Thursday, June 30, 2016

Sad farewell to Luke Fitzgerald, and the Champions Cup draw!

The big news this week, apart from the Champions Cup draw, is the retirement of Luke Fitzgerald at just 28. His career was completely blighted by injury, he had so much more to give, and even now could have played for another 5 years. I guess size was never on his side which meant he was more likely to get injured, and let’s face it, guys just play too much rugby these days. Reducing the size of the Campions Cup is a start, but how about making it the PRO10? The Italian sides don’t offer anything, and it doesn’t seem to be building up their game either. How about a tier two league with Italy, Georgia, Sapin, Rumania etc, and making it competitive.

Going on the draw then, there’s no easy pools are there? Leinster have Monpellier, Northampton Saints and Castres, which looks doable if heavy duty. Not going to be playing any small guys! Connacht have Wasps, Toulouse and Zebre where moneybags Wasps will be the big challenge. Munster have Racing, Glasgow and Leicester, so tough enough, and Ulster have Clermont, Bordeaux and Exeter, again very tough with Clermont being the big boys.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Ireland lost, but still made us proud!

 Paddy Jackson ( picture

Ireland’s tour of South Africa ended with another close defeat, we possibly left a series win behind but we can hold our heads up high. It was a tough match, there for the taking, but we just couldn’t deliver the accuracy from the first test and the first half last week. Too many dropped passes, fumbles, and missed opportunities. But by the third test the backline was a lot changed, and we just didn’t have the slickness we needed. South Africa’s  a hard hard place to go to and get a result, and at leastwe had the Boks sweating hard over the three match series. And we did that without all our A team, and it’s not like we have players to burn either. My favourite moment of that last match was Cronin’s fantastic run from our own 22 – you can see that he really wants to be center!

We learned a lot from this series too – Jackson and Payne shone, but have a few areas to work on, Marshall has really put his hand up, and Olding and O’Halloran have a lot of potential.  Tadhg Furlong is now our number one tighthead too.

I was slightly disappointed with the referees we had – no Nigel Owens, no Romain Poite, no Wayne Barnes, and not a little of consistency in the big decisions in the first and last test.

Outside of the rugby, the team attended a dinner for Joost van der Westhuizen, and visited a care centre in Port Elizabeth for under privileged locals, in particular those living with HIV/AIDS. It’s good to put rugby into it’s place, there’s far more important things, and it makes me proud of our sport.

Our players head to a really well deserved rest, after a season that started with the World Cup camp last June!

Our under 20's had a tough enough time against England, but still did really well to make the final, and got player of the tournament with Max Deegan too.

Wales struggled in their last test against the All Blacks, too many tired players and way too much loose kicking.

And England’s epic season rolls one, with a series whitewash against the Aussies. The Wallabies may have performed better in the last test, but that’s scant consolation against the team they probably hate losing against the most. 

Argentina 0 – 27 France
United States of America 25 - 0    Russia
New Zealand 46 – 6 Wales
Australia 40 – 44 England
South Africa 19 – 13 Irelan