Friday, April 30, 2021

Front Five - 30.04.21

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

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


"...we know we’ll have a big task on our hands but we’re well prepared and confident."


Planet Rugby

McCloskey is the only change to the Ulster backline at inside centre


Simon Lewis - Irish Examiner

It is understood training will be non-contact and in pods of 15


RTÉ Rugby

Fox Sports have claimed Kiss has contacted Rugby Australia director of rugby Scott Johnson over the top job that is open at the Waratahs.


The Rugby Paper

...the former Ireland international remains sidelined by the hip injury that has plagued him in recent weeks.


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, April 29, 2021

Rugby on TV : Apr 29-May 6

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


THURSDAY, APRIL 29

5PM
DRAGONS V SCARLETS (R)
RAINBOW CUP
EIR SPORT 1

FRIDAY, APRIL 30

8:05AM
HURRICANES V HIGHLANDERS (L)
SUPER RUGBY AOTEAROA

8PM
LEICESTER TIGERS V ULSTER (L)
CHALLENGE CUP
BT SPORT 2

SATURDAY, MAY 1

8:05AM
BLUES V CHIEFS (L)
SUPER RUGBY AOTEAROA

10:45AM
BRUMBIES V WESTERN FORCE (L)
SUPER RUGBY AU

1PM
STORMERS V SHARKS (L)
RAINBOW CUP
EIR SPORT 1
PREMIER SPORTS 2

3PM 
TOULOUSE V BORDEAUX (L)
CHAMPIONS CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA TWO
CHANNEL 4
BT SPORT 3

6PM
BULLS V LIONS (L)
RAINBOW CUP
EIR SPORT 1
PREMIER SPORTS 1

8PM
BATH V MONTPELLIER (L)
CHALLENGE CUP
BT SPORT 3

8:30PM
SOUTH AFRICA V LIONS (R-1997)
FIRST TEST
SKY SPORTS ARENA

12 MIDNIGHT
SAN DIEGO LEGION V NEW ENGLAND FREE JACKS (L)
MAJOR LEAGUE RUGBY

SUNDAY, MAY 2

11:45AM
STORMERS V SHARKS (R)
RAINBOW CUP
EIR SPORT 1

1:45PM
BULLS V LIONS (R)
RAINBOW CUP
EIR SPORT 1

3PM
LA ROCHELLE V LEINSTER (L)
CHAMPIONS CUP
BT SPORT 2

5PM
EXETER CHIEFS V LEINSTER (H)
CHAMPIONS CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

6PM
NOLA GOLD V TORONTO ARROWS (L)
MAJOR LEAGUE RUGBY

7PM
NORTHAMPTON SAINTS V ULSTER (H)
CHALLENGE CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

8PM
CHAMPIONS CUP QF HIGHLIGHTS
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

11:15PM
CHAMPIONS CUP SF HIGHLIGHTS
VIRGIN MEDIA TWO

MONDAY, MAY 3

9PM
LA ROCHELLE V LEINSTER (H)
CHAMPIONS CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

10PM
TOULOUSE V BORDEAUX (H)
CHAMPIONS CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

11PM
LEICESTER V ULSTER (H)
CHALLENGE CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

TUESDAY, MAY 4

7PM
STORMERS V SHARKS (R)
RAINBOW CUP
EIR SPORT 2

7:30PM
CHAMPIONS CUP HIGHLIGHTS
BT SPORT 3

9PM
BULLS V LIONS (R)
RAINBOW CUP
EIR SPORT 2

WEDNESDAY, MAY 5

3PM
ULSTER V CONNACHT (R)
RAINBOW CUP
EIR SPORT 2

THURSDAY, MAY 6

6PM
LIVE LIONS ANNOUNCEMENT SPECIAL
SKY SPORTS MIX

8PM
CHAMPIONS CUP HIGHLIGHTS
BT SPORT 1

10PM
FANTASY LIONS DRAFT
BT SPORT 1

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

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 - 29.04.21

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


"...Leinster have shown it doesn't matter who plays. The expectation is to fit in and do their role and the machine keeps rolling."


Ruaidhri O'Connor - Irish Independent

Wales (are) set to open their title defence against Ireland on 5 February.


SixNationsRugby.com

"Sport can be cruel. I will need surgery next week. Heartbroken is an understatement."


