80+ column : Predicting Prowess, Rank Rankings & Emoji Empathy

Welcome to my 80+ column, a weekly post featuring final thoughts from the week of rugby just gone.  


To important admin business first, serious kudos to Christy O’Connor who finished top of the pile in the first round of our Guinness Pint Predictor League on the Fanzo app.

His forecasts of Ireland by 16, Scotland by 4 and France by 9 were closest of the lot so he not only won some free pints for himself but he’s also given him a shot at winning two league categories, namely Best Round Score and of course Overall Winner.

As for the added challenge of beating our Harpin panel of experts, well…let’s just say we’re all a little bit further down the ladder for now but as the saying goes it’s early doors and all that…

REMEMBER YOU CAN STILL JOIN THE LEAGUE we’re accepting entrants right up to the final round and you can still beat that one round score of 46 (top score overall on the app was 60) and also every Six Nations Match gives you the chance to win a free pint so by all means download the app and enter the league using the code HARPIN and see how you get on.


Rich Mifsud & RugbyKino helped me wrap the Welsh match and as ever did a bang up job going back over the eighty minutes and offered some excellent insights, as well as harpin’ on stories from beyond the Irish men’s senior bubble in our “Front Five” feature.

If you missed it, check it out here or on most major platforms.


This week’s bonus clip was on Leinster & Ireland’s nailed on starting full back Hugo Keenan.  Often I disagree with the selection of Player of the match and for Saturday’s match at Cardiff there certainly could be a cae made for Caelan Doris but having said that Keenan is long overdue a prolonged discussion and like I say in the clip if we don’t make a point of having it, he could go his entire career with us taking his high standards for granted.

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.


I never go into my pod recording knowing what portion I’m going to use but the second Kino said this I knew I had my TikTok clip.


Check out our latest wrap pod at anchor.fm/harpinonrugby and most major platforms #GuinnessSixNations #WALvIRE

♬ original sound – Harpinonrugby.com


A curious thing happened on Monday, well two curious things, the first being the new Bank Holiday but the second was a flood of posts in my rugby timeline pointing out that Scotland’s win over England moved them up the World Rugby rankings to ensure that all of the top five are now on the same side of the draw in RWC2023.

That, of course, is ludicrous, but maybe it is also ludicrous for us to keep going on about it because I very much doubt there is anything that can be done to change it.  The practice of holding the draw three years in advance (supposedly in part because it offers a bit of a competitive edge to that year’s November internationals???) has been going on for a few RWC cycles now so it’s nothing new.  

Obviously this “top 5” element is an extreme outcome but the thing is we have known about it for years and this was pointed out as a possible consequence long ago.  We’re just going to have to grin and bear this one and hope they fix things for 2027.

What could be done instead?  I’m not sure if holding the draw later is necessarily a solution because the rankings always change, but maybe they could drop the “fixed bracket” element of the quarterfinal makeup?  So keep the pool winners apart in the last 8 but have their seeding in the draw determined by the rankings at the time?

That of course leads this point towards the rabbit hole of reforming the entire World Cup format altogether so I’ll stray away from that for now, but it’s an interesting one to think about all the same.


Interesting tweet from Jay Long here on twitter Emoji etiquette.  He went on to get a good deal of negative reaction to pointing this out but I don’t see the problem with reminding folks of the make-up of the Irish rugby team.

As Jay points out, often people don’t mean anything by it, but I dare say the vast majority of times people use the tricolour it has no added meaning, and once they learn of this they’ll use the shamrock in future.

I also added that it’s critical to be sure to use the three-leaf emoji rather than the four otherwise you could find yourself in serious “trouble”!!!


Obviously the news that Messrs JGP, Furlong & Healy will also be unavailable to play France was less than ideal news, yet still their standins all did extremely well in Cardiff and I see no reason why we can’t be confident going with the exact same 23 and in many ways the fact that all appear to be available makes this overall a decent injury report for Andy Farrell’s squad.  Plus, it was great news that Rónan Kelleher has resumed full training, and congrats to both Caolin Blade and Michael Milne for their call ups.


Short but sweet 80+ column this week, on Wednesday we’ll be posting an interview with Justin Middleton about his career as a rugby commentator so far as well as a chat about the All Ireland league.

Then of course we will turn our attention back to the 6N starting with our massive clash with France getting the usual Harpin treatment with a preview Friday featuring Rugby Kino, a 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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s