Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Harpin Points 15 : From rugby chat online to pointless TV gimmicks


Every Wednesday we widen our focus beyond Leinster & Ireland rugby matches, offering views on broader rugby topics and themes

3BAB&B AND OTHER FORUMS


Shout outs for Harpin On Rugby are always appreciated, so I'm more than happy to return the favour for former contributor to these pages and now host of the excellent weekly vidcast “Three Blokes, A Ball and BOD” Joe Sheppard (aka Big Joe Shep) who mentioned us in his show last Thursday.

The subject matter was online rugby blogs and forums and he had a couple of guests on who run their own sites.  It was an interesting conversation and for me it illustrated the different formats available for producing online rugby content.

Some like to run a ‘messageboard’ style which involves offering topics and allowing members to get a discussion going by way of posts, many of which are effectively well crafted essays that would make excellent articles in their own right.

Here at HoR we've always used the blog format, with the central focus being match writeups for both Leinster and Ireland's men's teams.  I would love to be able to cover a wider scope, and if someone chooses to pay me I may very well one day ha ha.  But for now I only really feel entitled to write about the teams I actually want to follow, and I'm of course very grateful to all the support I have gotten from readers, commenters, contributors and of course sponsors.

Another thing Joe's show touched on was the whole area of ‘trolls’ and ‘wind up merchants’.  We have had a few of them over the years at HoR but thankfully not too many. Only once have I ever actually banned someone and even then it was reluctantly.  I know it has to be done but it annoys me when such a small minority is allowed to define the overall online discourse.

But back to the positive, as well as wishing to be able to harp on more than just Leinster & Ireland, I also wish I could be involved in more different sites.  I used to try to stay in touch, as well as becoming attached to several WhatsApp groups and prediction games, yet sadly the demands of this site meant I had to back away.

That's just me though… For the majority of rugby nuts who don't get involved in the admin side of this world, it only makes your enjoyment all the greater to keep up with as much of the quality content out there as you can, and if you haven't sampled Joe's show already, I strongly recommend you rectify that situation ASAP. Once I can organise myself a quiet spot from which to broadcast I hope to join him on his show at some point.




MY POSITION ON POSITIONS - 6


Speaking of shout-outs, this week's look at contenders for various Irish test jerseys looks at number 6, and it gives me an excuse to show off bring up a question I put to Brent Pope about 5 years ago, one that impressed him as you can see by his video response.


When dealing with the Irish second rows I pointed out that despite the functional differences at scrum time, the numbers 4 and 5 were pretty much interchangeable, yet this is infinitely more so when comes to what the French call ‘la troisième ligne’.


It was always the case that forwards were meant to do much more work around the pitch than that described by the name of their position, which relates to their role in the scrum.  But the truth is that this versatility has become much more widespread throughout the game since it went pro and now we have coaches using different types of players at different times.


The 6 is meant to be the ‘blindside flanker’ or as I knew it as a kid, ‘wing forward’.  They were essentially extra tacklers who are meant to spring off the scrum to thwart the planned attack of the opposition when defending, or be a viable carrying option while attacking.


Peter O’Mahony does all of the above but that only scratches the surface of what he offers to both Munster & Ireland.  He'll carry. He'll clear out. He'll force a turnover. He'll pinch a lineout. And most of all, whether he's captain or not, he'll both lead by example and stick up for his side with the ref.  He is as complete a player as you can have in this sport and has made himself undroppable.


But what of Sean O'Brien? He's well able to do all of the above. With him, it has only been injury holding him back.  When he was winning European Player of the Year the jersey was his without question but as he has been dipping in and out of the game, POM is not the only one to put his name forward.  Still, a fully fit Tullow Tank is hard to ignore and if he continues to get game time he could force his way into contention at any of the back row positions.


Then there's Rhys Ruddock.  He'd be well on course for 100 caps with most other rugby nations. He comes across as unassuming personality wise but on the pitch he gets every bit out of his size and as I mentioned last week, can also pitch in at lock when required, the kind of versatility that is invaluable in the modern game.  And as if all of that isn't enough, he has been a captain at this level for a long time and could well lead Ireland this coming weekend.


