Sunday, September 30, 2012

HoR highlights Sep 24-30

HOR highlights

Here's some links to all the rugby we've been harpin on for the past week...

Another busy week here at HoR Manor as you can see...you can be sure it can only get busier over the next seven days what with the big match at the Aviva! JLP

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Ulster Bank League kickoff

UB_IRFU_Logo

Best wishes to all clubs in the All Ireland League as the season gets underway this weekend…there were already some matches under lights last night.

As sources of information go, the internet remains an extremely poor way to keep in touch with the AIL.  What is clearly needed is a website that is 100% dedicated to just the league itself.  Or at very least, a site that gives comprehensive coverage of Division 1A, treating each match as if it were a Pro12 contest with starting lineup announcements, pre- and post-match interviews with players and coaches, and up-to-the minute reports & stats from the league.

“So you’re the blogger, why not set it up yourself?” I hear you cry. I’d be very happy to, but I definitely couldn’t do it alone, it would need to be a joint project with other content providers as well as of course co-operation from the league and competing clubs.  Something to definitely ponder for the future.

In the meantime, here are some ways you can follow the league…if you have any others, please let me know and I will add them to the list.

IFRU website

boards.ie thread

Knockon.ie

If twitter is your thing, I have created a couple of lists to keep track of club’s feeds.  Word of warning though – not every club embraces the internet, and proper utilisation of twitter varies from the likes of Young Munster & St Mary’s (excellent) to Cork Con (website looks like it was built in 1995).

But here are links to the lists should you want to follow them anyway.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE DIVISION 1A LIST

“HARPIN ON RUGBY TIMES” LIST – every rugby club on the island of Ireland (if I’m missing one let me know!)

Try and get to a game if you can! JLP

Friday, September 28, 2012

Connacht-34 Leinster-6



In a bizarre way, this game reminded me of one of the iconic opening scenes in the first Star Wars movie, only with a twist.

[For the pedantic among you, by “first” I mean the first to come out in the cinema]

I'm talking about the scene where the rebel ship had been captured and its soldiers positioned themselves waiting at the cargo bay door, each one primed for battle, yet each one equally fearful of what lay on the other side.

And so with an almighty bang the door gets blown to smithereens and through the thick camouflage of smoke comes the enemy they have been preparing to confront.

Only instead of a battalion of stormtroopers and a giant black-clad Sith Lord with chronic bronchitis crashing through all laser-guns blazing, the rebels discover their foes are nothing but a dozen or so baby Ewoks, who then proceed to inexplicably knock-on their weapons, wasting what had been a strong attacking position.

Think a comparison to the Galactic Empire is too strong an analogy for Leinster? Think again. Remember how we perceived Munster and their fans after they had won their second Heineken Cup? Well beat that record we may have done, but with it comes a similar (probably 1.5 times worse) infamy, and we have to accept that this result would have been met all around Europe with much glee.

Let's face it, we're seen as Vader now. Thankfully, at least we fans know there is much good still in us.

Ok, enough of the nerdy metaphors.

Connacht were of course amazing on the night, and full credit to Eric Elwood and Dan Parks for having them well primed to make full use of every advantage we gave them – sadly it turned out to be a lot! And on top of the experience and guile that Parks has brought to the table, they certainly have much talent coming through the ranks with the likes of McSharry (main pic), O'Halloran and Henshaw.

But last week I spoke about standards at Leinster rugby, and this match cannot be reviewed through blue goggles without trying to understand why a 23-man squad could collectively fall so short of them. The stats had some telling irony...the halftime score matched that from the 2011 Heineken Cup final, while the resulting losing margin was the same as that by which we defeated Ulster in Twickenham only last May.

So before I start going through what Leinster Rugby have gotten wrong, allow me first to go through the few bits of bad luck we had, for while it's not an excuse, it can't be ignored. The biggest sign that our goose was well and truly cooked was when Rob Kearney went off shortly after Connacht's second try.

This meant that just half an hour into the contest, we had already been forced into as many as four changes from the side originally announced Thursday lunchtime. The bench has become a powerful weapon in the modern game and with all due respect to both Jordi Murphy and Luke McGrath, the only viable game-changing bench options we were left with for the remaining 50 minutes were our marquee front-row trio, and our problems on the pitch were anywhere but there.

As much as we want our youngsters to develop, the Reid-Macken centre axis is just not able for this level yet and ideally should not be re-united this season anywhere but the B&I Cup side. Please note that I say YET. Both are quality players and they have had their moments in the senior lineup but the way they were sold down the river for the opening Connacht try (screengrab) shows that as a tandem they’re not far off sitting ducks defensively.

