let the snow deter them, the remainder of the contest saw both the Irish outhalf become flawless and the visitors fail to trouble us.

But even when an opposition doesn’t seem to want to be there, they still have to be put away, and on our first real attacking set-piece, a lineout in their 22 on 19 minutes, we effectively killed the game in clinical fashion.  After Mick O’Driscoll secured possession and we worked a few phases, a neat sequence from Stringer to Sexton to Bowe to Heaslip left Ferris free to crash over.

From then on you could almost see the Heineken Cup thoughts creeping into the minds of all involved.  Ireland seemed happy to focus on defence and did extremely well in the second half to ensure nothing got past.  Maybe if Felipe had remembered to pack his kicking boots things may have gotten closer, but I very much doubt it.

Overall I feel we got ourselves some answers in key areas…

  • In the front row, I think Cian Healy and Tony Buckley have done enough to earn themselves starting roles in the Six Nations.  They stood up to the Argentine front row in a series of early scrums and though the referee’s calls could have gone the other way, they got the job done and each complements our loose crash ball attack well enough to merit being in the XV.
  • At half-back, I felt the Stringer/Sexton passing lane was MARGINALLY out of sync but imagine what they’ll be like when it does eventually click.  For me it’s a no-brainer that these two should start against both Italy and France in February.  And for Sexton’s part, his perfect outing from the tee was capped off with an excellent wallop from halfway.  This was surely the first time he would have been satisfied to give way to O’Gara.
  • As for full-back, as much as George Hook dislikes seeing Rob Kearney there given the reduction in kicking these days, I still think he’s the man for the 15 jumper in the spring with Geordan providing his usual dependable support.  Murphy is great when joining the line but I’m not so convinced that the high ball has totally gone from the game just yet.  If our defence plays as I know it can we may give opponents no choice BUT to kick it back to us, which makes Kearney the man to have.
  • One area of concern is still the restart.  We go to great lengths to get a score, then before we know it they’re in our 22 from the kickoff.  I’m hoping Paul O’Connell’s return to action on Friday night will eventually right that wrong, however, and with no offence meant to Mick O’Driscoll, Devin Toner is clearly the man to have in reserve.

And so as the clocked ticked into the closing seconds, the only question remained was whether or not we could cap the day off with a second try.  Well we did thanks to Keith Earls, but it seemed the TMO had one hot whisky too many sent up to his booth that afternoon, since he couldn’t spot after several angles the Irish sub clearly touching down.  Thankfully the referee appeared to recognise this mistake as he found a way to get us possession back and thanks to Darce’s chip n chase we ended the November internationals on a high.

We wanted three out of four, we got just the two.  But the lads held up their hands and admitted where they went wrong against South Africa, and given that our Six Nations opponents were anything but flawless themselves this November, it gives us much to look forward to early next year, when our goal will be to provide a springboard from which to attack the World Cup down in New Zealand.

Once more I say that given all that’s going on in the “real” world in Ireland these days, when it comes to rugby I refuse to see our glass as anything but half full for the time being.  JLP

Saturday, November 20, 2010

IRELAND-18 NEW ZEALAND-38

irenz1

BELIEF

We should expect no less from the Irish players than to be disappointed with their 20-point loss to the world’s number-one-ranked team.

But I expect no less from Irish fans than to be proud of their performance on the day.

How many different ways can I put this result in perspective?  Several, but I’ll go for two.

First, there’s the obvious one. The countries of Ireland & New Zealand are remarkably similar in terms of population, and remarkably different in terms of sporting participation.  Here, rugby must compete for talent with two GAA sports and soccer.  There, the only competition is for the black jersey.  Other codes need not apply for the best athletes.

Second, there’s our display when stacked up against the All Blacks’ recent outings against other nations:

  • The Springboks couldn’t beat them, and only scored 3 tries in 3 Tri-Nations encounters.
  • It took the Wallabies FOUR goes to beat them by 2 points.
  • It took England 53 minutes to cross their line when they were already 20-6 down (yes, they had TMO issues, but so did we)
  • Scotland, who have had some notable victories this year including one over us, got nowhere near their try line.

ferris irlnzGuess what…in the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, we crossed their line FIRST courtesy of Stephen Ferris (pic).  Nothing about them emptying their bench or winding down or whatever. We showed we can hurt them. 

