Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Leinster Blues to continue this season

by Keego

It feels like a very long time since I even thought about rugby. For the first time in what feels like forever, we got a small break from the game. A game to refresh, recharge and re-evaluate. Hopefully Leinster took the time to do that too.
A lot happened last season. A new coach in the Great Leo Cullen, an unsettled team and a crowd of supporters unsure how to deal with transition. Leo was always going to coach the province he captained for so long. I just don’t think it was due to happen so soon. Matt O’Connor didn’t see out his contract and he just wasn’t the right fit for Leinster. By all accounts the players really liked him, but the results and style of play just didn’t suit. Leo was fast tracked in a few years ahead of plan. He took the opportunity with both hands and it galvanised the team. Along with recent returns of talisman Isa Nacewa and Johnny Sexton it looked like a season of bounce back was on the cards.
I am forgetting about Europe last year. That was a step too far for a new coach trying to bring in a new way of doing things in THAT group. The play against Toulon in game 2 was very good and Leinster really should have won that, but aside from the second Toulon match there wasn’t much to write home about. Again, that is not the issue from last season.
Moving into the league, the atmosphere was a bit dour in the usual upbeat RDS. The beginning of last season was a rollercoaster, opening with a loss to Edinburgh and then losing another couple of games that really should have been won. The game plan was taking affect slowly, the players where responding, but it was going to take time.
Moving to the business end of the season, the game plan that had been coming in appeared to disintegrate. The semi-final win against Ulster was a walk for Leinster. Ulster have become Clermont in European rugby, they just don’t believe they can win a semi-final. As long as that is the case, teams like Leinster will walk through them. The 30-18 score line suggested this. At the time I wanted struggle, a game that pushed and tested Leinster because Connacht where going to be monsters in the final.
That is exactly what happened. In the final Leinster where about as passive as I was during my leaving cert. They allowed Connacht run on to them and everything went through J10. No variation in the plan and maybe a bit of arrogance?
But that leads us to this season. There have been some exits, Ian Madigan did what he had to do after being treated terribly by Leinster and there were a few other serious exits. Now the backup for Sexton will be 1 of the two academy 10’s along with Cathal Marsh. This is the time for them to step up.  The signing of Robbie Henshaw is absolutely massive. He can play 12 or 13, and would complement and lead Ringrose further into becoming the player we all think he will be. The break has done the whole organisation a great thing. Reorganisation is key. McQuilkin has gone home which is the main hole in the team. He will be replaces ASAP.
The buzz coming out of the team is sounding great. Some of the long term injuries are coming back to fitness. Cian Healy must be starving for some action after the long layoff. Sean O’Brien is to come back. The international players will be back earlier this year than usual. It is all positive for Leinster.
The team should expect and work towards being in the final in the Aviv….Lansdowne Road. It is time to get back into the thick of it in Europe. An improvement on last year is an absolute necessity, aiming at a quarter final is a good return this year.
As usual @nkeegan for more.
Keego (@nkeegan): Blogger, professional wrestler, sometime attempted rugby player (@TheThirsty3rds), professional procrastinator and attempted musician with a fondness for long walks on the bar, tea and the couch. Opinionated Leinster fan and constant gardener.

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Front Five - 31.08.16

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

Superb effort by the Leinster Rugby staff
there is still time to donate

The likes of Jack McGrath, Mike Ross, Cian Healy and Fergus McFadden made drastic alterations to their manes to raise money for McQuilkin

Irish Independent


Reidy's involvement will be particularly sought after in the wake of Ulster's current predicament at openside flanker as neither Chris Henry nor...Marcell Coetzee are fit

Irish Times


Lam is looking light on options in the pack, particularly in the second row


"...we don't think we have to chase after a model that is in our minds unsustainable."

BBC Rugby


Fan reaction is in no way indicative of sporting justice. Howling louder doesn't make you right. Calling someone a whinger for complaining after losing smacks of a closed mind.

Kevin Norquay -


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

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Leinster should attack more and rotate less

After several comments on our Facebook page, we have finally convinced him to write a post for us. 

Please welcome Chris McDonnell making his Harpin debut

As this is my first attempt at this I'll keep it simple.

First and foremost I am a Leinster fan who deems Munster our greatest rivals but personally as much as I like beating them if we can't win league or ERC I secretly hope they do.

I shoot from the hip and I am not very PC.

