James Horan drops by Carton to observe Joe Schmidt's training methods
FORMER Mayo manager James Horan was an interesting addition to the touchline at Carton House yesterday as he observed Joe Schmidt's training session.
Afterwards, he had lunch with the management team at their Kildare base where he and the coaches exchanged ideas. Horan (pictured) is not the first GAA manager to drop by: Meath's Mick O'Dowd and Dublin's Jim Gavin have also had access to the camp.
And forwards coach Simon Easterby said there is much to learn from the round ball game.
"I think over the last couple of years, that high ball work has intensified," he said.
"The game has changed slightly, there's more competition for the ball in the air. Naturally we have to be able to compete and win our own ball, or try and retrieve some ball that we're kicking. Work on the air is something that's continuous.
"We have come second best to Wales, certainly in Cardiff in the last Six Nations. The Gaelic element to it is something that we can learn from, and something that players in Ireland have the natural feel for.
"We spoke about a lot of things. He was interested in a lot of what we were doing in terms of the flow of the session and how that worked.
"There were lots of conversations we had with him that could relate to rugby as well as Gaelic."
Old traditions make Six Nations special
The rugby takes centre stage this weekend, but for many there is far more than the 80 minutes at play as old friendships are renewed across Dublin.
One group, who met in the Palace Bar on Fleet St in 1976, are celebrating an unbroken record 40 years of travelling over and back to this fixture ever since. Nicknamed the 'Taff-Pads', they are drawn from Senghennydd, near Caerphilly, while the Irish contingent are largely drawn from Phibsboro.
Although sadly without some of the original members who are no longer with us, they have passed the tradition down to the next generation and will reconvene at the city centre venue before the game on Sunday to remember where it all began.
Quote of the day
"Someone said that out of his last six Six Nations matches, five away teams have won. I think he just referees what's in front of him" - Wales coach Warren Gatland will be hoping for more of the same from Jerome Garces on Sunday
Number of the day
598 Contrary to the Irish management's assertions that Wales have 1,000 or so caps between them, the starting XV for Sunday has less than 600 to their name.
Compiled by Ruaidhri O'Connor