Friday, November 30, 2018

Preview : Dragons v Leinster


Quick quiz for Leinster fans...can you work out for what match from days of yore the selection below represented the province?
15: Niall Morris (Ian Madigan, 48) 14: David Kearney 13: Eoin O'Malley 12: Fergus McFadden 11: Simon Keogh 10: Ian McKinley (Michael Keating, 70) 9: Chris Keane (Paul O'Donohoe, 59) 
1: Ronan McCormack (Mike Ross, 48) 2: Bernard Jackman > CAPTAIN 3: CJ van der Linde (Ronan McCormack, 73) 4: Devin Toner 5: Malcolm O'Kelly (Trevor Hogan, 67) 6: Rhys Ruddock 7: Dominic Ryan (Paul Ryan, 56) 8: Stephen Keogh
REPLACEMENT NOT USED: Richardt Strauss
The answer is an infamous trip to Newport in 2009 where we lost 14 to 30.  And although it was the week before the European “back-to-back” series just like Saturday's match, that's not the only way we can compare and contrast the two.

Michael Cheika has been copping a lot of flak recently for the performances of the Wallabies, yet he has been no stranger to criticism even from Leinster fans…few were impressed by the very inexperienced lineup he sent across the Irish Sea that weekend, although in my writeup it looked like I was trying to be understanding...
“I sounded like an owl when I read Leinster’s team-sheet…after (almost) every name saying “Who?” but it was clear what Michael Cheika’s motives were – having lost Jonny Ten for the crucial home-and-away series with the Scarlets in the Heineken Cup, he saw the points at Rodney Parade as expendable so he could wrap the rest of his first team in several layers of cotton wool.”
From a nostalgia standpoint it can be fascinating going over those lineups…many were sadly forced to retire way too soon, and one even found a way to come back.

And in the biggest irony of all, the ‘grandaddy’ of that matchday squad was none other than Bernard Jackman, who of course now coaches the Dragons although due to a recent ban he can only be at Rodney Parade in spirit for this one.

But by far the biggest contrast between then and now was borne out last Friday evening at the RDS, when Leinster demonstrated that it barely matters how many untried names we put out at senior level nowadays; the winning margin can still be comprehensive,

Now to have a look at the 2018 lineup, though it's worth noting that Dave Kearney appears on both team-sheets (as does Jason Tovey for the Dragons) albeit on the opposite wing.

In many ways this looks like a lineup to reward those who performed well against the Ospreys, although if that's the case then it's tough on Ciarán Frawley who was named man of the match yet has made way for Ross Byrne.

That said, Byrne's presence could be needed to calm any possible anxiety for this crop of young talent in what could be seen as a ‘tricky second album’ of sorts.

Having watched the Men of Gwent defeat Edinburgh last weekend, I'm in no doubt that they have many threats around the park; for example Ollie Griffiths at number 8 was impressive in the loose and was man of the match, while Leinster fans may remember their full back Jordan Williams’ try at the RDS which was best of the night despite the blow out winning margin and he is capable of that at any time.

They also get to welcome back some internationals, although the likes of Cory Hill and Ross Moriarty have been saved for the bench.  The Dragons may be known as the ‘weakest’ of the Welsh regions, but this particular lineup would underestimate them at their peril.

What we probably need most of all is a high level of security in set piece ball, and Messrs Molony & Fardy did very well with the lineouts last time out in particular.  More of the same please!

It's an interesting “all-O’Brien” centre pairing with Conor and Jimmy reuniting their Celtic Cup winning partnership; this will be a stern test for them.  Despite the abundance of youth on show, Ross Byrne has loads of options like Conor's crash ball and Adam Byrne's talents under an attacking high ball.

Finally the bench - after Hugh O’Sullivan impressed last week, this time it's Paddy Patterson wearing 21 and I sincerely hope that if he gets on the pitch relatively early it's because things are going  relatively well for us!

The bookies have us winning by 10…for once, I thought that to be a conservative spread but I suppose with home advantage plus more returning internationals it would be greedy to predict that we win by more, which means of course that I must!