I believe we have had a massive drop off in talent and skill set in our first team.

I believe that we went from Joe's passing and running at spaces game to this running at faces, win the collision rugby rather than beat the man.

Until we try to create and use space we will be a shell of the team we could be.

I blame Matt O’Connor out loud for a lot of this but do realise we lost the bod's, shaggy's, Leo and Shane Jennings all very close to each other along with the IRFU messing about with Sexton sending him to France, forcing Isa to retire and never replacing Hines or Brad Thorne. We've replaced no one. Best signing in ages is Henshaw but he's replacing both Madigan and Teo, I'm not sure if that's great business as we won't see too much of Henshaw because of the Ireland setup and his injury.

I was also opposed to Leo getting the job, I saw nothing in his year as forwards coach to suggest he was the man to lead the club. He let Quinn Roux go and signed Douglas who went from an international secondrow to a J3 player in a matter of months and back to a World Cup secondrow as soon as a he got away from Leo.

Equally I don't understand why Triggs and Nagle are at the club and believe they are going to block the paths of Molony, Kearney and James Ryan considering we have Dev and Mike in the squad.

We have a squad of international rugby players, a superb academy and a massive catchment area.

It's like buying a Rolls-Royce and letting your 16 year old nephew drive it because you've had a chat with him about cars plus he was very good at driving games on PlayStation. It doesn't make sense. The argument no one wanted the job doesn't wash, since Leo was appointed, Ulster, Munster and Glasgow have all had top class experienced coaches appointed.

Saying that, I do believe the Leo and Gerv have made all the right noises durning the summer their train of thought seems to be going in the right direction, so they get my full backing (until Christmas at least).

One last gripe…I was not a fan of the rotation system Leo used last season and thought we should have for at least half a game during preseason played with a team close to the one which will start the league next weekend.

I worry about losing Kurt he has been fantastic for us think we need a replacement fast. I wish him all the best back home and hope everything works out for him and his family.

Still it has to be said we are plenty good enough to win the league and I'd expect us to do so - 3 years without a league title is not acceptable.

We have the best pack by a mile in the league and even without our first 8 our second is the still the best pack in the league, Sexton on his day is the man but we do need someone to score tries; Dave, Ferg, Zane and Rob need to add 5 pointers regularly the past 2 seasons.  Our attack is not good enough, these players are - so let's sort it out lads.

I am hoping that Noel Reid learns to defend as I believe he could be the key to moving the ball - he attacks the way a Leinster centre should do.

Young Mr Ringrose may get quicker ball without Big Ben as inside centre which could allow him to cross the line a little more himself and then there's Ferg as well.

We also have a bunch of very talented young players coming through (too many to mention) and I have very high hopes for them.

Ok so I know all this sounds very negative but I do genuinely believe we will get back on track this year. I think a league title and getting out of our group would be enough to keep me happy, I don't mind losing too much but only if we try play the right way.

Anyway here's to another great season of Leinster rugby

Chris McDonnell - 47 years old, 32 years of playing rugby union and 12 playing rugby league, I have started a rugby match in every position apart from 9. Find myself as a tighthead prop these days. Leinster fan first and foremost but will watch Munster if they’re on the telly.

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HarpinOnRugby Admin Update : Two Become One


From June 2012 to June 2014 we had a companion blog called, imaginatively, Harpin2.


It seemed like a good idea at the time to have just match writeups here on the “main site” with all other features over there.  Then as sponsorship began to make hit counting a thing we should be taking into account more, we decided to starting putting all posts here.  Now we have been advised to bring all the old content over as well, so that has been done.


Further down the page in our sidebar you will see our “Guest post contributors” section has bulked up quite a bit; have a browse through and click some names to see their excellent offerings.

By way of a sample, here’s a special edition of our “Front Five” feature highlighting some of the most popular posts from Harpin2.

“...while in the past these things may have been common and gone unnoticed unfortunately any little mistake that players make now will be on the internet in 5 minutes.”

Social Media in Rugby


Ginine Power -  July 2013

One of Joe Schmidt’s stated goals upon appointment was to increase the number of players capable of playing test rugby.”

The Wolfhounds 2014

Kevin O’Brien - January 2014

It may be harsh to say, but in my opinion Ireland haven't moved forward at all since Kidney won the Grand Slam.”

Yet More Kidney Failure


Kristian Ross - October 2012

The purpose of this blog was not to argue for one (Irish outhalf) over another but more simply to deconstruct some of the flawed arguments used to discredit one candidate or another.”