I’m sure that when the boys look over the match this week in the DVD sessions they’ll see a lot of defensive errors from minutes 39 through 48 when the opposition ran four tries past us and effectively killed the game.  That’s their job, they’re professional rugby players.

But this amateur blogger isn’t going to nit-pick.  It has been a rotten weekend for Ireland politically and economically, and there’s no need for me to sour everyone’s Monday morning further with talk of missed tackles and poor marking.

I’d much rather focus on minutes 51 through 57, which gave us more than a fighting chance of turning it back into a contest.

  • 51:23 Jamie Heaslip intercepts on his own 22 and huffs and puffs towards the All Black tryline.  He knows he won’t make and at just the right moment with several providing support he chooses his skipper to punch a further hole and get into their 22.
  • 51:55 Penalty to Ireland. Kickable, but we’re going for the try.  Why? Because we firmly believe we can get one.
  • 52:55 Another penalty to Ireland, this time after an infringement by Richie McCaw.  Referee Marius Jonker had already warned him in the first half, but saw fit to issue a second warning.
  • 54:14 The moment that had me out of my chair screaming at the telly and my wife wondering if she’d soon need a defibrillator.  After more phases in and around their try line, a ruck formed.  When I say formed, I mean it had JUST BARELY formed.  McCaw brazenly dives in to the side of the ruck RIGHT in front of Jonker, who completely bottles it and awards the scrum to Ireland rather than the obvious penalty which HAD to include a yellow card.  To see a brief video clip of that moment, follow the link on this tweet.
  • 55:00 A phenomenal heave by the Irish pack earns another penalty, this time against the front row.  Do we take the easy points? Hell no, we go for another scrum.  Yet another heroic decision.
  • 56:30 Having been driven back after the scrum to the 22, we not only retained possession but we showed the confidence to fling it out wide. Kearney exploits a gap, tries to find Heaslip but he misses the ball altogether and who is there but Captain Fantastic himself to scoop it up one handed and burst through the goalline defenders to touch down.

Say what you like about our defence folks. That passage of play, coming as it did late in the third quarter, was a joy to watch.

Just to clarify, I’m not making this all about the referee.  He clearly left his cards back in South Africa and we dodged a few bullets ourselves on the day.

But who’s to say that if Jonker had a pair we wouldn’t have reduced the deficit even further against a McCaw-less 14 men for ten minutes?

As a final example of the dedication shown by the boys in green, you need only look at our injury count.  Fitzgerald, Kearney and Best (pic), ruled out for weeks. D’Arcy, O’Driscoll & Bowe, doubtful.  That’s the toll taken by ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY tackles.  I seem to recall marvelling at making 99 in Twickenham back in February.

Whatever happens next weekend against Argentina, Declan Kidney’s men have shown against the top talent the sport has to offer that they can compete.  At full-time, I tweeted that I believed we could make the World Cup semifinals – some told me to “dream on” but several also agreed. 

The way I see it, we must give the squad leeway to develop their game between now and next September so we can send them down under with the belief their passion from Saturday evening at Lansdowne Road deserves.

PS : I deliberately haven’t mentioned the All Black outhalf by name because Tony Ward did enough of it on Saturday for everyone!  Quite the mancrush has he!

Click here for review of Leinster’s win Friday night.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Leinster-27 NG Dragons-6

Click here for my pre-match HarpinBoo “Dragons, Ravens & All-Blacks” where I also preview Ireland v NZ

Shane-Horgan-try-Dragons-10_rdax_402x295

REFRESHING BONUS

On a weekend when this match was always going to play second fiddle, it was good to see the Leinster Leftovers on song in front of the 10,000 fans willing to sacrifice the Harry Potter premiere.

And even though the form books would have predicted this outcome, I contend that whatever about Michael Cheika’s legendary status around D4, his charges probably wouldn’t have secured the bonus point if the same match were played last year.

Most satisfying try for me was the second, since it came from a kickable penalty which we turned down in favour of a lineout in the Dragons 22. 

It’s one thing to show a desire to get the extra point, but it’s another to back it up with a perfectly executed set-piece, and Shaun Berne’s sublime kick to the corner right into Shaggy’s bread-basket (pic) was a joy to behold.