Like I said, many different players can feature at 6 for Ireland.  Much like the way Australia solved their Hooper/Pocock dilemma by starting both as flankers, both Leinster and Ireland have done this with the two dynamic young stars Josh van der Flier and Dan Leavy.  But I'll harp some more on them next week.


And while there are several more quality options out there these days, when it comes to 6 I can't see too far beyond those named above for Ireland with RWC less than a year away.



"IMPORT SCAPEGOATING"

I touched on this in my writeup of Benetton v Leinster at the weekend so here is a good place to elaborate.  For me it's very important to have a term like this for what is a definite phenomenon in rugby in general but Irish rugby in particular.

What I mean by the term (though it's pretty much self-explanatory) is the tendency of some fans to single out foreign players when the side is playing badly.  But I have to make it clear that especially in today’s highly charged political climate, I do not equate this with being ‘racist’ or anything remotely similar.

In fairness, it seems more like a natural tendency that's linked to things like name recognition.  Take mine for example.  If you didn't know me and were shown headlines of articles on Irish rugby by three different authors, one with my surname Pagano and the other two with Irish names, which would you think was more credible?  I know I'd lean toward the other two.

And in the case of Joe Tomane who has been the most recent target of criticism at Leinster Rugby, he's up against more than his ‘forgein-ness’ when it comes to winning over Irish fans.  It doesn't help his cause that he comes into the squad just as arguably the most popular provincial import Irish rugby has ever known, Isa Nacewa, has just left.

But from my standpoint, there's another factor to consider.  Joe actually hasn't done all that well so far.  He hasn't been poor by a long stretch, but on more than one occasion what seemed like a promising Leinster move has broken down when it came to him.  I just think we need to be able to point this out in a sensible manner like suggesting he needs time to get fully up to speed with Leinster's intricate systems, before effectively ruling him out altogether.

And it's not like every import has been a winner in the past.  Steven Sykes is one that springs to mind, but there have been a few. But what we as fans need to do is try to give all of the boys in blue an equal chance and keep the criticism as constructive as we possibly can.



EUROPEAN QUALIFICATION

The Ospreys used to be the dominant force in Welsh regional rugby, yet in recent seasons they have regressed somewhat allowed the Scarlets to assume that mantle.  This season the Swansea-based outfit, thanks in part to some decent acquisitions like Dan Lydiate and George North, are getting back to their best, and I look forward to seeing them play at the RDS at the end of November.

But their current improvement highlights for me something about European rugby that bugs me....ok, alright, just one of the many things.  And let me be clear that I see Ospreys as just one example of this Harpin Point.

The region's poor form last season saw them fail to qualify for the Champions Cup, albeit at the very last hurdle of a playoff in Belfast in May.  But the way we structure things, in some ways they actually get som reward from this failure.

Let's be honest…nobody is really all that pushed about the Challenge Cup.  Sure, winning it brings qualification for the big prize the following year, but it's status is one that has teams more falling into the knockout stages rather than pushing too hard for them.

So with the Ospreys in that lesser tournament, it means they can put more focus on the Pro14.  And for me, this goes against much of what sport is meant to be about.  Why should having a bad record one season effectively make your life easier the next?

I suppose what bugs me most about this is that we're copying a model used in soccer, and both Arsenal and Chelsea are currently enjoying similar seasons to that of the Ospreys.  I don't mind the round ball game, but I certainly don't believe we need to copy them at every turn no matter how much more popular and lucrative it may be.

Were it down to me, domestic and European competitions would be played in blocks at opposite ends of the season, with the former offering immediate qualification for the latter.   I know this is probably never going to happen, but I guess that's what makes my take a 'hot' one?



TV GIMMICKS

IMO the mid-half interviews with coaches are a waste of time anyway but surely they shouldn't break away from the actual rugby when they do it? 🙄🏉📺 👎

16 Likes, 1 Comments - HarpinOnRugby (@harpinonrugby) on Instagram: "IMO the mid-half interviews with coaches are a waste of time anyway but surely they shouldn't break..."

The above Instagram post pretty much says it all about how I feel about this phenomenon. I understand that TV networks feel the need to add something different to their coverage, but they also have to realise that often they get something wrong. 

Chatting to a coach while a game is actually in progress seems positively bonkers to me.  Some of the head coaches like Dai Young and Rob Baxter are happy to do it, but I can totally understand why most of them delegate it to their assistants, and even they don't seem to happy. 

