U-20s facing Italy test after Wallaby mauling
Ireland must pick themselves up and pat themselves down after a tough day at the office against the Junior Wallabies on Saturday. Italy are approaching fast.
Ireland must pick themselves up and pat themselves down after a tough day at the office against the Junior Wallabies on Saturday. Italy are approaching fast.
Ireland flanker Sean O'Brien is the subject of an IRFU investigation into an alleged incident following Leinster's Guinness Pro14 title win two weeks ago.
If you were in any doubt about the brutal nature of the Under-20 World Cup then yesterday's instalment from Santa Fe would have cleared it up for you. Before you set foot on the plane for these gigs...
You could say England's 2011 World Cup campaign wasn't truly over until Manu Tuilagi had stripped down to his keks and hopped over the side of a ferry about to dock in Auckland Harbour.
An investigation has been launched after claims a former Leinster rugby player knocked a man unconscious and another player urinated on a...
Winning ugly. Those who promote its virtues are usually the same folks who, on different days, can move through the gears with grace. So when James Lowe talks about the need to drop into a lower gear, and grunt, it shows his value.
The rain had eased from sheet status to a steady film by the time the presentation was being made on the pristine pitch at Celtic Park. Whatever about the players, you wonder if all the extras in suits even notice they're getting soaked while the main men are collecting their silverware. But it's the end of the season. They are thinking only of the night ahead and the holiday to follow. For Leinster, every one of them will enjoy that break with the sweet satisfaction of having come through a long campaign with another trophy.
The PRO14 got an occasion worthy of a final with a great atmosphere and a game that was in the balance to the end in Glasgow last night. But the majority of a record crowd of 47,128 were baying for a home win to back up their only previous title victory, over Munster in 2016.
At the ungodly hour of 10.30 yesterday morning, Ireland Under 20s played a practice game against a Munster Development side in Thomond Park.
By the time Leinster run out to what Guinness Pro14 hope will be a 40,000 crowd in Celtic Park next Saturday, the memory of losing to Saracens will have receded a bit further. They started the season as European and Pro14 champions but will have to settle for the second half of that if they can beat Glasgow.
On the face of it, having three Irish sides in the last four of the PRO14 is great for business, but it's hard to imagine all of Wales, Scotland and Italy weren't roaring themselves hoarse when...
The pairing of Cork Con and Clontarf in this afternoon's AIL final at the Aviva may not present the prospect of a new name on the trophy, but it reflects accurately the state of the game at the...
After the drama of Thomond Park earlier in the day - mostly a poor game with a thrilling finish - Ulster fans fetched up to the Kingspan wondering if they too would be put through the wringer. And they...
When it was confirmed three months ago that Seán O'Brien was off to London Irish next season you'd be lying if, at the time, you didn't reckon it to be...
After the drama of Thomond Park earlier in the day – mostly a poor game with a thrilling finish – Ulster fans fetched up to the Kingspan wondering if...
The IRFU and Leinster are investigating two alleged incidents in the aftermath of the province's Guinness Pro14 title win last weekend which left an academy player hospitalised and another player the subject of widespread ridicule on social media.
In the run-up to the Heineken Champions Cup final last month Leinster pulled a little selection manoeuvre that suggested they had parked form and focused on the occasion. Having already made the big call of preferring Ed Byrne to Jack McGrath, when Saracens came into view they popped the man with 54 caps for his country and three for the Lions on the bench to support Cian Healy.
Rugby authorities have launched an investigation after two alleged incidents involving Leinster rugby players celebrating their Pro 14 title win last weekend.
The extended press box in Celtic Park last weekend brought us cheek by jowl with the seating reserved for various shades of dignitaries.
Irish rugby bosses have launched an investigation after it was alleged a Leinster player urinated on the leg of a man in a pub last weekend.
This didn’t have the feel of a game where one side were 15 points better than the other but neither was there much doubt in the second half about who would win.
‘Exit’ is a word you hear quite a bit in rugby.