But don't think for a minute that all my blame is directed towards them, or indeed the coaching ticket for having them out there. It certainly wasn't the two youngsters who were solely responsible for the litany of errors that took place in the second half. Missed tackles, dropped catches, over-thrown lineouts, poorly judged offloads, restarts that didn't go ten, the list goes on and on, and I doubt Leinster fans need nor want me to focus on them individually.

The fact remains we had every opportunity to get back into this contest in the third quarter and even though Connacht defence was resolute, it still has to be said that we very much blew it.

And we can't go blaming pre-season jitters or even player protection anymore. This was game five, so the cobwebs should be well and truly gone at this stage. What, then, has quickly turned Leinster from a team that earns three stars to one with a defence that is even ranked lower than the rookie striped ponies?

I'm sure there are many factors behind the scenes of which we will never know, but one stands out more than any other for me. A commenter on the HarpinOnRugby Facebook page left this comment on Saturday :

a bit off subject but does anyone know what is happening with Joe's contract as in has it been signed or is it still going to be?” Robert Walsh

I'm not so sure this is off subject at all.

I have spoken before about my annoyance at how we handle the transition of our provincial coaches on this island. The successor is usually announced halfway through the season, with the incumbent left to run out the clock during the most critical months, and however professional an organisation may be, it has to have an effect on squad performance.

History can be called on as evidence...Cheika's imminent departure was a factor in the end of Leinster's 2010 campaign, while last season it certainly played a part in Munster's and possibly even Ulster's April & May. The last thing you need at this time are head coaches with half a mind on the time beyond their contract.

The Ospreys' success in the business end of last season further proves this. When news of Scott Johnson's poaching by the SRU had been announced, they didn't let his tenure at the Liberty Stadium stagnate; instead they immediately appointed a replacement who regrouped and the RDS faithful got first-hand evidence (twice) of the resulting confidence throughout the squad.

And judging by the mantras emanating from Carton House recently, we are duly informed that the national team is more important than the provinces. Doesn't matter how the mother ship's actions affect the Pro12 and/or Heineken Cup campaigns, we just have to take our medicine, whatever it may be, for the “common good”.

Putting aside the fact that this edict from on high heaps even more pressure on the national team for good performances at a time they need less, where exactly does it leave Joe Schmidt?

He has diligently done his job at the RDS and then some, delivering two European Championships as well as raising the bar in terms of professionalism throughout an organisation that you can see other teams across the continent are aiming to meet.

Yet five matches into the season, one which is to be his final according to his contract, we still know nothing of his future. And you know that for each passing day without a definitive answer, the speculation in the media is just going to grow.

Forgive me for not accepting the reassurances of IT columnist/IRFU apologist Gerry Thornley that Joe will sign a 1-year deal any more than I accepted the claims in the Daily Mirror that every top footballer in Europe was on the move over the summer.

Look, as for the whole “Ireland > Leinster” thing, I get it. I certainly don't need it rammed down my throat at numerous press conferences. But at the same time provincial fans are spending good money every year on season tickets, new jerseys and what-not, and they deserve at least a bit of recognition.

Surely there's enough resources to both restore pride in the green jersey AND make one of the most successful provincial coaches in Irish history feel a tad appreciated?

Of course I'm not suggesting Leinster would have won in Galway if Joe had a new contract. It's just that while the boys are working hard this week analysing their individual performances for the big derby clash in the Aviva and the two Heineken Cup openers to come, the powers that be can definitely play their part by putting this issue to rest once and for all.

Joe Schmidt has priorities too, and if this uncertainty goes on much longer, few could blame him for paying more attention to the offers outside the Irish goldfish bowl which surely must be coming his way.  JLP
Also this weekend

The View From The Laighin Pit #3

Committed foot-soldiers of the 12-county army convene once more to discuss the province’s fortunes…

Tales From The Laighin Pit

#3 : Home Scot Free

A post-Edinburgh match gathering of six terraced Leinster faithful, on the hallowed grounds of the RDS

RK: OK, so feelings on the night's match?

D: I thought it was a terrible game, I thought the defence was awful. We had at least 8 minutes on the field against 13 players and we got nothing from it other than a soft try that we should have had 20 minutes earlier.

RK: Do you feel it was mostly the defence that was at fault there or do you think that we were lacking in clinical finishing?

D: I think it was an attacking fault, the attacking was soft. It was dropping, it was chasing, it was all wrong

RK: Do you think that the slow burn that has been attributed to Leinster at the start of the Rabo over the past few seasons has worsened?

D: No, I don't think so at all, we've lost a few games at the start of the season for the last few years. That's how we roll. [All laugh] It's a false sense of security for the rest of the league.

M: Attacking-wise I don't think we did enough of them having 13 men on the pitch for the best part of 10 minutes. I think it's a sin that we got 7 points and they got 3, we never should have even let them into our half in that 10, but what can you do?

RK: I have to say I absolutely agree with you, I think a 2 man advantage was squandered.

