The idea that test matches are a neat block of matches played at one level, with Heineken Cup games forming another distinct grouping a step down from that in intensity, speed, skill levels, physicality, time allowed in possession and tactical appreciation – and Pro12 matches a discrete block a further notch down from those Heineken Cup games – is one to which The Mole doesn’t subscribe. Continue reading →
Steve Hansen was right: New Zealand didn’t play that well in the Christchurch test. Some of that was forced on them by an aggressive, hard-nosed Irish performance, but they also made a number of unforced errors. Ireland didn’t perform cleverly or with the required level of concentration and aggression in a number of areas in the Auckland test [especially after the first half hour] and as a result handed New Zealand not just the result, but also the big performance. England caved in a similar way in Lansdowne Road in 2011, and let Ireland play close to their potential. Continue reading →
O’Connell and Heaslip: how’s about you do your job, and I do my job?
It’s strange to say that somebody who’s only winning his second cap could teach somebody who has been to three World Cups and two Lions Tours a thing or two, but one of the odd pleasures of this second test was not seeing Paul O’Connell carry static, one-out ball into contact and go to ground. Brodie Retallick didn’t get on the ball much: he just went around charging into rucks and bashing things. Continue reading →
The Mole was fortunate enough to do a postgrad with a number of interesting, well-rounded people. At the weekends, they would pursue pleasant, sociable activities. The Mole would play matches of a Saturday and spend most Sundays hungover, like a good ol’ stereotype. What would it be like to pursue pleasant, sociable activities with well-rounded people? Where would the nerves come into play? That blood pumping, stomach churning switched-on feeling of a Saturday morning that served as a precursor to the main event. You’d miss it. Continue reading →
Heaslip dots down under the sticks in the 2010 quarter-final classic. Given that it's only a couple of weeks more than two years later, the two teams are dominated by the same players who took the field in that stormer of a game. That night it was Leinster who hung on by the slenderest of margins, even given home field advantage ... will it go the other way this time around?
The Clermont Auvergne vs Leinster semi-final pits two of the best teams to grace European competition in the last five years against each other in a winner-takes-all match. As Shane Horgan said on Sky Sports’ The Rugby Club last night, “This is a Heineken Cup semi-final. You don’t get anything for finishing within seven points.” Continue reading →
The Cardiff Blues brought a knife to a gunfight at Lansdowne Road, and were absolutely hockeyed off the pitch in the first half. They saved some pride with a hard-fought if uninspiring performance in the second forty, but were ultimately held scoreless for 78 minutes, having opened the game with a Leigh Halfpenny penalty. Continue reading →