BBC Rugby

Seymour moved to Belfast as a youngster, aligning with Ulster in 2010 and winning youth honours with Ireland before moving to Glasgow Warriors in 2011


Planet Rugby

"I ended up asking if I could go down to training that weekend, which frightened my mother. But I haven't looked back since."


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

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Podcast S02E41 : “Lions Selector Panel 3.2 featuring Debbie Knight (@debsknig), David Arnott (@thepenGW) & Brandon Smith (@bisbrandon11)”



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

This week we had our final round of Lions selections with a three-strong panel and as well as naming their XVs we also looked at general attitudes towards the tour itself and of course we can never do enough giving out about the Rainbow Cup so the four of us managed to get that in as well. Then after the chat I finally get to name the panel’s combined Matchday squad for the first test in Johannesburg on July 24.

Follow Debbie Knight on Twitter > https://twitter.com/debsknig

Follow Brandon Smith > https://twitter.com/bisbrandon11

Brandon’s YouTube channel is here > https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5R7Yr-jt9e1zflS1JT8E-Q

Follow David Arnott > https://twitter.com/thepenGW

Front Five - 28.04.21

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

ICYMI click here for the latest 
Irish rugby club profile by Mark Strange


Ross Byrne replaced Sexton against Exeter and is likely to play against La Rochelle at the Stade Marcel Deflandre


The Rugby Paper


"It’s not going to be multi-phase, I think it’s going to be more of a power-based game."


Gerry Thornley - Irish Times
(possibly behind paywall)

"He delivers in the areas Warren Gatland loves. He's big, he's physical and he carries really, really well." 


Anthony Pyne - RTÉ Rugby

Scottish Rugby’s Director of High Performance, Jim Mallinder, will also join the tour to support the new coaching group.


David Barnes - The Offside Line

...they have also been informed that a “limited numbers of spectators” may be able to attend test events in the summer.


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

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Irish Club Rugby Profiles by Mark Strange : Part 11 - Ballymena RFC



Part 11

BALLYMENA RFC



This week we visit Ulster and look at one of the standard-bearers for the sport of rugby there in Ballymena. Rugby has been played in the County Antrim town since the end of the 19th century but the club as we know it took off after the First World War and entered the Ulster Junior League for the 1923-24 season.

They began to find their feet and over the course of the next decade won two each of the Provincial Towns Cup and the Junior Cup. The club resurfaced after the Second World War and the links with Ballymena Academy School, which are still strong today, were evident when the headmaster of the school, WH Mol became club president and the club’s new facilities at the Showgrounds were provided by the school. Nowadays, the Showgrounds is the home of Ballymena United FC. 

It wasn’t long before senior status was achieved in 1953 and they moved to their current home at Eaton Park two years later. These grounds were shared at the time with cricket, tennis and athletics and the former of these three are still an important part of the club to this day. On the pitch, success was a while in coming and even when the Senior Cup was won in 1963, it was only an interlude to another baron spell for the club’s trophy room.

During this period, however, two giants of Ulster, Ireland and world rugby donned the black shirt of Ballymena in Syd Miller and Willie-John McBride. Both were Lions on multiple occasions with the former going on to have tremendous success off the pitch too as a coach, manager and, later president of the IRFU and IRB. His contribution to world rugby in so many ways was immense. The latter is one of the greatest players to ever grace the oval ball game, captaining the famous 1974 Lions and donning the red jersey on an incredible five tours.

Andrew Trimble was part of the Ulster Senior Cup winning Ballymena team in 2005


During the 70s, the club became a well-oiled machine with a head coach and squad system and the following decade was extremely successful following up their centenary year with league and cup doubles in 1988 and 1989. This meant that at the beginning of the All Ireland League, the club was placed in Division One and were very competitive, finishing in the top five in their first two seasons.

The club made a major coup in 1996 with the appointment of former Springbok player and coach Nelie Smith which led to another league and cup double in his first season. He was the first in a line of Southern Hemisphere coaches to grace Eaton Park as he was succeeded by countryman Andre Bester. He laid the foundations for Australian Tony D’Arcy who guided Ballymena to their first and – so far – only All Ireland league title in 2003. He was succeeded by two more Saffas in Steph Nel and Jacques Benade. Recently the club has taken a more local approach with current head coach Andrew Graham and his predecessor John Andrews both ex-Blacks players. 

As I previously alluded to, Ballymena RFC has a rich history of producing players for the white of Ulster, green of Ireland and red of the Lions. From Frank Dinsmore who toured Canada with Ireland in 1899 through to more modern stars such as David Humphreys, Gary Longwell, Andrew Trimble and Chris Henry while not forgetting Millar, McBride and others throughout the years like Barton McCallum, Trevor Ringland and Philip Rainey. They all started in the black of Ballymena.

