So G’wan Leinster – but can we have a different Irish ‘winner’ next year please?

As another hugely successful season draws to a close, with a grand slam in the bag, Ireland ranked 2nd in the world and 2nd favourites to win next year’s world cup  – we can still look forward to Leinster winning the European Champions Cup. Leinster play Racing 92 of Paris in Bilbao (Spain) on Saturday 12th May. Kick off 16.45, Irish time. Whilst Ulster failed to get to the knockout stages of the Champions Cup, Connacht got to the quarterfinals of … Read more

Six Things We Learned From Ireland’s Failed Rugby World Cup Bid…

Last week’s surprise decision to grant the 2023 Rugby World Cup (RWC) to France was a huge disappointment for the Irish, who had been bookies’ favourite throughout the process. As the dust finally settles on the five-year effort to bring one of the world’s largest sporting events to these shores, here are six key lessons we can draw from the experience : Ireland CAN hold events of global significance. The positive message for Ireland in a disappointing process was that … Read more

Is it time for a European Lions v the southern hemisphere rugby test match series?

Once every four years, the best players from the 4 rugby nations in the British isles play as a single team as the British and Irish lions. And when it is a Lions year, every week the papers revise and review their best guess as to who will be in the test team, who will be in squad and who will be captain. This year, in June, the Lions go to New Zealand to play the All Blacks, where they … Read more

Rugby lessons: Focusing on barriers rather than bridges only limits the scope for the future.

I was talking to my old friend Trevor Ringland the other day (we’ve been close ever since we co-authored A Long Peace? along with David Steven). The subject of peace walls came up and he said something to the effect that “we should stop focusing on the walls, and think about building bridges”. That way, he reasoned, people can decide for themselves, when or even whether they wanted to remove them in their own good time. Focusing on the barriers … Read more

Anthony Foley’s untimely death shakes the world of Irish rugby…

Gerry Thornley on the death of a great servant of Munster Rugby and Ireland, Anthony ‘Axel’ Foley: With his 43rd birthday due at the end of the month, it’s just too sad for words, too shocking to be believed. A legend alright, and much loved. Our deepest sympathies to his wife Olive, his children Dan and Tony, parents Brendan and Sheila, sisters and Orla and Rosie, and all his extended Munster and Irish family of supporters. Donal Lenihan in the … Read more

Is Irish Rugby Truly the Beacon of Inclusiveness It Is Purported to Be?

We often hear that Irish rugby has yet to shed its elitist baggage and that the very significant level of coverage devoted to the game by the Irish media is disproportionate in comparison to the level of genuine national interest in the game across the country – whether this is true or not, it’s a debate that rages on in light of Ireland’s elimination from the Rugby World Cup at the hands of Argentina last weekend – but, amidst all … Read more

Lions…..Lucky

Crikey that Israel bloke on the wing looks tasty…..how we won that I really don’t know….. DewiWelsh Nationalist. Rugby Fan. Know a bit about History and Railways…

The Lions Test Team – how were our predictions?

Here’s the team: Leigh Halfpenny (Wales),Alex Cuthbert (Wales),  Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland)  Jonathan Davies (Wales), George North (Wales), Jonathan Sexton (Ireland), Mike Phillips (Wales); Alex Corbisiero (England), Tom Youngs (England), Adam Jones (Wales), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), Paul O’Connell (Ireland), Tom Croft (England), Sam Warburton (Wales, capt), Jamie Heaslip (Ireland). Subs: Richard Hibbard (Wales), Mako Vunipola (England), Dan Cole (England), Geoff Parling (England), Dan Lydiate (Wales), Ben Youngs (England), Owen Farrell (England), Sean Maitland (Scotland). Astonished at Maitland as sub, very strange. … Read more

Shane gets the Lions roaring..

Here’s my team: 15 Halfpenny – he missed a kick in 2011 and a tackle in 2009….I’ve decided to let him marry my niece. 14, hmmm  difficult – I think Kearney…or maybe Shane… 13, Davies – player of the tour so far, 12, O’Driscoll – if he’s fit 11, North – ditto 10, Sexton – looking grown up…well at least compared to Farrell 9. Phillips – superb so far 8. Heaslip 7. Warburton 6, Croft (we have to have a … Read more

Ireland’s Call as you may never have heard it before….

Don’t you just hate American candour… We never ever get to hear Irish rugby players render Ireland’s Call in their own voices… Check this about here, but don’t say you weren’t warned… (most of the US players had the sense not to try, and those who did were largely drowned out by the crowd..) Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a … Read more

A Lions tour – predict the first test team please.

