Eddie O’Sullivan rolls the dice….

… and comes up with the same XV for Ireland’s final Rugby World Cup group game against Argentina. Well almost. Trimble is this week’s scapegoat and drops to the bench while Geordan Murphy returns to the first team for the injured Dempsey.

Meanwhile, the hacks scent blood in the water and futher pieces like this by Ciaran Cronin, must surely be inevitable:

One of the key skills of good man-management is the ability to put oneself in the shoes of others and come within an ass’s roar of how they might be feeling. If O’Sullivan believes that his back-up players are simply happy to get on with things in this Irish set-up, he has drastically misread the situation. They’re all ambitious players and they all want to play for their country. For many of them, though, what’s almost as important as actually playing is knowing that they have some chance of taking the field if things don’t go well in any given game, but O’Sullivan has been completely negligent in this particular area.

During the past week, one player revealed that not only were the starting 15 untouchable come match day, they were hardly, if ever, rotated in training either. Not only, then, do these fringe players not get an opportunity to state their case during a game, they can’t even catch the coach’s eye in training. The whole psychology of the setup is plain wrong. It started from the moment that O’Sullivan demarked 15 players for special treatment by allowing them to rest during Ireland’s summer tour to Argentina.

Thus, when the players on duty in Santa Fe and Buenos Aires had their holiday and came back for pre-World Cup training, the first 15 were already weeks ahead of them in the gym. Not only that.

When 45 players headed to Spala in July, the size of the facilities in Poland dictated that the group had to be split in three for training purposes. Guess how they were split? The first 15, the next 15 most likely to be in the squad and 15 who just might slip into the squad if somebody got injured. Talk about showing players their place in the food chain. It was abysmal man management but then again, that’s not all that much of a surprise considering the man in charge.

  • Dec

    And all this from a man who came within a minute of winning a Grand Slam 6 months ago. Considering Ireland’s main problem is the continuing failure of the 15 untouchables to play anywhere near their full potential, Cronin’s point is ultimately irrelevant.

  • Padraig Reidy

    Trimble’s not ‘the scapegoat’. His positioning was responsible for France’s tries, and he offered buffer all in attack. He had to go.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Padraig Reidy

    It is better to be though a fool than open your mouth and prove it.

    You know bugger all about strategy and systems do you?

  • smcgiff

    If Flannery is fit, there’ll not be a single Ulster player on the starting 15.

    This could be a consolation for those up north if things go as I fear.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Well Reddan disproves the theory above.

    The problem for the hacks is they called for changes and as soon as Eddie does them they whinge about scapegoating.

  • George

    “Trimble’s not ‘the scapegoat’. His positioning was responsible for France’s tries, and he offered buffer all in attack. He had to go.”

    Nothing to do with the fact that Trimble had to cover weak link O’Gara rather than staying in position. Of course not.

  • Token Dissent

    Good to see Murphy get an opportunity, but this sole good selection has been forced on O’Sullivan.

    It’s unfair on Trimble, and in what frame of mind must Hickie be in? How has D’Arcy survived?

    Above all else how the hell can the back row survive untouched?

    The article raises the central concern over the tournament’s strategy: the lack of open, fair competition for places.

  • Padraig Reidy

    democrat, there’s no system in the world that dictates the wing should be that badly exposed.

  • Dessertspoon

    4 MORE YEARS OF THIS CLOWN!!!! Ireland are on the slippery slope.

  • George

    Padraig Reidy,
    Ireland always play that way with the wing very often leaving the blindside to cover for O’Gara. France obviously did their homework.

    Before the first try, Trimble tapped Leamy (I think it was Leamy) to let him know he was on his way and for him to do the usual cover job.

  • Furry

    “Eddie ….. rolls the dice”

    A very unfortunate heading in view of recent revelations. He should lead by example.

  • Michael Robinson

    Trimble pushing up to cover ROG’s channel WAS a pre-arranged defensive move.