Relegation in 2019 followed by last year’s abandoned season and this year’s non-starter season means that when play resumes, the Eaton Park men will be in Division 2A. However, Graham presides over a young, local and exciting squad with the talent to start climbing the divisions.





Mark Strange (@realmarkstrange) : I am a freelance sports writer who has been published in soccer, rugby and baseball. I am also an avid fan of ice hockey and just returned last year from a year living and working in Vancouver. I previously played and was PRO for Randalstown Rugby Club before a knee injury cut me down in my prime! I became a Leinster fan when I was younger due to a certain Felipe Contempomi and I am the only blue in a sea of white in Ulster.

*****

Want to see your own rugby opinions on the web?

Click "Write for us" in the sidebar to find out how.

Series lead photo taken from tallaghtrugby.com

Front Five - 27.04.21

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

ICYMI click here for our
Leinster v Munster writeup


"He’s like Andrew Porter, from Leinster. When they get over the ball, they’re literally impossible to move."


Patrick McCarry - SportsJoe.ie

 "It’s funny at the time, you are just a kid but you reflect back now and you think 'Woah that was just true inequality you know'."


Marie Crowe - RTÉ Rugby

With Nick McCarthy heading in the opposite direction, as he returns to Leinster, Johann van Graan has been keen to bolster his scrum-half options.


Cian Tracey - Irish Independent

"It is our aim and ambition to deliver the Autumn Nations Series 2021 with full crowds."


Andrew Baldock - The Independent (UK)

...with the potential for more than a third of the Top 14 running out in a top-tier brand in 2021/22, it’s an exciting time for French rugby.


Rugby Shirt Watch

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, April 26, 2021

Leinster-3 Munster-27

FAIR & SQUARE

Never a dull moment when these two face each other, amirite???


I'm sure my fellow Leinster fans are looking forward to reading this about as much as I am to writing it so I'll try to keep this short 😉


Of course there’s no doubt about the starting point and I was sure to put it right there in my title (also not many rainbow puns left that haven’t been used elsewhere!).  Over the 80 minutes, the better team won fair and square.  Everything about the Munster performance showed they wanted it more and they got the win they deserved, and it was a big one too.


From there, I feel the need to move beyond the full time whistle.  It was a hotly contested match throughout but there was really only one actual “shamozzle” situation between players and that was after just 3 minutes...yet unfortunately there was also one on social media which continued well after the match.


And I don’t just mean the same eejits you always see making stupid comments, either.  Unfortunately it spilled over into the regular discourse and as annoying as those so-called opinions may be, for others to highlight them as if that kind of idiocy is limited to followers of one team or another is pretty much as bad. 


But I’m not pointing that out to reignite the back and forth.  I’m more doing it because I’m genuinely not sure what I’m allowed to mention in this writeup, because certain “caveats” appear to have been declared out of bounds.  


Now to be fair, there were some taking those caveats to ridiculous extremes.  No, this was not Leinster’s "4th string team", not by a long stretch.  And no, we shouldn’t say Leinster didn’t care about this match because of what’s next on the calendar, that would be an insult to players and fans alike.  But we can still point out that the strength of teams and differing priorities played their part, right?


You’ll have to take my word for it that I’m bringing them up because they’re legitimate talking points from the match, not because I think they take anything away from the result.  Besides, I’ve lost count of the times Leinster victories were sanitised by comments about a mismatch in the teams on the day.


On the lineups, yes, it was a chance for other players to step up, and yes, they clearly failed to do this but the fact remains if this were a European semifinal then Munster’s team would have been pretty much the same, while Leinster’s most certainly would not have been.   


And this might be more opinion than fact but if anything, Munster should probably have won this by more.  Obviously they would have taken that scoreline at the start but one of the main reasons there was so much arguing about captain’s challenges at the end was that for all their dominance, they failed to get a bonus point which was surely there for the taking.


I should get to the actual play itself as it transpired now, but just to warn you I’ll probably get myself into more trouble when I do.  First, that opening Munster try should have been called back for a knock on by Peter O’Mahony.  Again, they were the better team and won the match fair and square, plus the run from De Allende which completely bamboozled Jordan Larmour followed by a quality offload to Murray was impressive.  


