Monday, September 20, 2021

IRELAND-15 ITALY-7

THE BEIBHINN PARSONS PROJECT


Yeah, I know I'm totally showing my age with that title, referencing as it does an obscure 80's progressive rock band, but another feature of my current time of life is no longer caring about things like that!

But I truly believe it's a title that works for this match, because Ireland turned their fortunes in these World Cup qualifiers around because of two things - a mesmerising 80-minute defensive display which kept the home side (and don't forget it WAS a home side in front of a home crowd) limited to just one try during a sin-binning, and to help create the critical 8-point winning margin, the superstar talents of Beibhinn Parsons.

For me it's very important to lead this writeup with positivity, because although there we definitely areas where Ireland struggled to perform on the day, in the context of all that had gone on over the previous seven - the Donnybrook changing room, the defeat to Spain and all of the fallout that came afterwards - for the squad to knuckle down and get this result, which was very much deserved whatever the system failures, has to be our biggest takeaway.

And another negative I'd like to attack is one where some might say "yeah, but sure it's only Italy". Although over the years Ireland have enjoyed the bulk of success against the Azzurri, including a 25-5 win to secure 3rd place back in April in this season's Six Nations, that was in Donnybrook and Italy's bonus-point win against Scotland last week showed that they can definitely perform on their own patch.

Which brings us to the actual action, when all the off-field turmoil needs to be put aside and the job at hand needs to be completed.  And right from the kickoff we got a sense of how this match was going to go.

By my reckoning there had been at least 5 minutes gone on the clock before Ireland had anything close to an attacking set of phases to create opportunities from, but that still didn't mean the home side were in control. It wouldn't surprise me if the Italian possession was high 90s for that period while the Irish territory was also high 90s - they just couldn't get around us.

So with our defensive structures so sound from the off, there were two questions facing Ciara Griffin and her team - 1) could we get our side of the scoreboard moving, and 2) could we sustain that defensive pressure for the full 80 minutes.

Well, like I suggested, we struggled with the scoring part. Lindsay Peat got tagged twice early for boring in on key scrums, we suffered from a bad case knockonitis throughout (although the Italian D deserves some credit for this) and most of all, our key lineout platform just was not producing the supply of ball Stacey Flood at 10 so badly needed.

But on the occasions when the set pieces did click, we were able to get results. It may seem trite to say all the Irish team has to do is "give it to Beibhinn" but the evidence from the past two weeks definitely makes it look that way. Still, although she got the touch down for the first try, it was the entire move from start to finish that illustrated just what this team can do when all the parts are functioning perfectly. Attacking lineout, strong maul, quick ball through the hands, Parsons score.

Like I said, we also needed to rely on our defence and the Italians really tested us, especially towards the end of the first half. Our line was under seige for pretty much the last ten minutes before the break so you could say that going into the sheds with a duck egg on the Italian scoreboard was as good for our morale as a second try.

And in this area of defence just how amazing a skipper is Ciara Griffin? If you didn't manage to see the match, the tackle in the clip below is not only one for the ages but also is just one of many example of her leading from the front. It's clear the team were rallying around her especially when the Italians had the ball.


But the 5-point lead was always going to precarious and it really looked like we needed to add to it to produce a result. So when Eimear Considine was yellow carded for a high tackle early in the second half, it was bound to heap even more pressure on our defence.

To be fair to our structures, it took a piece of broken play for Italy to cross our line. Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe was not only a bit short with an attempted clearance kick she also slightly over ran her chase meaning Italy were able to move the ball quickly and exploit that extra space, and with the conversion suddely we were two points behind.

But although Stacey Flood didn't have that many opportunities to pull the strings in this match because of our set piece and ball carrying issues, when they did come she was able to use them efficiently and in the end our pressure forced a deliberate knock on that meant it was our turn to play 15v14.

And despite that advantage when we were awarded a penalty in front of the posts it was absolutely the right decision to take the three points and regain the lead, so we did just that. Now it was a question of bringing that lead home and this is where the Parsons magic gave us that crucial edge.

No need for me to use words, just watch the clip...

Talk about leaving everyone in your wake! But hang on - for all that has been said about this run, it can't be forgotten that the move resulted in not just a try, but one that put us a crucial 8 points ahead which could deny the Italians a losing bonus point. So we also need to look at one came next...

...the quick ball from scrum half Kathryn Dane. The long accurate miss pass from Flood. Eve Higgins (part of a super centre duo with Sene Naoupu) bringing it on and shipping it to Considine. Our full back, who hadn't been having her best day, still was just what we needed at this moment to join the line at the right time, fix her tackler, pass it on to Crowe on her outside and for good measure, run a cheeky little support line that blocked a potential tackler or two. Finally, Crowe running towards the posts with a finish that made the vital conversion that much easier for her outhalf.

Amazing rugby all round.

