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

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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

Buy, Rent Or Steal [Or Loan]

The news that Glasgow Warriors have released their Scottish test-capped second row Kieran Low on a loan deal to Saracens  probably didn’t break the internet in the same manner as just about everything else is said to do so these days, but it nevertheless impacted tangentially on something that The Mole had been thinking about over the last few months. Continue reading

No Backs Please, We’re Leinster

Leinster have had an extremely poor league season by their standards, but are still in with a shout in the European Cup. It's a moment of truth, but can the province return to former standards and former glories, or will their continue to chart a declining course?

Leinster have had an extremely poor league season by their standards, but are still in with a shout in the European Cup. It’s a moment of truth, but there’s more scope for disillusionment that there is for restorative belief. Can the province return to former standards and former glories, or will they continue to chart a declining course?

Thus far this season, Leinster have played 19 league matches and only won 9 of them: a .47 winning percentage. That’s quite easily their worst record in a decade. Continue reading

Ruck Marks: Ireland vs Wales 2014

Devin Toner goes high to claim one of the six lineouts he took against Wales. The lineout was the most important set-piece of the game, and dominance in the air paved the way for a resounding Irish victory.

Devin Toner goes high to claim one of the six lineouts he took against Wales. The lineout was the most important set-piece of the game, and dominance in the air paved the way for a resounding Irish victory.

Since Ireland ground Wales into the dirt of Lansdowne Road, the defending Six Nations champions have reclaimed their honour by thumping a patchy – but until that point unbeaten – France in Cardiff. Ireland narrowly lost to England the same weekend in Twickenham, a trial the Welsh have yet to undergo. Continue reading

Wor Roses – Lancaster’s Men

He'll reduce the size of England's midfield but create far more threats

He’ll reduce the size of England’s midfield but create far more threats

“There were over 700 caps in their team and you only have to look at how many British Lions they have. It’s a pretty good side all round at the moment.” Continue reading