    There was an article about this in yesterday’s Irish Times (subscription required, unfortunately)

    “Thanks to watching video footage we had decided to play a lot down (Ronan) O’Gara’s channel. The Irish anticipated this and changed their usual defensive formation,” said the outhalf. [Michalak]

    Wing Cedric Heymans confirmed that France had identified Ireland’s rearranged defensive structure whereby the blindside wing (Andrew Trimble) moved in to defend the outhalf channel and fullback Girvan Dempsey pushed up into the rush defence.

    “When Yannick came down to warm up with the rest of the replacements after about 20 minutes (in the first half), he came up to me and passed on that information. It was relayed to the centres and then on to Fred (Michalak),” said Heymans.

    “Up until the 59th minute we had wanted to try it but the opportunity had never presented itself.”

    “In the 59th minute I saw the wing (Trimble) tap Easterby’s hip to signal that he was moving inside to the defensive line. In my peripheral vision I could see that Jauzion was signalling like crazy that this was the moment to try and exploit Ireland’s defensive set-up.”

    The aspect that gave the French outhalf most pleasure: “I am happy because the try proved we were able to adapt to the way Ireland challenged us. It was exactly that: collective intelligence.”

  • Padraig Reidy

    I stand humbled.

    Still, idiotic system.

  • agh@hot

    EOS has publically stated that Trimble moved to cover the 10 channel – and that this is 1 of the teams ‘tactics’. If anyone is to blame for the 1st try it was clearly 6 and 8 who were both aware of trimble’s positioning and whose responsibility it was to cover the wing.
    End of story.

    The main point has been highlighted extremely well. EOS has constantly relied on 15-18 players. Now that several of these players are misfiring (namely ROG, Darcy, 2nd row and back row), he has no confidence to bring anyone else in.

    The likes of Ferris, Quinlan and N Best must be wondering what the hell they did wrong – the backrow has been non-existant for 3 games and they still arn’t in with a chance of getting selected.

    This has to be the most underperforming bunch pf players ever to have left the british isles on a rugby tour – apart maybe from the last Lions Tour – but then again, EOS was in charge of the backline then too – but of course Sir Clive managed to take the flack that time!

    The Argies have arguably the best pack in the competition – certainly at scrum time. I expect our boys to really struggle up front. Consequently, any ball will be slow and the argies will have plenty of time to arrange their defences. In addition they have superb kickers at 10 and 12 and should be able to get decent field position and play percentage rugby. Argies to win by 9 points and play scotland for a semi final berth.

  • Skintown Lad

    trimble should be going in at first centre on the crash ball (he’s very slippy). darcy has proved himself inadequate in this department recently.

    all of the back row should be replaced, they have been abysmal.

    wallace has got to be in with a shout at 10, since rog is miles away mentally. EOS should at least have played wallace in the two openers, he is the better of the two in open play/ against disorganised but keen opposition

    my main concern is that there is no one coming through the ranks

    what’s happened to the skills? they need to spend more time with ball in hand than weights in hand

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Skintown Lad

    in terms of coming through the ranks – Ulster have Ferris and Constable – and Humphreys junior in exile. Leinster have Kearney and Fitzgerald and hopefully Jennings will be given a run. It looks like Eddie is already comitted to Reddan.

    We were only ever making up the numbers at the world cup anyway – we are a 6Nations kinda team and will probabaly win the triple crown again. A narrow vitory over the Argies and things won’t seem so bad.

  • ulsterfan

    We will lose on Sunday and be on the plane the next day.
    Lets start the PM immediately and tell every player in EOS fifteen that their positions are under threat. No more loyalty to be displayed.
    Radical changes are to be made as it is unthinkable that we should go into 6 nations with this same team.
    I can think of five or six players who should announce retirement from international rugby or else they will be pushed aside.
    The coaching and management team from top to bottom will have to justify their performance and existing contracts reviewed.

  • iluvni

    “Radical changes are to be made as it is unthinkable that we should go into 6 nations with this same team.”

    seriously?…I wouldnt be in the least bit surprised.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Ulsterfan,

    what you have to realise is that things will get considerably worse from here on in – the Munster pack have about 1-2 years left and then we’re in deep trouble. Ireland has no right to be 2nd best every year in the 6nations – you will look back on this period as the golden age before we slip back into 6nations mediocrity.

