Welcome to my 80+ column, a weekly post featuring final thoughts from the week of rugby just gone.
WRAP OF A WRAP
Was happy to have Ian Frizzell and Stephen “Master Of None” Murphy on the pod this week to harp on the narrow win over Australia, always good to get a perspective from outside Leinster although we pretty much agreed on most of what went on, ICYMI you can check it out by clicking this link.
HARPIN’ ON NIC WHITE’S HIA
As often happens with our Sunday pods, while we have a tight schedule of topics for the show itself to keep it under the hour, sometimes the conversations do go on and I’m happy to let them – even if they get cut I can always produce videos for the YouTube channel and this week we had two such clips.
First up we have the chat over Nic White’s HIA which was the focus of a post match discussion on Virgin Media with Matt Williams’ poor attempt at defending the decision. I’ve seen some opinion out there that we shouldn’t attack him so much as the officials but IMO it’s about much more than this one incident. A lot of people watching what these pundits say will likely be involved one day in making important decisions way below test level and I believe we should all be on the same page with the message “if in doubt sit ’em out”.
HARPIN’ ON JACK CROWLEY
We had another good chat about Jack Crowley’s start and for me it was a good chat to have because we had opinions from three non-Munster provinces and all were positive, check for yourself…
LEINSTER 40-3 CHILE WRITEUP
One feature of this season is that assuming there are no COVID-style interruptions to the calendar, Leinster & Ireland aren’t scheduled to clash on the same weekend, which is really good news for fans of both who are watching their pockets.
But if there absolutely had to be a clash, this match at Energia Park in Donnybrook is almost exactly what makes a good exception to that rule, I say almost because of the 2pm Friday kickoff which would have been a struggle for many, although they did allow for that by offering both free admission plus live streaming on YouTube (it’s still up if you didn’t get to watch just click this link).
Meanwhile here at Harpin’ Manor although I have enjoyed the switch from article writeups to podcast wrapups, I do miss the old way so maybe matches like this one can be an opportunity to briefly go back to the “old way”.
Actually myself and Tom Coleman did do some brief harping on the match in last Friday’s Preview Show, although that recording was not long after the match finished and now I’ve had a chance to watch over it again, I do have a few headings under which I’d like to share some thoughts…
DEFENCE – One observation I made on the preview show was that “this match reminded me of the old British & Irish Cup matches down in Donnybrook where it was Boys vs Men and the boys winning handily”. I still believe this to an extent, but I should probably add a caveat because Chile were clearly a much better outfit than some of the sides Leinster A faced back in the day.
They definitely came to play but not for the first time a Leinster side has posted a scoreline like this where I’m much more impressed by the “3” in the scoreline than I am by the “40”. From the first minute to the last while “Los Cóndores” did everything they could to add some five-pointers to the penalty they converted in the sixth minute to take the lead, they just could not break down the home side’s defensive organisation which is yet another clear indicator that it matters not if it’s the elite XV or a side like this with mostly academy and club hopefuls, the standards without the ball seem to run right through the squad.
I’ll mention individuals in a later point but for this one it would be unfair to single people out as there did not seem to be a weak link in the chain and even on the rare occasions there was a line break it was always snuffed out by excellent scrambling. Not a bad quality for a trophy-chasing club to be able to rely on.
SIX TRIES – But of course no matter how well you’re defending you also have to put points on the board and after settling in with a couple of “penalty-lineout-maul-Lee Barron try” scores, our third was an amazing tap n go penalty by Cormac Foley where he started 10m in his own half, jinked around 3 forwards like they weren’t there and then accelerated through the backfield sevens-style for the score.
The “bonus point” try came with the visitors being a man down as this the set move of an attacking lineout went through the backs where Andrew Smith, who overall didn’t have the best day with a few missed chances, made no mistake here with a neat in-out step to get around the final tackler.
