Posts Tagged ‘ Gordon D’Arcy ’

European Rugby – Munster Face Down Their Biggest Milestone


New competition, new beginnings and a chance for Munster to reclaim some of their former glory. That is what awaits Anthony Foley’s men on Saturday when they travel to meet Saracens. It is getting tired and it is beyond cliche to say it, but Munster are a backs to the wall team at their finest moments. When all is required and all can be lost, that is when Munster sincerely find their place in European Rugby. There is no better recent example than that exemplary performance against Harlequins in 2013 when Munster were all but written off and came out blazing to send ‘Quins home licking their wounds. Of course, these scenarios don’t always go their way but there seems to just be a little in the air to suggest that won’t be the case this weekend.
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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

Rabo – Provinces Move On To Final Prize


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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Black Magic – Ireland Braced For New Zealand Battle


Here’s a prediction for a couple of headlines that may follow Ireland’s meeting with the All Blacks tomorrow. ‘Black Magic’, ‘Men In Black 28′, ‘Every Dagg Has His Day’, ‘Black Beauty’, or maybe just maybe, ‘Black Hawk Downed’. To be honest it’s not looking good for Ireland to beat the All Blacks tomorrow afternoon.

Last week’s demoralising defeat to Australia put the chances of finally turning over a New Zealand side even further from our grasp. This All Black team is a finely tuned machine and has the art of scoring and of stopping the opposition scoring down to a fine art. If Ireland do manage the unthinkable, I will be one of the 200,000 or so that will be at the game to see it. That figure is based on the attendance that said they were in Thomond Park in 1978 to witness Munster beating the All Blacks. We Irish love to be part of history and if a story didn’t grow legs, it would remain just a tadpole in the pond, just like if everyone that said they had a relation in the GPO in 1916 was correct, they would have been falling out the windows. The actual attendance at that game in 1978 was 12,000. The tourists played eighteen games on that tour, winning seventeen, beating the national sides of Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales, only faltering to Munster, the only Irish side that can claim ever beating the All Blacks. Continue reading

Three Uncapped Players In Ireland Squad For Guinness Series

The Ireland coaching staff have announced a squad of 34 players for the forthcoming GUINNESS Series against Samoa, Australia and New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium in November.

The make-up of the squad is consistent with recent years. The sole exile included is British & Irish Lions outhalf Jonathan Sexton.

There are three uncapped players included in the squad – David Kearney, who was on the bench for Ireland back in 2012, is included alongside Jack McGrath and James Coughlan. Continue reading

Agonizing Last Minute Defeat For Ireland Against New Zealand

So bloody close, I doubt there is any other sentiment that will circulate around Irish rugby fans for the next seven days. The only other one that has a chance of popping its head up is where the hell did that come from? They fooled us all, taking a hammering last week only to come out this morning and only lose the game in the final thirty seconds. It was a titan effort from the Irish team in Christchurch this morning, the torn jersey of Sean O’Brien, battered eye of Mike Ross, and out and out deflated and bloodied face on Brian O’Driscoll is testament to that. And yet somehow, they came up short. So bloody close.

There will be much debate about whether Ireland let this one slip, if Nigel Owens robbed them of at least a draw, or if the All Blacks just dug deep and plucked out that clinical skill they have in their possession. In truth, there was nothing clinical about the conclusion to the game. Between the shoddy effort of Carter’s first drop goal attempt and the one or two debatable calls against Ireland after the yellow card, it was definitely a lucky win for the home side. The debate on Owens’ performance is one that will rage on for some time now, especially given that he doesn’t have a third test to maybe make amends as some think he should. It is true though, some of his calls were harsh, but the biggest one is that of the wheeled scrum that went against Ireland. First of all, as he does, he has taken to Twitter and has explained his decision by stating that the feet of the second row players were moving sideways and that was his main indicator that the scrum was wheeling illegally. Looking back, it still appears to be a 50/50 call but the movement he is describing is there to be seen. Whether it was intentional or due to the natural contortions of the player’s bodies though is another issue. What has most fans enraged is that in any other game, even ones he has overseen in the past, a decision like that with a scrum as dominant as Ireland’s had been and with no time left on the clock, would have gone to the superior scrum. This just happened to be the day that Owens went verbatim from the rulebook.

But those two issues aside, did Ireland let this one slip? Well it can’t really be said that they did unfortunately, more so that just like Leinster, the All Blacks will always manage to snag the win when it’s needed. It was ugly, it was debatably undeserved but it was theirs. The Irish team, barring a surprisingly subdued show from Trimble, could not be faulted in any major sense of the word. To a man they were simply outstanding and played at one of the highest levels ever seen in the green jersey. To single out but a few, there is once again the immense effort and skill of Sean O’Brien who once more has shown that the doubters of his abilities as a 7 need to rethink their opinions. So too Jamie Heaslip who has worked hard to erase all memory of a relatively quiet two year period in green. O’Driscoll, majestic as always, Sexton showing the quick hands that make him our best attacking out half ever seen, Healy being the supernatural beast he is. Every single one of them, yet the win was not to be. And it is even more painful when it was a match where McCaw made it a hobby to knock on regularly, Carter missed a kick he would’ve snatched any other day just before half time, wunderkid debutant Sevea was completely nullified and so forth. It has to be said though, at the fear of incurring the wrath of Roy Keane, that the Irish team did their fans proud, particularly after the Eden Park embarrassment, to come out and front up as they did. It was not good enough given that they lost, but it was damn better than anyone expected.

But one does worry that this was the day, that in 107 years this was finally the day that Ireland caught the All Blacks out of form, and is that opportunity now lost, or can the job be completed next weekend? There is some niggles to be worked out, such as how were New Zealand, at seventy eight odd minutes, able to get in to drop goal range so quickly. There was one botched lineout too that can’t happen next weekend. There was some silly penalties given away, and still one or two wayward kicks. Can Ireland iron these out in time and maybe, just maybe, make that history? We shall have to wait and see.

TEAM UPDATE: Both Gordon D’Arcy and Jamie Heaslip will miss the final test, with D’Arcy’s calf causing him problems after coming off last Saturday, and Heaslip broke a finger during the match. Wallace has been called up to cover 12 whilst no call up has been required for the back row.