Monday, February 29, 2016


putting the boot in


logo post greenWith Super Rugby kicking off this weekend, we’ve been getting our first chance to directly compare the way the game is played in the two hemispheres since the World Cup, and we don’t need reminding of how that went.

Anyway...the biggest “beef” about the style found in the Six Nations is that it is boring and lacking in tries...though while the latter is true, the former is purely a matter of opinion.  I’d be more inclined to enjoy a game where the reason tries were hard to come by was well-organised defence by both sides.  For my taste, a game with 5 tries per team doesn’t hold water if the tackling and positioning are “all over the shop”.

There are a number of different ways a defensive set-up can frustrate their opposition’s attempts to get anywhere with the ball, and increasingly over time the use of the boot has become a potent weapon.  If a defender finds himself in a legal position and is being “cleared out” by attackers, he is within his rights to have a poke or two with his foot to try and disrupt attempts to present the ball for the next phase.

I get that.

Also there’s been a long-standing rugby tradition of “raking” or “shoeing”, whereby if you see a player on the deck doing something they shouldn’t with the ball, like a defender lying in the way or an attacker trying illegally to protect it, the boot can be used to “politely remind” them to think twice before doing it again. 

I get that too.

No prizes for guessing where I’m going with this...but before I continue, I want to make something clear.  I’m not highlighting the Mike Brown incident because I feel it defined the match nor because I felt it determined the result.  I’m doing it because the way we deal with incidents like these are more important than rugby.

Courtesy of a superb spell of possession that included over a dozen phases and key contributions from test debutantes Ultan Dillane and Josh van der Flier, we got ourselves deep into the English 22 and a try at that point would have given us a very good chance to get another and wipe out that 11-point deficit.

Within 5m of the line the move is halted by English players and Danny Care is pinged for slowing down the ball but plays goes on with the advantage coming.  Conor Murray takes the ball and puts himself in that gray area between illegally holding it and legally presenting it.

Mike Brown (nothing against him as a player btw) is standing in a position whereby he can legally use his foot to wrest the ball free, only the ball happens to be beside Conor’s head.  The first swipe hits Murray but not hard.  After the swipe he flails it about a bit and as he draws it back, his boot catches Murray’s face and actually draws blood.  Then as Brown is being cleared out he goes and uses his other boot to have a couple more hacks at the ball.  Murray at this stage has gathered the ball in, technically illegally though I reckon he’s probably more concerned about the blow to his head.

Whether I’d be saying the same if the jersey colours were reversed is up to yourself.  If it helps, I have tried to be consistent in this area over the years, even going as far back as 2010 when Jamie Heaslip applied his knee to Richie McCaw’s head, and more recently an incident involving Paul O’Connell and Dave Kearney.

Having viewed the footage, the TMO ruled that Brown’s actions were not intentional, as if there were only two options to consider.  I won’t harp on this for too much longer, just enough to say that it clearly wasn’t intentional, but it was most certainly “reckless” and with head injuries in particular meant to be such an important area in the sport, this type of high-profile incident needs to be dealt with swiftly. 

It shouldn’t matter how the match stands at that point.  It shouldn’t matter if someone else has already received a yellow card.  It shouldn’t matter what “understandings” the sport in question has about that situation. It shouldn’t matter that there’s upwards of 70k English fans watching in the stands.   The message should be clear that it is not right to do that.  And it wasn’t.  Simple. 


[UPDATE – I see on the “twitter machine” that it has been confirmed Brown will NOT be cited.]


Now to (literally) draw a line under that and get on with the match.

Given what had happened in the previous rounds, the challenge for Joe Schmidt’s Ireland at Twickenham was three-fold...1) find a way to consistently create space & opportunities when we have the ball 2) turn that space and opportunities into points, and 3) accomplish 1 & 2 without compromising our defence.

We lost by 11 points, so clearly we can’t award “A”’s in all three categories, but let’s deal with them one at a time anyway and see how we get on.

