Back row problems mount up

September 19, 2011 by

When Aaron Dundon came on for Leo Auva’a (how cool a name is that, by the way?) with 15 minutes or so remaining on Saturday evening, it got me thinking.

Aaron was on the bench ostensibly as back-up to Richardt Strauss, at hooker. Kevin McLaughlin, himself normally a back row player, was playing in the second row, and was cruelly and painfully removed from the pitch on a modified golf-buggy-type stretcher a couple of minutes earlier.

Leinster had already brought on rookie back row player Jordi Murphy for captain Dom Ryan, and were left with little alternative than to play Dundon out of position, when other choices included Jack McGrath (a prop) and Darren Hudson (an academy winger).

With Jamie Heaslip, Sean O’Brien and Shane Jennings all in New Zealand with Ireland’s world cup squad; McLaughlin and Ryan now facing possible long term injuries; and following the retirement of Stephen Keogh and Trevor Hogan (though normally a second row) the most talented pool of back row players at any one team in Ireland has been reduced to a small puddle of academy players, supplemented by out-of-position first team regulars.

It reminded me of the Magners League final 16 months ago against the Ospreys, when Leinster finished with a back row of Heaslip, Strauss and Hogan, or the couple of occasions when Eric Miller and Brian Blaney ended up filling in at centre.

None of those went well.

As a sometime former back row player, I’m nearly tempted bring my boots to the next match!

Beans off the menu at Leinster

March 18, 2011 by

Nathan Hines (It means Beans) will be leaving the RDS this Summer to return to France to play for Clermont. We wish him all the best.

Below from Irish Times

Leinster’s Scotland forward Nathan Hines has signed for French side Clermont-Auvergne for next season. The 35-year-old has signed a one-year deal with an additional one-year option and will join the club after the conclusion of the World Cup in late October.

Hines previously played in the Top 14 for Perpignan between 2005 and 2009.

“It is a tough and passionate league which I was keen to return to,” Hines said today. “When I played for Perpignan, we won the shield but I didn’t play in the final, I was in South Africa (with the British and Irish Lions). That is frustrating but Clermont have offered me another chance to win the shield.

“It is a great team made up of excellent players, an interesting and ambitious club. They have aims in all competitions and notably the Heineken Cup, which is very important to me.”

Hines will win his 72nd cap for Scotland in Saturday’s Six Nations clash with Italy, and has also represented the Lions on four occasions.

Sexton rewarded for fine form with a well-earned rest

February 23, 2011 by

Declan Kidney (or ‘Deccie’, as a number of the ever-so-comfortable Munster contingent seem happy to call him in interviews) revealed his Irish team today, resting Jonny Sexton and picking Ronan O’Gara to face Scotland on Sunday.

The Irish back three once the necessary changes have been made to bring Paddy Wallace on for Tommy Bowe

The sheer bafflement at many of the calls on a number of forums is probably justified. Paddy Wallace will sit on the bench beside Jonny Sexton, ensuring a surfeit of cover for O’Gara should he have to come off. He can also cover for Gordon D’Arcy at 12, and – at a real push – Luke Fitzgerald at 15…however, any injury at 11, 12, 13 or 14 would probably involve a number of backline changes. It got me thinking (for about a nanosecond): who has been the outstanding utility back in Ireland this season? Who has played all four of those positions in the past 2 months? Who made his international debut last month, scored his first international try last week, and might have his confidence shattered by being dropped from the 22 entirely this weekend? Yep, sorry Ferg, but I’ll see you in the 3 Sisters before the match, maybe.

Although it’s probably good from a Leinster point of view that Sexton is on the bench, it’s a bit annoying for me personally. I’ve shelled out a lot of money to go to this game, and now I’ll be subjected to a snorefest of a kicking competition between Ronan O’Gara and Chris (Cheeky Girl Mrs.) Paterson.

Perhaps the most annoying thing about this selection is at scrum half. O’Gara’s going to look class because he’s playing with Reddan (I believe him and Sexton have played 13 minutes together for Ireland in the 6 Nations, ever*) as well as his personal minder, David Wallace. Therefore Wallace won’t bind in the scrum and Ireland will concede penalties there against an 8 man Scoittish shove. Who gets the blame? Healy and Ross, of course.

However, I’ve realised that my annoyance is not unique among rugby fans. For example, on the Comments section in Jamie Heaslip’s Irish Times blog, the following have been posted by irate rugby fans:

Thanks for that Jamie,

Wonderful to get an insight into the true life of a modern professional rugby player and the stresses you face during such an intense campaign.

I would, however, like to highlight one quick point in this particular piece. There is absolutely no mention of Ronan O’Gara whatsoever. Clearly this is an issue that needs to be addressed immediately. ROG should not be playing international (or even high-level club) rugby. He lacks the physical prowess to stand up to even the lightest of breezes. I realise this may not be the ideal place to voice my concerns, but, then again, it is one of the few outlets to which I can gain access. For the sake of Irish rugby, I urge you to ensure that ROG’s career is ended as soon as possible, by whatever means necessary.

