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

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

80+ column : 6N on-pitch anticipation, off-pitch frustration

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


The countdown to “6Mas” gets closer to zero and this year we’re launching a prediction league in conjunction with the Fanzo app, if we get good engagement we’ll offer some prizes for the best players so you’ll really help us out by joining and/or sharing the above graphic with your rugby loving pals.

Here at Harpin Manor we’re running a separate league among our squad of Six Nations podsters, namely myself, Keego, Mark Jackson, Tom Coleman, Conor Cronin, Rich Mifsud & RugbyKino.  And don’t tell them I said this but none of them think any of you have a hope of beating them when it comes to forecasting so I guess you’ll just have to prove ‘em wrong won’t you 😜


Unfortunately Rich Mifsud had to sit our our wrap pod at the weekend due to illness and we hope we returns to fitness in time for next Sunday.  Thankfully RugbyKino was able to answer the call and along with Conor we got an excellent summary of what was expected to be a much closer contest at the RDS.

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


For the pod I try to even out the portions of the match I get my guests to cover as best as I can, yet sadly I didn’t realise Kino had done a lot of preparation on Leinster’s success rate with short tap n go penalty options when I allocated our two tries against Cardiff to Conor.  But when we finished recording the main pod Kino still shared the information and unbeknownst to him the mic was still “hot” so I got it all and made it into a bonus clip for YouTube which you see below.

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.


This week the TikTok spotlight turned to Harry Byrne, this was an important start for him and we thought he did realy well.


Our #LEIvCAR wrap pod is now live at anchor.fm/harpinonrugby and most major platforms

♬ original sound – Harpinonrugby.com – Harpinonrugby.com


Folks, what the hell is going on here???

I’m doing my best to keep myself from donning the tinfoil hat but it would appear that unions from all Six Nations are experiencing varying forms of governance issues in the weeks leading up to the game’s greatest championship kicking off, almost as if (a) we’d have difficulty focusing on everything at once and (b) once the rugby starts we’re expected to forget it anyway.

None of it is pretty, and yes I do mean all unions are involved. 

Recently we had the terrible allegations of systemic misogyny made against the WRU in a documentary, which of course simply sits atop a whole host of other issues there.   

Also last week there was further development in Bernard Laporte’s saga which doesn’t look like straying too far from the news cycle, something the FFR could do without in a RWC year.  

Although what happened in Italian rugby, namely the disgusting “secret Santa” present, was confined to one club, it was their biggest and surely warranted involvement by the union and the response has been extremely insufficient.  

Meanwhile in Scotland the SRU has fallen well short addressing the tragic death of Siobhan Cattigan.  

Then there was the RFU making an absolute hames of introducing new tackle laws at lower levels (in every sense), a problem with communication that by all accounts is nothing new over there.

As for Irish rugby?  Well perhaps on the surface there’s nothing in the front line news, yet while steps are being taken to improve the Women’s game with professional contracts and new competitions being announced, there is information being put out there by a particular twitter account that suggests a lot more needs to be done.

Each issue is vast and extremely difficult to summarize in an article like this one, but the reason I had a stab at it was to present the overall view from just outside the 6N bubble.

We love rugby on the pitch; I’m writing this article and you’re reading it so that goes without saying.  But knowing so much negativity is going on behind the scenes is certainly not acceptable, especially when the governance issues are so widespread.  No organisation is ever going to have everything perfect all the time, but what does seem to be a common thread in the above stories is that the failures are in areas where you’d expect to have set standards throughout the sport, something I would have thought a body like World Rugby was there to fix.


Another strong showing by the Irish women, this time reaching another semifinal after an impressive quarterfinal win over Fiji which put some distance between us and them in the overall series standings and keeps us within reach of the top four.

Meanwhile the men also reached the last eight but a couple of early mistakes against the Blitzbokke made a fightback impossible so we are continuing to struggle to match the excellent silver medal in Dubai.

Next on the circuit is Los Angeles for the men at the end of February, while both they and the women join them in Vancouver the following weekend.  Without researching I just have to say on the surface it does seem odd that LA can’t provide for a women’s leg in the series.

But that just brings me to the point I always like making when discussing the World Sevens Series…


Before I harp on the Men’s AIL, a quick shout out to the Women’s Combined Provinces XV – clunky name I know,  but apparently it’s just for the one season as the new Celtic Challenge tournament is meant to expand from one team per nation to two next season.  Anyway – they opened their campaign with a 27-26 win away to their Welsh counterparts in the opening match.

Now to Division 1A and in Round 12 there was so much going on at both ends of the table it’s hard to know where to start.  I guess it’s best to “take it from the top” as league leaders Terenure suffered only their second defeat of the season, this one at home to rivals Clontarf and with Cork Con also winning, it means just three point separate the top three. Then there’s the race for that fourth semifinal berth as Young Munster scored a home win over Trinity to leap frog them.

But arguably the biggest result of the round was Garryowen finally kicking the duck egg out of their win column by beating Lansdowne, who in turn got dragged back into the relegation battle as UCD also did some leap-frogging, sneaking out of the bottom two at Shannon’s expense.

The clubs now get a couple of weekend’s off to let punters catch the Six Nations in their bars (seriously, if you can, do get down to your local clubs to watch if you can, it really helps them out) and they return to action with some big matchups as you can see below.

Men’s AIL

Cork Con 14-3 Ballynahinch

Garryowen 21-17 Lansdowne

UCD 22-19 Shannon

Young Munster 17-10 Dublin Univ

Terenure 24-29 Clontarf

Sat Feb 18

Ballynahinch v Terenure

Clontarf v Young Munster

Lansdowne v Cork Con

Shannon v Dublin University

UCD v Garryowen


I’d like to say here “from now on we’re switching into FULL SIX NATIONS MODE for the next couple of months”, but of course I can’t say that because there’s a bit of URC thrown in there plus I have another couple of pods lined up on other topics for good measure.

But still, obvs the bulk of the coverage is going to be on the 6N starting with an overview pod which will record Wednesday evening, then the tournament opener in Cardiff will be getting the usual Harpin treatment with a preview Friday, 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

Throwback Thursday : Leo Cullen, Lengthy Contracts & Leinster Culture (July 2015)

To commemorate the news of Leo Cullen staying on at Leinster’s helm for another two years, I’m posting this article I wrote back in July 2015 just before it was officially announced he was taking on the role.


I have put off writing this post for long enough…although nothing has been formally announced, there have certainly been enough rumblings around the media to suggest that Leo Cullen is to be the new head coach for Leinster, so I suppose it’s about time I gave some thoughts on it.

Of course to anyone who knows the game, the move would be considered a risk.  Though I find some of the comparisons being made to appointments in the past to be very baffling.  Steve Staunton?  Eh, no.  Chalk and cheese, mate. 

Sure, Stan made a bucketload of appearances for and was a part of the successful times for the team he was taking over, but his involvement with the Republic of Ireland consisted of about a dozen or so appearances per season while the rest of the time he was with his club of the day.

In Leo’s case, we are not only talking about a club with which he has spent the bulk of his professional career, however unfortunate or indeed unfair his limited Ireland caps total may be, it means he has probably clocked more working hours around the provincial set-up since the start of our “glory days” than any other.

Or to put it another way…if we were to confer the title “Mr. Leinster Rugby” on any individual, I can think of no better man to receive it. 

So when it comes to stepping into this role, one big advantage he has over Staunton is a near perfect knowledge of virtually every aspect of the organisation surrounding the head coach’s chair without ever actually having sat in it.

