Monday, November 30, 2015

Leinster-8 Ulster-3

LEINvULS Nov 2015


logo post blueBefore Leinster first won the Heineken Cup in 2009, oddly enough it wasn’t the lack of European success that was most frustrating for me as a fan.  It was actually the ever-increasing amount of times the province was described as a “sleeping giant”.

Thankfully the good times came and the phrase no longer applied to least until one of the next teams to assume the mantle, Toulon, did an even better job of making it redundant.

So to keep the slumber metaphors going, it could be said that the Wasps game a couple of weeks ago was something of a “wake up call” for us, though maybe the question we need to ask ourselves isn’t so much about the “sleeping” part as it is about the “giant” - are we still one when it comes to European rugby?

This particular Leinster/Ulster matchup was a chance for both teams to bounce back after defeats by Premiership opposition.  And as I said in my preview, there were also subplots going on in different categories...some are still picking themselves up after the World Cup, some are keen to show they should have gone and some are keen to show they’re strong candidates to be going to the next one.

All of the above means that you didn’t even need the whole “oldest interprovincial rivalry” spiel to sell this match.  There was so much at stake for the two sides, this was an occasion that could sell itself. 

Well, if that wasn’t enough to make you go to the RDS or at least watch it live, were you to find out that not only was the final score 8-3 but so was the half-time one, you might be forgiven for thinking that you didn’t miss much.  Well, you’d have been wrong.

I was never too much of a believer in the adage “attack is the best form defence”.   For me, in any team sport you won’t build anything close to a championship-winning side without a solid defensive base.

Last week, Leinster fell just short against a team coached by Mike Ford, the man who pretty much introduced Irish Rugby to the modern techniques of playing without the ball.  And this week, we faced a team now coached by Les Kiss, who brought it all to the next level. 

But while our scrum did certainly did have its issues over in the Rec, the home side needed every bit of that set-piece advantage to scrape a victory by just 3 points.  And this week, though our opposition was even tougher to break down, we still finished the game on top.

Why?  Because we’ve got Kurt McQuilkin back and after 8 rounds of this season’s Pro12 Leinster have the best defence in the league.  (And if you’re wondering how 33 points shipped v Wasps supports my theory of good defence, a chunk of those were down to mistakes in other areas and besides, our general form both before that day and since makes the display look more and more like a blip)

OK, I get it...defence certainly isn’t the sexiest thing about watching rugby.  Unless it’s people getting the stuffing knocked out of them, we don’t see a whole lot of “gifs” and YouTube compilations featuring defensive action.  I very much doubt there’s too many gathering around the water cooler on Monday harping on Marty Moore’s turnover after 57 minutes.

But you know what?  Maybe they should be.  You could say Moore’s speed getting over the ball and locking his body position won us the four match points every bit as much as Sean Cronin’s try did.

Of course it’s a no-brainer that you need to put points on the scoreboard to win matches.  Still though - if you can restrict your opposition to just three and be pretty safe in the knowledge that even after another eighty minutes they probably wouldn’t have crossed your line, that has to be a good thing you can build on.

And to fully appreciate the defence, you’ll only get so much from the tackling stats.  Yes, they show Josh van der Flier led the way with a whopping 18, Heaslip and Madigan with 12 and James Tracy 11 off the bench.  But you have to see what I call the “fifteen-headed blue monster” in action to fully appreciate what it can do.

It’s about the covering, the positioning, the line speed, everyone working for each other and making sure their channel doesn’t get breached.  And it’s about making those tackles in the 80th minute as well as the 1st.  It’s a commitment to putting your body on the line.  Plus, of course, what made this game even more interesting for us defensive nerds was the fact that Ulster were almost just as good, with the “almost” being key.

I actually think a scoreline like 15-6 would have been a better reflection of what went on - doesn’t seem all that much different I know it it would have meant an extra try for us and denied the visitors a losing bonus.

First, let’s look at the try we did get.  It came as much from a determination to banish demons from the weeks gone by as it did from anything else.  The scoreline was 3-3 but we were well in the ascendancy, and we started passing up kickable penalties to get the ball over their line.

