Posts Tagged ‘ Heineken Cup ’

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

European Rugby – And Then There Was One

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Dual blogged on I’m Talkin’ Here

Can anyone else remember the last time only one Irish team managed to make the European knockouts? Eleven years ago, back when Ulster still couldn’t find a way out and Leinster lost out to Stade Francais and Munster were the sole hope in the Quarter Finals. Is it a reflection on the Irish club game that only Leinster have progressed or is it the new format living up to its name and providing a greater challenge to the Celts? Hard to say in this inaugural year but the fact is there to see that only one province from the back to back Six Nations champion country is present this weekend. Pity.
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Six Nations 2015 – Ireland Scrape Past France

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Far from perfect, anything but simple and in general; tense as hell. Ireland VS France has always been anything but a straight forward fixture and yesterday in the Aviva reached lofty new heights. It didn’t have as much riding on it as last year of course but it was the chance for Ireland’s first back to back win over Les Bleus in 13 years and you could see every inch of that on the pitch. Continue reading

Six Nations 2015 – Sexton Returns For Ireland

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It couldn’t entirely be classed as debatable to begin with but it looks like the question of whether Jonathan Sexton returning straight into the fold for Ireland after 3 months concussion rehab only ever had one answer. With little change from the team that faced Italy last week Sexton is due to return to the driver’s seat for Ireland this Saturday.
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European Rugby – Leinster Face A Tough Run To The Final

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Dual blogged on I’m Talkin’ Here

When the European Rugby Champion’s Cup was announced the cries from this side of the pond were that the new structure was essentially designed to stop the Irish teams from winning all the time. Whilst not exactly true, this Round 6 weekend and the subsequent knock out lay out has shown exactly what is different about this new structure. The goal was to make the competition more competitive, and no team is seeing this more so than Leinster. In previous years a home quarter final was all but a guarantee of progression to the semi finals. This was down to the void that often existed between the top 4 and bottom 4 teams. However, with four less teams and therefore more competitive pools you would have to say that nobody, bar Toulon, has anything resembling an easy route through the quarter finals. And of course the draw for the semi finals can be cruel as always with Leinster likely facing down a Toulon in France engagement should they get past a resurgent Bath. Simple.

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European Rugby – Leinster Look To Lead

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One round left and relatively little change from Matt O’Connor. When your team has demolished Castres a week previous, why tinker with the formula I suppose. The other provinces aren’t quite as lucky, all three listing worrying injuries, but unfortunately only one of the three from south, north and west have any role potentially beyond this weekend in Europe. Continue reading

European Rugby – Munster And Ulster Bow Out

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It’s bad, it really is. Munster and Ulster are out of contention in the European Rugby Champion’s Cup. For Munster this is the campaign that began with Ian Keatley channeling Ronan O’Gara and sealing the opening win with a sumptuous drop goal. For Ulster, it hasn’t looked too good all season but damn it hadn’t once looked this bad. Leinster and Connacht now carry the European hopes for Ireland as north and south must regroup.
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European Rugby – Munster Face Down Their Biggest Milestone

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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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European Rugby – Where Do They All Stand?

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Dual blogged on I’m Talkin’ Here

So two rounds down and already some possible contenders have bitten the dust. Two rounds never technically eliminates you from any tournament, but a whole heap of miracles and shock wins are generally required to get you back on track after poor opening games. For the Irish only one of the provinces find themselves facing down this situation, Ulster, whilst the other three are looking fairly solid on the table albeit with much work to do before double-headers in December.
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European Rugby – Three From Four Ain’t Bad

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Mixed, is there any other word for that opening weekend? A classic Munster performance, from a new Munster side. A near all time best from Connacht. Gusto without result from Ulster. And such muddling from Leinster. Yep, it’s gonna be a long season.

Munster got the ball rolling early on Sunday with their clash against Sale. Nobody could really call what shape Sale would show up in but in a pool including Clermont and Saracens they should not be classed as the top tier opposition for the Reds. Still an away trip to any English side can be tricky and yet another last minute get out of jail moment from Munster proved that to be the case once more. Continue reading