Our offensive plan was spot on.  In fact, I’d be very close to giving it an A (settling on B+ for those keeping score), with Johnny Sexton at the heart of pretty much everything that worked for us.  Yes, we fell down on execution more than once but that’s the second point.  The strategy both made sense and had something for everyone.

In the first half, it was the “old chestnut” of the box kick.  Some, particularly from Conor Murray who usually excels in this area, went a little too far.  But more often than not, the catcher of the ball, usually Mike Brown, was tackled where he took it and ultimately was unable to advance the ball.

When it came to the second half, I was afraid we’d go back to this method until we cracked it, which is pretty much how other matches had gone.  But we did something very different - actually looking to pass the ball! (I’m being facetious here btw - that “no passing” narrative is spun to death in other places, not here

To combat the English line speed our backs would arrange themselves at practically a 45-degree angle from the scrum half and with the ball moving quickly and accurately through the hands, it gave us the option of finding space to run into either in the wide channels or down the middle, thus keeping the defence guessing.  It was an extremely well-thought out strategy that had us winning both the territory and possession battles, over 70% in the second half in each case.

Yet for all the praise we can heap on the team in the first category, we can’t ignore the elephant in the room that is the second.  Just one try and ten points was all we had to show for that dominance.  It wasn’t entirely our fault and I’ll get to that, but there is simply no point starting a move, especially at this level, if you’re not able to finish and between dropped balls, misfired passes and that old bugbear - poor lineout technique at key moments, we certainly didn’t help our own cause.

Still, there is plenty of mitigation over our inability to score, which is why I’m giving us a C- honours grade overall.  First and foremost, England’s defence was as stingy as we would expect and while we had quality debutantes on our side, the home side did too in the form of Maro Itoje who clearly has a bright future ahead of him and led his team with 16 tackles. 


Then we have the times we came so tantalisingly close yet were denied by a tremendous last-ditch tackle by Nowell on Henshaw and a ball held up by Daly to deny van der Flier (though I reckon he did get it down and the ref asked the wrong question).

Which brings us to M Romain Poite. He got a lot wrong for both sides I’m sure but I’ll let the English fan sites deal with their end of the equation.  Over in our Vine account, I singled out three random instances….one where Marler messed with his bind and the match not even a minute old, another where Robshaw got away with clear offside simply by putting up his hands (this happened in an area very kickable for Sexton) and one where Clifford got heaps of praise for forcing a penalty even though he had been taken off his feet by Heaslip.

Some might say that England did get two yellow cards and we should be happy with that.  What I’m doing here isn’t so much crying foul rather showing that our inability to move our side of the scoreboard wasn’t entirely our own doing.

The home side also seemed to be doing what they could to knock us off our game.  I’m keen to separate this from the Brown incident - what I’m talking about here are little niggly things around the park, like Dan Cole man-handling McCloskey after the tackle in the first half and Owen Farrell doing likewise to CJ Stander in the second. 

I’m not saying these actions are necessarily dirty.  What I am saying is that if we are to persist with the way we play we need to be ready for this as it is getting results and such antics are pretty much bred into the Springboks against whom we must play three tests in June.  It wouldn’t hurt for us to give a bit of it back as well, and perhaps our incoming defensive coach is just the guy we’ll need for this.

FInally, a look at our defence.  Overall, I’m giving it a B.  We got hit with two quick tries in the second half for reasons very similar to those which saw us fall to Argentina...a tendency to find ourselves narrow in the middle of the park leaving space out wide to reward quick passing across the English line.

But what got England those tries more was their readiness to spring into action given half a sniff of an opportunity (namely after a dropped pass by Sexton and a needless penalty shipped by van der Flier), and this has been a constant string to their bow going back to the Lancaster era.  Outside of that purple patch of scoring however, they found it very difficult to organically find a way through our green wall.

