The Two Faces of French Rugby

Armand Vaquerin_Beziers

Armand Vaquerin raises the Bouclier de Brennus for A.S. Beziers.

How can you avoid generalities when it comes to discussing culture? A culture is by definition shared. The more widespread its reach, the more people who partake in it, the less possible it is to balance the clarity of the specific against the scope of a less definable but more important gestalt. Continue reading

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Maintaining a Lean Squad

Munster SquadMunster typically carry the heaviest squad of the Irish provinces, and their senior panel for the 2018-19 season conforms to type. No fewer than 48 players are listed in the first team squad. That’s a lot of mouths to feed – both in terms of a pay check and in terms of gametime.  Continue reading

Showdown at Ravenhill

Ulster Rugby_Tommy Dickon_INPHO

Ulster are giving their fans something to cheers about after a couple of dreadful seasons where the province has let its supporters down, both on and off the pitch. A real test of their mettle is around the corner when rivals Munster make the trip up to Ravenhill at the weekend.

Munster are travelling up to Ulster on Friday night for the first of the Christmas season interpro series, and The Mole was just struck by the realisation that, at this moment in time, both sides sport identical records for the season: P14 | W9 | D1 | L4 Continue reading

Eddie Jonestown Massacre

Eddie Jones_Miserable

‘Tough times make monkeys eat red peppers’, as Dexter Manley used to say. Someone’s got a mouthful. Nom nom nom!

Everybody keeps passing Eddie Jones shit sandwiches and, refusing to accept them like someone avoiding a summons server, they’re just piling up around him and stinking the place out. But amidst the stink, the prickly little fellah is trying to put a brave face on it“I’m enjoying it, loving it, absolutely loving it.” Continue reading

From Aquarius to Leo Rising

lancaster_nacewa

“OK,young lads against aul fellas. You stay here, Isa.”

In the Age of Aquarius, we looked at Cheika and Schmidt’s selections of young players at Leinster. The article’s genesis was based on another article, specifically the line “Henderson’s progress suggests that one of the prerequisites of a top provincial coach is the willingness to give young players game time and the ability to maintain competitiveness while doing so.Continue reading

It’s Grim Up North: Ulster’s Malaise

 

Les Kiss_Ulster Coach

Les Kiss, the now former Director of Rugby at Ulster, did the state a hell of a lot of service – not in the Charlie Haughey way, and I’m not implying any infringement on the nature of cross-border co-operation in Irish rugby, or unduly politicising his role … Jaysis, probably should just say something else nice about him. I only have so many non-Simpsons quotes though.

It’s been a long time since The Demented Mole shook the dirt off his mighty paws and focused his myopia on once-proud Ulster. There was a background article in the works – there always is, it’s just that time and topicality seem to escape them – before Les Kiss resigned his post, but the timing of his departure set against the background of the Jackson/Olding trial throws the disfunction of the organisation into relief.  Continue reading

Squad to Squad, Tour To World Cup, Japan to Japan

Ireland’s tour to Japan and the US – and Joe Schmidt’s as yet unannounced squad selection – assumed a greater significance when the pools were drawn for RWC19 last Wednesday. This tour was always going to be more relevant than the usual mid-cycle summer tour, which typically functions as a support act to the Hollywood Lions tour, because we knew we’d be competing in Japan in two years’ time; now we know that we’ll also be competing against Japan.  Continue reading