Transferring Talent

Eoin O'Malley has had a very promising career cut short mid-stride. With Brian O'Driscoll definitively in his last season and held back due to his summer exertions with the Lions, it's a bad blow to the team as well.

Eoin O’Malley has had a very promising career cut short mid-stride. Serious injury is an ever-present threat in rugby, but it’s impossible to dwell on it and perform at your optimum. O’Malley’s early retirement means that not one of the Leinster players born in 1988 who represented Ireland at U20 level in 2008 – and there were ten of them – are currently contracted to the club.

The argument was made to The Mole recently that Clermont have missed their chance to win the Heineken Cup, with a number of their most prominent players having passed their prime.  Continue reading

Match Reaction: Clermont Auvergne 15 – 19 Leinster

Vintage Drico.

In a raucous and colour-drenched Stade Chaban-Delmas, Leinster edged out French heavyweights Clermonts in an absolute dogfight of a semi-final.  Continue reading

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

Match Reaction: Clermont Auvergne 19 – 15 Ulster

The only team that wins in Clermont is Clermont. That’s one of those local customs that the HSBC “The World’s Local Bank” series of ads never got around to: nobody ever tells you, but you’ll notice if you visit there that nobody but Clermont wins in the Stade Marcel Michelin. Continue reading

Heineken Cup Pool 4

IT’S THE GROUP OF DEATH! It’s scarcely credible that this phrase has taken hold in rugby and managed to survive in commentary. It doesn’t have any notable lineage [for example, it’s not old naval slang or public school code], it’s an enormous overstatement – nobody calls failure to qualify from another group a death, so why should this be a ‘group’ of death? – and it’s really quite crass.

It’s the sort of modern over-statement that doesn’t sit well with rugby, where the method of scoring is still called a ‘try’, and you still have positions like tighthead prop and second five-eighth. If rugby were to adopt the sort of language from which GROUP OF DEATH! has managed to cross over, we’d have Right Scrum Masters, Megaboot Generals and VICTORY TOUCHDOWNS! Continue reading