My prediction is more of a challenge to these young boys in blue. Aim to reverse that margin from 2009 and show just how far the Leinster youth system has come in that time.  Away win by 14-16pts. Don't let me down lads!  JLP

#COYBIB

Dragons :  15 Jordan Williams, 14 Jared Rosser, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Jarryd Sage, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Rhodri Williams
1 Ryan Bevington, 2 Richard Hibbard (c), 3 Lloyd Fairbrother, 4 Rynard Landman, 5 Lewis Evans, 6 Harrison Keddie, 7 Aaron Wainwright, 8 Ollie Griffiths
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Aaron Jarvis, 18 Leon Brown, 19 Cory Hill, 20 Ross Moriarty, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 Arwel Robson, 23 Adam Warren. 

Guinness Pro 14 2018/19 Round 10
Saturday, December 1, 2018
KO : 5:15pm
Rodney Parade

Referee: Lloyd Linton (SRU)
AR1: Sam Grove-White (SRU)
AR2: Dewi Phillips (WRU)
TMO: Tim Hayes (WRU)
Live on eir sport 1. TG4

Front Five - 30.11.18

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

Be sure to enter our competition 
to win a copy of the updated edition
of the superb Tom English book
"No Borders - Playing Rugby for Ireland" 

Click here - entries close at 12pm Friday


The Lions tour to South Africa in 2021 would allow Schmidt recharge his batteries for a year before returning to the coaching world


Will Slattery - Irish Independent

a strong opening day ensured progress to the quarter-final stage where they will meet Canada

(Update - Ireland lost 24-7 to


Sean Farrell - The42.ie

"I was just like: ‘Oh my God, I’m playing for Ulster here.’ I do have to pinch myself sometimes."


Jim Stokes - Irish Examiner

Hansen has yet to indicate whether he will remain in charge after the World Cup, with a decision coming in the next three weeks.


NZ Herald

We’ve seen our fair share of crazy celebrations over the years but this is definitely a first.


RugbyDump

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

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Rugby on TV : Nov 29 - Dec 6

Rugby on TV is brought to you by
the IrishRugby TV YouTube channel


THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 29 


6AM - SOUTHERN KINGS V CONNACHT (R) - PRO 14 - EIR SPORT 2
12PM - DRAGONS V EDINBURGH (R) - PRO 14 - EIR SPORT 1
2PM - GLASGOW WARRIORS V CARDIFF BLUES (R) - PRO 14 - EIR SPORT 1
2PM - FRANCE V FIJI (R) - NOV INTERNATIONALS - EIR SPORT 2

7PM - THE WORLD RUGBY SHOW - SKY SPORTS ACTION

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 30

12PM - LEINSTER V OSPREYS (R) - PRO14 - EIR SPORT 1
1:55PM - DUBAI SEVENS - DAY ONE - SKY SPORTS ARENA
2PM - SCARLETS V ULSTER (R) - PRO 14 - EIR SPORT 1
5:30PM - THE PRO14 HOUR (R) - EIR SPORT 1
7PM - MUNSTER V EDINBURGH (L) - PRO14 - EIR SPORT 1
7PM - OSPREYS V ZEBRE (L) - PRO 14 - EIR SPORT
7PM - HARLEQUINS V EXETER CHIEFS (L) - PREMIERSHIP - BT SPORT 1
7PM - CARDIFF V SWANSEA (L) - WELSH PREM - BBC2 WALES
10PM - MUNSTER V EDINBURGH (R) - PRO 14 - EIR SPORT 2
11:15PM - MUNSTER V EDINBURGH (H) - PRO14 - TG4

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 1

6:30 AM - HARLEQUINS V EXETER CHIEFS (R) - PREMIERSHIP - BT SPORT 2

9:45AM - MUNSTER V EDINBURGH (R) - PRO14 - EIR SPORT 2
10:30AM - OSPREYS V ZEBRE (R) - PRO14 - EIR SPORT 1
1:45PM - DUBAI SEVENS - DAY TWO - SKY SPORTS ARENA
2PM - BARBARIANS V ARGENTINA (L) - BBC 2
2:30PM - CHEETAHS V CONNACHT (L) - PRO 14 - EIR SPORT 1
2:30PM - SARACENS V WASPS (L) - PREMIERSHIP - BT SPORT 2
2:45PM - ULSTER V CARDIFF BLUES (L) - PRO 14 - EIR SPORT 2
5PM - GLASGOW WARRIORS V SCARLETS (L) - PRO14 - EIR SPORT 2, S4C
5:15PM -  DRAGONS V LEINSTER (L)  - EIR SPORT 1, TG4
7:30PM - CHEETAHS V CONNACHT (R) - PRO 14 - EIR SPORT 2
7:30PM - CHEETAHS V CONNACHT (H) - PRO 14 - TG4
7:40PM - TOULON V GRENOBLE (L) - TOP14 - SKY SPORTS ACTION
9PM - PREMIERSHIP HIGHLIGHTS - BT SPORT 3
9:30PM - DRAGONS V LEINSTER (R) - PRO 14 - EIR SPORT 2


