Welcome to my 80+ column, a weekly post featuring final thoughts from the week of rugby just gone.
WRAP OF A WRAP
Just after 8pm on Saturday evening I was pretty sure I’d have to prepare the first pod under our new format where the subject matter was a Leinster or Ireland defeat but we all know how that second half went and I reckon Tom & Conor did a bang up job harpin’ on all the relevant points from the classic top-of-the-table encounter. If you missed it, check it out here or on most major platforms.
HARPIN’ ON…HEALY RED
Of course if you need a sample of the pod before you commit to clicking, here’s a taste when we harped on the red card which we thought at the time would be the deciding factor on the night – as you can see we were all incredibly one-eyed and fully agreed the decision was in fact a travesty…
TURNING BACK TIME
Before I move on from Saturday night’s classic, I’d like to expand on a point raised by Tom in the above clip.
When the Healy/Stewart collision happened, the clock read 17:58. Yet when the referee finally ruled on the red card, it was at 20:35 and when the ball was finally back in play it was actually 20:56.
So basically, due to a decision that had to be referred to the TMO, three minutes of gameplay were lost. And in actual fact they weren’t just lost, there was actually over two and a half minutes of rugby played in that time which was never going to count towards anything.
I have two points to make about this.
- I’m pretty sure that once it’s decided that there was foul play, the clock should be moved back to the precise time when it happened. This shouldn’t take much longer to do as the TMO can confirm it in the booth. We may not notice those 3 minutes in this particular match but imagine if it happened in the 77th minute of a game where Ulster were within a converted try on the scoreboard? The difference between having 3 minutes to take advantage from the penalty and having the clock automatically in the red is pretty big.
- This also links to the discussion over concussion safety. Often the officials stop the game when they think there has been foul play and when the TMO finds nothing wrong, there is outcry from the same pundits & fans about holding up the game. Well, those 2 plus minutes from Saturday are exactly why it’s important to err on the side of caution. If an official thinks there may be something that needs looking at, they should absolutely stop play because IMO if there’s possibly anything worse than suffering a serious injury on a rugby pitch, then it’s suffering a serious injury on a rugby pitch in play that didn’t even count towards the final score.
CLUB RUGBY WORLD CUP
I noticed a headline during the week about ongoing talks regarding the formation of a “Club Rugby World Cup”. The more I see these articles, the more I’m convinced that it will eventually happen.
My thoughts are simple, of course it’s a super concept, who wouldn’t want to see a comp with fixtures like Leinster v Crusaders but the drawbacks are pretty obvious – 1) how the hell do you fit it into the calendar without altering it drastically (and harmfully if that’s a word), and 2) I hope I’d reading the room wrong here but I have a feeling there might be a temptation to stage this in a “neutral venue” like Dubai.
Both would seriously take the shine off what would otherwise be an illustrious event for the sport, although sadly I feel both are also very likely to happen anyway.
So there I was, off with the family doing the first bout of Christmas shopping on Saturday when I was able to sneak away to a coffee shop and over a flat white I watched the Irish Men’s 7s take on the Blitzbokke in the final of the Dubai 7s. Sadly it wasn’t to be for them as the South Africans made their experience tell for these occasions by running in three tries before we could land a punch, but it’s certainly all not disappointment for Ireland, this will stand to them down the line and having drawn one and lost one in the pool stages they did really well to get this far anyway.
Getting to the final lifts us up to 4th on the overall series after 2 rounds, and over on the Women’s side although they went out at the quarterfinal stage they still managed a decent 6th place finish which is a decent start so hopefully both sides will be able to continue on their upwards curves when the circus rolls into Cape Town this coming weekend.
Be sure to keep an eye out for all the kickoff times and support them on social media as much as you can. Remember – we’re trying to let the organisers know we’re ready willing and able to host a leg on these shores!!!
We neglected our TikTok account for a while there in November, but with the Champions Cup starting next weekend we had to bring back our EuroWatch feature with brief “Reeling In The Years”-style presentation of the latest matches from Leinster’s upcoming HCC opposition. Below you see last week’s Racing offering and we’ll have more later during the week just subscribe to our account.
WARREN & EDDIE
Everyone’s harpin’ on this at the moment so I have to include it I suppose, but to be honest both dismissals have been in the “worst kept secret” category for a while now so there’s not a whole lot more I can add except to say that while both nations might be in turmoil on and off the pitch right now, it often doesn’t take much to turn their fortunes around in the short term, especially with the quality they have on offer, so I reckon Wales v Ireland to open the 2023 Six Nations could be very interesting indeed.
I will also add this meme from Cian “RugbyKino” O’Muilleoir which nails the Welsh decision on the head.