And actually, O’Mahony’s pressure on Hugh O’Sullivan was also impressive.  Where we were weakest going into the match was in our halfbacks so it made sense to ramp up the linespeed and the Munster forwards really turned the knife.  It’s just that here, in swatting the ball away from our 9, he knocked on and nobody seemed to mention it which made me doubt it myself on first view, though there was no doubt on the second.


Next I’m unsure if I can mention that Harry Byrne seemed to be in pain even before he made the last ditch attempt at a tackle on Murray as he scored, forcing him to be substituted by David Hawkshaw with only 5 minutes on the clock and his team already 0-7 down.  That would be a major blow to any team and with all due respect to the 9 & 10 we now had, it was always an uphill battle for them from there.


More often than not it seemed to be simple timing issue with the pair of them.  Just a fraction of a second in every facet was enough to ensure the linespeed was always going to disrupt the set play.  They both tried to improvise when they could but the front foot ball on which our entire attacking platform depends was just never forthcoming.  This might be a good time to trot out the old cliché about a “learning curve”.


But although Hawkshaw missed a simple enough penalty right at the end of the first half, the margin was still only 7 in Munster’s favour.  Our own defensive structures were actually pretty good and all in all it was quite the achievement to have limited them to just one try off transition before the break.  Alas, there were more talking points for me to harp on before we look at that second half.  Yes, this is about the Archer/Ryan episode.


Archer had mixed fortunes in the first half, doing well to disrupt a maul early on before shipping a couple of needless penalties.  But the raking which led to his yellow was pure crazy.   Again, you’ll have to go on faith that I’m genuine here, but if he doesn’t get happy with his studs (crossing my legs here as I'm typing), I’d be giving out about Ryan in this paragraph because he could have easily gotten a yellow himself.


He was trapped where he was and would have been pinged anyway, but he actually went a little further and was holding on to some legs with red socks on them while on the deck.  In that area of the pitch, when the attacking team has that much momentum, you’re putting yourself in card territory.  But that’s for the ref to decide, not for a prop to take matters into his own boots.  So I guess when all is said and done, the yellow to Archer was the right call, despite the clear intent involved. 


The problem for Leinster was that even with the extra man we still couldn’t manoeuvre the ball downfield to capitalise - not only did we miss that late penalty but Munster actually got the first score after Archer went to the naughty step.  BTW on that O’Donoghue/Byrne hit, while I didn’t see an angle which proved contact was only with shoulder, I’ve probably harped too much on those other issues and while I’m here, and I am aware there were things happening the other way as well that weren’t picked up.  But as you can see in the banner, this is a Leinster fan site so that’s where my focus was always going to be for this match.  


After the break, we still couldn’t get things going with the ball and once Carbery was able to get that crucial first score I really don’t think even the most optimistic Leinster fan thought we had a hope of clawing our way back.  The two tries they managed in the final quarter were a clear result of the dam bursting and like I said, Munster should be disappointed they didn’t get a fourth from somewhere.


But it’s not like there were absolutely no positives for Leinster.  For all that James Ryan found himself in the wars, it was still much needed pitch time for him to get back up to speed before the trip to La ROGchelle next weekend.  Same goes for Garry Ringrose - a quiet shift from him with the ball but still played a big part of keeping the defense intact without it.   Another returnee was Tommy O’Brien who looked lively in his cameo.


Unfortunately both Caelan Doris and Ciaran Frawley had to withdraw after the Captain’s Run and it would have done both of them good to see some action.  James Lowe tried to make things happen when he could but he too couldn’t find a way past those Munster tacklers.  


Of course I’m disappointed, but I was also disappointed back in January when we lost to Connacht, as I was back in March when we fell to Ospreys.  In fact now I’m wondering when was the last time we lost 3 matches at the RDS in the same season though I think I’ll let someone else do the research on that one…


The thing is, on both of those occasions we had bigger matches the following week.. First it was a Conference A table topper against Ulster and we got the job done.  A week after those pesky birds toppled us, it was our turn to be deserved winners against Munster.  Then despite being deprived a run against Toulon, we were able to focus on Exeter.  Which ever way you want to look at this result, I think we have a coaching staff in place to get the squad in the right frame of mind for the task at hand.


When it comes to this competition, though there's not a whole lot of interest in this one, when there’s silverware up for grabs you want to see your team in contention, so best of luck to Munster for the rest of the way.  For our part, while I doubt anyone is ruling us out completely, let’s just say I hope after next weekend we are still in a position to field more youngsters in the upcoming rounds, especially if Harry Byrne’s knock wasn’t too bad.


