Welcome to my 80+ column, a weekly post featuring final thoughts from the week of rugby just gone.
WRAP OF A WRAP
All due respect to the Glasgow Warriors, but let’s just say Leinster’s win last Saturday is not one that will go down in the memory. Or at least not one that will inspire the province to bring out the available players who took part at half time in a match 10 years down the road, like Leinster did with the 2011/12 HCup winning teams!
Despite the comparative lack of importance, I still think the lads did a really good job describing the action in our Sunday pod, each of them providing their own expertise with Keego bringing the witty references and Mark the coaching expertise, just goes to show what a wide variety of Leinster fans are out there and while I have said it before I’m happy to say again that I’m lucky to have such an awesome set of contributors.
I also consider myself lucky to be able to go to these matches at the RDS since no matter what the overall importance of the occasion I never fail to enjoy being there on matchday.
HARPIN’ ON LEINSTER’S DEFENCE V GLASGOW
Our extra chat this week was on Leinster’s defence, we have harped on it before but as we continue to remain this consistent without the ball no matter what the lineup, I’ll feel like bringing it up again and again on these pages until the standards start to slip. And as I bring up the near perfection I see week in week out, it’s always good to have fellow fans to bring me at least a little bit back down to earth as you can see in the clip below.
Mark’s point that Glasgow didn’t really challenge us and Keego’s that we need to be wary of relying too much on it are both well made, in fact that all comes into play in last season’s Champions Cup final. We not only found out that keeping the opposition’s score down isn’t worth much if you can’t find the tries yourself, but also if anything our defending was TOO perfect in those closing minutes – ironically if we had let La Rochelle score much earlier in their late seige we would have at least had time left to respond! Anyway, here’s the chat…have a listen for yourself and maybe subscribe to the channel too if the mood takes you…
A Lions Tour, 61 caps for Scotland where he scored 19 points from four tries (one under the old money of four points) and starring for both Newcastle Falcons and Border Reivers as the sport was just turning professional is a brief summary of Doddie Weir’s achievements on the pitch, but it’s what happened after his retirement for which he will be most remembered. Of course I don’t just mean the tragic ailment of MND but of course the lengths to which he went to help raise awareness through the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation. Here’s the opening couple of paragraphs from their post from Monday, click here for the full article and by all means feel free to contribute if you can.
Instantly recognised as an outstanding rugby player, Doddie was diagnosed with MND just two days before Christmas in 2016, eventually going public with the news the following summer on what was Motor Neuron Disease Awareness Day.
Since making his condition known, Doddie has championed the campaign for more to be done for sufferers of the disease, both in terms of finding a possible cure, and with the treatment and welfare of patients and their carers.My Name’5 Doddie Foundation
We have interviewed the owner of the @IrishWomens account a few times for the pod, but understandably they wish to remain anonymous as their aim is to further the cause of the women’s game throughout the four provinces. We’re very sorry, if not entirely surprised, to learn that they have received a good bit of abuse on social media, especially recently and I hope my readers would join me in offering them and indeed anyone encountering such treatment online our full support.
I was glad to see this particular situation was resolved and I hope it doesn’t happen again although unfortunately I fear there are more bad faith actors than this one so we need to look out for each other and call it out when we see it.
Meanwhile those of us with a genuine interest in full inclusivity in the sport can go on having our rational adult discussions.
Rob Russell’s 1st try for Leinster on Saturday, coming as it did after an out-of-this-world offload by Charlie Ngatai, reminded me of technology I have seen in rugby league which could really be used in union.
Thankfully for the boys in blue the try I mention above was clear cut after a couple of looks on the replay, but often in tries in the corner it is difficult to see whether the grounding was made before or after a trailing foot drags into touch. Or at least it’s difficult when you only see one angle at a time.
I have to admit I don’t watch a whole lot of rugby league but I am pretty sure I have seen a feature used where your can watch four different angles at once played simultaneously so everyone can see exactly what they need to see to make a decision. Baffles me how something as helpful as that can’t be brought into Union. We often complain about TMOs for wasting time but sometimes maybe they can be improved.
