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Posts Tagged ‘ Munster ’

European Rugby – Time To Separate The Men From The Boys

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Round two of the European Rugby Champion’s Cup and already we’re looking at a whole new playing field. Ulster VS Toulon, Munster VS Saracens, Leinster VS Castres and Connacht VS Exeter. Certainly far more fitting and mouth watering challenges for the provinces, and though it may be true that you don’t lose any competition in the first round, the second is where those short fallings and mistakes can be made that haunt you for the rest of the season.

Munster VS Saracens this evening is a fixture that has never failed to thrill. Through the year these sides have fought some of the closest matches in rugby history and one could argue that Saracens have the closest thing to a Munster-esque legacy in England, their embrace of brand establishment and of course they have thrown up some results to justify all of it. Kelly Brown, Billy Vunipola, David Strettle, Owen Farrell, Brad Barrit. It doesn’t need to be emphasised what pedigree Munster find themselves up against this evening. Continue reading

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Schmidt Produces Some Surprises For November Series

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A week earlier than expected, Joe Schmidt has announced his 37 man squad for the upcoming November Internationals and though influenced by injury, some surprise calls have reared their heads.

As seems to always be the case in Ireland, out half is the area causing the most debate. The chosen three are Jonathan Sexton, Ian Keatley and Ian Madigan. Paddy Jackson has been the go to second to Sexton for nearly two years now, and his omission may come as a surprise to many. But Keatley has been getting to the required level slowly but surely and with performances like last weekend against Sale under his belt deserves his call up. Jackson does also have a little time to go to return fully from injury and Madigan just provides better all round cover given how many Irish backs are sat up with injury. Ulster fans won’t be happy, but much like Sexton being released back to Leinster during the 2012 Six Nations, Jackson is not to be considered out of the golden circle just because he is being left with Ulster for game time. Continue reading

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

European Rugby – New Era, Same Challenges

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As we covered here earlier this week, not much has changed with this all new European Cup. The name, some scheduling and the number of teams. Most of the regulations and seedings remain the same, venues, locations etc. What remains exactly the same is the importance of this tournament, and what it means to those involved.

First of the provinces in action this weekend we have Munster travelling to take on Sale at the early hours of 1pm Saturday. Early kick off and all the talk it has generated aside, Munster are in need of a good start. They haven’t had the worst start to the season of the provinces, that accolade falls to Leinster, but they are yet to grease all the gears. Flyers like Simon Zebo and Gerhard Van Den Heever have been threatening but are yet to put in the displays in the games they’ve been most needed. Continue reading

European Rugby – “Not” The Heineken Cup

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“Four tries at the very least, and a 27 point margin to boot. No team could surely ever pull it off. Watch now, as Ronan O’Gara lines up the most important kick of his Munster career…”

Ok so, except that there’s one less pool (and four less teams as a result), let’s face it, this is the Heineken Cup. To Irish rugby fans in particular, the Heineken Cup even in name alone meant a lot more than just sponsorship. It’s a heritage, a legacy. It’s the reason we all looked forward to October. And the greatest Irish successes, be it winning finals or overcoming huge opponents in knockouts, all came at the peak of the competition’s popularity both with the public and financially. Is it any wonder there were calls for change from outside the country? 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

Pro 12 – Munster Might Too Much For Leinster

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Well, that was interesting. Often the Leinster VS Munster October fixture is touted as the real start of the rugby season, for fans of both provinces anyway. Too often though, the game itself winds up not nearly living up to the billing. In recent years it has been all too one sided, or generally just dour. Well, five tries, four yellow cards and a fairly thrilling finish was what we were greeted with on Saturday,and in a lovely little twist we’ve probably learned less about both sides than we did from the less entertaining affairs. Continue reading

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