80+ column : Over-reacting to over-reacting

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


First things first…a reminder of the prestigious Harpin Guinness Pint Predictor League.

Our leader in the “Best Score In One Round” category is Andrew Byrne’s 67, including a spot on prediction of Ireland’s 14-point win over Italy.  The prize will be a signed copy of Brian Moylett’s “The Book On How You Become A Pro Rugby Player”.  Jack Fogarty still leads the overall table with seven points to spare. 

REMEMBER YOU CAN STILL JOIN THE LEAGUE AND WIN PRIZES  we’re accepting entrants right up to the final round so you can still beat Andrew’s Round 3 score, 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.


Mark & Ciarán did their usual excellent job helping me wrap our latest feature match, I on the other hand had issues with my audio – when I heard it back it sounded like I was talking while being locked in a box.  Thankfully it didn’t take long to re-record my parts and the result turned out ok if I do say so myself.

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


We’ve been mostly using these YouTube bonus clips as an opportunity to turn the spotlight on certain players who don’t always get the recognition and if anyone in the current Leinster squad deserves this it has to be Dave Kearney.  Thankfully his excellent finish in Edinburgh provided the platform for a decent bit of appreciation from our panel.

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.


Unlike the YouTube clips, I never go into our pod recordings knowing what I’m going to you for the brief TikTok promos, it’s one of those things where I’ll know where I hear it and sure enough once Mark said this about Liam Turner definitely knew it.

It might sound like feint praise to say of a player “he’s a definite candidate for our 23 jersey in Europe” but when you’re talking about a squad with the depth of Leinster’s back three talent, that’s some statement yet one I’m more than happy to make about Turner he has had an outstanding season.

On a more personal note we’re proud here at Harpin Manor to have passed 400 followers on TikTok we’re not exactly pushing it as our top platform, simply posting regular clips so we’re happy that the numbers continue to rise and will no doubt do something special if and when we reach 500.


A clip from our latest wrap pod available on most major platforms #EDIvLEI #URC

♬ original sound – Harpinonrugby.com – Harpinonrugby.com


Ardie made a slit throat gesture to an opponent as he was leaving the field.

He publicly apologised at the earliest opportunity.

He has been cited.

That’s the above water part to this iceberg of a story.  If you hold your nose and plunge into the depths though there was a whole lot more. 


My initial thoughts were that if you made it publicly known that you were going to kill/injure someone out in the “real world” you wouldn’t or at least shouldn’t get away with it.  So once my mind went to a place where I wanted to suggest on twitter that I thought this wasn’t cool, you can see where I landed.

I guess I assumed that by using the words “straying towards” I would be making it obvious that no, I do not actually think that there should be criminal charges brought against the Hurricanes & All Black number 8.

Enter the “Game’s Gone Soft” crowd.  Or the “Woke Hunters” or whatever you want to call them.  You see, my “mistake” was that the words “criminal charges” became a beacon for those rage scrolling the second the incident appeared as a clip on social media because, of course, they were actively searching for a poster child.  I provided it for them.  Do I regret it?

You know what – ten, maybe even five years ago, I definitely would have.  I may even have gone so far as to remove the tweet.  

But now, fuck it.  I know what I meant.  And if I’m tailoring my opinions based on how I think a certain corner of the opinion spectrum (especially this one) is going to respond well then I may as not bother.  And since I’m a firm believer in sharing opinions, that only leaves one conclusion – leave it there, maybe add a tweet or two to explain what I meant (I even acknowledged that I probably did a bad job wording it but I still couldn’t change my view), and then let the backlash wash over me.

To summarise, we had people over-reacting to my over-reaction to Ardie’s initial over-reaction.   Or to put it another way, an average day in the bird house.

I know there are those who will take this as “proof” that “Twitter is a cess pit” but even after last Friday I still disagree.  If we defined every pursuit by it’s bad actors then the world itself would be a cess pit.  


I always make it clear when I’m about to harp on Welsh rugby that I am very aware that I’m far outside the “bubble” and thus am unsure of the minute details and dramas going on between the regions, cities, clubs and personalities across the nation.

But being a URC/Six Nations fan I do claim to have a tangential interest and from where I’m sitting it looks as though they have reached a point where they are going to have to rely on outside investment to get out of this cavernous hole they find themselves in.

And once you have to put your eggs in that corporate basket, you have to accept that there are going to be some options available which will make “unthinkable” actions very thinkable.  Like merging one of the regions with a club that keeps on doing well in the RFU’s second tier while being denied entry into its first.

Does that mean it will definitely happen?  Of course not.  But my point is that if it does become possible they should definitely consider it, while if it doesn’t they need to get ready for another offer which may sound equally ludicrous at first.

Once rugby union went pro, the sport was always going to have to think outside the box, and to be fair, while it’s still far from perfect it’s still a better box for the most part IMO.


