Friday, December 04, 2020

Front Five - 04.12.20

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

ICYMI click here for our weekly list of
upcoming rugby on Irish TV


Jacob Stockdale continues at full-back in an unchanged back-three as Andrew Conway loses out to Hugo Keenan and Keith Earls.


Ruaidhri O'Connor - Irish Independent

Performance anxiety was highlighted as one of the factors behind Ireland's poor showing at the 2019 World Cup in Japan


RTÉ Rugby

Van der Walt...is Scotland’s fifth stand-off of the autumn and displaces Duncan Weir in the starting line-up


Graham Bean - The Scotsman

It’s been suggested that Itoje’s new representatives could be set for talks with French heavyweights Toulon


Ruck.co.uk

Connacht have been kicking in play more often in this 2020/21 campaign than in 2019/20.


Murray Kinsella - 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

Thursday, December 03, 2020

Rugby on TV : Dec 3-10

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


Editor's note - we've done these posts pretty much the same way since 2013 and we've decided to make a little tweak.  We're assuming you don't necessarily want to watch a replay of Dragons v Zebre on a Wednesday morning at 6am so for the foreseeable future, this feature is going to include mostly just the live matches on the weekends, with selected programming during the week. 

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 3

6AM
THOMOND PARK
DOCUMENTARY 
EIR SPORT 1

1PM
EDINBURGH V ULSTER (R)
PRO14
EIR SPORT 2

3PM
MUNSTER V ZEBRE (R)
PRO14
EIR SPORT 2

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 4

4:55PM
PUMAS V GRIQUAS (L)
CURRIE CUP
SKY SPORTS ARENA

7PM
BRISTOL BEARS V NORTHAMPTON (L)
PREMIERSHIP
BT SPORT 1

7PM
IRELAND V SCOTLAND (R-2019)
CLASSIC RUGBY WORLD CUP
EIR SPORT 1

7:30PM
CONNACHT V BENETTON (L)
PRO14
PREMIER SPORTS 1

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 5

5:30AM
MAORI ALL BLACKS V MOANA PASIFIKA (L)
FRIENDLY
SKY SPORTS ARENA

8:15AM
AUSTRALIA V ARGENTINA (L)
RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP
SKY SPORTS MAIN EVENT 
SKY SPORTS ARENA

