27 March 2014

Qualification anomalies from the Pro 12 to the new Heineken Cup?

After much turmoil the Heineken Cup battle seems to have reached a resolution and the French and English Clubs can claim victory. It is difficult to argue with that as the LNR and PRL have achieved what they initially set out to do.

The European money will be split three ways between the French, English and the Pro 12 competitions. The new competition will involve a meritocracy for qualification. The Top 14 and Aviva Premiership each guaranteed six teams and a …..

full story

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 …..

full story

22 January 2014

Once again Ireland dominates the Heineken Cup

At the end of the day only one team can win the Heineken Cup each year. But to consider the success of individual countries it is worth calculating their success rate at qualifying for the quarter-finals of the tournament.

With the pool stages of this year’s Heineken Cup just completed and the seeding for the quarter-finals set, there is an all too familiar look to the proceedings. Even compared to the big spending French Clubs, once again Ireland has punched well …..

full story

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 …..

full story

14 January 2014

Five-day turnaround just not smart

Both Leinster and Northampton have been handed a five-day turnaround between Round 5 & 6 of their remaining Heineken Cup Pool games.

We all appreciate fixture lists are constructed for broadcasters who want to optimise their programming and that heavily influences the scheduling of games. He who pays the piper calls the tune so to speak. But there has to be limits to this scheduling.

After all, these players are not machines and recovery is a crucial part of preparation between performances.

It …..

full story

07 January 2014

Pro 12 and Aviva Premiership becoming predictable

The 2013/14 rugby season is just at the half-way point and before we turn our attentions to the final pool games of the Heineken Cup and the 6 Nations, it is worth taking a snapshot of the domestic tournaments. Unfortunately there is s certain predictability about the Pro 12 and Aviva Premiership as to who will be in the shake-up to be crowned champions at the end of the season.

This is hardly the ideal scenario with half the season remaining.

The …..

full story

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 …..

full story

08 October 2013

Warriors making waves

The Glasgow Warriors are making waves. They sit undefeated at the top of the Pro 12 with five wins heading into the Heineken Cup break. It is pretty rarefied air for a Scottish team as the Scottish clubs have had their ups and downs over the years in the league.

You only have to go back to 2011, when Glasgow finished 11th out of twelve teams in what was then the Magner’s League. In the same year Edinburgh finished in 8th …..

full story

06 October 2013

Leinster missed the “Drico Factor”

Munster’s victory over Leinster was deserved and there is no arguing with that. It was a game of huge anticipation and the tension seemed to get to the players for long periods in the first half. Fumbles and turnovers were the order of the day. The most accurate execution was the Garryowen, which both teams availed of very effectively.

Nobody could complain about the intensity and physicality, which was right up there with Heineken Cup. But neither team played with a …..

full story

04 October 2013

Tactical battle in full metal jacket

The most anticipated game of the season so far, for Irish supporters, is the Munster V Leinster game on Saturday evening. As always there is a lot of hype around these games and with justification as they rarely disappoint.

Munster supporters will point to the fact the game takes place in the citadel of Munster Rugby, Thomond Park, and that will automatically give Munster the edge. While it may help, there is no evidence that it will be the key to …..

full story