Thursday, January 26, 2017

I cast my beady eye over Ireland's 6 Nations squad!

 Image result for niall scannell
 Niall Scannell

The 6 Nations was launched this week, and just before that the Ireland squad came out. I cast a beady eye over who's there, who's lucky to be there, and who's missing...

First of all, even though it's a 40 man squad that will be trimmed, it's great to see that form was the guide when the squad was picked. Most deserving of the new faces are the Scannell's, who will  have a lot to offer Ireland, and who will benefit from the Schmidt touch. At hooker, Niall Scannell must be favourite to be on the bench, and get his first cap soon.

We are light in a few positions at the moment - no international experience behind Rory Best at hooker, and only two fly halves, one of whom has seen as much of the physio table as he has of the pitch recently. Madigan must surely be on standby, Carbery is at least training, and after that, what, Carty, Keatley, Ross Byrne?

We are slightly light at lock too, we could do with more young up coming locks.

Unlucky to miss out would be Adam Byrne, Darren Sweetnam (he's injured though) and Dennis Buckley.

Overall though, you'd think we have more than enough available to make a proper challenge for the title this year!

Ireland squad for the Six Nations

Forwards: Finlay Bealham, Rory Best (c), Jack Conan, Ultan Dillane, Tadhg Furlong, Cian Healy, Jamie Heaslip, Iain Henderson, Billy Holland, Dave Kilcoyne, Dan Leavy, Jack McGrath, Sean O’Brien, Tommy O’Donnell, Peter O’Mahony, Donnacha Ryan, John Ryan, Niall Scannell, CJ Stander, Devin Toner, James Tracy, Josh van der Flier

Backs: Tommy Bowe, Andrew Conway, Keith Earls, Craig Gilroy, Robbie Henshaw, Paddy Jackson, Rob Kearney, Kieran Marmion, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Luke McGrath, Conor Murray, Tiernan O’Halloran, Garry Ringrose, Rory Scannell, Jonathan Sexton, Andrew Trimble, Simon Zebo

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Quite an ordinary weekend for the Irish teams really, with a win only for Munster!


Quite an ordinary weekend for the Irish teams really, with a win only for Munster. Leinster got going well against Castres, then stumbled let them into the game, finally coming back to get a draw. This probably won't be there year. They have a good team, but the backline is young. and fly half has been an issue. Ross Byrne has played well.. but he's fourth choice - who even is fourth choice fly half for Ulster and Munster? It's John Cooney for Connacht! In fairness as well, we got two bonus point wins against red carded opponents, so we've had some luck. With a draw, we've ended up with a home match against Wasps, which we should win. But if we do, our next match is away. We still have it all to play for, but it's more likely to be our year next year.

Munster got a fantastic home win, have Toulouse next who are always iffey away, and if they win that and Saracens win, they'll be playing Saracens at home. The final is lining up nicely for them!

Ulster again fell away maddeningly at the end, they can't seem to buy a win at the moment. This is when they need their fans to believe... I think the Marcel Coetzee will add a lot when he's finally fit.

Connacht also fell at the last hurdle.. but they took it all the way, Toulouse were sweating big time in the last 20 minutes. Connacht surely had an opportunity for a drop goal in the last 10 minutes, but didn't even seem to consider it. Still, when you look at their injury list, and the disparity in budgets, they were more than bang for their buck agains the French galacticos!

Clermont France (1)     v     (8) Toulon France
Munster Ireland (2)     v     (7) Toulouse France   
Saracens England (3)     v     (6) Glasgow Scotland   7
Leinster Ireland (4)     v     (5) Wasps England

Friday 20th January
European Rugby Champions Cup
Castres 24 24 Leinster FT
Montpellier 26 17 Northampton
Saturday 21st January
Clermont Auvergne 48 26 Exeter FT
Ulster 22 26 Bordeaux-Begles FT
Sale Sharks 25 23 Scarlets FT
Saracens 10 3 Toulon FT
Leicester Tigers 0 43 Glasgow Warriors FT
Munster 22 10 Racing 92
Sunday 22nd January
European Rugby Champions Cup
Toulouse 19 10 Connacht FT
Zebre 27 41 Wasps