11:50AM
GEORGIA V FIJI (L)
AUTUMN NATIONS CUP
PREMIER SPORTS 1

1:30PM
IRELAND V SCOTLAND (L)
AUTUMN NATIONS CUP
RTÉ2

2PM
DURHAM V SALE (L)
WOMEN'S PREMIER15

2:25PM
BLUE BULLS V CHEETAHS (L)
CURRIE CUP
SKY SPORTS ARENA

2:45PM
LEICESTER V EXETER CHIEFS (L)
PREMIERSHIP
BT SPORT EXTRA

3PM
WASPS V NEWCASTLE (L)
PREMIERSHIP
BT SPORT EXTRA

3PM
WORCESTER V BATH (L)
PREMIERSHIP
BT SPORT EXTRA

4:55PM
WALES V ITALY (L)
AUTUMN NATIONS CUP
PREMIER SPORTS
S4C

4:55PM
GOLDEN LIONS V WESTERN PROVINCE (L)
CURRIE CUP
SKY SPORTS ARENA

7PM
MAORI ALL BLACKS V MOANA PASIFIKA (R)
FRIENDLY
SKY SPORTS ARENA

7:10PM
GLASGOW WARRIORS V DRAGONS (L)
PRO14
EIR SPORT 2

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 6

2PM
ENGLAND V FRANCE (L)
AUTUMN NATIONS CUP
PREMIER SPORTS 1

2:30PM
LONDON IRISH V SALE SHARKS (L)
PREMIERSHIP
BT SPORT EXTRA

4PM
GLOUCESTER V HARLEQUINS (L)
PREMIERSHIP
BT SPORT 1

7PM
AUTUMN NATIONS CUP HIGHLIGHTS
CHANNEL 4

10:30PM
PREMIERSHIP HIGHLIGHTS
BT SPORT 1

MONDAY, DECEMBER 7

8PM
AGAINST THE HEAD
RTÉ TWO

10PM
PREMIERSHIP TONIGHT
BT SPORT 2

11:10PM
RUGBÁI BEO
TG4

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 8

7PM
LEINSTER V MUNSTER (R-2001)
CLASSIC PRO14
EIR SPORT 2

8:35PM
MUNSTER V LEINSTER (R-2011)
CLASSIC PRO14
EIR SPORT 2

10:35PM
LEINSTER V OSPREYS (R-2012)
CLASSIC PRO14
EIR SPORT 2

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 9

3PM
MUNSTER V ZEBRE (R)
PRO14
EIR SPORT 1

3PM
CONNACHT V BENETTON (R)
PRO14
EIR SPORT 2

5PM
LEINSTER V MUNSTER (R-2001)
CLASSIC PRO14
EIR SPORT 2

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 10

1PM
MUNSTER V ZEBRE (R)
PRO14
EIR SPORT 2

3PM
EDINBURGH V ULSTER (R)
PRO14
EIR SPORT 1

5PM
CONNACHT V BENETTON (R)
PRO14
EIR SPORT 1

11:20PM
THOMOND PARK
DOCUMENTARY
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 - 03.12.20

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

Just to clarify my position on a
"British & Irish League"
 IMO it would make a mockery of the Champions Cup.
If there's to be reform then why not
go whole hog and create a pan-European league


 "It’s a relatively new squad, a lot of young people, a couple of old boys like me and we have a clear plan."


Gerry Thornley - Irish Times
(possibly behind paywall)

"That's the challenge for us, to go out and right the wrongs from last weekend. Scotland have no fear of coming to the Aviva."


Balls.ie

Ireland have been the masters of dominating territory during the Autumn Nations Cup.


Kevin Millar - Scottish Rugby Blog

Gosper...spent almost nine years in charge of World Rugby's operations, overseeing successful Rugby World Cups in 2015 and 2019.


BBC Rugby

It is easy to see why the Welsh clubs are keen on a British and Irish League. They could do with the money but they need to up their game.


Rugby World

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, December 02, 2020

Front Five - 02.12.20

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

ICYMI click here for our
Ireland v Georgia writeup


Sexton has been his country's first-choice fly-half for the best part of a decade and will be 38 by the time of the 2023 tournament in France.


SkySports.com

"You’d think it’s going to be more unlikely that players would qualify after serving a five-year qualification going forward."


Murray Kinsella - The42.ie

“I think we always had the attack, playing quick tempo, and I think our defence has now improved massively but we’re still not the finished article.”


David Barnes - The Offside Line

 ...the matches will be played at BT Murrayfield on the weekends of 6, 13 and 20 November.


RTÉ Rugby

All 166 eligible clubs, who were directly linked to verifiable losses, were invited to apply for funding


Cian Tracey - Irish Independent

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, December 01, 2020

IRELAND-23 GEORGIA-10

RESERVE JUDGEMENT


After the England match I was dreading to go on to social media because I knew the comments would be scathing.  But as it turned out, I didn’t even have to avert my attention from the tellybox.


No sooner had the final whistle blown than Eddie O’Sullivan, of all people, was tearing into the performance.  I mean really going to town on it.  I had my own writeup to make my case about that particular match so I won’t repeat it.  But as far as Eddie goes, I was so annoyed listening to his rant that in the end I went to twitter more for sanctuary than doom-scrolling.


Of course the source of my annoyance was down to “whataboutery” with regard to the 2007 World Cup in general, but this weekend I was reminded of the particular 80 minutes which defined the failure of that campaign.  September 15 at the Stade Chaban-Delmas, Bordeaux.  Ireland barely scraped to victory over Georgia, scoring only two tries and conceding ten points in the process.


Sunday’s match, as you can see by that lead-up, had many similarities.  But there were also many differences.  For one thing, rugby in Georgia has improved immensely in those 13 years - I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a whole lot of debate back then about them joining the Six Nations.  And at times in the Aviva Stadium they did a lot to pose us problems both with and without the ball and they deserve to feel good about the result despite the defeat.


But for the third week in a row, Ireland have been forced to take a long hard look at where we are heading.  This was match 8 in Andy Farrell’s tenure, and what a rollercoaster it has been.  Let’s not forget that only a few weeks ago we took to the field in Paris with a shot at a championship.  Now we’re furiously sifting through the remnants of a terribly disappointing second half looking for positives.


So for this writeup I’ll go with the format I have been using for Leinster matches in recent weeks, namely rewatching the match in 10-minute segments and harping on what I see.


0-10


Given how our best moment against England was a little chip over the top from Billy Burns that led to our only try, it makes sense that we did it again with our first possession but it didn’t quite pay off for us, nor did the next few attempts to put boot to ball.  The visitors clearly came with defensive organisation as a priority so it would take some innovation to get past them.


And from the start it was clear that this innovation would have to be more than just trucking it up the middle - this made it unfortunate that we had selected two centres for whom that is their forté but eventually one of them, Chris Farrell, was able to get his trademark no-look pass to work perfectly putting through Burns and as the clock reached double figures we had ourselves the lead.


