Thursday, April 26, 2012

Are we going to be enjoying the full Irish at Twickenham on the 19th of May?

We’ll begin at the beginning, in Dublin on Saturday, as hoards of Ulstermen, Edinburghians, and a good few Dublanites /Irish fans who simply love rugby, descend on the Aviva Stadium.  It’s the start of the swansong for Ulster’s Brian McLaughlin, taking on Michael Bradleys men, the former Connacht coach no stranger to Lansdowne Road himself.  It’s the furthest any Scots team has got in the competition. I think it’s going to stay the furthest a Scots team has got in the competition. I’ll probably enjoy the match a lot more than Sunday’s fixture – sure I’ll be supporting Ulster, but as a neutral, it’s a lot easier than seeing your own team play. Ulster are the favourites, and have the edge in numbers of internationals, experience of the occasion from last year, most things really. Edinburgh are going to bring passion in spades, but Ulster’s big guns, the likes of Ferris and Pienaar, are going to see them home.

Leinster travel to France to take on Clermont, and while they’ve lost home advantage, they gained the upper hand in the battle to be the biggest underdog. Let’s face it, Ireland would never have beaten Australia last year if we’d been the favourites! That’s just the motivation the teams needs. So you think home advantage counts for everything do you? So you have a squad that was built up a cost that would have settled the Irish debt  crisis? Well, we’ll show you a thing or two!  We have some inside gen on the workings of the team from former Clermont assistant Joel Schmidt. They have some insight from Nathan Hines, who went the other way (not that way), but as it’s been said- he could never remember the line out calls when he was at Leinster anyway, so our secrets are safe. What impressed me about Clermont against Saracens in the last round was their awesome physicality against a pretty huge Sarrries teams, and their refusal to surrender their tryline.

Leinster are going to have to face down the crowd, man up to the physicality, and live with the flair of Clermont’s backline. So no pressure then. However, no matter how the French talk up Leinster, I think they still see us a little Irish team, that’s awesome at home, but quite beatable playing away. That’s our chink of opportunity, that O’Driscoll, Nacewa, Heaslip, Sexton, Kearney and co have to prise open and run a tank through. Are we going to sack Bordeaux? Are we going to make two finals in a row, and probably face the team we’ve already beaten home a and away this season. Personally, I don’ think we have a great chance, but we do have a chance. The pressure on the ref will be enormous, it’s going to be ‘Can I get a scrum reset – yes you can!’, and a physical onslaught not often seen off a battlefield. It’s in the brains trust of Sexton, O’Driscoll, Nacewa, and Kearney that this will be decided.

Heineken Cup
Saturday , April 28
Ulster vs Edinburgh 17:45
Sunday , April 29
Clermont Auvergne vs Leinster 15:00


  1. There was a mention of some lineout calls having been changed. Just in case Hines' memory gets jogged.

  2. Very nice blog you have here.

    Am really looking forward to the Heineken Cup this weekend. I'm a neutral really but I think i'm going to be supporting Clermont.

    Would you be able to add my blog to your blog list please? I have added your's to mine on:

  3. That's done now, even for someone who's going to support Clermont!

  4. It's a pity he ever left - at least we've kept Isa

  5. Cheers mate. For that I will switch allegiance!