Rag Trading

Mike Cheik 1-2, 1-2

Mike Cheik 1-2, 1-2

Writing the Age of Aquarius made me review my take on Michael Cheika’s time in charge of Leinster and to revalue the impact he had on the province. Perhaps because his Heineken Cup triumph was linked in my mind to Brian O’Driscoll and Rocky Elsom both having great seasons, I missed a lot that was hidden in plain sight. Continue reading

Silver Haired Silver Ferns

Hansen, so hot right now. Hansen.

Hansen, so hot right now. Hansen.

The Sydney Bledisloe cup game pitted the reigning world champions NZ against, as always, Australia. NZ enter every RWC as favourite and this time round is no exception, they’re 13/10 with my turf accountant, taking up 43.5% of the book. Australia’s price is now 8/1, in from 9/1 after winning at the weekend, which is about 11% of the same book. Continue reading

The Mole’s World Cup Diary

Ireland's scrum half corps for the RWC get ready for a hot chocolate and an afternoon nap. He likes an afternoon nap does Conor Murray.

Ireland’s scrum half corps for the RWC get ready for a hot chocolate and an afternoon nap. He likes an afternoon nap does Conor Murray.

The first articles we penned were just over four years ago on the eve of a world cup, a time when we wrote about Isaac Boss, international outcast, making the panel for RWC11. Bossy is still at it, busy making Ireland’s scrum half cohort for the 2015 jamboree resemble the Last of the Summer Wine cast. Continue reading

5 Up 2014 – Year 1

Jack O'Donoghue's got a nose for the try line

Jack O’Donoghue’s got a nose for the try line

The third year of the 5 Up Series followed five players in four provinces. In the second year of the series we concentrated on midfielders for reasons outlined at the time. In this year there was a preponderance of back row players, or back five if you’d rather categorise Sean O’Brien as a second row as we did.

At the beginning of each series the players are bound together by age-grade representative rugby for the national team. Those ties are temporary and, while not exactly going their separate ways, there is a greater diversity of experience in the subsequent seasons.
Continue reading

4 Up 2013 – Year 2

Robbie Henshaw took to international rugby pretty quickly and earned a Championship medal in his first full season.

Robbie Henshaw took to international rugby pretty quickly and earned a Championship medal in his first full season.

We selected four players from the u20 cohort of 2013 in order to follow their progress in a similar manner as applied to their predecessors of 2012. One player was selected from each province. All the players selected from 2013 were backs, who had started at centre for the Irish u20 team, for two reasons. Firstly, the 2013 backs caught my eye more than the forwards from that year and, secondly, with D’Arcy and O’Driscoll each moving closer to retirement, the starting centre berths at national level would soon become far less competitive after many years. 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

5 Up 2012 – Year 3

Like many of his generation Conor Gilsenan headed to London for employment.

Like many of his generation Conor Gilsenan headed to London for employment.

We started the 5 Up Series three 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