Month: December 2006

Legend Warne to retire after Ashes

I dislike Australia ns almost as much as New Zealanders and Cork people… (only in sporting terms, of course – outside of sport, Aussies and Kiwis are really nice people). Shane Warne is different.

Always a “colourful” character, in his sporting career he has been fined for accepting money from bookies, missed a Cricket World Cup due to being banned for drug use, involved in many extra-marital affairs which led to his divorce, caused opponents to need therapy to deal with his psychologic abuse, and yet he remains one of the most popular and iconic faces of Australian sport – a national hero. He’s just that good.

Even if you’re not much of a cricket fan, you’ll appreciate the skill shown here in “The Ball of the Century“, the most famous of his 699 wickets (an all time record) thus far (2s):

Unbelievable spin! Here’s an interview with Warne on some of his greatest wickets:

He’ll be missed.

Brazenfaced, shameless England bashing

For an Irish fella, I’ve been rather too nice about England ‘s diabolical sport ing run lately so this will help tilt things back the right direction:


  1. English jockey to ride winner of Grand National – 9/4
  2. English winner of Snooker World Championship – 3/1
  3. England to win Six Nations – 9/2
  4. English club to win Champions League – 9/2
  5. English player to win Golf ‘Major’ – 10/1
  6. English jockey to ride winner of (Epsom) Derby – 10/1
  7. England to win Cricket World Cup – 14/1
  8. English driver to win F1 World Title – 20/1
  9. English boxer to win World Heavyweight Title (WBA, WBC, WBO, IBF) – 33/1
  10. England to win Ashes Series 2009 – 50/1
  11. England to win Rugby Union World Cup – 66/1
  12. England to win football World Cup 2010 – 66/1
  13. English athlete to win Olympic Gold Medal at 2008 Games – 100/1
  14. English player (male/female) to win Wimbledon Singles Title – 100/1
  15. None of these to have happened by end of World Cup 2010 – 250/1

“Admit it – We’re Useless”

Sunday Times headline.

Thanks to Planet Rugby.

England Rugby appoint Ashton to head coach

In today’s announcement, fiendishly devised by Rob Andrew and the English Rugby Football Union to cast doubt upon my rugby prediction skills, Brian Ashton was promoted from Attack Coach to Head Coach of the England team.

Ashton has a lot of things going for him, but I don’t think he’s the right man for the job, this appointment smacks of desperation with the Rugby World Cup happening next year.

Rob Andrew has no doubts about moving Ashton up:

Brian is the most experienced coach in England , he has enormous respect with the players and he has massive international and club experience. This coaching team have only been together since May and I believe Brian is the right man to lead the coaches and players into a new period for English rugby starting with the Six Nations opener against Scotland.

Jeff Probyn (former England prop) thinks Ashton’s appointment was a mistake.

It’s a short term stopgap and that’s not what England need, they need to put in place a structure that will take them forward for the next 10 years rather than taking a short-term view. The current thinking is obviously let’s appoint Brian, get through the World Cup and then appoint someone else. Brian works well alongside others who make decisions. Coaching-wise he’s the man to take England forward. But as a head coach, decision-maker and planner of the broader vision to take England forward, he’s not the right man.

Exactly my thinking. Here’s some other commentry on Ashton as England boss:

Sir Clive Woodward:

Not that good in terms of winning international rugby matches

Will Carling:

He’s a great coach but I think we need a manager

Donal Lenihan:

I have a huge amount of respect for Brian and I’m sure the England players will as well

Stuart Barnes, unfortunately worded:

England need a head coach who is not scared of losing and that man is Brian Ashton

And finally Ashton himself:

It’s a massive privilege. I recognise the challenges ahead of us and along with the other coaches in the team my focus now is to prepare England to play Scotland on February 3

Will he be successful? It’s hard to know what success is in terms of this team – beating Scotland, Italy and one other in the Six Nations would be a good start. One positive for him is that English rugby can’t possibly get any worse.

Heineken Cup fixtures announced for 19-21st Jan

Despite Serge Blanco’s best efforts the Heineken Cup is still up and running this year. Yesterday the tournament organisers announced the fixtures for round 6 on the weekend of 19th to the 21st of January 2007.

HEINEKEN CUP 2006 / 2007 – ROUND 6


  • Pool 2 Gloucester Rugby v Leinster 19.30 Sky Sports/RTE
  • Pool 2 Edinburgh v Agen 19.30


  • Pool 1 Castres Olympique v London Wasps 14.30 FR2/Sky Sports
  • Pool 1 Perpignan v Benetton Treviso 14.30
  • Pool 3 Stade Français Paris v Rugby Calvisano 16.30 Canal+
  • Pool 3 Sale Sharks v Ospreys 15.30 Sky Sports
  • Pool 4 Cardiff Blues v Bourgoin 17.35
  • Pool 4 Munster v Leicester Tigers 17.35 Sky Sports/RTE


  • Pool 5 Llanelli Scarlets v London Irish 13.00 Sky Sports
  • Pool 5 Toulouse v Ulster Rugby 14.00
  • Pool 6 Overmach Rugby Parma v Border Reivers 16.00
  • Pool 6 Northampton Saints v Biarritz Olympique 15.00 Sky Sports/FR2

Heineken Cup – Round 4 results

Catching up with the weekend just gone, the Irish sides had a great weekend of it last weekend, with Round 4 wins for Leinster away to Agen , Munster at home to Cardiff , and Ulster at home to London Irish . The table looks pretty good from the Irish rugby perspective.

