Munster, Ireland & Lions fan @trevormurphy73 shares some thoughts on the Lions…
(note : written before team announcement)
It has been an interesting week for the IRB, the citing system and the Lions in general.
Firstly we had a shambolic decision from the judiciary when James Horwill was acquitted. The reason for the citing was a stamp on the head of Alun Wyn Jones an opposing lock forward who was prone and unable to move at the bottom of a ruck. Firstly it was a cowardly act by Horwill. Secondly the QC who presided over the first hearing is obviously a moron or a defence attorney at heart! You might think that’s a bit strong, but look at his decision... There is no logic in it!
He said there could be no certainty of an intentional act of stamping: There is a little wriggle room on this one as to be honest I don’t think Nigel Hampton QC is psychic, however I presume there has to be a modicum of intelligence and common sense to be able to do his job? Look at the manner that James Horwill brought his foot down and it is damned obvious he meant to do harm. He may not have intended to stamp on AWJ’s skull but it’s his responsibility to make sure he doesn’t stamp on anyone. He was balanced and decided to bring his right foot closer to his left and stamp down with every intent to do harm. I don’t have to be psychic to know what was going on. Wake up Nigel Hampton QC.
He found that Horwill was trying to regain his balance after being driven off balance at a maul: The video footage clearly shows he was not off balance as a ruck formed. He was at the side of the ruck where he took his cowardly opportunity to stamp on AWJ. I have an experiment for you all now. Stand with your feet inside the width of your shoulders. Ask someone to gently push you by your shoulder. Once you begin to lose balance what do you do with your legs? Spread them to make your balance more secure or quickly bring your feet closer? Simple little test of logic that shows what utter bullshit the eminent QC came up with in his “verdict”
If that act had been perpetrated by a northern hemisphere player in the NH he would have been banned quickly and for a long time. No question about that. In the Southern Hemisphere it seem that offences against the British & Irish Lions are a pre-requisite and above the law. There have been far too many of this cowardly kind of act going unpunished or at best weakly punished. The Herald Sun decided to prompt people to tweet the hastag #justiceforhorwill on twitter as if he was the victim... This just proves my theory above.
The whole event also brought the lunatic fringe out of the woodwork comparing the incident to the Paul O’Connell Dave Kearney incident. The difference between the two was POC was aiming for the ball. Yes, I felt he should have been cited but I also think he would have been cleared at a hearing. Not certain but given he was striking out at the ball and clipped DK with his shin/calf the balance of probability would be a not guilty verdict. There was no ball for JH to aim for! JH made contact using his studs!
Many fans and people within the rugby world felt this was a slippery slope for the IRB. Many times I saw tweets along the lines of “keep trying the case until you get the verdict you want”. Seriously...? This is not the first time the IRB have gotten involved after a citing result. It doesn’t happen often but it has happened. The previous case involved Adam Thompson where the IRB appealed the length of the ban received. Thompson had been banned for a week and the IRB stepped in. If you look at the video impartially you can see it was a bad incident. When I first saw it I was shocked at how serious it was. Turns out I was right. There will be many who argue the decisions involved but the facts are clear. Look at it again and see the offending player go from a stable position to one inherently unstable except for the skull he was using to stay balanced.
On the playing side of this series I fear we are in some deep trouble. The Lions have been very strong in defence but you cannot expect to win a series being defensive for 80 minutes. We are lacking line breakers in midfield. Australia were entirely too comfortable defending against this Lions side in the second test. We did look dangerous when our wide players ran the ball from deep. We have some serious gas out wide and deep but we are kicking the ball away far too often. I hope the players can break the game plan in the last test and show their abilities. You do not beat a SH team too often relying on set plays all the time. Look at NZ when they play, their wide players see mismatches quickly and capitalise. Their players aren’t twice as fast as North, Bowe and ½p they just use the space more efficiently.
The key to getting the a win against Australia will be players taking the ball up hard and breaking the gain line and the support shutting down the Australian back row from creating turnovers. Given this and quick distribution we can build momentum until we get some mismatches. It’s a simple game really. Get your opponents moving backwards, get the big lads defending in wide channels, apply pressure and force mistakes. The inclusion of Sean O’Brien in the back row could make a significant difference. He is a natural ball carrier and takes a lot of stopping. However, If he is stopped the Lions have to quickly redirect their attack to find the spaces left by two or three man tackles against O’Brien or the centres. Fingers are well and truly crossed for this game folks! All I can say now is
I’m Trevor, 39. A passionate Munster and Irish Rugby Fan. I have strong opinions on this beautiful game of ours. Stand up and fight!