Anyone who has watched Leinster in recent weeks could be forgiven for pulling their hair out when an attacking lineout was stolen by Robbie Diack - this wasn’t the first time we’d failed to secure a set piece in this situation.  I’m willing to give them a pass for this, however, as it was our only set-piece set-back on the night...after all that happened last week, 14/15 at lineouts and especially 9/9 on our scrums are stats not to be sneezed at.

But shortly after, when Eoin Reddan, on for Luke McGrath who had big Nick Williams of all people land on his leg, made an opportunistic dart up the touchline which caught the Ulster D off guard momentarily, they were pinged for offside.  Again we went for the corner and at this stage of the contest, it was pretty much imperative that we crossed.

The way this match turned out, the actual try is something of an aberration in that we made it look so simple.  Lineout, catch, maul, drive over the line, Sean Cronin dots it down.  Nothing we didn’t deserve, but still a massive relief for the Leinster faithful who had resisted the urge to go Black Friday shopping.

A few more points on the board may have made the crowd feel better about braving the cold, but it wasn’t to be - the second half followed a pattern of chances for the home side being thwarted by Ulster tackling here, Leinster mistakes there.

Though to be fair to Ben Te’o, while the line was at his mercy, to say “all he had to do was catch the pass from Sexton” doesn’t really get across just how fast the ball was coming to him.  It needed to be fizzed it’s true, but all I’m saying is that it would have been tough for anyone to take cleanly.

Later it was down to Rory Best to thwart us as he brilliantly held up Josh van der Flier over the line.  Shortly after that, Eoin Reddan just plain dropped it after a scrum and from there the game kind of fizzled out...unfortunately that was only the 60th minute!!!!

But as I have said, there was plenty for both sides to take from the occasion.  Ulster never looked like troubling the scorers and their halfbacks have definitely had better outings together, but they did impress in several defensive scenarios particularly in scrums in their own 22, employing Williams off the base and clearing with relative ease each time.

And in Rory Best I think we may have our best choice as Ireland captain, at least for the time being.  The Jamie Heaslip negativity train keeps rolling on in many quarters and I really don’t want to add to it, but personally I feel he is a player better suited to getting on with his own game rather than having to focus on captaincy duties as well. 

Best is a better “ref handler” the way I see it - even the way he avoided a penalty when dropping his shoulder in a ruck in a similar fashion to Mike McCarthy earlier on shows he’s a good candidate for the role.  The best skippers get away with more, just ask Messrs McCaw & Warburton ;-)

Going back to Leinster’s side of the equation, Mike McCarthy is as good a place to start as any.  Seemed to play his part in our scrum stability but his general play around the pitch is what impressed most of all.  He’s as close to a Nathan Hines replacement as we’ve had when he’s on his game which he certainly seems to be now.

Then there’s Josh van der Flier.  It doesn’t look like it will be long before we can stop telling those around us “he’s the bloke in the red scrum cap”.  Many impressed for the A side in recent B&I Cup campaigns but few have made the step up to senior level look so effortless.  Say what you like about the abundance of back row talent at Leo Cullen’s disposal - Josh looks like he belongs and it would be tough to leave him out even with the tricky schedule coming up.

And Johnny Sexton?  Well we definitely did see a lot more flashes of brilliance from him on Friday but I still think he hasn’t quite settled back into his second spell at Leinster just yet.  The wraparound with Madigan looks more effective and despite the questionable abbreviations I’d like to see this 10/12 combo kept together.  That said, they probably used it once too often and eventually it was easily read by the Ulster D, and from an overall attacking perspective I think we were probably trying too hard to make things happen if anything.  The decision making needs to be better.

But on a weekend when Irish rugby got to retreat into its own bubble to see where it stands, while Connacht definitely took the top honours and thoroughly deserve their place atop the Pro12 table, both teams on Friday had plenty of positives to take away and you have to assume Munster can find a way to fix what was a disappointing outing particularly in the first half.

