“There has to be an Ulster player on the team…”

And I thought we Ulster folk were prone to frequent bouts of paranoia… Gerry O at the Fear of God blog has a great clip the Last Word show which has a quote from Neil Francis, who reckons Denis Hickie (winger) was dropped in favour of Andrew Trimble (also a winger) because, wait for it, Rory Best (hooker) injured his finger.

  • páid

    Neil Francis,

    big man

    big reputation

    Realises, like Dunphy, he has to be controversial or die, and so spoofs to the fools.

    But real rugby men will find him out – as Mr Copsey did in Landsdowne Rd, all those years ago.

  • Bretagne

    NF mentioned this as well after the Georgian game on Setanta. He deliveres it in such a matter of fact way that it seems to me, he just accepts it as a fact of life. Now there are such considerations in Irish rugby – as there have been hues and cries over the under- representation of black players in the SA team. (maybe not the best example – but one ready to hand)

    But the situation is a bit different insofar as the Trimble/Hickey call is marginal, whereas in the SA case in the early days, the gulf in class between the black players coming through and the white players meant that those decisions to pick black players looked demonstrably odd from a pure playing point of view..

    In the Trimble case he comes off his wing to hard graft for work, which to be fair, Hickey did not do against Georgia.

    I think this is delicate balance, but lets say (and we don’t talk about this too often) that Nigel Worthington picked 11 nominally unionist/protestant players, for every game he was in charge of – I am sure that some one would be having a word in his shell-like.

    So Andrew Trimble might get to 100 caps for Ireland and this might be a consideration in a few caps. Now if NF was a little more politically correct, he could have said that Eddie picked AT on this occasion, in the interests of “squad unity” – which would probably have been seen an acceptable decision, given the number of Ulster players. But he at least honest, and providing this doesn’t mean we have to have on from each of the four provinces, then on balance it less harm than good.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Wouldn’t it have easier to place Boss?

  • Frustrated Democrat

    sorry play Boss

  • Rubicon

    Hickey hasn’t played well and Trimble replacing him is more than warranted. Whether more Ulstermen should be on the team isn’t quite the point – Trimble is a good player and deserves the cap. Anyone who thinks Eddie O’Sullivan has the room to play politically correct games (rather than rugby) clearly hasn’t been watching the games against Namibia and Georgia!

    I hope more than Hickey is replaced. O’Sullivan has let the 1st 15 believe they don’t need to fight to hold on to the green shirt. It’s a pity David Humphries retired from international rugby – another run of bad form from O’Gara will be disastrous against France.

  • Lafcadio

    It should be borne in mind that Neil Francis is a massive tool, and his columns often read like they’ve been pulled straight from where the sun don’t shine. He is the worst of the Irish rugby hacks by some distance – and that’s saying something – and he’s well known for hating everything Ulster.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    Lafcadio, his hatred of things Ulster is easily surpassed by his hatred of things Connacht. He has Leinster tunnel vision bigtime. It’s was a marginal call with Hickie but I think Trimble deserved it on merit. The Geordan Murphy situation is beyond belief though.

  • Lafcadio

    Tochais Siorai – I have noticed that he’s always contemptuous and dismissive of Connacht, in fact I remember him summarising at a match once when he freely admitted he knew nothing about their team or performances – which coming from a supposed professional Irish rugby journalist was pretty much an admission of incompetence.

    I don’t think it was that marginal with Hickie – he was absolutely disastrous against Namibia, whether it was because of the hit he took or whatever – he was given a last chance to redeem himself against Georgia and wasn’t much better. Trimble on the other hand was one of very few Irish players to acquit themselves decently in the first match, and was odds-on to regain his place.

  • Diluted Orange

    Surely it’s inevitable that players like Hickie get replaced after the team makes a hash out of beating Georgia and Namibia? IMO it should have been D’Arcy that got replaced. The fact that Trimble is a Northerner has nothing to do with it, he is there on a merit as an exceptionally talented player.

    Maybe folk like NF should be asking questions surrounding why it has taken so long for a scrum half as woeful as Peter Stringer to get replaced. Especially when we have a player like Eoin Reddan waiting in the wings who is first choice pick for the current Heineken Cup and Zurich Premiership Champions, Wasps – yet it seems that he is only nominally 3rd choice pick for Ireland. Bizarre or what?

    If any accusations of favouritism are to be pointed towards Eddie O’Sullivan then it should be towards Munster players rather than Ulster players. For example, why did it take Neil Best so long to finally break into the 1st XV when he was undoubtedly [i]the[/i] flanker on form for Ireland during the 6 nations?

  • bollix

    hickie was replaced because he played really badly. Trimble is playing much better (“much better” in terms relative to the Irish team, “crap” in terms relative to any other team”).

    Supporting Irish rugby is one of the few things that unites northern prods and taigs and southerners. Lets keep it that way by avoiding unnecessary politicking.

    Come on Ireland, don’t let me down again this Friday.

  • barneyben

    “Supporting Irish rugby is one of the few things that unites northern prods and taigs and southerners. Lets keep it that way by avoiding unnecessary politicking.”

    ROTFL! Don’t you just love their fakey flag and flakey anthem?

    The sooner they come home the better.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Diluted Orange,

    Neil Best started the season well but by the end appeared to be struggling as he became a target that his growing reputation encouraged.

    But certainly should have been given a run by now in WC and perhaps unlicky not to come in for Easterby – will come of the bench if things go wrong.

    I mostly agree with Eddie’s selection except he brought Reddan in too late and should have Murphy at least on the bench.

  • Skintown Lad

    as if Eddie O’Sullivan would be arsing around making sure we have people from all over – come on!

    this is a professional game and he is a professional manager. Ulster is just a club – what if he’d picked Boss? Would we have been happy then? He’s hardly from Magerafelt is he?

    never heard such nonsense. hickie was a disaster so he dropped him. that’s it.

  • páid

    Imagine you are EOS.

    It’s shit or bust. The squads in crisis, you more or less have to win. You look at form, reputation, combinations, opponents, tactics and every decision is scrutinized with assistants, coaches, medical staff.

    And you say, “Ah, your man might be good, but I don’t agree with his view of transubstantiation”

    Or maybe you don’t.

  • Sue

    Maybe they are scared someone might make an unfortunate remark to one of the dark skinned French players.