C: At the end of the day we're only at the start of the season, there are lots of players still to come back to the squad before the Six Nations.

D: I tell you, a lot of that team was very young and inexperienced as well and that's great to see.

C: And at the start of the season you have to get the experience going.

D: Who did we have; Macken got two hard fought tries?

C: This is the part of the season where Leinster develop their new and younger players, and during the Six Nations they consolidate those players, then the more senior players come back, and come the Heineken Cup we're okay. Come the end of the season we're going to have a team to be reckoned with.

M: We're still missing a couple of the key skill-sets that it takes to win a HC. We have a couple of tough games ahead. We have Clermont at home and away; two crunch games right in the middle, we either win them both or we don't go through. It's as plain and simple as that.

RK: Leinster are obviously a huge target now in both the Heineken Cup and the Rabo Pro 12, do you think at this stage we'll be able to cope on two fronts?

C: Last year was a prime example of coping on every front...

RK: But we did lose the final.

M: It's notoriously difficult to win a cup and league together. We're talking about professional rugby players here. Two years ago, won the Heineken Cup and then went and played [the Magners final] in Munster and in fairness it was a bit of a jolly. Everyone had a hangover; players, fans, the lot, and that was all fine. The novelty should have worn off now, we've won our third, [for last season's final] we played at home, in the RDS, and whatever about the referee, we were outclassed on the pitch. The Ospreys were the better team. If we're going to talk about doubles, even if we're just talking about winning the Rabo, we have to focus beyond the Heineken Cup.

C: We have to do the double to be declared a truly excellent team.

D: We had a lot of youth and inexperience on the team, but I don't think that that's any excuse for not using that two man advantage. It's not good enough; to be good enough to play for Leinster you have to be able to take advantage of those situations when they arise, or a double is going to be out of the question.

C: It's called practise. These new guys...

RK: If it wasn't good enough for BOD [at a Q&A earlier that night] why would it be good enough for you?

C: He wants to get the new guys out, he wants to bring the young fellas on, and he is trying the mentor them and pass on his experience, as he said tonight. He's an unbelievable player for Leinster and Ireland.

RK: And on a worldwide scale. Tonight, we saw an improvement in defence, but still nothing compared to what we've come to expect from a Leinster side...

C: It's early season. You can't compare these games to a Heineken Cup final, or the qualifiers for that matter.

RK: To put it in context, before the match tonight the number of points we'd conceded wasn't reached until most of the way through game six last season.

M: We've been leaking so many points this season. It's been a hallmark of Leinster rugby at least since Joe took over that we have a very organised defence that's absolutely mean, it's Cork mean. [All laugh] It's absolutely miserly in how many points it's let out, and then all of a sudden we're haemorrhaging tries. I don't buy into this whole Newcastle offence.

RK: Are we in danger of turning into a southern hemisphere club side?

M: If we were turning into a southern hemisphere side, I would die inside.

RK: This is the thing; are we trading off defence for tries?

S: No, we're just rusty.

RK: How long do we have to be rusty for?

M: This time 2 seasons ago nobody had any faith in Joe Schmidt. And here we are this season, we've played what is traditionally a banana skin game away [Treviso] and won convincingly, and played at home twice and won well, and we've played against a team [Scarlets] that, being honest, given the players we had available to play at the time we were highly unlikely to beat.

RK: George fucking North. I think it's fair to say that we've mixed feelings at best about the match tonight despite the win, but what about Connacht next week? They traditionally save their best game of the season for Leinster at the Sportsground, every sodding year.

S: They're dying to beat us!

D: I've been to the derbies in there three times over the last five years and I'm yet to come home from a win.

RK: They love to tear strips out of us when we're there.

M: It's a banana-skin game for all the provinces, they save their best for the home derbies.

D: Tonight's game was sloppy and didn't give the fans much to shout about, and nothing to really give us hope for next week. I think we're going to win, but I'm not going to strut into the Sportsground, that's for sure.

RK: I don't think anyone really struts into the Showground. Even Toulouse were put to the sword for a while there. Predictions?

C: Leinster by 10.

D: Leinster by 3.

S: If the weather's bad it'll be a tight match, and we could come out the wrong side.

M: Bonus point loss.

RK: And for the record I reckon on Leinster by 5. Right, pints?

A transcript from @RugbyKino in conversation with Leinster supporters whose identities have been anonymised for their own protection. All opinions given are the individual’s own, almost definitely whilst under the influence.

Lions Selector Panel–1st Round (IRE)

It’s one of the hottest debate topics egg-chasing has to offer.

Given we live in something of a green goldfish bowl on these Irish shores, there’s no harm getting input from elsewhere. And so we have the HarpinOnRugby Lions Selector Panel, made up of one fan from each nation, with even the Irish panellist, who’s latest selection we see this week, based abroad.