If we must compare this appointment to an iffy decision from history, I’d be more inclined to go for Martin Johnson’s for  England (yes, that actually did happen, as much as the press across the water tries to airbrush it out of history).  I mean the similarities are very easy to find…legendary lock/skipper who led the side to the highest honour his team could achieve. 

But even that comparison has flaws – I mean, for one thing, I doubt we’ll be hearing stories of dwarves being tossed around Krystle night club any time soon!!!  Joking aside…the assumption around the RFU’s decision with Johnson seemed to be that he’d be an instant success.  That the spirit of 2003 was one that could be bottled and spread to future generations of players.

I think it’s pretty widely known that Leo was never the first choice for the job, and we have all heard the Who’s Who of Rugby Coaches that has been linked with the post.  And given his personality I’m sure he will approach the position with an air of pragmatism as opposed to the air of arrogance that went with Johnson.

So that brings us to the next area we need to consider…how the decision of who gets the job is actually made.

With the success of Leinster and Munster in Europe since 2006, the two provinces are quite rightly considered up alongside the great outfits in European rugby like Toulouse, Leicester Tigers, Wasps and of course most recently Toulon.  And it’s hard not to cross-over to the round ball game and draw comparisons to Champions League greats like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Manchester United.

There is absolutely no doubt that the head coach role at any of those institutions is one of an importance near to (if not more so in soccer’s case) international equivalents, and whenever those positions go on offer, the debate over who will fill them is extensive.

But here is where we must draw attention to one very important distinction.  Toulouse, Wasps and Man Utd are CLUBS.  The Irish provincial teams are not, at least not in the traditional sense.  They are branches of the national rugby union.  Many soccer clubs answer to shareholders alright but never to their football association.

At Leinster, Mick Dawson as CEO leads an extensive organization that has a mountain of work to get through from spreading the sport around the 12 counties to organizing match days to putting plans in place for improvements to the RDS Arena.

But when a big decision like a head coach appointment comes around, while I certainly wouldn’t say it’s “out of their hands”, it does need to be looked at through an IRFU-wide lens rather than simply a Leinster one.

The reason I was reluctant to do this post was that I had hoped that my last one on Matt O’Connor meant I could put the matter in a box and file it away in the HoR archives to gather dust but here is where I must drag it up again if only briefly.  As far as its head coaching position is concerned, Leinster Rugby together with the Leinster Professional Games Board and the IRFU had a plan already in place for this coming season…namely the last year of O’Connor’s 3-year contract.

And putting the disgruntled Leinster supporters aside just for a moment, this arrangement seemed to be one that suited everyone, given that right now, in the summer of 2015, the Prime Directive of Irish Rugby has to be preparation for our assault on the Rugby World Cup – and I sincerely hope nobody has any argument with  that!

Yet now we must bring the supporters back into the equation.  We can look at them two ways…the reality is that over the past 12 months there have been extremely varying opinions on Matt O’Connor’s tenure at Leinster and these have all been expressed on this site by several different contributors.  Then there’s the perception that the Leinster fan base is all of one mind and never wanted O’Connor in the first place.

That external perception would still seem to hold to this day, and to be fair, when Leinster had their worst dip in form of the season during the Six Nations, more and more fans were warming to the idea that change was needed and even coming within the width of a goalpost of defeating Toulon and reaching another European final wasn’t enough to claw it back.

Given that wave of what I called “Anti-Matter” opinion, the Leinster management could well be entitled to raise an eyebrow when those same fans have qualms about anyone who assumes the role. (“Leo Nay-Sayers”?)

Say you’ve been waiting for a table at a busy restaurant and they offer you one but you don’t want to sit there because it’s too near the kitchen, so the maître d goes out of his way to find you another one, only for you to complain about that for a different reason.

Given it’s a World Cup year, the coaches with CVs worthy of a 3-time European champion outfit are all either in contracts or at least are on career paths that revolve around the four-year World Cup cycle…meaning the summer just before one is a marketplace similar to the busy restaurant I mention above.  And I suspect those involved in the Leinster decision were well aware of this when they installed the word “interim” in Leo’s title, just in case.  It would appear the “in case” has happened.

If we like, we can convince ourselves that we have been “stuck” with Leo.  We can doom his tenure to failure before it even begins.

Or…we could pay attention to someone like Bernard Jackman, himself a table in that restaurant that is already taken.  I strongly recommend you listen to his contribution on Second Captains’ Monday edition but here are some of the things he had to say in Leo’s favour…

“Leo Cullen’s great strength is in powering others”

“Culture is what wins you championships and Leo Cullen is very clued into that”

“His skill set probably suits being a head coach more than being a unit coach”

I also suggest you read this post from Big Joe Shep here on this site looking at the new Leinster coaching ticket more as a “collective”.  With hopefully a quality backs coach appointment on the horizon (preferably from the outside) to finish it off, it actually is quite a decent mix of talent and with someone who both “gets” the Leinster culture and has been heavily involved in making it work within the Irish framework at the helm, I definitely cannot classify the move as a “disaster” as some suggest.

On the point that he was part of the coaching staff responsible for the disappointing effort last season, it’s hard not to concede that as a negative but a bit like the point Berch makes, if we’re going to tag Leo with the ills of our pack last season then this new set-up has given responsibility to someone else so we’ve every reason to expect an improvement.

And talk of a 2- to 3- year deal also seems baffling when hearing it first, but once more we have to consider all the angles…Leinster will want the matter decided sooner rather than later, and no doubt Leo’s representatives in the negotiations will do what they can to get the most security out of the deal.  It’s simply how the modern game works.

Finally as fans we have to look at our expectations for the future in general, and this coming season in particular.  Are they the same as they have been in recent years?  Is it really silverware or bust for us in the 2015/16 campaign?  I’m not so sure.

And given all the variables surrounding the province this season…so much talent being away for the first couple of months,  the possibility of some getting injured at the World Cup, the absolute stinker of a Rugby Champions Cup pool, the likelihood of limited integration time before it kicks off, the necessity of blooding a raft of promising youngsters into the senior squad…I’m not sure there’s a head coach out there who could walk fresh into the job and make it an instant success – and yes, I’m including Joe Schmidt in that list.

If I had to set a minimum target on the results front, I would go with a return to the final four of the Pro12 and at very least a decent effort to get out of that Euro pool.  Does this mean Leo should lose his job if we don’t make that goal?  Absolutely not.  There are several other factors like the style of rugby we play and the type of team selection decisions we make to consider, but it would certainly be nice to have more than one match in May again.

So before we look away from these Leinster headlines and back towards the World Cup ones (which is absolutely what I will be doing after this post!), my advice to fellow fans would be to consider the big picture for Irish rugby at this particular time and get behind our teams both blue and green in every way we can.

Not so much a “wait and see” approach, rather a much more interactive and constructive “Come On You Boys In Blue” one.  JLP


80+ column : More format issues, Away fans, 7s return

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


Another strong performance by Leinster in Europe for us to wrap in the latest Sunday pod, and also another strong performance by both my guests Mark Jackson and Conor Cronin as they highlighted the positives but also acknowledged the things that we need to work on for the latter stages of the competition.

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


For this week’s ‘bonus clip’ we harped on the career of Cian ‘Proper Church’ Healy who made his 100th appearance in Europe for Leinster, becoming only the 5th player in the history of the competition to do so.  The other four are also Irish as I say in the clip, which probably should come with the caveat that in the first years of the competition the provinces were nominated by the IRFU as opposed to qualifying as did the English and French clubs which is why they don’t have names as high up on the list, but it still counts as an honourable milestone in Healy’s career and as I also say in the clip, it’s not like he’s finished quite yet. 

