Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Podcast 3.24 : “End Of Year Quiz Special” featuring @ccbooms & @gavkheg v @hoomanbear & @LeinsterRoyalty



Listen to the pod using the player above or better still,
subscribe to our feed we're on most major platforms

Hasn't been much rugby to harp on these past couple of weeks so to round off 2021 we had a bit of an aul quiz to look back over the year.  I invited four fellow Leinster fans on to split into two teams and battle it out for bragging rights, and afterwards I also got them to offer their hopes & predictions for 2022.

Twitter accounts for this week’s quiz contestants:

“FORWARDS”

Mark Jackson > https://twitter.com/hoomanbear

Tom Coleman > https://twitter.com/LeinsterRoyalty

“BACKS”

Conor Cronin > https://twitter.com/ccbooms

Gavin Hegarty > https://twitter.com/gavkheg

Front Five - 29.12.21

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

Back with the regular content from today,
assuming Ulster v Leinster is going ahead
until we hear otherwise


“We have to try and make smart decisions for the group and crack on as best we possibly can."


David Kelly - Irish Independent

 "The form he's in at the moment, you'd love to have him involved."


Frank Nickson - Talking Rugby Union

As things stand, it does appear teams playing in France will only be able to pick players they can prove have had their jabs.


Paul Abbandonato - WalesOnline

"I'm sure the supporters will be disappointed about the news. This investigation is looking back years. It's not this team, and I know the fans will cheer us on."


BBC.com

“The ‘Voice of Rugby’ for generations, Jim was an iconic part of so many of our great days. May he rest in peace.”


Paul Dollery - 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 23, 2021

Have a Harpin' Christmas folks


We had some great content lined up for this week including a "Munster v Leinster Christmas Special" podcast, but sadly events beyond our control have meant we had to postpone it all.  And there was I thinking all you could catch at a wedding was a bouquet....

Anyway, we've pretty much had all of our regular content put on hold since our "writeup" of the Montpellier debacle, so we might as well remain on hiatus for the time being - we pre-recorded an "End Of Year" pod special including a quiz based on Leinster, Ireland & Lions matches from throughout the year so keep an eye out for that next week.

In the meantime, have a very happy and of course very safe, holidays.  JLP



 

Friday, December 17, 2021

Montpellier-28 Leinster-0*


ASTERISKS AND THE OMICRON

So here I am, staring at my laptop at the time I had set aside to write my preview for Montpellier v Leinster. For the record, I was going to predict a Leinster win, but only a hard earned one after the Top 14 team had spent 80 minutes giving it to Paul Willemse to run at our young centre pairing..


But instead the match has a result already, albeit one with an asterisk that has to do a hell of a lot of work, so I guess I may as well do a "match writeup" now instead and give myself the Sunday night off from harping on rugby.


Obviously I'm not a happy camper. And when I see tweets which imply that Leinster "outrage" means we wanted the match to go ahead whether there were COVID cases or not, I get even angrier. But I reckon I've done pretty well to avoid getting sucked into an online rabbit hole on this; nothing will change the official result so I decided to keep all my comebacks, try to put them in this article and consider that to be closure on the matter,


And it's not like this is even the most significant news of the week - the big stories have been coming thick and fast. Obviously the biggest one was the amazing stance by the 62 current and former Irish internationals who went to the government over the lack of transparency by the IRFU when it comes to internal reviews, pressure which seems to have worked. I know we've still to wait for proof of the pudding, and now they have taken a step in the right direction hopefully they'll keep going. We'll see what the review says when it's released in the first quarter of 2022 (subject to completion).


There has been loads of other things going on this week, but something else that stood out was the citing and eventual banning of Bath winger Will Muir for a challenge on Josh van der Flier at the Aviva Stadium last Saturday. I spotted it on my rewatch but chose not to mention it in the writeup as nobody else seemed to be talking about it and Josh played on but I guess the Leinster coaching staff thought it was serious enough for a citing and the commission agreed. I really thought it was a curious way to get leverage for jumping and it even looked like he went at the player twice. Anyway, that has been resolved.


