Friday, July 31, 2020

Preview : Highlanders v Blues


"Semi-Final mindset

That was an interesting message added to the publication of the Blues' starting lineup on their twitter account, especially when unlike the Australian equivalent, Super Rugby Aotearoa is being run with a knockout-free format.  But after the Crusaders' loss to the Hurricanes in Round 7, it left the competition wide open.  Kind of.

Whatever about the permutations after this weekend, one thing the Blues know going into it is that if they defeat the Highlanders in Dunedin on Sunday, they're still mathematically in with a shout of claiming the title in what is actually the last match of the tournament so yes, the semifinal comparison checks out.

For me, the biggest test they face for the remaining competition is the ability to hold on a lead.  I harped on it in my writeup of their win over the Chiefs last time out, but actually it has been a feature all throughout their campaign so far, including the reverse fixture against these very same Highlanders in Round 3 where they prevailed by 3 points having again coughed up an early advantage.

Beauden Barrett retains the 10 jersey this week, though once again I fully expect him to make a scheduled switch to 15 in minute 50-60 handing the creative reins over to Otere Black.  And if an early lead needs to be established he still has plenty of potent options around him like Reiko Ioane and Caleb Clarke to execute some more impressive plays off of set pieces.

However it's in the forwards where they will probably need to front up.  Despite going a few rounds with the versatile young number 8 Hoskins Sotutu, they have gotten impressive displays from pretty much everyone else in the meantime.  Here as a nod to my lifetime menbership of the Front Row Union I'll give a nod to their starting trio of Karl Tu’inukuafe, Kurt Eklund & Ofa Tuungafasi, all of whom did well last time out.

But what of their hosts?  Well the schedule might have them 2nd from bottom with only two victories over the Chiefs below them so far, but that is deceptive from what I've seen.  They have also picked up a couple of losing bonus points along the way, including that one in Auckland, and they know how to stay in a contest.

Much of their fortunes will depend on the return from injury of All Black prospect 10 Josh Ioane, who starts as Mitch Hunt does a "reverse Beauden" by dropping to full back.  His partnership with Aaron Smith will be key and it will probably need to click early as the Blues like to come fast out of the gate and tend to have a stubborn defensive cordon.

For all the Blues power in their pack, the Otago based franchise have some too in the likes of Peri Peri Parkinson and Shannon Frizell, and both sets will be keen to keep the penalty count down.

The bookies are expecting an away win by 5 points.  On form, I'd be inclined to agree, but for matches like this we should probably expect the unexpected so I'm going to back Beauden to produce the kind of dominant 80-minute display the Blues fans will have come to expect from him since his arrival.  If he gets into his zone and their defence stays strong, they could prevail by 10-12pts, maybe even with a bonus point on the cards.

Once again my alarm for Sunday morning has already been set on my phone.  Chances are I can manage the crazy early start two weeks in a row.  Let's just say you'll know by my Twitter account whether I was succesful!  Here's to a match that will make it all worthwhile.  JLP

#COY(OTHER)BIB

Highlanders: 1. Ayden Johnstone 2. Ash Dixon (cc) 3. Jeff Thwaites 4. Pari Pari Parkinson 5. Jack Whetton 6. Shannon Frizell 7. Dillon Hunt 8. Marino Mikaele-Tu’u 9. Aaron Smith (cc) 10. Josh Ioane 11. Scott Gregory 12. Patelesio Tomkinson 13. Michael Collins 14. Josh McKay 15. Mitch Hunt.
Reserves: 16. Liam Coltman 17. Ethan De Groot 18. Siate Tokolahi 19. Manaaki Selby-Rickit 20. Jesse Parete 21. Folau Fakatava 22. Bryn Gatland 23. Jona Nareki

Super Rugby Aotearoa - Week 8
Sunday, August 2, 2020
Kickoff : 4:35am (Irish Time)
Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin

Referee: Mike Fraser
AR1: James Doleman
AR2: Brendon Pickerill
TMO: Chris Hart

Sky Sports Action

Front Five - 31.07.20

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

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


Leinster have now issued a positive update on the player, posting a picture of Leavy back on the training pitch with ball in hand.