Their most potent force was man of the match Billy Vunipola.  He was used effectively both as a crash runner and a decoy to draw tacklers with a receiver on his shoulder.  He was definitely hard to stop, yet when we did get him down even though he would have broken the gain line, more often than not we managed to handle the overall situation, particularly at the end of the first half when we were under constant siege yet couldn’t buy our way out of our own 22.

Apart from Sexton, the others to catch the eye were all of the “newbies” van der Flier, McCloskey and Dillane, all of whom did more than enough to see out this Six Nations campaign.  Donncha Ryan led the tackle charts with 18, and while his box-kicking radar was off kilter, Conor Murray’s sniping has gotten both of our tries in these three matches.  Leinster-bound Robbie Henshaw showed he can play just as well at 13 as he can at 12.

There seems to be a lot of what I call “YouTube punditry” about the internet (well, even more than usual) whereby individual performances are being praised based on single, stand-out instances and criticized based on the lack of them - but having watched back over the match I reckon everyone contributed well at some point and it was a decent concerted effort as a team that just didn’t have that finishing touch.

One theme that is bubbling under the surface surrounds Rory Best’s captaincy.  Personally, I think changing his role now would make no sense whatsoever.  The three matches haven’t gone great for him it’s true but let’s see where things stand when we get back from South Africa.  Leadership may be an issue, but we want to be encouraging it from more among the 15 on the park rather than taking it away from anyone.

Look...there’s no sugar coating it, this has been a poor Six Nations for us, and with all due respect to Italy and Scotland (I seem to use that phrase a lot at this time of year) home wins over them won’t make it seem much better, should we earn them of course. 

But you can’t watch this 80 minutes and say Ireland were never in the contest.  Fair play to the BBC for their post match headline which claimed that “England edged Ireland” as the final margin was in no way a true reflection on the match.

And when Joe Schmidt says in his press conference that he hopes the Irish fans have faith in his squad to continue working their way back towards the kind of performance, accuracy and results he’s more used to getting in matches like these, I reckon we’re better served doing just that, as opposed to spinning it as another opportunity to put the boot in.  JLP

#COYBIG #ShoulderToShoulder #TrustJoe #OnwardsAndUpwards

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Front Five - 29.02.16

Start your day with five eye-catching egg-chasing quotes & links from around the ruggersphere.
Later today on HarpinOnRugby…
our England v Ireland writeup is titled
“Putting The Boot In”
ps – kudos to both the Indo & Irish Times
for resisting the urge to use the phrase
“Italian job” in their reports

"We settled down a bit in the second half; it was just difficult to play so we are happy to have ground out a win and get the bonus point right at the very end," said coach Leo Cullen.
Irish Independent

Alarm bells were ringing when the visitors had prop Dave Kilcoyne yellow-carded with three minutes left on the clock, but they managed to hang on for victory.
Irish Times

The Blues’ bid to end a run of two straight defeats was boosted when Ulster’s influential centre Luke Marshall was forced off with a suspected knee injury.
Anthony Woolford - WalesOnline

Eddie Jones says all his one-liners with a mischievous glint in his eye but this one is so out of touch with the spirit of the game, not to mention the attitude around player welfare, that it beggars belief.
Will Slattery -

The streaker reportedly required stitches after the incident.

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, February 28, 2016

Online comments after #ENGvIRE

A selection of the “keyboard warrior” reactions after the full-time whistle of our featured matches of the weekend.

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

Scoreline doesn't reflect the game. 2 tries that were inches from being scored and a yellow that should have been shown all made a difference. With no defence coach and a bunch of injuries that was a good performance away to a full strength and decent England.

John Molloy

Not a good performance, and we can talk about that, but there is no denying that that Mike Brown assault deserves to grab the headlines. I counted 4 kicks directly in Murray's eye. Probably the most gross and despicable act I've seen on a rugby pitch.
Deserves a year ban, and I'm not exaggerating. Never seen anything quite like it...