Early in the second half right at the end of the sin bin period skipper for the day Liam Turner ran a lovely line to take a pass breaking through under the posts to make it 33-3 while on 49 minutes we got our 6th and final try when number 8 Sean O’Brien took an offload after a Nick McCarthy snipe to go over.
Being the defensive nerd that I am I actually didn’t mind the lack of tries in the final half hour as Chile really did all they could to get their side of the scoreboard working again only to be denied even after we went heavily into our bench. For me, that kind of defiance is as good as a seven pointer.
STANDOUT PLAYERS – Charlie Tector got PotM yet while I do think he played well and seems to be progressing nicely after his U20 Six Nations heroics earlier in the year, if Cormac Foley had played the full 80 (he left the action on 44m although did come back on briefly for McCarthy later) I’d have gone for him, not only for the “worldy” try, but also for his over distribution and decision making which was mostly at the heart of everything positive for our attack.
Others that stood out for me were second row pairing Brian Deeny & Cormac Foley, and back rowers Conall Boomer and Seán O’Brien. Also having already harped on the team defending, there was an amazing individual effort from Liam Turner in stopping a certain try with a last-ditch tackle in the corner, his stock is definitely rising in a Leinster set up already well stocked with quality centres.
JUSTIN & JAMES – I remember a Leinster match back in the old Pro 14 (though not the opposition sadly) when the TV commentators were Reggie Corrigan and Bernard Jackman and I remarked that they would be perfect for ALL Leinster matches, even if just as a red button option if that could be organised.
But I reckon Justin Middleton & James Lowe did a decent job putting themselves forward for such a role on this match, not only did they describe the action perfectly but we also got to know some of the lads’ nicknames, like Rob Russell “The TikTok Dancer”, Tom Clarkson “The Italian Stallion”, and also according to JLowe it seems Michael Milne is a bit of a grumpy sod!
Imagine people with accents that are definitely not Irish banging on about Leinster Rugby like that? I doubt anyone else would dare giving it a go…
FINAL THOUGHTS – All in all a good run out for all involved and a decent bonus to have on the calendar to help get us back into the URC mindset after the Autumn internationals. And I’m pretty sure the occasion helped greatly in Chile’s World Cup preparations, too. The mini-bustup at the end (or dare I call it a “mini-Donnybrook”?) shows just how seriously both sides were taking it.
JVDF & TK = 🌎 POTY
“And when Irish Men’s Rugby saw the breadth of its domain, it wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer.”
Obviously that’s tongue in cheek but whatever happens in the future we can always say we remember a time when Ireland’s XVs team were ranked number 1, we had the best XVs player in the world, the best 7s player in the world, plus of course a World Cup 7s bronze after only taking the discipline seriously a few years ago.
Absolutely delighted for Josh & Terry on their much-deserved awards, obviously there are many out there who will highlight the case for others to have gotten them but just let them grumble.
Next up, as well as keeping the men’s standards where they are heading to RWC2023, we can also aspire to bringing the women’s game up to those levels as well.
Ugh. I’m sick and tired of harpin’ on f**kin’ Rassie. But he gives me no choice. I do my best to stay level headed on the social media as others seem to find themselves all too easily “triggered”, but when he posted last week about his spate of tweets and videos after the Boks lost to both Ireland & France in successive weeks, suggesting that the posts were “not aimed at the officials,but to our fans on what we should do better”, I’d had enough of the BS and had to respond.
Not surprisingly a lot of South African fans replied with not too kind suggestions as to what I could do for steps 5, 6 and sometimes even 7, but I realise I did kind of leave myself open to that with the framing and I certainly don’t regret posting the tweet at all.
It later emerged that he had been banned for two more games by World Rugby [very weak sauce IMO given his previous but at least it was something] so I’m assuming his tweet was done having found out about the sanction before us.
Whatever the reality behind the scenes, the guy really needs to stay in his lane.