  • agh@hot

    I see with only 19 responses, there doesn’t appear to be much enthusiasm for Ireland’s RWC campaign – maybe you should start a thread on anthems and flags Mr Robinson to get the slugger ireland ‘supporters’ fired up again!!
    Is it a case of we only sing when we’re winning???

  • David

    The biggest difference in Irish rugby these days is the way that the southern crowd have changed. In the past there was no flag waving (tricolours) at Lansdowne and it was comfortable for all. Nowit is really nationalistic and in your face. It is no surprise that Ulster fans feel less inclined. Lets be honest if N. Best came from Munster he would be a cert. It is sad to see how what was once an all island team is now a 26 county outfit.
    Perhaps with the benefit of hindsight it was a mistake to go to Croke park. A bit like going to Windsor Park.

  • Donnacha

    The most dangerous aspect of EOS’s policy is that there is no one coming through. Face it, we’ve had pretty much the same team for the past three eyars. There is nowhere for young players to go. EOS will not pick young, up-and-coming players when he is mentally fixated on the sets of initials he thinks will win matches for Ireland. They won’t. They need new blood and the first to go should be EOS, ROG, BOD and POC. There have to players out there more concerned with playing for their country than the celebrity it brings. Surely?

  • harpo

    “I see with only 19 responses, there doesn’t appear to be much enthusiasm for Ireland’s RWC campaign”

    There won’t be much interest from many unionists until the disgraceful treatment of unionist supporters is addressed by the IRFU.

    Until the IRFU sorts itself out and apologizes to unionist supporters this team is cursed. Cursed to disappoint.

    So long as the ROI-centric attitude of the IRFU persists this team is going nowhere. Except home with their tails between their legs.

  • harpo

    “Nowit is really nationalistic and in your face. It is no surprise that Ulster fans feel less inclined….It is sad to see how what was once an all island team is now a 26 county outfit.”

    David:

    Exactly. And the thing is that many rugby fans from the ROI gloat when they proclaim that the ROI tricolour flag and the ROI anthem ‘have to be used’ to represent this supposedly all-island team.

    It’s ugly bitter Irish nationalism at its worst. With an ‘eff-you’ attitude towards anyone who dares to point out the whole ‘parity of esteem’ thing. The chinless wonders of the IRFU have just encouraged it all with their attitude towards the game in Belfast. The decisions there were all about not upsetting the ugly bitter Irish nationalist supporters.

    If the IRFU really does administer rugby across the whole island, how can Belfast be an away game? It’s obvious that it was a home game where home game protocol should have been followed. But the poor ugly bitter Irish nationalists wouldn’t have stood for GSTQ being played, would they?

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Donnacha

    unless we adopt a policy like NZ and ‘borrow’ some players from other countries then we are stuck where we are. The best crop of young Irish players like Kearney & Fitzgerald for Leinster and Ferris for Ulster when pitted in Heineken cup against the best in Europe dont look that special but will undoubtedly improve. Throwing them into the Ireland team now probably would not help that process.

    Harpo,

    Ireland’s call was introduced to make Ireland more inclusive – many unionists on this site and others recognise that although it’s not perfect the IRFU has made an effort.

  • Donnacha

    Sammy, I’ll not bite on the poaching argument, but I will say that unless Ireland can make rugby an attractive option to football or GAA, then Ireland is shagged rugby-wise and we might as well admit that now. If there are young lads coming through now then play them. They can’t be any worse than the harmless eejits I saw stumbling about Stade de France recently.

  • willowfield

    So if Trimble is dropped there will be no players from NI on the team?

    Serious question – why is NI consistently under-represented on the team?

    Say, roughly, in proportionate terms there should be on average about 4 NI players on the team. Obviously on some occasions there won’t be as many, but on others surely you would expect there to be more. Yet it seems that 2 or 3 is the absolute maximum there ever is. Why?

    Is Ulster rugby inferior to Leinster and Munster?

    Or is there an inherent bias against NI (perhaps an unconscious bias)?

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Willowfield,

    SA may adopt a quota for blacks after the world cup. Perhaps Ireland should do the same for Prods, or perhaps for Ulster players – but should that include the 3 southern Ulster counties? Ulster players are not good enough at the moment – presumably their is a website where at this very moment people from Connacht are saying there is a conspiracy aginst those west of the Shannon.