Now we had a 4-0 split of the match points to defend and although the wayward darts and the spilled carries kept happening, the six-day turnaround meant nothing to us as we tackled like demons all the way to the last minute to bring it home. All I could think of as the final whistle blew was how the performance was being perceived back home on the various forms of media.


And to be fair, the reaction did seem to be a net positive all round. Headlines from match reports focused on the result and the heroic efforts of those like Parsons rather than the drawbacks. Plus I have to say it was great to see a great timeline of commentary on twitter provided by the likes of Three Red Kings, Loose Head and The 2nd Row to complement the usual suspects like the excellent @IrishWomens (who featured on our podcast not too many moons ago).

So...where does this result leave Ireland's qualification hopes? Well with Scotland toppling Spain in the second match on Sunday, the pool finds itself in a, to say the very least, interesting position that shows just how critical it was to deny Italy that losing BP...


The way WRWC2021 works is that the winner of the pool after next Saturday's 3rd round of matches will qualify directly to Pool B of the finals where they will join the USA, Canada and the winner of the Asian Rugby Championship (Hong Kong, Japan or Kazakhstan).

If you finish 2nd in this pool, you can still qualify if you win a further pool involving, well, three other countries - the format looks really intricate and no real point going into the finer details now, just safe to say this is the less ideal of the two scenarios for Ireland (especially since it puts us in a pool in the finals with with the Black Ferns and the Wallaroos), though after the Spain result we'd be happy qualifying either way.

Now - to finish in those top two slots, the simplest path for Ireland will be to beat Scotland. For this, we don't need to worry about bonus points or anything from the other match. Any kind of victory guarantees a top two finish and thus our hopes remain alive.

When it comes to finishing first, things get a little bit tricky. At first I thought points difference was the first tie breaker but instead it's "result between the tied teams" so what we'll need to do depends first on the result of the Spain v Italy match which kicks off at 2pm our time this Saturday.

To finish first, here is what we'll need to do based on that earlier result...
  • Spain wins with BP - Ireland cannot finish first but will need to beat Scotland for 2nd place (remember in this scenario the Scots know a BP win for them catapults them into 1st!!!)
  • Spain wins without BP - Ireland finish 1st with BP win, 2nd with regular win.
  • Italy wins - whether with or without BP, "all" Ireland have to do is get the same amount of match points as Italy in this scenario to top the pool.
  • Spain and Italy Draw - any kind of win puts us through and oddly even a draw could get us 2nd spot (unless BPs play a factor)!
So...where do all these permutations leave me as a fan? Well to be honest, they leave me kinda raging that when the Ireland v Scotland match kicks off at 5pm Irish time next Saturday, I'll be taking my seat in the media box at the Aviva Stadium with just 15 minutes left until the Leinster Men's team kick off their life in the new United Rugby Championship against the Bulls!!!!!!

Before I complain further, yes, I know there is no one entity to blame for this clash of big matches. Can't blame Leinster, can't blame the IRFU, can't blame the URC, can't even blame World Rugby. They have all needed to take several different things into account when setting their schedules and clashes are inevitable, especially with COVID still lurking as it is.

Yet my blame must go somewhere, so I simply lay it at the feet of "rugby union" in general. Events of the past few weeks have shown not only how much Women's rugby needs all the support it can get in every respect, but also that such support is very much there.

Maybe I can't speak for all 30+ thousand fans that will be at the Aviva next Saturday, but I dare say the vast majority of them would love to give the Irish women their full attention as well. So this really does need to be sorted out, and I have to say adding yet another version of the game (12s??? Really???) isn't going to help in this area at all.

But anyway that can all be debated another day. For now I have really enjoyed watching this match, analysing and harping on it here on the site, and if the calendar allows me to do it more often over the course of the coming season, I definitely will do so.

Congratulations once more to Ciara Griffin and all the squad for this victory and best of luck with the preparations for next Saturday. I'll be following you on YouTube as best as I can! JLP


HARPIN' ON RUGBY MATCH WRITEUPS
ARE BROUGHT TO YOU BY


Front Five - 20.09.21

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

Great win for Ireland in WRWC2021 qualifier
leaves the pool evenly poised


It was a positive end to what had been an otherwise awful week for Irish women's rugby.


Neil Treacy - RTÉ Rugby

Great Britain claimed the bronze medal on their Series debut after a 24-14 win against Ireland.


World.Rugby

"...over the three weeks I got so much information that I’ve plenty to go on."


Ciarán Kennedy - The42.ie

"It was not a performance that was worthy enough for a Springbok jersey."


Frank Nickson - Talking Rugby Union

Bryan Easson's side...set up a crunch clash with Ireland next weekend...Italy and Spain also have five points in the tightly-contested four-team group.


