Ireland RWC15 Report Cards, Pt.1 – Front Rows

Is the RWC the be all and end all? No it’s not – but it’s a useful benchmark, amongst other things. I shake my head sometimes at the Ghosts of World Cups Past that haunt every step of the tournament and what inferences can be drawn from some coincidental detail. Cup rugby is unforgiving because it’s knock out: so one bad game, an unsympathetic referee, a series of unfortunate injuries, and you’re out … with no shot at redemption. Continue reading

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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

Match Reaction: South Africa U20s 19 – 23 Ireland U20s

The Irish U20s celebrate a cracking opening day win over hosts South Africa in the Junior World Championships. They led 13-3 at halftime and withheld a ferocious early second half onslaught to calmly see out the game. 

A win against a Bok U20 team on home soil is an enormous result – normally at this age-group, the physical advantage of the South Africans over their Irish counterparts is even more pronounced than at test level, but a hard-nosed Irish pack got down and dirty and showed outstanding toughness, effort and discipline to take the game away from the Boks. Continue reading

5 Up 2012 – JWC Edition

Luke McGrath gets the ball away under pressure for Ireland U18s against England U18s last season. McGrath has another season at U20 next year and looks like he has the game-management and decision-making skills to be a genuine international prospect at senior level with another couple of seasons under his belt.

With the IRB Junior World Championship kicking off on Monday, we thought we’d come back to the 5 Up article that was written in the aftermath of the U20 Six Nations. Continue reading