    Donnacha,

    rugby is an ‘attractive option’ due to the relative ‘success’ of Leinster i.e. the Irish back line. Last week almost 10,000 turned up for a Celtic league game even with the ‘stars’ in France. If you want world domination then GAA is your only man.

  • willowfield

    Ulster players are not good enough at the moment

    I accept that may be the case, but my question doesn’t relate merely to the moment.

    Why are NI players CONSISTENTLY under-represented? Is Ulster rugby inferior to Leinster and Munster?

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    willowfield

    I dont think this is the case at under age level nor will it be the case for the senior team when the Munster pack retires in the next few years. The IRFU was going to wind up Connacht a professional team a couple of years ago – if anyone has a serious gripe it’s the quarefellahs from the West.

  • Donnacha

    And apart from the players (who are letting themselves down horribly in France – we all know they are capable of much better) it’s the coaching that I worryb about. It is one-dimensional stuff, no plan B and a seemingly suicidal faith in the same bunch of players. In any other country, if you don’t perform you’re out. Should be the same for Ireland’s players and – especially – coach.

  • thumbelina

    Time for Northern Ireland to have its own team. The beggars won’t give NI men a lookin at present.

    Union Jack and God Save The Queen and feck what the beggars think of it.

    A NI team would beat the beggars these days.

  • Donnacha

    “Beggars”? Better than being dole bludgers, I suppose…..;-)

  • thumbelina

    Beggars = people in the Irish Republic.
    They think it’s all about them.

  • Donnacha

    I am well aware of the derogatory nature of the name, Thumbelina. Thanks for reminding me that my fellow humans in Northern Ireland have such a high opinion of me and mine. Why not call me a Mexican next? That’ll make you feel much better. In fact you can call me whatever you like as long as you manage to get 15 players on the field for Ireland who actually plan on winning a game.

  • Gabrielle

    thumbelina & others

    With regard to the health and strength of Ulster rugby in comparison to the other Irish provinces, I came across European club rankings a couple of weeks ago which might make you think before deciding to set up an NI Rugby team. Ulster was somewhere in the late 20s, with Connacht a couple of places behind them. Munster and Leinster were in the top 10. It is not entirely a level playing field when it comes to financial subsidy from the IRFU to the provinces, the big “3” get double what Connacht gets and finds it hard to compete.

    No doubt Ulster rugby fans will be well aware (and maybe trying to forget!), Munster Reserves & Academy players beat Ulster’s 1st choice 15 in Ravenhill, Munster choosing to rest all their players who had played in the 6Ns this year (i.e., about 10 of their 1st teamers).

    A telling comment from a Munster fan when an Ulster fan posted that there was talk in Ulster about NI needing their own rugby team, commented: “What, they want to get rid of all their merceneries”? Shock.

  • Michael Robinson

    Why are NI players CONSISTENTLY under-represented? Is Ulster rugby inferior to Leinster and Munster?

    Basically, yes.

    A couple of reasons. One is cyclical. Ulster was the top province during the 1980s as there was a set of exceptional players who regularly made up 6-8 of the Ireland XV. It is unrealistic that you will keep on producing quality players year after year and some peaks and troughs are inevitable in sport. Ulster has gone through a trough and (hopefully) are on the rise again.

    The other reason is structural. Rugby is still mainly a middle class grammar school sport in N Ireland and a large proportion of schools players left N Ireland to study in GB and were basically lost to the Irish rugby system. However Ulster established a rugby academy a few years ago that now provides talented schools players the first step to a career as a professional rugby player and a structure where if they are good enough, they can progress through development contracts and full-time contracts onto the Ulster team. Good players can therefore study and play rugby in N Ireland rather than leave to GB with the inevitable student distractions meaning they are lost to the game.

    That simply wasn’t available until a few years ago and as a result, Ulster age group teams fared very badly against the other provinces.

    The output from the academy is only now beginning to break through (like Trimble and Ferris) and they still have a few years to mature as players.