SUNDAY, DECEMBER 2


9AM - PREMIERSHIP HIGHLIGHTS - BT SPORT 3

10AM - ULSTER V CARDIFF (R) - PRO14 - EIR SPORT 1
10:30AM - JOUR DÉ RUGBY - TOP14 - TV5MONDE
12PM - GLASGOW SCARLETS (R) - PRO14 - EIR SPORT 1
1PM - SOUTHERN KINGS V BENETTON (T) - PRO 14 - EIR SPORT 2
2PM - DRAGONS V LEINSTER (R) - PRO14 - EIR SPORT 1
2:30PM - BATH V SALE SHARKS (L) - PREMIERSHIP - BT SPORT 2
3PM - CHEETAHS V CONNACHT (R) - PRO14 - EIR SPORT 2
3:45PM - TOULOUSE V STADE FRANCAIS - TOP 14 - SKY SPORTS ARENA
4PM - ULSTER V CARDIFF (R) - EIR SPORT 1
7PM - SOUTHERN KINGS V BENETTON (R) - EIR SPORT 1
7PM - PRO 14 HIGHLIGHTS - EIR SPORT 2
9PM - ULSTER V CARDIFF (R) - EIR SPORT 2
10:30PM - PREMIERSHIP HIGHLIGHTS - BT SPORT 1

MONDAY, DECEMBER 3


10AM - DRAGONS V LEINSTER (R) - PRO14 - EIR SPORT 2

11AM - OSPREYS V ZEBRE (R) - PRO 14 - EIR SPORT 1
12PM - ULSTER V CARDIFF BLUES (R) - PRO 14 - EIR SPORT 2
3PM - GLASGOW V SCARLETS (R) - PRO 14 - EIR SPORT 2
7PM - MUNSTER V EDINBURGH (R) - PRO 14 - EIR SPORT 1
9PM - PRO 14 HIGHLIGHTS - EIR SPORT 2
9PM - ULSTER V CARDIFF (R) - EIR SPORT 1
10PM - PREMIERSHIP HIGHLIGHTS - BT SPORT 2

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 4


8AM - GLASGOW V SCARLETS (R) - PRO 14 - EIR SPORT 2

10AM - OSPREYS V ZEBRE (R) - PRO 14 - EIR SPORT 2
1:30PM - MUNSTER V EDINBURGH (R) - PRO 14 - EIR SPORT 2
4PM - SOUTHERN KINGS V BENETTON (R) - EIR SPORT 1
4:30PM - PRO 14 HIGHLIGHTS - EIR SPORT 2
7PM - DRAGONS LEINSTER (R) - PRO 14 - EIR SPORT 1
9PM - CHEETAHS V CONNACHT (R) - EIR SPORT 1


WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 5


6AM - SOUTHERN KINGS V BENETTON (R) - PRO 14 - EIR SPORT 2
8AM - ULSTER V CARDIFF (R) - PR014 - EIR SPORT 2
2PM - GLASGOW V SCARLETS (R) - PRO14 - EIR SPORT 2
4PM - DRAGONS V LEINSTER (R) - PRO14 - EIR SPORT 1
5:30PM - PREMIERSHIP HIGHLIGHTS - BT SPORT 3
7PM - CHEETAHS V CONNACHT (R) - EIR SPORT 1
8PM - RUGBY TONIGHT - BT SPORT 3
9PM - THE PRO14 HOUR - EIR SPORT 1
10PM - THE BACK ROW
11PM - TOP 14 ROUND UP - SKY SPORTS ACTION


THURSDAY, DECEMBER 6

6:30AM - CHEETAHS V CONNACHT (R) - PRO14 - EIR SPORT 2 

10AM - GLASGOW V SCARLETS (R) - PRO14 - EIR SPORT 2
11AM - OSPREYS V ZEBRE (R) - PRO14 - EIR SPORT 1
2PM - PRO14 HIGHLIGHTS - EIR SPORT 2
4PM - MUNSTER V EDINBURGH (R) - PRO14 - EIR SPORT 1
7PM - THE WORLD RUGBY SHOW - SKY SPORTS ARENA
9PM - DRAGONS V LEINSTER (R) - PRO14 - EIR SPORT 1

L = LIVE
R = FULL REPEAT
T = TAPE DELAY
H = HIGHLIGHTS

Times generally refer to beginning of broadcast not kickoff
Check local listings for repeat showings
Feel free to let us know if something is missing! paganoblog@gmail.com



Front Five - 29.11.18

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

ICYMI click here for
this week's Harpin Points 


Irish Independent columnist, Billy Keane had got Sexton to auction the boots after he had done a piece with Anna back in April.


