Posts Tagged ‘ George Hook ’

Six Nations 2015 – What We Watch It For


You couldn’t predict it. If you think you did, you’re wrong. 240 minutes of rugby and not a single one went as anyone would have expected. We knew that Gatland would have his Welsh squad fired up of course and that they have one of the best backlines in Europe, but we didn’t know that Italy were going to collapse as spectacularly as they did. Nobody could have seen Ireland coming out of the traps like that either, matching their best ever winning margin over the Scots. Of course, England and France, thank you. Quite simply the best game of rugby I have ever seen and Welcome back France, you have been missed.
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Guinness Series – Clean Sweep For Ireland

Ireland v Australia - Guinness Series


Dual blogged on I’m Talkin’ Here

Aside from Joe Schmidt, who we now know took off for an appendectomy after the game yesterday, it was all smiles for Ireland as they thwarted Australia and secured a November clean sweep for the first time in eight years. Yes we do need to keep ourselves in check, last time this happened nothing but misery awaited in the ensuing World Cup, but for now there’s no shame in a little basking.

We have seen many shades of Ireland over this Guinness Series, including the stoic defenders against South Africa, the free running scorers against Georgia as well as some super subs and now against Australia we saw that this is now a team that, regardless of performance, will win a game. It wasn’t a complete performance, it wasn’t near perfect, but it was the result that was needed. Beating Australia for the clean sweep was crucial, so too was banishing the New Zealand game from last year. There’s a Six Nations to look ahead to of course, and that looming World Cup of course too. Regardless of how, Ireland snared a crucial win this weekend. You cannot underestimate this Australian side either, albeit they are still in a transition of sorts. This was a serious test match, unquestionably the highlight of the weekend, and Ireland are on their way to becoming a rugby super power. God forbid we should ever believe that one though. Continue reading

News In Brief: Jeans, Ice Buckets And Silage Scent


Hold on to your ice buckets Enda Kenny’s wearing jeans. Thankfully, while on his hols at the Malton, he hasn’t decided to upend an icy bucket of water over his head. Sorry did NIB say thankfully? Would actually quite like to see Enda submerged, as long as there was no dodgy soggy t-shirt afterwards … This has gone too far.

Half of all the people watching telly on Tuesday night were tuned into the Rose of Tralee. It’s like we enjoy being LOL-ed at lads. Dáithí Ó Sé a bunch of “lovely gurls” and the most tepid talent show known to television. Yet four people watched it online in the UK. It’s not even news, every year is the same thing with attempts to make the antiquated “cool” and then we all watch it and complain about it, the winner wasn’t even Irish! Not that NIB was watching it, actually we were too busy watching Brian Ormond bugger up the Lotto. Continue reading

News In Brief-Rat Plane Crashes In Dublin As Sports Team Go Off The Ball

Rats Safe After Airport Crash

Rats Safe After Airport Crash

If News in Brief can’t be bothered this week can we blame it on tooth ache like Rory McIlroy? Only joking News in Brief is always on the ball. Unlike the Newstalk sports pundits behind the ’Off The Ball’ team, they’re definitely off: the ball, the side and the airwaves. The group’s departure comes after the lads were not allowed the option of moving from 7pm to 6pm for fears listeners would not be receptive and incurring the wrath of George Hook. Despite the possibility of a swift swop to RTE any transfer deals haven’t been signed as yet and it’s getting closer to extra time (very proud of all those sport references). It’s a shame they left this week, there was some kind of ball game on Tuesday wasn’t there? Continue reading

News in Brief-Students Take Nothing For Granted

The 200 Million dollar man, or Rory McIlroy as he’s known to his mum, has had his fair share of news paper pages in the last week, lamenting his considerable earnings to date. The young golf pro has reportedly signed up with Nike as part of a sponsorship deal that will make him the richest man in sport.

Following the success of the Olympics the suggestion of many millions per annum might prove inspirational for youngsters. In fact they may have a better chance of swinging a stick at the Ryder Cup then receiving their college grants.

Currently 66,000 students are in the process of applying for monetary grants. Out of that 66,000 only 27% have actually completed the process, a failure condemned by Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin. Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore defended the government, accusing Martin of ‘frightening’ people.
Coming only a few weeks after sending household charge demands to the deceased, the government’s inability to handle paperwork certainly is scary.

Unless like Rory you’ve got some cash stashed, the idea of the annual Christmas shop probably sends shivers down your spine. However Ireland is reportedly, and somewhat surprisingly, home to the biggest spenders in Europe come the festive season. The average cost of gift giving reaching almost €500 with €300 spent just on food and drink.
We’re not stupid though, cash gifts also top the Christmas lists of 37% of people asked. It’s nice to see amongst all the, lights, tinsel and religion we haven’t forgotten the true meaning of Christmas.
Perhaps it is a display of early Christmas spirit that has seen Former AIB chief Eugene Sheehy very kindly agree to take a pension cut from €325,000 to €250,000. He’s taking something all right.
With all this talk of money it’s easy to forget that in celeb news this Sunday sees the return to our screens of I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here with its usual cast of has-beens and no bodies.
In fact I’ve forgotten again already.

And finally, Newstalk radio were offering one lucky listener the trip of a lifetime yesterday. Be flown to New York by Aer Lingus before jumping into an Avis hire car and in the words of George Hook, take a “leisurely” drive down to Washington DC. He obviously didn’t get the memo.