    If you look at performances in the European competitions in the 2000s, Ulster has NEVER won an away game in either England or France.

    Leinster and Munster’s away win rate in England and France is about 50%.

    Ulster’s home performances at Ravenhill has given some respectability over the last few years, but in the toughest conditions – away from home against quality opposition – Ulster has come up short again and again.

  • Thomas

    All the arguments about flags, anthems, and the alienation of unionists (presumably we are talking about protestants) ignore the growing popularity of rugby amongst the catholic population in the north.
    I can only speak from experience in South and East Belfast. There is not only the oft quoted groundshare between Harlequins and Naomh Brid, but Bredagh have used the facilities at Cooke and regularily trained at Malone. This has inevitably led to some players playing both games or moving to rugby entirely. (The argument about any reverse flow is for another day.)
    Rugby is also now played at catholic schools, although still at a low level, and there has been the increase of catholic attendance at traditional rugby schools, such as Methody.
    With this growing pool to choose from, it is perhaps not the time, to be talking about re-enforcing unionist symbolism at Ravenhill, when in the future some of the team may come from the school where its behind goal terrace takes its name.

  • Martin

    It has nothing to do with provincialism. Any ‘decline’ is because EOS had a great 1st XV but neglected the rest of the squad. All teams peak and decline. English Rugby has been suffering for 4 years because no-one bothered to plan past the 2003 RWC – in fact that team probably peaked summer ’03 and was declining throughout the 2003 RWC.

    Similarly EOS has a great First XV but it, like all great teams, has probably peaked. BOD, the best player in his position in world rugby, is 29 in January. The team as a whole probably peaked last autumn and, maybe, had a last hurrah against England in February. What was (as it understandably never is) not noted in the press at the time was the absolute tonking the England Saxons (the 2nds) handed out to the Ireland A’s in the A International the previous night. That seems to point to a real imbalance from the higher end of the squad to the the lower which is, as pointed out above, not healthy.

    That being said I think Ireland can raise their came for a win on the weekend – maybe by more than 7. I’m just not sure they can score 4 tries.

  • bollix

    lads lads lads
    lets not all fall out amongst ourselves. Ireland are just playing sh*te. We can’t really blame anthems, flags or provinces for any of this – its a distraction.

    The most credible analysis seems to me the ones set out above by posters and Cronin, viz, that there seems to be too much inertia in the first XV and too little attention paid to everyone else. If you look at the Georgians, one thing that they said was that they wanted everyone to get a chance to play in the world cup – the whole squad.
    When we played the Georgians and Namibians, we should have given a run out to lots more players, it makes them all feel part of the team. Plus, we can then have a psychological “boost” against the french and argies when we wheel our our “big” players.

    For all this though, I still can’t understand why the Irish 6 nations heroes have fallen so badly in such a short space. Although I suppose the English fall has been from a higher place to a lower place.

  • Martin

    I think Ireland can speak of “6 Nations heroes” when they actually win it. Triple Crown heroes maybe.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Bollix,

    “When we played the Georgians and Namibians, we should have given a run out to lots more players”

    If we are to make the usual assumption that a First XV is better than a Second XV then given the results of those games ( and halfway through 2nd half Namibia nearly an interception try to put them close as well ) the introduction of Second XV players may have meant an even earlier bath than the one we are looking at now.

  • willowfield

    Michael Robinson

    Thanks for your answer – it is appreciated, and makes sense.

    But did Ulster really have “6-8” out of the Ireland XV in the 1980s? I don’t recall so many.

    Thomas

    With this growing pool to choose from, it is perhaps not the time, to be talking about re-enforcing unionist symbolism at Ravenhill, when in the future some of the team may come from the school where its behind goal terrace takes its name.

    That’s fine. But ditch the nationalist symbolism at Croke/Lansdowne.

    Martin

    What was (as it understandably never is) not noted in the press at the time was the absolute tonking the England Saxons (the 2nds) handed out to the Ireland A’s in the A International the previous night.

    Anyone know why the Ireland B team is called “Ireland A’s”? Do the players think they are actually on the first team?

  • astic

    Until the IRFU sorts itself out and apologizes to unionist supporters this team is cursed. Cursed to disappoint. Like it has never done before.

