Magners League – after 3 games each.

Interesting start, especially for the Irish teams. That’s the table looking like this:
1 Munster 13
2 Ulster 12
3 Scarlets 11
4 Connacht 10
5 Cardiff Blues 10
6 Benetton Treviso 8
7 Ospreys 6
8 Leinster 6
9 Glasgow 5
10 Newport-Gwent Dragons 4
11 Edinburgh 1
12 Aironi Rugby 1

Three wins out of three for Ulster and Munster so far – although I think Ulster might regret the lack of bonus points in the Season end shake up….
There’s some Ulster video highlights there.
And when the Ospreys aren’t whining about Henson they are complaining about Refs.
…the News Letter reports on a subdued Ulster reaction.
Good to see Treviso doing well although Aironi could find this season difficult…

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  • Mick Fealty

    Agree re the bonus points from Friday’s match. But the team is shaping up nicely.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Although never a subscriber to the ‘English-league-is-not-as good-as-ours’ school of hopeful thinking last weekend when arguably the 2 best teams in the competition – Munster and Ospreys – met it was fairly dreadful and and even more so in comparison to Wasps and Leicester which looked way superior.

    To be fair to Munster they did enough and would have been out of sight except for some poor kicking but Ospreys were really dire.

    Hopefully the cider league is just allowing Celts to keep thI think Ulster

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    Hopefully the cider league is just allowing the Celts to keep their powder dry for the big one – the HC – and Ulster look good value to win their group at 7/1.

  • the future’s bright, the futures orange

    Decent start by the Ulstermen but we’ve had a nice run of games so far. Away to Connacht this weekend which will be a real battle. Connacht on limited resources have got off to a stormer and should be top of the league! On paper, we should win but if we arn’t running at 90-100% we could be in big trouble. Our inability to kick points when on offer will come back to bite us very soon – although maybe new springbok signing Ruan Pienaar can take over those duties.

    Munster looked impressive against the hairsprays – very large squad which will put them in good stead for a longer than usual season. Leinster are struggling but once they gel they’ll be a real force.

    The surprise package have been treviso who have won both home games including smashing leinster at the weekend! Great to see rugby in Italy developing.

    The Scotish sides along with the Dragons look very poor whilst the scarlets and ospreys are inconsistant at best.

    Getting back to Ulster, it’s great to see some real investment in the squad – which now includes a string of springboks and the signing up of stephen ferris for another 2 years. Further ground development is on the cards and hopefully knock out stage rugby isn’t too far away. But as I said above, the fixture list has been kind thus far so can’t get too carryed away!!!!

  • William Markfelt

    I know pretty much Jack about rugby, so forgive what may be simplistic but genuine, questions.

    Did this not start out as the Celtic League, before sponsorship?

    In which case, what’s Celtic about two (I asssume Aironi are also Italian, as well as Treviso) Italian sides in it?

    And if it’s now essentially a Europe minus England and France Super League, why isn’t a Romanian side in there, for example? Is Italy a bit more glamorous for the blokes in blazers than, say, Bucharest?

    If, as ‘future’s bright’ says, it helps Italian rugby develop, then why exclude a Romanian side (most of their players come from a side called Steau Bucharest) that might help develop their game? Or a Georgian one (apparently Georgia, as a nation, are 2nd Tier European Champions right now, I looked it up, so presumably are drawing on decent-ish club sides, with one called Lelo providing many players for the national side).

  • Dewi

    1) It isn’t Celtic anymore.
    2) There’s a lot of people in Italy – Rugby is getting more popular all the time – money a lot to do with it.
    3) Re, Romania – see above but backwards.
    4) Need to be careful about the number of games each team plays.

  • the future’s bright, the futures orange

    Also, you need to keep some quality in the league – Treviso and Aironi look to be competitive outfits and will only get stronger in the future.

  • William Markfelt

    Cheers for the response, Dewi.

    Regards (4), and forgive me for framing it in football terms, the only game I really know, but if it’s necessary to watch the number of games played (it IS physical), why no Magners League Cup, where reserves and development squad players could be blooded (hopefully not by a doctor’s scalpel)?

    Or is this likely to be an almost inevitable likelihood on account of (2)…cash?

    Might we reach a point where Arsenal (or Ulster, or Ospreys) Reserves play all the way through to a final, at which point the big guns inevitably appear for the showcase final?

