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

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Transferring Talent

Eoin O'Malley has had a very promising career cut short mid-stride. With Brian O'Driscoll definitively in his last season and held back due to his summer exertions with the Lions, it's a bad blow to the team as well.

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

The Dying Days Of The Diddymen

The Leinster second-string backline head out to training. They’re very keen on playing on tightly-mown surfaces, both so that their flashy skills and quick feet are in evidence and so that they can actually see each other. It’d be like patrolling in Vietnam if they had to play in a meadow. Because they’re all midgets, y’see?

There’s nothing inherently noble or right about having a small backline, rather than one composed of enormous, planet-boshing mutants. When old-timers quote the gospel that rugby is a sport for all shapes and sizes, they conveniently forget that a good big ‘un will always beat a good little ‘un.  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