British-Irish-Lions-logo-20131

Forgive the brevity of this months selection folks. Due to technical difficulties the full departure lounge will return next month. So for now I shall put forward those I feel have done well during this most interesting of openings to the season and for those who felt I had a Welsh/Irish bias last month there’s a bit of change afoot.

15. Leigh Halfpenny
14. George North
13. Brian O'Driscoll
12. Jonathon Davies
11. Tim Visser
10. Jonathon Sexton
9. Mike Phillips
8. Sean O'Brien
7. Chris Robshaw
6. Stephen Ferris
5. Ian Evans
4. Richie Gray
3. Dan Cole
2. Dylan Hartley
1. Cian Healy

Some come in on form Hartley and Cole have really impressed. Some positions like back 5 in the pack arent flush with form from either the likely lads like Gray or any potentials like Lawes. Sean O Brien stays in spite of not playing; no no.8 has played that well. Maybe an argument for Nick Easter who has impressed in fits n bursts. Ian Madigan and Dan Biggar have been making waves as have Ian Keatley and Scott Williams amongst a few others. Well that’s my two cents on the Lions for the month of Sept.

With regard to the tragedy that befell the Spence family so many lovely tributes have been paid by the rugby community across the world and may I add my deepest condolences. A blossoming talent cut down before his time may Nevin and his father and brother rest in peace. The respect shown at games last weekend was remarkable and the SUFTUM chants I saw at the RDS were truly moving.

Yours in Rugby

MJ

Mark Jackson (@markusjacksonus) is an Irishman living in London, a lover of this game we call Rugby along with Gaelic Football and NFL (All Hail The New York Giants), having played it for fun and money in many countries around the globe, am now earning a crust coaching, hopefully inspiring and passing along some knowledge gained to the next generation of players.

Mark’s selection has made one change to the HoR Composite XV, follow this link to see how it now looks.  The panel begins its second round of selections next Friday.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Naas RFC : Update #3

Roots & All is a project where we pick a few teams that don’t normally make the spotlight week in week out and feature them regularly throughout an entire campaign.

Naas RFC banner

Naas firsts continued their Leinster Senior League Shield progress on Saturday (15th September) when they took on Suttonians in round 4 at Forenaughts. Despite a very positive start from Suttonians, it was Naas who asserted their authority after just 15 minutes with an impressive try by outhalf Peter Osborne. Naas continued to apply pressure and managed to secure a further two outstanding tries by the interval, both of which were scored by their talented wing Diarmuid Carr (younger brother of Fionn) and converted by David Aherne. A further three tries for Naas in the second period left Suttonians with too much to do inspite of having responded with two impressive tries of their own. 

Naas firsts have now won all of their Leinster Senior League Shield opening games managing a bonus win in them all and will now switch their focus to the Ulster Bank League which starts on Saturday 29th September away the NUIM Barnhall.

So the “Local Derby” is on this weekend in NUMI Barnhall and the fact that they have already played each other this season add a little more spice to the mix.

The secret to this league is to get off to a good start, loose your first couple of matches and you’re in a battle to survive from day 1 with the threat of returning to the junior leagues nipping at your heals.

Naas are playing expansive very entertaining brand of rugby at the moment guided by the ex Clontarf boys as player coaches and a group of young talented players returning back from colleges and other clubs along with the existing boys who fought back from a loosing streak early in last years campaign to finish in a comfortable mid table position.

After the positive start to the season there’s a bit of optimism around the club but we been around long enough to know the AIL or Ulster Bank League is a different story but we can still hope can we? As I writing this I just seen a tweet from KnockOn.ie saying that we are 1 of 5 unbeaten teams to watch – someone been keeping an eye on the provincial leagues. The first home game of AIL sees Naas take on Connamera on 6th October

Update on the future of our club. Our U12’s and U11’s were invited to take part in the augural Eric O'Connor Festival of rugby in Blackrock Rugby Club. Fair play to Blackrock they organized a great event. Our boys really enjoyed the rugby with the 2 U12 squads winning 5 out of their 6 matches and the 4 U11 squads presented with the Eric O'Connor Shield what a great honor for our club. Our season kicks of for real this weekend with the start of the North Midlands and Metro fixtures so plenty of rugby for our boys.

In other news around the club is that we got a nice little message from the President of the IRFU Bill Glynn wishing us well for our 90th year celebrations.

Thursday, 27th September the clubhouse will host a pre-season introduction and presentation of “Team Gear” to the Senior Squad. Friday 28th September, a Golf fundraiser at Palmerstown Golf Club. The Naas RFC Business lunch on 26th October at 2pm Killashee House Hotel and our keynote speaker this year is the legend that is Mick Galwey.

