Paul O’Connell: hugely missed by the team against Argentina, the captain will be hugely missed by every Irish rugby fan when the Six Nations rolls around. It’s not that I’m predicting we’ll go to pot without him there, it’ll just be really odd to go to Lansdowne Road with the knowledge that he won’t ever be back on the pitch in green.
The row was a young man’s game in this tournament; the oldest of the starting locks at the semi-final stage was the 27 year old Whitelock, a player for whom The Mole has had a special regard ever since he was the only All Black not voted into the New Zealand Herald’s RWC11 ‘Team of the Tournament’ by the paper’s readership. The 38 year old Victor “Matlock” Matfield sought to scourge the young ‘uns from the bench as Ireland bid au revoir to one of its favourite sons. Continue reading →
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 →
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 →
Neither coach covered himself in glory at the weekend. While Ben Mowen’s shutdown of Mike Phillips was a highly successful tactic, that has to be balanced with Deans’ selection of James O’Connor as outhalf and placekicker. Continue reading →
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 →
Mick O’Driscoll leads his team off the pitch at the Liberty Stadium. Munster had just suffered their worst defeat in eight years in his last game for the province he represented more than two hundred times. He deserved better.
Munster confirmed a semi-final date against the Ospreys in Liberty Stadium with a facile win over a half-baked Ulster side full of youngsters, but injuries to Paul O’Connell and Damien Varley will seriously hurt their chances of success. Continue reading →
An Irish derby quarter-final in Thomond Park really re-enforces the fact that Ulster have finally emerged from a decade-long slump. They fought their way through a difficult but fortunately timetabled group, and after a rocky start to the season are now on something of a run, having won their last four games. Continue reading →