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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Match Reaction: Clermont Auvergne 15 – 19 Leinster

Vintage Drico.

In a raucous and colour-drenched Stade Chaban-Delmas, Leinster edged out French heavyweights Clermonts in an absolute dogfight of a semi-final.  Continue reading

HEC Semi-final Preview: Clermont vs Leinster

Heaslip dots down under the sticks in the 2010 quarter-final classic. Given that it's only a couple of weeks more than two years later, the two teams are dominated by the same players who took the field in that stormer of a game. That night it was Leinster who hung on by the slenderest of margins, even given home field advantage ... will it go the other way this time around?

The Clermont Auvergne vs Leinster semi-final pits two of the best teams to grace European competition in the last five years against each other in a winner-takes-all match. As Shane Horgan said on Sky Sports’ The Rugby Club last night, “This is a Heineken Cup semi-final. You don’t get anything for finishing within seven points.” Continue reading

Tighthead Locks

Stuff Tighthead Locks Love #1: Mauling

The Mole had a right little outburst of smug chuckling when Will Greenwood described kick-offs as ‘almost like a new set-piece’ in his analysis of the Munster vs Northampton HEC Round 6 tie. And he is moved to a similarly snide smirk at Gavin Cummiskey’s article in yesterday’s Irish Times.

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Nathan Hines Does The Octopus

You’d have to have a hard, hard heart – or be an Ulster fan – not to find this funny. Nathan Hines manages to keep Stephen Ferris, Johann Muller and Pedrie Wannenberg [as Gorilla Monsoon would have said, “weighing in at a combined weight of 709 lbs”] out of the game for a good thirty seconds … and all on his own!

There’s hanging out of someone’s jersey, and then there’s this phenomenal bit of scallywagging. One of the great nuisances of the professional rugby era has just painted his masterpiece.