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.


Munster and Connacht both had good wins on Saturday, maybe one was a tad more comfortable than the other, but still good to see both on the way to the knockouts.

As for Ulster…they really can’t buy a bit of luck these days, can they.  How could Leinster fans in particular have anything but empathy for them as they were desperately trying to hold out La Rochelle in the dying minutes after what had been a torrential slog up to that point and they obviously considered themselves unlucky not to have been even further ahead by that point anyway.

Thing is though, they can still qualify for the knockouts with a decent win over Sale at the weekend, and maybe there’s a strong possibility their “reward” will be a trip to the Aviva in the last 16, but still a good performance against the Premiership outfit could well be the kick start they need for their season and I wish them all the best as we always want to see all four progressing beyond the pool stages whatever the format.


It’s still a bone of contention with many on HCC weekends; I have pushed back against the complaints before on these pages but I feel I must again.  Once more I agree it’s not ideal, but I do wonder if the flaws people keep finding in it are necessarily solved by going back to the way the tournament used to be run?

Like I said in the previous segment about Ulster, even though they have lost all three of their matches, the fact that they picked up some BPs along the way means that with a win over Sale at the Kingspan on Saturday they can move into the top 8 and reach the last 16.  Pretty much everyone giving out about the format says this “one win to qualify” thing is a negative, yet without it, this match against the Sharks could be a dead rubber so I’d argue it can at least be looked at from both directions.

When you compare this format to the previous one, the round of 16 is effectively replacing pool rounds 5 and 6 so I really don’t think it’s all that ridiculous for it to be easier to qualify.  And even if you do scrape through with one win, it means you probably have to travel to the home of a team that has won all four, which means you’re either going to go no further OR you have to produce one of the all time great results in the competition.

Also, while I presume all the competing clubs knew the rules from the outset, one or two are just coming to light this week when it comes to the general public.  

First we have a stipulation that if a South African team reaches the semifinals, they must give up home advantage even if they have earned it through the seeding from the pool stages.  Again this is far from ideal from a fairness perspective, but right from the moment I first heard they were joining the competition I wondered what the organisers were going to do to limit the amount of travel, and this appears to be it.

Clearly that does put the SA teams at a disadvantage, but I should also point out something about this season’s competition that does work in their favour.  With the Springboks not being involved in the Six Nations (yet?), this means that from the end of the pool stage to the knockouts they know none of their players are going to be involved in any test matches.  Sure, there may be a few URC rounds in that time, but at least there they have control.   The European clubs have none.

Just to be clear, I’m not pointing out the “no 6N thing” because I think it somehow cancels out the “no home SF” thing; on the contrary I reckon they are two wrongs which do not make a right.  Still, I don’t see anyone else making the point about the 6N so I felt I’d do it here.

I will always contend that the one format tweak that would come closest to a “silver bullet” to fix all the problems we keep pointing out would be to play the tournament from start to finish in successive weeks.  Or to put it another way, “It’s the calendar, stupid”.


…well, I’m not! 

Caolan Scully, who has appeared on the pod a few times, pointed out on Twitter a little quirk in the method the HCC uses to rank teams in the pool stages.  If two or more teams are tied on match points, points difference AND tries scored, the next thing to be looked at is apparently the amount of suspensions incurred by the clubs.

Granted, it’s HIGHLY unlikely this will ever actually need to be used, but it’s still a very curious thing to have as a possibility – imagine if two clubs vying for top 2/4/8 spots ended up tied on everything else while one of them was waiting on a citing during the week, meaning effectively the ruling from the commission would determine the final standings?

Unlikely or not, I would NOT want that to be even possible.  In fact, I’m not too wild about the next criterion down on the list either, namely the tossing of a coin.  My suggestion would be come up with a ranking system for all European clubs based on previous performance (similar to UEFA’s coefficient) and this ranking will force a separation between ALL clubs which means you can get a result no matter what the eventuality.

Apologies for the nerdery here, but I guess overthinking comes with the territory when you run a rugby website/podcast!!!


I see there’s a debate on the twitter machine about the possibility of ensuring all the away fans are together in a ground on match days.  

Personally, I think it’s a good idea overall, since in many cases they would have travelled quite a way to get there and also it gives the visiting team’s players somewhere to aim at after the final whistle to show their appreciation.  But that said, mixing isn’t the worst thing either and I’ve often had great chats during the match whether I’m for the hosts or the visitors.

What I want to point out here isn’t so much about the debate itself, rather the attitudes of some in the tweets on the topic.  “We don’t want this in our sport, it’s too much like football”.  You have no idea how much I dislike that narrative and I will always call it out when it rears its ugly head, and for this topic it was always going to.

The way I see it, if there’s anything that’s going to “ruin the values” of “our sport”, it’s outright snobbery.


For once I actually agreed with the TV broadcaster’s choice of Player (or ‘Star’ in HCC matches) of the Match, even it is was a previous holder of the Leinster 12 shirt who awarded it, there’s no doubt Jamie stood out as Conor explains in the TikTok below.


This is another point that’s more about Twitter opinion than the topic itself.  Owen Farrell was cited for a tackle, although given both his history and his profile there was chatter and GIFs all over social media minutes after it actually happened.

All of which meant there was always going to be scrutiny over the decision, and what do you know, it turns out he was banned in such a way as to make him eligible for England’s Six Nations opener.

Which leads me to a simple question…are we REALLY that surprised?   And while he’s hardly a big hit with Irish fans (despite his aul fella doing so well with our test team) I reckon we have to remind ourselves of the biggest factor behind this particular decision, namely the fact that the top rugby unions all retain a great deal of control over their own affairs.

So maybe when we see the RFU orchestrating an advantage out of some adversity, we should ask ourselves if there are other areas of the game’s administration where the IRFU does as well?  Not to mention all the other unions?  If we’re not going to have a central administrative body that regulates the majority of systems in an attempt to create a level playing field, then these stories will continue to happen, it’s as simple as that.


To be honest, nothing that happens with this guy surprises me anymore, and if anything his taking over of the Wallabies ahead of RWC2023 makes that side of the draw even more interesting.  Remember – we have NZL, FRA & RSA to contend with on our side, while it’s likely one from ENG WAL & AUS will reach the final, so to watch them go at it with new coaches plus a lot of recent history will make it worth getting some extra popcorn for sure.


Unfortunately Leinster fell short in what was always likely to be a decider in the Women’s interpros at the weekend, but it has to be said that Tania Rosser’s remit as coach was more about giving the squad game time at this level than it was results and she seems to be doing a bang up job so far by all accounts.

It may have taken them a while to get on the scoreboard in the opener against Connacht last week but given she has included so many different clubs in the wider squad there was bound to be a bedding in period and again I say this will benefit them in the long run.  Best wishes to them against Ulster in the final round this weekend.

As I said in the preview pod it was a real shame that their big match in Musgrave Park had to clash with the men’s Heineken Cup match on Saturday, I certainly don’t want to quibble about which was “more important”, simply because we really shouldn’t be forced into making a decision like that.  To be a little fair, given all four Irish men’s provinces were playing that day, some allowances had to be made – with the women not being full professionals (yet, hopefully) I’d say Saturday would be the best day over the weekend for everyone to be available.  Still, I’d hope the overlaps can be avoided in future.


Sometimes I don’t need to add much to the headline to get my message across, apart from the fact that both men and women are in action for the next two weekends in New Zealand and Australia respectively.  Also it’s great to see Billy Dardis & Terry Kennedy back in the men’s squad.  Below you see the schedule for their pool matches in NZ, if possible be sure to watch them for free via the World Rugby site and tweet your full support to show we’re ready to host a leg here asap.