Going back to the online stuff one last time, I guess the moral of this story is that it’s seldom easy to find the right point on the spectrum from supporting your team, to describing exactly what happened, to triggering your opponents - and if nothing else I really hope we can at least reach agreement that no topic, no sport, no country, no team has a monopoly on muppets.  JLP


HARPIN' ON RUGBY MATCH WRITEUPS
ARE BROUGHT TO YOU BY


Front Five - 26.04.21

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

ICYMI click here for a selection on
online comments after Leinster v Munster


"...Munster got out of it what they needed but it's fair to say Leinster had more pressure issues on hand, not least a semi-final in Europe."


RTÉ Rugby

Ireland can reflect on achieving their stated ambition of finishing third...but marooned behind the ever-accelerating French and English


David Kelly - Irish Independent
(possibly behind paywall)

"After the Cheetahs were excluded from Super Rugby and PRO16, our approach has been to craft our own destiny in a constructive way."


SARugbyMag.co.za

"That England team might be hampered a bit, in terms of their selection on the Lions Tour, given how poor they have been in the past while."


Patrick McCarry - SportsJoe.ie

"Night-club bouncer energy from Joe Marler, and we're here for it 😤"


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

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Online comments after Leinster v Munster

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.


Conor Cronin Some good chances for new faces to experience this tie. Wasn't loving some of the officiating, but you have to play that too.

Munster put out arguably their best side and those players put in a very good performance. I didn't see us winning this, but it's not the massive victory some munster fans would want.

There's lots can be learned from a game like this, let's hope they do and we move on better.

As an aside on the competition, I'm still not certain how they're making this work, and why they didn't just have an interpro competition when everything fell through. The lack of the South Africans makes this a bit meaningless. We cut short our regular season for a competition that is essentially the exact same with a different name. They should've waited another year til everything was more certain.


Michelle Tobin It suggests that me doing preview podcasts with Harpin' on Rugby was Munster's problem all season 😂

Happy with the win from a psychological point of view. But even with that scoreline I don't think I've ever been less excited to beat Leinster. Full strength Munster v depleted Leinster isn't the massive victory it would have been had Henshaw, Furlong, Sexton, McGrath etc been there.

Still, we won, at fecking last we won!!!


Richard Mifsud Credit to Munster they wanted it far more, they played us off the park and were worthy winners. Only pluses for us were the injury free run outs for Garry and James Ryan. TBH I hadn’t expected us to win given the respective lineups and that was reinforced on seeing Ciarán Frawley and Caelan Doris dropping out. That said we were dominated in all facets of the game and I don’t think I’m exaggerating by saying it was men against boys tonight. Most of that is down to Munster but much blame must lie with our lack of physicality, our poor resourcing of the breakdown and tactical naivety. Not sure it was even a good learning experience for the poor young fellas who were thrown in at the deep end 🤷🏻‍♂️. In rugby you mostly get what you deserve and that was us tonight. On to La Rochelle next week, it’ll be a different team with a different attitude I’m sure. It’ll be tough and we may lose but I’m sure we won’t capitulate so #COYBIB


Paul Smith Seriously ? Does anyone even consider this worth commenting on. Apart from Eir Sport and in particular Tolland trying to make it sound like a Champions Cup final did anyone really expect anything other tonight. Pointless tournament, Pointless match to be honest. I think like everyone in the Leinster setup I'll preserve my energies for next weekend.


Lorcán Murphy It’s like when my big brother let me win at snooker cause I had too many tantrums


Graham Young Think I will mute any future games with Toland as commentator.

Derek McGee (reply to Graham Young) But if you do that, you won't be maintaining CONTINUITY!!


Garry Wynne For all Munster's dominance in the pack, they still lack a cohesive attack. If Larkham is happy with that, he's got to go.


Kevin Kelehan Carberry getting match fit to a decent level.


Jenny Quinn Aungier Munster wanted it from the get go and deserved it,exciting competition 👍


Emmet O'Donnell Means more to Munster . Crap result but more importantly game time for ringrose , Ryan ahead of the much more important match next week

Mark Hearne (reply to Emmet O'Donnell) And they will get a good kick up the hole on Monday to het them into gear for next week. Having the extra day recovery is great for the boys just back too


Many thanks to all who offered opinions.

Look out Monday for our match writeup JLP

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