Ireland Second Rows in 2016 – The Post-Paul O’Connell Era

toner-ryan_new-zealand

Donnacha Ryan and Devin Toner celebrate Ireland’s victory over the All Blacks in Chicago. They’re neither the most complementary second row partnership that Ireland have fielded in the professional era, nor the most individually talented locks, but they’ve succeeded where more illustrious pairings have failed.

Given the number of headlines sent to print and the variety of plaudits doled out for Ireland’s performances in November, it has been telling that very few of those made a hero of Devin Toner, one of only two Irish players to have gone the full 80 minutes in the three games against Southern Hemisphere opposition.  Continue reading

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Ireland RWC 2015 Report Card: Part 7, Brains Trust

Kinda looks like 1/4. And keeps up our teapot theme for this review.

Kinda looks like 1/4. And keeps up our teapot theme for this review.

This was the Joe Schmidt show and because of that a lot of people hoped for the best. The Kiwi seems an intense, genuine man who cares about what he does and who has a lot of integrity. Riding shotgun with him were Les Kiss, the affable Aussie headed to Ulster and Simon Easterby, the Yorkshireman with sixty five caps for Ireland. Continue reading

4 Up 2013 – Year 1

Stuart Olding hot steps over from 40m against Treviso. I love Andrew Trimble’s reaction as he crosses the line!

Intro

We selected four players from the u20 cohort of 2013 in order to follow their progress in a similar manner as applied to their predecessors of 2012. One player was selected from each province. All the players selected from 2013 were backs, who had started at centre for the Irish u20 team, for two reasons. Firstly, the 2013 backs caught my eye more than the forwards from that year and, secondly, with D’Arcy and O’Driscoll each moving close to retirement, the starting centre berths at national level would soon become far less competitive after many years. Continue reading

Ruck Marks: England vs Ireland 2014

Conor Murray and Andrew Trimble make an effective last ditch tackle on England Wing Johnny May to prevent a certain try early in the game.

Conor Murray and Andrew Trimble make an effective last ditch tackle on England wing Johnny May to prevent a certain try early in the game [photo copyright – Mark Pain].

Narrow margins! England versus Ireland was a high intensity game, and a different standard to the rest of the championship thus far. English coach Stuart Lancaster isn’t given to exaggeration, and his description of the game as “a real test match” was both accurate and, in its way, laudatory. The action was genuinely high-paced for much of the 80 minutes, and with that came individual errors from a lot of players on both sides of the pitch. Unrelentingly high impact collisions from gun to tape will do that to you. Continue reading