Posts Tagged ‘ Welsh Rugby ’

Six Nations 2014 – Do Or Die For Gatland

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As well as the much anticipated meeting of Ireland and England, there are of course two other imminently watchable Six Nations clashes this weekend. For Italy and Scotland, keeping off the bottom is the aim of the game. For Wales and France however, this is the weekend one will see their championship hopes effectively disappear.
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Irish Rugby: One Direction,Right Direction

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It was a pleasure to be at the Aviva Stadium last Saturday to witness Ireland versus Wales. A major banana skin lay in wait for Joe Schmidt’s rejuvenated side but they stepped over it and did it with some style. There were some huge performances all over the park from the Irish team but as an overall package, they left Wales frustrated and confused. Tactically, Schmidt again got it right. The Welsh were left with no room to run, their big ball carrying backs never got up speed when accepting a pass, they were met with a line of green, each and every time they attempted to make progress. Their frustration eventually boiled over after Paddy Jackson walked through for a late try. The Irish fly-half was followed to the ground and struck with an elbow into his face as he landed, momentum, no, malicious, yes. The follow up handbags and pushing only confirmed the frustration that the Welsh were feeling. If they came to Dublin to fight, they left it too late.

Outplayed and out thought by an Irish side not willing to give any ground, the Welsh must go back to the drawing board and hope that England can stop Irish momentum in two weeks time. If one moment of the early exchanges epitomises the Irish effort that was on display, it was a huge hit on Brian O’Driscoll by Welsh centre Scott Williams, the big screen replay is not one that went down well with the home crowd, as late as a bride at her wedding. The wind was obviously knocked out of the former Irish captain and he received treatment as play continued. The crowd erupted when he got back to his feet, he was shook but glanced forward and offered a wry smile to his assailant. Williams was replaced moments later, a shoulder injury the result of his exchange with O’Driscoll, you don’t bring a knife to a gunfight. Continue reading

Six Nations 2014 – Irish Win Sets Up Twickenham Thriller

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I’ve written this article before. Last year Ireland emphatically beat Wales to set up what everyone, myself included, called a title decider against England. And of course it went all kinds of wrong from that day on. But this is different, notably in the fact that Ireland had this game put away after thirty minutes, and already the nation was looking towards Twickenham.

13 nil is by no means a standard match winning score in a Six Nations fixture, but by the thirtieth minute Ireland had stolen three line outs, turned over at least three rucks, crossed the gain line at least four times in attack and smashed Wales back two metres in defence at least twice. Chris Henry’s try coming off the now regimental Irish maul just sent the dagger home and though Wales were still in it from a points perspective, there was little could be done to salvage the game. Continue reading

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 : Ireland Seek To Banish Welsh Blues

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The Six Nations Championship continues this weekend and Grand Slam hopes are on the line for the three winning teams from last week. If France and England was the pick of the clashes last week, well then undoubtedly, the meeting of Ireland and Wales holds top spot this week. In a year that looks to be very open, even last weekend’s losing sides will feel that the Championship is still up for grabs. England in particular will be looking to get their chariot back on track and will be looking for a big performance against the Scots. The first game of the weekend will see the meeting of Slam hopefuls Ireland and Wales. 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

Six Nations 2014 – Ireland Give Nothing Away In Week One

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Back in November, Joe Schmidt showed his hand more than he ever has before, revealing that the All Blacks game was targeted more so than the others, possibly even to the detriment of performance in the Australian game.
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