Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Round up of the last few weeks of World Cup Qualifiers

by Ciarán Duffy



Americas
Uruguay have confirmed their place in the play-off to enter the World Cup as Americas 2 by winning the CONSUR Rugby Championship A.  They beat Chile 27 – 11 in their final match.  The two sides were level on points going into the game having won their first two fixtures.  Also over the weekend, Brazil beat Paraguay 57 – 6 to finish 3rd.

Uruguay will now play the loser of the playoff between Canada and the USA.  The first leg of the Canada – USA play-off takes place on June 24th, with the second leg a week later on July 1st.  The winner of the Canada – USA play-off will qualify as Americas 1.  The loser of that playoff will play Uruguay in 2018 in a two-legged playoff to qualify as Americas 2, the loser of that will go into the repechage.  

Europe

Plenty of action in the European conferences.  Hungary beat Bosnia and Herzegovina 19 – 17 in the Round 1 final, while Czech Republic beat Malta 48 – 14 in the Round 2 final.  Czech Republic then beat Hungary 47 – 19 on Saturday.  They will now play Portugal in November.  The winner of that match will play the runner-up of the Rugby Europe Championship, Spain currently sit in 2nd place behind Romania.  Spain beat Belgium 30 – 0 to keep up the pressure on the leaders.  It was a busy week for Belgium as they beat Portugal 2 days later to ensure they would remain in the championship for the 2018 matches.  In the other game, Russia beat Germany 52 – 25 to move into 3rd place.  

Asia
Malaysia secured their place in the 2018 Asia Rugby Championship in comfortable fashion winning all their games.  They’ll play Hong Kong and South Korea.  The winner of that will play the 2017 Oceania Rugby Cup winner in a two-legged play-off for a place in the repechage.  

Oceania
The Pacific Nations Cup will continue on July 1st with Tonga taking on Samoa.  Elsewhere in qualification Cook Islands take on Tahiti in August in the 2017 Oceania Rugby Cup, the winner will go through to the Asia/Oceania play-off for a repechage place.  

Africa
The Rugby Africa Gold Cup begins on the 24th of June.  The opening round of fixtures are Kenya vs Uganda, and Senegal vs Zimbabwe.


Ciarán Duffy (@TheVoiceDepth) is a Leinster supporter and self-proclaimed ‘big cheese’ of Post To Post (@PostToPostSport).   He’ll write about anything rugby under the condition he gets to take it too seriously.

*****

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

Front Five - 31.05.17

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

Best of luck to the #Wolfpuppies today!



"...the job for Ireland today will be to keep tries conceded column clean and build on gradually from there."


Sean Farrell - The42.ie



Speaking to the province’s website, Dawson acknowledged the hard work undertaken by Cullen in his two seasons to date at the RDS.


Irish Times



"I can't wait to go to Dublin to hand over Ireland's bid for the Rugby World Cup, I am just so happy."


IrishRugby.ie



“Hopefully we can throw the ball about and impress and try to give the fans something and put together some nice tries, hopefully it’s an entertaining game.”


Belfast Newsletter



Some of he best ankle breakers in rugby!


Eat Sleep Rugby



Feel free to share any interesting links you spot yourself about t’internet by email, Twitter, Facebook, 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, May 30, 2017

