Heineken Cup Touchlines
Same mission but worlds apart - Leinster have come a long way.
LEINSTER HAVE been here before against Northampton -- 12 seasons ago, in fact, when they returned victoriously from the English midlands to Dublin hoping to secure back-to-back wins.
Different times, though. There were no 40,000+ crowds in Lansdowne Road, instead a crowded Saturday night in Donnybrook, leaning over the fence having a smoke and saying 'howya' to Mal O'Kelly at line-out time.
Leinster had a horror start and were trailing by 18 points and it looked as though not even Eddie Hekenui could save Matt Williams' men.
Then up stepped 'veteran' 20-year-old Gordon D'Arcy -- he snubbed Ireland as a schoolkid before Roy Keane made it fashionable (kidding, Darce) -- whose hat-trick propelled Leinster to victory against the 14-man English side.
As was their wont in those distant days, Leinster conspired to toss away the chance of reaching the knock-out stages.
Leinster 40 Northampton 31, Ocotober 27, 2000
LEINSTER -- G Dempsey; D Hickie, B O'Driscoll, S Horgan, G D'Arcy; E Hekenui, B O'Meara; R Corrigan (G Halpin), S Byrne (P Smyth 64), E Byrne, B Casey (L Cullen 43), M O'Kelly, E Miller, L Toland capt, V Costello.
NORTHAMPTON -- I Vass (M Tucker 7); L Martin, A Bateman, M Allen, B Cohen; A Hepher, M Dawson; G Pagel, S Thompson, M Stewart (K Todd 69), J Phillips, O Brouzet, R Hunter, B Pountney, G Seely.
REF -- J Jutge (France).
Sorry mess of soulless Racing gives Sexton food for thought
JONATHAN SEXTON supposedly cried in his bedroom before he went to Racing Metro -- goodness knows how the second highest-paid player in France feels about his move now.
This week, the soulless club announced they have moved their upcoming Top 14 clash against Toulon away from the Stade de France after their 32-8 drubbing at the hands of Harlequins last weekend.
Club officials revealed they were embarrassed by the heavy defeat to Harlequins in the Heineken Cup on Saturday, insisting the team "do not belong" at France's national stadium.
They have reacted by moving their fixture against European champions Toulon on December 29 to a more modest stadium in Colombes.
"In light of the result against Harlequins on Saturday, this has forced us to accept we are not a part of the great teams of the moment. The Stade de France is reserved for such teams and we do not belong there.
"Thus Racing Metro has decided to cancel our match with Toulon, which was due to be played there on December 29, and play it instead at Colombes, our historic ground, where we hope to rediscover our form."
More prosaically, the club were unlikely to sell enough tickets to justify the move, given their wretched form -- a recent game against Stade Francais attracted only 32,000 spectators.
Number of the Week
140 tackles made by Connacht in their win versus Toulouse; John Muldoon made 21 of them.
Farewell to cheery PR man who executed a delicate balancing act
NORMALLY, journalists and PR folk represent warring opposites -- we rudely term press officers "press prevention officers."
However, we must declare a temporary truce to wish Leinster PR man Peter Breen well on his departure from Leinster Rugby after a decade of service.
All of us had many rows with him, but, after almost (allegedly) surviving decapitation at the hands of Michael Cheika, we can appreciate that it's not always easy for the harassed PR man, who regularly has to bow to the pernickety influence of often spoilt players or paranoid coaches and managers.
We shall miss his cheery nature and his stopwatch.
Tweets of the Week
"Delighted to have signed on for another 2 years, really looking forward to the future! Thanks everyone for yer best wishes."
-- Conor Murray's announcement begged for a cynical response -- mercifully Irish team-mate Andrew Trimble provided it.
@ConorMurray_9 ah the old contract extension tweet template #suaf