  • Hans Christian Andersen

    It is first world Ireland giving €1 billion to third world beggar Ireland.

  • George

    Willowfield,
    But did Ulster really have “6-8” out of the Ireland XV in the 1980s? I don’t recall so many.

    Crossan, Carr, Ringland, Anderson, McCoy and Matthews were on the 1985 Triple Crown winning team.

  • willowfield

    So “6” rather than “6-8”?

    Anyone know if 6 is a record number of Ulstermen on the team in recent decades?

    What is the record for Leinstermen and Munstermen? Or Connachtmen?!

    Also, do we have any figures for the number of rugby players in each province? (I’ve been assuming there are broadly similar numbers playing rugby in the 3 big provinces, but I could be wrong – maybe Munster has more, for example).

  • George

    Willowfield,
    There were eight Ulster players in the 1987 Rugby World Cup squad. I don’t know if there was ever a match where they all played.

  • Gabrielle

    “It is first world Ireland giving €1 billion to third world beggar Ireland.”

    Not to mention the couple of million every year that ends up keeping Ulster rugby on the road that comes from the nation whose anthem and flag is the Tricolour & AnaB. The least they can do is stand respectfully in Croke Park & Lansdowne Road, as Ulster Fans are certainly not putting their hands in their pockets (the Sports Council for NI/HRM Government).

    Sunday Times article here, with contributions from Ulster players about playing for Ireland (notably Trevor Ringland)

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/article1265328.ece

    Re team selection for the WRC – O’Gara (who is definately off form). How could EOS expect him to play all games at 10 without a credible option. It would be interesting to know how many games Paddy Wallace has played at ’10” at Ulster since his ‘Man of the Match’ game at the Autumn AIs.

  • Michael Robinson

    But did Ulster really have “6-8” out of the Ireland XV in the 1980s? I don’t recall so many.

    I started with the last game of the 80s (Ireland v New Zealand in November 1989) and there were 8 Ulster players on the starting XV (Rainey, Hooks, Irwin, Crossan, Smith, McCoy, Anderson, Matthews)

    I don’t really have the time to check the rest!

  • Martin

    Willowfield,

    That’s just the way it has always been. It was the same for all the “Home” nations – before the rebrand the England Saxons were ‘England A’s’. (BTW be thankful Ireland haven’t come up with an eually a naff name for its 2nds. “Ireland Gaels” anyone? I’ve almost certainly got a lot of Saxon lurking around in my gene pool but its a dumb name for a very diverse country – for example I’m not sure Paul Sackey, proud of his Ghanaian heritage, could wholly accurately be described as a Saxon – but English he certainly is. )

    I digress – occasionally, very occasionally, the ‘B’ (or Thirds) would play too but I haven’t heard of that for decades.

    There used to be a parallel 5 Nations called the ‘A Internationals’ that took place the Friday Night/Saturday Morning before the equivalent full internationals but Wales and Scotland pulled the plug on their ‘A’ teams in the late Nineties for budgetary reasons so its been truncated of late.

  • agh

    ‘Re team selection for the WRC – O’Gara (who is definately off form). How could EOS expect him to play all games at 10 without a credible option.’

    As far as I remember he pretty much played every game at 10 when he was available – the humph struggled with injuries for a lot of last season, so paddy was the alternative. Of course Paddy was away with the Ireland during the 6N and consequently missed a lot of gametime at 10 for Ulster.

    Fact is, PW is the only viable alternative to ROG and has been since the Humph retired. Fly half is such an essential position in rugby – much like a quarterback in american footy – to rely on 1 outhalf is absolutely suicidal. ROG could easily have picked up an injury in his 1st game. As it is, ROG is not injured (not physically anyway) but rather is in the worst form of his career. If paddy had been given 40 min against Namibia or Georgia maybe we would know whether he is a viable option.
    In saying that, O’Gara is a world class player on his day and I have no doubt he will rediscover his form of old – just not sure whether it will be this weekend…

    The number of ulster players in the starting XVs selected over the past 5 years in hard to argue with – but what I would say is that the Ulster players who have been on the fringes have had little or no opportunity to prove themselves on the field for ireland and in addition have not been used effectively coming off the bench. All the top nations use 22 man squads – eddie uses 17.

