Thursday, May 3, 2012

The league stage of the Rabid Direct closes up, and my two cents worth on the new Munster coach

The league stage of the Rabid Direct PRO12 finishes up this Saturday. Leinster have topped it, and the Ospreys will finish second, unless Aironi beat them in the biggest upset in the history of upsets. Munster need to beat Ulster to keep third spot, and keep alive the prospect of an all Irish final. If they lose, it’s unlikely but possible the Scarlets could overtake them if they thrash the Blues, which they surely will. Then if Glasgow beat Connacht, which is pretty likely, they wouldn’t even make the top four.  For Ulster to make the top four, they have to thrash Munster, and hope Glasgow lose, get no losing bonus points, and that the Scarlets lose as well. Then there’d be THREE Irish sides in the top 4!

But most like the top four will be:

Great news that Connacht will be playing Heineken Cup rugby next year – they put in some very creditable HCup performances this year.

Other big News is the appointment of Rob Penney as Munster head coach, formerly head of the Crusaders ITM cup squad. Are they copying Ulster, who appointed Mark Anscombe, former Auckland ITM cup coach? Both coaches have solid credentials, Penneys more so because he has 4 ITM cups under his belt. Canterbury have been the dominant team in New Zealand for nearly 10 years now, and are a magnet for talented players, so that makes a coaches job easier. The fact that neither has Super Rugby head coach experience does put them in the second league of NZ coaches.

Here’s a few things they haven’t done yet, which could cause a few problems - they haven’t moved countries to coach – that’s going to be a big upheaval, especially if families are involved. They also haven’t had international squads – how do you deal with players who don’t have much English, how do you gel different internationals together as a team? So the jury’s out, time for them to prove themselves. Leinster took a punt on Cheika a few years ago and that didn’t go too badly did it?

Munster now have two forwards coaches with Anthony Foley , how about a backline coach?

Finally, not much chance of it, but I'd love to see Exeter make the top for on England.

RaboDirect PRO12
Saturday , May 5
Aironi Rugby vs Ospreys 19:30
Munster vs Ulster 19:30
Scarlets vs Cardiff Blues 19:30
Newport-Gwent D'gons vs Leinster 19:30
Glasgow vs Connacht 19:30
Edinburgh vs Benetton Treviso 19:30


  1. Rob Penney is a far superior coach to Mark Anscombe.

    You may say that it's easier to coach Cantebury but the majority of All Blacks who represent them don't actually play for Cantebury in the ITM Cup. So he is helping to create good professionals who seem to step up the mark quickly at Super Rugby level. He has also led them to 4 consecutive titles which is a record.

    Then you can consider that he will be coaching the NZU20 side this he is highly regarded (they wouldn't give him that influence over some of NZ's top young players if he wasn't).

  2. Penney is definitley a cut above Anscombe, who was shown the door by Auckland a few years ago. Anscombe coached the U20's last year by the way. I still rate them as PRO12 quality coaches though, and think Munster should be going for the calibre of coach like Eddie Jones, Nick Mallet, or someone who's had sucess at Heineken Cup or Super rugby level

  3. Maybe but then again how sucessful was Joe Schmidt before he went to Leinster?

    Coach at Bay of Plenty (a smaller NZ province) and then an assistant at Clermont. He was hardly a big name but he has stepped up.

    By the way i have written a post on ireland's coaching vacuum if you are interested.