Please give a warm ruggersphere welcome to the new Leinster & Ireland fan site Down The Laighin…
Another season awaits. New players, new jerseys, new boots and new fan-sites. Leinster Rugby go into the 2013/14 season, on the back of a last years league and European double, full of confidence and expectation. With new man Matt O'Connor at the helm, the Boys in Blue will be looking to get off to a good start on Friday when they travel to Wales to face the Scarlets.
With the loss of Jonathan Sexton, Isa Nacewa, Eoin O'Malley and Fionn Carr to name but a few, Leinster will need new boys Jimmy Gopperth and Zane Kirchner to get off to a quick start. They will look to avoid a similar debut to Joe Schmidt when he took over the helm in 2010, losing five of his opening six games in charge.
This year will also see Brian O'Driscoll take part in his last season as a professional rugby player. If nothing else, that is reason enough to follow the Boys in Blue this year. O'Driscoll, who has appeared for the province over 170 times will go down as one of the greatest the game has ever seen and Irish and Leinster fans are privileged to have seen him play so many times.
Leinster will oddly enough not be looking to defend their European crown this year, more like upgrading it, as they aim for a return to the upper echelons of European Rugby. The Heineken Cup kicks off in October and once again Leinster will face a tough task to progress out of the pool stages with old Welsh rivals Ospreys, French champions Castres and beaten finalists in England the Northampton Saints for company.
As if the provincial rugby wasn't enough to satisfy the senses, the Ireland team face a tough Autumn series against Samoa, Australia and the mighty All Blacks in November. Joe Schmidt will take charge of Ireland on home soil for the first time as they get themselves prepared for the World Champions and of course the RBS Six Nations.
The 2013/2014 season is just days away and you can follow not only Leinster's progress but the four provinces and Ireland here with our friends on Harpin on Rugby as well as on www.downthelaighin.com. We're looking forward to it, are you?
Read more from Down The Laighin at: www.downthelaighin.com