I look forward to further support from my peers on this issue.

Regards,

Spenno

Comment by Spencer Mitton

.

Dear Spenno,

Spot on! The sooner the Irish team is rid of all those Munster inbreds the better! Ronan “Turnstile” O’Gara has got to go. In fairness though he’s going to be a big hit for Munster in the Challenged Cup against the like of Dubrovnik RFC or whoever!

Regards,

Deccie

Comment by Declan Gibney

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Oh god O’Gara’s starting against Scotland. Jamie, I sympathise with you because now you’re going to have to spend most of the game protecting the 10 channel instead of doing what you do best. Shame.

Comment by Nelly

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*In his thirteen caps, Jonny Sexton has played with Eoin Reddan for a total of 142 minutes, 55 minutes v Fiji (21/11/09), 11 minutes v France (13/2/10), 10 mins v New Zealand (12/6/10), 64 mins v New Zealand (20/11/10) and 2 minutes v Italy (5/2/11)

Quarter Final calculator

January 20, 2011 by

Someone, French by the looks of it, has put together a Heineken Cup Quarter Final calculator (or calculatrice for the Francophones).

The inventor displays his new creation

Frankly, it’s brilliant.

Click on the link below, fill out your predictions.

I got Perpignan at home for Leinster…I’d settle for that!

http://aulus.pagesperso-orange.fr/hcup.html

Edit: I had predicted a tight, non-bonus point win for the Boys in Blue (rather than the boys in Blue and White hoops), i.e. 1-4 in group points. When I reversed the score (i.e. 4-1 to Racing Metro) cet. par. we got Ulster away. A 4-0, 5-0, 5-1 or 5-2 group points win for Racing Metro or a draw also gave the same result, whereas a 4-0, 4-1, 5-1 or 5-2 win for Leinster also got us Perpignan at home.

For the record, the scores I went for were:

Contepomi to return to Leinster?

January 17, 2011 by

This weekend’s results have left open the mouthwatering prospect of Dr. Phil returning to the RDS/Lansdowne Road with his Toulon side, fresh from a handy win against an ageing, ill-tempered and ultimately clueless Munster side.

As things stand, Leinster are ranked third among the teams that would qualify for the last 8, with Toulon in 6th, meaning that the sides would play each other in a match that would surely be played at Lansdowne Road after the 6 Nations.

The teams currently occupying the top eight spots are:

  1. Toulouse
  2. Northampton
  3. Leinster
  4. Perpignan
  5. Biarritz
  6. Toulon
  7. Leicester
  8. Ulster

Other teams still in with a shout of either winning their group or finishing among the best runners up are Clermont, Bath (though very unlikely), Scarlets and Wasps.

It’s a pretty stellar cast of the best teams in Europe, with all bar three of those 12 having previously contested a European final, and seven having previously won the competition. Further, the three non-finalists are Toulon, Clermont and Scarlets, none of which would be an easy proposition for Leinster.

New Leo and the schooling of Gavin

January 16, 2011 by

Just arrived back in the door from the RDS. What an incredible performance from the boys in blue!

My accumulator on Leinster, Ulster, Toulon, the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers is being ambushed by Biarritz, but after watching Sean O’Brien (or am I required under Irish media law to refer to him as “Tullow native Sean O’Brien”?!) play like that I don’t mind donating a fiver to the Paddy Power benevolent fund!

However, despite the sterling efforts of 22 men in blue (poor Heinke didn’t get a run) there was an impostor wearing blue prancing around the sideline…just who is the new Leo the Lion? Could someone please teach him the following fundamentals of being Leo?:

- There are 4 elements to the gun show, the Arnie, the Usain Bolt, the double fist-pump and the single fist-pump (wrist backwards)

- You never EVER give up mid-gun show because the crowd are not joining in

- It is compulsory to carry (and use) a Bodhran

I did, however, enjoy his  high-fiving of Jared Saunders as the Sarries replacement came back from the half time break.
All that being said, if the 15 on the pitch are going to play like that every week, I don’t care what Leo’s at on the sideline!

As a final note, it was good to see Gavin Henson come back…come back to bench having left it earlier in the match…is there any greater insult than being subbed on, then off again? Perhaps there is: such as when he got dump tackled by Cian Healy; imagine being dumped by a (DJ) Church for the second time in 12 months!

P.S. Since writing this, the Ulstermen have pulled through and kept my bet alive…waheyyyyyy!!!

There’s only one Ricky Hatton… ahem… Brian O’Driscoll

January 14, 2011 by

We will leave the pre match build ups to the likes of Sky and BBC but we did come across this rather funny piece during the week.

The one and only Brian O’Driscoll being confused for… well… the one and only Ricky Hatton. The video speaks for itself.

