Two weeks in…

Irish fans are finally getting over Ireland ‘s heart-breaking last minute loss to France last week. I think there’s something worse about having a match stolen at the last like that than if we had been behind for longer before the final whistle.

The absolute silence of the crowd on the final whistle reflected how stunned we were and it’s taken a while to get over having our Grand Slam dream dashed once again. It says a lot about how Irish expectations have come along in a just few short years.

There’s been some barney in the papers with the French claiming a “telling psychological blow” over Ireland going into our World Cup group meeting later this year. Eddie O’Sullivan did a typical hatchet job on that idea:

If they’d come to Dublin and won well, then they would have had a psychological advantage going into the World Cup.

But the way they won the game, right at the end, will have sown seeds of doubt in Laporte’s mind. A win is a win, but it was a hardly a result to convince him that France are a much better team than Ireland.

Our loss to France has cost us dearly with us slipping down from 4th place in the IRB world rankings. Here’s the current state of play:

  1. (1) NEW ZEALAND 94.59
  2. (2) FRANCE 87.17
  3. (3) AUSTRALIA 85.55
  4. (5) SOUTH AFRICA 84.71
  5. (4) IRELAND 83.99
  6. (6) ARGENTINA 79.61
  7. (7) ENGLAND 79.48
  8. (9) SCOTLAND 76.78
  9. (8) WALES 75.74
  10. (10) SAMOA 73.86

The polar opposite of the Republic’s soccer team who are shooting up the FIFA table after a strong unbeaten run.

It’s great to see the BBC rugby bloggers doing their thing, I love seeing “old media” embracing technology and few do it better than the BBC. They’re talking about the latest controvery in England – apparently Newcastle Falcons are not resting Jonny Bandage this weekend by choice. He’s not fit to play, say the club.

Just as well is the message from the Falcons fans, there’d be strong words come the end of the season if they were relegated on the basis of losing this weekends game because of a missing Wonder Wilko.I can’t believe it – a conflict between the RFU and Premiership clubs? Shocking news! I think this one gets extra bonus points for being Rob Andrews old haunting ground.

Stephanie gives her thoughts on the six games so far including the brave admission (for a Munster fan) that POC might not be up to the job of captain. I’d agree with her that the rugby displayed thus far might not have New Zealand quaking in their boots, but I’m not convinced that they won’t watch replays of Cardiff and France in Croker and wonder about our mental strength when the going gets tough – something we’ve sorely lacked in the past.

Here’s an interesting match report from rugby forum: A Yank’s trip to Croke Park:

The maul should have been the nail in the coffin. ROG kick had everyone around me cheering and clapping and believing.

And then the kick, and the bounce. Needless to say, the language was sh@!, f&ck, etc..until the try. Then silence.

Leaving the game, I have never heard 82k people be more quiet. We were walking and a gentlemen besides me summed it up, “Jesus, it’s a funeral”.

Leinster fans resume normal service with a Magners League game against Edinburgh tonight. Missing most of the well known internationals it’ll be interesting to see what kind of form the back line produce. I’d hope to see the likes of Kearney in devastating form again. Although I don’t think it will be quite as big a margin as their 49-10 destruction of the Scots a few weeks back I’d still hope for a comfortable win.

Leinster: Rob Kearney, Gary Brown, Kieran Lewis, Christian Warner, Michael Berne, Felipe Contepomi (capt), Chris Whitaker, Ronan McCormack, Bernard Jackman, Will Green, Trevor Hogan, Devin Toner, Stephen Keogh, Niall Ronan, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: AN Other, Brian Blaney, Adam Byrnes, Owen Finegan, Guy Easterby, Jonathan Sexton, Fergus McFadden.

Edinburgh: Lucio Lopez Fleming, Matt Dey, Ben Cairns, Duncan Hodge (captain), Simon Webster, Alistair Warnock, John Senio, Allister Hogg, Ross Rennie, Alasdair Strokosch, Chris Bentley, Matt Mustchin, Geoff Cross, Andrew Kelly, Alasdair Dickinson.
Replacements: Steven Lawrie, Allan Jacobsen, David Young, Simon Cross, Fraser McKenzie, Greig Laidlaw, Peter Jorgensen.