A week ago, we were speaking to a man about the moving parts in the machine that is Munster Rugby. Specifically about the bits at the heart of the operation. He mentioned two persons of interest to fill the role of attack coach if per chance it became vacant: Rob Howley, who in roughly five months will be late of Wales, and an unnamed coach currently earning his corn in the English Premiership. Very soon after that conversation, Howley's name was in the public domain. And before you could say: 'That must be a bit awkward for Felix Jones,' there was a gap on the coaching...
Leinster's drive for five stalled in the face of an immense Saracens side in Newcastle yesterday. They will have no complaints, having lost their European title to the side they turfed out of this competition at the quarter-final stage last season.
You have to go back to the days before Leinster were taken seriously - or indeed took themselves seriously - to remember a preamble to a big game where so many followers in blue shared what you might call 'a bad feeling'. This told you more about Saracens than it did about the side who put had put them to the sword with the minimum of fuss at the quarter-final stages of last season's competition.
Saturday night in Limerick was all about getting the box ticked for both Munster and Connacht. And both managed to complete the exercise.
This afternoon in Temple Hill, Cork Con will take on Trinity in the semi-final of the All Ireland League. It is unlikely to be thronged for what will be a hard day up front for the students. So you can imagine what Lansdowne Road will look like next Sunday when the winners play Clontarf in the final.
Before a ball was kicked at a cold and blustery Thomond Park Munster had a fair idea, thanks to events in the Italian derby, that they would have to go through a play-off next weekend if they were to get to a Pro 14 semi-final.
Pick one of the following: you lose a game having been well ahead in the second-half with the elements in your favour; you lose a game to a long-range drop goal with the clock in the red; you lose a game to a side at the peak of their powers who give you precious few chances to get into the contest, never mind influence it. Doesn't take that long to settle on number three does it?
If you were scripting the Champions Cup this season then the last scene would involve Leinster, the defending champions, against Saracens, back-to-back winners in 2016 and 2017.
Munster suffered another semi-final defeat in Europe - their seventh on the bounce starting with the defeat by Leinster in 2009 - when they were well beaten (32-16) by Saracens in brilliant sunshine at Coventry's Ricoh Arena yesterday.
Unlike a good number of folks fetching up to Lansdowne Road this afternoon, Devin Toner has been around long enough to remember the Border Reivers.
Same part of the world but an altogether different atmosphere.
Watching Tyler Bleyendaal's clinical influence in the Champions Cup quarter-final win over Edinburgh two weekends ago, it was easy to forget that here was a man in his fifth season in red. That's what happens when you are signed as the star attraction, and then, through a series of unfortunate events, find yourself in rugby's equivalent of a cast of thousands. Munster's roster at the start of this season featured five out-halves: Joey Carbery, JJ Hanrahan, Ian Keatley, Bill Johnston and Bleyendaal. It wasn't meant to be like this.
Not your average game of rugby this. And one referee Mike Adamson will remember for a while.
It was an instructive weekend for Joe Schmidt. It was an instructive weekend for all of us. Wrapped up in the compelling drama that was two of the four Champions Cup quarter-finals were a few messages for Ireland, and a reminder for the game in general.
The prospect of the best team in the league playing the most improved team on a lovely evening would be enough to drag in a few casuals with time on their hands.
The prospect of the best team in the league playing the most improved team on a lovely evening at the RDS would be enough to drag in a few casuals with time on their hands. That Benetton were starting the night in the mix for a play-off spot added to the attraction. The only issue was how much hunger Leinster, home and hosed in the Guinness Pro 14 semi-finals, could bring to the table given the degree to which they have been filling their faces in this competition.
The great attraction of this competition when it was cobbled together in 1995 to service the new game of professional rugby was the sheer glamour of cross border contact. Its many memorable moments over the years featured the best of one country against the best of another whom they perhaps had never played before. It has also given us awesome contests between teams who are sick of the sight of each other. This was one of those.
