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

toner-ryan_new-zealand

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

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

The Man in the Middle

Rubber Ducky, are you there?

Rubber Ducky, are you there?

As an occasional listener to sports radio, I’m often surprised by how much complaining is done post-match about the refereeing decisions. The ref got this wrong, he got that wrong ad infinitum. Given that there are many games each weekend in many codes, this allows for the same conversation to play itself out for hours over the course of the season with the names changing and the conclusion staying constant: the decision is made, the result stands. “They can complain all they want but France are going to the World Cup. Get over it.Continue reading