So...to this match that never was...much has been said about it but for me only three statements actually matter. First there's the original COVID rules as laid out by the EPCR ahead of the competition...



...next there is the statement from the EPCR explaining how the came to their decision to award the 28-0 walkover...


...and finally, we have the reaction from Leinster Rugby explaining their side of things...


Now since all of that there has been further developments with other matches being "postponed" as opposed to being "cancelled with a 28-0 scoreline awarded" and obviously that doesn't exactly seem fair, but my interest is more in the decision surrounding this particular match, which was announced on Thursday.

Simply put, the original wording appears way too vague.  I'm assuming the teams themselves were given a broader text to explain what was required but if so, Leinster claim to have done this.  I guess what I'm trying to say is that we do have a legitimate reason to be annoyed even without Friday's news, but since the club has come to accept it, then we might as well too.

I mean behind it all, even if the EPCR didn't properly dot the t's and cross the i's** when coming up with the rules, I still think such organisations should get a lot of leeway in this area because of the sheer "WTF-ness" of the whole COVID situation.  The pandemic goalposts keep getting moved on a near-daily basis so it's not just sporting types which have to handle it.  So what happens, happens and of course we all hope above everything else that all who tested positive are actually ok.

On the other matches being rescheduled, well I'm hardly over the moon, though it seems they are making a distinction over who is to "blame" for the match not being played.  In Leinster's case, the independent committee decided that the increasing number of cases in our squad meant it was unsafe to travel, which when you think of it makes sense because even though the matchday 23 would have left with negative tests, it was possible they had been in contact with the positives.  For the matches postponed on Friday, it was down to a government decision.

However, one thing I would question over the possibility of rescheduling the matches is this...wasn't the whole reason for the "28-0" ruling in the first place that there was no room on the calendar if a match couldn't be played?

Anyway - the result seems to be on the books and we just have to live with it.  And rather than get too caught up in what has happened over the past couple of days, maybe we should be thinking about the rugby which is due to take place over the next couple of months.  Some big interprovincials over Christmas and New Year followed by the "return" Champions Cup pool matches, and then of course the Six Nations.

I guess getting all of those matches played under safe conditions would be the best result we could hope for.

Here at Harpin Manor we'll be taking a few days off over the weekend, with a podcast "Christmas Special" to record next Tuesday so stay tuned for news of that.  Right now I'm looking forward to cheering on the Ulstermen as they take on Northampton later on this evening, hopefully nothing else happens to get in the way of those plans!!! JLP 

PS - click here to see the comments left on the Harpin Facebook page after the news broke on Thursday evening

PPS - UPDATE SAT DEC 18 : "Leinster set to appeal for cancelled Montpellier game to be rescheduled" - this story has more twists and turns than a Formula 1 circuit!!!

** = just to be clear these are in the wrong order on purpose, just for fun


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Front Five - 17.12.21

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


Leinster reported new cases today, although none of those were for players named in their matchday 23.


Murray Kinsella - The42.ie

Dan McFarland's side could take a big step towards a place in the last 16 with a win against the Premiership outfit.


Neil Treacy - RTÉ Sport

The 21-year-old from Kildare has made a huge impact since joining the Connacht academy just a year and a half ago


John Fallon - Irish Independent

"I have close relationships at the Bears and I've got unfinished business here"


SkySports.com

It’s a fixture in which Kolbe might understandably be a little rusty as he has not played a match since his start in the August 21 Test win over Argentina


Planet 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

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Rugby on TV : Dec 16-23

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


PENDING FURTHER POSTPONEMENTS OF COURSE!!!

