European Rugby – Leinster Look To Lead

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One round left and relatively little change from Matt O’Connor. When your team has demolished Castres a week previous, why tinker with the formula I suppose. The other provinces aren’t quite as lucky, all three listing worrying injuries, but unfortunately only one of the three from south, north and west have any role potentially beyond this weekend in Europe. Continue reading European Rugby – Leinster Look To Lead

European Rugby – Munster Face Down Their Biggest Milestone

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Dual blogged on Irish News Review

New competition, new beginnings and a chance for Munster to reclaim some of their former glory. That is what awaits Anthony Foley’s men on Saturday when they travel to meet Saracens. It is getting tired and it is beyond cliche to say it, but Munster are a backs to the wall team at their finest moments. When all is required and all can be lost, that is when Munster sincerely find their place in European Rugby. There is no better recent example than that exemplary performance against Harlequins in 2013 when Munster were all but written off and came out blazing to send ‘Quins home licking their wounds. Of course, these scenarios don’t always go their way but there seems to just be a little in the air to suggest that won’t be the case this weekend.
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2014 Rugby Year In Review – Spring Launches A New Era

The Ireland team celebrate winning the RBS 6 Nations Championship in the dressing room 15/3/2014Dual blogged on Irish News Review

We’ve been a little light on rugby coverage here – let me assure you it was due to an exceptionally hectic Christmas and nothing to do with a Leinster man avoiding writing negatively about the struggling province – but now comes that unmissable time of the year. A time for nostalgia and teary eyes reminiscence. Yes, it’s time for a lookback on the rugby year that was 2014, a long overdue positive one for Irish fans. Continue reading 2014 Rugby Year In Review – Spring Launches A New Era

Guinness Series – Who Will Tame The Wallabies?

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Dual blogged on IrishNewsReview

Assuming there isn’t a Joe Schmidt curveball to come, the starting XV for this Saturday against Australia will come from the best of the Boks and Georgia fixtures. At a glance you would say that the starting team from the South Africa fixture will get to go out and prove their mettle once more, excluding Jared Payne of course who is ruled out with the sprain suffered in that game. That said though, some hands went up against Georgia and you couldn’t put it past Schmidt to feel those few deserve their chance, on the bench at the very least.
Continue reading Guinness Series – Who Will Tame The Wallabies?

Guinness Series – Lessons Learned Late For Ireland

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Dual blogged on Irish News Review

With such an experimental selection of was always going to be a little hodge podge from Ireland against Georgia. The scoreboard reflects a comprehensive victory, and other results mean they now sit at 3rd in the world rankings, but this was by no means a demolition of Tier 2 opposition and that’s not a bad thing. Here’s why.

Georgia were always going to be physical, and arguably more so than Australia can muster. In order to have experience dotted throughout the squad, Joe Schmidt changing seven in the pack was crucial. Just look at the maul. For the entire first half it was going absolutely nowhere, I’ll admit myself to having been tearing my hair out over the persistent use of it. But once it started to come good, admittedly the introduction of Devin Toner helping it along, it all became clear. Practice. When you’re up against a pack like Georgia and you can be confident you won’t lose the game, let the forwards get in more experience under pressure than they ever could in training.
Continue reading Guinness Series – Lessons Learned Late For Ireland

Guinness Series – The Boks Are Back In Town

Willem+Alberts+Ireland+v+South+Africa+eH0Yz2jsPKXlWhen Joe Schmidt took charge of the national team the primary lament from most was that he will have merely two Six Nations and a Guinness Series to get to know his squad. Not an ideal amount of time or experience to get a proper handle on his players and put his stamp on things firmly. 9 months and an All Blacks near miss later, he guides the team to a Six Nations trophy. Now with the second ranked team in the world coming to Dublin on Saturday, you would have to wonder if maybe we were worrying over nothing. After eighty minutes are up tomorrow, Joe Schmidt will have more answers than he has until this point.  Continue reading Guinness Series – The Boks Are Back In Town

European Rugby – Where Do They All Stand?

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Dual blogged on IrishNewsReview.net

So two rounds down and already some possible contenders have bitten the dust. Two rounds never technically eliminates you from any tournament, but a whole heap of miracles and shock wins are generally required to get you back on track after poor opening games. For the Irish only one of the provinces find themselves facing down this situation, Ulster, whilst the other three are looking fairly solid on the table albeit with much work to do before double-headers in December.
Continue reading European Rugby – Where Do They All Stand?