10 December 2013

Connacht’s complete performance

It is without doubt the greatest performance by a Connacht team in the long history of the province. To travel to Stade Ernest-Wallon and beat the home team in the Heineken Cup is an extraordinary achievement.

Toulouse are not alone the aristocrats of French Rugby but also of European Rugby, having won the Heineken Cup on four occasions. But it wasn’t the fact that Connacht caused one of the greatest upsets in the history of the competition, but it was the …..

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06 December 2013

Heineken Cup Round 3 Predictions: Pools 4,5 & 6

Pool 4:

Clermont V Scarlets

At the moment Clermont are at 1st place in the Top 14, but one point behind both Scarlets and Racing Metro in this Heineken pool. Their Round 1 loss to Racing Metro leaves them with very little room for manoeuvre in the remaining pool games. Scarlets top the pool with a win over Harlequins in Round 1 and a draw against Racing Metro. But Clermont’s record at home is extraordinary in all competitions. A home loss for …..

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05 December 2013

Heineken Cup Round 3 Predictions: Pools 1,2 & 3

Pool 1:

Castres V Ospreys

The Ospreys are winless in this pool, playing away from home and have no chance of making the quarter-finals. They are very much in the hunt for the play-off of the Pro 12, so their priorities lie there. On the other hand Castres are still in with a chance of qualification for the quarter-finals and are also in a strong position in the Top 14. They will always deliver a strong performance at home.

Win: Castres

Northampton V Leinster

This …..

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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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25 October 2013

ERC caves in, but is it too late?

Yesterday the ERC completed their meeting in Dublin and proposed a new format for the Heineken Cup. Ironically the PRL and the LNR were not present. But what is even more ironic is the outcome of the meeting. The ERC have effectively caved in completely on the two major demands that precipitated the dispute in the first place. Namely that qualification for the tournament would become a meritocracy for everybody and the financial split would be evenly distributed between the …..

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22 October 2013

Ireland leading the charge

We are just two rounds into the Heineken Cup, so it is a bit early in the day to get carried away, but at this stage Ireland are the most successful country with the highest win ratio.

With four teams in the tournament Ireland have won six of their eight games. Munster and Connacht have both lost one game. But Ulster and Leinster are just two of three teams in the tournament that have won both their opening games. This gives …..

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18 October 2013

Heineken Cup Round 2 – Predictions

Saracens v Toulouse

The scare they got at the Sportsground last weekend should be enough to focus the minds of Saracens at home. Toulouse have a great record in the Heineken Cup, but of late they have been less consistent, which includes their form this season in the Top 14. Toulouse will be happy with a losing bonus point away from home. Saracens must win at home to keep their Heineken dreams on track.

Win: Saracens

Leicester v Treviso

After losing to Ulster last …..

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15 October 2013

A Penney for your thoughts

Much has been made over the past few days of Rob Penney’s honest assessment of his team’s performance in Edinburgh. His comments have been presented in some quarters as an open criticism of his players. That sort of honesty is never recommended in the coaches’ handbook.

In his post match interview, Rob Penney identified “complacency” as the probable cause of Munster’s malaise last Saturday. To be fair to him, after the type of display Munster delivered, it is a reasonable assessment. …..

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11 October 2013

Heineken Cup Round 1 – Predictions

Connacht V Saracens

Saracens are hot favourites to win this game and they have huge ambitions in Europe. Connacht will be looking to cause an upset and are always capable of springing a surprise at home. But it’s not Mark McCall’s first trip to the Sportsground and he will be well aware of what’s required to win there. To date Saracens have been a try-scoring machine in the Aviva. A positive start to the campaign is vital to Saracens ambitions, so …..

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09 October 2013

Heineken Cup Pools – Overview

The following is an overview of the possible outcomes from each Heineken Cup Pool.

Pool 1: Leinster, Ospreys, Castre, Northampton

This is very tough group. Northampton are in rude health near the top of the Aviva Premiership and will target qualification for the quarter-finals. Castre will play hard at home, but due to the fact they are struggling in the Top 14 they will not concentrate on the Heineken Cup and will probably send weakened teams to fulfil the away fixtures. Leinster …..

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