Ciarán Kennedy - RugbyPass.com

There isn’t much time to arrange the fixtures and agree broadcasting and sponsorship deals, but then again so little can be planned far in advance in the current climate.


Gerry Thornley - Irish Times
(possibly behind a paywall)

The staff and players have been cleared to enter the next phase of their return to rugby which includes a graduated return to contact training.


IrishRugby.ie

When he arrived back in Wales after a long and successful association with Landsdowne RFC in Ireland, things at the region were far from ideal.


Ben James - WalesOnline

With Tyler Bleyendaal forced into retirement, Munster come into the season with only two recognised out-halves in their senior squad.


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, July 30, 2020

Rugby on TV : July 30-Aug 6

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


THURSDAY, JULY 30

12PM
AUSTRALIA V NEW ZEALAND (R-1991)
CLASSIC RUGBY WORLD CUP
EIR SPORT 2

12:30PM
MUNSTER V GLOUCESTER (R-2003)
HEINEKEN CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

1:10PM
SOUTH AFRICA V JAPAN (R-2015)
CLASSIC RUGBY WORLD CUP
EIR SPORT 1



FRIDAY, JULY 31

9AM
CRUSADERS V HURRICANES (R)
SUPER RUGBY AOTEAROA
SKY SPORTS MIX

10AM
WESTERN FORCE V REBELS (L)
SUPER RUGBY AU
SKY SPORTS ACTION

10AM
MUNSTER V LEINSTER (R-2006)
HEINEKEN CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

11AM
BLUES V CHIEFS (R)
SUPER RUGBY AOTEAROA
SKY SPORTS MIX

12PM
NORTHAMPTON V LEINSTER (R-2011)
HEINEKEN CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

1PM
BLUES V CHIEFS (R)
SUPER RUGBY AOTEAROA
SKY SPORTS ARENA

2PM
SOUTH AFRICA V JAPAN (R-2015)
CLASSIC RUGBY WORLD CUP
EIR SPORT 2

6PM
RUGBY TONIGHT ON TOUR
BT SPORT 1

7PM
WALES V SOUTH AFRICA (R-2011)
CLASSIC RUGBY WORLD CUP
EIR SPORT 1

8:45PM
SOUTH AFRICA V NEW ZEALAND (R-1995)
CLASSIC RUGBY WORLD CUP
EIR SPORT 1

10:45PM
THOMOND PARK
DOCUMENTARY
EIR SPORT 1

11:15PM
WHERE'S YOUR PRIDE?
DOCUMENTARY
EIR SPORT 1

SATURDAY, AUGUST 1

7AM
MUNSTER V LEINSTER (R-2009)
HEINEKEN CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

7:30AM
CHIEFS V CRUSADERS (L)
SUPER RUGBY AOTEAROA
SKY SPORTS ACTION

9AM
LEINSTER V LEICESTER (R-2009)
HEINEKEN CUP FINAL
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

10:10AM
BRUMBIES V REDS (L)
SUPER RUGBY AOTEAROA
SKY SPORTS ACTION

12PM-5PM
SIX NATIONS 2018 (ALL HIGHLIGHTS)
12PM - FRANCE V IRELAND
1PM - IRELAND V ITALY
2PM - IRELAND V WALES 
3PM - IRELAND V SCOTLAND
4PM - ENGLAND V IRELAND
VIRGIN MEDIAS SPORT