There is a Twitter account that delights in the many and varied dumbass utterances of Donald Trump as much as the steady number of leaks that spring up around him on any given day. So they list them in sequence, and then round off with: "And it's still only 11.30am!"
Ireland's love affair with the Heineken Cup - or the Heineken Champions Cup as it is now - will roll out another chapter next month.
Change. Every other election in any country you choose has change as its theme for at least one of the parties involved.
We asked the Edinburgh lads how many they are expecting through the gate at Murrayfield on Saturday.
When David Nucifora was settling in to his Lansdowne Road office almost five years ago, he had a couple of things written down in his little notepad. His agenda would develop in time, but at the starting gate the boxes he wanted to tick were, 1) Sevens rugby and 2) Spreading the talent base around the provinces.
Joe Schmidt pleaded with fans not to give up on Ireland after last year's Grand Slam champions crashed to a humbling 25-7 defeat in Wales, their second heavy loss of the Six Nations campaign.
We don't keep an exact count of these things but yesterday was the 20-somethingth time of fetching up to this theatre by the Taff. Never has it been so miserable. Once as a punter, the rest as a hack, the visits started when it was the National Stadium, then the rebuilt and rebranded Millennium and now the Principality: same gaff, new name over the door.
Funny thing, when Jordan Larmour scored Ireland's lone try in the downpour of Cardiff yesterday he bounced up to his feet, and for a millisecond seemed about to celebrate.
The IRFU are expected soon to announce Energia as the new sponsor of the All Ireland League.
EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier seemingly was at Lansdowne Road this afternoon.
Not one of the classic Test matches, but be grateful for small mercies.
THIS afternoon in Lansdowne Road, Ireland play France for the 98th time.
Ireland's final run-out ahead of this afternoon's Six Nations showdown against France at a cold and blustery Lansdowne Road went according to plan yesterday, a plan that captain Rory Best says is 100 per cent trusted by the players.
For a man with a head for figures, you'd think Iain Henderson is all over his stats against France. This is a fella who had accepted a place at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh to do actuarial studies until Jonny Bell, then with Ulster, managed to head him off at the pass and point towards Queen's - and the Ulster Academy.
When the debate was raging in this country about turfing non-Ireland qualified (NIQ) players to make way for home-growns, the Remainers, if we can call them that - those who wanted to keep unfeasible numbers of NIQs in place in the provincial sides - would lean for support on the development post. In which case, for example, it was marvellous to have Ruan Pienaar rolling over season after season in Ulster because of the wondrous effect on the local scrumhalves who could admire him from close range.
The summer of 2007 was an uncomfortable period in this country. It wasn't that we had a scorcher that made it hard to go outside, rather by the time it was over an unease was growing around a group who carried on their shoulders huge expectations. The group was the Ireland rugby squad, and those getting antsy were the hungriest hoors ever to assemble on these shores: the Celtic Tiger...
Ireland trailed 16-12 at the break and rallied in the second half to win, scoring four tries, but it was an error-strewn performance.
After the carnage of Black Wednesday at Carton House last week, yesterday's Captain's Run for Ireland at Rome's Stadio Olimpico was primarily about numbers: getting back safely to the team hotel with the same number of players as boarded the bus 90 minutes earlier. Losing four players in one session will do that to you.
In Rome this afternoon there will be the standard template for measuring who wins between Italy and Ireland. This will revolve around the various battles from set-pieces to the speed of loose ball and points in between, all of it totted up on scoreboard. There will be a man of the match award to be sorted. Player ratings to be handed out. And then there will be the Sextonometer: the number of...
It is not easy working for Joe Schmidt. Anyone on that roster will tell you that the image held by the general public of this genial man with a happy knack for coaching winning rugby is not the full picture. He is wired. On match days especially he carries a Semtex warning.
France. Is there anything as unhinged in modern rugby as the way the French go about their business? Fourteen fully professional teams in the Top 14 supported by another 16 largely pro teams in ProD2 - the template you'd think for producing a national side who contested meaningfully for Six Nations and World Cup honours. Football may be France's first love, but rugby is big business with a senior male playing population of 110,000, second only to England. And to Ireland's cost they will be hosting the 2023 World Cup.
