Saturday 23 September 2017

Neil Francis

Ireland's Garry Ringrose, left, and Joey Carbery

Neil Francis: Warren Gatland will regret omitting Irish pair when All Blacks' pace and guile rout Lions 

I had the pleasure of listening to Senator George Mitchell at a bash in the National Gallery in Dublin on Wednesday night. One of the points he focused on was expectation. He used the analogy of the wedding night of Elizabeth Taylor and her sixth husband. The groom would almost assuredly know what to do; the difficulty would be in making it interesting or exciting. The Lions travel to New...

Leinster’s Fergus McFadden celebrates with team-mates Joey Carbery, Robbie Henshaw and Josh van der Flier. Photo: Sportsfile

Neil Francis: When Leinster play like this, nobody will beat them 

And so the final score read Ireland 32 Wasps 17. The green-print put into practice by Leinster's Ireland players and executed for 55 minutes. The fact that Wasps had a chance midway through the second half was down to some of Leinster's failings, mental failings which will not be tolerated in a semi-final. For a club with such pedigree, Wasps looked like they were overawed by the occasion and when they couldn't hold on to the ball for any more than three phases at a time in the first half, their fate was sealed.

CARDIFF, WALES - MARCH 10: Joe Schmidt the head coach of Ireland takes part in the pre match warm up prior to kickoff during the Six Nations match between Wales and Ireland at the Principality Stadium on March 10, 2017 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Neil Francis: Ireland need to be a lot more inventive from 10 metres out - that's Joe's job for the summer 

It's a pretty thankless task trying to unravel the contradiction that is the French. It is hard to know how you calibrate or cultivate the type of vacuous mediocrity that the French rugby team have meandered into. After eventually getting over the line against a determined Welsh rearguard, you would have thought they had all won the lotto when the final whistle blew - it did blow, didn't...

Patrick Tuipulotu failed an initial drugs test

Neil Francis: Patrick Tuipulotu case will have serious repercussions 

Rebecca Loos? Oh yeah, she is yer wan one who, eh, David Beckham . . . She had an affair with David Beckham. Alleged affair, please. It hasn't been proven. I have always felt that Posh and Becks' allure and mystique multiplies when they simply keep their gobs shut. The zillion-dollar brand suffers when they, ahem, articulate. Let other clever people do that for them, pay them a small percentage of their turnover per annum and watch the shekels roll in.

Ireland captain Rory Best questions a decision by referee Jaco Peyper. Photo: Phil WalterGetty Images

Neil Francis: There would be murder if rugby introduced a second official - Here's my solution to the referee problem 

It is December 12, 2015 - UFC 194. The Conor McGregor v Jose Aldo fight. I wasn't staying up until 3.0am to watch. How bourgeois is watching UFC on a Sunday morning with a cup of Barry's, two slices of toast with a liberal spread of raspberry jam? I had taken one bite when I had to put my breakfast down and reach for the remote. 13 seconds. Aldo is knocked senseless in 13 seconds.

Garry Ringrose of Leinster is tackled by Ian Keatley of Munster at the Aviva Stadium yesterday.. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Neil Francis: Leinster's midfield generals could well be the Ireland centre partnership facing the All Blacks in Chicago 

Hostilities resumed and an undercooked Munster side were outclassed but, importantly, were not overwhelmed. They couldn't look after the ball in contact and their vaunted back-row couldn't get any traction in this match. Their tight five did well at scrummage time which kept them in the game because you sensed that when they turned the screw in this phase, Leinster's walls would come...

Neil Francis: Paddy Jackson can launch himself in South Africa 

Keano was at it again after the Turner's Cross extravaganza last Tuesday against Belarus. "There are other lads who'd be fringe players and would be happy to be fringe players. They don't want the responsibility of being in the starting 11. They will talk about it but they won't do it when they get the opportunities like last night. They'll just go 'maybe I don't want to be in the starting 11 because there is pressure with that'."

'I thought the Racing pack would ramp it up in the second half but they too seemed fazed by the Saracens press and were unable to go after the English side, who wobbled a bit in the last 20.' Photo: Getty

Neil Francis: A final with all the appeal of a can of date-expired spam 

A bag of ham of a game decided by the meteorological Gods! For Racing to win they needed their halves to be on the park and in the full of their health. They needed the ground to be dry and they needed to be able to pass the ball without making mistakes. This did not happen, and all Saracens needed to do was manage their game better, keep their heads and make sure that their front five worked as efficiently as they have done throughout the competition.

The Champions Cup still waits for a multi-sponsor deal but as long as the television money is there everyting will be dandy.

Neil Francis: Rugby's 'big short' is a serious threat to the game 

Let’s go back to the 1980s, the decade of greed and avarice in the financial markets. Anyone remember Michael Milken? Correct and right: he was the junk bond king in Drexel Burnham Lambert, one of Wall Street’s finest, now no longer. Milken made markets in any high yield bond that he underwrote. As long as nobody said anything this market would continue on its merry way. Somebody did say something and sure enough the whole thing came crashing down amidst securities fraud and racketeering. Milken got 10 years, reduced to two on the back of shopping all his buddies.