Friday, January 20 –

  • Ireland Men v Uruguay, 8.54pm Irish time
  • Ireland Women v Brazil, 9.38pm Irish time

Saturday, January 21 –

  • Ireland Men v USA, 12.44am Irish time
  • Ireland Women v Spain, 1.18am Irish time
  • Ireland Men v Japan, 3.50am Irish time
  • Ireland Women v USA, 4.12am Irish time

Saturday, January 21 –

  • Play-off matches.


Always good to see no new injuries after a weekend, also the five returnees will all benefit the wider squad in many ways.  I’m particularly pleased to see Will Connors is close to a return and I really hope he gets a good healthy run he certainly deserves it.

Still, that’s a lot of quality languishing in the “no further report” column although reports are coming through as I type that Sexton took part in training on Monday and hopefully he’ll at least be recovered in time for the Six Nations.

Here’s a possible matchday squad for the Aviva next weekend, would like to see Tadhg F get a few minutes in his boots if possible…

15 Keenan 14 Larmour 13 Ringrose (c) 12 Osborne 11 O’Brien 10 R Byrne 9 Gibson-Park

1 Porter 2 Sheehan 3 Ala’alatoa 4 Molony 5 Ryan 6 Baird 7 van der Flier 8 Doris

16 Kelleher 17 Healy 18 Furlong 19 J McCarthy 20 Conan 21 McGrath 22 H Byrne 23 Turner


Will Connors: is expected to train fully this week after recovering from a bicep injury

Thomas Clarkson: is expected to train fully this week after recovering from an arm injury

Max Deegan: is expected to train fully this week after recovering from an ankle injury

Luke McGrath: is expected to train fully this week after recovering from an ankle injury

Joe McCarthy: is expected to train fully this week after recovering from an ankle injury


There was no new injury news from the game against Gloucester at the weekend

There are no further updates on:

Johnny Sexton (cheek bone), Tadhg Furlong (calf), Charlie Ngatai (hamstring), Ed Byrne (knee), Jason Jenkins (hamstring), Robbie Henshaw (wrist), Martin Moloney (knee), Ciarán Frawley (knee), Charlie Ryan (knee) and Tommy O’Brien (knee)


The AIL has moved into the second half of its regular season, with some interesting results in Round 10.

Nure & Tarf both got wins over Munster opposition to keep themselves in the top 2, while Cork Con got the better of Trinity to move ahead of them into 3rd.  Meanwhile at the bottom Charlie Tector guided Lansdowne to a crucial win over Shannon which allowed them hop two places with Ballynahinch’s whitewash of the Students at “the Bowl” actually putting them into the playoff picture.

There are some big matches in Round 11 with the top four playing each other plus there’s bound to be a lot of Leinster involvement on the back pitch at the Aviva as Lansdowne face UCD in a relegation battle.

Men’s AIL

Garryowen 13-19 Clontarf

Cork Con 32-27 Dublin University

Shannon 24-34 Lansdowne

Terenure 21-11 Young Munster

UCD 0-24 Ballynahinch

Fri Jan 20

Lansdowne v UCD

Sat Jan 21

Ballynahinch v Garryowen

Clontarf v Cork Con

Dublin University v Terenure

Young Munster v Shannon


Next up it’s Racing at the Aviva; we will of course be giving it the full Harpin treatment with a preview featuring Keego on Friday, a wrap with Tom Coleman & Nathan Johns on Sunday as well as all the usual features in between.  Follow us and/or subscribe to all our social media channels to keep in touch and get involved in the conversation when the mood takes you.

In the meantime, be sure to enjoy your rugby wherever you are.  JLP

80+ column : Rule changes, Twitter trolls & Counting to 4

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


Hard to believe this week’s wrap pod is the 19th under the new format, and it was good to have Ciarán Duffy back on along of course with Mark Jackson to talk about St Stephen’s Night’s victory down in Thomond Park.

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


With the week that’s in it I’m leaving out a few of the website’s regular features, including YouTube & TikTok clips from the wrap pod.  Back to “normal” next week all going well.


I hope it’s obvious that when I disagree with a Player of the Match selection it doesn’t mean I have anything against the winner of the award.  Scott Penny got the gong from the TG4 commentary team at Thomond Park while I felt it should have gone to Dan Sheehan.  It’s a simple point and since I write this column every week I might as well bring it up but I certainly don’t do it to put anyone down.


Maybe one of the reasons I don’t want to produce too much extra content from the wrap pod is that I made a major howler in the recording that I’d rather forget!  Although I will offer full disclosure here as it involves an issue I’m interested in… 

As I watched the game live, let’s just say, I had been enjoying “the Christmas spirit” a bit too much which, let’s also just say, “clouded my judgement” a tad.  One thing I misjudged was the amount of tries Leinster had scored, and in that final sequence as we were attacking the Munster line I was really hoping we’d go for it because I thought it would give us a fourth try and a BP.

Then my thoughts went on to the BP system itself, and how we’ve been saying on the pod this season that the “4 try” method used in URC, Prem, 6N & RWC isn’t as fair as the “3 tries more” one used in Super Rugby & the 🔝🐱🐴.  This led me to form the “harpin’ point” that if we had gotten the try it would actually prove the 4-try way needs to be scrapped as it wouldn’t have been right that this particular match could possibly end in a 5-0 split of match points to the visitors.

Now that’s all well & good when I had a few beers on me (ok, maybe more than a few) but somehow my brain held on to the harpin’ point for 24 hours and I brought it up on the pod only for Mark to rightly explain that we had in fact only scored the two tries so the point was as moot as moot could be.

So as you can imagine that clip didn’t survive the editing process, however I still think the bonus point system needs to switch to the “3-tries” method.


I am so, so, sick of this sequence and would love for it to be broken.  Sadly it usually comes to my attention most whenever Leinster play Munster 

  1. Thing happens in rugby match
  2. A few people claiming to be “fans” of one team get abusive on social media towards fans of the other
  3. A few of those fans on the receiving end then expose the abuse, making it look like this is what fans of that team are like
  4. A long exchange ensues which many blame entirely on “rugby twitter”

To be absolutely clear, the 2nd stage of the sequence is the worst by far.  Obviously.  All forms of insults, abuse and bullying are wrong wherever they are found and need to be called out.

But someone also needs to push back on stages 3 and 4.

No, this is NOT what fans of that team are like in general.

No, this is NOT what fans of rugby are like in general.

And no, this is NOT even what Twitter itself is like in general.

IMO people who are capable of this behaviour don’t need to follow any particular team, follow any particular sport, or even use one or another particular platform.

When it comes to these exchanges, we need to make sure 100% of the negative attention goes on these instigators, yet when we respond by tying them to decent people who follow the same team, or same sport, or use the same platform, I reckon we siphon off some of that negativity for ourselves.

Call out the assholes as assholes by all means.  But we must also be sure to separate them from the decent people who just want to have a conversation.  And most of all, mute/block them.  It may be a vicious cycle the way things are now, but I believe it is one we have the power to stop.  

It might be a worn out cliché by this stage, but “haters gonna hate” is as true as it is concise.  


Speaking of assholes, Joe Marler.  

And actually he seems to be getting positive attention on social media because he apologised for what he is reported to have said to Jake Heenan on the rugby pitch.

Eh, no.  He’s got form.  He’s certainly no hero for apologising, that is the bare minimum of what he should have done.  Maybe, just maybe if he can go a whole calendar year without it happening again we can celebrate that, but in my book he has ruled himself out of any praise until then at the very very least.


