Oh Joe, you cunning tactician you. Making us miss your presence less come the end of the World Cup with a subpar performance that flew in the face of all expectations. Ok, there’s a chance I’m still in denial. Who wouldn’t be though right? That was one of the worst Irish performances of the Schmidt era, capitalised on brilliantly by one of the best I’ve seen from England in a long long time. So what happened and what happens next?
Well, that was interesting. Whether it was Scotland showing all the highland resolve they could muster to oust the Welsh, Ireland commanding a win over the French amidst a somewhat imperfect performance or Italy frustrating the hell out of the English – this was certainly an entertaining and educational weekend of rugby. Ireland, and indeed Scotland, are now the only two teams in with a shout alongside the English with their unbeaten run continuing, and a truly fascinating two weeks of rugby lie ahead. Continue reading Six Nations – Ireland (And Scotland) Still In The Mix
In any other year we would probably meter expectation after a demolishing of Italy, especially with such an embarrassing showing from the Azzurri as we got on Saturday. In a Six Nations where Ireland need to make amends for a poor start and tries/points are more relevant than ever though, this was promising stuff.
Finally into the business end of the league now that all Pro 12 teams are out of European contention, the table is looking awfully crowded. Funny that it is given that form would suggest the top 4 teams are as good as qualified but with three weeks remaining it could fall either way. There’s a lot of notions and permutations to rattle through so we’ll do our best to get our heads around them now. Continue reading Pro 12 – Tough At The Top
Can anyone else remember the last time only one Irish team managed to make the European knock outs? Eleven years ago, back when Ulster still couldn’t find a way out and Leinster lost out to Stade Francais and Munster were the sole hope in the Quarter Finals. Is it a reflection on the Irish club game that only Leinster have progressed or is it the new format living up to its name and providing a greater challenge to the Celts? Hard to say in this inaugural year but the fact is there to see that only one province from the back to back Six Nations champion country is present this weekend. Pity. Continue reading European Rugby – And Then There Was One
You couldn’t predict it. If you think you did, you’re wrong. 240 minutes of rugby and not a single one went as anyone would have expected. We knew that Gatland would have his Welsh squad fired up of course and that they have one of the best backlines in Europe, but we didn’t know that Italy were going to collapse as spectacularly as they did. Nobody could have seen Ireland coming out of the traps like that either, matching their best ever winning margin over the Scots. Of course, England and France, thank you. Quite simply the best game of rugby I have ever seen and Welcome back France, you have been missed. Continue reading Six Nations 2015 – What We Watch It For
Ryle Nugent’s words have never been more appropriate as we go into one of the most exciting final weekends of the Six Nations in some time. Last year two teams remained in contention at this juncture, this year it’s three and if some abbhorently strange sequence of events were to unfold, four. It’s what it’s all about, it’s what we came for, let’s dive right in.
Continue reading Six Nations 2015 – Don’t Forget To Breathe
Hats off and all that jazz, Wales were superb. The most fair outcome of Saturday’s fixture was that the scoreline for Wales’ yellow card was 6 – 3 Ireland. Not that the yellow wasn’t deserved but it would have been an injustice to nab a lead against a Welsh side who were deserving winners from the first second in such unceremonious circumstances. There is also the issue that Ireland were extremely below par which all led to this absolutely enthralling spectacle in Cardiff. Continue reading Six Nations 2015 – Ireland Brought To A Halt In Cardiff
Two coaches ringing the changes this weekend in the other two Six Nations fixtures, however the balance of tactics and insanity are on fairly opposite ends. Ahead of facing a rejuvenated but floundering Scotland in Twickenham Stuart Lancaster has seen fit to make five changes in total to his 23 to ensure Scotland don’t pick up their first win against the second favourites. Phillipe Saint Andre on the other hand has reverted to form in his never ending quest to destroy the reputation of French international rugby. Let’s have a look so.
Continue reading Six Nations 2015 – Changes Abound For England And France
Freak. There’s no other word to describe Jamie Heaslip in relation to his healing abilities. We won’t complain, but many others would be out of their desk job for six months but here he is, the sole change from the team that beat England two weeks ago, ready to take the field in the Cardiff cauldron. Schmidt has made only enforced changes this Six Nations when you might think variety and choice are crucial in winning a championship – conservatism or wisdom? Continue reading Six Nations 2015 – Heaslip Returns For Welsh Showdown