Ruck Marks – Ireland’s Autumn Series

Paul O'Connell's expression says it all. Ireland were seconds away from a first win over New Zealand in history, but it was snatched out of their hands.

Paul O’Connell’s expression says it all. Ireland were seconds away from a first win over New Zealand in the history of games between the two countries, but it was snatched out of their hands.

Amidst no small dollop of carping and moaning about what a pain in the arse it was, we mentioned at the end of the last Ruck Marks article that we’d try and run a similar exercise using Ireland’s November tests as our subjects. We surprised ourselves by actually carrying this through [just like we carried through our tag index … all the way up to ‘D’] with a Boxeresque appetite for dumb labour. Continue reading

Ruck Marks

Ruck Marks

About four or five months ago, The Mole became interested in finding a way to analyse and attribute value to the work done by each player at ruck and breakdown. Continue reading

Attempted Burglary Thwarted

Leigh Halfpenny had a very, very long kick at the end of the game to snatch the match for the Lions. If he'd managed to get it, the Lions would have got away with robbery.

Leigh Halfpenny had a very, very long kick at the end of the game to snatch the match for the Lions. If he’d managed to get it, the Lions would have got away with robbery.

The Lions had a last minute kick to win the second test that, had it gone over, would have stolen the match from an Australian team that played all the rugby.   Continue reading

Chopper

Gatland has difficult choices ahead of him in terms of filling the backrow positions for the first test ... but he'll probably have even more sleepless nights over the same issue before the second test

Gatland has difficult choices ahead of him in terms of filling the backrow positions for the first test … but he’ll probably have even more sleepless nights over the same issue before the second test.

Judging by how Warren Gatland has been selecting his Lions teams thus far, there’s a strong chance that the lad who played the least rugby of anybody in the squad during the 2012-13 regular season [a mere 584 minutes, and all of them in the Pro12 for a perennial basement outfit] could be the first name on the teamsheet for the most important game of the tour.  Continue reading

What’s Wrong With The Wallabies? Pt.3

“What should I do, God? Should I continue acting the mickey and threatening to go to league every year? If you don’t answer, I’ll take that as a yes.”

Deans has more tangible problems than a sceptical rugby public and a greedy union: he’s got a serious rash of injuries to contend with, and some of his marquee players are not just out of form on the pitch, they’re out of sorts off it. With a shallow playing pool like Australia, that’s a big deal. And it’s not as if the coach is blameless either: some of his selections – and some of his omissions – have hurt the Wallabies’ short-term prospects with little long-term pay-off.  Continue reading

What’s Wrong With The Wallabies? Pt.2

Berrick Barnes [Waratahs], David Pocock [Force], James Horwill [Reds], James O’Connor [Rebels] and Stephen Moore [Brumbies] – a photo like this gives the impression that Australian rugby talent is distributed equally across all five franchises … it isn’t. If they showed five players from each team, you wouldn’t recognise six of the lads wearing Force or Rebels jerseys.

Before we get into the personnel, injury, tactical and discipline problems that have beset the Wallabies in recent times, it’s important to cast a cursory eye over the structure that supports the international team.

The Mole is of the strong opinion that the ARU have eyes bigger than their bellies when it comes to ‘growing the game’. They’ve expanded for the sake of expanding, not for the sake of winning more trophies.

Continue reading

What’s Wrong With The Wallabies? Pt.1

Robbie Deans, the former New Zealand international and current head coach of the Wallabies. It’s all his fault, apparently … except it isn’t.

When Robbie ‘Dingo’ Deans announced that he’d crossed the Tasman to take over from John Connolly as head coach of the Wallabies back in December 2007, it was pretty enormous news in New Zealand. Continue reading