This week’s column has already gone longer than I intended, with this point being the only one I originally intended to harp on.

Obviously I want to see rugby take measures to speed things up, yet I still feel somebody needs to push back a little against this introduction of rule changes, because I definitely have concerns.

First of all, while I know the rugby calendar is different all over the world, to make significant changes right smack in the middle of the European season goes against pretty much everything I believe is fair for a sporting competition.  I shouldn’t have to spell out reasons for why a tournament shouldn’t change its rules halfway through.

Plus there’s the added factor that we’re making changes just before a World Cup.  Maybe, just maybe I have too much “skin in the game” on this point being a Leinster & Ireland fan because Johnny Sexton does have a reputation for taking time on his placekicks, but since he’s such a high profile player, to bring the change halfway through a club season as well as three-quarters of the way through a RWC cycle would seem to affect him more than others.

But my biggest reason for pushing back on these changes has to do with player safety.  

Yes, we want to avoid time wasting in the game where possible and this will definitely help keep the “casual fans” interested, but I have to ask, just how much of a problem is this REALLY?  Is it possible we might be over-reacting a bit when it comes to stoppages?

The actual playing time of a rugby match is one hour and 20 minutes.  Factor in fifteen for halftime and you’d really hope the final whistle will blow well short of the two-hour mark after kickoff time.  And that’s what we should be aiming for.  

For example, Leinster’s recent Heineken Champions Cup match against Gloucester at the RDS kicked off at the later than usual time of 8pm of a Friday night.  That meant I was always going to be anxious getting my bus home as it can often take a while leaving the ground given the press box is right at the back of the Grandstand so I have to wait until the bulk of the supporters leave before I can.

Yet I not only made it to my bus stop to catch it at 10:15, I actually waited seven minutes before it came.  Maybe the one-sided nature of the scoreline helped but I still didn’t stand up to leave until the final whistle blew.  And for me personally, that’s fine.  I really don’t know how many tweaks and changes to the Laws we’d have to make that would actually be worthwhile getting me out of there any sooner.

On the subject of water breaks, they don’t bug me as much as they do most other viewers although one concern I would have about them is that I fear they are being brought in to facilitate matches being played in places like Dubai & Qatar in future, and there have been rumblings in the press recently that this does look like happening.

Which brings me back to player safety.  For me, this is a much bigger issue we need to address, and there are areas when it comes into direct conflict with the time-saving.  Whether we like to admit it or not, tackle technique is still a major grey area in our beautiful sport and it’s one we have to keep working at.

And unfortunately some of this “work” involves teams of officials making sure they get their calls right especially in the high profile matches as their exposure will hopefully trickle down to all levels through the sport.

So as I have said before on these pages and I won’t tire saying it again in the future, when it comes to TMO calls the last thing the officials need is added pressure from the viewing public simply because we’re worried about a few extra seconds being somehow taken from us.

Like I say, if matches start lasting two hours or more then we know things are going wrong, but we should also appreciate that efforts need to be made to help ensure that actual careers last as long as they possibly can.


Good news, there were no new names added to the list and it’s great to see Messrs Furlong & Connors close to being available.

The final group still contains many concerns however.  I don’t like suggesting some injuries are worse than others but Henshaw is a name Leinster & Ireland would want to see moving up the list sooner rather than later and for the province it doesn’t look good to see Jenkins there either. 


Tadhg Furlong: will again step up his rehabilitation this week from an ankle injury and will be assessed as the week goes on

Will Connors: will look to step up his rehabilitation programme further this week as he nears a return from a bicep injury

There are no further updates on:

Thomas Clarkson (arm), Ed Byrne (knee), Jason Jenkins (hamstring), Robbie Henshaw (wrist), Martin Moloney (knee), Ciarán Frawley (knee), Charlie Ryan (knee) and Tommy O’Brien (knee)


The 22 portion of the 22/23 is done for Leinster and we kick off the 23 at the RDS with Connacht the visitors.  We’ll have the preview on Friday and the wrap will record on Monday.  In the meantime, have a happy and safe New Year and be sure to enjoy your rugby wherever you are.  JLP

80+ column : HCC revamp, Venue SNAFU & Rock champs

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


Some might say there’s not a whole lot to talk about after a 57-0 drubbing.  I am not among that “some”, and thankfully neither were Tom Coleman & Nathan Johns who found plenty to harp on for this week’s wrap pod.  After all, we are Leinster fans and we love talking about a rake of tries when we score them, but we also found a load of other angles as well.  If you missed it, check it out here or on most major platforms.


In last week’s 80+ column I offered a quasi-defence of the HCC format, suggesting that while maybe this current one has flaws, it should be pointed out that the old one was far from ideal in itself.  As you can see I let my guests offer their own takes on the situation in this week’s You Tube clip.

Only thing I will add is that I suggested last week that I would do things differently altogether so I may as well give a taste of it here…remember, I KNOW this will never happen but my ideal scenario would be to scrap the current set of competitions altogether in favour of one pan-European/SA pyramid structure with something like a pair of 16-team top divisions playing round-robin.  

“A” would be the elite offering 6 or 7 qualifiers for the championship quarterfinals but I’d also have a “B” level where not only would there be promotion but also the top 1 or 2 would get a shot at the knockout rugby as well, meaning 32 clubs would begin every season in contention for the title.

Below that would obvs get tricky, but regional divisions feeding into the top 32 is definitely do-able and the important thing would be to keep the door open for clubs from any nation logistically able to join.  

Again, I’m not suggesting this is ever likely to come into being, but what’s the point in complaining if you’re not going to offer an alternative?   Anyway…here’s what the lads had to say…

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.


This is of course a site for Leinster & Ireland fans to offer their opinions not only on what happens on the pitch but also off it.  Obviously it goes without saying that if the reigning European champions were due to play at the RDS only for me to find out first that the match had been switched to a two-hour drive up the road, but also to then find out that fans aren’t allowed to travel as well, let’s just say I wouldn’t be happy.

Next while the match is going on, as my team is getting off to another poor start into the bargain, I find out that there are actually travelling French fans/”delegates” cheering their side in the stadium anyway???  

As it turned out the only thing close to a saving grace for Ulster supporters was their performance in the second half, digging out two bonus points which keeps their hopes of getting to the knockout stages alive.  Still, I really think an independent investigation outside of EPCR & Ulster Rugby needs to be done on the whole affair in the hope that it can be avoided in the future.

Of course I know pitches do freeze over, but maybe we need to be better prepared for alternative venues especially at this time of year?


I’m not one of those rugby fans who tries to pretend the round ball game doesn’t exist and I’ll freely admit I was watching the World Cup Final and congratulations to Argentina for their victory.

Since then the Twitter account for the Guinness Six Nations posted a standard enough question…

…but to be clear, I don’t bring it up to have the debate on this pages.  Instead I’d like to harp on that symbol.

You don’t need me to tell you that it is a “goat” to represent the acronym “greatest of all time”.  And obviously in sports we love having these discussions and I for one have taken part in many of them over the years.

However I feel we still need to be mindful of what this kind of absolutism can do to our opinion forming, especially in the social media age when we feel we want to comment on something amazing we have just seen and assume it won’t get noticed unless we point out that it has to be the very, very best of all time ever in the history of everything.

This annoys me quite a bit and while I’m at it I might as well add my dislike of the response “one hundred percent” when having a debate about something.  For one thing, generally when I hear that it tends to be followed by a counter point but my overall problem is that there’s no need to go all in on what anyone else is saying.  If we’re all “100%” with each other there’s no point in debating at all and where’s the fun in that?