Now let’s be clear…the visitors were all kinds of awful.  The Welsh answer to Connacht, they were always going to struggle with the likes of Lydiate and Brew on international duty, and they even found it difficult to play a thwarting game on the night.

Still, the job had to be done, and it took several impressive displays to do it, but as a Leinster fan, given our world famous 12 & 13 who had black things on their minds, you have to applaud Messrs McFadden & O’Malley, the latter of whom was my man of the match. 

No disrespect to Shaggs, but his award was a very lazy one.  If these occasions are so important to bring on the players of tomorrow as RTEs pundits were at pains to suggest before kickoff, then maybe they should be rewarding those prospects when they’ve earned it.  Not only was O’Malley instrumental the all important fourth try, he was tenacious in the tackle and secured some vital turnovers.

Honourable mention should also go to Mike Ross, for coming on and steadying our scrum.  Sure, new signing Clint Newland is a beast of a prop, but even when Cian Healy returns to the squad it will be hard to argue against VDM, Strauss & Ross forming our Heineken Cup front row. 

Another thing we learned was just how vital Richardt Strauss is to our squad.  John Fogarty’s tragic retirement has thrust Jason Harris-Wright into the spotlight ahead of schedule and particularly in the area of darts he just isn’t ready yet.  Coach Schmidt may have an embarrassment of riches at other positions, but with the vital home-and-away series with Clermont on the horizon he will have to manage his hooker position carefully.

But on an occasion that was sandwiched between the doom of Ireland’s economic woes and the gloom of the prospect of a hammering by the All Blacks, Friday night’s outing in Ballsbridge was a refreshing bonus for the weekend, even more so because it put us back in the top four of the Magners League where we belong.

 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

IRELAND-20 SAMOA-10

BOI SME comp

[update Nov 6, 2013] Archive time…the last time Samoa came to Dublin, I was doing my best to shield Declan Kidney from criticism after a downward spiral of results since the Grand Slam.  Also, if you follow the IRB rankings (though you can be forgiven for ignoring them), Ireland were 5 places ahead of Samoa going into this match while now we’re one place behind them.  But there is one thing the two contests have in common…they must be taken in context on the road to the next World Cup.  Here is how I wrote up the match.

FINDING THE FORMULA

When I finished watching this match live, I was about as depressed as I would’ve been if I had watched 80 minutes of commentary on the Irish economy.

On second look, however, things weren’t so bad…I get a sense from Kidney’s men that they’re using these games as a means to prepare ourselves for the New Zealand tournament next year.

Of course that’s not much consolation for the 31,000 fans who not only fronted up the cash but also braved the poor conditions at Lansdowne Road on Saturday, but we mustn’t forget how quickly internationals are running out for us between now and next September.

In his post-match interview, Ronan O’Gara pointed out that playing an expansive game in the backline may work well in dry southern hemisphere conditions, but has no place when the rain is teeming down for the second Saturday in a row.

What that admission did for me was to illustrate how much our backline resembles a Formula 1 car, with the outhalf being the tyres. 

We have at our disposal two Number 10s who work well under different conditions. Sexton is the guy for the fancy moves which are no doubt born on a whiteboard with x’s and o’s all over the place, but should the conditions be wet, ROG is your only man to boot the ball into the right areas and let the forwards grind out a victory.

And guess what, that’s exactly how we got our opening try.  O’Gara kicked a penalty from the hand to an attacking lineout, we got amazing crash momentum thanks to a linkup between Heaslip and Leamy, and after a succession of gaining phases it was the Number 8 himself who got the final touchdown.

This was how we were going to score against the Samoans, and if you remove their try from the equation you’ll see that for the rest of the contest, this is exactly how we tried to go over again when we had the ball.  Yes, the backs tried to fling it around, but they always tended towards the middle – whoever received the ball in the 12 or 13 channel would either chuck it back inside or in BODs case play flanker himself and run the ball into contact.

Those offensive tactics after the try actually made sense to me, though they didn’t appear to suit O’Gara, whose timing was clearly off having been taken out of his comfort zone.  Two blocked kicks in the first half together with a heart-stopping moment over his own try line in the second didn’t cost us, but would have against stronger opposition.

Trouble for us is that having named our backline on the previous Tuesday, it’s not so easy to bring it in for a pitstop and change the tyres before kickoff if the weather isnt right.  But if we ARE going to play O’Gara perhaps we should let him play his game like he did in the last 20 minutes last Saturday.