Returning to my original question...are Leinster still a giant in European rugby? answer is yes, but these days, that’s relative.  With the shift in financial power across the three domestic league in recent years, the continent now has a lot more giants vying for the biggest prize.

One rugby drama that is unfolding these days, only not entirely before our eyes, is that of contract negotiations, and tis the season when our pulling power is tested to the full now more than ever.   Leinster may be giants, but if we’re not careful we might find ourselves sleeping for an even longer period down the line if we let too much talent get away.

But as for Leo Cullen and his squad, they have to focus on the here and now, with trips to two reigning champions, Glasgow and Toulon, on the horizon.  What we get from those travels could have a significant bearing on how the season will go, not to mention how many bums will go on seats at the Aviva for the return against the reigning champions.

If we keep our defensive standards where they are now, we’ll give ourselves every chance and not a whole lot of teams say that these days when visiting either Scotstoun or the Stade Mayol.  JLP

Leinster release injury updates for Sexton, O’Brien & others

from Leinster Rugby…

Leinster Squad Update

Sean O'Brien
As outlined by Head Coach Leo Cullen in the pre-match media event last Thursday and again mentioned to Sunday media after the game on Friday evening, after further investigation during the Return to Play Protocols and having met with an ear specialist, Sean is now also being treated for an inner ear issue - vestibular impairment, which affects his balance. He took a limited part in training today and will be assessed on an ongoing basis.

Richardt Strauss
Richardt has passed the Return to Play Protocols, trained today and is available for selection this weekend.

Rob Kearney
Rob trained today and we are hopeful that having been ruled out of Friday's game and having had a few extra days of treatment that he will be available for selection this weekend after his hamstring issue.

Luke McGrath
Luke has a medial strain and will be out of the game this weekend. However he is expected to be back in contention for the visit to Toulon.

Noel Reid
Noel hasn't broken any bone in his ankle but there is ligament damage. He is waiting for the results of a further scan before seeing a specialist later this week to decide on the best course of action.

Johnny Sexton
Johnny took a bang to the back and was only suffering from some stiffness after the game. He is available for selection this weekend.

Front Five - 30.11.15

Start your day with five eye-catching egg-chasing quotes & links from around the ruggersphere.
Later today on HarpinOnRugby…
our Leinster v Ulster writeup is titled “Snooze Button”

The chairman of World Rugby says Jonah Lomu "will forever be a big part of rugby's story."


Jonah Lomu memorial

Morgan Tait, Dana Johannsen - NZ Herald

UCD...showed their ability to win a tight contest when coming from behind to defeat Garryowen 13-6 at Dooradoyle.


Ulster Bank League round-up

Irish Times

The win saw Bohs overtake 'Rock and secure top spot for the play-offs.


Bohemians sink 'Rock

Irish Independent

With a shortage of genuine international calibre number 8s in Ireland, Stander must be a big priority for the IRFU this summer as Jamie Heaslip isn’t getting any younger.

Jack O'Toole - Pundit Arena

Bloody Potatoes.

Donncha O'Callaghan Reveals The Irish Stereotype He's Subjected To At His New Club 

Conor O'Leary -

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, November 29, 2015

Online comments after Leinster v Ulster

In a new regular feature this season we’ll be sharing some of the initial “keyboard warrior” response to our featured matches of the weekend ahead of our writeup.

If you’d like to contribute stay tuned to our Facebook page for our “Feel free to leave your thoughts…” posts which show up around full time after Leinster & Ireland matches.

Rugby Opinion

The scoreline probably wouldn't suggest it, but it was an exciting game! Solid defence on both sides, Ulster deserved their bonus point.

Cian Ormond

Reddan was awful. We looked much better when McGrath was on. Fancy that though - the smallest player on the pitch survived Nick Williams landing on him!

Cormac Mannion

A lot of honest endeavour but a little concerned by the general game management, sometimes I feel a team should just set up a drop goal to unstick the score board. I think Leinster have been a little guilty of that in the past few games.

Andrew Potts

Tough conditions and a win is a win but was closer than it needed to be as a few chances were butchered in the 22. Sexton looks like he needs a break

Richard Collumb

A very good effort. Butchered a few chances and one or two players off a little but all in all a job well done.