Maybe we could adapt it and ban the use of 100 and instead encourage people to come up with a more realistic number before offering a reply.  Or, instead, maybe just ditch the numbers altogether…

Sorry, it’s just a bugbear of mine, and where better a place to put it in writing?


Posted this already on Monday with the wrap pod but definitely worth posting again.

16 December 2022; Leinster captain Garry Ringrose and Gloucester captain Ben Meehan, pictured with referee Luc Ramos, donate jerseys for a raffle in aid of the Ed Slater foundation before the Heineken Champions Cup Pool A Round 2 match between Leinster and Gloucester at the RDS Arena in Dublin. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Earlier this year, Gloucester Rugby lock, Ed Slater, announced his retirement from the game with immediate effect after his diagnosis with Motor Neurone Disease (MND).

To help support Ed and his family, Gloucester Rugby opened a JustGiving page and to date over £220,000 has been raised to help support Ed, his wife Jo and their three children.

With Gloucester Rugby playing Leinster Rugby last weekend in the Heineken Champions Cup, both clubs wanted to mark the occasion and also use the opportunity to highlight Ed’s illness and to try and raise even more funds for him and his family.

As a result, two unique Leinster Rugby and Gloucester Rugby jerseys were signed by the match day squads, with both jerseys bearing his name and the number four.

Captains Garry Ringrose and Ben Meehan presented the jerseys to each other before the game and the jerseys will now be used as a raffle item on the Leinster Rugby Instagram account.

To enter, you only need to reply to the post on Instagram and then donate a minimum of £20/€20 to the JustGiving page set up for the Slater family.

The winners will need to show proof of donation before their prize will be allocated to them.

To donate, please click HERE.


Report came about 24 hours later than usual, just before I’m ready to publish this article in fact, so you’re getting my initial reactions and it’s good to see Will Connors moving up the list although it’s a bit worrying that Tadhg Furlong hasn’t moved at all.

And as for Ed Byrne, that’s a horrible outcome, hopefully he’ll be back in time for the business end of the campaign, in the meantime we’ll be giving the likes of Michael Milne a chance for more game time.


Johnny Sexton: came through the game at the weekend against Gloucester Rugby with no issues after his return from a calf injury

Jordan Larmour: came through the game at the weekend against Gloucester Rugby with no issues after his return from a foot injury


Tadhg Furlong: has again increased his training load further towards the end of last week and will be further assessed this week for an ankle injury ahead of a final decision later in the week

Will Connors: will look to step up his rehabilitation programme this week as he nears a return from a bicep injury


Thomas Clarkson: picked up an arm injury playing with DUFC and will be unavailable for up to eight weeks

Ed Byrne: picked up a knee injury in the game against Gloucester Rugby and will have a procedure this week which will rule him out of action for up to 12 weeks

There are no further updates on:

Jason Jenkins (hamstring), Robbie Henshaw (wrist), Martin Moloney (knee), Ciarán Frawley (knee), James Tracy (neck), Charlie Ryan (knee) and Tommy O’Brien (knee)


Energia All-Ireland Women’s League Division 1 Final, Energia Park, Dublin 17/12/2022Blackrock College vs Railway UnionBlackrock team celebrate after the gameMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Lorraine OSullivan

After the previous week’s postponement it was good to see the Women’s AIL final take place on Saturday with the full TV coverage on TG4 and it was to be Rock’s year as they avenged last year’s champions Railway Union to lift the trophy after a strong second half showing led to a 27-7 victory. Next up for women’s rugby is the interpros in January, also with TV coverage, providing a great platform for selectors ahead of the Six Nations, except for the absence of the sevens players, of course.

Meanwhile on the men’s side, Lansdowne and Shannon got mixed up in the Ravenhill debacle when they got shoved on to the Aviva back pitch but between them the two matches produced a total of 137pts as Shannon made their trip worthwhile thanks to a 41-31 BP victory.  

I harped last week on the fascinating 5-way battle developing for the 4 semifinal slots at the top, but there’s also a scrap at the other end as this victory moves Shannon out of the bottom 2 yet there’s still only 5pts separating UCD in 9th and Hinch in 6th.  And guess what – those two clubs meet each other in a rearranged fixture in the new year.   Funny how that works out!

Women’s AIL

League final

Blackrock College 27-7 Railway Union

Men’s AIL

Round 9

Sat Dec 17

Lansdowne 31-41 Shannon

Sat Jan 7

Ballynahinch v UCD

Dublin University v Cork Con


Christmas week is upon us, although we’re not done harpin’ yet before the big day as the Leinster team to play in Thomond Park will be named at Friday lunchtime so I’ll be recording the preview show with Keego shortly after that, with our wrap pod moving to Tuesday from the usual Sunday, when I reckon I might be busy doing other things.

In the meantime, be sure to enjoy your festive rugby wherever you are.  JLP

80+ column : 200 pods, HCC format, Sevens update

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


As it got closer to kickoff time I was getting more and more concerned that Leinster’s Heineken Champions Cup opener against Racing 92 wouldn’t go the way I hoped.  That may sound odd to a non-Leinster fan given our record this season but actually that’s more than likely the reality for most fans of any team no matter how successful.  But especially so in this age where a red card can make a difference to a contest, although of course even that didn’t hurt us last week!

But as it turned out, I needn’t have worried because much like last year we appear to be kicking off our European campaign in determined mood, yes I know we were helped a lot by Racing’s own disciplinary issues but still we were solid especially on set piece as you can see by the numbers.  

One teeny tiny final point I’d like to make, when it came to “Star of the Match”, I’d have gone for JVDF over Doris – that’s nothing against the latter he certainly had some key involvements yet he did ship a couple of penalties as well, one at a breakdown I was sure he’d get carded for, so while I don’t believe in simply giving the gong to the guy who got the most tries on the day, I reckon we all know Josh does way more than that, right?   Again it’s not crucial but hey it’s my opinion and sharing it is kinda what this column is for.

It was another match which was a pleasure to wrap up on our Sunday pod, with super contributions as always by Messrs Jackson & Mifsud, plus a “roving report” by Tom Coleman.  If you missed it, check it out here or on most major platforms.


If you haven’t listened to our weekly wrap pod yet, first of all, why the hell not????  Especially if you’re reading this column!!!  Seriously though…what we do is harp our way through the timeline of the match from start to finish, focusing on the major incidents of course, but also pointing out the minor ones as well that the pundits may have missed like the ref giving out to Leinster’s players for celebrating a knock on!!!

For this week’s YouTube clip I used Mark’s analysis of the Garry Ringrose try, although personally I was equally impressed by the one that came before it because it had three components to it which were world class yet things we take for granted from the players in question…JGP finding the final lock picking pass, Dan Sheehan lurking in the wide channel and being able to force his way over the line, and finally Ross “Mr Touchline” Byrne popping over the most difficult placekick for a right-footer like it was nothing to him.

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.

200 UP

You may have noticed that our wrap pod was episode 199 which means the next one is a milestone so to mark it I asked three of the contributors to join me for a “season so far” quiz where I tested their knowledge of the twelve matches we have covered this season before the Champions Cup kicked off.  

During the week I’ll publish the episode in such a way as you the listener can have a go at the questions as well, see how many you can get!


Now I want to be careful how I word this point so that I’m absolutely clear on where I stand.  A lot of people have complained about the format for the Champions Cup and I want to push back, however this does not mean I am totally in favour of it.  Let me explain.