10 Straw Men


Curate’s Egg - Feb 2013

We where close enough to Jerry Flannery on the sidelines to shout at him... to remind him he was on tg4 and had to speak in Irish. He was not pleased.”


Keego on…Pre- & Post-match (part two)

Neil “Keego” Keegan - October 2012


Stay tuned to our social media channels later today, we’ve a long-time commenter from our Facebook page making his Harpin debut.  JLP

Front Five - 30.08.16

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

ICYMI click here for our Leinster v Bath writeup

Seán O’Brien and Robbie Henshaw remain long-term absentees as they continue their recovery from hamstring and knee injuries, with Leo Cullen estimating they may return to action in about six weeks’ time.

Gerry Thornley - Irish Times


"Ireland selection hasn't really been spoken of, with the fact I've been injured as well"

Matthew Wood - Talking Rugby Union


...the IRFU spent €37.6m on professional game costs in Ireland last season. The clubs in France will fork out a total of €302.1m this season and that, of course, has nothing to do with the international team costs.

John Fallon - RTÉ Rugby


The work would see the capacity of the old Terryland Park increase to between 8,000 and 12,000, with the addition of corporate and catering facilities

Ruaidhri O'Connor - Irish Independent


“...the way I look at it, we invented the game so they should align with us, shouldn't they?"

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, August 29, 2016

Leinster-19 Bath-39



logo post blueWhether it’s strictly true or not, the whole “pick up the ball and run with it” tale of William Webb Ellis suggests that rugby was founded on the notion of seeking out alternative ways of doing things.

Of course, the fact that it went on to be one of the most conservative team sports on the planet for well over a century is neither here nor there...eventually as the turn of the millennium approached and professionalism was being embraced, while not everything necessarily improved, overall the game changed for the better and the lesson was learned that new ideas always need to be explored.

And it is great to see that alternatives are being explored at all levels of the game.  The international calendar beyond 2019 has been put on hold with a view to perhaps synchronising schedules in the two hemispheres.  The Six Nations may move to April.  The Tri-Nations accepted Argentina and who then joined Super Rugby along with Japan.  The Heineken Cup became the Rugby Champions’ Cup (hey - I DID say not everything improved!).

This desire to try roads less travelled is also practiced by Leinster Rugby and it was very evident in this year’s preseason series.  In the past there has been one away trip and one match at Donnybrook to get us warmed up for the new campaign...this time around we have visited a club rugby ground in Navan and a soccer ground in Tallaght before heading to “old HQ” last Friday for the visit of Premiership side Bath.

1996-1997 Borussia Dortmund HomeBut even this occasion had its variations from the norm.  Generally the boys in blue get togged out at the Bective Rangers end of the ground, but due to a new clubhouse for Old Wesley RFC we emerged instead from there.  And as it turned out we weren’t the “boys in blue” on the night - the whole reason I’m harping on “alternatives” so much was that this was the first public outing for our new alternate jersey from Canterbury.  Let’s just say we’re now essentially Borussia Dortmund when they were in their “neon phase”.

When it comes to my describing how this match transpired, I also feel I need to try something different.  Rather than start at the kickoff, I reckon I should first tell you about the final five minutes or so, because the final score doesn’t tell you that this match was still very much a contest as the clock neared the 80 minute mark.

These matches against Premiership opposition shows how differently we approach the rugby preseason here in Ireland.  Basically Bath were set up with a traditional 23-man matchday squad as they were gearing up to hit the ground running in their league opener at Northampton next Saturday.

On our side of the Irish Sea, however, for some players the preseason often extends into September.  Seated a few rows ahead of me in the main Donnybrook stand were Johnny Sexton and Jamie Heaslip among others.  Club skipper Isa Nacewa was roaming the touchline throughout and Sean Cronin was on “waterboy” duty.  This isn’t necessarily a complaint, by the way...I’m just acknowledging it as an, er, “alternative” way of doing things.

So in those closing stages our XV on the park was totally different to that which started - for example Cathal Marsh began the second half at 10, went off then returned only this time at centre.  Meanwhile the visitors had the normal amount of subs and thus had a more settled look about them on top of having most of their “household” names on show.