Ryan Nugent - Irish Independent

"Some day, hopefully, it will happen."


Irish Times

“Ironically, he should be back in time to fight for a place in the Six Nations.”


Marisa Kennedy - Pundit Arena

...with the Sharks, he built Super Rugby’s sturdiest defence and led them to the semi-finals, after which — you guessed it, he left.


Chris Paine - FoxSports.com.au

It will be just the third time the Barbarians have faced Argentina in their entire 128-year history


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

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Harpin Points 19 : Joe's farewell tour, approaches of coaches & more


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

THE JOE SHOW'S FAREWELL TOUR


The first photo was taken in the summer of 2010 at Clondalkin RFC.  I brought my kids on the annual pilgrimage to the Leinster Rugby open training session, and this is one of many pictures I took that day; others show them with Jamie, Johnny, Shaggy, BOD…though there were none with the new head coach Joe Schmidt.

But that's not a complaint that he didn't pose for pictures, far from it.  Since most people wouldn't have known too much about him, he cut a very unassuming presence on the day, quietly going about his business of monitoring his new charges.

All I knew was that he was a Kiwi, had coached in Ireland at junior level before, and his latest gig involved organising the back line of a very strong Clérmont team.  I do remember remarking how fortunate he was going from a team with one strong powerful 13 in Aurelien Rougerie to one with BOD.

Fast forward to this second picture…


It was now the summer of 2014 and it's safe to say everyone who follows Irish rugby knew who he was by then!!! First two seasons at Leinster, two Heineken Cups. Then to make up for not winning it the third season, his team won everything else instead.  On to the national side, where in just his third game in charge he came within a few “system errors” of beating the All Blacks before adding two successive Six Nations titles to his personal trophy haul.

I was invited to join a select group of Irish fans at an outing in Carton House where we were treated to lunch, a new Ireland test jersey signed in our presence by several players, and as you see in the photo, a little chat from Joe.

But for this blogging rugby nerd by far and away the best part was when I got to see an Ireland training session in progress.  This time you can be damn sure I was only paying attention to what Joe was doing, although the hum of the drones flying overhead taking footage for the coaching staff to pore over was also distracting.

As we watched, Schmidt took a group of backs like Tommy Bowe and Gordon D'Arcy over to one side to give a mini clinic on catching high kicks.  Before that day I always assumed that launching the ball in the air was a last resort akin to gridiron's “Hail Mary” pass, but the way he described how the attacking team should approach them, you'd almost be disappointed if you didn't win the ball back every time!

Next for Ireland followed disappointment in RWC2015 as well as England having the nerve to prevail in the springs of both 2016 and 2017 prompting one, shall we say, ‘prominent’ commentator to suggest he was the “worst coach/selector in Irish rugby history” (I almost feel dirty linking to that but I reckon it serves both as part of the story and shameful to the author).

Since that article, Ireland regrouped to break the duck against Joe's land of birth, win a Grand Slam, win a test series down under, and just the other weekend, notch a second triumph against the world number ones which puts us within striking distance of actually overtaking them.

After all of that success, and after all the quality players that have come right through the system to test level with more to follow on the way, now seems to be the perfect time for Joe to make a decision on his future and whatever about what we want as fans, we can't argue that the man has earned the right to do it his way.

Plus, we now have plenty of time to let it sink in not only before we go to Japan, but also before we host the English in February to begin defending that Grand Slam.

There's a whole lotta Schmidt-ball ahead for us to enjoy, and we're all looking forward to giving all of them our full support.


MY POSITION ON POSITIONS - 10

Part ten of our series looking at the various Irish Jersey has reached out-half, playmaker, first five-eighth, stand-off, whatever your name of choice might be.