12:15PM
CHIEFS V CRUSADERS (R)
SUPER RUGBY AOTEAROA
SKY SPORTS ACTION

2PM
STADE FRANCAIS V LEICESTER (R-2001)
HEINEKEN CUP FINAL WATCHALONG
BT SPORT 3

3PM
PREMIERSHIP HIGHLIGHTS
BT SPORT 3

4:15PM
BRUMBIES V REDS (R)
SUPER RUGBY AU
SKY SPORTS ACTION

5PM
WALES V SOUTH AFRICA (R-2011)
CLASSIC RUGBY WORLD CUP
EIR SPORT 2

7PM
RUGBY TONIGHT ON TOUR
BT SPORT 2

7:15PM
MUNSTER V CONNACHT (R-2015)
PRO 12 - RUGBAÍ GOLD
TG4

SUNDAY, AUGUST 2

4AM
HIGHLANDERS V BLUES (L)
SUPER RUGBY AOTEAROA
SKY SPORTS ACTION

7AM
BULLS V CHIEFS (H-2009)
SUPER RUGBY CLASSICS

8AM
BRUMBIES V REDS (R)
SUPER RUGBY AU
SKY SPORTS ACTION

10AM
HIGHLANDERS V BLUES (R)
SUPER RUGBY AOTEAROA
SKY SPORTS ACTION

10:45AM
LEICESTER TIGERS V MUNSTER (R-2002)
HEINEKEN CUP FINAL WATCHALONG
BT SPORT 3

11AM
WALES V SOUTH AFRICA (R-2011)
CLASSIC RUGBY WORLD CUP
EIR SPORT 2

2PM
PREMIERSHIP HIGHLIGHTS
BT SPORT 3

2:30PM
MUNSTER V BIARRITZ (R-2006)
HEINKEN CUP FINAL
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

MONDAY, AUGUST 3

7AM
WESTERN FORCE V REBELS (R)
SUPER RUGBY AU
SKY SPORTS ARENA

8AM
MUNSTER V TOULOUSE (R-2008)
HEINEKEN CUP FINAL
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

1PM
NORTHAMPTON V LEINSTER (R-2011)
HEINEKEN CUP FINAL
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

12PM
PREMIERSHIP HIGHLIGHTS
BT SPORT 3

1PM
WESTERN FORCE V REBELS (R)
SUPER RUGBY AU
SKY SPORTS ARENA

4PM
LEINSTER V ULSTER (R-2012)
HEINEKEN CUP FINAL
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

TUESDAY, AUGUST 4

7AM
CHIEFS V CRUSADERS (R)
SUPER RUGBY AOTEAROA
SKY SPORTS ARENA

10AM
MUNSTER V GLOUCESTER (R-2003)
HEINEKEN CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

11AM
PREMIERSHIP HIGHLIGHTS
BT SPORT 3

1PM
CHIEFS V CRUSADERS (R)
SUPER RUGBY AOTEAROA
SKY SPORTS ARENA

1:30PM
TOULOUSE V LEINSTER (R-2006)
HEINEKEN CUP WATCHALONG
BT SPORT 3

3PM
MUNSTER V LEINSTER (R-2006)
HEINEKEN CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

3PM
RUGBY TONIGHT ON TOUR
BT SPORT 3

7PM
FRANCE V NEW ZEALAND (R-1999)
CLASSIC RUGBY WORLD CUP
EIR SPORT 2

8:35PM
FRANCE V NEW ZEALAND (R-2007)
CLASSIC RUGBY WORLD CUP
EIR SPORT 2

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 5

7AM
BRUMBIES V REDS (R)
SUPER RUGBY AU
SKY SPORTS ARENA

1PM
BRUMBIES V REDS (R)
SUPER RUGBY AU
SKY SPORTS ARENA

12PM
GLOUCESTER V LEICESTER (R-2007)
PREMIERSHIP FINAL WATCHALONG
BT SPORT 3

1:30PM
PREMIERSHIP HIGHLIGHTS
BT SPORT 3

THURSDAY, AUGUST 6

9AM
BRUMBIES V REDS (R)
SUPER RUGBY AU
SKY SPORTS ARENA

11AM
WESTERN FORCE V REBELS (R)
SUPER RUGBY AU
SKY SPORTS ARENA

12:30PM
LEICESTER TIGERS V WASPS (R-2007)
HEINEKEN CUP FINAL WATCHALONG
BT SPORT 1

2PM
PREMIERSHIP HIGHLIGHTS
BT 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 - 30.07.20