The last time Dave Kilcoyne was in Rome with an Ireland side it was that freakish day when players were falling over so fast they couldn't be replaced. Spring 2013, for a change Italy with their tails up, and Ireland in a spin so fast it ended with coach Declan Kidney collecting his bags and baggage. His side finished fifth in the Six Nations Championship. Feels like another era.
The recurring theme around Ireland in the build-up to this tournament has been the padding that now protects the squad. As in, layers of bodies. Or a depth chart to use the industry term. Where once there was a prayer book and Rosary beads hanging on a clatter of hooks in the changing room, now there are green shirts of highly competent replacements waiting for the call.
What started with a bang at Murrayfield yesterday, with Scotland coming out of the blocks from the first whistle, turned into a long sequence of grunts, where Ireland always had enough to get back into the winner's enclosure.
In an Edinburgh day when the weather wasn't too sure what it was doing, lurching from winter to spring in a matter of minutes before the game, we trooped up to Murrayfield to see if Ireland would find some consistency of their own. Having cornered the market on slow starts to the Championship, followed by vastly improved stuff on the second outing, they delivered the win they wanted.
What was widely predicted to be a tight affair turned into a hiding for Ireland at a packed Aviva yesterday - their first Six Nations defeat since losing to Wales in 2017 and their first home defeat in this competition in the Joe Schmidt reign.
The IRFU will turn to an independent facilitator at forums later this month to try and get a consensus on how the All Ireland League might go forward. This is not like finally getting the mechanic to lift the bonnet when yet again your car has cut out. It's more like getting someone to referee while yourself and your missus decide what garage to go to. Still, it's something we file under the...
There is a stat in the Scotland data bank which, if it had an equivalent in this country, would be considered either a freakish turn of events or a significant system error in the production line.
No need for an extra carry-on bag for the Grand Slam then.
Typical for this time of year is the column listing the new faces to feature in the upcoming Six Nations.
In a previous lifetime we worked for one of Rupert Murdoch's organs. It was the early 1990s and giving rugby some space was part of their strategy for establishing themselves in Ireland.
In the lead-up to the quarter-final of the Heineken Cup in 2005, Leinster captain Reggie Corrigan was doing a radio interview with a man whose first love would not be rugby. Looking at the numbers from the pool phase, the interviewer opened with: "Well Reggie, Leinster qualified in first place and Leicester in eighth as a runner-up, so you'll be very warm favourites for this?"
A late penalty from Joey Carbery squeezed Munster home at the top of Pool 2 in the Champions Cup at Thomond Park last night but their chances of staying at home in the quarter-finals looks very slim.
Mind and body. At the ripe old age of 31, Cian Healy seems to have both sides of the house talking to each other in a language that is clear and easy to understand.
Another throbbing occasion here, but the extra bodies squeezed into the crowd of 26,276 didn't go off into the chilly Limerick night chatting about the quality of what they had seen. Rather they were relieved their side had topped the pool. An away quarter-final, likely to be Edinburgh, is better than none at all - it would require Wasps and Bath both to win today for Munster to get a home tie.
By any stretch this has been a good week for Connacht. A close win over Sale last weekend, currently England’s form team, to set them up this weekend for a crack on Saturday of nailing down a quarter-final place in the Challenge Cup, followed by five players named by Joe Schmidt in the Six Nations squad. And a sixth, Kieran Marmion, sure to follow next month.
The dust hadn't even begun to settle in Cardiff on Ireland's first ever World Cup win over France when already the body count was getting in the way. If Argentina, Ireland's opponents in the quarter-final, had installed a sniper in the upper tier of the Millennium Stadium, he could hardly have done a better job on taking out the team leaders. Johnny Sexton, Paul O'Connell and Peter O'Mahony were all...
There are not many sides who can take the stage without an array of leading characters and then put on a show like that. It wasn't that there weren't any fluffed lines but from start to finish there was a resolve to get the job done. Everyone knew their places. Everyone gave value for money.