At long last (after a couple of cancelations) I’ve got myself onto the next stage of the youth coaching course (foundation course) with the plan to take level 1&2 over the next couple of years. I’m really looking forward to this course let hope it lives up to my expectation or we could be getting a good old fashion rate here next time.

So we have a busy couple of weeks coming up in Fournaughts lets hope we get a few AIL wins under our belts.

Till next time get out there and support your club Happy Rugby keep up to date with our results by following us on twitter @naasrfc or @michaelcahill67

Click here for the club’s official website

Keego on…November & Novices

This week Keego looks ahead to the autumn and wonders if Kidney will churn out the same old faces yet again.

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And welcome to blog number 14…..it is only slightly more acceptable than being the oldest man in the club.

I thought I would talk about the Irish training camp and the upcoming November internationals. This is one of my favourite sporting times of the year. Some great moments have happened during the games in the freezing cold November. We have beaten South Africa in the fog, this was the time Jamie Heaslip had his 70’s porno stache.

When I first heard the names going to the two day training camp I though, ah jaysus, same old same old. Kidney has been suffering from ‘Trapatoni-itis’ for a long time. Or maybe Trap has a dose of Kidney-itis, regardless of who the disease is named after it needs a fair dose of ‘stop taking the piss’ from the doctor.

Then karma stuck her pert bottom right in Kidney’s face. The great Ronan O’Gara (not being insincere, he is great) got a knock to the shoulder which opened the door for Ian Madigan. As we spoke about last week, I was hoping someone was in his ear telling him to bide his time and he will get a shot in the green jersey. I understand that this is just the training squad, but it is hugely important for Kidney to see him up close in a relatively stress free environment. If Madigan puts in a good shift here he will be hard to be ignored in November (which is when some experimentation should take place….I've just jinxed the whole thing now haven’t I?).

So first off we play the Springboks on November 10th. Always a savage game, the Boks are mean tough mahfackah’s and always bring an intensity that needs to be matched from the first minute. The Boks have been trying new things recently, Morne Steyn being left on the bench after playing 3 million games in the last 12 months and is replaced by Johan Goosen. An interesting change, something that not all teams would be prepared for. Maybe we should be taking a page out of the Meyer playbook, and trying something new (noticing a pattern)??

Cough cough….Kidney…cough cough….something new….cough cough….tickets are expensive and we would like to see some improvements….

We then play Fiji on the 17th of November in Thomond Park. That will be some crack. Between the Fijian accent and the Cork accent no one will have a feckin clue what’s going on ;). This isn’t a full international so I would expect/hope that we would see some debuts handed out in this game. Although now that I said it, we will see DOC at 4, ROG at 10. I have just gone and jinxed it haven’t I? This will be another tough physical game, but the Fijians should wilt in the second half allowing us to put a few more points on the board which will flatter us. This is the rugby equivalent of that part in the evening when you look across the bar at a girl who was not attractive an hour ago, but after 3 double vodka and west coast coolers, she looks like Britney in her prime. (For the women folk, exchange the gender and insert whoever you think of between the hours of midnight at 4am instead of Britney)

And finally we play Argentina on the 24th November. I love it when we play Argentina because it becomes a straight out fight. This will be a big test for the lads. It will show us whether they have gotten over the summer tests and are moving forward in a positive way or not. It is also huge for us, the fans. We will see if Kidney is not as stubborn as he is appearing.

Keego’s predictions are 2 wins and a loss for the three games.

And in closing. The countdown is on! We are 10 days away from the big match! We welcome with open arms and undone flies the people of Munster for the pre Crimbo battle in Lansdowne. I can’t wait! Although I am quite worried this time around. The reds have been playing well and have not needed much time getting used to a new coach. They are looking razor sharp. We, on the other hand, looked very sluggish last week. Nothing catastrophic happened, but we just didn’t look good against Edinburgh. We need to be on against Munster. I am sure the big game will bring a big performances from big players.

Next week will be all about the big game. The ins and outs, the swings and roundabouts, the cup size and flexibility of the whole thing….sure you know yourself….

Keego (@nkeegan): Newbie blogger, former professional wrestler, sometime attempted rugby player (@TheThirsty3rds), professional procrastinator and attempted musician with a fondness for long walks on the bar, tea and the couch. Opinionated Leinster fan and constant gardener.