BBC 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

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Front Five - 19.09.21

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

Best of luck to both the Irish Women
and the Irish M7s today


"There’s a competition here to be won. We’ve two games left, it’s all to play for."


Daire Walsh - Irish Examiner

A draw...was enough for Ireland to top the pool on points difference


World.Rugby

“We absolutely love playing up here in front of the crowd … Couldn’t be happier right now.”


The Guardian

With 6 minutes of play gone New Zealand had their first try.


Americas Rugby News

 "Criticism is not a problem. Insults about the colour of someone’s skin, that is different."


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

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Front Five - 18.09.21

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

Best of luck to the girls in Parma tomorrow
let's not forget qualification for WRWC2021
is still very much possible


“Literally every time I go on to the pitch I learn something different”


Murray Kinsella - The42.ie

...there is no place for Munster's Simon Zebo, who returned to Ireland following a three-year stint in France...


Michael Glennon - RTE Rugby

Lam, 52, is the most successful coach in the professional era at Bristol


BBC.com

Despite being without...the likes of Maro Itoje and Owen Farrell...Saracens were not to be denied.


SkySports.com

#5. Andy Farrell – 22/1


Ruck.co.uk

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, September 17, 2021

Front Five - 17.09.21

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


"That level of fairness in terms of a straight top-eight qualifying for Europe will make games at the end of the season competitive."


RTÉ Rugby

URC TV promises to give rugby fans access to world-class, year-round content and to follow all the action of their favourite team.


IrishRugby.ie

"Duane is clearly a world class player who will bring depth and experience to our really talented group of back rowers”


Balls.ie

No relegation and Harlequins’ thrilling example should push clubs decisively away from turgid heavyweight clashes


Gerard Meagher - TheGuardian

The entry level suspension for such an incident stands at 52 weeks, but the committee took into consideration a number of variables to reduce the ban to half of that.


Stephen Brunsdon - 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, September 16, 2021

Rugby on TV : Sep 16-23

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


THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 16

12:30PM-3:30PM
LIONS TOUR (H-2021)
12:30PM - FIRST TEST
1:30PM - SECOND TEST
2:30PM - THIRD TEST
SKY SPORTS ARENA

8PM
BORDEAUX V STADE FRANCAIS (R)
TOP 14
PREMIER SPORTS 2

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 17

12PM
RACING 92 V LA ROCHELLE (R)
TOP 14
PREMIER SPORTS 2

6PM
TOULOUSE V TOULON (R)
TOP 14
PREMIER SPORTS 1

7:45PM
BRISTOL BEARS V SARACENS (L)
PREMIERSHIP
BT SPORT 1

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 18

8:05AM
AUSTRALIA V SOUTH AFRICA (L)
RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP
SKY SPORTS MAIN EVENT
SKY SPORTS ARENA

11:05AM
ARGENTINA V NEW ZEALAND (L)
RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP
SKY SPORTS ARENA

2PM
CASTRES V BORDEAUX (L)
TOP 14
PREMIER SPORTS 2

2:30PM
DELTA V BRUSSELS DEVILS (L)
RUGBY EUROPE SUPER CUP

3PM
LEICESTER TIGERS V EXETER CHIEFS (L)
PREMIERSHIP
BT SPORT 1

4PM
MONTPELLIER V TOULOUSE (L)
TOP 14
PREMIER SPORTS 2

5PM
LUSITANOS V CASTILLOS Y LEON (L)
RUGBY EUROPE SUPER CUP

6PM
TOP 14 HIGHLIGHTS
PREMIER SPORTS 2

8:05PM
CLÉRMONT V LA ROCHELLE (L)
TOP 14
PREMIER SPORTS 1

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 19

12PM
ENISEI-STM V LOKOMOTIV PENZA (L)
RUGBY EUROPE SUPER CUP

1:30PM
HERIOTS RUGBY V AYRSHIRE BULLS (L)
SUPER 6
FREE SPORTS

2PM
ITALY V IRELAND (L)
WOMEN'S WORLD CUP QUALIFIER

3PM
NEWCASTLE FALCONS V HARLEQUINS (L)
PREMIERSHIP
BT SPORT 1

5PM
SPAIN V SCOTLAND (L)
WOMEN'S WORLD CUP QUALIFIER

5:15PM
LIVE RUGBY TONIGHT
PREMIERSHIP
BT SPORT 1

8:05PM
TOULON V STADE FRANCAIS (L)
TOP 14
PREMIER SPORTS 2

9PM
CLÉRMONT V LA ROCHELLE (R)
TOP 14
PREMIER SPORTS 1

10:05PM
CASTRES V BORDEAUX (R)
TOP 14
PREMIER SPORTS 2

10:15PM
PREMIERSHIP HIGHLIGHTS
BT SPORT 2

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 20

3PM
PREMIERSHIP HIGHLIGHTS
BT SPORT 1

6PM-11PM
CLASSIC SIX NATIONS 2018 (H)
6PM - FRANCE V IRELAND
7PM - IRELAND V ITALY
8PM - IRELAND V WALES
9PM - IRELAND V SCOTLAND
10PM - ENGLAND V IRELAND
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