Ireland are on course for all four provinces to make the quarter-finals of European competition for the first time. Munster started the run of wins on Friday night in Gloucester, and were followed by Leinster and Ulster yesterday in the Champions Cup, and Connacht in the Challenge Cup.
The recurring image from Kingsholm on Friday night oddly enough was not Joey Carbery standing over the tee before banging over another successful kick, rather it was of David Humphreys. The former Ulster star became to go-to man for the tv director. So every time Munster scored, we got to see Humphreys standing at the back of the coaches' box looking increasingly frustrated.
Paddy Jackson is almost certain to be playing his rugby with London Irish next season. It is understood there is still one other French club in the mix to sign him but a combination of factors makes a move to the Exiles virtually a done deal.
A look at the Ulster team-sheet gave you an indication that they weren't expecting to bridge the gap between 2013, and their last win in Dublin, and last night in front of an almost full house of 18,099. As tends to happen in some of these interpros, they were making up the numbers.
The headline on the highlights package from Round 11 of the Premiership last weekend read 'Surprise result at Kingsholm'. It was a strange day in England's south-west. At the post-match press conference Sale's coach Steve Diamond, who can most charitably be described as volatile, invited a journalist 'outside' to sort out a difference of opinion. Honestly.
Ticket touts looking for some match currency on the approaches to Thomond Park last night suggested this was not your bog-standard Christmas ding-dong derby. And so it proved. Things got out of hand early and frequently, though, with three cards shown before the break, and a player carted off injured from foul play, the second half had a different vibe to it.
In the space of three days this month we had as many news stories reinforcing some fundamentals about our game. First, agreement was reached in principle for the buy-in to England's Premiership by CVC Capital Partners, a private equity firm. Second, Bernard Jackman got the heave-ho from the Dragons. And third, French rugby was hit with its second death of a young player this season. All unrelated, each a reminder of the way rugby staggers along from one collision to the next.
Full house; full-on; and from early in the piece it was apparent that neither side would get through the 80 minutes with a full complement of players. Indeed by the break we had said goodbye to three men in blue, on yellow/red; and one man in red on a stretcher.
We don't pretend to present this job as real work, which is not to say it doesn't have its moments of acute stress. Mostly these revolve around trying to file, on time, a match report that has some elements in common with what actually happened. This is harder than you think.
The tone for this interpro was set with the industrial load of points dumped on Ulster in Thomond Park at the end of September. Ulster's predicament has been such that they couldn't afford to be counting the days until this rematch - they've had a lot on their plate in Europe - but the combination of some momentum now from that competition, and the nature of the Munster selection on Friday...
A member of the Munster organisation pointed out that whatever disciplinary action does or not follow for any Castres player after this game will be of little value to Munster.
Progress was slow on the final approaches to Castres yesterday afternoon. From lunchtime the protestors, clad in their yellow bibs, had mobilised and taken up positions on roundabouts leading into town.
On a fresh Saturday morning over Christmas 2015 we were given a heads up on an interesting schools game going on down the road. Blackrock College were taking on CBC Cork, and for various reasons it was being played on the all-weather pitch at Castle Avenue. A handy opportunity to catch some of the next wave.
Progress was slow on the final approaches to Castres this afternoon.
This may well be one of those days Leinster look back on with a mixture of pride and relief.
One of the many components in the make-up of champion teams is the ability to ride out the odd storm. In front of 14,425 on a miserable winter's day at one of rugby's great locations, Leinster had to battle to stay afloat.
Shoes and socks. That's what Joey Carbery remembers about his 11-year-old self coming to Ireland from New Zealand. As in, everyone here wore them going to school. Moreover, they kept them on when they got there.
A long week stretches out for Dan McFarland and John Mulvihill. For the Ulster coach he’s looking at the trip to Scarlets on Friday knowing that he needs more than a returning Iain Henderson to put some meat on the bones of his forwards.
