Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Front Five - 30.06.15

Start your day with five eye-catching egg-chasing quotes & links from around the ruggersphere.

We have another 5 pairs of tickets to the Ireland v Belgium rugby league international
to give away - click here for details

Women's rugby in Ireland has been handed another major boost following the announcement that Dublin will host to a World Rugby Sevens tournament in August.

Browne delight at another boost for Women's rugby

Cian Tracey - Irish Independent

24-year-old Macken’s skillset and physical qualities mean he seems well suited to Wasps’ attacking rugby under Dai Young.

Here’s a run-down of which Irish players have signed for which clubs

Murray Kinsella - The42.ie

6 Rhys Ruddock (Ireland)
The son for former Wales flanker has been left out of Ireland’s squad after breaking his right arm for the second time in six months.
Gareth Griffiths - WalesOnline

Some captains have the charisma of a can of beans, but if we’re still talking about the other impressive captains 12 years later, it’s safe to assume they had something about them.
Alan Dymock - Rugby World

Rugby Onslaught

Feel free to share any interesting links you spot yourself about t’internet by email, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, blog comment or carrier pigeon – whatever works for you. JLP
Note - views expressed in "Front Five" links do not necessarily reflect those of HarpinOnRugby

Monday, June 29, 2015

Waratahs-17 Highlanders-35

Obviously we much prefer harpin’ on Leinster & Ireland rugby in this little corner of t’internet, but when there’s none to be had we don’t mind looking elsewhere.

Yet one thing we don’t want to do is present a writeup on something like Super Rugby as though we had perfect knowledge of the competition.  To us fans who are more used to rugby on this side of the planet, Super Rugby is a meal generally consumed on Saturday mornings, often when nursing the effects of a beverage or two the night before.  A breakfast roll for the eyes, as it were.

And unless you have a particular favourite team among the 15, you often find yourself watching a match looking for links to your own favourites back home.  Like last season here at HoR we “adopted” the Waratahs partly because of the attractive brand of rugby they were playing but having Michael Cheika as coach as well as Leinster-bound Kane Douglas in the squad certainly didn’t hurt.

When this season kicked off, I was still interested to see how the Tahs were getting on, but over on South Island in New Zealand the Highlanders were catching the eye as well with their own style, which in turn led to their attack coach Tony Brown being linked to the vacant head coach position at Leinster.  So in many ways this made for the perfect contest for us to cover.

So I guess now would be a good time to start covering it!!!

Michael Cheika leads a team to its first major title, then the following season, when he has other ventures on his mind, gets them only as far as the semifinals when they defend their crown.  

Sorry for the crude comparison between Leinster 2009-10 and the Waratahs 2014-15 but from where I’m sitting it’s a pretty easy one to make.

Something has to account for a swing from a 44-16 win over last season’s Highlanders (who were no slouches then either; they also made the final series) to a 17-35 defeat this time around at the same venue?  We need to ask ourselves if we can pin this result on Cheika and his squad as a failure, or was it something external?   Best look at the three leading contenders for number one scapegoat and see where we come out.  I have ranked them in ascending order as I see them.

3.  The Highlanders were good

The Highlanders HAVE been good all season, and their direct style has not only been a joy to watch but it also earned them their first ever home match in a finals series.  But for this match they completely ripped up that playbook and went a lot more “old school”, playing their role as both away side and underdogs to a T.

Of course my above claim may seem a bit odd given they produced a whopping five tries at the Sydney Football Stadium but with the exception of the last one, which was scored with the contest pretty much over, there was an element of good fortune each time.

First we had Aaron Smith pouncing on an errant pass from the base of a scrum in his own 22 by Palu.  Tries two and four were contentious from a referee’s standpoint and I will cover those in the next point and Naholo’s try, while impressive in that he kicked it through to touch down himself, needed a lucky bounce to keep it in the end zone.

Overall the Highlanders game plan was not to go all out attack as they had done all season, rather it was to pin the reigning champs in their own 22 where possible and even go for drop goals rather than tries when they thought they had the chance (could that be considered heresy in NZ rugby circles?).  

But to be fair, while things weren’t exactly going perfectly on the Highlanders side of the equation, their approach did make sense and for the most part they made a decent stab of executing it.  Still though, I would only rank their own contribution at number 3 as a contribution to the result.

2. Craig’s List of woe

The Aussie press suggested that referee Craig Joubert had a shocker of an outing in this match and his biggest howler was his interpretation of Jacques Potgeiter’s challenge on Patrick Osbourne who looked like he was about to score.  For the most part twittersphere seemed to agree.  I don’t, at least not exactly.