When I started this site over ten years ago, I was far from Johnny Sexton's biggest fan.  I was sure he was a prospect for the future and all that, but I was also greedy for Leinster to do well in the present and assumed Felipe was the one to bring that success.

But then Dr Phil limped off the field at Croke Park and when I finally looked from behind my hands, I saw exactly the kind of x-factor this youngster clearly knew he already had.

I have already outlined Joe Schmidt's successes above so if I did the same with Johnny I would mostly be repeating myself.  But the thing about Sexton is that he gets the job done by doing his own thing, not what he thinks a coach would want him to do, and part of Leinster & Ireland's “secret sauce” came from Joe leaving him to it.

You could analyse his backline moves for hours; their success rate at advancing the ball up the field is staggering.  It's almost like watching Riverdance in that not only do the main players have set roles to play, so do everyone on the pitch, be it support runs, dummy runs, you name it.  And no matter how small your part, chances are you'll be brought up on it if you don't perform.

Some might say his Racing years were a step backwards but I believe his overall career benefitted from them.  As impressive and all as the Irish rugby set up may be, it can still be seen as a ‘bubble’ and to have such a senior player gain some experience from outside can only serve to help.

After Johnny in the Irish set up we have Joey Carbery.  I like the way Joe is sticking with him, since it's clear he firmly believes he's the heir apparent, though it would be nice to see him stringing a run of headline displays soon down at Munster, save for December 29 of course!

The thing about Joey is that he's a different kind of player to Johnny, relying much less on structure and method and much more on sizing up what's before him.  That can be good for someone coming off the bench for a team like Ireland...if an opposition have a plan to thwart us that's working, he's a good option for mixing things up.  But is he our best option for starting if, heaven forbid of course, Johnny is somehow unavailable?

Ross Byrne's stock has risen slowly but surely in his time at Leinster and now he seems to have established himself as Joe's number 3.  He is very composed on the ball and is particularly good at the kick pass which is a decent string to have to your bow.

I'd be surprised if anyone else was in consideration for Joe's World Cup 23 at this stage, especially with Conor Murray able to deputise in a pinch.  But should injury force one of them out of the Japan picture, there is Ian Keatley, who has logged in a good few Carton House hours in his day, JJ Hanrahan and now also Billy Burns along the line of succession.

But none of them get near Johnny when he's fit.  I know that goes without saying given he's World Player of the Year and all, but I'll say it anyway.


APPROACHES OF COACHES AND OTHER POACHES

It was the 7th of January 2015 when the news came through that Jimmy Gopperth was to leave Leinster.  Of course nobody could begrudge him looking at his own future…most knew Sexton would return. But I still had serious problems regarding this news.

You see, Gopperth had decided to join Premiership outfit Wasps at the end of the season, and what made that a problem was that Leinster were to play them just a couple of weeks after the announcement in what was bound to be a decisive Pool 2 fixture in the Heineken Cup.

Does that mean I felt Gopperth would ‘throw’ the game for Leinster in favour of his new employers? Of course not. These guys are professionals who play the game on the day, not ones weeks or months down the road.

Yet for me that still doesn't make it right.  Announcing the move in early January must have meant the approach came long before, yet surely AFTER it was known that the two clubs in question would be playing each other twice in the biggest club competition.

Now we have a situation whereby Stuart Lancaster is being linked with the Bath job just a number of weeks off a crucial European double-header.  I don't care how professional these people involved may be; I really don't think the timing of such approaches should be ok.

That said, how do you prevent it? I mean we've all seen enough spy movies to know there are infinite ways to get a message to someone that you're interested.

Perhaps the problem isn't with the approaches themselves, rather the fact that they are made so public? I really don't know what the answer is, or if any kind of legislation can be written to prevent it happening, assuming the legislators wish to do so.

But I just don't like it, and not only because in the two cases above they involve Leinster personnel.


SAINT BERNARD

Who among us rugby fans hasn't had a moan about the ref?   Imagine what that must be like for coaches?

Leinster travel to Newport this coming weekend to face the Dragons, now coached by ‘friend of the blog’ Bernard Jackman.  It was always going to be a tough assignment for him, and the first season and a half have seen limited success for the Men of Gwent.

Plus it is well known that the fans at Rodney (or ‘Dave’ as old BBC sitcom fans like to call it) Parade tend too be among the most partisan out there…every pass by the opposition is forward, every tackle a penalty, every move by potential tacklers offside, etc etc; so I'd say after a frustrating 80 minutes where your team has suffered a loss can have you fit to be tied.