If you offered me just two choices for how the Champions Cup pool stage can be run, (1) the current way, or (2) the old way with pools of 4 playing home and away leading to quarterfinals, I would always always choose 2.

However, while the backlash against the current way seems to be 100% by most people, I’d probably put mine around the 70-80% mark, because I can actually see some benefits in the current way, while also some of the drawbacks maybe aren’t as bad as many point out.

First we should have a go at explaining the system.  There are 24 qualifiers, 8 from each league.  They are drawn into 2 pools of 12, everyone plays four matches, and the top 8 on each table go through to the knockout phase.

For starters, I’m not, nor have I ever been, totally committed to the “everyone must play everyone” concept to a league competition.  In an ideal world yes, but in reality we have to be open to alternatives due to time and travel constraints, and if a competition is ultimately decided by knockout rounds, then that should allow for anyone who got lucky with the schedule to be “found out”.

And to balance out the smaller amount of matches, with the extra round of 16 it’s actually easier to advance out of the pool phase, meaning rather than rounds 5 and 6 in the past when you’d have many “dead rubbers”, you now have a round 5 which is completely cup rugby, although of course the 6th match is gone altogether.

I also must admit I do like the symmetry of this system.  Maybe every team has different opponents but they are definitely not chosen by random.  Last season, when Leinster were Pro14 champions, we got a schedule that had teams finishing 7th or 8th in the Top14 and Premiership.   So our domestic record was duly rewarded. 

This season, since we failed to reach the 21/22 URC final, things were a bit tougher as we were pitted against teams finishing 5th and 6th at home.  And despite the result last weekend, Racing are still doing well this season as are Gloucester.

One more positive about the fixtures is that with this system you are always playing a team from a different league in the pool phase, which is kind of what the competition is meant to be all about.  Often under the old format you’d be playing home and away against a team you’re already down to face twice in your domestic league.

Finally in defence of the four-match system, while many think it was done this way purely because of COVID so why keep it now, I think it also helps to facilitate the introduction of the South African clubs.  Under the old system with three blocks of two matches each home and away, that would inflict a hell of a lot of travelling on everyone, so doing it this way means anyone travelling after round 4 at least knows it’s at the business end of the competition and thus is easier to market.  Having to fly thousands of miles for a dead rubber should be avoided at all costs.

Also, one thing about the “old way” that always grated with me a lot was the “best runnersup” system where three teams got knockout rugby often because they got a much easier draw.  That said, I did really, really, like rounds 3 and 4 with the home and away fixtures in December, that always gave the return matches a bit of extra edge.  And when they had the two-legged round of 16 last season I thought that was a way of holding onto that so in a way it’s a shame they have taken even that away this season.

Right that’s enough of that, I reckon that’s enough pushback but like I said, I would hardly grumble if we changed back, although if it were down to me I’d ditch both for something else altogether, best leave that for another week’s column!!!


Another interesting weekend for the Irish Sevens programmes, with the women doing better this time around, getting all the way to the semifinals where they were outclassed by New Zealand.  Although we didn’t get a medal from the event, the points were enough to move us up to 5th on the overall table.

Meanwhile in the men’s draw, after a confident start we then had a nightmare against Uruguay, a team we should be beating handily, where a rush of blood to the head by Mark Roche saw him get a second yellow card, thus a red, in the first half which left us a man short (def not good with only 7 in total) and while we were actually doing ok for a while, a second yellow left us with 5 and no hope and the defeat put us down in the competition for 9th place so we failed to build on the silver medal in Dubai, dropping down to 9th on the overall table.

If you’d like to keep up of their progress when these tournaments are on, one thing you can do is go to this link and click the “Add To Calendar” button and make sure you specify it’s just Ireland’s matches you want, and you’ll need to do it separately for men’s and women’s.  Then you’ll get a 15m reminder before every match when you can decide whether or not you’re free to watch live on the World Rugby player.

Remember, the more we make it clear Irish fans are following the action, hopefully the more chance we have of getting a leg added to the tour for us to go and get pissed at enjoy.

Both series resume with the Canadian leg in the New Year.


Arguably the best injury report of the season!!!  Obviously not for those in the bottom list but definitely good to see the one above it being empty.  Even if Messrs Sexton & Furlong can’t get fit in time for Friday, I’m sure the RDS crowd would have no complaints welcoming back the 23 that did so well in Le Havre.


Charlie Ngatai: came through the game at the weekend against Racing 92 with no issues after his return from a shoulder injury


Johnny Sexton: increased his training load towards the end of last week and will be further assessed this week for a calf injury ahead of a final decision later in the week

Tadhg Furlong: increased his training load towards the end of last week and will be further assessed this week for an ankle injury ahead of a final decision later in the week



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)


Such a shame the cold snap put paid to so many club fixtures at the weekend, most of all the women’s AIL final which was due to get exposure on TG4, although they did well to reschedule it so quickly while still retaining the coverage.  And added bonus might be that players like Beibhinn Parsons, who was of course in Cape Town with the 7s last weekend, might be able to take part, we’ll have to see.

Also in the women’s AIL there was the “Conference final” – this was a mini competition for teams finishing 5th through 8th so very much a consolation prize, but considering it was won by Wicklow RFC, who were being unfairly ridiculed last season for a couple of blow out results, that definitely makes this a worthwhile achievement to bring up on these pages.

Meanwhile over in the men’s, again the postponements were quickly rearranged as you can see below, but the weather couldn’t prevent Terenure College’s 100% start from coming to an end as they were downed 24-18 by Young Munster.  Fair play to the Cookies for not only the result but also for getting the match played.

As you can see there’s a fascinating tussle for the top four positions developing between three Leinster sides and two Munster ones, meaning pretty much every match in the second half of the campaign should have meaning.

Women’s AIL

Conference final

Wicklow RFC 22-17 Galwegians

Saturday, December 17

League final

Blackrock College v Railway Union 2pm

Men’s AIL

Round 9

Ballynahinch PPD UCD

Clontarf 36-10 Garryowen

Dublin University PPD Cork Con

Lansdowne PPD Shannon

Young Munster 24-18 Terenure

Sat Dec 17

Lansdowne v Shannon

Sat Jan 7

Ballynahinch v UCD

Dublin University v Cork Con


Like I said we’ve a quiz edition of the podcast during the week to celebrate the 200th episode, why not have a listen to see how well you’ve been paying attention to Leinster & Ireland’s season so far.  Then we have Tom Coleman on episode 201 to tell us how he got on travelling to Le Havre and also to preview the visit of Gloucester, with of course the wrap of that match to do on Sunday, with all the usual features in between.

In the meantime, be sure to enjoy your rugby wherever you are.  JLP

80+ column : Doddie’s legacy, TMO suggestion & Sevens’ return

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


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.

Follow us on Instagram @harpinonrugby


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.


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.


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


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


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.

Women’s AIL

Dec  3


Blackrock v UL Bohemians

Railway Union v Old Belvedere

Men’s AIL

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


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.


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

80+ column : Sportsmanship – some good on the pitch, some bad off it

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


With all due respect to Fiji, matches against them and others like Georgia are meant to be the “off” weekend in November but to us rugby nerds in particular they can be just as fascinating as the marquee matches.

Maybe last Saturday’s match wasn’t the best example of this but still on the Sunday pod (can’t believe it’s already the 3th under the new format) I was joined by Rich Mifsud and Caolán Scully to look back over the match as well as a few other bits and pieces from the rugby world, and between us I reckon we did a decent job making some points out of it, why not check it out yourself by clicking this link.