Actually one thing I did miss in all the excitement from the match on Saturday was Tadhg Furlong going off and hopefully this was just a precaution. And as well as Jamie Osborne did in the 12 role, it’s still really good news for Leinster that Charlie Ngatai is meant to be back training with the squad this week as we’ll need every ounce of his European experience at the weekend. That doesn’t rule out Jamie altogether of course and actually I reckon he’d be perfect for this match against Racing in the 23 jersey given he has had four starts for Leinster this season, all in different positions.
For what it’s worth here is my ideal 23 for Saturday…
Pagano’s 23 : Keenan, J O’Brien, Ringrose, Ngatai, Lowe, Sexton, JGP.
Porter, Sheehan, Furlong, Jenkins, Ryan, Baird, JVDF, Doris.
Kelleher, E Byrne, Ala’alatoa, Molony, Conan, McGrath, R Byrne, Osborne.
INJURY UPDATE – AVAILABLE FOR SELECTION:
James Lowe: came through the game at the weekend against Ulster Rugby with no issues after his return from a calf injury
Charlie Ngatai: is expected to train fully with the team this week after his recovery from a shoulder injury
INJURY UPDATE – FURTHER ASSESSMENT REQUIRED:
Johnny Sexton: will be further assessed this week for a calf injury ahead of a final decision later in the week
Tadhg Furlong: will be further assessed this week for an ankle injury picked up against Ulster Rugby ahead of a final decision later in the week
INJURY UPDATE – UNAVAILABLE FOR SELECTION:
There were no further injuries from the game at the weekend.
There are no further updates on:
Robbie Henshaw (wrist), Martin Moloney (knee), Ciarán Frawley (knee), Will Connors (bicep), James Tracy (neck), Charlie Ryan (knee) and Tommy O’Brien (knee)
Friday night is a massive night for Women’s rugby on these shores as the AIL final between Blackrock and Railway Union is to be broadcast live on terrestrial TV for the first time as TG4 are carrying the broadcast, and especially since there are no Irish men’s provinces involved in European action on the same night, I really think it’s important for rugby fans to get involved by watching and sharing comments throughout on social media.
Remember – women’s club rugby is different to the men’s in that it always features current and former test players, and this final should be no exception with the likes of Enya Breen, Maeve Óg O’Leary, Hannah O’Connor, Nikki Caughey and Lindsay Peat all likely to be involved so be sure to tune in or better still, head along to Energia Park in Donnybrook yourself on the night, kickoff is at 7:45pm
Meanwhile over on the men’s side of things, Terenure had a “slip up” of sorts as for the first time in 9 rounds they failed to get the try bonus point, though of course their win over Trinity keeps their 100% start going. Tarf moved up to second with a tough win down at Cork Con while Young Munster continued their run of form with a win at Shannon and will be more than ready for the visit of Nure this coming weekend. The league then takes a break until the new year.
Blackrock 13 – 8 UL Bohemians
Railway Union 34 – 19 Old Belvedere
Fri Dec 9
Blackrock College v Railway Union
Sat Dec 3
Cork Con 22 – 29 Clontarf
Garryowen 10 – 28 Ballynahinch
Terenure 23 – 21 Dublin University
UCD 27 – 26 Lansdowne
Shannon 3 – 32 Young Munster
Sat Dec 10
Ballynahinch v UCD
Clontarf v Garryowen
Dublin University v Cork Con
Lansdowne v Shannon
Young Munster v Terenure
What the hell is this? You may well ask. Well, I’ve been playing around with one of those AI image generators lately, so I figured I’d share something here with it each week for a while, here’s what came up using the words “Leinster Rugby” in “Comic Book” mode. At least they got the colours right I guess? More to come.
HARPIN’ PREDICTION LEAGUE
Highlight of Round 9 for me prediction wise was my last-second change of my forecast for Connacht v Benetton – I saw a tweet from a western based fan who said he felt in his bones that they’d win by 20 so I switched my margin from 9 to 19 and sure enough it came up trumps. Kristian Ross had an even better round although I’m still closing the gap on Kino at the top of the league while Keego’s grip on both the wooden spoon and the Jersey of Shame seems to be getting even tighter…
THE NEXT BATCH OF HARPIN’
Next up it’s the Heineken Champions Cup and Leinster’s first assignment is certainly a tough one with an away trip to Racing 92 definitely set to be a challenge. Of course we’re giving it the full Harpin treatment with Illtud Daffyd, who briefed us on Montpellier last season, returning for an “Opposition View” pod on Wednesday before Keego has another appearance on Friday’s Preview Show and then it’s wrap up time on Sunday evening , with all the usual other features in between.
In the meantime, be sure to enjoy your rugby wherever you are. JLP