Every game in the Six Nations is a must-win. Lose one, the Slam is gone, the Triple Crown too potentially, and with no round robin structure or pool stages the competition is already much further out of your control than it already was. That being said, we have recent precedent for a team losing their opener and still winning the tournament – Wales in 2013. Back then there were no bonus points and the Welsh had been well and truly battered by Ireland in the opening game. You’d swear that opening game never happened as they nonchalantly proceeded to run home with the trophy come the final game against England. There’s hope, that’s all I’m saying!
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
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?
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
Dual blogged on IrishNewsReview
Yes we beat the second best team in the world, after they just beat the best. Yes the hype and hysteria was completely justified. Yes – all talk of winning the World Cup has ramped up massively. Maybe that isn’t quite so justified. Either way questions of whether or not Georgia can cause an upset here should be gone now. Without wanting to sound too cocky, the question is how much Ireland will win by.
Well, who stopped believing? It’s genuinely hard to not exaggerate, that was an incredible performance. Over the years Ireland have provided many threats at their abilities but few solid shows. Australia in 2011 was followed by that Wales game, earlier that year we hammered England and never again showed the same level of attack. But now Ireland have just beaten the second highest ranked team in the world, and more importantly the best team they will face between now and the world cup. Let’s go.