Now to revisit my sentence about “removing their try from the equation”.  Of course you can’t ignore their quick reply to Heaslip’s five-pointer, and the ease with which they scored is the source of the doom and gloom surrounding the result.

In some ways, Tuilagi’s touchdown was a copy of ours, in that it stemmed from a lineout preceded by a penalty, only this time they bamboozled us with their backs.  On first glance it was a scintillating move dramatically finished by Tuilagi, but surely O’Gara and Wallace have played together enough over the years to know not to both get drawn towards the opposing fly-half?  Only consolation to that error was that it didn’t happen again and our defence appeared solid for the rest of the afternoon.

But we must also examine what caused the penalty that led to that lineout…our front row conceding a penalty at a set scrum.

I’ll accept we have problems in the front five.  I’ll accept that we’re badly missing Paul O’Connell.  I’ll accept that John Hayes is past his sell-by date and we’re not exactly over-endowed with quality props to replace him.  But I won’t accept that those factors alone led to our troubles in the scrum on Saturday.

Whatever the intentions of the latest IRB interpretations, Keith Brown made a mockery of them with his gaping silences between the words “crouch…touch…pause…engage”.  True, Samoa had the right idea doing absolutely nothing to try and gain an advantage as front rows came together, but having played prop myself I know how much the engagement is part and parcel of the set piece itself. 

To go to such great lengths to take that battle of wills out of the scrum not only removes its essence, but also makes a farce of the game as a whole with long pointless delays which a team with a weaker pack can exploit.  And who is to say that when WE’RE the underdog next week, the All Blacks will be penalised as much for the same “offences”?

Luckily for us, we were able to rely on a fly-hack from O’Callaghan which he brilliantly followed up and won us a penalty for his Munster kinsmen Strings & ROG to combine for the clincher.  Otherwise our scrummaging issues could’ve easily led to an embarrassing match-levelling penalty or worse.

But I sat down to write this post DETERMINED not to be too negative.  Sure, it wasn’t easy, but I for one feel we can take several things from this match, not least the debut of Devin Toner.  I really don’t want him to think of his first appearance in a green shirt as being such a disaster as from a personal standpoint, he can be proud as punch and surely must start next weekend for what he brings to our lineout.

Let’s not forget Declan Kidney’s remit. Do not repeat the “Farce in France” of ‘07.  All the second-guessing in the world won’t take away from the fact that he can’t really be judged until we get stuck into our World Cup pool. 

Everything that happens between now and then is just part of the process of finding the right formula, and I for one am willing to back him, especially as he is willing to hold his hand up when he gets things wrong like he did last week.

Our unbeaten streak is over, so what say we applaud that, regroup and stand shoulder to shoulder against the haka next Saturday.

PS : George Hook went the Armageddon route in his Indo column.  Like I say, always good to have the glass-half-empty viewpoint, no matter how much you may disagree, so I’m happy to link to it.

******

ELSEWHERE…WALES WUZ WOBBED!!!!

I didn't get to see the England win over the Wallabies but what an impressive result it was.  Perhaps Johnson finally has things right?  After all that has gone before in his tenure I reckon he’ll need another positive outcome against the Springboks to answer that.  The French seem to have hit the ground running themselves, so our “home advantage” in the Six Nations may not be as strong as it was in 2009.

What got my heckles up happened in Cardiff.  Super effort by the Welsh, and if Devin Toner can be proud of his debut, then what can you say about George North’s??? I thought the media were being harsh dubbing him the “new Lomu” but he came up trumps.

My annoyance stemmed, not surprisingly, from the referees.  Ahead by four points and under pressure on their own line as the clock went red, you can’t blame the South Africans for thwarting the opposition by giving away penalties, but my assertion is, if they’re pinged for it, given the circumstances, they should also be sent to the line.  Having switched over from the Ireland game I counted at least 3 penalties deliberately conceded and by rights the Welsh should either have been pressing against 12 men or a yellow card for the first offence should’ve made it easier for them to get quick ball.  And it’s made worse by the fact that in Verona, Leinster A’s lock Mariano Galarza did a no-no in the exact same scenario and DID get a yellow, and rightly so, though the Italians still fell short.  The Millennium faithful certainly have every right to feel robbed in my book.