10-20


If I had to pick one mitigating circumstance for Ireland it was that perhaps Georgia could have seen a yellow card at some point for racking up the penalties (not to mention a possible deliberate knock on or two), and two in quick succession after Burns’s try got us down the field allowing him to stretch the lead to ten.


But this portion of the match contained it’s highlight, and it was to come from the Lelos.  Before I watched it back I assumed this was a pre planned move off a set piece but in actual fact it happened a phase or two after they received a 22 drop out.


A brilliant exchange between their fullback Soso Matiashvili and centre Giorgi Kveseladze put the latter clean through our flailing tacklers and once he sold Jacob Stockdale down the river with his dummy, he had the strength to make it the rest of the way.


This was even better than Johnny May’s effort a week earlier, since it didn’t really need the help of an Irish mistake.  Now I know Stockdale already had defensive question marks and at this level a “first-choice” 15 shouldn’t be dummied so easily, but Georgia’s execution was so clinical throughout the move that I dare say the offload would have been successful anyway had Jacob gone for the man.


He almost made amends shortly afterwards with a strong run up the touchline with Earls in support but his kick ahead went just a little too long and Matashvili was able to clean up.



20-30


A lot of the post match comments suggested we offered nothing original with the ball.  Well that’s not true, at least not in the first half.  We were flinging it about a good bit and our back row were often popping up in the widest channel and making some headway.  One such foray fromtadhg Beirne got us into their 22 where a penalty put us back out to six points in front.


Then we had Stu McCloskey showing us he’s not all about the crash ball when a perfectly weighted kick cut its way through a gap in the Georgian backfield to find touch in their 22, and after getting bullied on our own lineout throw the previous weekend, this time we managed to put them off their throw and win a scrum 5m from the line.


30-HT


It was 50/50 with scrums in the first half, with Andrew Porter having a lot more luck on his side of the front row than was Finlay Bealham, but having won the 5m scrum, Porter got us the penalty and although the Georgian try line resistance was strong, with another pen adv in our back pocket a long pinpoint pass from Stockdale found Hugo Keenan out wide to finish.


We worked our way to another spell around their line as the clock was ticking down and probably should have scored again but the visitors just about managed to hold us out.  Little did we know that this was to be the way for the rest of the match...


40-50


These paragraphs are going to start getting a hell of a lot shorter!!!


One silver lining about the second half was that our own defence was solid, but cloud that was our failure to rack theirs for the duration endured.  This 40 minutes is the tale of a series of Irish possessions and how they ended.  Forward pass here, knock on there, jackled penalty leading to three more Georgian points elsewhere.  Losing Billy Burns earlier than intended sure didn’t help, although you’d have expected Ross Byrne to be able to keep our motor running.


50-60


To be fair to Ross it wasn’t his fault that his first contribution, a perfectly placed kick forcing a Georgia lineout 5m from their line, resulted in them being able to exit when eventually Bealham shipped another penalty, this time on our own put in.


He was then joined in the halfbacks by Kieran Marmion, who’s first box kick was perhaps a bit too far yet Hugo Keenan did really well to haul his man down anyway and force a penalty allowing Byrne to stretch the lead to 13.  But sadly that was to be that for the scoring.


60-70


More journeys into their 22 coming to nought.  First Will Connors was ahead of a Ross Byrne kick forward, then we had another one jackled away from us.  Next Shane Daly, on for his first cap but on the wing rather than his preferred full back role, had some decent space up the wing only to be hit shortly after kicking it forward - TMO had a look but there was nothing in it.


70-FT


Iain Henderson was definitely a worthy Player of the Match award (at least on our side, despite the defeat a few Georgians were candidates) and it was good to see him back to his best at this level, although even he couldn’t escape the blips as he was pinged to bring yet another Ireland attack to an end.  


To say the match fizzled out was an understatement - the closing seconds spoke volumes in that we went from being held up over the line, to conceding a penalty at our own scrum, to getting jackled back at halfway.


**************


I feel about this result the way I do about the colours we were wearing.  If you told me the jersey was black, my thoughts would be positive until I actually saw it.  Same goes for this Irish victory.


On James Ryan as skipper, he is definitely at the beginning of what is best described as an “upward curve”, but he is also definitely a long term choice for the job and needs as much time as we can give him.  I feel the opposite way about the McCloskey/Farrell midfield axis - they never really got the penetration we would have wanted and I reckon we have better options available.


But overall, some perspective is needed - first we cannot ignore the effort put in by the Georgians and besides, hollow November victories over lower tier opposition are something of an Irish tradition, after all.  The best way to put it behind us will be with a convincing performance and result against the Scots next week - although it’s a third place playoff, I want us to see us select and play as if it's a cup final.