Apparently after a loss to the Cardiff Blues back in October, Berch was particularly unforgiving to referee Ian Davies

"It is not acceptable in a match of that magnitude to have such a poor performance."

To reference another old BBC sitcom… “Language, Timothy!”  I hope young children weren't listening to that expletive-filled tirade!  I can certainly understand why that disgusting vitriol earned him a four-week ban from the coaching box!

Maybe I'm being sarcastic? No maybe about it. Of course the blazers have to draw a line somewhere, and I suppose if Jackman crossed that of the WRU then so be it, though at least they knocked it down to just two matches with mitigation.  But the ban does seem a bit extreme at face value.

Wales Online did an interesting follow up piece whereby they asked him exactly what he did for the first game of the ban, against Edinburgh, ironically coached by Richard Cockerill, no shrinking violet himself when it comes to railing on refs.
“We changed our routine so we met in a hotel.  We did a pre-match briefing off-site…I watched it in my flat…I was going to send a text and then I chickened out.”
Obviously we wish him all the best at the region, though maybe not this weekend.  They do have some players that can do some damage - Leinster will need to be careful whether their supremo is on the premises or not.  More on that in our preview Friday.


WAVE GOODBYE TO THE WAVE?



Whenever I visit relatives in California I try to take in a baseball game for my favourite team the Oakland Athletics.  It's always a great occasion at the Coliseum and not too expensive either.

My aversion to the so-called “Mexican Wave” is for multiple reasons.  For one thing when you're a sports nut yourself it's frustrating to see swathes of people, who clearly paid as much as you did to be there, so bored by the action on the pitch that they feel compelled to do something like that.

But when it came to the baseball, what I couldn't get was when the fans, the vast majority of which were for the home team, would resort to the wave when the Athletics were batting, meaning when it reached one part of the stand the batter could be distracted!!!  Stop - you guys could actually hurt your team here!!!

As for rugby, we probably have to take a slightly different approach.  I'm sure it makes no difference to the players what the fans are up to. But it still annoys me, and that's why I sent that tweet when it happened during the USA test last weekend.

However I did see a contrary opinion on my timeline which read something like : “I don't see what all the fuss is about… It's only fans having a good time after all?”

And that is indeed a valid point.  The fact that I run a rugby blog means I'm deeply involved with everything that happens on the pitch, and the fact that you're reading this means you are too.  But as I have often said, not all fans go to use as much of the jargon as they can like we do.  There are many who just go to say “Come on Ireland!” and cheer when everyone else does, and the game needs those fans as much as us, probably more so.

But having said that, maybe complaining about the wave has become for us rugby nerds what the wave itself is for those ‘newbies’?  The match is a bit boring so some choose to fill the time by standing up with arms a-flailing while others choose instead to moan about them?

Just different ways of dealing with the same feeling if you ask me.  By all means, wave away the next time the mood takes you…just have a little more understanding for the few icy stares you get in the process 😉.


Thanks as always for staying with me to the end of my latest Harpin Points.  Stay tuned over the coming days as we look ahead to Leinster's trip to Newport.  JLP

Front Five - 28.11.18

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 has an amazing eye for detail and keeps you honest as a player, and he’s a nice guy too."


Jim Stokes - Irish Examiner

Murphy has been able to lean on (Felipe Contepomi), who is a qualified doctor, for some advice.


Cian Tracey - Irish Independent

"Every national coach — or assistant coach as Farrell was — will at some time be associated with failure...But that didn’t make us bad coaches."


Gavin Cooney - Balls.ie

"...when I was with Leinster, they said I should be sacked...The next season, we won the European Cup and Leinster have been thanking me ever since."


Christy Doran - FoxSports.com.au

"I think the general consensus would be that a penalty was probably the outcome there that should have been given"


RugbyDump

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, November 27, 2018

COMPETITION : No Borders : Playing Rugby for Ireland


COMPETITION NOW CLOSED TO ENTRIES MANY THANKS TO ALL WHO TOOK PART

The good folks at Birlinn Books have offered a copy of the updated version of the superb Tom English book 'No Borders - Playing Rugby for Ireland' for one lucky Harpin On Rugby reader!

Just follow these easy steps to enter...

1. Read the blurb below.
2. Answer the simple question.
3. Send your name and answer (Subject line > No Borders) to paganoblog@gmail.com before 12 noon on Friday, November 30.