Our daily "Front Five" feature first appeared on this
day in 2014, click here to see the headlines

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Podcast S2E04 : “Super Rugby AU & the future of Aussie rugby in general” featuring Brendon Shields of analytics site Rugbycology



My guest this week is Brendon Shields, who provides brilliant analytics for clubs at all levels of the game via his site Rugbycology. A South African based in Queensland, Brendon talked to me about the post-COVID version of Super Rugby in Australia with a big top of the table clash coming this weekend, and we also discussed the current state of the sport down there from media coverage and popularity to plans for its future.

Brendon Shields can be found on twitter here > https://twitter.com/rugbycology

And his excellent rugby analytics site Rugbycology can be found here > sites.google.com/view/rugbycol


Front Five - 29.07.20

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

Pick a Leinster team that excludes
the top 2 or 3 in each position in
that article in The42.ie
and you still have quite a lineup


The back row is an embarrassment of riches for Leinster, particularly with Ireland internationals Jack Conan and Dan Leavy set to return from long-term injuries


Murray Kinsella - The42.ie

Although the two interpros have the feel of a pre-season, Friend says they are “not throwaway games”, but a real test of his new-look squad, which boasts 12 additions.


Linley MacKenzie - Irish Times

The fixture with Scotland, which is yet to be officially announced, will help cushion the blow for Georgia.


Ruck.co.uk

Creevy has played...for the Worcester Warriors from 2013-2015 before returning to Argentina to be the first captain of Los Jaguares.


Americas Rugby News

World Rugby's official host bidding process will open in February 2021, with the 2027 host decision expected in May 2022.


RTÉ Rugby

Feel free to share any interesting links you spot yourself about t’internet by email, Twitter, Facebook, blog comment or carrier pigeon – whatever works for you. JLP

Note - views expressed in "Front Five" links do not necessarily reflect those of HarpinOnRugby

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Front Five - 28.07.20

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

ICYMI click here for our
latest "warmup writeup"
featuring Blues v Chiefs
from Super Rugby Aotearoa


...meeting Leinster behind closed doors at the Aviva Stadium has to be preferable and advantageous to Munster, Ulster and Saracens


Gerry Thornley - Irish Times

"...pools for proposed 8 Nations tournament (Nov 14-Dec 5) are as follows: Eng, Wal, Ire & Fiji in one group; Fra, Sco, Italy and Japan in the other."


Anthony Redmond - SportsNews Ireland

The partnership will be amplified through a multi-platform campaign using the hashtag #unitethepride


Colm O'Connor - Irish Examiner

Savea’s 50 Super Rugby tries for the Hurricanes have him in the competition’s all-time top 10.


Murray Kinsella - The42.ie

"This is a very well-argued and timely request for a long overdue review"


SkySports.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

Monday, July 27, 2020

Blues-21 Chiefs-17



If edited just right, Solomon Alaimolo’s try in the corner in the 46th minute could easily be used by coaches to teach players exactly how to fix your tackler before offloading.  


Chiefs scrum half Brad Weber does it first, then it’s his out half Aaron Cruden, next is Anton Lienert-Brown, and finally there’s Alaimolo with the space to belt up the touchline and dot it down.  As textbook a finish as you’ll see at any level.  But like I said, you’d have to use some editing tools to hide a couple of elements that take from the overall look of the score.  You needn’t touch the portion I described above, that’s all fine - just the bits that came both before and after it.