Only then can we cast a proper verdict on the Andy Farrell regime’s first year in charge.  Hopefully we will all go into the match with an open mind.  JLP


HARPIN' ON RUGBY MATCH WRITEUPS
ARE BROUGHT TO YOU BY

Front Five - 01.12.20

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 Ireland v Georgia
Writeup will post today


The lack of high-quality opposition in the Pro14 has become a concern for the IRFU, who are fully behind the prospect of a new-look Pro16 competition


Ciarán Kennedy - RugbyPass.com

"Once they get some stability and continuity with the team, we will start to see progress."


RTÉ Rugby

Leinster trail by three points but have a game in hand


Tom English - BBC Rugby

...screenshots of past posts which disparaged black people and people from other South American nations circulated widely.


SkySports.com

It means Healy faces a big decision just as his Munster career begins to pick up speed.


Murray Kinsella - 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

Monday, November 30, 2020

Online comments after Ireland v Georgia

A selection of the “keyboard warrior” reactions after the full-time whistle of our featured matches of the weekend.

If you’d like to contribute stay tuned to our Facebook page for our “Feel free to leave your thoughts…” posts which show up around full time after Leinster & Ireland matches.


Philip Connor McCloskey played well more creative than aki, Billy burns certainly allows the backs play. Byrne at 10 is too deep and offers no attacking picture for the defense. There is a reason England Rugby go to Georgia for scrum training. Why do we not flash the ball to the backs in the red zone more often it worked in the first half and looking at the defense today there was so much space outside of the one up runner channel

Sarah Lennon Greenhorns, new to the international stage at this level and out of their depth.

But enough about the Irish coaching ticket


Richard Mifsud Very frustrating from Ireland today. Credit to Georgia for fronting up but I can’t help thinking we ‘assisted’ them by trying to break through their line with brute strength and therefore playing to their strengths 🤷🏻‍♂️. Decentish first 40 but an awful disjointed second half. Appreciate the changes in personnel but that was poor execution and worse, poor attitude as in lack of urgency. We weren’t cute enough to work our way around that D we didn’t move their defence around we didn’t tire their big lumps and we lacked any real tempo in attack. I liked the use of Stockdale as a play maker in the first half but then they seemed to play to a different game plan in the second...mystifying 😬. In summary an awful lot of work for the coaches moving forward. We’ll have to improve significantly for the Scotland game because otherwise we’ll get turned over by them. Standouts for me and I use the word very loosely Conor Murray Andrew Porter and Hendo subs sadly didn’t add a great deal. Congratulations to Georgia that must feel like a win to them

Avril Poff Only 3 points each 2nd half, think that sums it up


Conor Cronin That was very poor. I know we didn't stay our strongest 15, but I'm not sure anyone there put their hands up for selection over players who were rested today. Stockdale needs to take full back lessons (or just go back to the wing ), if he tackles the ball carrier Georgia don't get their try imo.

No one pulling defenders before they pass, just passing to the next man and letting the defence drift so my the time it gets to the sideline there are 3 defenders waiting to hit the winger.

I said it last week, but Ryan needs to be far more vocal with the ref. Even ask for clarity on everything but be vocal. Don't say nothing.

Odran John OBrien (reply to Conor Cronin) in fairness to Stockdale he must be left at Full Back. No player becomes a FB over night, it took Rob Kearney 3 years to ajust from Wing 3/4 to Full Back.


Craig Grehan The collective team offered no threat, no edge, no alternative options, no leader. . .

McCloskey looked the most influential back along with Farrell but yet they didn't link together often.

Billy burns played his way into Sextons understudy.

Porter cements his spot even when furlong comes back. Who'll have to play very well.

Andy Farrell offering little ideas to poor rugby brained team.

Tom Clarke Awful all round. Real lack of creativity and power.
Also the Stockdale experiment at FB is failing badly and needs to be binned.


Nigel Quigley Poor team performance, I see Stockdale is now the new deafult player to blame for everything, but thats standard fayre in Ireland sadly. We were bullied up front in the second half and the game management went to pot when Burns went off. Porter played well, thought Stu and Chris had a decent outing. We were being turned over for fun in the second half, our set piece needs a lot of work. There were a lot of established and senior players in that 23 today, not really good enough.

Reenen Stenekamp Georgia will probably take more from this game than Ireland will.


Micheal Mac An TSagart Bludgeon at 12. Bludgeon at 13.
What is the plan after crashing the ball up the middle?
Is getting on the front foot not to open space out wide? If not, what is the idea of it, because when you keep doing it repeatedly, every other team knows what's coming.