Daragh Faughnan

Despite the result, I think the future looks bright. McGrath definitely a Test Lion in waiting, Dillane, VDF, Henshaw and McCloskey played really well. Kearney had his best game for a while and hopefully shut his detractors up. Certainly beating Italy and Scotland very achievable. Continue to play with that pace and we get players back, Ireland will be stronger for sure

John Peeters

Not enough strength in depth. Simples

Craig Boyd

A great defensive 1st half where the stats clearly show we should have been a cricket score down! We were unlucky with JVDFs try (which was a try), Nowell brilliant to stop Henshaws effort and difficult to stop Vunipola....... Standout performances from newbies JVDF, McCloskey and Dillane good off the bench. CJ Stander and Henshaw growing in stature and development. Overall given injuries you have to be proud of that performance BUT we still need to be more clinical when we do get opportunities. (Not going to mention Rorys darts!). Here's a thought. As much as I love Jamie H, I wonder if a backrow of JVDF, Tommy O'Donnell and CJ at No 8 would achieve more moving forward??

Joe Sheppard

The tale of the weekend is the tolerance of cynical professional fouls in the "red zone" and referees reluctance to show cards. Ireland showed great confidence in their attack and stretched England at times, we showed you don't need an offloading game, you just need to execute properly and the line breaks will come. Disappointing scoreline but we are worth more than that one point from 3 matches. New kids can all be proud of their performances, quite a baptism of fine debuting away in Twickenham.

Andrew Byrne

In boxing parlance, a heavyweight slugger beats a middleweight. Can't fault the effort. The youngsters will hopefully learn from it.

James Griffin

Many thanks to all who offered opinions.

Look out Monday for our match writeup JLP

Front Five - 28.02.16

Start your day with five eye-catching egg-chasing quotes & links from around the ruggersphere.
Got some English backlash on twitter
I offered an open invitation to anyone who wishes
to write a post explaining how it wasn’t…
I will publish it unedited
(this is a separate issue to the debate
over how the game was won btw)

Not since 2010 have we won at Twickenham, and yesterday proved no different despite incredible character and a valiant effort from a depleted Irish team that simply wasn't good enough.
Paul Melia - Irish Independent

Davies got back up and reached the try line for what looked like a perfectly good try. Clancy asked TMO Jude Quinn for a verdict and they ruled it was a double movement and no try.

...a single loose pass after 34 minutes let Ireland back into the game, Claire Molloy breaking away to set up a move that lead to Ireland’s first points, a penalty from Niamh Briggs. With Briggs adding second penalty minutes later England’s lead was only 8-6 at the break.
John Birch - ScrumQueens

“Stern Vern” may have a public persona that is cartoon curmudgeon but at least he is savvy enough to make a sly dig at his own creation when the occasion demands.
Iain Morrison - The Scotsman

Any sport that sends the message that a kick to the head of a person lying prone on the ground is ok isn't one that I want to be associated with. Which is unfortunate because I quite like rugby.
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

Saturday, February 27, 2016

ITA 20-36 SCO (8-0-review)

A more determined Scottish side eventually saw off a decent, spirited but disjointed Azzurri. Indeed, part of the Italian issue was shown in the initial 18 minutes where they had 8 missed tackles and 4 handling errors. In total they conceded some 13 turnovers throughout the game. Parisse and Campagnaro were singularly the only stand outs for Italy. Tries from Barclay, Hardy & Seymour and a superb solo 21 points from Greg Laidlaw sealed the game and saw Scotland comfortably home.
@bigjoeshep is the Owner and Head of Information & Knowledge Management at Digital Knowledge Zone.   An avid Leinster & Ireland Rugby fan, he came to rugby at the late age of 24, was a tight head prop, had at least 2 good runs in every game and retired at only 36 after 3 operations on his legs and now forms the 4th "virtual" person in a front row each time his beloved teams are playing (much to the annoyance of his suffering girlfriend who has to put up with being "embraced" by the Big Fella at each scrum!!!)
Fancy penning an 8-0-review for HarpinOnRugby?  
Let us know at