The way I see it, the type of fan who would be interested enough to know what a coach is thinking at the midway point of a half is also one who appreciates that the last thing he wants to be doing is taking his eyes off the action because every second could offer some information that he'll want to pass n to his players. 

Wrap it up lads.  I really don't think there will be any petitions to bring it back. 


That's all the Harpin Points for this week. Thanks for sticking with me until the end.  There's a big weekend coming up with both Leinster and Ireland in action so stay tuned!  JLP

Keego on...Mind games


Check out Keego's podcast
at thecouchpundit.podbean.com
So we are approaching the time of the year where we put our provincial jerseys back in the cupboard and take out our beautiful green jerseys, some still stained with the tears of another 6 nations win all over them. Or is that the celebratory Guinness? Either way, the preparation for the RWC is ramping up and we roll into November in the best position we have ever been in……..again.
King Joe has picked just about the strongest squad he possibly could, Murray and Farrell being the only absentees, but if you look at the 3 new caps, Will Addison, Sam Arnold and Ross Byrne it appears to be as strong as it can be. It appears that lessons have been learned since the last world cup and it appears that the Ireland team are being organised to take an All Black scalp this November.
We will get back to Murray in a few paragraphs.
The squad for November:


Not a bad selection for the series. Very few players not operating at optimum. The captain still coming back into form, but aside from that there is strength everywhere. Which leads us to the squad to play Italy this weekend in Chicago.


Now we get into the mind games, the trust and the squad ethic that has been built. Aside from the players who are left in Carton house, just look at the squad heading to America. A lot of those players are thisclose to being in the match day squad for the rest of the series. JVDF, Scannell and even Addison are as close to a match day tracksuit as you can get. The players at home will be watching closely and maybe biting a few of the nails. A great thing that joe has created, he has taken away players ‘jersey security’. 9 and 10 aside.

So let’s move into the mind games that Ireland are playing going into the series. The one piece of the puzzle that Ireland have yet to jump into in recent memory. The squad has been improved, so now it is time for Mr nice Guy Joe to play some games. The one game omitted from the above squad is of course, Conor Murray. A player who is massively important to the team obviously. A player who has recently come out with the news that his ‘serious neck injury’ was in fact, a bulging disc that just needed rest time. He has shouted from the rooftops in the last 5 days that he is very close to being back on the pitch, he has even mentioned November as a return date. And you know that Hansen and the All Blacks have heard it, they are currently unsure about who will take the field against them. They are planning for 2 or 3 options, which is extra time of unsurity for them. After a season that is quite unlike the usual for them, this is another little issue for them to prepare for. It is fantastic to see Ireland step up and play these off the field games and will be interesting to see how it affects the All blacks.
If Murray is shown on the big screen in a match day tracksuit, the crowd will make a noise that will rattle the world champions.
I am loving Irelands new mental games, let’s see how they work. But first, it is important that the squad picked for Saturdays game against Italy put in a big performance.
I have been waiting too long to put my green jersey on.
For more check out The Couch Pundit > https://thecouchpunditireland.com/

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.

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

Front Five - 31.10.18

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

 ICYMI click here for this week's
80-word reviews


“He’s been on a longer-term injury list, but he’s in camp this week. He’s been in Carton and we’ll probably assess him as we go through the series."


Simon Lewis - Irish Examiner

Even when he was in primary school at St Michael's College, Ross Byrne was showing signs he could go on to great things on the rugby pitch.


Ruairidh O'Connor - Irish Independent

The winner will be announced on November 25th at the World Rugby awards.


Sean McMahon - Pundit Arena

With the 33-year-old out of contention, Elliot Daly is certain to continue at full-back.


Sean McMahon - Pundit Arena

"It just happened, but most of my energy is doing what I perceive my role to be in order to get a positive result for the team."


RTÉ.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

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

80-word reviews from weekend Oct 26-28


LEINSTER'S NEXT OPPONENTS
(KINGS)


Quite a task for the Kings, hosting last season's finalists in successive weeks, but they made a really good go of part one.  Multiple YouTube-friendly tries from broken play thanks to the likes of Maxisole Banda kept pushing them ahead but often poor discipline let the second-string Scarlets to peg them back until they took the lead for good although the home side salvaged two MPs and probably deserved more.  Plenty of lessons for Leinster to work on. 