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 16

6PM
CARDIFF V TOULOUSE (R)
CHAMPIONS CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

6PM
HOUSE OF RUGBY
FREESPORTS

7:30PM
CARMARTHEN QUINS V LLANELLI (L)
WELSH PREMIERSHIP

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 17

3PM
CARDIFF V TOULOUSE (R)
CHAMPIONS CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

8PM
MONTPELLIER V LEINSTER (L)
CHAMPIONS CUP
BT SPORT 3
CANCELLED

8PM
ULSTER V NORTHAMPTON (L)
CHAMPIONS CUP
BT SPORT 2

8PM
DRAGONS V LYON (L)
CHALLENGE CUP
S4C

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 18

1PM
BATH V LA ROCHELLE (L)
CHAMPIONS CUP
BT SPORT 2

1PM
HARLEQUINS V CARDIFF (L)
CHAMPIONS CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA TWO
CHANNEL 4
BT SPORT 3

2PM
LOUGHBBOROUGH LIGHTNING V BRISTOL BEARS (L)
WOMEN'S PREMIER 15S

3PM
MUNSTER V GLOUCESTER (R-2003)
CLASSIC HEINEKEN CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

3:15PM
SALE SHARKS V CLÉRMONT (L)
CHAMPIONS CUP
BT SPORT 2

5:30PM
GLASGOW WARRIORS V EXETER CHIEFS (L)
CHAMPIONS CUP
BT SPORT 2

5:30PM
RACING 92 V OSPREYS (L)
CHAMPIONS CUP
BT SPORT 3

6PM
TEL AVIV HEAT V BLACK LION (L)
RUGBY EUROPE SUPER CUP

8PM
MUNSTER V CASTRES (L)
CHAMPIONS CUP
BT SPORT 2

8PM
PAU V SARACENS (L)
CHALLENGE CUP
POSTPONED

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 19

1PM
SCARLETS V BORDEAUX (L)
CHAMPIONS CUP
BT SPORT 3

1PM
LEICESTER TIGERS V CONNACHT (L)
CHAMPIONS CUP
BT SPORT 2

2:30PM
WORCESTER V GLOUCESTER (L)
WOMEN'S PREMIER 15S
BBC SPORT WEBSITE

3:15PM
TOULOUSE V WASPS (L)
CHAMPIONS CUP
BT SPORT 2

5:30PM
STADE FRANCAIS V BRISTOL BEARS (L)
CHAMPIONS CUP
BT SPORT 2

6:20PM
LEINSTER V CONNACHT (H)
UNITED RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP
PREMIER SPORTS 1

11:05PM
CHAMPIONS CUP HIGHLIGHTS
VIRGIN MEDIA TWO

MONDAY, DECEMBER 20

5PM
MUNSTER V TOULOUSE (R-2008)
CLASSIC HEINEKEN CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

7PM-11PM
CHAMPIONS CUP HIGHLIGHTS
7PM - ULSTER V NORTHAMPTON
8PM - MONTPELLIER V LEINSTER
9PM - MUNSTER V CASTRES
10PM - LEICESTER TIGERS V CONNACHT
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

10:30PM
CHAMPIONS CUP HIGHLIGHTS
BT SPORT 2

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 21

3PM
HARLEQUINS V CARDIFF (R)
CHAMPIONS CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

5PM
CHAMPIONS CUP HIGHLIGHTS
BT SPORT 3

8PM-9PM
TOP 14 HIGHLIGHTS
8PM - PAU V TOULON
8:20PM - LYON V BRIVE
8:40PM - STADE FRANCAIS V LA ROCHELLE
PREMIER SPORTS 2

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 22

10AM
MUNSTER V LEINSTER (R-2009)
CHAMPIONS CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

4PM
CHAMPIONS CUP HIGHLIGHTS
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

5PM-6PM
TOP 14 HIGHLIGHTS
8PM - BORDEAUX V TOULOUSE
8:20PM - LYON V BRIVE
8:40PM - STADE FRANCAIS V LA ROCHELLE
PREMIER SPORTS 2

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 23

4PM
CHAMPIONS CUP HIGHLIGHTS
BT SPORT 3

10PM
THE ULSTER RUGBY SHOW
BBC 2 NI

11PM
ULSTER V OSPREYS (H)
UNITED RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP
PREMIER SPORTS 2

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

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

Times for live broadcasts generally refer to kickoff
Check local listings for repeat showings
Feel free to let us know if something is missing! paganoblog@gmail.com

Front Five - 16.12.21

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

ICYMI click here for the latest episode of
The Harpin On Rugby Podcast
3.23 : “Opposition view : Montpellier”  featuring @IlltudDafydd 
(plus Leinster fan panel's views on win over Bath)


If one side is thought to have been responsible, they effectively forfeit the game and a 28-0 score is decided.  In this case, there is some hope that the game be declared a draw.