First we have to explain how the space was created to put the Blues defenders on the back foot, and this is frustrating for them since it came about after they were putting excellent pressure on Number 8 Pita Sowakula as he emerged with the ball from a scrum in the Chiefs half.  A hit from Blue 9 Finlay Christie forced it loose, and time seemed to stand still as it fell to the ground, coming back up a few feet off the ground.


It was Weber who was first to react; he was fortunate enough to be able to take it on the run and with the help of the excellent support provided by his outside backs, the rest was made to look incredibly easy.  Sadly for Warren Gatland’s men, the good fortune was to begin running out for them at pretty much the moment Aliamalo pressed the ball to the Eden Park turf.  


The last Blue to attempt a tackle was their winger Caleb Clarke who was steaming across to cover from the opposite wing.  He was always going to be too late to stop the try, yet as many do in that situation, he couldn’t stop himself lunging forward and ended up landing on his opponent as he was in the act of scoring.


As a Leinster fan I was easily reminded of a similar incident in the 2018 Champions Cup semifinal against the Scarlets (we did one of our #RetroRugby pods on it back in June) when Fergus McFadden’s day was ended as he was challenged by Steff Evans after also scoring in the corner.  The same fate befell Aliamalo and although I don’t think for a second there was malicious intent in either challenge, it was still reckless enough to at least be in yellow card territory.


It was one of those situations where the commentators don’t say anything so you doubt yourself for seeing it a different way - they said something like “he’s hurt himself” as if it was somehow self-inflicted.  But I thought it was at least worth a second look upstairs by the officials, who I thought had a disappointing enough afternoon all round as it happens.


When Damien Mackenzie effortlessly stroked over the conversion from the touchline, then adding a penalty just a few minutes later to lead by 3, it marked the end of a decent fightback by the Chiefs after falling 14 points behind in the first fifteen minutes.  Perhaps it wasn’t as dramatic as the 24-point lead they gave back to the Highlanders in the previous round, but it was definitely needed for a team that was staring it’s 6th straight loss full in the face.


All they had to do to end the streak was to bring this hard-earned lead home.


I should probably go back to the beginning and harp on all that had gone before - the Blues went in to this match 7-point favourites with the bookies (10 with me in my preview) and had been on something of a losing run of their own after defeats in both Christchurch and Wellington dampened their impressive start to the campaign.  I was beginning to think my decision to adopt them as my Super Rugby Aotearoa writeup team of choice had somehow jinxed them!


But shortly after the Chiefs’ starting 10 Kaleb Trask failed to find touch with a penalty from midfield, a set play along the Blues’ backline was executed flawlessly allowing fullback Matt Duffie to storm through a gap and under the posts.  He was at 15 because after Beauden Barrett had been playing there since Round 1, Otere Black had been doing nicely at outhalf until a knock in Wellington meant he could only appear from the bench here.


Now it was time for Beauden to be playmaker from the kickoff, and it was no surprise that he handled the role extremely well.  The timing of his pass to Reiko Ioane was sublime on the way to putting Duffie through, his territorial kicking was mostly well above standard throughout, and when it came to marshalling his troops through a series of phases, he was making the right decisions at the right times.


This was evident just a few minutes after they took the lead, when a Blues lineout at halfway led to a 15-phase set that included several gainline breaking carries by Beauden himself, Reiko who has been a revelation at 13, but most of all with the help of his forwards, particularly the front five.  In fact the second try can be traced back to the penalty that led to the lineout, when a Chiefs set play was thwarted by a thundering hit by prop Tu'ungafasi and backed up by jackling from hooker Kurt Eklund.  Eventually it was inspirational skipper Patrick Tuipulotu who got the ball over the line meaning the home side were 14-0 up and running at a point a minute.


All they had to do to get back to winning ways was bring the two score advantage home.


