Journalists

Sunday 17 December 2017

Neil Francis

British and Irish Lions' Sam Warburton and New Zealand's Kieran Read lift the Series Trophy after the series is drawn during the third test of the 2017 British and Irish Lions tour at Eden Park, Auckland. Photo: PA Wire

Neil Francis: Rejoice! Beating the odds in NZ a cause for celebration 

If you are looking for direction or wondering how you should feel this morning after the series was drawn yesterday - rejoice! The All Blacks expected to win the series 3-0 - be happy! The All Blacks should have won yesterday but regressed due to a feral combination of courage and resilience from their opponents - celebrate! The All Blacks have not lost a Test match in Eden Park since 1994, so a draw there is just cause to be happy.

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...