Front Five - 27.02.16

Start your day with five eye-catching egg-chasing quotes & links from around the ruggersphere.
First and foremost well done to the Wolfpuppies
for a phenomenal 2nd half performance & result
Click below for some links from yesterday

Ireland handed England's U20s their first home defeat since 2010.
Darragh Murphy -

"It’s something that we’ve always tried not to be drawn into, it’s not the way we go about our business."
Gavin Cummiskey - Irish Times

It was certainly a moment for Question of Sport, but the hilarity of it must not be allowed to mask the deficiencies of a hugely disappointing Welsh performance in terms of attack.
Andy Howell - WalesOnline

To finish off the opening day of the 2016 Super Rugby season we saw the Jaguares play their first match, against the Cheetahs, and it was no quiet start to the team’s history.
The Roar

“I can reassure everyone he’s fine. He will play rugby again but he will undergo further tests next week." - Bernard Laporte
The Guardian (via AAP)

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

Wales 19-10 France (8-0-review)

Wales keep their title ambitions on track. Another slow start for France as Biggar built up a score. Vakatawa struggled under the high ball. Norths scrappy try in the second-half proved decisive. From then on France had a lot of territory but couldn’t make use of it, some will question how 15 men stayed on the pitch for Wales. Guirado touched down late on having played over 2 hours of rugby in 5 days, but there’ll be no French slam. 

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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Fancy penning an 8-0-review for HarpinOnRugby?  

Friday, February 26, 2016

Preview : England v Ireland


logo post greenA whole lotta rugby to choose from this weekend!  Clearly the Six Nations gets our No 1 vote here at Harpin Manor, with the Pro12 coming in second and the Super Rugby kickoff picking up some easy transfers.  Premiership & Top 14 will probably struggle to make the quota.

OK - that’s enough of the election references, I promise!

The reaction of some fans to Ireland’s haul of just one point from a possible four in our first two Six Nations matches has been that what “must” be done is for a whole new group of younger personnel brought in and for the playbook to be ripped up.

Well, they got their wish on the first count, with Stuart McCloskey and Josh Van der Flier brought in to start and Ultan Dillane on the bench.  But I wonder would they be in the picture this weekend at all if we had Messrs Payne, O’Brien and McCarthy to call on?

And when it comes to the second point, ie changing the way we play, I’m also wondering if this is the match where we want to roll out a whole new style of playing?

This is England at Twickenham.  It might be something of a “new look” squad in terms of personnel and captaincy and number on Chris Robshaw’s back, but I wonder just how much different they’re going to play compared to previous seasons.

I can’t look at these two set-ups without thinking it’s going to be yet another battle of tight margins and if that’s the case, I really can’t see anyone in either starting lineup who looks like they’re planning to take a whole lot of risks, so those looking for an offload-fest could well be disappointed.

Now that’s not to say we can’t be excited about the possibility of Stuart McCloskey bringing his bulk towards Ford & Farrell.  But with Joe switching Henshaw over to 13 it leads me to assume he has his centre pairing set to prioritize D as would his more preferred selection.

Then there’s Josh.  If he brings half the enthusiasm and talent he has to his senior appearances for Leinster this season then the Twickenham crowd are bound to know his name come full time.  And he goes head to head with James Haskell who I reckon is over rated in the English press though will probably go on to prove me way wrong on Saturday!

It’s not as though there isn’t anybody in the two benches to liven the match up towards the end...Danny Care on the English side and for us, Simon Zebo could well be the ideal person for the 23 jersey in a Joe Schmidt squad.  Probably not what he’d like to hear, but if we find ourselves needing a try in the closing stages I reckon he’s the best guy we have for that role.

We have raised some question marks over the refs in the matches so far, and it doesn’t get much better with Romaine Poite holding the whistle this weekend.  Not much can be done about that, but it is critical we stay on top of our set pieces.  Mike Ross’ return to the lineup is key when it comes to locking down the scrum...hopefully he’s up for a lengthy shift.