  • Thomas

    Willowfield

    Not a problem for me, however your attitude strikes me as a bit of pointless whataboutery, which is unfortunately not uncommon.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    There is also a strong case that Ulster were the beneficiaries of favouritism by the IRFU when they were guaranteed a place in the Heineken Cup no matter where they finished in the Celtic League / Provincial Championship (as were Munster & Leinster but Ulster have been the weakest of the trio so far this century). Thus it wasn’t a level playing field for the fourth province and this encouraged an exodus of players from Connacht who wanted to play at a higher level

  • Nando

    The huge amount of Portuguese in the mid Ulster area bodes well for the future of Dungannon and Ulster rugby if they show the spirit of their national team.

  • agh

    Considering Ulster has performed strongly in the Celtic league of late (winning it 2 years ago and 5th last season) I doubt whether it would have made any difference to their seedings for the heiny. For all of Leinsters fine players and indeed performances, they have precious little silverwear to show for it. Ulster have a fine rugby history – dominating the interprovincials in the 80’s and having won more interprovincial titles than leinster or munster (26 in total). Subsequently winning the heiny cup, celtic cup and celtic league titles in more recent times. They have also been by and large the best supported side in the celtic league for several years – I think maybe Leinster pipped us this year – but that was because we sent 10-15000 down to the ‘last stand’ at Landsdown Rd.
    Oh and perhaps, the greatest ever rugby player – Willie John McBride, captain of the Lions, was of course an Ulsterman.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    agh, from around 2000-2004 there was bugger all difference between Ulster & Connacht except Ulster were able to keep their players and get decent imports largely because of the guaranteed Heineken place whilst Connacht lost players like O Connnor (at his peak), Reddan, Flannery, Rigney, Deane, Duffy, Bracken etc and the standard of imports available dropped because Connacht were barred from even competing for a Heineken place. Humphries was the Ulster’s only native-born international class player a few years ago and they were only able to compete because of decent imports. Not a meritocracy by any means.

    As well as this, the IRFU have actively discouraged returning Irish international players in Britain from signing for Connacht to keep the status quo to the extent that at least one high profile player remained there.

    And WJ Mc Bride was the greatest ever rugby player…..from Ballymena.

  • #

    “Time for Northern Ireland to have its own team. The beggars won’t give NI men a lookin at present.

    Union Jack and God Save The Queen and feck what the beggars think of it.

    A NI team would beat the beggars these days.
    Posted by thumbelina on Sep 26, 2007 @ 04:31 AM”

    Well if the south are beggars, what the fuck is the north? Your own prime minister across the water called you lot “spongers”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_Wilson#Northern_Ireland

    So it’ll be the beggars against the spongers then, you fucking cretin.

  • willowfield

    Thomas – you call it “whataboutery” – I call it equity.

    Michael Robinson and Martin – thanks for the info. It’s appreciated.

  • billymac

    “There is also a strong case that Ulster were the beneficiaries of favouritism by the IRFU when they were guaranteed a place in the Heineken Cup no matter where they finished in the Celtic League / Provincial Championship (as were Munster & Leinster but Ulster have been the weakest of the trio so far this century).”

    Yeah right. The Celtic League has only existed since 2001/2.

    Ulster’s Record (For the record)
    2001/2 Semi Finalists
    2002/3 Semi Finalists
    (both years decided by play off system)
    2003/4 Runner’s up (winner’s Celtic Cup)
    2004/5 6th
    2005/6 Champions
    2006/7 5th

    Hardly weak, by any stretch of the imagination.

    Munster and Leinster have also won the League once each, during the first two years it was contested.

    Ulster have also won the Inter-Provincial championship more times than any of the other three provinces (26 times) but that’s so last century now. Like many other posts on this thread some factual accuracy would be welcome.

    Still standing up for the Ulstermen and Irishmen

  • Michael Robinson

    There is no doubt that Ulster has been a lot weaker than Leinster and Munster since 2000.

