From Aquarius to Leo Rising

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“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

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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

4 Up 2013 – Year 3

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That’s a Framer: Robbie Henshaw caps off a memorable week in the Windy City.

We selected four players from the u20 cohort of 2013 in order to follow their progress in a similar manner as applied to their predecessors of 2012. One player was selected from each province. All the players selected from 2013 were backs who had started at centre for the Irish u20 team, for two reasons. Firstly, the 2013 backs caught my eye more than the forwards from that year and, secondly, with D’Arcy and O’Driscoll each moving closer to retirement, the starting centre berths at national level would soon become far less competitive after many years.

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Ireland Second Rows in 2016 – The Post-Paul O’Connell Era

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Donnacha Ryan and Devin Toner celebrate Ireland’s victory over the All Blacks in Chicago. They’re neither the most complementary second row partnership that Ireland have fielded in the professional era, nor the most individually talented locks, but they’ve succeeded where more illustrious pairings have failed.

Given the number of headlines sent to print and the variety of plaudits doled out for Ireland’s performances in November, it has been telling that very few of those made a hero of Devin Toner, one of only two Irish players to have gone the full 80 minutes in the three games against Southern Hemisphere opposition.  Continue reading

5 Up 2012 – Year 4

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– “Who wrote that book for you?” -“Who read it to you?!” Can Hendy translate athletic ability into a great career? He had the right example at the right time so he knows how it is done. Fulfilling that potential is the hard part.

We started the 5 Up Series nearly five years ago. We were interested to see how aspiring professional players developed and what factors affected their progress. Five players were chosen: one from each of the provinces and a second, from Leinster, who would have another season at underage level the following year. Continue reading

Napoleon’s Ghost

The force of nature that was Jacques Fouroux directs operations

The force of nature that was Jacques Fouroux directs operations. Les Bleus are 5/1 for the Championship, unthinkable in the 80s and 90s.

One of the most remarkable examples of humanity was born in Corsica in 1769, supported the French Revolution and the formation of the Republic with its ideals of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. Napoleon Bonaparte was a rare combination of will, intellect and physical vigour who reorganised France itself to supply the men and money needed for great wars. Le Petit Caporal ruled France as Emperor for ten years from 1804 and was briefly reinstalled in 1815 before being deposed again. Continue reading