Irish Rugby-A Glorious State Of Affairs

It’s a funny thing, the shift that has occurred in the last two years with regard to the size of Irish rugby’s fan base. With Munster’s double Heineken Cup success followed by Ireland’s first Grand Slam in 61 years, who could blame anyone for hopping on the bandwagon? At a time when there was little or nothing to be happy about in this country, our rugby players were lifting spirits with their exploits. What also happened is that interest in provincial rugby increased tenfold. This was due in a large part to Munster informing the greater population of this island that the Heineken Cup existed and also due to people’s desire to have a constant fix of rugby between internationals. Many took this to be a bad thing, stadia would now fill with the “prawn sandwich brigade” and rugby would grow to be even more of a commercial commodity than it had already become. But of course the reality is that rugby is a professional sport, and professionals need money. So the rise in popularity amongst lay folk in the country paved the way for other great achievements such as Munster VS Leinster in the 2009 Heineken Cup semi-final in Croke Park producing the highest ever club rugby attendance, a record that will be extremely difficult to break. There was also another far more encouraging sign which was the full house in the magnificent Aviva stadium in December 2010 for Leinster’s crunch match with Clermont Auvergne. Neither of these and many more milestones as well could have been achieved were it not for the massive interest that rugby has gained in the last three years on this island. And now, in the thick of the 2011/12 Heineken Cup season, we are looking at exactly what this now found fan base has produced, three Irish provinces sitting comfortably at the top of the league table.

Am I suggesting that this is all to do with how the numbers have increased in Irish rugby supporters recently? Well no, of course not. But it has had a profound effect. Let’s go back to the topic of money. The eternally feared teams in European rugby are all from the one region, France. Whereas the rest of the rugby nations can provide teams in given years that instil fear, it is France who can do it year in year out. The primary reason for this is that they have more money than sense. French clubs can pump more and more money into their teams as they so choose and as a result can buy in players for the positions they are lacking talent in and so will always have pure class from one to fifteen. Irish clubs, to the IRFU’s credit, are not entirely free to do this and, not so much to the IRFU’s credit, will be all but disallowed from even thinking such thoughts very soon. But what Irish clubs can do is front up the cash to keep our stars. When Jamie Heaslip and Jonathan Sexton came out of contract not too long ago, fears abounded that maybe their French interest wasn’t just a bargaining chip. You can rest assured that some hefty, and deserved, figures were drummed up in order to make them stay. And then there is the money spent on coaching. Declan Kidney was famously attacked by George Hook for spending a fortune on his coaching team only for Ireland to perform abysmally in the November 2008 tests. Well, we all know what happened the following spring.

So with money in mind, it is easy to see how the masses who have hopped on the bandwagon are really helping to turn Ireland into the rugby nation it can be. The added numbers to the country’s fan base means we can be more assured of full houses, of numbers attending Connacht matches reaching thousands, of Connacht themselves feeding off the other three provinces successes and furthering themselves in European competition. Most importantly, in harsh times such as those the country is currently experiencing, sport takes on an entirely new level of importance. It is an escape from reality for many, myself included. There was no recession in my house in 2009, simply due to an unbeaten run for the Irish team coupled with a Grand Slam and a Heineken Cup. Sport is becoming more and more a number one commodity for the country and long may it continue. Talk has even turned recently to the possibility of Ireland hosting a World Cup; would such an expensive undertaking even be considered in another field? I doubt it. The day is soon approaching when Ireland, like New Zealand, will become the small country that shocks all of the other nations by consistently providing the highest level of rugby there is, taking the mantle from France and becoming the feared country, the country that has cauldrons instead of stadia, the country that has beasts, not players; the country that has consistency and reputation to uphold. Many may disagree and say that Ireland already has many rugby achievements under its belt and many more will say we have more than would have been expected from this small bankrupt island. But what I am putting to you is that the day will come when an Irish team, provincial or national, will take to the pitch in the Aviva or Thomond, Ravenhill or the Sportsground and say to themselves beforehand that they are looking for another win. There will come a time when facing the All Blacks will no longer be merely “putting up a better fight than last time” as I have heard so many people remark. The All Blacks may have a system that is unrivalled by other rugby nations and likely to stay that way, but it is not beyond us that we could also reach such levels of rugby. Nothing proved this more than the World Cup match last September that will go down in history, when Ireland believed more than an Australian team who looked for all the world to have given up on themselves. Believe. Believe Ireland can achieve the status of rugby elite. Believe that as a country Ireland can become one of the most feared and most influential rugby nation there is. Believe.

Many would be quick to call me nothing but crazy after reading this article but I think if every rugby fan thinks hard enough they will see that I am not speaking all that fancifully. For starters, every sports fan dreams that their team will reach these levels of perfection, why not be confident that it will happen? There once was a time that Leinster would not be expected to win every match they play, they just might have been given the slightly better odds. Now however, a Leinster loss is a catastrophe, even if it were to be at the hands of the number one team in Europe, which is of course themselves right now, and by only a single point. There is simply an air of invincibility about Leinster, Munster and Ulster at the moment, with Connacht taking the crown once possessed by the other three, that of the underdog capable of a great upset, as Harlequins found out all too clearly last Friday. Quite simply, Irish teams now have the position of being unpredictable to the opposition. There is soon going to be expectation on Irish teams, much like there is on the All Blacks, that they will win, and anything less will be unacceptable. This is how it always should be but has not been the case for many Irish fans for quite some time. Now is the time that a proper change is coming and the road ahead for Irish rugby looks set to be littered with silverware.

 By Niall Hetherington