BOX-KIX : Sep 27-Oct 4



UPCOMING RUGBY ON IRISH TELLY

[feature to be updated every Thursday and is for Irish TV only]

Times refer to start of broadcast not kickoff

Union in yellowLeague in red

THURSDAY SEP 27

THE RUGBY CLUB
SKY SPORTS 4 - 8PM

FRIDAY SEP 28

SHARKS V BLUE BULLS – CURRIE CUP
SKY SPORTS 4 – 6PM

NORTHAMPTON V WASPS – AVIVA PREMIERSHIP
ESPN – 7PM

ULSTER V CARDIFF BLUES – PRO12
BBC2NI – 7PM

CONNACHT V LEINSTER – PRO12
TG4 – 7:30PM
(REPEATED WITH ENGLISH COMMENTARY ON SETANTA IRELAND AT 1:45AM)

GLASGOW V ZEBRE – PRO12
BBC ALBA – 7:30PM

WIGAN V LEEDS RHINOS – SUPER LEAGUE PLAYOFF
SKY SPORTS 2 – 7:30PM

CLERMONT V STADE FRANCAIS – TOP14
SETANTA IRELAND – 7:45PM

SATURDAY SEP 29

HAWTHORN V SYDNEY SWANS - AFL GRAND FINAL
ESPN – 4:30AM

WELLINGTON V NORTH HARBOUR – ITM CUP
SKY SPORTS 3 – 6:30AM

HAWKE'S BAY V OTAGO – ITM CUP
SKY SPORTS 3 – 8:30AM

LEICESTER V EXETER CHIEFS – PREMIERSHIP
ESPN – 2PM

SOUTH AFRICA V AUSTRALIA – RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP
SKY SPORTS 2 – 3:30PM

ST HELENS V WARRINGTON – SUPER LEAGUE PLAYOFF
SKY SPORTS 2 – 6PM

OSPREYS V MUNSTER – PRO12
RTE2 – 6:15PM

ARGENTINA V NEW ZEALAND – RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP
SKY SPORTS 3 - MIDNIGHT

TOULOUSE V TOULON - TOP14
SETANTA IRELAND - 2:30AM (TAPE DELAY)

SUNDAY SEP 30

JOUR DE RUGBY – TOP 14
TV5 MONDE – 11:05AM

HARLEQUINS V SARACENS – PREMIERSHIP
SKY SPORTS 1 – 1:30PM

USA V CANADA
SETANTA SPORTS 1 - 10PM

MONDAY OCT 1

TOP 14 HIGHLIGHTS
SETANTA IRELAND – 2:45PM

AVIVA PREMIERSHIP HIGHLIGHTS
SETANTA IRELAND – 11PM & ESPN - 8PM

TUESDAY OCT 2

HALL OF FAME – RWC 2003
ESPN CLASSIC – 7:40PM

WEDNESDAY OCT 3

TOTAL RUGBY
SKY SPORTS 1 - 7PM


THE WEST'S AWAKE - DOCUMENTARY ON CONNACHT RUGBY
TG4 - 9:30PM

THURSDAY OCT 4

THE RUGBY CLUB
SKY SPORTS 3 - 8PM

NB – This weekly feature needs your help...if you know of any other rugby on telly in the above timeframe please email me! Cheers, JLP

© JL Pagano 2012

Rugby Championship Round 5 preview

The inaugural Rugby Championship is nearing its conclusion and our man down under Stephen Humphreys has the low-down.

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After a short break, the Rugby Championship returns to action this week with the Wallabies travelling to Loftus Versfeld to take on the Springboks and the Pumas hosting the All Blacks at La Plata.

The break between rounds has been filled with controversy for Australian fans that has all been generated from the twitter account of Quade Cooper. The less said about that issue the better given that the drama seems to have abated and there is now rugby to watch again. In other news, the move by Richie McCaw to announce he is taking a rest next season has left the McCaw fanatics bereft and weeping.

Game 1: South Africa v Australia in Pretoria, 4pm (Irish time)

Altitude has never been kind to the Wallabies and their record at Loftus Versfeld reflects this having never won there. Unfortunately I do not think this game will lead to a change in that record.

Frankly both teams have been in disarray during the course of this competition and Heyneke Meyer and Robbie Deans both desperately need a win. Meyer has rung the changes from the line-up defeated by the All Blacks in Dunedin with the biggest casualty the home town hero Morne Steyn who has been dropped in favour of Johan Goosen from the Cheetahs after an indifferent performance with the boot. Frans Steyn is struggling with an injury and it is expected that Jaco Taute will come into the side at outside centre with Jean de Villiers moving to inside centre. The other change sees Eben Etzebeth return from suspension. In addition to these changes to the starting line-up there are four new faces on the bench for Springboks.

The game plan for the Springboks has been limited and focused on seeking field position and penalties through the boot of Morne Steyn and frankly it has not worked from them so far with their only success being a victory against the Pumas in the first game of the competition. They have been strong in defence generally and have held their own in the forwards but they just have not been able to score enough points. Until the 10 man rugby plan of Coach Meyer is jettisoned they will continue to struggle with point scoring. That said, if there was ever anywhere a field possession game plan could work for the Springboks it will be in the rare air in Pretoria.