It’s a tough match to call.  I don’t share the pessimism of the group of Irish fans I now call the #SchmidtStirrers but having said that this English team is bound to be tough to beat.  The bookies have them winning by an 8-point margin but I think it will be a lot closer than that.

My official prediction is that we’ll nick it by a point.  But to do that we probably should score a try in the opening half an hour that helps build a lead of 8 or more points so we can take control and bring it home. 

As far as I’m concerned, it’s very important that we put in a good 80 minutes for this match, especially with the fixture list we have ahead.  Nobody will be impressed by good displays against Italy or Scotland, then it’s three in South Africa, two against New Zealand and one against Australia.  You think folks are moaning now?  Imagine how they’ll be if we can’t get much out of that series of matches?

We may be all but out of contention for this Six Nations but if we’re to feel confident going into the next one I reckon Saturday is when we need to start showing it.  And like I say, I’m backing us to come out on top in what should be a bruiser.  Bring it on.  JLP

#COYBIG #ShoulderToShoulder #TrustJoe #RBS6Nations


England: Mike Brown (Harlequins); Anthony Watson (Bath), Jonathan Joseph (Bath), Owen Farrell (Saracens), Jack Nowell (Exeter); George Ford (Bath), Ben Youngs (Leicester); Joe Marler (Harlequins), Dylan Hartley (Northampton, Capt.), Dan Cole (Leicester); Maro Itoje (Saracens), George Kruis (Saracens); Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), James Haskell (Wasps), Billy Vunipola (Saracens)

Replacements: Jamie George (Saracens), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), Paul Hill (Northampton), Courtney Lawes (Northampton), Jack Clifford (Harlequins), Danny Care (Harlequins), Elliot Daly (Wasps), Alex Goode (Saracens)


Six Nations Championship 2016 Round 3

Saturday 27th February 2016, KO 16:50 Twickenham

Live on RTE2/BBC

Referee: Romain Poite (FFR)

Assistant Referees: Nigel Owens (WAL) Alexandre Ruis (FFR)

Citing Commissioner: Shaun Veldsman (SARU)

Preview : Zebre v Leinster

by Emma McGarry

No home comforts for Leinster this weekend, as they travel to take on Zebre in Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi looking for a 3rd consecutive victory to put them at the top of the Pro12 table ahead of current leaders Connacht.

Amidst the excitement of renewed contracts and the new signings of Robbie Henshaw and former Munster lock Ian Nagle, Leinster have kept their heads down and worked hard to find some improvement in their table position. While they lack accuracy and discipline at times, 2nd place on the Guinness Pro12 table with a little over 3 months until the final really isn’t bad going. 

Zebre’s most recent match against Leinster in the RDS was a pretty dismal affair for the Italian team, finishing 52 - 0 to the home side. The match was effectively over by halftime. 8 tries and 0 points conceded is ideal for the boys in blue, but against a struggling, under developed team it can only be so impressive. Leo Cullen will be looking for Leinster to pull away as early in the match as possible and continue on some newly found form. Leinster are not pretty or incredibly entertaining at the moment but another win should inject a bit more confidence into what will be a largely inexperienced starting XV.

Young academy talents Adam Byrne, Cathal Marsh and Cian Kelleher continue to shine, undoubtedly benefiting from the presence of senior players who are adopting mentoring roles within the squad. Isa Nacewa being but one of them. Each has proved that inexperience at senior level does not necessarily hinder their game. In fact it gives them certain advantages; high fitness levels, pace and a new vision for Leinster Rugby. These always combine to make 6 Nations time an exciting one for the province and it’s younger players breaking through during the absence of the internationals.

Leinster are not far off where they want to be, it is obviously a slow process but Cullen has fared well thus far in his role as Head Coach. (Better than Matt O’Connor anyway…)

Kurt McQuilkin confirmed on Wednesday that Dave Kearney (shoulder) and Sean O'Brien (hamstring) are undergoing rehab on their injuries with Leinster but that there is no return date for either player as of yet. There was some good news however with 18 contract renewals and 2 new signings for the province.

