Posts Tagged ‘ Toulouse ’

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 – “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

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

Rabo – Connacht Fight For European Qualification

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Ah yes the news has finally officially come, the Heineken Cup is no more. Next year it will be replaced with the European Rugby Champion’s Cup (or, ERCC, hmmmm) and as well as having a second tier challenge cup there will also be a third tier competition. Arguably this is the best news of the entire deal, and that the ERC could never pull it off maybe justifies their exit from proceedings. The biggest news from this announcement however is that Connacht now know for certain that the final leg of the Rabo is crucial for their European dreams. Continue reading

Heineken Cup – Munster Brilliance Keeps Irish Interest Alive

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Well, that was emotional. Be it the dream of another fairytale for Brian O’Driscoll, the anger and passion that followed Jared Payne’s red card, or the sheer and utter dissection Munster undertook, that was yet another Heineken Cup knock out round that simply had it all. It was yet another reason why the dissolving of this competition next year is little short of a travesty, though at least the new tournament looks set to more closely resemble this one than it could have. Continue reading

Heineken Cup – The French Connection Continues

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What is it with Irish teams versus the French? The English have Le Crunch, but with fixtures like Leinster VS Clermont in 2010 at the Aviva, again two years later in Bordeaux, Ulster VS Montpellier and Munster VS Perpignan this year, you’d have to say the Celtic and Gallic head to head has just created a huge buzz in recent years. Good news then that two of the three Irish provinces are of course taking on French opposition this weekend. Pure sporting nectar. Continue reading

Rabo Direct Pro 12: The Leinster-Munster Juggernaut Returns

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Ah its back again. Post-Six Nations hangovers are worse when you’re successful, no doubt about that. There’s little to win in the muddling Rabo games that arise between the end of the Six Nations and the Heineken Cup resumption. But then along comes the colossus, the manly Munstermen versus the Leinster ladyboys, a fixture that defies all logic and at times elevates above European standard. Ah yes, it’s good to be back.
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Using French As Bargaining Tool May Hinder Irish Stars Of Tomorrow

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‘He who is not courageous enough to take risks, will accomplish nothing in life’. Muhammad Ali.

Bluff or real deal? We may never know but one thing is for sure, the big money spending French clubs must be getting sick and tired of bringing over Irish internationals for talks, knowing in the back of their minds, the Irish just want to stay at home. As Joe Schmidt gets himself comfortable driving the Irish hopes and dreams into the 2015 Rugby World Cup, he must be greatly heartened by the fact that all bar one of his squad look like being Irish based for the next two years. The only foreign based player just happens to be his playmaker but in a rugby world where the French clubs hold the gold, just one player away from home is a serious result. The I.R.FU. can take credit for keeping the players on home soil but how much intention from the player to play in France actually existed.  Continue reading

Six Nations – Grand Slam Candidates Keep Cards Close To Chest

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In a year where four wins may suffice to claim the Six Nations Championship, the three winning sides from last weekend kept their cards very close to their chests. A not too convincing performance from the defending champions in Cardiff saw them limp over the line against Italy. The Italians were up for it from the start but didn’t get the luck that an underdog requires to put it up to the favourites. Wales took advantage of early Italian mistakes and nervousness. Mistakes that the Italians would really regret at the final whistle. Warren Gatland will be delighted that his side managed to take care of the Azzuri without really clicking into third or fourth gear. The second half of that match was all about Italy, two break away tries saw them get to within five points of the hosts at one stage and the whiff of an upset was there momentarily. Wales finally quashed the Italian ambition with yet another Leigh Halfpenny penalty. A two score game for the last few minutes gave the Welsh a cushion as defeat became an impossibility. Not getting out of second gear may have kept future opposition in the dark somewhat as to the what Wales can really offer but this may yet prove to be a double edged sword that they may well regret.

If this year’s championship proves to be as close as it promises then score difference may well be the deciding factor after the final round of games. Only beating Italy by eight points at home could come back to haunt the Welsh yet. The Italians will feel that they had a real chance here. An impressive game from centre Michele Campagnaro which saw him cross the Welsh line twice in the second half is but one of the positives they can take away from this performance. They have the look of a team that will upset one of the Championship hopefuls between now and the finish. Wales know that their first big test is against Ireland this weekend and the one way to make sure that score difference doesn’t come into it, is to win all your games. Continue reading