Winner will be notified by 6pm on Friday.  Best of luck!  JLP

Q : Which name or place popularly associated with Irish rugby is NOT mentioned in the passage below?  Is it...

(a)  Lansdowne Road
(b)  Brian O'Driscoll
(c)  Willie John McBride
(d)  Jack Kyle

Fully updated to include Ireland's historic victory over the All Blacks and their 2018 Six Nations Grand Slam. 
From Jack Kyle's immortals to Brian O'Driscoll's golden generation, this is the story of Irish rugby told in the players' words. 
Celebrated rugby writer Tom English embarks on a pilgrimage through the four provinces to reveal the fascinating and illuminating story of playing test rugby in the emerald green of Ireland - all the glory of victory, all the pain of defeat, and all the craic behind the scenes.  
But this is more than just a nostalgic look back through the years, it is a searing portrait of the effects of politics and religion on Irish sport, a story of great schisms and volatile divisions, but also as story of the profound unity, passionate friendships and the bonds of a brotherhood. 
With exclusive new interview material with a host of Ireland rugby greats, No Borders unveils the compelling truth of what it means to play for Ireland at Lansdowne Road, Croke Park and around the world. This is the ultimate history of Irish rugby - told, definitively, by the men who have been there and done it.

80-word reviews from the weekend of Nov 23-25


LEINSTER'S NEXT OPPONENTS
(DRAGONS)


Cagey contest throughout where it took both teams long spells of possession to score and it was Edinburgh who ran out of time at the end despite an energy-sapping 25 phases in the Dragons 22.  Ollie Griffiths impressed most at no8 for the home side though both of their tries came from FB Jordan Williams putting through winger Jared Rosser.   Fife and Graham dotted down for the visitors but the 4-1 split of match points was about right.

IRISH PROVINCES


In this meeting of Leinster's biggest Conference B rivals, Ulster struck first with a good passing combination getting Shanahan over. But the Scarlets quickly started to get reward for their positive approach and had three tries in by HT. Their dominance continued though Ulster's tough tackling meant they had to wait until 60m mark for the BP courtesy of Prydie in the corner. They took their foot off the pedal allowing a couple allowing a pair of late Ulster tries.


Few teams could be better prepared for the windy Madibaz Stadium than one used to the Galway gusts.  Despite playing into it in the first half, Connacht kept a fast pace going bringing strong finishes on either wing from Kelleher and Healy, while the pack owned both maus and scrums earning a penalty try before the break and Carty's placekicking was masterful.  The Kings put together a couple of nice team tries themselves but sub Boyle clinched a deserved BP.


At kickoff the headlines were about Murray on the bench and Hanrahan's late withdrawal, yet by the break the actual starting halfbacks Cronin and Johnston impressed to help Munster to a 17-0 lead with tries from Wycherly and O'Byrne.  Zebre had just one try to show for a 2nd half purple patch and as they struggled in their own muddy 22 in the final 10 minutes, O'Mahony & Scannell tries pinched a handy BP.  Chris Farrell also returned to action.

IRELAND'S NEXT OPPONENTS
(ENGLAND)


Why doesn't Owen Farrell do Christmas presents? Because he knows nothing about wrapping. 😉 Peyper's no-arms non-call was wrong, but the penalty try and yellow card wouldn't have helped these below-par Wallabies.  England took charge literally from the kickoff and it should've taken more than a scintillating Folau line for a 13-13 HT score.  A similar Daly line quickly restored the lead however, with Cokasigna and ironically Farrell completing the rout, and tight-head Kyle Sinckler named MotM.

Front Five - 27.11.18

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

ICYMI click here for our
Leinster v Ospreys writeup


"Joe’s biggest legacy is going to be the coaches he leaves behind."


Brendan O'Brien - Irish Examiner

Bath are also reportedly interested in the former England supremo who has played a major part in the province's success


Rúaidhrí O'Connor - Irish Independent

According to Midi Olympique...Jackson has become a top priority for Lyon


Jack O'Toole - SportsJoe.ie

"The talk is that Steve Hansen is going up as a director of rugby and then there will be a possibility of a [vacant head coach] position."


NZ Herald

The video has only been up for an hour on Twitter and it has already garnered over 20,000 views


Rugby Onslaught

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

Keego on...November and the Joe Show


Check out Keego's podcast
at thecouchpundit.podbean.com
So the end of the November series is upon us, the rugby on the pitch delivered, the supporters delivered in the stands and unfortunately Joe Schmidt delivered exactly the news we expected. 