    Just compare the Win-Draw-Lost records in the Heineken Cup group stages and how far each team has progressed in the competition

    Munster – W 39 D 0 L 9 – 3 x Final, 3 x Semi, 2 x QF
    Leinster – W 36 D 1 L 11 – 2 x Semi, 3 x QF
    Ulster – W 20 D 1 L 27 – not progressed beyond group stages for last 8 seasons

  • Dewi

    I’ve asked before without reply but is Mike Gibson involved in the admin at all these days ? One of the finest centres I’ve ever had the pleasure to watch. As a kid staying up to watch Lions on tele in 71 he was superb.

  • billymac

    Michael you’re right. I’m movin to Limerick tomorrow. Thought we were talking about the main inter-celt battleground, not the Anglo-French invitation league – I stand corrected. Let’s invade Las Malvinas, that might put them Argies off a bit.

    Irish by birth, Ulster by quirk of fate.

  • billymac

    Dewi, All I know about MG is he was a practicing solicitor in Belfast at least up until a couple of years ago. Probably still is. Aside from still following the game and picking up well deserved awards, AFAIK he isn’t involved directly in the admin of the game

  • Tochais Síoraí

    billymac, the H Cup is where it’s at. Full strength teams and the Celtic League do not go hand in hand.

    As for my earlier posts, I think you missed my point – I wasn’t arguing over respective records, just that the playing field wasn’t never level to begin with as regards H cup qualification.

  • harpo

    “Ireland’s call was introduced to make Ireland more inclusive – many unionists on this site and others recognise that although it’s not perfect the IRFU has made an effort.”

    It Was Sammy:

    Ireland’s Call isn’t the issue here. That was a good move.

    But any good moves have been undone by the IRFU’s attitude to that game in Belfast.

    Suddenly the protocol about ‘the anthem of the host country will be played’ was forgotten and the game was treated as an away game.

    How can a game in the jurisdiction that you claim is yours (from a rugby point of view) is an away game?

    This was an insult to the unionist element of the support for the team.

    For decades ASS was played in Dublin, and recently the justification was that it was the anthem of the host country. But it seems that is only the rule for games in the ROI. When a game is in the UK part of the island, the rule was dumped. In order not to upset the Irish nationalist element of the support.

    The problem is it isn’t their team. It isn’t an Irish nationalist team, and it isn’t the ROI’s team. It’s supposed to be an all-island team. Not that you could tell of course.

    I say go neutral all the way. No playing of ASS when games are in the ROI. It should be Irelands Call only, no matter if a game is home or away. That is the anthem of the team. No other anthem is needed.

    Anyway, it’s only 3 days until elimination of the IRFU’s wee ROI-centric team. Bring it on.

  • Taylor

    Ireland’s Call is played along with Ambran na Bhfian in the Republic of Ireland.

    Outside the Republic of Ireland only Ireland’s Call is played.

    As Spongerland is a part of Spongeeland …. .

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Harpo,

    I agree with you about no anthems flags or other such trappings. The Belfast thing showed the stupidity of the IRFU”s current position. The truth is it would impossible for an Irish Republic team to play after GSTHQ – it would be like asking Ian Paisley to share power with Martin Mc Guinness – well perhaps thats not a good example – but it was a step too far although it is hypocritical as Prods have to listen to a song about their army getting shot at.

    It would be great if games could be played in the north and if the stadium (Bobby Sands memorial park – only joking) ever gets built then hopefully Ireland can play there witout any fuss.

    I genuienly hope that Ulsters apparent talent at sub-international bears fruit and they can enjoy a period over-repressentation the way Munster does at the moment. What goes-around-comes-around.

  • Delerium

    Harpo, Willowfield- congratulations on successfully hijacking a sports topic.

    The whole flag/emblems problem stems from the fact that Unionists simply dont know what they want from the rugby team. I dont agree with their point of view, but by definition Unionists don’t see the island of Ireland as a nation.

    At the same time however, they wilfully support a team that plays in international matches under the guise of ‘Ireland’- granting legitimacy to the view that Ireland is indeed a nation on some level.

    If they cant figure out their own position without any contradictions in the first place, how can the IRFU be expected to passify them?