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Touchlines: A sideways look at the Oval Office


Trevor Ringland goes over for the winning try against Scotland in 1985

Trevor Ringland goes over for the winning try against Scotland in 1985


Trevor Ringland goes over for the winning try against Scotland in 1985

Flashback: Scotland 15 Ireland 18 February 2, 1985, Murrayfield

It is one of sport's greatest 'what ifs?' What if the 1985 championship had been played as scheduled? Ireland would not have finished their campaign against England, rather opened with it.

As it was, they decamped to Murrayfield for what ultimately turned out to be the opening leg of their second Triple Crown in four seasons.

Brian Spillane and Nigel Carr made their debuts as the back-row changing of the guard continued apace; remarkably, the same XV would also start and finish the games against Wales and England.

Trevor Ringland was the hero, scoring a brace of tries, including the dramatic winner when Dr Spillane led a raucous pack up the field before a thrilling three-quarters move; Ringland also made a try-saving tackle on John Rutherford.

Scotland - Peter Dods; Roger Baird, Keith Murray, Keith Robertson, Iwan Tukalo; John Rutherford, Roy Laidlaw capt; Gerry McGuinness, Colin Deans, Norrie Rowan, Alister Campbell, Tom Smith, Jim Calder, John Jeffrey, John Beattie.

Ireland - Hugo MacNeill; Trevor Ringland, Brendan Mullin, Michael Kiernan, Keith Crossan; Paul Dean, Michael Bradley; Phil Orr, Ciaran Fitzgerald capt, JJ McCoy, Donal Lenihan, Willie Anderson, Phillip Matthews, Nigel Carr, Brian Spillane.

Food for thought as rising star of NFL opts to retire over concussion fears

Concussion was the burning issue in the Six Nations' early rounds and although talk of head injuries has faded as the race for the title heated up, it won't be long before the topic returns to the agenda once again.

No doubt those governing the game will have taken note when news filtered through from the United States that a 24-year-old rising star of the NFL has retired because he fears for his long-term health.

Chris Borland impressed during his rookie season for the San Francisco 49ers and was one of the bright lights for fans of the struggling franchise until he announced his shock decision yesterday. Acting on his own research rather than medical advice, he decided to put risks to his long-term health ahead of short-term financial gain.

"I'm concerned that if you wait til you have symptoms, it's too late. . . There are a lot of unknowns. I can't claim that 'x' will happen. I just want to live a long, healthy life, and I don't want to have any neurological diseases or die younger than I would otherwise," he said.

Rugby players will no doubt take note.

Be afraid, be very afraid. . .

Ireland forwards coach Simon Easterby had his own Terence Flanagan moment this week before the radio mics when he couldn't recall watching Ireland's 2007 title hopes disappear in Rome.

"I don't recall that," he said. "I genuinely can't remember that. If you say I was there, I must have been but I don't recall..."

Memo to Simon: we were five metres behind you watching as Elvis Vermuelen's late try for France clinched them the championship on St Patrick's Day. As the TV feed spluttered, the Irish squad waited an age for the TMO to deliver the bad news. Irishman Simon McDowell, for it was he, is also on duty this weekend at Italy v Wales. You have been warned...

Number of the week

718 Ireland have thrown this many passes so far - 162 more than second placed England. The stat is quite a 'thing; except, given Ireland's inability to score tries, nobody knows how good a 'thing' it is. Ireland have also most carries - 574.

Tweet of the week

'Denying Huget ball is like taking michangelo's brushes away and giving them to a bunch of gorillas.....' - England's World Cup winner Austin Healey is quite the motor-mouth but sometimes he lands on a (badly spelt) gem…

Quote of the week

"I'm not sure what he is thinking. It is almost double jeopardy to start to think about what he might think we are going to do, and then think that we might think about doing something else."

- If nothing signified that Wales had Ireland jumping through hoops, then this from Joe Schmidt at the Ireland press conference spoke volumes. Maybe Jonathan Sexton heard this voice in his head when he took a breather in Cardiff. . .

Irish Independent