The first time Billy Burns came up against Irish sides was at age-grade level for England. If you've ever seen English teams at under 18 or under 20, the first thing that strikes you is their size. They are like something from another planet.
In what feels like a previous lifetime now we remember covering Garryowen v Bath in Dooradoyle.
The only surprise in the IRFU statement this morning about Joe Schmidt’s exit plan is that seemingly he is folding his tent altogether and not pitching it somewhere else.
If you were waking up in the USA Eagles camp this morning you'd be forgiven for thinking rugby is a pretty cruel pastime.
The tumultuous events of last weekend in Lansdowne Road took us back to a near miss that has been all but wiped out by the recent history between Ireland and New Zealand.
Yesterday's press conference after Ireland's comfortable win over the US clearly was not Joe Schmidt's last post-match media ritual, but it was the last time he will be in that seat after a Guinness series. The only way he will be attending one of these things again in the month of November is if Ireland get to the World Cup final in Yokohama on 2/11/2019. Which, in fairness, would be a good way to sign off.
The arrival of Sam Arnold off the bench on Saturday will complete the process of cap sharing ahead of next year’s World Cup. Joe Schmidt assembled 42 players late last month – three of them uncapped – so between that group and those uninvolved over these four games he has all the bases covered.
There was no escaping the odd man out when Ireland wrapped up their Australia tour in Sydney in June. Aside from Will Addison, whose holiday had conveniently dovetailed with Ireland's trip, only one man had togged out and not played in any of the three Tests.
We have been telling you since the conclusion to the third Test in Sydney five months ago that before you could say: 'Well well, is that the World Cup around the corner?' it would have turned that corner and be staring us in the face. Guinness Series gone in a flash in November; Six Nations in the rear-view mirror; World Cup warm-ups done and dusted.
Having been through the mill in 2013 in a game that was analysed to death in the aftermath such was its effect, it was hard to fathom that we were being transported back there in the endgame at the Aviva Stadium last night.
It's fair to say USA looked at today's fixture against Ireland in Donnybrook (1.0pm) as the least stressful event in a three-game programme that saw them play New Zealand and England before arriving over here.
The week of an All Blacks game is a big week. Given all the requests to try and sniff out tickets you'd say this one is a lot bigger than most. So CJ Stander, not a great man at staying calm in these situations, will likely be suffering from what he calls PMS: pre-match stress.
When a colleague in this office saw the IRFU's 'New England Free Jacks' email pop into his inbox on Friday evening he thought they were announcing a clothing deal. If only.
New Zealand will fly into Dublin this evening and most Irish rugby supporters will be relieved that they arrive with a win rather than a loss in their rear-view mirror. The All Blacks looked doomed at a sodden Twickenham yesterday until referee Jerome Garces and his TMO Marius Jonker bailed them out with an offside decision against Courtney Lawes, ruling out England's try that looked like a match-...
At the start of the month Jordan Larmour wouldn’t have been banking on this level of involvement at 15 for the first two weeks of the Guinness Series, but that’s the silver lining on the injury cloud.
Two years on from turning a page in the history of Irish rugby, Joe Schmidt took a different sort of Ireland back to Chicago for a different sort of Test. Then, as now, it opened a series of four games, one of which was against the All Blacks in Dublin, but that's where the comparison ended.
Stade Felix Bollaert in Lens, about half an hour after the final whistle of a World Cup tie that shaped the future of the two nations involved: Ireland and Argentina. It was 1999, a mild October night, and for the losers a slightly convoluted tournament had just ended in the no-man's land of a play-off between pool stage and quarter-final.
From famine to feast, you can't move in Munster these days without falling over an outhalf. Which is a lot better than having an outhalf falling over you.
Two understrength teams in a game of limited value – and clearly to the sporting public of Chicago also of limited interest. Ireland got through their work schedule without too much stress, assisted by an Italian side who had a decent plan but not enough quality to sustain it.
Munster fly out to South Africa this morning with a squad stretched by injury, but with the massive morale boost that comes from winning big games by the narrowest of margins.