  • William Markfelt

    Again, in football terms, we get yo-yo clubs (WBA, Birmingham) who go up and down until maybe they do reach ‘survival’ point and then survive in the Premier League.

    Would there be a case for Magners League Division 2? Or would small crowd size/travel requirements make this unworkable?

    I know that some of the smaller footballing nations looked at an Atlantic League (the likes of Scots, Dutch, Belgian teams competing), on the basis that they were unlikely to bother the knockout stages of the Champions League ever again.

    Clearly, there isn’t much travel difficulties amongst the Celtic sides of the Magners League, much magnified if a Georgian club side have to travel to Bucharest, for example, but would there not be a case for inviting the top club side from, say, the 2nd Tier European Champion’ country to compete each year, thus developing smaller nations?

  • Dewi

    I’ts the only real thing about the league I don’t like – no relegation and promotion – still feels somewhat artificial to me.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    The sensible place for the Italian Teams would have been the French Division 2 as they live just next door and where they could gradually move their way up through the ranks.

    There must be a realistic prospect of the 4 Irish teams in the Heineken Cup next year as Dragons look somewhat off the pace. The real competiton in the Cider league is the battle between Connacht (and Ulster last year) with Dragons (and possibly Scarlets) to get the last berth into Europe (proper) and that sort of does the same job as relegation.

  • Dewi

    I think that failing to make the HCl is still determined by last Welsh and last Irish team respectively i.e. I don’t think it’s Connacht v Dragons.

  • sammymehaffey

    Isnt it about time your game of soccer developed a celtic league with a couple of teams from norn iron, maybe 4 from the south a couple from wales and 4 from scotland excluding the old firm who should be in the English championship
    Anyway ulster have been fortunate to win three when you take into account the silly errors and lousy kicking by O’C. there is room for improvement which augers well for later in the season.

  • William Markfelt

    ‘Isnt it about time your game of soccer developed a celtic league with a couple of teams from norn iron, maybe 4 from the south a couple from wales and 4 from scotland excluding the old firm who should be in the English championship’

    No, Sammy. It’s not. The All-Ireland Cup isn’t exactly a crowd puller. More an excuse for handbags at twelve paces (Glens vs Bohs, wasn’t it?) I don’t think the introduction of a couple of Welsh League clubs or Scottish 2nd Divisions sides, Ayr, for example, would set the pulses racing.

    And I see no logical reason for Celtic and Rangers in the English leagues, not even starting at Blue Square Premier level.

  • the future’s bright, the futures orange

    You’re right Dewi. Although with the Irish player management system both Munster and Leinster will be without a lot of their key players for a lot of magners games. Imagine if one of them slipped below Ulster AND Connacht – ouch! That said, Connacht have a very small squad so once the injuries start to build up they’ll find it hard to keep in touch.

  • Scamallach

    Redevelopment of Ravenhill is the only thing that will really let us start competing. We have the support and potential for more but much as I love the place Ravenhill is substandard.

    Connacht will be very tough. I don’t like our chances frankly, they are resurgent and full of confidence. Pienaar is perhaps the only thing I’m not factoring in here.

  • the future’s bright, the futures orange

    he’s not playing this weekend…

  • the future’s bright, the futures orange

    ps for anyone who follows ulster rugger:

  • lamhdearg

    can one of you rugby buffs find out how much money ulster rake in from their beer tent on a friday night (when i have been there its packed) and then pass that info on to the muppets that run the I.F.A. Windsor at international matches is a lesson in how not to make money. Well done the Ulstermen and the Ulster Branch.

  • William Markfelt

    Beer tent.

    I think, alongside, ‘dope cafe’. ‘kiss me’ and ‘free downloads’, they’re two of the sweetest words you’ll ever put together in English. So, a question.

    Bearing in mind that a) I can hear the PA on a Friday night from my house b) the floodlights shine in through the window c) the bastards who attend don’t seem to realise or care that people live in houses near it and just might want to use their driveways and d) I’ve never been inside the ground despite probably being able to piss on it from my attic window….at what point in the match are the gates thrown open to let people leave? I’m kind of hoping for a mid-way through the second half answer, so I might be able to toddle round there and buy a pint and maybe even experience the atmosphere.

  • sammymehaffey

    I have read your posts on NI Water when you are seriously involved. Pity you are so sad about ulster rugby

  • Dewi

    If you can’t beat them join them!

  • Dewi

    Rugger ! – Please….

  • Scamallach

    Why don’t you just buy a ticket? They’re cheap as (a few bags of) chips…