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

What’s Wrong With The Wallabies? Pt.1

Robbie Deans, the former New Zealand international and current head coach of the Wallabies. It’s all his fault, apparently … except it isn’t.

When Robbie ‘Dingo’ Deans announced that he’d crossed the Tasman to take over from John Connolly as head coach of the Wallabies back in December 2007, it was pretty enormous news in New Zealand. Continue reading

Taking A Lead From Ower Gehm

Superstar Sonny-Bill Williams has brought some quality mungo offloading from the northern code, but that’s not all that league can offer union.

The Mole made an ass out of umption and was up soreheaded at 8am to watch a game that didn’t kick off for three hours. Here’s mud in yer eye, REM sleep!  Continue reading

The Big 46 [Sic] Pt.2 – Then Everything Is Wrapped Up In A Neat Little Package

 

The idea that test matches are a neat block of matches played at one level, with Heineken Cup games forming another distinct grouping a step down from that in intensity, speed, skill levels, physicality, time allowed in possession and tactical appreciation – and Pro12 matches a discrete block a further notch down from those Heineken Cup games – is one to which The Mole doesn’t subscribe. Continue reading

Losing Your Linchpin

Sure, there are a lot of moving parts in a team and they all have to do their job, but some are more vital than others.

Many moons ago, when the Mole was a nipper and student transport offered only two options – the heel-toe express or the push bike – to get to training or school or any of the other ‘priorities’ of our young lives, he learned all about the linchpin. Uniquely shaped [square at the top and tapering smoothly within its two inches to a round threaded base], the linchpin connected the crank-arm of the pedal through the centre of the big cogs of the front chain ring to the joint of the frame where the seat tube met the down tube. It seemed insignificant in the overall use of a bicycle: it wasn’t a wheel which covered the ground, and it wasn’t a pedal which took the weight. But without a linchpin, the bike wouldn’t go. You couldn’t apply power and you couldn’t cover ground. Continue reading

Match Reaction #3: Another One For The Reel Of Infamy

Andy Dufresne and lovely Rita.

“Me? My lawyer fucked me. Everybody’s innocent in here. Didn’t you know that?” 

As Declan Kidney said in the aftermath, you can only control what you can control. It’s no news that Nigel Owens comes down on the side of the hometown team more often than not; Ireland, Munster and Leinster have all profited by it before on their own patch. Continue reading

Match Reaction #2: Absent Friends

O’Connell and Heaslip: how’s about you do your job, and I do my job?

It’s strange to say that somebody who’s only winning his second cap could teach somebody who has been to three World Cups and two Lions Tours a thing or two, but one of the odd pleasures of this second test was not seeing Paul O’Connell carry static, one-out ball into contact and go to ground. Brodie Retallick didn’t get on the ball much: he just went around charging into rucks and bashing things.  Continue reading