Month: February 2007

Difference between rugby and soccer?

Dennis Hickey, Wales vs Ireland 2007David Beckham, crying

Hickey ran off the pitch, demanded stitches, a bandage, new shorts, jersey and headgear, all within the 10 minute time window so he could come back on and continue the rest of the game.

Beckham wanted a hug.

Ireland escape Wales unbeaten

Somehow we made it out relatively unscathed. After 75 minutes of sitting on the edge of my seat, convinced our defense would eventually give in to one of many Welsh probes, I could finally let out a sigh of relief and belt out the Fields of Athenry with the rest of the Irish crowd.

Wales vs Ireland in CardiffI haven’t seen the game on tv, here’s my 2 cents from the live version…

The backline

ROG played a nightmare first 60 minutes, Trimble looked weak under pressure from Jones (sliced everything), Hickie was fairly anonymous, D’arcy was awesome. BOD was strong, Stringer was ok. As a collective, top marks for the defensive work in the line – I don’t know how many tackles they made but I’m sure it’s up there in the top 10% statistically. Apologies to Dempsey but I think Murphy proved in his 10 minutes that he’s 1st choice for #15.

The forwards

Front row held the scrum beautifully! Way to go lads, I’m lovin’ it! I’m not so impressed with R Best’s lineout work , despite his opportunist try – any schoolboy will tell you to make the call on the way to the lineout if you can’t hear the code on successive occasions. Again my doubts about Paul O’Connell have surfaced – my preferred locks are DOC, MOK and POC (in that order). Forwards collectively did trojan work in defense, particularly The Bull from what I recall. Easterby was lucky not to get the yellow, but a penalty try would have been harsh.

The stadium

If you haven’t been, find an excuse to go.  About 8k smaller than Croke Park but a more intense atmosphere because of the smaller playing surface and bigger roof.  This was the most tense game I’ve been to – edge of the seat stuff for 75 minutes. I’ll get my voice back next week sometime. The best atmosphere I’ve been ever been in by a long way… even beating Dublin – Mayo 2006 which says a lot for me. As Tom says, “phew!”.

The people

The Welsh are dead sound, lovely people, and know their rugby. Took the loss well, despite what you might call unlucky (or plain bad) calls from the ref on one or 2 occasions.

The flickr stream

is here. Sorry it’s only 5 or 6 photos and no action – it was too intense. I’ll see if I can recover the video of ROGs conversion off my phone later!

England for the Grand Slam!

Wonder Wilko took over from Jonny Bandages to score 27 points yesterday, including “being awarded” a bonus “welcome back, Jonny” 5 pointer from the TMO during England ‘s demolition of a hapless Scotland at Twickenham.

I’m delighted to see Wilkinson back – he’s a tremendous, if slightly overrated, talent and showed great form despite his lack of match play. And to be fair, he didn’t speak falsely:

I felt like it was going to be literally touch and go with my foot down and the ball down but that’s what the video ref is for.

And even better from Ireland ‘s perspective, the English media will promptly herald the new dawn of English rugby, make them favourites for the Six Nations Grand Slam , and we can get back to our rightful place place as underdog.

This intrepid reporter is in Cardiff today living the good life endeavouring to get the story from ground zero as Ireland attempt to shake off the nightmare of 2005. Hi Mum!

Weekend score predictions – 6N and Superbowl

Let’s see how wrong I am with these…

Six Nations:

Predicted: Italy 7 – 45 France
Actual: Italy 3 – 39 France

Predicted: England 15 – 19 Scotland
Actual: England 42 – 20 Scotland

Predicted: Wales 15 – 27 Ireland
Actual: Wales 9 – 19 Ireland

Superbowl XLI:

Predicted: Colts 38 – 20 Bears
Actual: Colts 29 – 17 Bears

Who would you add to the Ireland team?

As an Irish rugby fan I’m doing my best to remain quietly confident through the massive hype with the Six Nations starting in a only few short hours. We’ve never worn the favourites tag very well and like a lot of my peers I’m concerned by talk about Grand Slams and Championships – look where that got us two years ago

But yes, despite that I am still confident! Is it unwarranted? You decided. I was just looking over the BBC Sport bloggers interestingly named Six Nations all-star XV. Fair enough – every time someone publishes a select XV punters appear from everywhere to pull it to shreds. But much of the criticism seems justified. Here’s their team:

  1. Gethin Jenkins (Wal)
  2. Raphael Ibanez (Fra)
  3. Carlos Nieto (Ita)
  4. Paul O’Connell (Ire)
  5. Marco Bortolami (Ita)
  6. Joe Worsley (Eng)
  7. David Wallace (Ire)
  8. Ryan Jones (Wal)
  9. Dwayne Peel (Wal)
  10. Ronan O’Gara (Ire)
  11. Christophe Dominici (Fra)
  12. Yannick Jauzion (Fra)
  13. Brian O’Driscoll (Ire)
  14. Sean Lamont (Sco)
  15. Josh Lewsey (Eng)

Let’s compare that to Ireland’s starting team for Cardiff on Sunday:

  1. Horan
  2. Flannery R Best
  3. Hayes
  4. O’Connell
  5. O’Kelly O’Callaghan
  6. N Best S Easterby
  7. Wallace
  8. Leamy
  9. Stringer
  10. O’Gara
  11. Hickie
  12. D’Arcy
  13. O’Driscoll
  14. Trimble
  15. Murphy Dempsey

Ok, so what’s my point? Well I was just thinking that if I had the choice of picking any of the other Six Nations players for the Irish team it would be difficult (putting aside our well documented problem at props).

Would you pick Worsley, or Sean Lamont (who?) or Ibanez? I certainly wouldn’t. Who would you add to the Ireland team if you had the choice of any 6N player?