But that’s when the penalty count began to build up.  The next one they shipped was extremely harsh to say the least - Dalton Papali’i was clearly trapped at the breakdown yet ref Brendon Pickerill refused to acknowledge the back rower's determination to show he was trying to roll away.  This got the Chiefs back into opposition territory, a further penalty got them to the line, and there was even another advantage again as the aptly-named Lachlan Boshier crashed over to score.


And the penalties continued through to halftime for the home side, leading the ref to take Tuipolutu aside at the 34th minute and say something along the lines of “if there are any more down here (near the try line), there will be a card".  There were other errors from the Blues during this spell, with an overthrown lineout here and a forward pass there (although I felt the latter, by Beauden, could easily have been called flat).


This gave the Chiefs plenty of opportunity to bring the scores level before halftime, but when they weren’t able to take advantage of favourable bounces and penalty calls, they were unable to find a way past the Blues well-drilled defence, which has arguably been their best feature since I’ve been following their progress despite the losses.  


It was probably that failure to capitalise on their two-thirds possession and territory before the break that prompted Gatland to bring on Cruden for Trask at halftime, and as I said back at the start, this led to a 10-point swing that put the Chiefs ahead.  But on a day when there were several “if only” moments from start to finish, when Reiko Ioane had another impressive line break only to offload it straight to Quinn Tupaea, who was only on because of that injury to Aliamalo and proceeded to drop it.


From this scrum the Blues, led again by Beauden’s class and strong carrying from the pack, worked their way up the field until eventually scrum half Christie was able to reach out and get the ball down on the line.  This was another time the officials didn’t cover themselves in glory as their on-field decision was "no try" only for the TMO to rightly confirm it has been grounded.


All they had to do now was bring this four-point lead home.


Well, as you can see by the final score, they managed it, but the last 25 or so minutes were anything but uneventful.  It wasn’t like the Chiefs had a load of opportunities in that time; in fact, the possession and territory stats were completely reversed from the first half.  The closing stages were mostly about the Blues’ inability to put the margin out of reach, with the penalties often coming in the opposition 22 and stopping hard-earned progress.


And before I give more credit to the home defence, an honourable nod must be sent in Sam Cane’s direction, as he led the overall tackling charts on the day with none missed, 18 made, and two of them apparently made with a nasty stinger in the arm he was leading with.  However impressive his stats may be, this run of defeats on the bounce cannot be good for the new All Blacks skipper and I wonder if he’s itching for test rugby to return even more than the rest of us.


Sorry for going back to the officials one more but I can’t ignore the annoying amount of scrum resets.  They were scattered throughout the contest but probably the one that helped the Blues the most was one that was called at 67:44 yet didn’t produce an outcome until 69:54 when the home side got a rare penalty of their own.


Eventually the Chiefs did manage to force their way into an attacking position (no thanks to Cruden as he failed to put a penalty to touch same as Trask had earlier) and following a lineout at the 22, they proceeded to bombard the Blues line forcing their tacklers into yet more heroics. Remember the warning from the referee earlier?  Any more no-no’s down here and someone will go to the naughty step? 


Well it’s never easy to execute a goal-line stand without some penalty advantages, and while Blues sub Plummer eventually did see yellow, how the card wasn’t shown much, much earlier than the 78th minute I’ll never know.  I suppose it was one of those situation when the defence “earned their own good fortune” as they hit the Chiefs ball carriers often two at a time around the whitewash and before they really had any time to make the most of the extra man, sub lock Jack Goodhue burrowed deep into a breakdown to force a penalty that effectively won the match.


Dare I find fault with the officials once more?  I guess I dare, because I really thought Sowakula being unable to recycle the ball was as much down to Blue 18 Sione Mafileo having his arms around him while on the ground as it was Goodhue’s jackling, but the Eden Park crowd certainly wasn’t complaining and since for now they’re also my team, neither am I.