Chris Mcdonnell

The kind of win that can make a big difference to a team.

Micheal Mac An TSagairt

Many thanks to all who offered opinions.

Look out Monday for our match writeup JLP

Narrow win for Leinster in a tense game

by Ciarán Duffy

Resilient Leinster get the win they need

Some games are won by defence, this was one of those games.  It was an improvement, a big improvement, and a crucial win.  After two significant losses a win here was key.  8-3 doesn’t portray the game as the exciting spectacle it was.  It was a proper inter-pro derby on a freezing cold Friday night, and a fairly full RDS was demanding a big performance.  

There were still plenty of handling errors, the lineout malfunctioned a few times, and a one-try return does not tell the story of how long Leinster spent in Ulster’s half.  Having started well Sexton slotted a penalty to put Leinster ahead, but immediately from the restart, Leinster put themselves under huge pressure and conceded a penalty.  For all the world you would expect that to be punished, Paddy Jackson missed a very kickable penalty, worrying signs for Irelands third choice fly-half.  Jackson did get his second attempt to make it 3-3.  

Once Ulster had drawn level, Leinster had all the attacking possession.  But as the minutes ticked on, the parallels between this match and the Wasps game were becoming evident.  The attack was far too narrow.  Too many numbers behind the breakdown waiting to carry it into contact again.  Zane Kirchner was a lonely man on the far side of the field as the point of attack remained the same.  The failure to get the ball through the hands quickly made it easy for Ulster to defend.  This has to change, less phases within 10 metres of the opponent’s try-line, get more numbers to the breakdown to get the ball out quickly, and then work the defence.  One occasion the ball did go wide, a poor pass from Nacewa, not like him, made sure Zane Kirchner could not convert on his 50th appearance for Leinster.  

A few wasted opportunities later Leinster got their try, a well worked lineout maul saw Sean Cronin touch down.  It was a deserved lead, neither side were particularly good, but Leinster were better.  Once again immediately after conceding Ulster but the pressure on, this time it was dealt with, half time, 5 points didn’t seem like it would be a big enough lead.  

Ultimately it was, with neither team adding to the score line in the second half.  That’s not to say there were no chances.  Rory Best did well to hold up a try, which would have but the game out of reach.  A large amount of the second half was played just on the Ulster side of the halfway line, with Leinster unable to find their way through.  Ulster still looked threatening, with plenty of counter-attacking opportunities to worry a shaken Leinster side, nearly stealing the win at the end of the game.  Leinsters defence held out, with Josh Van der Flier putting in an outstanding performance, a week after making a huge impact off the bench.  

There were brief glimpses of a return to the quick passing play we’ve all come to love, but it was just that, glimpses.  Luke Fitzgerald was constantly making things happen, he is crucial for Leinster getting back too winning ways on a more consistent basis.  Plenty to be happy about, Ulster weren’t great but could have come away with more than just a losing bonus point.  Leinster held out for the win, a win that will be pivotal for their season.  Ulster still haven’t won back to back away games in the league since February, next week against Edinburgh is crucial for them with their European campaign taking a big blow last week.  Injuries to Luke McGrath, Noel Reid and Johnny Sexton are a concern after the game, with Reids looking particularly serious.  Leinster get what they needed, with further improvements needed again next time round.

Ciarán Duffy (@VoiceQuakeDuffy) is a Leinster supporter who would watch any game of rugby while undoubtedly taking it too seriously.  He enjoys over analysing and taking a pessimistic look at the bright side while talking about Irish, European, and World Rugby issues on and off the field.  

Tune in to Post to Post Wednesdays from 12 on, myself and my Ulster-supporting co-host Mark Borland will be covering both of this weekends inter pro derbies, along with the heavyweight clashes in the top 14, and anything else the rugby world has to offer this week.  Follow us on Facebook, Post to Post on MarsFM.  


Want to see your own rugby opinions on the web?
Click "Write for us" in the sidebar to find out how.