Ruaidhri O'Connor - Irish Independent

"I don't think they'll allow him to coach them like he coached us, in terms of being so structured."


Pat McCarry - SportsJoe.ie

The Ireland star was brought off in a makeshift sling after a tip-tackle from Jacobus van Tonder


Adam McKendry - Belfast Telegraph

The former South Africa assistant coach has agreed a "long-term" contract with Bath and will work alongside director of rugby Stuart Hooper.


SkySports.com

Saracens said that the outbreak had occurred within their training ground environment, reporting “several positive Covid cases” 


Planet 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
frp

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Podcast 3.23 : “Opposition view : Montpellier” featuring @IlltudDafydd (plus Leinster fan panel's views on Bath win)



Listen to the pod using the player above or better still,
subscribe to our feed we're on most major platforms

This week in our latest Opposition View pod I’m looking ahead to Friday night’s match in Montpellier, obviously this is all pending confirmation that it’s actually going ahead but even if not it was great to get an insight on the Top 14 outfit’s season so far from Illtud Dafydd who has been covering French rugby for a while now.

Also as a bonus I had a panel of Leinster fans to give their thoughts on the victory over Bath from last weekend.

Twitter account for this week’s guest: 

Illtud Dafydd > https://twitter.com/IlltudDafydd

Also many thanks to the Leinster fan panel : 

Tom Coleman, Gavin Hegarty, Conor Cronin & Mark Jackson.

Front Five - 15.12.21

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



Montpellier have encountered their own Covid issues but — for the time being — Leinster are still due to depart for France tomorrow.


Daire Walsh - Irish Examiner

All eyes are on the government now to see what changes, if any, will be put in place.


Jessica Woodlock - HerSport.ie

Injuries of this nature usually take around six weeks to fully heal and that time frame would take Carbery through to the end of January


MSN.com (via RugbyPass)

Van Graan is expected to join Bath, as the Irish Independent understands that talks with the Premiership’s winless basement side are already well under way.


Cian Tracey - Irish Independent

"Then you had to eat a whole, raw potato."


Pat McCarry - SportsJoe.ie

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

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

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Front Five - 14.12.21

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

ICYMI click here for our
Leinster v Bath writeup


"We write in the wake of a series of recent disappointments for the international team, on and off the field..."


Ruaidhri O'Connor - Irish Independent

"At a pivotal time in domestic women’s rugby, it is important that players are appropriately supported and protected on and off the field..."


Scrumqueens.com

...it has since been revealed by Montpellier that they have four positive cases of their own to deal with, with two players and two staff members testing positive


Michael Scully - msn.com

"He will work closely with me and 'Plums' on selections but his insights will be valuable in other areas as well, so we look forward to having him join us."


RTÉ Rugby

"The additional funding...will ensure the long-term viability of our sports organisations...and will make sure sport remains accessible to all."


Sinead Farrell - 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, December 13, 2021

Leinster-45 Bath-20

"LEINSTER!!! LEINSTER!!!"


Two successive penalties marched Bath all the way down the pitch to a lineout just 5m from our line, and they had already shown they had some tricks up their sleeve at this set piece so with just ten minutes left on the clock, Leinster’s “finishing XV” still had some work to do.
We’ve been pretty good on defending mauls in these situations of late and it looked like we had sacked another one here only for referee Pierre Brousset to be told by his assistants it was done illegally, so when the play broke down the visitors had another penalty which soon became another lineout opportunity.

