Welcome to my 80+ column, a weekly post featuring final thoughts from the week of rugby just gone.
SIX NATIONS COMPETITION
The countdown to “6Mas” gets closer to zero and this year we’re launching a prediction league in conjunction with the Fanzo app, if we get good engagement we’ll offer some prizes for the best players so you’ll really help us out by joining and/or sharing the above graphic with your rugby loving pals.
Here at Harpin Manor we’re running a separate league among our squad of Six Nations podsters, namely myself, Keego, Mark Jackson, Tom Coleman, Conor Cronin, Rich Mifsud & RugbyKino. And don’t tell them I said this but none of them think any of you have a hope of beating them when it comes to forecasting so I guess you’ll just have to prove ‘em wrong won’t you 😜
WRAP OF A WRAP
Unfortunately Rich Mifsud had to sit our our wrap pod at the weekend due to illness and we hope we returns to fitness in time for next Sunday. Thankfully RugbyKino was able to answer the call and along with Conor we got an excellent summary of what was expected to be a much closer contest at the RDS.
If you missed it, check it out here or on most major platforms.
HARPIN’ ON…LEINSTER’S TAP N GO TRIES
For the pod I try to even out the portions of the match I get my guests to cover as best as I can, yet sadly I didn’t realise Kino had done a lot of preparation on Leinster’s success rate with short tap n go penalty options when I allocated our two tries against Cardiff to Conor. But when we finished recording the main pod Kino still shared the information and unbeknownst to him the mic was still “hot” so I got it all and made it into a bonus clip for YouTube which you see below.
If you’re playing the clip above maybe pop over and subscribe to the channel too? That’s where we post our Preview Show as well as other content throughout the week.
HARRY BYRNE TIK TOK
This week the TikTok spotlight turned to Harry Byrne, this was an important start for him and we thought he did realy well.
SIX NATIONS GOVERNANCE
Folks, what the hell is going on here???
I’m doing my best to keep myself from donning the tinfoil hat but it would appear that unions from all Six Nations are experiencing varying forms of governance issues in the weeks leading up to the game’s greatest championship kicking off, almost as if (a) we’d have difficulty focusing on everything at once and (b) once the rugby starts we’re expected to forget it anyway.
None of it is pretty, and yes I do mean all unions are involved.
Recently we had the terrible allegations of systemic misogyny made against the WRU in a documentary, which of course simply sits atop a whole host of other issues there.
Also last week there was further development in Bernard Laporte’s saga which doesn’t look like straying too far from the news cycle, something the FFR could do without in a RWC year.
Although what happened in Italian rugby, namely the disgusting “secret Santa” present, was confined to one club, it was their biggest and surely warranted involvement by the union and the response has been extremely insufficient.
Meanwhile in Scotland the SRU has fallen well short addressing the tragic death of Siobhan Cattigan.
Then there was the RFU making an absolute hames of introducing new tackle laws at lower levels (in every sense), a problem with communication that by all accounts is nothing new over there.
As for Irish rugby? Well perhaps on the surface there’s nothing in the front line news, yet while steps are being taken to improve the Women’s game with professional contracts and new competitions being announced, there is information being put out there by a particular twitter account that suggests a lot more needs to be done.
Each issue is vast and extremely difficult to summarize in an article like this one, but the reason I had a stab at it was to present the overall view from just outside the 6N bubble.
We love rugby on the pitch; I’m writing this article and you’re reading it so that goes without saying. But knowing so much negativity is going on behind the scenes is certainly not acceptable, especially when the governance issues are so widespread. No organisation is ever going to have everything perfect all the time, but what does seem to be a common thread in the above stories is that the failures are in areas where you’d expect to have set standards throughout the sport, something I would have thought a body like World Rugby was there to fix.
Another strong showing by the Irish women, this time reaching another semifinal after an impressive quarterfinal win over Fiji which put some distance between us and them in the overall series standings and keeps us within reach of the top four.
Meanwhile the men also reached the last eight but a couple of early mistakes against the Blitzbokke made a fightback impossible so we are continuing to struggle to match the excellent silver medal in Dubai.
Next on the circuit is Los Angeles for the men at the end of February, while both they and the women join them in Vancouver the following weekend. Without researching I just have to say on the surface it does seem odd that LA can’t provide for a women’s leg in the series.
But that just brings me to the point I always like making when discussing the World Sevens Series…
Before I harp on the Men’s AIL, a quick shout out to the Women’s Combined Provinces XV – clunky name I know, but apparently it’s just for the one season as the new Celtic Challenge tournament is meant to expand from one team per nation to two next season. Anyway – they opened their campaign with a 27-26 win away to their Welsh counterparts in the opening match.
Now to Division 1A and in Round 12 there was so much going on at both ends of the table it’s hard to know where to start. I guess it’s best to “take it from the top” as league leaders Terenure suffered only their second defeat of the season, this one at home to rivals Clontarf and with Cork Con also winning, it means just three point separate the top three. Then there’s the race for that fourth semifinal berth as Young Munster scored a home win over Trinity to leap frog them.
But arguably the biggest result of the round was Garryowen finally kicking the duck egg out of their win column by beating Lansdowne, who in turn got dragged back into the relegation battle as UCD also did some leap-frogging, sneaking out of the bottom two at Shannon’s expense.
The clubs now get a couple of weekend’s off to let punters catch the Six Nations in their bars (seriously, if you can, do get down to your local clubs to watch if you can, it really helps them out) and they return to action with some big matchups as you can see below.
Cork Con 14-3 Ballynahinch
Garryowen 21-17 Lansdowne
UCD 22-19 Shannon
Young Munster 17-10 Dublin Univ
Terenure 24-29 Clontarf
Sat Feb 18
Ballynahinch v Terenure
Clontarf v Young Munster
Lansdowne v Cork Con
Shannon v Dublin University
UCD v Garryowen
THE NEXT BATCH OF HARPIN’
I’d like to say here “from now on we’re switching into FULL SIX NATIONS MODE for the next couple of months”, but of course I can’t say that because there’s a bit of URC thrown in there plus I have another couple of pods lined up on other topics for good measure.
But still, obvs the bulk of the coverage is going to be on the 6N starting with an overview pod which will record Wednesday evening, then the tournament opener in Cardiff will be getting the usual Harpin treatment with a preview Friday, wrap on Sunday plus a whole lot of other features in between.
In the meantime, be sure to enjoy your rugby wherever you are. JLP