Posts Tagged ‘ European Rugby ’

European Rugby – Snowball’s Chance In Hell?

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To say that Leinster will define their season this Sunday is somewhat of an understatement. Pro 12 involvement on the line, consecutive defeats worse than anything in the last decade and a general air of division amongst their fans; this trip to Toulon didn’t need added importance but it has it now.

Matt O’Connor fielded 12 changes in the Pro 12 in an effort to distribute game time ahead of playing a team absolutely spoiled for choice. It wasn’t entirely illogical but what it means is that Leinster are essentially out of the league and this European Cup is all that remains to sign off in some style on a mixed 14/15 season. The obvious backlash here is that they’ve put more pressure on a game that really didn’t need anymore but for the sake of optimism let’s look at it from another angle – Leinster are head first throwing all of their weight into this weekend. Continue reading

Pro 12 – Testing Times Ahead Of Europe

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Clean sweep it may have been, but perfect it was anything but. This most recent weekend of Pro 12 rugby has shown just how much the Irish provinces, Ulster aside, may be clinging on by their fingernails in European competitions this season, a shame when the new iteration could do with some input from nations outside of France and England to solidify it somewhat. That’s not to say that things are in dire straits and we would be lucky to see even one Irish side make the knock outs, but several kicks up several behinds are required in order for all four provinces to be competitive.  Continue reading

Rabo – Provinces Move On To Final Prize

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Once again, May brings the bad news. Irish interest has vacated the Heineken Cup and all the provinces can strive for is Celtic silverware. There has been whispers the last week of the insignificance of the Rabo these days, especially with the shake up it will receive next season due to increased relevance, but I defy you to tell any of these teams that it’s somehow lesser.
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Rabo Round Up – Munster Crash Back Down To Earth

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Well, that was deflating. Rob Penney went for a raft of changes after Munster’s thrilling defeat of Toulouse but it’s possible he underestimated Glasgow a touch too much. Leinster and Connacht won’t want to remember this weekend anytime soon either, Ulster on the other hand bounced back immensely with a comprehensive, and injury riddled, victory over the latter. Continue reading

Heineken Cup – Big Business Ahead For Leinster And Connacht

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So here it is, months of permutations, battles over the future of this wonderful competition and injuries and upsets to boot. It all comes down to the next two weeks. The 13/14 Heineken Cup has seen somewhat of a return to form for Leinster and Ulster, though Edinburgh and Northampton Mk2 would best be forgotten, whilst Ulster and Connacht have continued their relative progression towards being true contenders on their respective levels. In all, from an Irish perspective at the very least, it’s been a glowing highlight of exactly why the Heineken Cup needs to stay alive.
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Heineken Cup – Leinster And Connacht Found Wanting In Return Fixtures

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Contrary to what the headline suggests, it wasn’t all doom and gloom for the provinces this weekend. Ulster managed to once more thump Treviso, although with a little more difficulty this weekend. And Munster pulled a performance from circa 2002 out of the drawer with a last gasp victory over Perpignan.

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Heineken Cup – Ulster And Leinster Deliver As Connacht And Munster Fall Short

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And to think there are some in this world who want rid of this competition. Once again, the Heineken Cup has delivered on opening weekend, with shock results, huge games and many more reasons why this competition needs to stay alive.

Connacht looked set to provide the first big upset as they took Saracens to the edge and more. Pat Lam wasn’t shy about singling out some refereeing but in all, it was a stellar performance from Connacht that deserves talking about. To come from a disappointing Rabo beginning to holding the team that steam rolled their way to the knockouts tryless after ten minutes was a result, but the final score is of course all that matters. Try scorers Danie Poolman and Kieran Marmion are shining lights for them however and hopefully can help make this more than a “happy to be here” season for Connacht.

Connacht 17 – 23 Saracens Continue reading

Heineken/Amlin Cup Semi Finals Preview

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©FearlessFred. Munster will need another inspired performance like this one against Quins

Here we go, prepare to have your nerves shot. Three Irish teams started the European challenge this season with reasonable hopes and chances of making it to this stage. In the wonderful and funny fashion of the Heineken Cup we find that only one succeeded, whilst two relatively misfired. The eyes of all rugby fans now fall on Munster as they travel to do the impossible and take on Clermont, the sole consolation being that they are not travelling to the cauldron that is Stade Marcel Michelin. Leinster have the arguably easier task of tackling Biarritz at home but let’s see how Munster’s chances stack up first.
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