Is the RWC the be all and end all? No it’s not – but it’s a useful benchmark, amongst other things. I shake my head sometimes at the Ghosts of World Cups Past that haunt every step of the tournament and what inferences can be drawn from some coincidental detail. Cup rugby is unforgiving because it’s knock out: so one bad game, an unsympathetic referee, a series of unfortunate injuries, and you’re out … with no shot at redemption.Continue reading →
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 →
Eoin O’Malley has had a very promising career cut short mid-stride. Serious injury is an ever-present threat in rugby, but it’s impossible to dwell on it and perform at your optimum. O’Malley’s early retirement means that not one of the Leinster players born in 1988 who represented Ireland at U20 level in 2008 – and there were ten of them – are currently contracted to the club.
The argument was made to The Mole recently that Clermont have missed their chance to win the Heineken Cup, with a number of their most prominent players having passed their prime. Continue reading →
Cian Healy bursts through the Glasgow defense in the Heineken Cup fixture between the sides at Firhill. Leinster have more weapons all over the pitch than Glasgow, and will be looking to avenge the regular season loss at the RDS.
Glasgow will pitch up at the RDS on Saturday intent on repeating the mid-September upset that saw them run out 19-23 winners. They’ll try to forget the 38-13 shellacking they took a couple of months later in the Heineken Cup, when Leinster’s front-liners cleaned their clock and had run up four tries before halftime. 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 →
Apart from the breakfast time start, there was something different about this game and its aftermath. It was the realisation that this had gone as well as you might have wished. Over the years, Ireland have sometimes failed to deliver and have sometimes got the result but with caveats and qualifications attached. This result ensured qualification and suggested more. Continue reading →