Full disclosure, I was in a really grumpy mood at this stage.  My bus taking an age to get past the Ranelagh triangle, making it conceivable that I could miss the kickoff despite having set off in plenty of time, was most of the reason.  Only the prospect of Leinster breaking through the bookies spread as I had hoped in my preview would be likely to get the glass looking half full again for me at this stage.

Yet when these lineouts were happening, I had already noticed that the atmosphere around the Aviva Stadium was deflated to a point where it was like the majority of the 25k crowd were on the same bus as I was.  That was until a distinct minority of young voices started emanating from that corner of the ground where the lineouts were being taken, as North Stand meets East.

“LEIIIIIIIIN-STER!!!!!  LEIIIIIIIIN-STER!!!!!!”

By rights, my grumpiness should have had me annoyed even at this, since I have been moaning for a long time about our lack of a decent battle cry, with nothing really to match “SUAF” or “SUFTUM”, only a long drawn out reminder of the province's name, but this was different because it was clearly a large group of youngsters doing the shouting and the rest of the sound in the stadium was so quiet that I could even hear them from high in the West Stand, though it doesn’t come out on the TV broadcast.

And right from the setting up of that first lineout they cheered and repeated it over and over, and the way this final quarter in particular had gone, it had to serve as motivation because the boys in blue continued to hunt in packs on Bath’s second go at our line until Max Deegan jackled his way to the turnover, thus snuffing out the immediate danger.

Yes, I’m leading off my writeup with the tale of that portion of the Champions Cup opener.  I know there were nine tries, seven of them from my team giving us maximum points, and some of them very impressive, but while I will harp on them, that spell towards the end was still the highlight for me, because it reminded me of the broad spectrum of fans we have following the game, ranging from nerds like me who keep looking to say things like “finding soft shoulders” and “using overlaps” at every turn, to those who just want to enjoy singing their hearts out and enjoying the fact that our guys ended up with more points than the other guys.

And in that spirit of looking for positives first, I’ll start recalling the tries by looking at my favourite, which was our second.  To set the scene, the scoreline was just 5-3 in the 12th minute after Bath took the lead with a penalty, before what was pretty much our first decent possession saw us cut through their defences like a hot knife through butter allowing Jamison Gibson-Park to celebrate his return by dotting down.

Now we were back down at their end of the pitch pushing for a second, and after some lineouts and phases in their 22 we won a penalty in a central position just over 5m from their line, with Bath getting a warning as well for their trouble.  No doubt their coaching staff would have assumed we’d take the “tap n go” option here as we have done pretty much exclusively in this situation lately, but instead Ross Byrne kicked it to touch.

Clearly this decision would have had the Bath forwards expecting us to maul towards the line and set things up from there.  Yet Kelleher sent his dart to Ryan Baird and it was “one off the top” down to skipper for the day Rhys Ruddock who was already in full flight to take it to the line almost exactly where he would’ve done had he tapped the penalty.

Only this time the opposition forwards were trying to scramble back from the lineout while ours were poised to make the most of the confusion, and sure enough on the very next phase Tadhg Furlong met little or no resistance as he barrelled over the line.

Not the “flashiest” of tries maybe, but again I’m a self-confessed nerd who really appreciated the thought that went into that score, and if we continue operating at that strategic level it will serve us well for the rest of the competition.  

But then the wonderfully-named Bath outhalf Orlando Bailey, who I actually think had a better day than his opposite number despite the result, pulled back a penalty making it “only” 12-6 and although we crossed the line again shortly afterwards, I firmly believe Hugo Keenan’s final pass to Lowe was forward though as Leinster fan obviously I’m glad the officials did not agree.

And it was something else about that particular move that I noticed, something that would continue for the rest of the match.  Our first try by JGP was simple because we created an overlap, and we used it, prompting this quote from Brian O'Driscoll in the BT Sport commentary box :
"It's important for Bath that they number up on both sides as Leinster will take advantage of that all day"
Yet for the rest of the match it seemed like we tended to go for the more difficult option when putting it through the backs - yes, I know all about “Leinstertainment” and I have enjoyed many a highlight reel moment at the Aviva Stadium over the years, but I really felt in this particular outing our remit was more about racking up a score and maybe it’s the grumpiness talking but I really felt we unnecessarily left a good few points behind.

