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

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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

Buy, Rent Or Steal [Or Loan]

The news that Glasgow Warriors have released their Scottish test-capped second row Kieran Low on a loan deal to Saracens  probably didn’t break the internet in the same manner as just about everything else is said to do so these days, but it nevertheless impacted tangentially on something that The Mole had been thinking about over the last few months. Continue reading

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

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 Transfer Window Has Opened

Andrew Conway, the youngest player in the Leinster senior squad, is on his way to Munster next season.

Andrew Conway, the youngest player in the Leinster senior squad, is on his way to Munster next season.

Amidst the media furore, recriminations, denials, Twitter shit-slinging and overuse of the word ‘floodgates’ that surrounded Johnny Sexton’s move to Racing Metro, another ground-breaking move has gone largely under the radar.  Continue reading

Our Friends From The North, Pt.3 – Ryan Caldwell And The Lessons He Could Teach You

Ryan Caldwell breaks away from Mamuka Gorgodze in Bath’s 2011-12 Heineken Cup clash against Montpellier.

Some time ago we published a couple of articles about Ulster-born players Chris Henry and Roger Wilson. Apparently it was going to be a four-part series [or so we claimed], except we never bothered to post anything after the first two chapters. That’d be the sands of time slipping through the gnarled fingers of Old Man Editorial Control. Wait a minute – that makes no sense. In the words of Dexys, plus ça changeContinue 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