Connacht Locks

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

Janus 19|20 – The Second Row

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

Leinster’s League


Leinster ground and brutalised their way to a sixth league trophy in a manner that was redolent of Joe Schmidt’s Ireland at their peak. Up against a raucous hometown crowd in a tight stadium on a wet day, the reigning champions measured pragmatism against ambition and tuned their game to the key of W.  Just win, baby. 

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

Selecting Ireland’s RWC Squad

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.

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Showdown at Ravenhill

Ulster Rugby_Tommy Dickon_INPHO

Ulster are giving their fans something to cheers about after a couple of dreadful seasons where the province has let its supporters down, both on and off the pitch. A real test of their mettle is around the corner when rivals Munster make the trip up to Ravenhill at the weekend.

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

Eddie Jonestown Massacre

Eddie Jones_Miserable

‘Tough times make monkeys eat red peppers’, as Dexter Manley used to say. Someone’s got a mouthful. Nom nom nom!

Everybody keeps passing Eddie Jones shit sandwiches and, refusing to accept them like someone avoiding a summons server, they’re just piling up around him and stinking the place out. But amidst the stink, the prickly little fellah is trying to put a brave face on it“I’m enjoying it, loving it, absolutely loving it.” Continue reading

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