In case you didn’t see what happened, shortly after that Naholo try I mentioned above, the Highlanders won a penalty deep in the Tahs 22 and their outhalf Sapoaga faked a kick to touch and did a tap ‘n’ go instead.  It caught the home side by surprise and culminated in Osbourne getting to the try line.  

The ref decided to let the TMO have a look at the grounding, but the replay showed that the Waratahs’ South African-born forward made a last-ditch attempt to stop the try with his arm.

My contention is that if you commit to swinging your arm you have to accept responsibility for where it lands.  For this reason, I actually agree with Joubert’s assertion that since the arm connects with Osbourne’s head, it is a foul.  And since the connection with the head prevents a try being scored, the result should be a penalty try.  And since the try would have been scored under the posts anyway, the foul is in yellow card territory as well.  

And it’s not as though the ref didn’t spell out his reasoning for everyone to hear either.  It made perfect sense to me anyway, at least in this given situation.

HOWEVER...in the context of the match, I felt his actions showed a measure of inconsistency.

The Waratahs got the game’s opening try in the 10th minute courtesy of Rob Horne, who I felt was their best player on the night.  But as he touched down he received a high shot of his own from Naholo.  Even though the try was scored in this case I thought there was a case for at least looking at the challenge again, possibly with a view to a card.

And it didn’t stop there...shortly before the Potgeiter call Naholo was at it again when a ball kicked forward into the 22 was cleaned up by outhalf Foley and I felt the winger caught him high a second time, and what’s more he knew it too, making that he was injured afterwards.  

I have nothing against Naholo as a player and he has scored some fine tries for his side this season, but I do feel the Tahs were hard done by on the Potgeiter call given the other two challenges, much more visible on first look, weren’t even considered worthy for the TMO.

And the inconsistency didn’t end there - Joubert ruled Tahs scrumhalf Nick Phipps as tackled when he got up and continued running in the first half...it didn’t seem too serious a call at the time as the home side were able to go back for an advantage.  

Yet the call seemed a lot more serious when the Highlanders centre Richard Buckman was deemed NOT tackled in what looked like a very similar situation and as a result he went on to get his side’s second try at the 32-minute mark.

Those two controversial scores were the only ones the Highlanders converted on the night, so it’s hard to deny the result could have been different without those fourteen points.  Or at least it is until you consider my choice of number one reason this match went the way it did.

1. The Tahs had a shocker

As far as I’m concerned, if you're going to harp on the referee’s decisions as if they somehow decided the result, you’d best be able to stand by your own side’s performance, and for this match Michael Cheika most certainly cannot.

Now before I criticise...much like it wasn’t all perfection from the visitors, it wasn’t all bad from the Tahs.  Despite the hefty final margin they were pretty good on general D especially in the early stages and after being pinned back in their own 22 for the opening few minutes, they did manage a decent try out of their first good possession.

But while any team would miss a player of the calibre of Kurtley Beale, I felt very few of their woes in this match stemmed from something missing at inside centre.

Right from the kickoff a halfback mixup saw a routine pass fired into thin air, then we had the Palu error leading to the Aaron Smith try, Foley was having a shocker kicking from the hand, and last and certainly not least, the Highlanders had their hosts’ number at the lineout, pinching four at key situations.

Back in 2010 I felt Leinster’s season fizzled out after it was known Michael Cheika was moving on.  It would probably be disingenuous to suggest a link between that and the coach having the mother of World Cup pools of death on his mind this time around, but while I freely admit I haven’t seen the Tahs’ 2015 campaign in its entirety, I have to say the thought did cross my mind as I was watching this display.  

Simply put...if you knew nothing at all about Super Rugby and were told one of these two sides were reigning champions, you’d have been hard pressed to tell which one it was.

Maybe the margin was a bit harsh on the Tahs, but there is absolutely no doubt that the right team one as far as I’m concerned. 

So what now for the Highlanders...do they have enough to stand in the way of the Hurricanes in next weekend’s All-Kiwi final in the nation’s capital?  The odds will be against them for sure, but they showed in Sydney they can adapt their style of play to match their surroundings.  

It will most definitely be worth getting up for 8:30 on Saturday morning for, whatever state I’m in!!!  And what's more I'll look forward to harpin' on it here next Monday. JLP

Ireland's Rugby League squad announced

Congrats to the winners of our Rugby League Ireland competition
(phase 2)

Each wins 2 tickets to the Ireland v Belgium match







The training squad for our upcoming game vs Belgium has been announced. The squad has a great balance of youth and experience, along with players who would hope to gain their first taste of international rugby. 