As for the All Blacks steamrolling over the Scots, the less said about that the better, since I’m trying to stay positive for next Saturday…

Saturday, November 06, 2010

IRELAND-21 SOUTH AFRICA-23

14405

SMARTS

Considering all the hoopla surrounding this match, with it being the first international rugby contest in the new stadium, with it being a repeat of last year’s epic showdown in Croke Park, with it being a match we were favourites to win given the comparative injury counts, the final scoreline really smarts for Irish fans.

And to make matters worse, for me anyway, it was a different kind of smarts, or more a lack of them, that led to the outcome.

No disrespect is meant to the South Africans with the tone of this post, but in my view, they won because they took what we gave them.

Much is being made about how they owned us in the lineout.  I’m sorry…but is that really so much of a surprise with a second row pairing of Matfield & Botha?  I wouldn’t be quick to criticise that particular failure, except perhaps the omission from the matchday squad of proven poacher Leo Cullen.

What I did find baffling re: lineouts is that it took us 60 minutes to realise that the only way we could make progress down the field was to KEEP THE BALL ON THE PARK.  Right from the very kickoff Sexton drop kicked it all the way into the Boks 22, allowing them to clear, create a lineout, which we may have won but sloppily so and before long the Springboks were on the front foot and never looked back.

Our experience should have taught us to keep things simple and be patient.  Yet after another messy lineout win on 16 minutes, Eoin Reddan thought it best to fling the ball blindly while facing the wrong way rather than secure easy possession and regroup.  Juan Smith saw it as an early Christmas present, and shame on George Hook for criticising Kearney’s tackling so harshly – he made a hell of an effort to get there and only had one shot at the rampaging flanker’s legs when he did.

So there was seven points that never should have happened.  I argue that their second try, though avoidable, was one you’d expect to give up to a team of South Africa’s stature whatever their injury count, so in the final analysis, the way I see it anyway, we lost this match in the first quarter, and the finger of blame has to be directed at the coaching staff & senior players for the tactical preparation.

In American football, they have what’s called an “audible”.  The play is determined in the huddle, but if the quarterback sees the defence lined up in a way that threatens the plan, he changes it just before he takes the snap.  This is where we went wrong…the teeming rain was always going to make an expansive passing game risky and the policy should have been abandoned if not before kickoff then surely before halftime.

Second half didn’t start much better.  Sexton did a couple of impressive kicks into the opposition 22, but what did they lead to? Lineouts.  We needed possession, not position. 

I sincerely hope the Leinster outhalf didn’t take it personally when he was replaced on 67 minutes, for even if it was pre-determined as Kidney suggested afterwards, the team needed a reboot, and Stringer and O’Gara were definitely the way to go, and they clearly made a difference.

However…I seem to remember having a “lucky bounce of the ball” pointed out to me with Rob Kearney’s match-winning try in Thomond Park last April.  Well, the same player relied on similar luck together with a goof from Aplon to get our second try, and at the risk of sounding partisan, the same goes for Tommy Bowe’s touchdown six minutes earlier. 

Brilliant idea for ROG to chip it into that spot? Yes, it was just what was required.  Brilliant finish from the Ospreys man? Yes, it was just what we expect from arguably the best winger on the planet right now.  But there was an element of luck nonetheless in between, and when you factor in the amount of substitutions made by coach deVilliers by then, the closeness of the final scoreline totally flattered us.

But should we as Irish fans despair? Hell no!

Sure, we got it wrong, but I feel we need to cling to BODs post-match excuses for comfort, not so much the weather-related one though.

He admits they got the prep wrong, and he claims they’ll play better with games under their belt.  Don’t forget…the only match that really matters down the line is on September 17, 2011 in Eden Park when we face Australia in our second Pool C match.  We’ll have had 5 games played in the weeks before then, so the preparation and squad cohesion should be A1.

Perhaps the “three out of four” hopes for this Autumn International series may be gone, but there’s still plenty of cause for optimism, so whatever we may feel about the IRFU on ticket prices, empty seats and rip-off jerseys (all debatable topics in their own right but none belonging in a post-match write up in my view), we as Irish fans should give the players the benefit of the doubt and get behind them for the battles to come.

I for one still believe we have the smarts in our squad to give these Boks a run for their money in a World Cup quarterfinal.

Blog Archive