Kieran Kelleher Experimental team, no magic but no unmitigated disasters either. Everyone did their job. The biggest thing I'd take from it is that Georgia should leapfrog Italy into 6 nations...


Joe Sheppard GEORGIA: Congratulations! Played up & scored possibly the Try of the competition. I really wish we had a 2nd Div of 6 Nations with promotion and relegation 😉👏🏉💪

IRELAND: Very poor & unstructured today unfortunately. Some useful individual cameos but meh!

Now, I am not bothered about which players were chosen thus far though I'm baffled by some throughout this tournament if I'm honest? I said before it started, I'm not bothered win, lose or draw.... I'm more interested in

A. Who AF plays in what positions
B. Which players for key areas are played together & how they performed (not withstanding injuries)? (Front Row, 2nd Row, 9,10 15 & Centres especially)
C. That we have an idea at the end of the competition who are our 1, 2 & 3 Choice per position are?
D. That we have an idea of the tactics, style of play and alternatives (when things aren't working) from the coaching team?
E. That we are on the start to France 23 because of what we can take away from our performances?

I genuinely don't believe majority, if not all the Qs I wanted answered to allow me to make an unbiased decision on where we are at. Perhaps Scotland next week will see us with what AF considers his strongest available team playing a style how he envisages Ireland moving forward. Let's give him and the lads the opportunity. It's a building phase after all.

I've seen some excellent individual playing and the occasional great bit of teamwork & play but overall no cohesive strategy & no further forward on understanding who, injuries aside are our prime candidates in each position?

A long way to go but I'm left with more Qs than answers at this juncture. 😎🏉🇮🇪😱🤔😌

Imelda Reidy Really haven't the energy [ed.-to share my thoughts] after having to sit through that 2nd half. 40 minutes of my life I'll never get back!


Neil Keegan Only thoughts are to turn off social media after games now!

Decent first 40 second 40 not good enough

Massive amount of new faces and lads with 10 caps or less who need exposure to top level ball ..

Not the end of days

John Willie Conroy Terrible today it has to be said but no need to panic yet.


Gerald Williamson There seems to be a lack of structured game plan in each match Ireland has played so far in this autumn series. If there was a plan A , there is no plan B to fall back on. I cannot understand why No 9 John Cooney is not in the equation of matches played so far. One would start to think, have we the right coaching ticket. Is it a bit to conservative ?

James Griffin Saw some glimpses of what they’re capable of but too much imprecision unfortunately and individuals overdoing it. And, imo, specialists are required for specialist positions.


Sebastian Brennan That was brutal. Murray and Mannion should be gone. Stockdale too. FFS we have betters scrum halfs and wingers/ full backs, but we’re still pushing same shite knowing well it won’t work. Very good performance by Georgia tho. Is it a time for 7 nations? They look very promising.

Annemarie Kilkenny Georgian National Anthem was rousing!


Many thanks to all who offered opinions.

Look out Monday for our match writeup JLP

Front Five - 30.11.20

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

Not looking forward to this match writeup


"Certainly in that second 40 it wasn’t the standard we expect of ourselves."


Cian Tracey - Irish Independent

"People are saying we can’t do this or that with Covid – but if others can, why can’t we?"


Ciarán Ó Raghallaigh - Irish Times
(possibly behind paywall)

...this confidence-shorn Ireland squad need a boost and the expected return to fitness of their captain and talisman is exactly that.


Murray Kinsella - The42.ie

Under an agreement with France's top clubs, no player can play more than three internationals in this window.


BBC Rugby

...arguably the most pleasing thing for the All Blacks...was the humiliation of the Pumas at the set-piece.


RugbyPass.com

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, November 29, 2020

Front Five - 29.11.20

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

ICYMI click here for our
Ireland v Georgia preview


"...because you're generally following the ball at full-back, you're constantly having to be switched on and communicating with your wingers and with your 10."


Brendan Fanning - Irish Independent

"I would say Ireland is one of the top teams in the world, and you cannot really say if they are first or fifth. It depends on the game day."


The42.ie (via PA)

(Eddie) Jones spoke afterwards about how his team have not been able to kick on as much as he would have liked these last few weeks.


Andy Bull - The Guardian

The visitors did briefly lead, going 5-3 up when Carlo Canna ran in a 24th-minute try, but they were Italy's only points of the night.


RTÉ Rugby

Genge’s head then appears to connect with the face of his opponent before the pair both go to ground sparking off a mass brawl around them.


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

Blog archive

D4tress

D4tress
Taken by JLP from RDS press box on Nov 16, 2019