Match Preview: Ireland vs New Zealand @ Hamilton

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

New Zealand 22 – 19 Ireland: Match Reaction #1

Ireland’s tempo and intensity was where it needed to be, but the team didn’t show much cutting edge out wide. There’s room for improvement as to how we play once we have the ball.

While this was a very good performance from Ireland, it’s not as though it can’t be improved upon. In some ways it was similar to the 15-6 win over Australia in RWC11 – you couldn’t fault the intensity of the players on the pitch, or the decisions made by the management in selection or substitution, but tactically there’s still quite a lot of ground for improvement. That’s encouraging. It’d be downright grim if you had played as well as you could possibly play and not beaten a team who weren’t at their best. Continue reading

Corporate Governance

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft with quarterback Tom Brady. Tom Terrific knows a thing or two about keeping an even keel when times are good … and maintaining it when they’re not so good as well.

As Tom Brady has said many times, don’t get too up when you’re up or too down when you’re down. The New England Patriots quarterback knows all about winning and losing – he’s got three Super Bowl rings, but has recently been on the end of two losses in the NFL’s biggest game.  Continue reading

Match Reaction: New Zealand 42 – 10 Ireland

Israel Dagg didn’t bag a hat-trick of tries, but he was just as damaging to Irish hopes. His much-anticipated match-up with Rob Kearney was a blow-out.

Ireland started their three test series against New Zealand with enterprise and verve, but the All Blacks were able to stand up well to the twenty-five minute onslaught, bought a lead with a couple of long-range Dan Carter penalties and then utterly took over, wrapping up the game before half-time. Continue reading

Match Preview: New Zealand vs Ireland, First Test

Ireland are facing into a tough test match a long way from home on Saturday. They should park it at that and forget about everything else surrounding the game. It doesn’t really matter that the Kiwis are world champions: they always turn out top quality teams … and besides, they’re missing a significant number of the team that won the trophy. Continue reading

The Man Who Fell To Earth

Jeremy Staunton: not only could he have been a contender, he should have been a champion. How Irish rugby failed one of the most talented players of his generation is still beyond me.

The Mole read an anecdote about Jeremy Staunton on a message board about four or five months ago, and it has stuck with him since: an Irish rugby fan was at Welford Road with his English Tigers fan mate for a Premiership game, and Staunton was introduced off the bench relatively early in the match. “Great, Staunton,” the Tigers fans said to his mate, “no more tries.” Continue reading

U Mad Bro?

It’s only a matter of time before the word ‘embattled’ becomes synonymous with Irish coach Declan Kidney. He’s coming off the back of Ireland’s least successful Six Nations since the 2008 edition that caused Eddie O’Sullivan to hand in his resignation. Bringing an outgunned squad down to New Zealand for an end of season [well, end of the Northern Hemisphere season] three test tour against the world champion All Blacks is hard enough, but when you take into account the injury problems that are already mounting up – Paul O’Connell, Tommy Bowe, Stephen Ferris, Luke Fitzgerald, Tom Court and Isaac Boss are all out and would certainly have made the flight were they fit, and Munster’s Felix Jones would probably have travelled – then it looks like a ‘Tour From Hell’ scenario. Continue reading