With about 10 minutes to go Bath winger Semesa Rokoduguni (who had helped himself to a couple of tries) was yellow carded for a deliberate knock on as we we threatening to go over in the corner...a case could have been made for a penalty try.  The visitors managed to clear after the resulting lineout in their 22 but it fell to Zane Kirchner who had been playing as second half outside centre for a second week in a row. 

The South African ran back strongly on an intelligent line taking him back deep into Bath territory where he had enough men in support to eventually set up Barry Daly for a try.  Ross Byrne added the extra two and having been behind since the 2nd minute we now were within 6 and having the extra man as we did, although these results “don’t matter” it seemed well worth trying to pinch what would have been a satisfying come-from-behind victory.

And although you already know Bath got two tries at the end, it has to be said that both came as a result of strong pressure by Leinster on their line.  The first came after Tom Daly took a bit too much out of a strong run into their 22 - he had the ball stripped and Bath took full use of transition when a grubber through sat up nicely for Harry Davies to collect and take to the line from halfway for an easy seven points.

It’s not like we even gave up after that.  Charlie Rock spotted a blind side gap off a scrum and had us on the front foot again in their 22 but Ross Byrne rather telegraphed his crossfield kick which was charged down and then gathered by Dan Carter George Ford who took it home from even further out than Davies had.

So as you can see it wasn’t like we were blown off the park as the score might suggest.  We fronted up well to a strong Premiership outfit and stayed in it until the final stages.  And if you’ll pardon the glaring cliché there actually were “plenty of positives”.

Garry Ringrose was on the wing - I wondered in my preview if perhaps this is with a view to his getting an Ireland cap in November.  Whatever the reason, he did ok but personally I don’t like him there.  Even without our having lost so many centres I’d still say that is where he belongs and every minute spent on the park elsewhere is one wasted where he could have gained more top level experience.  But that’s just me...I did say there were positives, didn’t I?

Kirchner certainly doesn’t look half bad in the 13 position and he appeared keen to get things moving on the attacking front, not to mention being frustrated when those things didn’t quite pan out.  Judging by the way preseason has gone I’d have to assume that he is slated to start against Treviso with perhaps Noel Reid inside him and Isa and Ringrose on the wings assuming Rob Kearney starts.

Speaking of Rob it was a steady as she goes outing from the returnee.  After we went 13-0 down in the early stages he played his part in getting our side of the scoreboard moving but I’d say he was happy enough to emerge from the shift unscathed.

Another fighting his way back from injury was Cian Healy.  He struggled to keep his side of the scrum up on the early put ins, though as Leinster fans know all too well, Bath are good at forcing penalties on their own feed.  Around the park in the loose Church certainly looked to be on his way back to his best and it was his burst through the middle that got us going for our second try.

On the restart after our first five-pointer (which I’ll describe later as I’m “alternatively” working backwards in time) we had our first chance to try an “exit strategy” from our 22 and Healy emerged from a sea of forwards to get it to halfway and had good support for some of the offloading which has impressed this preseason and this brought us well into their 22.  The Bath scramble wasn’t enough to stop our momentum and eventually it was first-time skipper Ross Molony dotting down.

That opening Leinster try was from Adam Byrne - we had an attacking lineout in the Bath 22 which was badly overthrown by James Tracy who had some dart issues on the night.  Luckily the defence managed to knock it on and from the resulting scrum we worked a good overlap for our winger to get over the line.

Others to impress for Leinster were Josh van der Flier in his second half cameo, Jamieson Gibson-Park looked comfortable in his first outing for us and for the third week in a row Rory O’Loughlin showed himself to be yet another option for us at 13.


Unfortunately for Mike McCarthy it wasn’t his best ever shift for Leinster as his dropped a couple of takes you’d expect him to carry well past the gain line but he’ll be back stronger next time out.  Ian Nagle gave a loud scream of pain as he fell to the turf in the second half but thought himself able to carry on...the doctors thought otherwise but hopefully that’s a good sign that his shoulder isn’t too bad.

As for Bath, there is no doubt they deserved the win on the night, though perhaps the margin flattered a bit.  They seem to have made a good choice in Matt Garvey to replace Stuart Hooper as their skipper; he was used quite often to get his side on the front foot and did it well.  Defensively they were tough to break down, holding us out for about 30 phases at one point.  But when it comes to assessing how Blackadder’s boys will do in the Premiership, it’s hard to tell on this display as the standard in that league improves exponentially with each season.

