Match Reaction #2: Leinster vs Cardiff

The Cardiff Blues brought a knife to a gunfight at Lansdowne Road, and were absolutely hockeyed off the pitch in the first half. They saved some pride with a hard-fought if uninspiring performance in the second forty, but were ultimately held scoreless for 78 minutes, having opened the game with a Leigh Halfpenny penalty.  Continue reading

Match Reaction #1: Munster vs Ulster

Ulster performed an astonishing smash-and-grab raid in the first half-hour at Thomond park, then stuck around to take an absolute walloping from the suddenly awakened and irate home-owners before finally staggering away with the spoils. Continue reading

HEC Quarter-Final Preview: Munster vs Ulster

An Irish derby quarter-final in Thomond Park really re-enforces the fact that Ulster have finally emerged from a decade-long slump. They fought their way through a difficult but fortunately timetabled group, and after a rocky start to the season are now on something of a run, having won their last four games. Continue reading

Dumper Dumps/Dumped – Part The Third

McGahan lost a serious chunk of the Munster fanbase in the course of eighty minutes. It mightn't have been fair, but it happened.

However, the arc of McGahan’s tenure, and the feeling with which he was regarded by Munster fans, changed unalterably over the space of eighty minutes.  Continue reading

Provincial Success ≠ International Success

While Irish fans [in particular] might be a little bit too much in love with the Heineken Cup as a format – I’d argue that they’re not, and that it’s a brilliant, hard-fought competition of an extremely high standard – the fact remains that it is the second tier of professional rugby in the northern hemisphere, below only international competition. Continue reading

Pools Become Shark Pits

Mallinder is the swimmer

So now, after just two weeks, there are only seven teams left unbeaten and some of the Pools are being to look tasty. Toulouse are still France’s finest, whilst Harlequins hold the flag for St George. Munster and Leinster are still there for the ‘oul sod’, but the Welsh continue their great start with all three still unbeaten – even if it took a 50m last minute kick from 20-year old substitute Matthew Morgan on his Heineken Cup debut to keep Ospreys afloat in Italy against Treviso. Continue reading

Glasgow – A Coach’s Dilemma

Probably a bit far-fetched

There’s no doubt that Sean Lineen, coach of the Glasgow Warriors, would have been delighted by the outcome of the first Heineken Cup Pool game last weekend. A home win is almost essential to further progress in the competition, but this is particularly true when your December back-to-back games are against a team who finished runners-up in the prestigious Top 14 competition in France less than 6 months ago. Continue reading