A BRIDGE TOO QATAR
I’m definitely not “one of those” rugby fans who likes to turn up his nose at football, but when it comes to the 2022 World Cup that just started last weekend, I’m definitely a rugby fan who is happy to turn his back on it for a few weeks. Plenty of URC & Heineken Cup action to satisfy my sporting taste buds in that time.
Sadly, as I have said before on these pages, with Qatar Airways sneaking on to the URC officials jerseys and the final RWC qualifiers taking place in Dubai of all places, I fear our own sport might be tempted down a similar road.
I don’t know very much about my Portuguese heritage on my father’s side, but after their dramatic last-gasp penalty to clinch a draw against the USA which was enough to get them to RWC2023, I might find out a bit more so I can get behind them as my second team when the tournament comes around. Massive achievement for them although I reckon Francisco Issac, who appeared on our pod talking about the Rugby Europe Super Cup a few weeks ago, explains their journey a whole lot better in this Squidge-esque video…
Biggest news in this week’s Leinster list is Rónan Kelleher reaching the “Available for selection” portion although of course it’s great to see Ryan & Harry there too. As great and all as it has been to see Dan Sheehan tearing it up this season, it won’t hurt to have Rónan back to his best as well and he must be chomping at the bit to get out there.
Meanwhile down in the dreaded “no further update” portion it’s not good to see Henshaw in there for sure, although it is definitely good news to see James Lowe move out of there, as much as I enjoyed his commentary I’d enjoy seeing him in a Leinster jersey a whole lot more.
INJURY UPDATE – AVAILABLE FOR SELECTION:
Harry Byrne: will be available to train this week following his return from a hamstring injury
Ryan Baird: has completed the Graduated Return to Play Protocols and will return to full training this week
Rónan Kelleher: will be available to train this week following his return from a hamstring injury
INJURY UPDATE – FURTHER ASSESSMENT REQUIRED:
Jordan Larmour and James Lowe: will again step up their rehabilitation this week as they return from foot and calf injuries respectively
INJURY UPDATE – UNAVAILABLE FOR SELECTION:
Johnny Sexton: will be assessed this week for a calf injury sustained in the build-up to the Australia game on Saturday
There are no further updates on:
Martin Moloney (knee), Ciarán Frawley (knee), Will Connors (bicep), Robbie Henshaw (hamstring), James Tracy (neck), Charlie Ryan (knee) and Tommy O’Brien (knee)
The round robin portion of the Women’s AIL came to a close last weekend with UL Bohs clinching their spot in the semifinals with a home win over Galwegians, although their chances of progressing further look slim as they have to travel to play 100% Blackrock College, who just put the 79 points on Suttonians. The other semi looks to be a lot closer as Railway Union’s 22-5 win in Wicklow meant they will host Belvo for a place in the final on Dec 9, which will be televised on TG4.
Over in the men’s they had the weekend off and they are back in action this weekend with the big match in Division 1A being 100% 1st place Terenure travelling to Castle Avenue to play 3rd place Clontarf, a match which should feature several of the players who did so well in Leinster blue against Chile last Friday.
Ballincollig 15-3 Cooke
Blackrock College 79-0 Suttonians
UL Bohemian 13-7 Galwegians
Wicklow RFC 5-22 Railway Union
Sat Nov 26
Shannon v UCD
Ballynahinch v Cork Con
Clontarf v Terenure
Dublin University v Young Munster
Lansdowne v Garryowen
THE NEXT BATCH OF HARPIN’
The Best League aka the URC is back in action this week, and Leinster hope to continue their unbeaten start to the season by hosting Glasgow at the RDS on Saturday afternoon. I’ll be speaking to Warriors fan David Arnott on Wednesday for a bonus pod to see how their season has gone so look out for that, then on Friday Keego will join me for the Preview Show, with the wrap as always getting recorded on Sunday evening.
Also there will be the usual features on our various social media channels, including Mastodon which seems to be attracting more and more rugby fans each day so why not check it out if you haven’t already.
In the meantime, be sure to enjoy your rugby wherever you are. JLP