Thursday, January 14, 2016

Now I ain't sayin' they gold diggers…


Now I ain't sayin' they gold diggers…

Looks like the English clubs were over here for the January sales… and didn’t come for the reasonably priced winter coats either. Sale! Sale! Sale! Everything must go! (although none of them are going to Sale, oddly enough). I suppose when the European Central Bank started printing money and devalued the Euro to encourage exports…they didn’t have Irish props in mind in particular. But that’s where we are, the French clubs have always had the money, and with the mighty sterling, the English clubs do too. Very interesting though, that as quotas are to be introduced into French rugby on an increasing basis, they may be offloading a lot of players in the next few years.

I’m not blaming the Irish players, you get 10 years at the top if you’re lucky, you could get injured at any time, and then that’s it. And the clubs and the IRFU can’t just pull money out of the air either. Munster CEO Garrett Fitzgerald recently spent most of his time talking about the problems at Mun5ter by concentrating on the financial performance, and how well they were doing with paying back the cost of Thomond. So we need loadsa money, and fast if we want to keep our players, and get hold of top quality players and coaches from overseas.

In the UK, Wasps were the first sports club to launch a retail bond listed on the London Stock Exchange, which raised up to £35m, apparently set to make them the richest rugby club in the world.  Over to you, Leinster, Munster, Ulster and Connacht!

Putting all that aside, we have the return of the Rugby Champions Cup this weekend. Munster have to put a huge range of issues and uncertainties aside, and pull themselves together to knock lumps out of Stade Francaise. When everyone’s written you off… that’s when your’re probably most dangerous, the adrenaline is going to be pumping, and we’ll probably see a reaction from Munster.

Ulster’s back to back victories against Toulouse pale into comparison against an ultra tough away fixture against Saracens. If they had Nick Williams fit, that would have helped a lot. It’s hard to see them win, but I think it’ll be a tight match.

Leinster have Bath arriving – don’t leave with any of our players please! On recent form, Leinster could win this, it’s all been starting to come together. But Bath are still way in contention to qualify, unless they lose this match of course. So really, I’m expecting Bath to win, let’s see what Leinwster can pull out the bag.

Brive are in sixth in the Top 14, but I’d still back Connacht to get the win. Brive’s record in Europe is very ropey, and Connacht could really do something this year.

Friday, January 15   
Ospreys v    Clermont Auvergne     7:45 PM
Saturday, January 16   
Bordeaux Begles v    Exeter Chiefs     1:00 PM
Munster v    Stade Français Paris     1:00 PM
Oyonnax v    Stade Toulousain     3:15 PM
Saracens v    Ulster     3:15 PM
Leinster v    Bath Rugby     5:30 PM
Leicester Tigers v    Benetton Treviso     7:45 PM
Sunday, January 17   
Racing 92 v    Scarlets     1:00 PM
Toulon v    Wasps     3:15 PM
Northampton Saints v    Glasgow Warriors     5:30 PM

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