OTHER IRISH PROVINCES


Ulster didn't have things their own way by any stretch and with properly functioning set pieces (four lineouts lost) could have gotten the fiftyburger. Still their impressive backline mix of power from McCloskey and Addison, plus pace from Lowry and Baloucoune was enough to wrap up the bonus point early. The Dragons showed some decent movement at times and might have pinched a try bonus but too many system errors leave Berch's men empty handed on their travels yet again. 


Munster struck early through Cronin after strong contributions from O'Mahony and Earls but by halftime Glasgow had crept ahead after some fine open play led to two from George Horne.  The dominance continued until his brother Peter got the bonus point on 60m but some missed placekicks came back to haunt him as tries from Wooton & Mathewson set up Rory Scannell to pinch it with a long-range wind-assisted penalty at the death.  A rare 4-2 split of match points.  

OSPREYS 22-17 CONNACHT

In the rare regional rugby surroundings  of Bridgend RFC, two early Connacht errors led to pacy Osprey winger Giles stealing in for tries.  Carty pulled back a DG but the teams cancelled each other out for 40m until Morgan dotted down with McCusker on the naughty step.  The Westies pulled level with tries from Aki and Butler but when Carty kicked out on the full, it allowed Allen to set up Evans for a TMO-checked winner at the death.


MORE PRO 14 CONFERENCE B



Hard to fault Cockerill for making 10 changes against Zebre after thrashing 3-time Euro champs the week before, and it looked to be paying off when they led 13-3 at HT.  But Michael Bradley had the better team talk and while his side were defending like a brick wall after the break, they were taking advantagesof concentration lapses to creep ahead and clinch a BP at the death.  Much ground lost by Embra on Conference B rivals. 

BLEDISLOE TEST

AUSTRALIA 20-37 NEW ZEALAND

For neutrals in the Yokohama crowd this did much to whet the appetite for RWC2019.  But for Michael Cheika it was proof that no matter how he shuffled his backline, they won't match these All Blacks.  In fairness Folau is a decent 13 and they played to their strengths but too many errors and penalties plus Beauden Barrett being 'in the zone' meant the margin never got less than four.  NZL certainly look ready to conquer Europe again in November.


Front Five - 30.10.18

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

ICYMI click here for our
Benetton v Leinster writeup 


Head coach Joe Schmidt has opted to hold back the likes of captain Rory Best and vice-captains Johnny Sexton and Peter O’Mahony


Nick Purewall - Irish Examiner

Like Ireland, Italy have placed a greater emphasis on next weekend's game, at home to Georgia


Cian Tracey - Irish Independent

“I signed a contract until the end of June 2020 with Munster. I’m loving every single moment of it."


Ryan Bailey - The42.ie

Of the many staff appointments made by Jones to date this one will prompt England’s rivals to splutter most over their cornflakes.


Robert Kitson - The Guardian

"I think it is a problem when the bed is 5'11 and he's 6'11."


Stuff.co.nz

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, October 29, 2018

Benetton 3-31 Leinster


TICKING BOXES

It was an odd feeling back in April of this year.  

Leinster had just lost to a team we are always expected to beat, especially at home.  It should have been an upset that rocked European rugby to its very core, but instead all I genuinely wanted to do is applaud our conquerors, and I certainly wasn't alone at the RDS in that wish.

Context was everything, of course.  Leinster's home Pro14 semifinal was all but secured at that stage, we had a Champions Cup one against the Scarlets to come the following weekend, and the Grand Slam was also fresh in everyone's minds. It certainly was not out of sour grapes nor begrudgery that the result against Benetton, disappointing though it was, didn't sting as much as it might have.

In fact it was forgotten so much that I originally didn't think to bring it up in my preview, and talk of ‘revenge’ was scarce elsewhere around the ruggersphere leading up to kickoff.  For us, the context was about keeping ahead of Conference B rivals Ulster and the Scarlets, both of whom had bonus point wins the night before, and also blowing away the cobwebs from Toulouse the week before.

