Thursday, May 2, 2013

Rabo round up, Joe Schmidt, Leinster and the Lions...

This is the last weekend of the RaboDirect  Pro 12 before the semis, and there is still a b to play for.

Starting off with the Scarlets should beat Treviso, although the Italians have had a good season and finish in a creditable 7th spot. If the Scarlets win they‘ll deny last season’s winners the Ospreys a top four spot.
Leinster play the Ospreys , needing to win to keep their home semi final spot – and if they win , Ulster have nominated the RDS as their home ground for the final, so it’ll be a home final if Leinster get through their semi. They played their best rugby for a long time to demolish Biarritz, so I don’t think that the Ospreys are going to be able to get anything out of this match. The Leinster team has some heavyweights missing, but it looks strong enough.

Ulster really have to beat Cardiff – otherwise they could drop as low as third, which would be a pity after all their hard work this season.  They have a full squad, apart from Ferris, to pick from, and as Cardiff don’t really have anything to play for, I think UIster will finish with a bang.

Connacht will finish in 8th place , a great result for them. They have a history of upsetting the apple cart in Galway, but this is a pretty tall order from a very in form  Glasgow side. Most sides underestimate Connacht, who defend like tigers and have some very slick backline moves. I started writing this thinking Glasgow totally had this in the bag…but now I’m going with a final flourish for Connacht!

Elsewhere –it’s all happening! Joe Schmidt has become the Ireland head honcho – and I think it’s going to be a great thing for Irish rugby. He oozes quiet confidence, he has the skills to potentially bring Ireland success playing attractive rugby, and he seems to be savvy enough to handle the PR and politics of the job. My tip is that the biggest beneficiary of his tenure is going to be Ulster – there is a lot of new talent coming through there. We’ll see!

Then his rumored replacement is Matt O’Connor, the head coach at Leicester. You can’t fault the Leinster management team for their recent judgment in picking coaches, and Schmidt and Cheika before him are hard acts to follow. I’d say he’s a hugely capable coach, but whether he’ll be able to harness the backline flair of Leinster to maximum effect remains to be seen if he gets the job.

Zane Kirchener is arriving at Leinster, slotting in as a replacement for Isa. I’d say we could have done with a lock more urgently, but he’s a good player and has top notch experience.

Finally, dem Lions! 9 Irish players, 6 from Leinster! There’s a few lucky players in that squad, Connor Murray, Dylan Hartley, Tom Youngs, Sean Maitland…even Tommy Bowe who’s hardly played at all this year. Zebo and Rory Best would be the hardest done by Irish players. But it’s a long tour, and going to be brutally there may be more opportunities coming up. Bring it on!

RaboDirect PRO12
Friday , May 3
Scarlets vs Benetton Treviso 19:45
Leinster vs Ospreys 19:45
Edinburgh vs Newport Gwent D'gons 19:45
Zebre vs Munster 19:45
Ulster vs Cardiff Blues 19:45
Connacht vs Glasgow 19:45
Pos Team P W D L F A PD B Pts
1. Ulster 21 16 1 4 540 335 205 10 76
2. Leinster21 16 0 5 548 367 181 9 73
3. Glasgow 21 15 0 6 521 321 200 12 72
4. Scarlets21 15 0 6 419 365 54 6 66
5. Ospreys 21 14 1 6 452 305 147 4 62
6. Munster 21 10 1 10 415 364 51 8 50
7. Treviso 21 9 2 10 373 433 -60 5 45
8. Connacht21 8 1 12 355 402 -47 4 38

No comments:

Post a Comment