The RWC being hosted so close to home meant that I was bound to travel, particularly with the previous edition being in NZ and the next in Japan. I decided that Cardiff would be the most likely destination for Ireland to see some decisive action and booked the necessary for the France game and both quarters. Continue reading
This was the Joe Schmidt show and because of that a lot of people hoped for the best. The Kiwi seems an intense, genuine man who cares about what he does and who has a lot of integrity. Riding shotgun with him were Les Kiss, the affable Aussie headed to Ulster and Simon Easterby, the Yorkshireman with sixty five caps for Ireland. Continue reading
Ireland brought only two scrum halves to this tournament and a third choice outhalf who played very little even in the event of the incumbent getting injured. The national inability to produce international quality scrum halves with any sort of consistency is a mystery to me. Of the twenty scrum halves selected for the last seven Lions tours, only two were Irish and Tomas O’Leary got injured before he could travel.
Tommy Bowe: Probably one of, if not the most, popular players on the team, and one of the most accomplished. Beside being the second highest test try-scorer in the history of Irish rugby – behind only Brian O’Driscoll – Bowe is also a five test Lion, a double IRUPA Player of the Year [2008 and 2010] and a former Six Nations Player of the tournament .
A comment I saw recently that I really liked was “We still obsess about ‘ball carriers’ instead of ‘ball players'”. This back row selection paled by comparison with the original 2011 selection of O’Brien, Heaslip, Ferris, Leamy and David Wallace (who of course missed out through injury). They didn’t lack for effort but couldn’t bring the same impact as that quintet in their pomp. Continue reading
The row was a young man’s game in this tournament; the oldest of the starting locks at the semi-final stage was the 27 year old Whitelock, a player for whom The Mole has had a special regard ever since he was the only All Black not voted into the New Zealand Herald’s RWC11 ‘Team of the Tournament’ by the paper’s readership. The 38 year old Victor “Matlock” Matfield sought to scourge the young ‘uns from the bench as Ireland bid au revoir to one of its favourite sons. Continue reading
Is the RWC the be all and end all? No it’s not – but it’s a useful benchmark, amongst other things. I shake my head sometimes at the Ghosts of World Cups Past that haunt every step of the tournament and what inferences can be drawn from some coincidental detail. Cup rugby is unforgiving because it’s knock out: so one bad game, an unsympathetic referee, a series of unfortunate injuries, and you’re out … with no shot at redemption. Continue reading
The English team that started against Wales had 483 caps after the game split between 395 starts and 88 appearances from the bench, 180 caps short of Lancaster’s target of 663. That total of 663 caps requires an average of just over 44 caps per man. Pop quiz – how many players that started have more caps than that? Bonus round – name them. Continue reading
The game against Canada went as well as anyone could have hoped and the Mole has to go back to 1991 for as satisfactory an opening Irish fixture in a World Cup. Continue reading