Front Five - 30.11.15

Start your day with five eye-catching egg-chasing quotes & links from around the ruggersphere.
It’s brilliant for Irish rugby to see Connacht doing so well
It will be even better if and when the other three provinces
rise to meet the standards set by Pat Lam’s men

"Johnny's ok, he just got a bit of a bang, so we took him off." - Leo Cullen


Injury update - latest on McGrath, Reid & Sexton

Conor Sharkey - Leinster Rugby

It was no more than Connacht deserved, worthy winners on a famous night for the province and Pro12 leaders.


Connacht soar with first Thomond Park win in 29 years

John O'Sullivan - Irish Times

If (Connacht) were the Green Lantern Corps, Munster were the red shirted boobs in the original Star Trek that Kirk would regularly send to their deaths...


Munster V Connacht :: The Wally Ratings

Three Red Kings

It’s fair to say this wasn’t end to end stuff.

Simon Thomas - Wales Online

“You have to give Hartley a very clear understanding of what you expect from him. Yellow cards simply cannot be a part of it."

Bad-boy Dylan Hartley has to be next England captain, insists former Lions boss

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, November 28, 2015

Front Five - 28.11.15

Start your day with five eye-catching egg-chasing quotes & links from around the ruggersphere.
Unless you happen to be a fan of well-drilled D
you could say it was a “Bleak Friday”
for rugby at the RDS last night

He carried hard, tackled harder and was a menace at the breakdown and, while the excellent Luke Fitzgerald won man of the match, it was the No7 who was the influential figure in the game.


Van der Flier grabs chance to shake up pecking order

Ruaidhri O'Connor - Irish Independent

USA international outhalf AJ MacGinty is named in the number 10 shirt for his first Pro12 start.


Anthony Foley and Pat Lam ring changes for showdown

RTÉ Rugby

...a number of domestic games will be moved in order to accomodate them.


European fixtures, postponed after Paris attacks, rescheduled

Irish Times

As the WRU enters into a new era under the guidance of Martyn Phillips and Gareth Davies, it is clear that the organisation is at odds with itself.

@RugbyPhilBB ~ Views on Rugby

I for one can't wait to see Cian Healy pushing the duty free cart around...

Lovely Moment As Fijian Rugby Players Help Out In Flight Attendant's Time Of Need 

Chris Kane -

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, November 27, 2015

Preview : Leinster v Ulster

Note the late team change…Isa Nacewa starts at 15 instead of Rob Kearney who felt a “tightness” in the Captain’s Run. Jamie Heaslip is still captain tonight.


logo post blueThe “Home Nations” are dealing with the aftermath of the World Cup in different ways.

Over in England the press have played their part in airbrushing out the disappointment by highlighting everything that’s going to be different about the Eddie Jones era (even if he still won’t pick foreign-based players) and of course a few good performances in Europe by Premiership clubs also helps ease the pain.

In Wales they also have some major transition, with Martyn Phillips taking over from the much-maligned Roger Lewis at the WRU and the Millennium Stadium getting “Aviva’d” in that we must now call it the Principality Stadium.  Oh, and there has also been small matters like Gatland’s Law and a doping scandal to process.

The Scots seem to have things good these days all things considered.  Reigning Pro 12 champs and came the closest to the final four of the World Cup, so there doesn’t appear to be too much broken that needs fixing, but we’ll know more about that when the next Six Nations comes around.

Which leaves us here in Ireland, where the words “World Cup hangover” seem to be used most often.  Only Connacht are really making any waves on the Provincial front, topping the Pro12 as they do as well as going 2 for 2 in their opening European matches.

This weekend gives Irish rugby the opportunity to retreat into its own bubble, if only for the length of a couple of matches, and maybe have a look at what can be done going forward.  And the two sides who disappointed most in their European openers meet at the RDS tonight - as if Leinster and Ulster don’t already have enough history to make their clashes interesting!

I think if you could somehow come up with a computer algorithm that takes all of the complaints over Leo Cullen’s selection policy since the start of the season and then spits out a matchday 23 that most closely resembles what the fans have actually wanted all along, it wouldn’t be too far off the team that’s due to take to the field this evening.