The Wallabies have had changes to their line-up again forced upon them with injuries to Quade Cooper and Stephen Moore seeing them out of the line up for the remainder of the Rugby Championship. The Wallabies are now onto their fifth captain in twelve months through injury and also remain without James O’Connor. It appears likely that Kurtley Beale will be the new number 10 for the Wallabies albeit as at the time of writing the Wallabies line up has not yet been named.

Whilst the Wallabies have been hammered by injuries to key players the fact remains that the execution by the Wallabies as well as their play at the set pieces has been generally woeful so far this season. The focus tactically for the Wallabies seems to have been also on playing a field position game however just about every kicking duel they have entered into has seen a net loss for them regardless of the opposition. Reliance again on a field position game will not bode well for the Wallabies as one does not see them winning a kicking duel with the Springboks. Discipline in their own half will also be a key for the Wallabies.

The Wallabies have won the last five games against the Springboks which is a record albeit each of these fixtures have been close run affairs and, indeed, have won the last two match ups held in South Africa. Despite the Springboks sitting below the Wallabies on the table at present, their performance against the All Blacks last time out was far superior to the form the Wallabies have shown against the same opposition. The Wallabies defeat of the Pumas should not mask just how poor the Wallabies were in that game and whilst I expect some improvement from them I think the Springboks are simply in better form at the moment and in front of their home crowd I am tipping them to win this fixture in a close game. Springboks by 5.

Game: Pumas v All Blacks at La Plata, 12:10am Sunday (Irish time)

The All Blacks continue to dominate this competition however despite this coach Steve Hansen has again made key positional changes for this round’s fixture. Not surprisingly Dan Carter has been installed back into the line- up at the expense of the suddenly out of sorts Aaron Cruden. Seemingly expecting a physical encounter in the forwards, the All Blacks selectors have opted for the pairs of Luke Romano and Brodie Retallick at lock with Sam Whitelock returning the warming the bench for this fixture. The unluckiest man in world rugby at the moment might just be Liam Messam who, despite recently excellent form is again on the bench with Victor Vito getting the start on the blindside flank.

Whilst the All Blacks do remain undefeated their run of matches at home in the last two rounds have presented performances that have been somewhat below their usual standard with the Puma pushing them all the way in round 3 and the Springboks failing to get over the line in Dunedin only because the collective radars of their goal kickers were awry. The return of Dan Carter is a big one for them and one expects he will provide a calming influence in the All Blacks star studded backline that has been sorely missing in recent weeks.

For the Argentinians coach Santiago Phelan has named the same starting side as that which narrowly lost to the Wallabies on the Gold Coast a fortnight ago. This is a side playing with passion and poise for the most part in their games but again were found wanting in the last twenty minutes against the Wallabies to let them back into the game.

In this fixture, the Pumas will be looking to defeat the All Blacks for the first time in their history and will need to play a full 80 minutes with the same passion and poise coupled with their commitment in defence to challenge the best team in the world.

The Pumas at home is probably the new toughest test in southern hemisphere rugby for visiting teams and again the All Blacks can expect to face a hostile environment in La Plata. Whilst I expect the Argentinians to lift in front of this most parochial of home crowds, I equally do not expect the All Blacks to under-estimate the Pumas here, as evidence by the return of that man Carter. Whilst this will be a close fixture I cannot see the Puma’s breaking their duck against the All Blacks here and am tipping the All Blacks to win by 13. All Blacks by 13

Steve (@shumpty77) is sports tragic and is particularly fanatical about rugby and cricket. A proud Reds member, Steve is also a fan of Wallabies as well as the Welsh team (when they are not playing the Wallabies). When not following rugby, cricket and all other sports, Steve is an account director at an accounting firm.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Claremorris RFC : Update #3

Roots & All is a project where we pick a few teams that don’t normally make the spotlight week in week out and feature them regularly throughout an entire campaign.

R&A CLAREMORRIS

It’s busy busy as our season is officially up and running. All our youth teams have made it back on the pitch with the numbers looking very encouraging for the new season. We are back on the pitch for the last two weeks so the majority of lads are getting to grips with and oval ball after a summer of soccer and GAA.

We are still awaiting official confirmation of our fixtures for the season but after talking to the various teams managers it looks like the leagues in all age groups will be staring in the next three to four weeks.

Our mini rugby programme has started with a bang with two open days over the last two Saturdays going excellently. We aimed the open days at new players and our existing players under the banner of ‘Give rugby a try’ (see what we did there with “try”, marketing gold, ok maybe not). We found that this was a great way of introducing players would not normally play the game and more importantly this was at no cost to parents or players.

Registration for the news season for all ages takes place on Wednesday September 26th and again the following Wednesday October 3rd. All registered mini rugby players will receive the official club jersey while all youths will receive the official club shorts and socks.

