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

LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS [Little Bit Of Time For Actually Talking About The Match That’s Currently On] LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS etc.

Dylan Hartley and Rory Best went  head to head last Friday night and there was only one - LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS

Dylan Hartley and Rory Best went head to head last Friday night and there was only one – LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS LIONS

The Mole was recently moved to speak out in defense of Sky Sports in a social situation. Suffice it to say that said defense went down just about as well as Randy Marsh’s appearance on Wheel of Fortune. Ohhhhhhhh. “Naggers”. 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

Our Friends From The North Pt.2 – Roger Wilson: 233 for 1

Roger Wilson bursts through a gap for Northampton. The two-time Ulster Player of the Year has returned to his home province, having spent four busy years with the Saints. It will be interesting to see if his performances in the white No8 jersey can push him forward for international contention, or if there’s too much track worn off the tires.

Roger Wilson: since making his debut for Ulster as a 21-year old in September 2002, the Belfast-born No8 has played an enormous amount of professional rugby. In five seasons with Ulster he played 116 games [101 starts] and since moving to Northampton at the end of the 2007-08 season he hasn’t let up, playing 117 games [108 starts] for the Saints. In total, he has played 46 Heineken Cup games, all but one of them from kick-off.

How many tests for Ireland has he played? One. Against Japan. Seven years ago.  Continue reading

Our Friends From The North Pt.1 – Chris Henry’s Coming To Dinner

Chris Henry predicts the number of minutes he’ll get off the bench for Ireland next season.

What looks like having been the sole dog day of the summer fell a month to the day after Ireland’s dismal 60-0 drubbing. Continue reading

Ulster: A Season At The Brink Or A Place At The Top Table?

“Stand Up For The Ulstermen” rings out and Stephen Ferris is all ears. Having had a taste of Heineken Cup knock-out rugby over the last two seasons, Ulster will be looking to get to the top of the mountain next season. Do they have what it takes?

Ulster are a fine team who got into the Heineken Cup final on merit: they beat ASM Clermont Auvergne, Leicester and Munster [in Thomond Park, no less] in the competition, a very worthy set of scalps in any season.  Continue reading