Although I said in my Bath writeup that I didn’t want any more tinkering done with our centre pairing, I am prepared to make an exception with Ian Madigan being handed the 12 jumper.  Maybe his omission of late has something to do with his contract negotiations, maybe it doesn’t - but as long as he’s at Leinster, if Sexton is at 10, Mad-dog should be 12 for me, no two ways about it.  Yes, Luke can work there; yes, Noel Reid can work there, but Ian has to go first.   

The Sexton wraparound is effective and so is the Madigan “howitzer” miss pass.  But together the possibilities are seemingly endless and with Ben Te’o as strike option and a back three with tons of test caps (update : Isa starts for Rob K…not quite as many test caps but we all know why that is!) there is plenty to suggest this is a combination that can work both with and without the ball.

BUT...we go back to the “World Cup hangover”.  Is that a thing?  I do think the transition from one situation to another does play a part, especially given the stark contrast in experience between Joe Schmidt’s set-up and Leo Cullen’s.  That, however, does not count as an “excuse” for the more seasoned players in the Leinster squad.

Then we have the need to bring up the promising young players.  Some have called for a more widespread “Dave O’Leary at Leeds United” type mass introduction of youth and while I can appreciate this desire on the back of recent performances, maybe something a little more subtle is required, and in tonight’s selection we seem to have just the right smattering of upcoming talent - Luke McGrath at 9, Josh van der Flier at 7 and Garry Ringrose on the bench to name but three.

Last but certainly not least the Leinster scrum will of course be heavily under scrutiny tonight.  Though if the 2013 Pro12 final is anything to go by, should Ulster try the kind of antics that they did that day, ie not far off what Bath were doing on Saturday, then John Lacey’s reactions should be much less favourable than those of Jerome Garces.

On Ulster’s side of the equation, while I haven’t been able to follow their season too closely thus far, they seem to have players in situations very similar to ours...World Cup stars like Best and Henderson, those who didn’t quite make it like Trimble and Tuohy, and promising youngsters like McCloskey and Nelson, all eager to impress.

So taking everything into account it makes for an intriguing contest, and I for one can’t wait.  The bookies have a home win by 5.  I’m feeling a little more confident than I probably should and I’m going to say we’ll finish on top by 7-9.  But if we’re to get a result like that we’ll need a serious amount of accuracy and leadership, two things which have been lacking of late.

Hope to see you down at the RDS tonight to find out what happens!  JLP


ULSTER : Peter Nelson, Andrew Trimble, Darren Cave, Stuart McCloskey, Craig Gilroy, Paddy Jackson, Ruan Pienaar

Kyle McCall, Rory Best (captain), Wiehahn Herbst, Iain Henderson, Dan Tuohy, Robbie Diack, Sean Reidy, Nick Williams;

Replacements : Rob Herring, Andrew Warwick, Ricky Lutton, Roger Wilson, Chris Henry, Paul Marshall, Ian Humphreys, Louis Ludik.


Guinness PRO12 2015/16 Round 8

Friday, November 27, 2015

RDS Arena, 7.35pm. Live on TG4/BBC2 NI

Referee: John Lacey (IRFU)

Assistant Referees: Andy Brace, Olly Hodges (both IRFU)

Citing Commissioner: Eugene Ryan (IRFU)

TMO: Dermot Moloney (IRFU)

AIG announce Richie McCaw as global ambassador

from AIG…


aigAmerican International Group, Inc. (NYSE:AIG) this week announced a three year deal with former All Black Richie McCaw to act as a global ambassador for the company. The contract deepens AIG’s connection to rugby, building on its relationship with New Zealand Rugby as Major Global Sponsor of six national teams as well as its sponsorship of USA Rugby.

“Working with an ambassador of Richie’s stature provides great opportunities to communicate the quality of our products and services. He exemplifies the values that we associate with rugby as well as having specific skills and experience that speak directly to our core products and services, including aviation. His leadership and integrity are beyond question and we’re excited to be working with him directly for the next three years” said Danny Glantz, Global Head of Sponsorship for AIG.

