Sunday, January 24, 2016

Bit of doom and gloom about Irish provincial rugby, with lots of giving out!

 Jared Payne

The weekend started with just Ulster in contention for the play offs. They had to beat Oyannax, and get a bonus point, which they duly did. There was a real stellar performance from Jared Payne, so much time on the ball, and plenty of clever interplay between him and the wings. Could he play there for Ireland, with Fitzgerald and McCloskey in the centres? Luke Marshalls star is rising strongly too.

Then it was Leinster’s turn to have another crack at Wasps, and their first half was halfway decent, their second was their worst in the competition ever as Wasps romped home with a blitz of tries. And Jonny Sexton went off injured early as well. It wasn’t our A team, and we could get nothing of out of the game, so the loss wasn't unexpected

What it does show is a few worrying things for next season. At the moment, if Jonny gets badly injured in the first Champions Cup next year, Cathal Marsh will be pulling the strings for the rest of the games. Ian Madigans departure looks more ominous all the time. Then it’s back to our lock problems – why are we playing Ruddock at lock? Because we don’t have enough other lock options. The departure of Madigan and Te’O, the near loss of Moore, really brings into question our ablity to  maintain a squad capable of  challenging for the PRO 12 and Champions Cup, while losing a rake of players every 6 nations.It’s hard to hang onto the stars we have, and even if we had the money the IRFU wouldn’t let us buy outside. It doesn’t look viable.

And overall, is a coincidence that with the lifting of the English salary cap, no Pro 12 side has made into the last 8?

Connacht got their quarter final spot, after scoring 8 tries, and Brive lost to Newcastle. One bright light in a pretty bleak weekend for Irish rugby.
Finally, Munster ended up 3 from 6 in their group after a bonus point over Treviso, with Leicester and Stade going through from their group, as in Leinsters group with Wasps and Toulon going through.

And the quarters are:
Saracens v Northampton
Wasps v Exeter
Racing V Toulon
Leicester v Stade Francaise

Ulster Rugby    56 - 3    Oyonnax   
Toulouse    17 - 28    Saracens   
Bath Rugby    14 - 19    RC Toulon
Wasps    51 - 10    Leinster Rugby
Glasgow Warriors    22-5    Racing 92   
Scarlets    10-22    Northampton Saints
Benetton Treviso    5-28    Munster Rugby
Stade Francais Paris    36 - 21    Leicester Tigers
Exeter Chiefs    33 - 17    Ospreys   
ASM Clermont Auvergne    28 -37    Bordeaux-Begles

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