The players were put forward by their own clubs and will train together on Sunday July 5th (Venue TBC) where head coach Carl de Chenu will put them through their paces and pick his match day squad for the following week. 

RLI would like to say congratulations to all players who have made the squad and the best of luck to them in their upcoming match. 

Ballynahinch Rabbitohs
Ballynahinch Rabbitohs
Ballynahinch Rabbitohs
Ballynahinch Rabbitohs
Ballynahinch Rabbitohs
Ballynahinch Rabbitohs
Ballynahinch Rabbitohs
Ballynahinch Rabbitohs
Ballynahinch Rabbitohs
Ballynahinch Rabbitohs
Galway Tribesmen
Galway Tribesmen
Galway Tribesmen
Cork Bulls
Cork Bulls
Cork Bulls
Cork Bulls
Cork Bulls
Cork Bulls
Belfast Met Scholars
Belfast Met Scholars
Belfast Met Scholars
Belfast Met Scholars
Dublin City Exiles
Dublin City Exiles
Dublin City Exiles
Dublin City Exiles
Dublin City Exiles
Dublin City Exiles
Dublin City Exiles
Dublin City Exiles
West Dublin Bears
West Dublin Bears
West Dublin Bears
West Dublin Bears
Mc Creery
West Dublin Bears
West Dublin Bears
Athboy Longhorns
Athboy Longhorns
Athboy Longhorns
Athboy Longhorns
Athboy Longhorns
Athboy Longhorns
Athboy Longhorns
Portadown Pumas
Portadown Pumas
Portadown Pumas
Portadown Pumas
Portadown Pumas
Portadown Pumas
Portadown Pumas
Portadown Pumas

Ireland Vs Belgium takes place in the Carlisle grounds in Bray, Co. Wicklow. KO 3pm, Adult tickets are €5, kids u16/students/OAP's go free. Tickets are available on Ticketmaster. 

Front Five - 29.06.15

Start your day with five eye-catching egg-chasing quotes & links from around the ruggersphere.

Later today on HarpinOnRugby...
Our Waratahs v Highlanders writeup
is titled "Tah tah for now"

Right now (Nucifora) is probably the busiest person working in sport in this country. And he probably has the most difficult job as well.

'There is belief in the team they are capable of beating anyone'

John Fallon - Irish Independent

“The guy’s only millimetres away from scoring. It’s a swinging arm to the head. It prevents a probable try. It’s a yellow card and a penalty try.”

Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter sin-binned, Highlanders awarded penalty try

Christy Doran - FoxSports.com.au

Cheika is poised to reveal his appointment this week alongside a 35-strong squad to meet up in Queensland next weekend.
Anthony Woolford - WalesOnline

Denison, now 36, (became) one of the prime movers behind a multi-faceted campaign to end homophobia in sport which this month received two major international awards.
Stephanie Wood - Rugby Heaven

He is proving capable of causing some damage as he develops his game.

Turns Out The Tongan Thor Is Pretty Light On His Feet For A 135kg Prop


Feel free to share any interesting links you spot yourself about t’internet by email, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, blog comment or carrier pigeon – whatever works for you. JLP
Note - views expressed in "Front Five" links do not necessarily reflect those of HarpinOnRugby

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Front Five - 28.06.15

Start your day with five eye-catching egg-chasing quotes & links from around the ruggersphere.

Our competition for 5 pairs of tickets to Ireland's upcoming rugby league international closes this evening

Click here for details


A final decision on the host nation will be made in May of that year by World Rugby.

The French Rugby Federation will bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup

Sky Sports

Pool B: Ireland, Ukraine, Belgium, Romania

Draw for Lisbon repecharge announced

John Birch - ScrumQueens.com

...the truth is that Robshaw is a very good Test rugby player, hugely respected by colleagues and opponents alike
Steve James - Telegraph

Cheika’s life as an international coach flashed before his eyes when he was asked about the Highlanders’ penalty try
Russell Jackson - FoxSports.com.au (via AAP)

"That's not physically possible is it?" - commentator

Rugby league star shows ludicrous agility to score incredible leaping try

Ben Kiely - SportsJOE.ie

Feel free to share any interesting links you spot yourself about t’internet by email, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, blog comment or carrier pigeon – whatever works for you. JLP
Note - views expressed in "Front Five" links do not necessarily reflect those of HarpinOnRugby

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Front Five - 27.06.15

Start your day with five eye-catching egg-chasing quotes & links from around the ruggersphere.