Leinster season review by Kevin O'Brien


So another season is over for Leinster rugby. It was a year of promise and what might have been. When looking at it as a whole, for me it was a positive season. Player development was one of the very pleasing aspects with many of the younger players getting significant amounts of deserved game time. Whilst they are not the finished article by any stretch their experiences over the season will help develop them into top professional players for Leinster and Ireland. In addition to this we saw the development of more expansive style of play thanks to the influence of Stuart Lancaster. This was very welcome given how difficult it had been to score try’s at times over the preceding few seasons. We qualified out of our pool in Europe, put in an impressive performance in the Quarter Finals to beat a highly-fancied Wasps side to reach a euro semi-final. Losing to Clermont was disappointing but the European campaign overall was a good success. We had a strong league campaign finishing second to Munster. However, again there was to be disappointment in the semi-final losing to an excellent Scarlets team who were very deserving Pro12 champions.
As mentioned one of the major positives to come out of the season was player & squad development. One of the big complaints from me through the Matt O’Connor era and to a lesser degree Leo Cullen’s first year was the lack faith the management seem to place in the younger members of the playing squad. O’Connor especially seemed to have no faith in the talented youngsters being produced by the academy. So, it was very encouraging to see the amount young, exciting, hungry players involved this season. Guys who had some first team experience like Leavy, Conan, Ringrose & Luke McGrath really kicked on to become established first team players in their own right. Their form was such that they caught the eye of Joe Schmidt and were selected for the national side. Others like Joey Carberry, Adam Byrne, Ross Byrne & Rory O’Loughlin emerged and showed real quality as they firmly established themselves in the squad. These guys will form the backbone of the team for many years and will have benefited greatly from their experiences this year.
The other significant positive aspect of the season was the changing playing style. We played for most of the season a far more expansive and exciting brand of rugby which has been attributed to the positive impact Stuart Lancaster has had on the squad. In all we scored 129 trys in the campaign and we played a very attractive brand of rugby. It was great to see both forwards and backs looking for off loads. This was something which was virtually non- existent over the last few seasons and it was great to watch. A pleasing aspect was that in a season when over 50 players were used almost all were comfortable playing a more expansive style of rugby.
Whilst I feel the season overall was positive and shows Leinster rugby in heading in the right direction, there were also some negatives aspects to the year. After excellent work, all season to get us into the semi- finals a significant dip in form came at the wrong time. We were awful in the first 20 minutes against Clermont but did manage to pull out a good performance for the remainder of the game which on another day might have went our way. After this game, our form seemed to fall off a cliff with poor performances in the remaining league fixtures and what Isa Nacewa describes as ‘the worst performance of the season’ against the Scarlets in the home Pro 12 semi -final. To me that performance was incredibly disappointing lacking in intensity & sharpness. It’s easy to apportion blame and look for excuses when we get such defeats and performances. It was a collective failure from both the players and the coaching staff. One I hope they will all learn something from.
I don’t buy into the journalistic line that the Leinster team lacks bottle or that we are back to the ‘Lady Boy’ days. This is a new young team who have come together over the course of the last season who are starting out on their own path. Their performances and results over the course of the next eighteen or twenty-four months will be defining for them. Can they get over the disappointment of losing the two semi-finals and kick on and win silverware? The talent and ability is there.
What the two semi-final defeats did highlight was the defensive vulnerability that currently exists with the team. We coughed up simple trys in both games due to individual errors and collective failure. In truth, the defence has been an issue all season and one that needs addressing if we are to win trophies. Whilst Lancaster was brought in to replace Kurt McQuilkin, he seems to have had more success developing the offensive side of the game. More attention needs to be given to the defence with perhaps a specialist defence coach needed. On the pitch another area that need to be looked at are our lineout & maul which have not worked as effectively as they should over the course of the season. We’ve lacked top drawer quality at second row for some time now and this has been very evident this season with the lineout frequently malfunctioning. A fact not helped by a dip in form from Devin Toner. For me there is also an issue with the quality of our hookers. No matter who played in the position reliability was an issue when throwing the ball into the lineout. None of Cronin, Tracy or Strauss have fully convinced in this regard. This has all contributed to a line out which has not functioned properly with possession on our throw coughed up on numerous occasions often at critical points in games. The signing of Fardy and hopefully the emergence of the talented and soon to be capped James Ryan will hopefully help this area where a big improvement is going to be needed next season.
Overall I deem the season to be a positive and progressive one for the reasons pointed out of player development, a more progressive playing style and a decent European campaign. Yes, there are issues that remain to be addressed like the the defence and perhaps lack of quality depth in some positions. On the whole I feel that this is a very talented squad of players which have the potential to bring great success to Leinster in the future. It is also positive news that the current coaching set up has been re-signed for next season as we have made excellent progress under Cullen, Lancaster and the rest of the coaches. The additions of Scott Fardy and James Lowe were a good statement of intent from the province and I’m in no doubt these guys will add excellent quality and experience to the squad. Whilst I was disappointed with how this season tailed off with the two semi-final defeats I’m sure we will come back a better team from the experiences. I for one am already excited to see what next season will bring us and am very confident that we will see the further development of this group of players and hopefully some silverware.
For now, enjoy your summer which has so much rugby to look forward to with the Lions tour, the Women’s World Cup and the Under 20’s world championship all taking place. Plenty there to get excited about.
SO, UNTIL NEXT SEASON, COME ON YOU BOYS IN BLUE.
Kevin O’Brien (@marywards) : Rugby mad Leinster man exiled in Connaught. Father of 3 with wife who hates sport but tolerates rugby.

