Uncategorized

‘If we are going to take the All Blacks down, then it is going to be tomorrow’

JAPAN CAPTAIN MICHAEL Leitch said today that the Brave Blossoms are capable of pulling off a shock victory over a weakened All Blacks team this weekend. The New Zealand-born skipper evoked the spirit of Japan’s astonishing 34-32 win over South Africa at the 2015 Rugby World Cup on the eve of tomorrow’s clash with the All Blacks in Tokyo. “When you look at the number of Test matches collectively in the team, it’s not so…

Continue reading

Uncategorized

‘He’s gutted’ – O’Brien breaks his arm during Ireland’s win over Argentina

SEAN O’BRIEN SUFFERED a broken arm in Ireland’s win over Argentina in Dublin, head coach Joe Schmidt has confirmed. The Leinster openside took a heavy blow to his right arm while tackling in the first half of Ireland’s 28-17 victory and was replaced by Dan Leavy. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO 31-year-old O’Brien was in clear pain as he left the pitch and will now miss the remainder of the November Tests, including next weekend’s clash with…

Continue reading

Uncategorized

Just a dead leg for O’Mahony after magnificent performance against New Zealand

AS AN ADDED bonus after Ireland’s historic home win over New Zealand on Saturday, Joe Schmidt’s medical team were able to report only minor additions to the injury list.  Man of the match in the 16-9 win, Peter O’Mahony suffered a dead leg and his ‘training load will be managed,’ the IRFU said today. The majority of the front-liners involved in the enthralling victory over the All Blacks are expected to take a back seat for…

Continue reading

Uncategorized

I made the wrong call on Farrell non-penalty, admits ref

OWEN FARRELL’S CONTROVERSIAL tackle on South Africa’s Andre Esterhuizen ought to have been a penalty, according to the referee who initially spared the England fly-half any punishment. England were leading 12-11 at Twickenham earlier this month when, with the clock having ticked beyond 80 minutes, Farrell put in a strong, shoulder-led challenge on the Springbok. On-field official Angus Gardner consulted the TMO but decided there was no foul play, allowing Farrell and England to celebrate a…

Continue reading

Uncategorized

Lancaster ‘very happy’ at Leinster but unsigned contract leaves door open for Ireland talks

ALTHOUGH ALWAYS HONEST and engaging, Stuart Lancaster yesterday managed to keep his cards very close to his chest by saying everything, and nothing, about his coaching future.  Eleven minutes answering questions and Lancaster left the room with the assembled print media no closer to knowing the identity of who his employers will be next season, as the affable Englishman remained coy on his plans, choosing his words carefully. Lancaster: Will he be at Leinster next…

Continue reading

Uncategorized

Connacht make third short-term signing with capture of Munster’s Fitzgerald

CONNACHT HAVE FURTHER strengthened their backline resources for the second half of the season with the short-term signing of Stephen Fitzgerald from Munster. Fitzgerald, the older brother of Connacht academy out-half Conor, joins the western province on a three-month loan deal, and becomes the third player to move to the Sportsground in the last week. Fitzgerald joins his younger brother at Connacht. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO Andy Friend’s midfield options were boosted with the arrival of…

Continue reading

Uncategorized

Baloucoune back from ban to make European debut in Ulster’s daunting date with Racing

WING ROBERT BALOUCOUNE will return from suspension to win his Heineken Champions Cup debut when Ulster host Racing 92 at Kingspan Stadium tomorrow (kick-off 15.15). The Fermanagh flyer was given a two-week suspension for his early aerial challenge on Munster’s Darren Sweetnam in the pre-Christmas win over the southern province. After scoring twice in that game, he will form a back three with Jacob Stockdale and Louis Ludik outside international centres Will Addison and Stuart…

Continue reading

Uncategorized

Knee knock the only down side to another brilliant Tadhg Beirne performance

Sean Farrell reports from Thomond Park HE ARRIVED IN Munster a fully-formed star of European Rugby and a nominee for the Champions Cup’s player of the year. It scarcely seemed plausible that Tadhg Beirne’s influence would grow. Yet rather than succumb or to any potential settling-in period that can slow down so many rising stars, the second row continues to deliver supreme performance levels when his team most needs him. The sight of Beirne grimacing…

Continue reading

Uncategorized

Taking lineout inspiration from Toner and Ryan, and gunning for Six Nations upset against England

WHEN IT COMES TO Ireland’s lineout calls, Railway Union’s Aoife McDermott has the final say. Aoife McDermott and Ireland head coach Adam Griggs. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO There’s a collective input into how the play will go. Players can make suggestions, which she’s always open to exploring, but the Sligo-born second-row will make the decisive call. She’s still technically a newcomer to the sport, but McDermott has certainly established herself as a leader in the Ireland…

Continue reading

Uncategorized

Ireland U20s impress in Scotland to make it two from two in the Six Nations

Scotland 5 Ireland 24 Murray Kinsella reports from Netherdale, Galashiels AN UNTELEVISED GAME meant Ireland U20s were slightly under the radar tonight but a second win in two Six Nations games underlined the rich potential of Noel McNamara’s men. Ireland captain David Hawkshaw offloads. Source: James Crombie/INPHO With a strong wind blowing in Galashiels, tries from hooker Dylan Tierney-Martin, number eight John Hodnett and left wing Jonathan Wren, as well as four kicks from out-half…

Continue reading