Leinster tend not to issue a full report until the Monday before their next match so that would be March 20th.  But going from the Irish squad update it looks like Ciaran Frawley has been called up to camp while Scott Penny and Jamie Osborne have been held back for minor knocks so hopefully they are indeed minor.  Meanwhile we’re wondering whether or not the likes of Furlong, Gibson-Park, Sexton and Henshaw will be involved at Murrayfield next weekend.  


It’s “as you were” at the top of Division 1A as both Tarf and Nure secured BP wins away to Shannon and UCD respectively.  Familiar names to Leinster fans among the tries include Ben Murphy and Jordan Coghlan. 

Meanwhile in the race for the top 4 it’s looking like we could have two Leinster v Munster semifinals as both Cork Con and Young Munster also won away from home although Ballynahinch’s win over freefalling Trinity (the only home win of the five) keeps them in contention.

Down at the bottom it’s looking like a three-way fight to void joining Garryowen with Lansdowne, UCD and Shannon all having tricky away assignments in round 16 on March 25.

Men’s AIL


Ballynahinch 36-15 Dublin Univ

Garryowen 21-29 Cork Con

Lansdowne 10-15 Young Munster

Shannon 3-33 Clontarf

UCD 10-32 Terenure


MAR 25 (all 2:30pm)

Clontarf v Ballynahinch

Cork Con v Shannon

Dublin Univ v Lansdowne

Terenure v Garryowen

Young Munster v UCD


Mixed fortune for the Irish squads in Canada – both started brightly with wins over the host nation and South American opposition but then they went their separate ways.  The women went on to lost all their remaining matches and although they remain a respectable 5th in the standings, a gap has appeared above them and they will be anxiously looking over their shoulders for the remaining rounds.

Although the men couldn’t avenge the Aussies in their final pool match, they still made the quarterfinals where a Zac Ward try deep in extra time got them past the USA and into the final four where they may have fallen to Argentina and again Australia but still the points were valuable and put us back into the top 8.

The circuit now moves on to Hong Kong at the end of March.


My goal is to watch at least one MLR fixture each week, starting with Houston v San Diego from round 3 they’re all available for free on TheRugbyNetwork.com.

To be clear I won’t be following this competition merely to comment on the rugby.  My main interest is in watching how the sport is growing in the USA.  I reckon they have a decent model in the MLR to bring it forward but the league hasn’t been without its challenges especially last season when they lost the two Adam Gilchrist-owned teams (though considering the dumb nicknames they had they probably won’t be missed too much in the long run).

So with this in mind I checked out the replay of the Houston Sabercats v San Diego Legion, probably the biggest clash of Round 3 as both are expected to make the playoffs.  The familiar names were mostly on the San Diego side which features skipper Blair Cowen, Ma’a Nonu and Mikey Te’o.

The US presentation of the match was pretty much as expected, with a two-man team for commentary with the analyst seeing his role not only to provide “colour” but also to explain some of the more complicated rules, which is a good thing in my book.

One good feature of this match is that it was played on a pitch that wasn’t besmirched by lines from American football, something we do still see in quite a few MLR matches.

It seemed a decent crowd at Sabercats Stadium but it was the visitors who jumped out to an early 14-0 lead with Nonu heavily involved in both tries in the first 10 minutes.  Needless to say the defences won’t be up to the standards we’re used to in European rugby but still the general attacking play is to be admired at times.

Houston did manage to claw them back including an intercept try from winger Labuschagne which nudged them in front but a quick pair of San Diego tries created 26-17 advantage going into the last ten minutes.  This should have been enough to secure the win but a pair of yellow cards in succession to Sears-Juru & Poidevin gave the home side an opening and they sailed through it with two late converted tries including the winner from their big number 8 Gideon van Wyk to win the day.

Again, if you’re a rugby purist, don’t bother watching these matches.  But if you appreciate how the sport can benefit from the game growing, plus that it will take time for a league to establish rivalries and traditions of its own, then you can certainly enjoy keeping an eye on how things are going.


DAL 10-35 SEA

ATL 29-16 NOLA

CHI 10-14 UTAH


HOU 31-26 SD








I checked back in the records and after being in 1st place after the first couple of URC rounds I had dropped to 3rd by round 7, a whopping 9.5 points behind our resident stats expert RugbyKino, but as you can see I have clawed eight of those points back so I’ll be gunning to retrieve that top spot by the end.

This league is meant to be a race to avoid the bottom spot which rewards you by having to wear The Jersey Of Shame in a social media phot but it would appear Neil “No Picks Keego” Keegan wants that honour for himself so he’s welcome to it!!!


The Six Nations is back on the menu and for a bonus pod during the week I will be the Leinster representative on an all-provincial panel giving an overview of the 2023 Six Nations as it stands.  Then we turn to our focus to Sunday’s “Triple Crown decider” in Murrayfield with a preview show before, a wrap pod after and also all the other usual features in between so be sure to follow us on any or all of our social media platforms to keep up with it all.  In the meantime, be sure to enjoy your rugby wherever you are.  JLP

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