McQuilkin: "Leo Cullen and Guy Easterby will still be looking around to see who's out there, but we're happy with what we've got too. It's good to get a few signatures down on paper. Henshaw in particular, a great player coming to the province. It's good to see."

It certainly is.

ZEBRE : 15 Mils Muliaina 14 Giulio Toniolatti 13 Tommaso Boni* 12 Matteo Pratichetti 11 Kayle Van Zyl 10 IAN McKINLEY 9 Fabio Semenzato
1 Bruno Postiglioni 2 Oliviero Fabiani 3 Guillermo Roan 4 Quintin Geldenhuys 5 Marco Bortolami (cap) 6 Jacopo Sarto 7 Federico Ruzza* 8 Johan Meyer
BENCH : 16 Gabriele Morelli 17 Andrea De Marchi 18 Pietro Ceccarelli 19 Gideon Koegelenberg 20 Emiliano Caffini 21 Luke Burgess 22 Maicol Azzolini 23 Ulrich Beyers

Guinness Pro 12 2015/16 Round 16
At Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, 4pm local time, (3pm Ireland & UK). 
Live on Sky Sports and RAI Sport 
Referee: Leighton Hodges (WRU, 55th competition game)
Assistant Referees: Matteo Liperini, Ricardo Angelucci (both FIR)
Citing Commissioner: Francesco Grillo (FIR)
TMO: Stefano Penne (FIR)

Emma McGarry (@EmmaKMcGarry) - 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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Canterbury announces Robbie Henshaw as their newest brand ambassador

from Canterbury…

robbie henshaw

Canterbury has today announced that Ireland Rugby Centre, Robbie Henshaw, has become its latest ambassador.

As part of the agreement, Henshaw will endorse the brand’s comprehensive range of training wear and rugby lifestyle clothing.

With a total of 16 Ireland caps since making his full debut in 2013, and an impressive 65 caps for Connacht since 2012, Henshaw has already established himself as a key player within both teams and is set for a promising RBS 6 Nations.

The new deal reinforces Canterbury’s commitment to the game and sees the brand expanding further into the Irish market, complementing their already impressive global representation in rugby.

Robbie Henshaw, Ireland Rugby Centre, said; "I’m delighted to be an ambassador for such a renowned rugby brand as Canterbury and really look forward to working with them.”

Canterbury’s CEO, Chris Stephenson, said; “We are proud to announce that Robbie Henshaw has joined the Canterbury brand ambassador fold. We look forward to working with Robbie, who has an impressive career to date and we wish his every success in the current RBS 6 Nations.”

The deal sees Robbie Henshaw join Kevin Sinfield, Geoff Parling, Dylan Hartley, Sam Burgess and former England star, Will Greenwood as Canterbury ambassadors.

Front Five - 26.02.16

Start your day with five eye-catching egg-chasing quotes & links from around the ruggersphere.
“Alas Schmidt and Jones”
How on earth did I not think of that?
Standards slipping here at Harpin Manor… ;-)

The fly on the wall of his Carton House room must have just had the most entertaining 10 days of his or her life as the Kiwi read Eddie Jones' daily critiques of Ireland's style of play.
Ruaidhri O'Connor - Irish Independent

“I’d just be worried about his welfare if he has had whiplash injuries, and I’m sure his mother and father would be”
Mick Cleary - Telegraph

Glasgow...have a couple of games in hand so playing this early in the Six Nations weekend actually had the potential to give their league position a more realistic feel.
Hamish Stuart - The Scotsman

In order to spread the game in to new countries (or “markets” for the more cynical amongst us), Super rugby has awarded franchises to a team from Argentina and one from Japan.
The Blitz Defence

"Sorry to disappoint everyone but it's Van der 'fleer', not 'flyer'."
Gavin Cooney -

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