On the pod we follow a rigid enough structure to keep the whole recording under the hour so normally only one of us will get to harp on a particular topic before we move on, but my guests are encouraged to jump in if they want to prolong a conversation because even if it’s cut from the pod I can always release it separately and as you can see below there was one subject in particular we wanted to go into bit more detail on.

Hey, if he can make videos when something pisses him off why can’t we?


So below you can see the chat we had on the pod surrounding Rassie, and here is a comment I got on our YouTube channel, along with my reply.

Albert Van den berg OK. Help me. The things that he shows on video, that is true. What will you do when it’s your team. And world rugby don’t do anything? What’s the use to play rugby. And the ref does not blow right. Please help me understand.

Harpin’ On Rugby Happy to help.

1) a few selected clips do not reflect the overall context of a rugby match. Does it confirm the same incident didn’t happen the other way?

2) You and I should of course be free to post all the videos we want on social media, that’s what it’s for. But a DoR of a top tier nations who has already been banned for the same thing? Absolutely not. There are mechanisms in place for him to make his concerns known and he should stick to them.

3) Rassie (who I admire as a coach, earned all of his success to date) knows all of the above yet still persists in dealing with what can only be called “referee coercion”.


You don’t need me to tell you that I’m a big fan of both Messrs Sexton & van der Flier but even I have to admit I was surprised to see both in the four-man shortlist for World Player of the Year, and naturally there was a flurry of tweets suggesting those who were left out. Some referred to the national imbalance (France had a more successful year) while others put forward individual names they thought were missing.

Now I’m not suggesting this solution would prevent the whinging, because nothing will ever do that, but I do think it’s possible to maybe make that list a little longer.

Whatever about the fans’ opinion, going by the official graphic only the Irish lads are happy about being nominated…


I love Bundee Aki as a player and I do think he should play a part in Ireland’s RWC preparations, so I do get why he’s in the frame for selection this weekend against the Wallabies, plus we’re down a couple of leading centers to injury, but still…given the recent ban was not his first I don’t think it would have been the worst idea to leave him out of the Irish squad for November.

Watch him get the winning try on Saturday after me saying that.


Lot of talk about bad sportsmanship in rugby this week so how about a view of the other side…right after Ben Donaldson (on his test debut) missed the crucial kick at the end of #ITAvAUS not only did his team mates not hesitate to go console him but so did Italian 10 Tomasso Allan who chose to take the time to do likewise before celebrating. Awesome to see.


I recently saw someone describe Twitter as a “cess pit”, ironically in a tweet.

That narrative really, really bugs me because from my experience Twitter has enhanced my experience of rugby by a factor of infinity. Yes, there are those who either have no idea where “the line” is or worse, know full well and happily leap over it, but that’s what the mute, block and report buttons are for. Those muppets are far outnumbered by decent people who know how to have a conversation with dignity and this should never be forgotten.

And yes, I know Elon is there doing whatever it is that he’s doing so the censoring may not always work, but it should never prevent us from keeping the discussion going. A recent exchange on twitter involving someone I have a lot of respect for (without always agreeing, that’s how it’s supposed to work) was particularly annoying.


It’s Transgender Awareness Week from Nov 13-19, click here for more information. I have harped on the trans rugby issue before in this column so all I’ll do is repost it below.

You may recall over the summer there was a pretty intense discussion over transgender participation in rugby. My position was, well, let’s just say, complicated, and I struggled to explain it the way I wanted to in the ruggersphere.

What I was trying to say was that as much as we want to leave politics out of sport, in areas like this we have to acknowledge the wider topic because it can often lead to abuse from verbal all the way to physical.

Essentially the argument of needing an outright ban simply because we’re imagining a grown man posing as a woman just to play rugby and the dangers that entails falls way short of the conversation that needs to be had on the matter.

Thankfully John Oliver did a decent job laying out the wider issue IMO so here’s his recent (NSFW) piece on it…


With the URC returning the weekend after next we got two injury reports and unfortunately there was not a lot of good news, especially for Ciarán Frawley who just can’t string a run of games together at all.

There’s also a lot of concern over the “no further updates” list, that’s usually where my eyes go first.


Joey Carbery will complete the return to play protocols at Munster following his removal on Saturday for a HIA. Robbie Henshaw’s hamstring issue will rule him out of this week’s game against Australia, and he will continue his rehab at Leinster.

Jimmy O’Brien will complete the HIA process today and is expected to be available to train tomorrow.

The players who picked up knocks against South Africa – Johnny Sexton, James Ryan, Andrew Porter, Josh van der Flier and Hugo Keenan – will be monitored across the early part of the week and re-integrated into training according to their individual management plans.

Joe McCarthy returns to the squad having completed his return to play protocols.

Bundee Aki, who has trained with the squad for the past few weeks, is now available for selection having completed his suspension and the coaching intervention programme.



Joe McCarthy: will be available to train this week following his return from the Graduated Return to Play Protocols and has joined up with the Ireland squad


Harry Byrne, Jordan Larmour and Rónan Kelleher: will step up their rehabilitation this week as they return from hamstring, foot and a hamstring injury respectively


Martin Moloney: injured his ACL in the game against Scarlets and has had a procedure. He will be unavailable for the rest of the season.

Ciarán Frawley: will have a procedure tomorrow for a knee injury and will be unavailable for a number of months.

Robbie Henshaw: has returned to Leinster Rugby where he will be assessed for a hamstring injury

There are no further updates on:

Ryan Baird (concussion), Will Connors (bicep), James Lowe (calf), James Tracy (neck), Charlie Ryan (knee) and Tommy O’Brien (knee)


The Women’s AIL is nearing its conclusion with just one more round of matches before the top four go into the semifinals. Rock ensured they will be at home with their 19-17 top of the table win at Railway Union ensures both clubs will be at home in the playoffs, with Belvo having already clinched their place. The fourth and final spot is up for grabs this weekend and two of the teams in contention UL Bohs and Galwaegians play each other while Wicklow have a tougher task against RU.

One extra thing about Wicklow RFC, it’s quite something to see them in contention for the final four this season after receiving much ridicule from some quarters (and not just them but the women’s game in general) following a series of heavy defeats.

Meanwhile over on the men’s side of things Terenure’s perfect start continued, with a 38-21 win over Hinch at Lakelands keeping them top, can’t do better than 30 points from 30! They travel to Castle Avenue to play Tarf next in what’s clearly the tie of the round although that’s not until the weekend of the 26th.

Women’s AIL

Suttonians 24-12 Ballincollig

Cooke 12-55 UL Bohemian

Old Belvedere 17-8 Wicklow

Railway Union 17-19 Blackrock College

Sat Nov 19

Ballincollig v Cooke

Blackrock College v Suttonians

UL Bohemian v Galwegians

Wicklow RFC v Railway Union

Men’s AIL

Cork Con 36-25 Lansdowne

Dublin University 34-28 Shannon

Garryowen 22-47 UCD

Terenure 38-21 Ballynahinch

Young Munster 24-19 Clontarf

Sat Nov 26

Shannon v UCD

Ballynahinch v Cork Con

Clontarf v Terenure

Dublin University v Young Munster

Lansdowne v Garryowen


All about the Wallabies this weekend, with Tom Coleman joining me on Friday evening for a preview pod, while after having Munster representation for the wrap last Sunday, there will be harpin’ from Ulster and Connacht as Ian Frizzell and Stephen Murphy this time around. Plus of course there will be all the regular features to stay tuned to our social media channels, including Mastodon where we having been posting first of late.

In the meantime, be sure to enjoy your rugby wherever you are.  JLP