20 March 2014

What makes him the greatest?

The difference between a good player and a great player is a combination of talent and motivation. Some players are good because they possess talent, they are born with that ability it makes them a cut above the rest. Others players are good because they are so motivated they work and work to maximise their potential.

But the great players possess that rare combination of talent and extraordinary motivation.

Undoubtedly, Brian O’Driscoll was born with a phenomenal talent for playing rugby. But …..


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17 January 2014

Canal+ deal dramatically distorts the rugby market

While the Heineken Cup is reaching the final round of the pool stages most people have averted their interest from the chaos surrounding the future of the competition. At this point it seems as if everybody has reached the point of fatigue on the subject. The weekly developments have become akin to a bad soap opera, the complete opposite to what is happening on the field of play.

At the same time, and almost below the radar, the Ligue Nationale de …..


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02 December 2013

Pro 12 dominance by Ireland not so good?

Before we turn our attention to the back-to-back Heineken Cup pool games next weekend, it is worth taking a look at the Pro 12 standings. After nine rounds of the tournament the table is beginning to take shape.

Irish teams dominate the top of the table with Munster, Leinster and Ulster in three of the top four play-off positions. Glasgow, who hold 3rd position, are on equal points with Ulster. But Ulster have a superior points difference and also more try …..


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26 November 2013

The perfect storm almost worked

Ireland did create the perfect storm against New Zealand on Sunday and delivered arguably the greatest performance from an Irish rugby team in our history. The fact we came agonisingly close should not in any way take from the performance of the team. Ireland did everything that was asked of them over those eighty-three pulsating minutes. To nit pick individual errors during the game would be churlish. The speed and intensity of the game from start to finish ensured there …..


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22 November 2013

The perfect storm to give ourselves a shot…

Most people believe we have no chance against New Zealand on Sunday and there is plenty of history to support that position. Our November under-performances against Samoa and in particular Australia have added even more weight to that argument. But if we are to give ourselves a shot at beating New Zealand there are a number of boxes we need to tick in a pretty spectacular way to create the perfect storm.

Selection:

In selection New Zealand have made seven changes (two …..


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18 November 2013

Nobody saw this coming

Nobody, not even the bookies, predicted the scale of Australia’s defeat of Ireland last Saturday. A points difference of seventeen camouflages the extent to which the Wallabies dominated the game. The try count of 4-0 gives a better indication of the difference between the teams.

It wasn’t like Ireland were starved of possession or territory, in fact Ireland had 64% possession and 63% territory. We just lacked any penetration when we had the ball and couldn’t break Australia down. Australia’s discipline …..


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15 November 2013

Schmidt’s smart selection

Joe Schmidt has made six changes to the team to play Australia next Saturday. It may seem like a lot of changes on the face of it, but it is not quite that dramatic.

Four of the six changes were expected. Jonathan Sexton, Cian Healy, Paul O’Connell and Sean O’Brien were always going to come back for this game. The surprise selections are Eoin Reddan and Luke Marshall.

Eoin Reddan’s selection is hardly a risk as he is a hugely experienced international. …..


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11 November 2013

Schmidt relieved but not happy

It was a strange game last Saturday that will leave Joe Schmidt relieved to get a win in his first game, but he will not be completely happy with the performance. Coaches by nature are never really completely happy and a five-try rout of Samoa will serve its purpose of getting off to a winning start.

It was a game that saw almost twice as many scrums as line-outs over the eighty minutes. That statistic alone shows how atypical the game …..


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02 November 2013

The Ireland Team to play Samoa

Next week Joe Schmidt will announce the first selection of his tenure as Irish Coach. Despite playing the “weakest” (which is a relative term) of the three autumn opponents, it is understandable he will want to make sure he registers a win on his first at bat. To that end he will select the strongest team available to him.

Below is the team I expect Joe Schmidt to select:

The back line will take on a familiar look with Murray at scrum-half. …..


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30 October 2013

Looking north for the autumn

We are about the entertain the annual arrival of the “Big 3” to this part of the world for the Autumn International Series. The arrival of New Zealand, Australia and South Africa is greatly anticipated by the 6 Nations Unions as it is of huge importance to rugby in Europe.

Apart from the financial benefits of having three or four tests against world-class opposition, the autumn internationals are hugely beneficial from a rugby perspective.

Firstly, it allows the 6 Nations to benchmark …..


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