I like the way Jonny Wilkinson clarifies that he doesn’t usually surprise people in toilets as if there was some doubt in the public’s mind!

And for all you Ricky Hatton fans of which there are quite a few at Points of Blue here’s the Hitman.

I’m sure Jooooooooe would love if the below was adopted by Leinster fans and if you look closely you will prob see the other POB members in the crowd at some of these fights.

New Leinster Song – Dorce Outsoide

January 13, 2011 by

A huge shout to JL Pagano (@HarpinOnRugby) for this great adaptation of Rubberbandits ‘Horse Outside’. Good luck learning it before Saturday! Sung to the tune of the Rubberbandits’ ‘Horse Outside’…..

I play in blue for Leinster, they call me Jonny Ten

I’m lookin for a chance to beat those Munster boys again

I know it won’t be easy, it won’t come as a gift

The loikes of Isa, Drico, Luke & Shags will hafta shift

But they aint getting nowhere without lineout scrum & maul

The loikes of Leo, Jamie, Cian & Sean to win the ball

And when I get that pass from Reds, and see what’s in my way

I’ll drop my shoulder, chorge ahead and this is what I’ll say

I’ll say…

.

Fock your Strings & Warwick I’ve got Dorce outsoide

Fock your Tuitupou I’ve got Dorce outsoide

Fock your Earls & Mafi I’ve got Dorce outsoide

When I’m lookin for a try I’ve got the Dorce outsoide

.

He went to school in Clongowes, then at Lansdowne he was great

He stepped up to the interpros in 1998

Tackles like a demon, blessed with blinding pace

When he got that try at Croker I slagged Ronan to his face!

We’ve got world class backs, down the OarDeeEsh

And our droive for foive showed em all who’s best!

So when we get to Thomond, and I’m facing Wian du Preez

I’ll look that loose-head up and down and give ‘im one of these

I’ll say…

.

Fock your Bull & Quinny I’ve got Dorce outsoide

Fock your Paul O’Connell I’ve got Dorce outsoide

Fock your Fla & Leamy I’ve got Dorce outsoide

When I’m lookin for a try I’ve got the Dorce outsoide

C’mon Gordon D’Arcy, let’s get across that loine

Let’s play those fockers off the pork for yet another toime

And if you think my taunting makes me sound a cruel bloke

Don’t worry; when we all wear green we’ll laugh and have a joke

Cos if rugby had no banter, it wouldn’t be the same

Its fans know how to keep control unlike some other games!

And if Munster thinks theyown this tune, they don’t and here is why

I’ve just got these four words for them – “The Fields of ATHENRY”???!!!

.

EVERYBODY…

Fock your Strings & Warwick I’ve got Dorce outsoide

Fock your Tuitupou I’ve got Dorce outsoide

Fock your Earls & Mafi I’ve got Dorce outsoide

When I’m lookin for a try I’ve got the Dorce outsoide

He’s gonna move inside… He’s gonna cross that line…

He’s gonna beat yiz down in Thomond Pearrrrrk (Limerick accent)

.

lyrics © JL Pagano 2011

Mon Dieu! Heaslip & Sexton to leave Leinster?

January 13, 2011 by

Which of Leinster’s two big stars will be plying their trade abroad next season in France? It is almost certain that at least one of them will be. Both Jamie Heaslip’s and Jonathan Sexton’s respective contracts are up at the end of the season and there have been strong rumours, though he has denied it, that Sexton has been to Paris to see Michael Cheika and even stayed in his apartment. When you hear Philip Browne say at the Ulster Bank sponsorship launch last Monday that the IRFU will not able to keep all the top players here, it looks like he preparing us for some bad news. There was also some media speculation last week that Australian and Waratahs outhalf, Berrick Barnes, was on his way to the RDS next year. Two and two equals ???

It is hard to believe the IRFU and Leinster would let them go but after a World Cup but perhaps they won’t mind as much as long as they are back in the fold in time for the 2015 WC.

I personally find it infuriating that the IRFU would allow such marquee players to leave Leinster. I understand the thinking from the players. They have a relatively short career to earn top money and are under the constant threat of injury therefore they are entitled to seek the top compensation. If Leinster/Ireland are to win European and World honours in the future it is vital to keep our top players. It is time for the IRFU to put up or shut up.

Watch this space. Or alternatively, just ask Jamie Heaslip on twitter.

PS. I am not trying to sensationalise this story but want to express my anger if both of these world class players are not at Leinster next year. I hope the media hype is the work of both players respective agents to secure a better deal much like Wayne Rooney and Manchester United. Until then, allez les bleus.

Clermont v Leinster only on Red Button?

December 6, 2010 by

We just heard that the Clermont v Leinster match this Sunday will only be available by pressing the red button on Sky Sports. Not good news if you are a UPC customer. Make sure to make other arrangements or get to a pub early.

More to follow as we hear it.


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