Win tickets to watch Ireland play Belgium in a Rugby League international in our latest competition - Click here to enter

“I wouldn’t view myself as competing with Johnny, Paddy or Ian,”

Ian Madigan keeping his eye on the ball

Johnny Watterson - Irish Times

I don't think it's unreasonable for people to have expected for Leinster to get to the cup semi-finals and get to the play-offs domestically given the resources at their disposal.

Hickie tells Leinster to think outside box in search for new coach

Cian Tracey - Irish Independent

I suspect Gatland wouldn’t really have wanted the law introduced in the first place and he certainly doesn’t want it named after him.
Simon Thomas - WalesOnline

Their abrasive playing style is a reflection of their coach and former All Black Jamie Joseph, who has done a stellar job in guiding them to this semi-final.
Christopher Roche - The Roar

"[My book] will cater to the middle-aged men who have said, “Oh shoot, this is all the stuff I missed out on on Leeson Street.”

An essential history of George Hook’s career as an erotic novelist

The Daily Edge

Feel free to share any interesting links you spot yourself about t’internet by email, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, blog comment or carrier pigeon – whatever works for you. JLP
Note - views expressed in "Front Five" links do not necessarily reflect those of HarpinOnRugby

Friday, June 26, 2015

Rugby League Ireland competition

Courtesy of Rugby League Ireland, we have TEN pairs of tickets to give away for Ireland's upcoming rugby league international with Belgium...


On the 12th of July in the Carlisle grounds in Bray, Co. Wicklow, Rugby League Ireland will host Belgium in a test match, boasting a completely domestic-based Irish team. This will be the first team of its kind and will be the first meeting of the two sides in International Rugby League. The Belgians, are coached by former Leigh, Oldham and Oxford boss Tony Benson who has been involved with Ireland previously and we look forward to welcoming him back to Ireland.

The Irish team, sponsored by McGettigan’s, will be coached by Current Students head coach Carl de Chenu. De Chenu has a strong pedigree himself and has time and time again proved himself worthy with the Irish student team and has a lot of support stepping up to the senior level. The team will have a mix of players who have played at Ireland A level and players who will be getting their first taste of International rugby league. This match, the first of three will give all players involved a full international cap. 

The other two matches will be away, versus Serbia on August 29 and Malta on September 5. 

“These games will help develop our local players and prepare them to step up to the European Championship games in the autumn,” said Richard Egan, Director of RLI. 



Each win a pair of tickets to Ireland v Belgium






Congrats to all winners you will be notified shortly about collecting your prize.  

There are still FIVE more tickets to give away...stay tuned to the HarpinOnRugby social media channels Monday evening for news how to enter (slightly different format)

Front Five - 26.06.15

Start your day with five eye-catching egg-chasing quotes & links from around the ruggersphere.

I guess Matt didn't agree that to expect Leinster
to beat the Dragons at home is"realistic"

“You can’t win every year. That’s the reality of it. No-one wins every year and I think the Leinster fans, as fantastic as they have been, need to have a little bit more clarity in relation to what is acceptable and what is realistic.”

O’Connor backs Cullen to take Leinster reins as he hits out at fans

Cian Tracey - Irish Independent

In his judgment, the chairman of the disciplinary panel, Christopher Quinlan, QC, stated unequivocally: “Such behaviour undermines public confidence in the integrity of the sport and strikes at the foundations of the game.”

Former Leicester Tigers defence coach Phil Blake banned for placing eight separate bets on his own team

Mick Cleary - Telegraph

"I reckon our pool could be the toughest of the lot, but with the experience our lads have gained throughout the season, I expect us to reach the quarter-finals.”
The Rugby Paper

While no team has got anywhere near the Hurricanes all season, defending champions Waratahs have been their closet challengers

"I played in the semi-final of a Leinster Senior Cup match in 1975 and then I played in an FAI Cup Final the next day."

The Only Man To Play 3 Sports In Dalymount, Lansdowne Road And Croker At Senior Level

Conor Neville - Balls.ie

Feel free to share any interesting links you spot yourself about t’internet by email, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, blog comment or carrier pigeon – whatever works for you. JLP
Note - views expressed in "Front Five" links do not necessarily reflect those of HarpinOnRugby


Taken by JLP from RDS press box on Nov 16, 2019