So the Blues got back to winning ways, and with the Crusaders still to visit Auckland in the final round after slipping up themselves on Saturday, there could be a few more twists and turns in this Aotearoa tale before it’s done.  I definitely believe Leon McDonald’s men still have it in them to mount a challenge over the coming weeks, but if they are to bring the title home, they first must be able to do a better job of bringing a lead home, because they very nearly blew it for a third week in a row.


If anything can be said with absolute certainty since I have been writing up these matches from the other side of the world, it’s that each one has made more more and more excited to starting harping on Leinster Rugby once more.  Just a few more weeks of these 4:30am Sunday kickoffs should get me there!  JLP




HARPIN' ON RUGBY MATCH WRITEUPS
ARE BROUGHT TO YOU BY

Front Five - 27.07.20

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

ICYMI click here for the latest
episode of The Pod Of Three
featuring clips from the best
independent rugby podcasts


The Springboks repeatedly targeted Kearney throughout the match but the full back answered every time and was instrumental in one of the greatest test matches of all time.


RugbyDump

(The Welsh players) are unhappy about the proposals presented by the PRB on how to potentially reclaim lost earnings.


Gareth Griffiths - BBC Sport Wales

...whether or not the world champions will make the trip to New Zealand will depend on if a domestic competition gets underway in South Africa.


NZ Herald

...in a move of some sense for 2020/21, they have restored the crest to a position where it can at least be seen by people


RugbyShirtWatch.com

"...we’re extremely disappointed that some of our players’ antisocial behaviour forced guests to endure a disturbed night."


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, July 26, 2020

The Pod Of Three #16 : “Ch-ch-changes” featuring Bottomless Rugby, The Rugby Bricks Podcast & Blood And Mud Rugby



This time our theme is “Changes” or “Ch-ch-changes” if you’re old enough to appreciate a nod to David Bowie.  First up we welcome a new member from South Africa to our Pod Of Three Stable, as Bottomless Rugby discuss the implications of the South African franchises moving north into the European competitions.  Next we have Rugby Bricks talking to Otere Black, who is an outhalf for our adopted Super Rugby Aotearoa team the Blues, about the influence Dan Carter has brought to the squad since his arrival.  Finally the Blood & Mud Rugby boys are celebrating their 200th episode in their own, shall we say, colourful style, as they look at CVC’s investment into European Rugby and how it may or may not change the fortunes of the RFU.

1) Bottomless Rugby : "Main Event #21 - State of SA Origin"
2) The Rugby Bricks Podcast : "Otere Black - Learning from Dan Carter, Beauden Barrett and the resurgence of Blues Rugby"
Also check them out on Instagram > https://www.instagram.com/rugbybricks/
3) Blood & Mud Rugby : "Double Century Jamboree"
All content was reproduced with permission

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Front Five - 25/07/20

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

ICYMI click here for our preview
for this weekend's featured Super Rugby Aotearoa clash
Blues v Chiefs


Peter O’Mahony has been a leader in the team for some time, and has a calmer demeanor.


Post To Post Sport

The province have been preparing for a return to action, with a clash against Ulster at the Aviva Stadium to look forward to on 23 August.


RTÉ Rugby

“We are on the verge of joining the Six Nations rugby competition and have Super Rugby New Zealand and Australia knocking on our doors”


Shrivathsa Sridhar - The Independent (UK)

The home side did not score a single point in the second half, in which it only had 27 per cent of the possession.


FoxSports.com.au

“We are making plans, but there’s nothing to announce right now, and we have to weigh up options in the SANZAAR environment”


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

Friday, July 24, 2020

Preview : Blues v Chiefs


When I took the plunge and decided to follow the Blues for the remainder of the Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign (one which conveniently brings me right up to the resumption of the Pro14 as luck would have it) there was little doubt over which player would get the bulk of my attention.

And no, it wasn't Dan Carter.  I'm actually surprised he hasn't been involved in a matchday squad in the first seven weeks, but still it was clear that the focus was going to be on Beauden Barrett.  Then I watched back their first three matches and I saw a different story.

