Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Harpin Points 1 : Leinster jersey, Super Rugby, Pro14 fixtures


Hi and welcome to a new feature I'm road testing called Harpin Points...over recent seasons I have only really had time to focus on Leinster and Ireland matches so this gives me the chance do a bit of harping on matters involving the other provinces and beyond.

It's an easy format in that I just scatter a few headings down the page and bang out a paragraph or three on each based on how I see it.  As you can see by the graphic these posts are meant to convey my opinions and hot takes so expect me to have my tin foil hat nearby at all times!!!  The plan is to post every Wednesday and further down the line look at making it a video offering rather than a written one.


Fair play to those of you who sent a message asking if I was ok after shutting down content production for a few weeks...normally I put up a 'gone on holidays' post but this time I didn't, probably because last season was so amazing for Leinster & Ireland rugby I was afraid to bring it to an official close!!!

Anyway after a spell without watching any egg chasing, I chose last weekend to get 'back on the horse' and take in all four quarterfinals from the southern hemisphere's premier club competition.  And it was only a matter of seconds before something interesting happened...I was yet to see Damien Mackenzie play flyhalf for the Chiefs and his first act against the Hurricanes was to throw an interception that was sent back the other way for a try!

But for this Harpin point I don't want to focus on the four matches themselves, rather the ongoing debate over the Super Rugby format.  There are still a lot of complaints over the 'conference' structure, especially as four of the New Zealand franchises were in the top five of the overall table.  Many think it unfair that both the Chiefs and Highlanders had away quarterfinals while the Waratahs had a worse record yet got to play at home because they were the best in the Aussie conference.

Yes, there is definitely an element of unfairness in that alright.  However, it's not like they do it for no reason.  With this structure, you are guaranteed that at least three media markets will host playoff matches, and as far as I'm concerned, attendances in the competition are bad enough as it is without making it worse.

Sure, the Tahs' amazing comeback win over the Highlanders might not have happened were the venue reversed, but it's certainly better for the competition as a whole to keep the interest going in as many places as possible for as long as possible.

Also, a shout out to the Jaguares for reaching the quarterfinals...they didn't have enough to overcome the Lions but they definitely gave their hosts something to think about.  And if we're talking about unfairness, what about the Argentinians being allowed have just the one team, which would by definition be very close to the Pumas?  If we can accept that, we can accept the conferences, surely?


I think it's safe to say that the Irish Rugby 7s programme has been steadily going from strength to strength and considering how much of a head start we gave the rest of the world, for the men to finish 9th in last weekend's World Cup (winning the Challenge Trophy in the process) and the women 6th was an amazing achievement.

Unfortunately the only action I was able to watch was the men's trophy final victory over Australia (as if we hadn't beaten them enough this summer!) but that in itself was a very impressive performance by the boys in green.  Having come within a whisker of qualifying for the World Series last time out, we surely can't be far off both getting and staying there soon.


Today is the day the first of the new Adidas Leinster training gear gets shipped to those who pre-ordered.  Normally I'm positive for jersey launches because every time I put a picture on the site of a new design there's always reactions from people like 'Muck' and you can tell they would have said that regardless of the design.

But my only problem with the current range is that no matter how much you squint your eyes and tilt your head sideways, it looks like a blue photoshopped version of the Munster gear.  Had both been released at the same time, I may have felt differently, but our southern cousins have been in the three stripes for a while now so it's hard not to see it that way.

All that said, I'm dying to get a jersey on me with the four stars so there's no doubting I'll be making a purchase of some description soon!  It has been a while since I bought an alternate version so I might go for that this time around.


They're out at last!  I had a rant all ready to go in this slot had they not been published by now...anyway, time for a few first impressions.

When the competition switched to the new format last year I thought the make up of the conferences would change every season, but as it turned out they decided to do it every two years instead, which, in fairness, does bring an air of symmetry about the schedule in that the teams we played only once last year will have the venue reversed this time around.

Leinster's schedule is a bit lopsided, and I don't just mean that we have 11 home and 10 away contests either.  Our first two matches are away to the most successful Welsh regions from last season, and all in all 6 of our first 10 matches are 'on the road'.  Of course there's a flip side in that 7 of our final 11 will be at the RDS and besides, I doubt the reigning double champions getting a whole lot of sympathy from anyone on anything like fixtures!!!  What's that you say?  You think I wrote this whole paragraph just so I could use the phrase "double champions"?  Well, so what if I did?  😀


OK I'll leave it at that for I say this was just a trial run and hopefully the feature will evolve over the coming weeks.

The daily 'Front Five' feature will return on July 30, exactly four years since we started it, and then the other regular posts will gradually come back into the fold as the new season draws near.  And speaking of anniversaries, this site will officially be ten years old towards the end of August, nothing planned as yet by way of celebration but I'm sure I'll think of something!!!!  JLP


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