*****

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

Front Five - 30.05.17

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

Great honest post from Scarlets fan
Siobhan Corcoran



The way the Scarlets won is something that will live with me for a very long time.


Siobhan Corcoran - cornelsiobhan



"We are not holding anything back from each other...if any of us has any knowledge that can help the team win games...it is important we put it out there."


Gerry Thornley - Irish Times



Kelly will be happy enough to get back on the pitch again because just after he had returned to full training two weeks ago, he rolled his ankle.


Cian Tracey - Irish Independent



“The All Blacks are not only a physical contest, it is a big mental contest,”


All Out Rugby



"He is very experienced, knowledgeable, puts his body on the line every time he goes out and wears a red jersey."


David Kent - Balls.ie



Feel free to share any interesting links you spot yourself about t’internet by email, Twitter, Facebook, 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, May 29, 2017

Bring home advantage back for the Pro12 final

by Ciarán Duffy


For the last three seasons the Pro12 final has been played at a predetermined venue.  Glasgow won at the Kingspan, Connacht won at Murrayfield, and most recently Scarlets won at the Aviva.  Based on Saturdays performance Scarlets would have beaten any team in the league at any venue (yes even in space or a volcano), they are deserved champions.  As it happens, the last three finals have been one-sided affairs.  But watching the match, I couldn’t help but think the game should have been at Thomond Park.  Munster finished top after playing each side twice, it seems fair that they would have home advantage for the decider.

The Pro12 is not like the Top14 or the Aviva Premiership.  There is more than one nation being represented, and so there is no national stadium of the league.  It makes sense that the Champions of England would be crowned at Twickenham.  That’s not the case with the Pro12, there is no stadium that acts as the league's home.  

Destination finals do not guarantee a neutral venue.  In fact, at some stage, home advantage may well go to the wrong team.  Had Leinster progressed to the final they would have had home advantage over Munster despite finishing below them in the league, which would have been unfair.  

The finals have gone Ireland, Scotland, Ireland.  Not exactly spreading it out, but Cardiff is hosting the Champions League final this year, so perhaps the plan is to wait and give Wales the final next year.  Also missing from the list above, Italy.  At some stage if the final is being rotated between each nation, the final will have to be held in Italy, despite the fact that no Italian team has ever finished in or near the top 4.  If said final is being competed by Welsh, Irish or Scottish teams, it would be far from ideal for the travelling fans.  The best placed finalists should be able to pick the venue.  It would make the final a better representation of the season as a whole, the team that finishes first has earned it.  

Destination finals, yes or no? Sound off below (be civil)

Ciarán Duffy (@TheVoiceDepth) is a Leinster supporter and self-proclaimed ‘big cheese’ of Post To Post (@PostToPostSport).   He’ll write about anything rugby under the condition he gets to take it too seriously.

*****

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

Front Five - 29.05.17

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

ICYMI click here for our
calendar showing the feast
of summer rugby for us to harp on



One to watch: Fineen Wycherley


WorldRugby.org



This win for Wayne Pivac’s Scarlets was the first by...any Welsh side other than the Ospreys since the Scarlets won their first title back in 2004.


Brendan O'Brien - Irish Examiner



(It was) their best ever finish as a core team


IrishRugby.ie



Previously some diehard supporters have stated they would prefer the national rugby jersey remain unchanged.


Stuff.co.nz



Madigan started the game at out-half, although the Baa-Baas's had their own title for his starting role...


Gavin Cooney - Balls.ie



Feel free to share any interesting links you spot yourself about t’internet by email, Twitter, Facebook, 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, May 28, 2017

Front Five - 28.05.17

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

2015 - Glasgow win in Belfast
2016 - Connacht win in Murrayfield
2017 - Scarlets win in Dublin

A disappointing fortnight for Irish provinces but
overall, great news on the competitiveness
of a truly Celtic League aka Guinness Pro12

Could Parc y Scarlets sell out next season's final?



...the Scarlets stayed true to their philosophy, slicing open the Irish province with some sublime attacking rugby.


