Ireland RWC 2015 Report Card: Part 4, Half Backs

Ireland brought only two scrum halves to this tournament and a third choice outhalf who played very little even in the event of the incumbent getting injured. The national inability to produce international quality scrum halves with any sort of consistency is a mystery to me. Of the twenty scrum halves selected for the last seven Lions tours, only two were Irish and Tomas O’Leary got injured before he could travel.

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No Backs Please, We’re Leinster

Leinster have had an extremely poor league season by their standards, but are still in with a shout in the European Cup. It's a moment of truth, but can the province return to former standards and former glories, or will their continue to chart a declining course?

Leinster have had an extremely poor league season by their standards, but are still in with a shout in the European Cup. It’s a moment of truth, but there’s more scope for disillusionment that there is for restorative belief. Can the province return to former standards and former glories, or will they continue to chart a declining course?

Thus far this season, Leinster have played 19 league matches and only won 9 of them: a .47 winning percentage. That’s quite easily their worst record in a decade. Continue reading

Mad Men

Funny. Even funnier in conjunction with this:Zou bisou bisou. Mwah!

The Mole is a fan of Mad Men, AMC’s breakthrough show that chronicles the goings on at a Madison Avenue advertising agency during the golden age of American capitalism. The main protagonist is Don Draper. Women want him and men want to be him. While the show revolves around Draper’s character, the Mole’s favourite is Roger Sterling; insouciant, charming, funny and often drunk. How can you not like the guy?!

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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

Heineken Cup Final Reaction #1: M’Learned Friends Of The Bench

Cronin scoots in on eighty minutes for the fifth Leinster try. While it must have been hard to take for Ulster fans, Leinster fans will be happy that the team played for the whole match and kept scoring until the final whistle.

Leinster were always going to try and stretch the eighty minutes; one of their major advantages over Ulster lay in the fact that they had more talent on the bench, especially in the pack. The starting eights seemed quite equal on pre-match inspection, but it was obvious that there was a quality disparity in whom the respective coaches could call off the bench.  Continue reading

Leinster’s New Contracts

Leinster announced a huge number of contract extensions together, neatly defusing inspection of new recruits (Denton and Bent) and camouflaging some other calls which might have got more attention in the media were they announced piecemeal.

In the wake of their Heineken Cup semi-final win in Bordeaux against Clermont Auvergne, Leinster have released a statement detailing a whole raft of contract renewals and a few new signings. Continue reading

Ireland’s Giteau

Leinster’s fine unbeaten run was ended last Friday night by a feisty Ospreys team. While the Neath-Swansea outfit were clearly the more powerful team in the second half – aided by the inclusion of their confidence-charged Welsh Grand Slammers – there were a couple of performances worthy of further discussion from the Leinster midfield backs. Continue reading

Leinster v Llanelli: Match Preview

Leinster lie waaay out in front in the RaboDirect 12 and seem assured of a home semi final and home final, should they win that match. Huge kudos must go to Joe Schmidt who, after an unimpressive start with the province, has his squad purring nicely. The whole Leinster organisation is operating smoothly at present, with the recruitment of Brad Thorn for the remainder of the season the latest piece of positive news. Continue reading