4 Up 2013 – Year 1

Stuart Olding hot steps over from 40m against Treviso. I love Andrew Trimble’s reaction as he crosses the line!

Intro

We selected four players from the u20 cohort of 2013 in order to follow their progress in a similar manner as applied to their predecessors of 2012. One player was selected from each province. All the players selected from 2013 were backs, who had started at centre for the Irish u20 team, for two reasons. Firstly, the 2013 backs caught my eye more than the forwards from that year and, secondly, with D’Arcy and O’Driscoll each moving close to retirement, the starting centre berths at national level would soon become far less competitive after many years. Continue reading

5 Up 2012 – Year 2

JJ Hanrahan was begun to assume the mantle of Munster's number 10, compiling a success rate from the tee of nearly 90% in the process

JJ Hanrahan has begun to assume the mantle of Munster’s number 10, compiling a success rate from the tee of nearly 90% in the process.

We started the 5 Up Series two years ago. We were interested to see how aspiring professional players developed and what factors affected their progress. Five players were chosen: one from each of the provinces and a second, from Leinster, who would have another season at underage level the following year. Continue reading

Ruck Marks: England vs Ireland 2014

Conor Murray and Andrew Trimble make an effective last ditch tackle on England Wing Johnny May to prevent a certain try early in the game.

Conor Murray and Andrew Trimble make an effective last ditch tackle on England wing Johnny May to prevent a certain try early in the game [photo copyright - Mark Pain].

Narrow margins! England versus Ireland was a high intensity game, and a different standard to the rest of the championship thus far. English coach Stuart Lancaster isn’t given to exaggeration, and his description of the game as “a real test match” was both accurate and, in its way, laudatory. The action was genuinely high-paced for much of the 80 minutes, and with that came individual errors from a lot of players on both sides of the pitch. Unrelentingly high impact collisions from gun to tape will do that to you. Continue reading

Ruck Marks: Ireland vs Wales 2014

Devin Toner goes high to claim one of the six lineouts he took against Wales. The lineout was the most important set-piece of the game, and dominance in the air paved the way for a resounding Irish victory.

Devin Toner goes high to claim one of the six lineouts he took against Wales. The lineout was the most important set-piece of the game, and dominance in the air paved the way for a resounding Irish victory.

Since Ireland ground Wales into the dirt of Lansdowne Road, the defending Six Nations champions have reclaimed their honour by thumping a patchy – but until that point unbeaten – France in Cardiff. Ireland narrowly lost to England the same weekend in Twickenham, a trial the Welsh have yet to undergo. Continue reading

Wor Roses – Lancaster’s Men

He'll reduce the size of England's midfield but create far more threats

He’ll reduce the size of England’s midfield but create far more threats

“There were over 700 caps in their team and you only have to look at how many British Lions they have. It’s a pretty good side all round at the moment.” Continue reading

The Gospel of Saint Joe

A letter from Joe to the Scots (Book of Schmidt II.1)

A letter from Joe to the Scots (Book of Schmidt II.1)

The road to being canonised in the Catholic faith goes through Servant of God, Venerable, Blessed before arriving at Saint. Two miracles must have been performed through the Saint’s intercession. Continue reading

Ruck Marks – Ireland’s Autumn Series

Paul O'Connell's expression says it all. Ireland were seconds away from a first win over New Zealand in history, but it was snatched out of their hands.

Paul O’Connell’s expression says it all. Ireland were seconds away from a first win over New Zealand in the history of games between the two countries, but it was snatched out of their hands.

Amidst no small dollop of carping and moaning about what a pain in the arse it was, we mentioned at the end of the last Ruck Marks article that we’d try and run a similar exercise using Ireland’s November tests as our subjects. We surprised ourselves by actually carrying this through [just like we carried through our tag index ... all the way up to 'D'] with a Boxeresque appetite for dumb labour. Continue reading