After a tough sporting weekend its time to bring the season to a close.
This is Keego on Leinster, losing, dynasty destroying and the rugby social media warriors.
So, coming into this week everyone in blue (or most) where saying ‘if Leinster can’t win then I am happy its Connacht’. This was the first sign of a change in the stands that surround Leinster rugby. Can you imagine any other time where anything remotely like this was said? This is said when you don’t believe the opposition is worthy. It is a sign of supporters believing the hype at the business time of the season.
I won’t lie, I said something similar to that a few months ago. The closer we got to the game, the more annoyed I got with myself for saying it. During the game I didn’t want Connacht to win, during the game I was annoyed at my team and after the game I am just gutted.
Connacht and Leinster went at each other hard in the opening minutes, but Connacht very quickly took control of the game and they did so far far too easily. The Leinster defensive line was about as active as I am on a Sunday morning after 12 RDS Guinness after match day, that being not at all. Connacht bulldozed towards Leinster and smashed through them by using their brains instead of their bodies. Running at space instead of a human being is always the way to go.
Going in, I thought the midfield was going to be Connacht’s chance. Aki and Henshaw against T’eo and Ringrose I thought was where they could win. T’eo hasn’t wanted to be in blue for a long time. He had a good game against Ulster but in the final where it counts, he was staying safe to get on the English plane. If a player doesn’t want to be there he should be taken off the pitch. Madigan was on the sidelines who wanted to play. He should have been brought on with 20 minutes gone. It may have made no difference, but I would rather have a team of players who want to play for the team instead of play safers. Ringrose tried very hard, and will be class at the tope level; it was just a learning experience for him.
There was only 1 area of the game that Leinster bossed and that was the scrum. Nothing else worked, nothing else looked like working. Now the question is, was this a game plan issue? Or was it a horrendous day for the players? Did Leo tell the team to lay back and allow Connacht run on to them? If so it’s a naïve gameplan. If it was the players, then why wasn’t there a leader on the pitch taking control? There were near 600 caps in blue on Saturday. Leinster had less answers than I had during maths paper 2 way back when.
So, Connacht dominated and destroyed a rugby dynasty on Saturday. The further we get from the game, the happier I will be for Connacht but as of right now, I am still gutted.
Which brings me to the internet, never a good place to go after a big win or a big loss. People forget the filter they have in real life (something I am also guilty of) and they just talk. This morning it was about your friend and mine, George Hook. He wrote in the indo comparing the teams and the players a lot of which was spot on. He mentioned about maybe Schmidt being on the chopping block, we will put that in the ‘he’s had too much coffee’ pile. If you use Saturday as a reset for Team Ireland. How many Leinster players make the team? How many Connacht players make the flight? This was where reputations where shattered. Without naming any names, because any player on that pitch is an elite athlete performing at a stupendously high level, who get on the plane?
For me the team in green would dominate the big team in green in terms of places, but reputations are getting plane tickets and not form.
Is this a bigger issue? Sort of. Fitzgerlad’s injury will open the door for maybe Matt Healy, which is exactly what he deserves. But he is not the only one.
Is now the time to re-evaluate the style of play? The selection process and how the provinces play? Or have we gone too far down the rabbit hole?
In closing, a tip of the cap to the Connacht support on Saturday. You out Leinster’d the blue army in Edinburgh and that is some feat. See you in the RDS next season for round 2.
As usual @nkeegan for more
Until next season….