So it was just a bad dream for Rory Best – in the Lions squad…and I reckon a test starter. How about the other 14? Rules are simple. I need the names of the fifteen starters in the first test on June 22nd. 1 point for every correct name. Here’s my guess: 15 Halfpenny 14 Bowe 13 Roberts 12 O’Driscoll 11 North 10 Sexton 9 Phillips 8 Faletau 7 Warburton 6 Lydiate 5 O’Connell 4 AW Jones 3 A Jones 2 … Read more

Close down under.

An astonishing last 10 minutes of New Zealand – Ireland. Penalty just too far for Sexton, daft decision by Owens, a Carter failed drop goal touched in flight, a scrum five and Carter finishes it. As for Wales…give me strength. Ireland BBC Report: Ireland BBC Report Wales BBC Report: Wales BBC report DewiWelsh Nationalist. Rugby Fan. Know a bit about History and Railways…

“Ulster Rugby – Are you unionism in disguise?”

It annoyed me years ago when I walked into Elvery’s on Dawson Street to find they stocked plenty Leinster and Munster tops but no Ulster ones. Then again, you only stock what there’s a demand for, and for years Ulster was the poor relation in Irish rugby. [Image from BigStock] So much so that as rugby has become genuinely and broadly popular in Northern Ireland, many Northern Irish nationalists have taken to supporting provincial winners from other parts of the … Read more

Normality and rugby

In the review of the up-and-coming Heineken Cup final, I made the observation that the sports media have been unused to writing about Ulster given the lack of success in recent times. Player profiles by sports journalists seem to fall into 3 topics; the faith of the players, the foreign players, and the faith of the foreign players. Now the social commentators have started as well, except they only have one topic – rugby and that protestant/catholic thing in the … Read more

Leinster would probably win 9 times out of 10, but…

The first ever all-Irish Heineken Cup final kicks off at 5pm, Saturday 19 May in front of a capacity 81,000 Twickenham crowd: Leinster v Ulster. Ulster? Well, yes, Ulster. The absence of Munster at the most significant game ever between two Irish provinces has left some journalists struggling for content, unaccustomed as they are writing about Ulster. However judging by Munster’s humiliating exit from the Pro12 League semi finals, the press will needs to get used to the new world … Read more

Six Nations – yet another boring Welsh Grand Slam?

Ok  – I have people staying over for the weekend so forgive me for a post on Thursday. Sam’s back for Wales.. (from the Independent) Whatever. – that’s from Le Monde with the Google Translate here. I don’t think Rougerie is a centre. How many points are Ireland going to beat these idiots by? Foden want’s something special. – Please give him something special. In the prediction contest Reader leads by 3 – however he’s gone for a French win at Cardiff … Read more

SIx Nations – Let’s try this again…

A miracle or a massacre? – From the Irish Independent: Le massacre du printemps, incidentally, was a headline from L’Equipe on the morning of the 1992 fixture in the old Parc des Princes, where Ireland managed never to win — against France or Argentina. Philippe Saint-Andre was on the wing that day when the home team romped home 44-12. For optimum effect we fiddle around with the stats from Ireland’s record in Paris, but the one that best illustrates the … Read more

Six Nations – Weekend 3

It’s time to start building a fortress. From the Irish Times: WHEN IRELAND first returned to Lansdowne Road in the autumn of 2010, Brian O’Driscoll spoke for all when declaring Ireland’s need to make the Aviva a fortress. Alas, not helped by the IRFU’s ticketing fiasco, as fortresses go it’s been more akin to the Maginot Line, which the Germans stormed in about a day. Should be comfortable – Italy can be awkward – but in areas where Ireland are … Read more

Six Nations: Paris in the Spring – A day for heroes…or a cold night in hell?

Well, late winter really but that ain’t quite got it..from the Irish Times – it’s minus nine degrees: At least les bleus won’t be playing with the sun on their backs in springtime. Otherwise, this one doesn’t look too promising. Not only do France have a hex on Ireland like no one else, nowhere does this apply more than the French capital. Ireland have won just once in their last 20 visits, and les bleus have also won 11 of … Read more

Six Nations – wide open.

This weekend sees the start of the most unpredictable Six Nations for a while. (There’s still time to make your predictions here). Are those Polish freezers still working for Wales? (BBC) Keith Earls has some pretty big boots to fill….(Belfast Telegraph) If you were Mr Lancaster would you like to start things anew at a freezing hostile Murrayfield…..? From the Record Andy Robinson is pressing the right buttons. Of England’s World Cup: What surprises me about England is they fell into a … Read more