HEC Semi-final Preview: Clermont vs Leinster

Heaslip dots down under the sticks in the 2010 quarter-final classic. Given that it's only a couple of weeks more than two years later, the two teams are dominated by the same players who took the field in that stormer of a game. That night it was Leinster who hung on by the slenderest of margins, even given home field advantage ... will it go the other way this time around?

The Clermont Auvergne vs Leinster semi-final pits two of the best teams to grace European competition in the last five years against each other in a winner-takes-all match. As Shane Horgan said on Sky Sports’ The Rugby Club last night, “This is a Heineken Cup semi-final. You don’t get anything for finishing within seven points.” Continue reading

Very Difficult, But Not Impossible

Vern Cotter and Joe Schmidt know each other well and have worked together in the past. If they had a 'good cop/bad cop' routine, I'd imagine that Vern was the 'bad cop'.

One month ago, Vern Cotter took les Jaunards to the South West of France for a dress rehearsal of their Heineken Cup semi-final against Leinster. Continue reading

Signing Contracts And Joined-up Thinking

Ivan Dineen’s blistering performance when allowed off the bench against the Scarlets was an enjoyable feature of a mistake-ridden game and hugely encouraging for fans of the player. To describe Dineen as a peripheral figure over the last two seasons is to do injustice to those peripheral figures in the Munster squad … in truth, with just one start in his Munster career [and that coming a full eighteen months ago] he had more or less slipped off the radar entirely. Continue reading

Heineken Cup Semi-Final Preview: Ulster vs Edinburgh

There were quite a few people who picked Ulster to knock over Munster in the quarter-finals, even though it was played down in Thomond Park, where Munster had been invincible at the quarter-final stage for over a decade … but who were the geniuses that had Edinburgh over Toulouse? Continue reading

Soft Middle

Dan Tuohy (26) takes on Simon Zebo (21) in an emblematic image that shows the differing age profile between the two teams.

The Mole has written before about how the failings of the Munster Academy in the second Declan Kidney era are now affecting the fortunes of the province. While Kidney handed over a hard-nosed championship team to Tony McGahan in June 2008, things weren’t quite so rosy under the surface. Continue reading

Sarries – Three Cheers For Their Quarter Final Whipping

There’s always something satisfying about seeing a big talker being cut down to size, and Saracens home quarter-final loss to Clermont Auvergne was not so much a classic of the genre as merely a run of the mill example. Nevertheless, it was rewarding to watch. Continue reading