Match Reaction #1: Leinster 25 – 3 Montpellier

Leinster eased into a home quarter-final fixture in an odd sort of game against last year’s Top 14 runners-up, Montpellier. Saturday lunchtime at the RDS is better than Sunday brunch at Firhill, but not by much; Leinster have kicked off four of their six group games before 2pm, which doesn’t do much for the atmosphere. Coupled with the lack of big-name opposition – and to speak frankly, outright quality – in the group, it has been a relatively undistinguished qualification campaign compared to last season’s block-busting efforts against the best that the English and French could muster.  Continue reading

Another Round Of Heino, Please

Another Round Of Heineken, Please

Orange and Canal+ executives must have been appalled by the carnage among the Top 14 clubs in the first weekend of the H Cup 2011. French rugby should be on the crest of a wave following the RWC2011 renaissance but Clermont, Racing, Castres, Biarritz all bit the dust, with Toulouse the only French H Cup winners on the weekend. In truth new-boys Montpellier salvaged the pride of Les Tricouleurs rugby with a gutsy draw against European champions Leinster, which could even have been a victory.  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

Heineken Cup Pool 2

Xavier Rush - enormous value for Cardiff over the years

Group 2 Preview

Cardiff are a team with something of an amorphous personality. It’s not that they’re schizophrenic – nothing as severe or interesting as that. It’s just that, having been under the gruff management of Dai Young for almost a decade [2002-2011], they’re an outfit that has been moulded in his image. Continue reading