“We have no reason to doubt that the coaching ticket can fix what is ailing us, and hopefully the lineout will be near the top of that list.  But also we need to be able to get our heads out of the play book when it's clear our opposition is on a mission to throw us off”

In the opening exchanges at a rainy Stadio Di Monigo, Leinster ticked a lot of the boxes I had in my mental notebook, some of which I laid out in last week's writeup.

There were just 33 seconds on the clock when we were awarded a penalty, almost the exact opposite of what happened at the same time last week, though this time it was for an unfortunate offside by a Treviso player after we batted back a box kick.  We put it to touch and just like that we had attacking lineout ball.

Here we were already faced with a scenario that was a potential stumbling block.  Expectations are such at Leinster that lineouts like these are meant to be as good as points on the board, yet the mechanics of securing possession from the setpiece have proven to be a challenge.  But the call was made, Tracy threw the dart, James Ryan was hoisted into the air, and the ball was ours.

Excellent…now to set about attacking the gainline. But the home side had a thing or two to say about that. Premier/eir Sport lost brownie points with stat nerds like me for not providing a “phase counter” graphic in this sequence but I made it 25 times we had to recycle. Clearly Kieran Crowley and his defensive coaches had their charges drilled into a mindset to thwart us with the ball, and it was working extremely well right from the start.  We briefly got into their 22 before getting driven back beyond where the original lineout had been.

One silver lining was that we were retaining the ball each time.  Jamison Gibson-Park looked like a scrum half well prepared for series like this one, getting to each breakdown ready to organise the pods around him trying to find the weakness in the defensive cordon.

But often in the past we have fallen into a trap whereby we had so much faith in our abilities that we'd keep on going and eventually something would go wrong.  This time, JGP knew exactly the right time to try something different.

It was the perfect execution of a clever percentage play.  Pop a little kick designed to hold up in the corner, giving their defence something to deal with. Maybe the chasers will tackle them directly into touch, but it's most likely that they'll clear and give us another chance to hit them with a different set play off a lineout.

Or, there was the least likely option when making this decision; that the ball will actually reach the chasing winger.  The levels of concentration required to keep shutting down channels were such that Benetton fullback Justin Hayward was completely wrong footed by JGP's kick and Adam Byrne, back in the starting lineup after a successful (and much needed IMO) spell in the A team, was able to retrieve and get it down.

Of course the job was far from done, but it certainly wasn't a bad start…we had a clean lineout, lateral thinking, try scored, Toulouse cobwebs all but gone.

But as if the rugby gods intervened to keep us focused, captain for the day Seán O'Brien dropped the restart to give the home side a chance to strike back.  I don't say that to bash him - he had a fine outing overall and besides, the knockon call was a tad harsh as it seemed to fall sideways at best - but I couldn't describe the next sequence without mentioning it.

What followed this scrum was a 20 minute spell which became the closest to what the Italians could call a ‘purple patch’.  But they weren't the only side that was primed and ready for long series without the ball…Leinster players have it hardwired into their DNA.

The final stats show that no Leinster player was required to make more than 8 tackles on the day, and only a handful were missed overall. Given we enjoyed over 70% in both territory and possession this is understandable, but for this particular twenty minutes it really did look as though a Benetton try was inevitable.

Some opportunities fell short because of them, with ironically botched lineouts normally the biggest culprit.  But also we had problems getting out of our own half, often drawing a penalty call before we could do so.

Just a quick side note on the ref...whatever about the general opinion of Ben Whitehouse, is it right that we had him for the second Pro 14 match in a row? I often harp on the need for officials from neutral nations so I guess we can't have everything, but I would have thought there was enough to ensure this wouldn't happen even considering the break for Champions Cup matches.

But anyway…after poking and prodding in our 22, when we were perhaps a bit fortunate not to receive so much as a warning let alone a card, Treviso were unable to even use their powerful wingers Ratuva and Ioane to break us down and to get their side of the scoreboard moving the had to eventually take three points on offer.  A 3-5 deficit certainly didn't look so bad at the time, but it wasn't long before we made it 3-12.

Again I'll hold my hand up and say we were fortunate here…the assistant ref called obstruction by the home side on a box kick that I nor the commentators could spot on several replays, but when the kick was put to touch in the corner, once again we were able to capitalise.

