80+ column : Competition update, troll’s tropes, taboo phrase

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


First things first…the all important update in the prestigious Guinness Pint Predictor League.

As you can see an amazing round by Jack Fogarty including a perfect prediction of IREvFRA catapulted him into first place in both categories; ‘Overall score’ as you see in the graphic, and also ‘best one round score’.

REMEMBER YOU CAN STILL JOIN THE LEAGUE AND WIN PRIZES we’re accepting entrants right up to the final round and you can still beat Jack’s Round 2 score of 58 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.

And we can announce an extra prize for the Best Score In One Round category – a signed copy of Brian Moylett’s “The Book On How You Become A Pro Rugby Player” [he’ll be a guest on our bonus pod this week] so like I say there’s still plenty of time to throw your hat in the ring.


That was a real Six Nations classic at the Aviva on Saturday, and we thought it might take myself, Mark & Conor about six hours to record the wrap.  In the end it was more like an hour and a half so a lot had to end up on the cutting room floor although as you can see below I managed to salvage a couple of bonus YouTube clips.

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


Thankfully, Wayne Barnes’ decision that “I’m not starting at a high degree of danger” didn’t affect the result too much in the end, and pretty much everyone who saw the match was expecting news of Atonio’s citing on Monday, we’ll see how the hearing goes.

Unfortunately, the non-call brought two of my most hated tropes to the fore on the social media, the “go overboard slagging off the ref” and the one I pointed out here.


I got given out to on our YouTube channel for apparently copying a theme recently highlighted by Squidge, well as much I love his work I have to point out that I did not see that video and even if I had, I still wanted to let Mark, an actual head coach at Nat 2 level in the English system, a chance to harp on the topic in his own words.

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.


Mark also gave some decent background on the omnishambles at Worcester so I included the extra chat in a “bonus bonus clip”.


Couldn’t let Mark get all the social media airtime so Conor’s depiction of “That Doris pass” made for a perfect TikTok promo and seems to be getting decent engagement so far…


I might get into trouble here as it’s going to look like I’m slagging off two world class players, but I can’t help wondering if we’re going a tad overboard gushing over Antoine Dupont’s holding up Mack Hansen around the try line at the Aviva?

Don’t get me wrong, it did show great strength but I don’t see anyone pointing out that Hansen had zero momentum when AD grabbed him plus, while the Connacht star would definitely kick my ass one on one, he’s not exactly our biggest player?  Would he have held up James Ryan the same way for example?

Again to be absolutely clear, I’m not saying the try denial wasn’t impressive, just that maybe the praise needs dialling down a few notches.   I’ll shut up now, it’s probably for the best.


This point is very simple, and shouldn’t need any explanation to long time readers, although according to this tweet by Ulster fan and occasional contributor Ian Frizzell the BelTel subeditors definitely need a crash course.

After two Irish wins to kickoff this season’s Six Nations, ALL MENTIONS of that two word phrase that rhymes with “bland jam” are OFF LIMITS whether spoken, typed or signed until further notice.  Please observe and pass it on to all around you.



On top of the concerns we already had that Robbie, JGP, Tadhg & Dan would miss the remainder of the Six Nations, now the other Tadhg and even Sexton have become doubts.  All are presumptive starters but as we have seen so far the wider squad have earned themselves a ton of good faith so hopefully the supporters will buy in.


Most encouraging bit of Leinster’s report was JJ moving out of the “no further updates” category we could really do with having him back when the knockout matches come around.  Given we’re also getting four back from Irish camp all in need of some game time I reckon we can put out a pretty decent lineup at the RDS on Saturday night…

J O’Brien, J Larmour, L Turner, B Brownlee, D Kearney, H Byrne, L McGrath

M Milne, J McKee, M Ala’alatoa, R Molony, J McCarthy, R Ruddock, W Connors, M Deegan

T McElroy,  M Hanan, T Clarkson, B Deeny, S Penny, N McCarthy, C Tector, R Russell

(note – the above team is purely from my imagination, it’s certainly not one of those quasi-leaked Thornley teams which are always 22 out of 23 correct)


Will Connors: came through the game against Cardiff Rugby with no issues following his return from injury


Jason Jenkins: will look to increase his training load this week as he nears a return from a hamstring injury


Cormac Foley: picked up a hamstring injury training last week and will be unavailable for selection

There are no further updates on:

Charlie Ngatai (hamstring), Ed Byrne (knee), Martin Moloney (knee), Ciarán Frawley (knee) and Tommy O’Brien (knee)


First a word on the Women’s Celtic Challenge, the Irish Combined Provinces XV had a week off and resume their campaign with a match against the Welsh at the Kingspan on Saturday hoping to make it three wins from three, best of luck to them.

Next the men’s AIL is back with some interesting 1A matchups in round 13 as you can see.

Finally ICYMI our bonus pod last week was an interesting chat with Justin Middleton where he outlined his route to becoming the voice of the AIL and he also talks about what can be done to help promote the league to a wider audience.  Do check it out here.

Men’s AIL

Sat Feb 18

Ballynahinch v Terenure

Clontarf v Young Munster

Lansdowne v Cork Con

Shannon v Dublin University

UCD v Garryowen


As I said earlier our bonus pod this week features an interview with Brian Moylett about his book.

Then of course we will turn our attention back to the URC with the rebranded Dragons coming to the RDS on Saturday and of course the match will be getting the usual Harpin treatment with a preview Friday featuring Keego, 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

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