SEVENS ARE BACK
Unfortunately for all I have said on these pages about football being played in Qatar, Dubai isn’t a whole lot better when it comes to human rights and after the final RWC2023 qualifiers taking place there over the past few weeks, it’s now time for the Sevens circuit to pass through with both Ireland’s Women’s and Men’s teams taking part.
Both squads will be looking to improve on their respective 7th place finishes in Hong Kong in the first round, and the action is all being streamed on the World Rugby website from 5am (Irish time) on Friday.
Delighted to see Messrs Larmour & Lowe continuing to move up the list and it would be great to see one or both of them involved against Ulster at the weekend. The news is not so great for Robbie Henshaw however and I doubt we’ll see him before the start of the 2023 Six Nations. That also means of course it would be extra beneficial for Leinster if Charlie Ngatai’s injury isn’t as bad as it looked when he was removed at halftime last Saturday, especially as he was playing so well.
INJURY UPDATE – AVAILABLE FOR SELECTION:
Harry Byrne and Rónan Kelleher: came through the game at the weekend against Glasgow Warriors with no issues after their return from hamstring injuries
Ryan Baird: came through the game at the weekend with no issues following his return from the Graduated Return to Play Protocols
Jordan Larmour: will train fully with the squad this week after his recovery from a foot injury
James Lowe: will train fully with the squad this week after his recovery from a calf injury
INJURY UPDATE – FURTHER ASSESSMENT REQUIRED:
Johnny Sexton: will be further assessed as the week goes on for a calf injury before a final decision is made on his availability
Charlie Ngatai: will be further assessed as the week goes on for a shoulder injury before a final decision is made on his availability
INJURY UPDATE – UNAVAILABLE FOR SELECTION:
Robbie Henshaw: had a procedure on a wrist injury last week which will rule him out of action until early in the new year
There are no further updates on:
Martin Moloney (knee), Ciarán Frawley (knee), Will Connors (bicep), James Tracy (neck), Charlie Ryan (knee) and Tommy O’Brien (knee)
The Women’s AIL plays to a finish before Christmas with teams vying for a place in the final which will be screened live on TG4 on Dec 9. This weekend sees the semifinals with 1st seed Rock hosting UL Bohs in one while the other is a Dublin derby between Railway Union and Belvo.
Meanwhile in the men’s version they are at round 7 of 18 with Terenure continuing their perfectly perfect start with 35 points out of 35 although Clontarf did stay close enough to them in the round’s biggest clash for a losing bonus. The Nure have another 1st v 2nd clash in the next round when they host Trinity at Lakelands.
It was a good weekend for most of the Munster clubs in Div 1A with Shannon and Young Munster both defeating Dublin opposition while Cork Con stayed in touch at the top thanks in part to the ridiculously long penalty by George Coomber you see in the clip below.
Blackrock v UL Bohemians
Railway Union v Old Belvedere
Sat Nov 26
Shannon 36-24 UCD
Ballynahinch 13-20 Cork Con
Clontarf 24-29 Terenure
Dublin University 24-25 Young Munster
Lansdowne 47-28 Garryowen
Sat Dec 3
Cork Con v Clontarf
Garryowen v Ballynahinch
Terenure v Dublin University
UCD v Lansdowne
Shannon v Young Munster
HARPIN’ PREDICTION LEAGUE
The return of the URC also means the return of the Harpin’ Prediction League and the good news for me this week is that I made up a lot of ground on Kino who was getting a little too comfortable at the top. However the bad news for me was that I’d be an extra point closer if only I had remembered to get my prediction for Stormers and Scarlets in on time!!! Still though, at least the Ospreys came through for me this weekend, while the URC’s 2 upset results, namely Benetton beating Embra and Cardiff’s shock whitewash of the Sharks, not being forecast by any of us. Down at the bottom of the table as you can see, it’s not looking good for Keego who may have to don The Jersey Of Shame at season’s end.
THE NEXT BATCH OF HARPIN’
Ulster up next at the RDS so we’ll have Ian Frizzell back on the pod to offer an opposition view on Wednesday, Keego will be helping me with the preview and then for the wrap on Saturday it will be Conor Cronin and Tom Coleman on duty. Also we’ll have all the usual features including the return of Eurowatch with some TikTok videos showing how Leinster’s Champions Cup opponents are getting on in their domestic competitions.
In the meantime, be sure to enjoy your rugby wherever you are. JLP