Lineout caught, maul formed, Tracy shears off, try.  I'm not entirely sure how legal Gibson-Park's accompaniment was (or how helpful it was for that matter) but the net result was that with seemingly minimal effort we had posted seven points after all their hard work before had earned just three.

Surely even the most blue-goggled Leinster fan wasn't convinced the win was in the bag at this point, although after watching a second time the signs were clearly there.  In fact, it could be argued that the most significant thing that happened over the eighty minutes was the injury to Rob Kearney on 44 minutes.

He had already rebooted a few Leinster attacks with his probing run backs, but it looked nasty as he was halted this time…no malice meant by his tacklers, just a case of one grabbing and holding him first while another hit him towards the opposite direction…that's bound to jar something and hopefully he was only removed as a precaution.

There was further significance to Rob's departure in that it meant Conor O’Brien could get more game time than was probably intended. He's a great crash ball 12 who due to injury only had a few chances at senior level before this and he's another who benefitted from the seven-week Celtic Cup spell.

So with the home side continuing to make mistakes like missing penalty kicks to touch, Leinster got more chances.  After Tracy was denied his second try by a foot in touch (another call made by the AR though I reckon this one was right) Treviso then got pinged for a crooked lineout and from the resulting scrum, with a penalty advantage coming, Max Deegan took from the base to give it to JGP who used Conor O’Brien as the crash option and the youngster was rewarded with his maiden senior try.

We'll that was the win pretty much wrapped up but by this stage we couldn't leave without the bonus point.  After we had a move break down and the ball was fly hacked back deep into our half, Ross Byrne did incredibly well to recover and before long we returned it with interest as Bryan Byrne and Scott Fardy brilliantly counter rucked Treviso's attempt to do tidying of their own and eventually it was the hooker who got us our crucial fourth try.

There was another Celtic Cup hero to reward… Hugh O'Sullivan came on with ten minutes to go replacing Gibson-Park who I thought was man of the match.  He was composed when needed but also in the first half especially he seemed to be on a mission to hit as many green jerseys as possible (including one crucial tackle on Ratuva when he had some rare running space).  If the Kiwi keeps this up he can't be ruled out from a Champions Cup start in December.

Noel Reid also came on the the closing stages, and as we pressed in their 22, with a penalty advantage he lobbed a perfect kick into the arms of Joe Tomane who became the second to bag his first Leinster try on the afternoon.

I was delighted to see Joe score.  He has been the target of a lot of social media jibes in recent weeks.  A lot of it, in fairness, was justified because on more than one occasion moves seemed to break down when they reached him.  That said, a lot of those observations came with a hint of what I call “import scapegoating” about them, and I have tried to allow for his taking time to bed into Leinster's systems.  Hopefully this try will go a long way to getting him, and the fans’ opinions of him, into sync where they should be.

So overall a match that no doubt will be forgotten once the November internationals come into focus, but the five match points plus another 28 in the points difference column will count just as much in the final tally as any other.  

Once we can get Rob back on the pitch ASAP then it can't be denied that the boys in blue ticked all their boxes in Northern Italy last weekend…now it's on to South Africa to tick some more.  JLP

Later this week we'll have a guest post from Keego plus our 80-word reviews on Tuesday, Harpin Points on Wednesday, Telly post on Thursday and our Benetton preview on Friday.  Plus of course every morning our Front5 quotes & links.  Do stay tuned!

HarpinOnRugby match writeups are brought to you by 
#CommittedToTheGame 

Front Five - 29.10.18

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

ICYMI click here for a selection
of online comments after Benetton v Leinster


The coach has a pathological fear of accepting in public that things are better than ever. That's how he is.


Brendan Fanning - Irish Independent

It’s called a Test Match for a reason and it’s about testing yourself so… we’ll miss him


Conor Power - Irish Examiner

Patrice Collazo’s three-time European champions have now lost five matches in a row after also suffering back-to-back Champions Cup defeats


Sean McMahon - Pundit Arena

Some supporters have said on social media they bought tickets for the Principality Stadium Test believing a portion of their money would go to the foundation.


BBC Sport

UL Bohemians defeated Blackrock 40-33 in a classic 11-try encounter which was part of a lively All-Ireland League Men’s and Women’s double header


Katie Byrne - The42.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


Blog Archive