Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Leinster Rugby 2014/2015 Season

We're happy to welcome a new guest poster in @EmmaKayClara...

 

There has been a considerable amount of criticism of the Leinster rugby team as of late, a lot of which has been coming from supporters, me included. There are a few reasons for this such as the coach, Matt O’Connor and his tactics or game plan, individual player performances and the team’s performance as a whole.

The Pro12 Champions started this season with a 22 – 20 loss to Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun Stadium but the following weekend the boys in blue went on to annihilate Scarlets with a gaping hole between the end scores, 42 – 12. It seems that when Leinster are on form they’re on fire. One try after another.

I feel the opening two matches reflect Leinster’s season so far very well, plenty of ups and downs with a few nice tries thrown in. It hasn’t been perfect and there’s a lot of room for improvement.  After a very disappointing defeat to Munster in the Aviva Stadium ending 23 - 34 the players’ confidence must have taken a knock. I noticed a pattern in the complaints following the match, comments such as “you can’t win matches on reputation alone” and “their egos are getting way too big” seemed to be very popular amongst supporters. I disagree, I do not believe egos are the problem. Supporters have also been putting the blame for Leinster’s poor performances on Matt O’Connor. I agree there are flaws in his game plans and tactics this season and that his way of playing does not suit the players he has but the blame cannot be placed solely on his shoulders.

Injury has not been kind to Leinster this year either, with important players missing from the pack until very recently. With both Cian Healy and Sean O’Brien being probably the most influential of those missing from the action this season, the pack has struggled against most teams in the Pro12 competition. The 6 Nations means many of their top players have been called into the Ireland camp so naturally this stirs the team up a bit in terms of fluidity. Sometimes, however, the best matches are those on during the 6 Nations as we get to see the younger players in action and see their abilities.

I think Leinster are a different team than they were before last summer when they won the Pro12. They needed to hit refresh on themselves as a team and fill the holes in the squad left by two hugely influential players, Leo Cullen and Brian O’Driscoll. Leinster have sorely missed these guys but I think they are managing well. It’s a case of reshaping themselves and the way they play. As far as player ratings go...I don’t know how accurate they really are for example Rob Kearney hasn’t really been on top form since January but is still having a positive impact on every game he plays for both Leinster and Ireland. He is still an incredible asset to the team even if he doesn’t appear to be in ‘try scoring machine’ mode. So I think we need to look at the bigger picture rather than picking on individuals.

As a supporter of Leinster Rugby, I think we have been spoilt for success over the past several years and we owe it to the team to support them through this new chapter no matter what the score is at the end of the day. The boys are their own biggest critics and there are huge amounts of pressure on them. Leinster have given us, the Leinster supporters, some fantastic memories over the years. Surely now it’s our turn to back the boys in blue? There’s the whole phrase we constantly hear from players “we need to give the fans something to shout about”, when really we need to be cheering the players on to help them get over the gain line.

Emma McGarry : Hugely interested in all aspects of rugby. Supporter of Irish and Leinster Rugby. "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad" - Brian O'Driscoll

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