8PM
TOP 14 HIGHLIGHTS
PREMIER SPORTS 1

11PM
TOULON V STADE FRANCAIS (R)
TOP 14
PREMIER SPORTS 1

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 21

4:45PM
PREMIERSHIP HIGHLIGHTS
BT SPORT 3

6:15PM
RUGBY TONIGHT
BT SPORT 3

9PM
TOP 14 HIGHLIGHTS
FREESPORTS

9:30PM
HERIOT'S V AYRSHIRE BULLS (R)
SUPER 6
FREESPORTS

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22

2PM-1AM
CLASSIC SIX NATIONS (H)
2PM - ENGLAND V SCOTLAND (2019)
3PM - ENGLAND V IRELAND (2006)
4PM - WALES V IRELAND (2003)
5PM - SCOTLAND V IRELAND (2015)
6PM - ENGLAND V FRANCE (2015)
7PM - FRANCE V IRELAND (2014)
8PM - IRELAND V ENGLAND (2001)
9PM - WALES V SCOTLAND (2010)
10PM - WALES V IRELAND (2009)
11PM - ENGLAND V IRELAND (2018)
12AM - FRANCE V WALES (2019)
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

6:30PM
TOP 14 HIGHLIGHTS
FREESPORTS

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 23

3PM
CLÉRMONT V LA ROCHELLE (R)
TOP 14
PREMIER SPORTS 2

5PM
TOULON V STADE FRANCAIS (R)
TOP 14
FREESPORTS

10:15PM
THE TEAM THAT TURNED UP
DOCUMENTARY
RTÉ ONE

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

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 - 16.09.21

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
"3.10 : Opposition view - Matt Price (@BathBytes)"


"It’s all about making games as competitive as possible when they are being played. It’s intensifying the pressure we already feel."


Michael Glennon - RTÉ Sport

"...we feel that it’s the right time, within the guidelines, to look towards a safe and responsible return of crowds in a Covid-compliant manner."


LeinsterRugby.ie

Rugbaí Beo will kick off its season run with Connacht’s trip to Cardiff on Friday week (19:35) and continue with Leinster versus the Bulls on Saturday (17:15)


Gavan Casey - The42.ie

The disgraceful scenes drew strong criticism from Ireland internationals Garry Ringrose and Paul Boyle, both of whom were disgusted by the incident.


Cian Tracey - Irish Independent

Romain Poite – Police Detective


Ruck.co.uk

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, September 15, 2021

Podcast 3.10 : Opposition view - Matt Price (@BathBytes)



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

Some European fixtures were announced last week and while we don’t know the exact date just yet, we did learn that Leinster’s opening match in the quest for that fifth star will be back at the Aviva Stadium against Premiership side Bath.  So I had a quick chat with the curator of a great Twitter account @BathBytes to see how the team is shaping up for the new campaign...

Follow Matt Price on Twitter > https://twitter.com/BathBytes

Front Five - 15.09.21

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

Hasn't been a good few days 
for Leinster Rugby PR-wise
but at least they seem to be dealing
with the issues quickly


Informal talks between the four home Unions of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland took place earlier this year about a potential 2031 hosting


David Kelly - Irish Independent

The packs, which come from the UK, were incorrectly categorised as goods for sale


Johnny Watterson - Irish Times

Ireland will open their HSBC Canada Sevens campaign against Hong Kong on Saturday 18th September (5:44 pm Irish time)


James Roulston Mooney - SportsNewsIreland

A native of New Zealand who moved to Australia at a young age, Moore also played for the Sydney Rays in the 2019 National Rugby Championship


Murray Kinsella - The42.ie

...in February 1999...Wales had the chance to take up (six) places in the English league structure...but the WRU wanted 10 clubs involved


Simon Thomas - WalesOnline

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, September 14, 2021

Front Five - 14.09.21

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

ICYMI click here for our
Leinster v Harlequins writeup


...only wins over Scotland and Italy in the coming days will give them any hope of reaching next year's World Cup.


SportsJoe.ie

The video prompted a range of reactions, all vying to be heard online; rage, shock, disappointment, shame, annoyance


Louise Lawless - Irish Times

Former Connacht and Leinster player Mick Kearney is their only new man in after the much-vaunted signing of Leone Nakarawa fell through.


Michael Glennon - RTÉ Sport

Brennan...was struck off with a sanction “necessary for the public and other professionals to understand that behaviour of this sort is unacceptable”.


Planet Rugby

"It's an interesting concept, especially when you think about the global development of the women's game, too"


NZ Herald

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

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