Rob Lloyd - WalesOnline



If you were to point at where it all went wrong, you’d run out of fingers fairly quickly.


Three Red Kings



"I said a prayer to my old man upstairs and he helped me with the last one I think, so I am delighted that went over."


Howard Lloyd - Devon Live



Clermont dominated for large periods with Van der Merwe's sending off – for a dangerous tackle on Teddy Thomas – having little impact on the game's outcome


All Out Rugby



Tadhg Beirne was deemed surplus to requirements by Leinster.


Patrick McCarry - SportsJoe.ie



Feel free to share any interesting links you spot yourself about t’internet by email, Twitter, Facebook, 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, May 27, 2017

Front Five - 27.05.17

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

Best of luck to Munster today
keep that Pro12 trophy in Ireland

Can't help but feel sorry for La Rochelle
I know the crowd was bigger in Marseille but
topping the Top14 table should earn you
at least one playoff game at your own stadium



We have a saying here, ‘if it is to be, it is up to me.’


John O'Sullivan - Irish Times



“Last weekend against Leinster every single part of our game was outstanding."


Alex Bywater - Irish Examiner



Northampton, 16 points down at one point in the first half, did not know when they were beaten.


Gerard Meagher - The Guardian



Toulon will face either defending champions Racing 92 or Clermont, who meet Saturday


Rugby365



We'll give it a chance, but expectations are low.


Mikey Traynor - Balls.ie



Feel free to share any interesting links you spot yourself about t’internet by email, Twitter, Facebook, 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, May 26, 2017

Off season? What off season? A Summer 2017 calendar for Irish rugby fans


Note - the Irish Women have some warmup matches 
before WRWC2017 - dates and times to be announced

MAY
Saturday27PRO 12 FINAL Munster v Scarlets
Premiership Final Wasps v Exeter Chiefs
Sunday28England v Barbarians (incl Ian Madigan)
Monday29
Tuesday30
Wednesday31IRELAND U20 V ITALY U20
JUN
Thursday1ULSTER v BARBARIANS
Friday2
Saturday3NZ PROVINCIAL BARBARIANS V LIONS
Sunday4IRELAND U20 V SCOTLAND U20
TOP 14 Final
Monday5
Tuesday6
Wednesday7BLUES V LIONS
Thursday8IRELAND U20 V NEW ZEALAND U20
Friday9
Saturday10USA v IRELAND
CRUSADERS V LIONS
Sunday11
Monday12
Tuesday13U20 SEMIFINALS
HIGHLANDERS V LIONS
Wednesday14
Thursday15
Friday16
Saturday17JAPAN V IRELAND
MAORI ALL BLACKS V LIONS
Sunday18U20 FINALS
Monday19
Tuesday20CHIEFS V LIONS
Wednesday21
Thursday22
Friday23
Saturday24JAPAN V IRELAND
NEW ZEALAND V LIONS
Sunday25
Monday26
Tuesday27HURRICANES V LIONS
Wednesday28
Thursday29
Friday30
JUL
Saturday1NEW ZEALAND V LIONS
Sunday2
Monday3
Tuesday4
Wednesday5
Thursday6
Friday7
Saturday8NEW ZEALAND V LIONS
Sunday9
Monday10
Tuesday11
Wednesday12
Thursday13
Friday14
Saturday15Super Rugby final league round
Sunday16
Monday17
Tuesday18
Wednesday19
Thursday20
Friday21
Saturday22SUPER RUGBY QUALIFIERS
Sunday23
Monday24
Tuesday25
Wednesday26
Thursday27
Friday28
Saturday29SUPER RUGBY SEMIFINALS
Sunday30
Monday31
AUG
Tuesday1
Wednesday2
Thursday3
Friday4
Saturday5SUPER RUGBY FINAL
Sunday6
Monday7
Tuesday8
Wednesday9#WRWC2017 IRELAND V AUSTRALIA
Thursday10
Friday11
Saturday12
Sunday13#WRWC2017 IRELAND V JAPAN
Monday14
Tuesday15
Wednesday16
Thursday17#WRWC IRELAND V FRANCE
Friday18
Saturday19
Sunday20
Monday21
Tuesday22#WRWC2017 SEMIFINALS
Wednesday23
Thursday24
Friday25
Saturday26#WRWC2017 FINAL

Blog Archive