Again it was a busy couple of weeks on the meetings front with two of our committee attending the IRFU strategic review for 2012-2016 which was held in Galway. The majority of Connacht clubs were represented at this very interesting discussion with two of our lads even getting time to chat with IRFU chief executive Philip Browne, so well done lads.

For the next couple of weeks we will be concentrating on getting our youths fully up to speed on the training pitch while also trying to get all players registered as Claremorris Colts for the new season ahead.

Click here for the club's website

11-try Highfield lead the way in Women’s AIL

Every Wednesday morning Sarah Lennon keeps us up to date on the Women’s game in Ireland.

Women's Rugby column

The women's AIL Division 1 got off to a ferocious start at the weekend with 4 of the eight teams streaking out of the blocks to lay down early markers. This season there are only 7 league games so every fixture is crucial and already there are some indicators of how the league may pan out.

First to defending champions UL Bohemians who took on St Mary's in Annacotty. It's not often that a 46-0 win in the opening game would see you placed fourth in the table, but that is exactly what happened this week. The Robins scored had secured a bonus point win within half an hour and in total scored 8 tries through Niamh Kavanagh with a hat-trick, Liz Bourke on her debut, Claire Keohane, Fiona Hayes, Jeanette Feighery and Olivia Stapleton. Claire Keohane was also on hand to add two conversions.

Next up for Bohs is Galweigans, who secured a bonus point win of their own with a hugely impressive 69-12 win in Belfast against Cooke. Unbothered by the 4 hour drive, the current AIL Cup holders ran in eleven tries in total. Considering that Galwaigans scored 130 points in the whole of last season, they have already scored half as many and would look to be a force to be reckoned with this season. Next weeks tie versus Bohs in Crowley Park Galway promises to be a humdinger.

In Dublin, newly promoted Tralee took on Old Belvedere. It was to prove to be a difficult debut for the Kerry team and Old Belvedere opened the scoring early through Ailis Egan, tries followed through Janice Daly, Nora Stapleton, Jenny Murphy, Carol Murphy and Jane Murphy with Elaine Cohalan adding conversions and a penalty. The final score in this match was a 53-0 win for Old Belvedere, but this was still only the the third highest score of the weekend.

Top spot in the division after round one goes to Highfield, who I mentioned last week will be determined to shake off the bridesmaids tag. Their 69-3 win against Blackrock must go down as somewhat of a surprise, certainly how comprehensive this defeat was for Blackrock in Stradbrook. 11 tries in total for Highfield with 7 converted and the sole Blackrock reply was a penalty midway through the second half.

Highfield will host Cooke next week as the Ulster outfit look to bounce back, it is difficult to see anything other than a home win there and Tralee and Blackrock will play each other in Kerry with one team able to get off the mark for the season, rounding up next week's performances will be St Mary's V Old Belvedere in the season's first Dublin derby.

In Division 2N, Navan RFC pipped a win over Cavan by 18-15 but trail Belfast Harlequins after one game and New Ross got an excellent narrow win over Young Munster by 24-19. Shannon defeated Ballincollig to go top.

I'm delighted to report that the Women's rugby results section is now up and running on the Leinster Rugby Domestic page, this should make reults and fixtures easier to compile.

In Leinster Division 1 , Edenderry continue to lead the way with two bonus point wins out of two, Cill Dara are following closely behind and these two teams face off in the next round. In Division 2 Both Kilkenny and Old Belvedere J1 opened their accounts with a win with Kilkenny topping the table thanks to a bonus point win in Enniscorthy. In Division 3 Arklow scored a big win against near rivals and debutantes Wicklow and fellow debutantes Railway Union scored an impressive 27 unanswered points against Mullingar. There was only one match played in Division 4 which is a worrying sign this early, in that match Newbridge beat athy 14-0.

There were a few postponed matches across the 4 divisions and in particular Division 4 and hopefully this is down to teething problems, rather than anything more significant.

In conclusion, the Leinster squad for this season's Interpro series has been named. Leinster are looking to defend that title that they won against Munster last season when the series kicks off in December. Maz Reilly of Old Belvedere has been named as captain of what is a fresh looking squad. In total there are 9 Belvo players in the 24 woman squad, with 5 from Blackrock, 3 from UL Bohemian, 2 from Garda, 2 St Marys and a single Navan and Railway Union representative. Congratulations to all the women who have been selected and I will be reporting on the series later on in the year.

Sarah Lennon (@sarahlennon08) is passionate about all things rugby. A Leinster Season Ticket holder since the Donnybrook days, a supporter of the Irish teams home and abroad and can regularly be seen cheering on Junior Rugby at Stillorgan RFC (a labour of love). As well as spectating, she dabbles in playing a bit and is a member of Old Belvedere RFC and fully paid up member of the front row union.

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