So first let’s have a quick run through the games.

First was a trip to Chicago for the necessary evil of world sport in 2018. The money game against Italy. Both teams fielding their ‘a’ sides and looking to cement a squad ethic while showing their systems.  Joe stayed at home until late in the week, delegating game week activities to Easterby. Working on the more important matches later in the series. Ireland walked away with an easy 54-7 win. Making Italy tackle all over the pitch, showing there is a squad and not a team and showing belief in all facets of the game. A leaky defence in recent years appears to have been finally addressed by Farrell and the team. Ireland had a switch off period of 10 minutes in the first half, but Ireland navigated with ease. Larmour showing amazing skill and the team hitting the ground running. Job done, money made and the players got home injury free. Work ons there, but a confident start. 

Then we welcomed the other other old enemy Argentina to the Aviva Stadium. Ireland rolled to a 28-17 win which was a bit easier than the score line suggested, even while playing not near optimal. Again Ireland made Argentina work, they had 11 players in double figures in tackles. The wet blanket pressure game was in full affect without much going to hand. A very meh game. Not a lot learnt but the mark of a great team is winning while not playing well. In every sport, the best teams have an ability to do that. The main thing coming out of the game was that we realised the Larmour love and overabundance was found out here, that is a positive, it makes us calm down. It won’t affect the player and his ability or future but it keeps the supporters in check.

Then it was time for the big dogs to arrive in Dublin. The champ champs arrived looking for a scalp and the put the plucky Irish back in their place. Ireland stepped up, smothered and strangled New Zealand and left them laying. Ireland bossed the game for near the full 80. They ran further, kicked more, forced more tackles out of the opposition and forced over twice the amount of penalties out of a rugby dynasty. There was literally no stat in New Zealand’s favour. This was more than just a loss; this was a steamrolling. Not a demolition by any way, but usually a losing effort has some positives to take into the next game as a work on, but in this case there was literally nothing. That is a mental bullet. Twice in three game Ireland have won and won well. New Zealand have the one win after a street fight of a game in the Aviva. They couldn’t play their way out of the pressure, they fought their way out. That won’t work ever again and this is the biggest victory Ireland have in the game. Make no mistake, New Zealand will not relish looking at a green jersey for the next few years. A massive marker down from Ireland here. 

Finishing off with the welcome of the USA Eagles to Dublin. Coming in after the high of the All Blacks game Ireland played a new 14. Or a new 14. Ringrose remaining in place. Remaining in place to allow him to be an on pitch leader which was evident throughout. Finishing 57-14, Ireland showed an ability to deliver in tough times. Mentally more than physically. Ringrose was a leader and was bossing the team around. Carbery is class to watch live, always has space and with the added game time in red has improved his defence massively. 

So Ireland march through November with players coming back from injury (Farrell and Murray) losing a couple (O’Brien, Henshaw) but in a health that has never been seen before. Ireland navigated tough games, performed in easy games and dominated the dominators. Won coach of the year, team of the year and player of the year at The World Rugby Awards in Monaco. It couldn’t have gone any better.

Usually when a coach leaves it is a heart-breaking moment. Usually it is a bitter exit, brought on by results and run ins with management. This time, everything was working well on all fronts. The only issue was would Joe want to return home to coach his national side? I think we all knew he would be leaving sooner rather than later, with rumours of a 1-year extension and Foster getting the All Blacks role post Hansen there where pockets of positivity but the news came through while in rush hour this morning. Our joe would be leaving us after the world cup. Hopefully leaving with a winner’s medal in his jacket pocket. This was to be expected. Andy Farrell will step in and that has been met with positivity. Rightly so? I put a question mark there because we have been lauding his defensive system but we had conceded more tries in the 6 Nations this year than most years, even while leaving with the winner’s trophy. My point being it is not all rosy post 2019. Farrell now has time to put his team together, to eke out the last pieces of wisdom from Joe to add to his own and to learn about life in the big chair. I think he will do well, but we need to relax for a bit. A lot of rugby left to play. 

Ireland roll out of November with the other teams in fear of the green wet blanket. I think we all need to take a breath and chill, a lot of life left in the Joe Schmidt green machine yet. We can celebrate next summer! 

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.

Blog Archive