Three wins out of three, and while BB did show some quality, the perfect start would not have happened without the likes of Hoskins Sotutu, Caleb Clarke, Reiko and Akira Ioane, Dalton Papali'i and skipper Patrick Tuipulotu to name but a few.  Quality contributions all round helped them to victories over the Hurricanes, Chiefs and Highlanders to make them look like real contenders for the title.

But as we all know, to maintain that kind of record throughout a tournament, you have to be able to perform when at least some of your stars are not available, and over the past couple of weeks, BB has been required to produce man of the match performances in two big challenges away from home against the Crusaders and the Hurricanes, only to be found wanting both times.

Well now the pressure is arguably even greater.  With Otere Black having taking what looked like a nasty blow to the head in Wellington last weekend, he won't start in Round 7 although he does take a place on the bench.  The leaves the presumptive All Black 10 to revert to his test position for Sunday morning(Irish time)'s match, and with Warren Gatland's "0 wins from 5" Chiefs coming to town, surely nothing short of victory will satisfy his home crowd.

One thing I reckon can be said with certainty - Black isn't there just for back up and no doubt will come on for 20-30 minutes in the second half allowing BB to go back to 15, but still the expectation will be that there will be something a margin to defend at that stage.  And with Clarke back in action there's plenty of destructive pace available in the backline to provide the finish when needs be.

But of course despite all the form in the home side's favour we cannot rule out the Chiefs.  They have the Crusaders coming to town next weekend so they will be extra keen to avoid the losing streak stretching to 7 and the pain of the 24-point lead they coughed up on home soil last Sunday will be felt from Warren Gatland all the way through the squad.

And it's not like they haven't won in Auckland already this year - back in the simpler times when everything in the calendar was "normal", Gatland kicked off his reign at the Waikato outfit with a convincing 37-29 win at Eden Park.  The only problem is that the teams have gone in completely different directions since and this brings us back to the expectations surrounding BB as he was not yet wearing blue back then.

Looking at the Chiefs lineup I can't see names like McKenzie and Lienert-Brown and Cane (not mention Cruden on the bench?) without thinking they can make this into a contest, but still I have to figure the home crowd will be what proves the motivating factor for the Blues and I actually feel the bookies' prediciton of a 7 point win will be beaten and the margin will be more like 10-12 by full time.

As for the other SRA match this weekend, well, I can't really see anyone beating this Crusaders team so I reckon a home win in Christchurch is virtually a given - that said, I reckon the Hurricanes are on a roll now with three wins in a row after a shaky start and certainly have the talent around the park to make and impact so if they can play for 80 minutes you never know.

To show my dedication to my new temporary team I have every intention to get myself in front of a screen at 4:30am on Sunday to watch and tweet live.  That doesn't necessarily mean I'll be getting out of bed though!  Here's to another entertaining round of southern hemisphere rugby.  JLP

#COY(OTHER)BIB


CHIEFS : 15. Damian McKenzie 14. Sean Wainui 13. Anton Lienert-Brown 12. Alex Nankivell 11. Solomon Alaimalo 10. Kaleb Trask 9. Brad Weber 1. Reuben O’Neill 2. Bradley Slater 3. Nepo Laulala 4. Tupou Vaa’i 5. Mitchell Brown 6. Lachlan Boshier 7. Sam Cane 8. Pita Gus Sowakula Reserves: 16. Samisoni Taukei’aho 17. Ollie Norris 18. Ross Geldenhuys 19. Adam Thomson 20. Mitchell Karpik 21. Lisati Milo-Harris 22. Aaron Cruden 23. Quinn Tupaea.

Referee: Brendon Pickerill
AR1: Ben O’Keeffe
AR2: Paul Williams 
TMO: Mike Fraser

Sunday, July 26, 2020
KO 4:35am (Irish time)
Eden Park, Auckland
Sky Sports Action

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