Leinster look to have cemented place in knock-out stage

Leinster’s 13 – 25 away win was somewhat against the odds with the French side expected to put on a strong performance, and Leinster with their key playmaker Comteponi still injured. It was a scrappy first half, honours even, with a strong showing from Agen early in the second, but Leinster clinched it with a strong final quarter. Dunne shone through as replacement kicker with a drop goal and conversion when he came on, both scores in injury time, after D’arcy and Dempsey once again proved how badly Comteponi is missed in that department.

Leinster are top of pool 2 with 3 wins, 1 loss and 3 bonus points, their rivals Gloucester have 2 wins, 2 draws and 3 bonus points, with Agen close behind.
Agen: Elhorga; Ahotaeiloa, C Stoltz, Mirande, Caucaunibuca; Miquel, Morlaes; Van Niekerk, Narjissi, Meeuws; W Stoltz, Koulemine, Lievremont, Yukes, Soucaze. Replacements: Fulton for Morlaes (71), Guinazu for van Niekerk (46), Socol for Koulemine (53), Tiatia for Lievremont (73), Culine for Yukes (65). Not Used: Faaletino, Mignardi.

Leinster: Dempsey; Horgan, O’Driscoll, D’Arcy, Hickie; Warner, Whitaker; McCormack, Blaney, Wright, Hogan, O’Kelly, Keogh, Gleeson, Heaslip.
Replacements: Dunne for Warner (80), Jackman for Blaney (23), Corrigan for Wright (47). Not Used: Finegan, Jowitt, Easterby, Fitzgerald.

Munster roll on

The Munster machine is not lacking this year, they’re sitting pretty at the top of pool 4 with 4 wins from 4 and 2 bonus points after a hard fought 32 – 18 victory over Cardiff Blues on Saturday.

Munster: S Payne; J Kelly, B Murphy, T Halstead, I Dowling; R O’Gara, P Stringer; D Hurley, F Sheahan, J Hayes, D O’Callaghan, P O’Connell (capt), A Quinlan, D Wallace, D Leamy. Replacements: Pucciariello for D. Hurley (64). Not Used: Kyriacou, Wyatt, O’Sullivan, O’Leary, Manning, Mafi.

Blues: B Blair; T James, J Robinson, T Shanklin, C Czekaj; N Macleod, M Phillips; J Yapp, T Rhys Thomas, T Filise, B Davies, D Jones, S Morgan, M Williams, X Rush (capt). Replacements: Stcherbina for James (34), G Williams for Thomas (58), G. Powell for Filise (51), Lewis for Jones (52), N Robinson for Stcherbina (57). Not Used: White, Evans.

For the record

Munster are unbeaten 12 games in the Heineken Cup now, and their 31 game unbeaten home record is screaming for someone to knock it over…

Our home record is something we are very aware of. We talk about it before matches and none of us wants to be in the team that finally loses a Heineken Cup tie at the ground. Of course we know it is going to happen sometime as records are merely there to be broken. It puts pressure on us and there is certainly a bit of a fear factor involved.

Paul O’Connell speaking after their Round 3 game at Cardiff.

Ulster win too late to save them

Ulsters strong 29 – 13 win over London Irish was well fought, but appears not to be enough as Llanelli Scarlets achieved a brilliant 41-34 away victory over Toulouse. This means that to top the group Ulster now need to achieve bonus-point wins against the Scarlets and Toulouse in January and hope that Llanelli also slip up at home against London Irish.

In other news from Friday’s game in Ravenhill it appears that London Irish are to lodge a formal complaint over alleged racial abuse

Smith said that he had already verbally lodged the complaint to ERC chief Derek McGrath, who attended Friday’s game.

The London Irish coach added that there was “no love lost” between the sides after the two recent games.

“It starts from number one to 22 and carries on through the management.”

Ulster chief executive Michael Reid said that he was “comfortable that the allegation is unfounded”.

Connacht disappoint in European Challenge Cup

Montpellier beat Connacht 35-22 in a battle of the also-rans. Connacht were a man up almost all game, after the Montpellier out-half was shown red in the 5th minute, and managed to run in 4 tries for the second week in succession. Match report from implies the penalty count was strongly to blame (I’m sceptical).

What’s left in the Heineken Cup?

ROUND 5: 12 / 13 / 14 January, 2007
ROUND 6: 19 / 20 / 21 January, 2007
QUARTER-FINALS: 30 / 31 March / 1 April, 2007
SEMI-FINALS: 20 / 21 / 22 April, 2007

Do you know anyone in Naas who had a bike accident?

On Saturday Nov 25th a cyclist had an accident on the Naas Road – and Kevin has his bike. From the Cycling Ireland post:

At about 1.00pm on Saturday 25 November 2006 on the Naas Road a few hundred yards on the town side of Newland’s Cross and maybe 50 yards from Joel’s restaurant. I came upon a cyclist who was on the ground having come off his bicycle . While waiting for an ambulance to arrive I put his bicycle in the back of my car to keep it safe for him.

Tallaght Fire Brigade arrived and I left him in their care. I subsequently sent a text and phoned the injured man only to discover that the mobile phone number he had given me is not in service.

I understand he was taken to Tallaght Hospital by ambulance but as I do not have his name Tallaght Hospital are unable to trace him for me. I am very anxious to trace this man as he is obviously a racing cycling enthusiast and I should think that his bicycle cost him a fair penny.

I have no other details on this man except to say that he is a white non-national.

My mobile number is 086 8224 383 and my e-mail is kmaguire at lawlibrary dot ie. If anybody knows this man and could give him my contact details, or me his, I should be much obliged.

Fair play Kevin – I hope someone would do the same for me.

Update: I got a mail from Kevin last week – good news:

Thanks Alastair,

I found my man and he has his bicycle back, however, I don’t think he’ll get to use it for a few
months yet.