By Ciarán Duffy
Still not sure if its White and Gold or Blue and Black?
Grandslam? No? Right get out the Calculator again. Heaslips tackle. Eh Christopher?!? Kick it out!!!!!! Habanas interception of dejection. In Leo we trust. Just the two scrumhalves? Japan!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you Kevin. Just blame it on Burgess then? Thank you Paul. Savea refuses to acknowledge the French defence. We all need to learn how to offload. Thank you Felix. All Blacks from a different planet. Connacht are great aren’t they. Never forget Lomu. Don’t worry about Europe sure we beat Munster.
Is that all? 80 words to sum up a pretty eventful year of rugby, that wouldn’t even cover the last day of the 6 Nations. 2015 was unforgettable as far as rugby goes, legends retiring, the best World Cup of all time, and a lot of changes throughout the provinces (managerial, ‘transitional’, and the incredible shot in the arm Connacht got). Cheikas Australia took it to the All Blacks, and managed to beat them to the Rugby Championship but New Zealand took the spoils on the biggest stage. We had the biggest shock of all time with Japan beating the Springboks, and beating them by playing some world class rugby. Georgia forced their way into a discussion about the Six Nations after several gutsy showings at the World Cup. We saw Wales come through the group of death at the expense of the hosts despite having about 6 players fit at the end of it. As for Ireland, after proving they were the best in the Northern Hemisphere, and putting in the mother and father of second half performances against France, they were met with a Puma side that had improved immensely. 2015 was the year when we learned that there is no replacement for playing quality opposition, and a versatile game plan is needed.
We said goodbye to some legends. Some greats played their final international test, Dan Carter, Richie McCaw, Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, Jean De Villiers, Victor Matfield to name a few. Unfortunately we said goodbye to one legend for good. The impact Jonah Lomu had on rugby will never be forgotten, and through the game he lives on. From an Irish point of view, we saw Paul O’Connells Ireland career end a few games too early, as well as Felix Jones and Kevin McLaughlin being forced to retire. Losses like these remind us to enjoy watching the great players we have while we have them.
As for 2016, there’s uncertainty ahead for the provinces. Can Connacht keep it up? Can Ulster progress in Europe? Can Munster recover? And are Leinster going to get back to the glory days? As Sexton returned Madigan is set to depart, and although that is the absolute right move for him, it does raise questions of whether we’ll see more Irish players go the way of Madigan and JJ Hanrahan. It’s going to be some year for the national team as well. Legends have to be replaced, game plans have to be reviewed, and new faces are forcing themselves into the picture, all while trying to achieve what would be an incredible 3rd Six Nations title in a row. A new era, a new four-year cycle, Joes the man to get us on the right track.
To finish off, I want to thank everyone involved in Harpin on Rugby. It’s extremely easy to write about rugby when everyone else is equally as passionate about it. On top of that, thanks to everyone who reads and interacts with the content, wouldn’t be any point Harpin on if ye weren’t paying attention.
One final plug of the year, remember to like Post to Post on MarsFM on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Post-to-Post-on-Mars-FM-1657605334517271/).
We’ll be back on early in the year
Happy New Year, see ye in 2016.
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.
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