Richie McCaw said he felt fortunate to be working with a leading global insurance organization. “I worked with AIG in different places around the world for three years as an All Black and have been impressed by their commitment to New Zealand Rugby and support for the growth of the game. I’m looking forward to working more closely with them.” McCaw said.

McCaw, who retired last week from international rugby, is considered one of the greatest rugby players of all time, with a world record 148 international test caps over 14 years, and captaining the All Blacks to back-to-back world championships.

The deal comes into effect immediately and runs through 2018.


Front Five - 27.11.15

Start your day with five eye-catching egg-chasing quotes & links from around the ruggersphere.
Looks to be a great contest at the RDS tonight
Pop along if you can!
Our preview will post at lunchtime

"He's a really, really good example of a guy who has just come through the system, put his head down and you can see it in his performance. He's very, very accurate in what he delivers - week in, week out."


Cullen puts faith in 'incredible' young star Van der Flier

David Kelly - Irish Independent

“His leadership, tenacity and drive are incredibly important to what we are looking to achieve at Ulster.” - Les Kiss


Rory Best agrees extension to current Irish Rugby contract

Richard Mulligan - Belfast News Letter

Wales' RBS 6 Nations 2016 second round clash with Scotland, on Saturday 13th February, will be the first event held at the newly renamed Principality Stadium


Iconic Millennium Stadium sign taken down as venue gets ready for Principality Stadium rename

South Wales Evening Post

It is a move which is likely to mark the end of Frederic Michalak's career with the Top 14 giants. (via Agence France-Presse)

The astonishment of the on-looking crowd is easily heard.

Undoubtedly, The Luckiest Conversion Irish Schools Rugby Has Ever Seen 

PJ Browne -
[hat-tip John Curran]

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

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Leinster Team Announcement v Ulster

from Leinster Rugby…


Zane Kirchner will make his 50th Leinster appearance when he starts for the province in Friday's match against Ulster in the Guinness PRO12.

Kirchner, who represented South Africa at this year's World Cup, made his first appearance for Leinster in a 16-13 win over Connacht at the RDS Arena in October 2013.

His first try came just a few weeks later at home against the Scarlets in what was a man of the match performance from the versatile Springbock back.

Kirchner also ran over two tries and set up one for Shane Jennings in the 2014 PRO12 Final against Glasgow Warriors at the RDS.

He starts on the wing for Leinster in Friday night's interprovincial clash with Ulster.

Rob Kearney returns to start at full-back for the first time since the home win over Scarlets earlier this month, with Luke Fitzgerald named on the left wing.

In a change to the half-back pairing from last weekend Luke McGrath comes in at scrum-half to partner Johnny Sexton in place of Isaac Boss.

There are four changes to Leinster's front eight from the defeat to Bath: Jack McGrath replaces Cian Healy, Tadhg Furlong starts after featuring for Leinster 'A' last week, Mike McCarthy comes in to replace Hayden Triggs, and Josh van der Flier starts in the back row after his try-scoring debut in the Champions Cup.

Tickets for Leinster v Ulster are on sale now from Ticketmaster.

€10 student tickets for the game are on sale from Ticketmaster Centres nationwide and will be available from the RDS Ticket Office before kick-off.


15. Rob Kearney
14. Zane Kirchner
13. Ben Te'o
12. Ian Madigan
11. Luke Fitzgerald
10. Johnny Sexton
9. Luke McGrath

1. Jack McGrath
2. Sean Cronin
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Devin Toner
5. Mike McCarthy
6. Rhys Ruddock
7, Josh van der Flier
8. Jamie Heaslip CAPTAIN

16. James Tracy
17. Peter Dooley
18. Martin Moore
19. Ross Molony
20. Dominic Ryan
21. Eoin Reddan
22. Noel Reid
23. Garry Ringrose

Our HarpinOnRugby preview will post Friday lunchtime

Rugby on TV : Nov 26-Dec 3

click here to subscribe to the new-look Setanta Pack


Times generally refer to beginning of broadcast not kickoff
Check local listings for repeat showings
Feel free to let us know if something is missing!


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