Ulster’s season was marked by drama but lacked tangible achievement. The province started the season in two competitions and ended up playing in four: in two they were competitive [the Pro14 and the Challenge Cup], and in the other two [the Champions Cup and the Rainbow Cup] they were lacklustre.Continue reading
Leinster took their fourth consecutive Pro14 title – and eighth league title overall – with a terse and professional win over close neighbours and long-time rivals Munster in a deserted RDS a couple of weekends ago. The mid-season final brought a sudden close to what has been a strange, arhythmic competition: Glasgow Warriors and Benetton Treviso played out their practically meaningless fixture in Scotstoun at lunchtime on the same day, as if to highlight the ungainly scheduling that saw a league final played just a day after the last match – albeit a rearranged last match – of the Six Nations.Continue reading
When recently announcing the promotion of six players from the academy, Connacht coach Andy Friend was effusive in his praise for 20 year old Buccaneers lock, Niall ‘Bruce’ Murray: “Because he’s tall and lean there’s a bit of a narrative out there that he may not be physical enough. Mate, he’s very physical and he’s very smart too. He’s a good footballer, moves well and a very, very good lineout player defensively.” Continue reading
The demonstration of the Springboks’ scrummaging might in the World Cup Final showed a definite logic behind Joe Schmidt’s pre-occupation with the set-piece prowess of his own second rows. Like the rest of us, Schmidt probably expected that we’d wind up playing South Africa in the quarter-final; hope for the best, plan for the worst and all that. Continue reading
“If we win, we’ll come to the wrong evaluation of the factors that determine victory. If we lose, the reasons are always very clear. Every time we lose, we learn how to build new cars.” – Enzo Ferrari.
What were the lessons to learn from RWC 2019 for Andy Farrell and the group that has become his Irish squad? Continue reading
If you get to the Pro14 final, and you’re not Leinster, odds are that you’re going to face them there. The Big East have appeared in eight of ten finals since the competition adopted the playoff format. Continue reading
Robert Kearney is not given to off-the-cuff comments; there’s a whole Twitter persona — with 86,500 followers! — that is built on that premise. So when, in the immediate aftermath of the Grand Slam victory against England on St Patrick’s Day 2018, he gave a brief interview to Sinead Kissane of Virgin TV in which he said “For the next 18 months, this group and our coaches will have our focus entirely on the World Cup…”, he revealed more than usual in a spot made mandatory by media demands.
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
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