A classic example of this was right at the very end.  Not long after that Deegan turnover, Bath were going in for their second try anyway and in many ways, they deserved it as despite their current situation (well laid out by their fan Matt “@BathBytes” Price on our podcast during the week) they really tried to play rugby when they could, and they twice caught us napping off lineouts when nobody would have expected them to get 20 points on the board.

Even more to their credit, they kept pressing as the clock went red in each half, although in the 81st minute a turnover at midfield left us with the overlap you see below.  That’s a try to James Lowe all day long, and I don’t want to pin everything on Ciaran Frawley because he was one of our better players overall, plus of course you want to see players backing themselves, only it really wasn’t necessary here and it wasn’t the only chance we left begging throughout the match.



Is this nit-picking on my part?  Definitely.  But that’s how I saw the match, especially around the full time whistle.  As the weekend wore on and the other three provinces all passed their opening tests with flying colours to make it an Irish “clean sweep”, I definitely saw more forest than trees.

One other thing I had a problem with on the day, namely the notion that our tempo decreased when Luke McGrath came on for Gibson-Park, didn’t seem so bad on the second watch.  I think we should appreciate more that he’s a different type of player - the photo you see below is moments before we missed another overlap, only to give this some context, the reason Luke has his hands up in the air is that he had run a great support line (which he excels at) to receive an offload from Dan Sheehan that never came.  Instead he had to scurry around to the breakdown and thus didn’t see the better set-up in the opposite direction.



So as you can probably see, I have gone on quite the journey trying to work out where I land on this win, and before I stray too far back towards "the dark side", how about some harping on the rest of our tries.  

We had the bonus point wrapped up by the 25th minute, with super quick hands from James Lowe bamboozling the Bath backs letting Keenan through and just four minutes later it was Ronán Kelleher skipping away from a load of tackles and sending it to Ross Byrne who shipped it back inside to Gibson-Park for his second.

Having the extra man during that spell certainly didn't hurt us but we were caught napping by a straight forward lineout play towards the end of the first half, although we did look to apply more pressure after the break and eventually Josh van der Flier, arguably our top crash ball option at this stage, set us up in their 22 before Rónan Kelleher went on the full rampage, breaking through the first tackle, giving their scrum half no chance making the second before reaching the line meaning their 3rd and 4th options couldn't stop him either.

This brought us to the final quarter, which Bath won 7-0 thanks to another lineout move where Will Butt tempted Frawley to go for the decoy runner while Gabe Hamer-Webb stormed past the flailing efforts of Tommy O'Brien for the consolation score.

On the subject of Frawley, his late cameo at out half certainly made a strong case for him needing more game time there and he did show flashes of what he can do at times, but now that we're deep into the season I wonder if we can afford to look outside our three dedicated 10s assuming they are all available.

Personally I think if we are talking about Leinster's top matchday squad, I absolutely mean this as a compliment when I say Frawley's a perfect option for us at 22, and possibly more so at 23 if we go for a 6/2 bench split which is very possible at the business end of a Champions Cup campaign.

As for how the wider tournament looks after the opening weekend, well I have to try not to look at the standings too long because the sight of Exeter and Racing, neither of whom we will get to meet at this stage, ahead of us on the table on points difference makes me rue our missed chances even more, because in the final reckoning seeding will be important.

It's much better to look ahead to our trip to Montpellier this Friday, which despite their drubbing at Sandy Park still could be tricky given they seemed to rest a load of players ahead of their home opener, and on this week's podcast I'll have Illtud Dafydd, an English-speaking expert on Top 14 matters, on to discuss how things are looking from their side.

Meanwhile I'm going to do my best train myself to stop and take a deep breath whenever I'm getting too annoyed when my beloved Leinster doesn't achieve perfection in absolutely everything they do, instead remembering the chants of those faithful younglings from Saturday.  We could probably all do with watching sport that way more often.  JLP


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