Back to our team...despite the disappointment here we have to feel good about the alternatives who have been given their chance to shine in recent weeks.  I can’t be 100% sure whether it’s down to the involvement of Sir Graham Henry or not but you can definitely notice a culture of attacking rugby around this squad and assuming it can be shown by the full first XV there’s every chance we can be challenging on all fronts this season.

All that remains now is to count the days to our first competitive start of the season this coming Friday at the RDS.  It’s unusual to be kicking off the Pro12 season there, but I certainly don’t mind!  You won’t find me looking for alternative forms of entertainment that night, I can assure you.  JLP

Front Five - 29.08.16

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

Well done to all who helped beat the target for
the "Shave or Dye" fund from Leinster coaching staff
of course there is still plenty of time to contribute

Later today on HarpinOnRugby...
our Leinster v Bath writeup is titled "Alternatives"

Makes a mockery of citing. If nothing comes of this it's a farce.

Irish Independent


"Anything that keeps and inspires some home-grown US players can only be good for the development of that sport."

BBC Rugby


Clubs in England and the Pro12 have no say in the organisation of a Lions tour and they want that to change.

Paul Rees - The Guardian


"People wondered why he was taken off after 60 minutes that night against Leinster when he was going so well, but it was a case of managing him."

Alan Drumm - Pundit Arena


Also on the (Cork Con) roster is Division 1A player of the year Conor Kindregan, and most notably former Ireland and Connacht fullback Gavin Duffy.

Americas Rugby News


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, August 28, 2016

Leinster Rugby Staff to 'Shave or Dye' for McQuilkin Family

from Leinster Rugby


The Leinster Rugby coaching and back room team will host a 'shave or dye' event this Tuesday and have put together a charity page to help raise funds for their departing colleague Kurt McQuilkin and the wider McQuilkin family.

To make a donation please go to:  

It was announced only two weeks ago that the Leinster Rugby defence coach, Kurt McQuilkin, would be leaving Leinster to return home to New Zealand for personal reasons.

Kurt is a former Leinster player and captain and was also defence coach under Michael Cheika as part of the backroom team that brought a first ever Heineken Cup to the province in 2009.

The former Lansdowne clubman, who played 32 times for Leinster and was capped five times by Ireland in the mid-1990s, re-joined Leinster in time for the start of last season and took over the defensive duties for the club.

Under his stewardship Leinster conceded the least amount of tries in the Guinness PRO12 as they reached the Final in BT Murrayfield.

Commenting on the news at the time Leinster Head Coach Cullen said, "This is very sad news for Kurt and his family and our priority is supporting Kurt in his decision as best we can.

"He will head back home with our very best wishes in very trying circumstances and with the thanks of everyone at Leinster Rugby for his stellar contribution over the last 12 months.

"Right now our focus is on Kurt and ensuring that his move back home is as seamless as possible."

That focus to help out their friend and colleague, has led to this.

A fundraising campaign set up by the Leinster Rugby back room team that will see them 'shave or dye' their hair in aid of the McQuilkin family this Tuesday the 30th August 2016 in Leinster Rugby HQ.

All proceeds from this campaign will be donated to the McQuilkin family to help them at this most difficult of times.

Finally Leinster Rugby would like to acknowledge the support of our two charity partners Aware and DEBRA Ireland with this campaign.

To make a donation please go to:

And make sure to check out the Leinster Rugby social media platforms on Tuesday for the shave or dye updates! 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Front Five - 27.08.16

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

I regret being unable to attend the
conference today, many thanks again 
to the organizers for the invite

"...the pre-determined course of action to introduce ten players, and another four within five minutes of the restart, reduced this to something more akin to a fitness exercise."

Des Berry - Irish Independent


The New Zealander - who kept Ulster fans waiting over a year to make his home debut - showed why it was well worth the wait

Richard Mulligan - Belfast Newsletter


Jean Kleyn marked his Munster debut and 23rd birthday was a storming first half

John Fallon - Irish Times


"We saw from the likes of Ultan like year and Finlay that if you play for Connacht week in and week out that you might not be too far away from the Irish jersey"

Conor O'Leary -


Whenever Cooper has appeared against New Zealand, however, this Jekyll-and-Hyde-like dichotomy is magnified for several reasons.

Paul Wassell - Pundit Arena


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, August 26, 2016

Liveblog : Leinster v Bath


Apologies in advance for all the toppings torpor twopiece typos



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