Archive for the ‘Rabo’ Category

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Tá stíl imeartha rugbaí d’fhoirne an Pro 12 ag dul in olcas. Tá foirne anois ag iarradh cluiche cosanta a imirt; tá siad ag iarraidh an cluiche a bhuachaint ó bhotúin a sainnithe. Ach ní féidir an méid seo a rá faoi Chonnacht.

 

Le trí shéasúr anuas, tá Pat Lam ag cruthú stíl imeartha nua sa gcúige, stíl ionsaithe nach bhfuil foireann eile sa sraith ag imirt. Chaill siad go leor cluichí ag tús a réimis, ach ní a thuilleadh. Ghlac na himreoirí leis, agus ghlac lucht leanúna an chúige chomh maith, agus anois tá siad sa dara áit sa sraith.

 

Bhí Rob Penny ag iarraidh an stíl céanna a chruthú do Mhumha nuair a bhí seisean ina chónaí i Luimneach, ach ní raibh lucht leanúna an Mumhain sásta fanacht air. Chaill sé go leor cluichí i rith blianta a cheannasaíochta (shroich sé babhta leath-cheannais na hEorpa freisin, rud nach ndearna Foley) agus fuarthas réidh leis.

 

Ach bhí an ceart ag Connacht níos mó ama a thabhairt go Lam a stíl imeartha a thabhairt isteach. Anois, tá na scileanna ag Connacht ionsaí a dhéanamh ó áit ar bith ar an bpáirc. Cé go bhfuil go leor gortuithe acu, tá siad fós in ann a stíl féin a imirt. Tá sé ionsuite sna himreoirí.

 

D’imigh Connacht chuig an bhFrainc an deireadh seachtaine seo chaite chun cluiche leath-ceannais a imirt in aghaidh Grenoble, agus beidh ‘séard a tharla ann i gcuimhne na leantóirí go deo. Cluiche den scoth a bhí ann, cluiche a chaill Connacht le pointe amháin. Cé gur chaill siad, d’imir siad cluiche nach bhféadaidís in ann imirt trí bhliain ó shin. D’imir siad le saorimeacht, bród, luas agus paisean.

 

Thosaigh Shane O’Leary an cluiche ag uimhir a deich de dheasca gortuithe ag AJ MacGinty agus Jack Carty. Chuir sé cic trasna na páirce ina 22 féin, ach ní uaidh féin a tháinig an cinnedh sin; cinnte gur tháinig an teachtaireacht sin ó Lam chun an chic sin a dhéanamh. Ach rinne sé a sheacht ndícheall, agus tógfaidh sé go leor muinín ón gcluiche. Fuair sé slánú ón taobhlíne go luath sa gcluiche agus stiúir sé an imirt i rith a thréimhse ar an bpáirc.

 

Ach má tá muid chun caint faoi imreoir a raibh an tionchar is mó ar an gcluiche aige, caithfidh muid labhairt faoi Matt Healy. D’imir sé thar barr. Bhí sé breá compórdach i ról an lánchúlaí. Fuair sé úd, agus rinne sé dhá úd freisin. Rith sé gach uile liathróid a bhfuair sé agus ní raibh cosaint Grenoble in ann déileáil leis an sleaschéim nó leis aluas a bhí aige. Is dóigh go raibh Joe Schmidt ag breathnú ar an gcluiche, agus sheol Healy teachtaireacht thar a bheith soileár dó: tá sé réidh don stáitse idirnáisiúnta.

 

Bhí Fergus McFadden ar bhinse na hÉireann i rith an 6 Násúin mar gheall go raibh an córas cosanta ar eolas aige (nílim ag rá gur drochimreoir é ach oiread, ach bhí imreoirí Éireannacha eile ag imirt níos fearr ná é ag an am). Níor roghnaigh Schmidt Healy mar gheall ar seo. Ach i rith an tsamhraidh, ba cheart do Healy dul chuig an Afraic Theas agus geansaí na hÉireann a chaitheamh. Beidh bainisteoir nua ag foireann na hAifraice Theas agus beidh siad ag streachailt leis an stíl nua a bheidh á thabhairt isteach aige. Cinnte, cluichí fisiciúla a bhéas ann, ach is deis iontach é an turas sin imreoirí ar nós Healy, chomh maith le Ultan Dillane, Finley Bealham agus Garry Ringrose, a thriail. Taithí iontach a bheadh ann dóibh.  

 

Beidh Connacht ag imirt in aghaidh na Mumhan i nGaillimh an deireadh seachtaine beag seo agus is cluiche ollmhór é do na Connachtaigh agus na Mumhanaigh. Beidh daoine ag rá go mbeith sé deacair d’fhoireann Connachta a n-intinn a réiteach tar éis dóibh chailliúit sa bhFrainc.

 

Ach breathnaigh ar na firicí: chuaigh siad chuig ceantar na hAlpa gan a gcéad, dara nó triú rogha leathchúlaí amuigh; d’ionsaigh siad ó gach áit ar an bpáirc; ní raibh go leor imreoirí céad-roghnach acu; chaill siad Jake Heenan díreach roimh an gcluiche. Ach fós scóráil siad 32 pointe agus ceithre úd. Ní fhaigheann mórán foirne 32 pointe in aghaidh foirne Fraince le foireann iomlán sa mbaile, gan trácht a dhéanamh ar chluiche as baile.

 

B’fhéidir gur chaill Connacht in aghaidh Grenoble sa bhFrainc, ach d’imir siad thar barr, le himreoirí a chreideann sa ngeansaí, sa mbainisteoir agus sa stíl imeartha. Tá Jack Carty ar ais ag treanáil arís freisin, agus is suimiú ollmhór é sin freisin. Imreoidh siad leis an stíl imeartha agus an paisin céanna in aghaidh na Mumhan; ní athróidh tada ach an timpeallacht.

Pictiúr tógtha ó Newstalk.

Rave reviews regarding northern hemisphere rugby poured in after the last Saturday of the six nations championship this year. Wales ran in try after try, followed by Ireland and England alike. It seemed the days of boring kick-and-maul rugby were ending.

The final day of the Rabo league proved to be much of the same. David Kelly wrote in today’s Irish Independent that “rugby should consider getting rid of the coaches altogether and just let the players at it”. He’s not too far wrong it would seem.

I watched the Munster game in a pub with friends on Saturday. One arrived after twenty-odd minutes, and on asking how they were playing, was shocked to hear that Munster had the bonus point already. Not only that, but the Dragons had two tries to their name themselves. Six tries in 24 minutes. Happy days.

But what made it brilliant to watch was that the game wasn’t thrown into a sevens-like event; the structure of the game was kept and players stuck to their strengths. In other words, Munster forwards still utilised their maul while Conor Murray and Keith Earls ran the show in the back line.

The Ospreys continued the trend and had three tries scored by half time. Granted, Connacht aren’t a team famous for running rugby, but they managed a scoreline of 24-20, and could have won if it wasn’t for a poor first half. 24-0 was the halftime score, which highlights how hard they worked in the second half.

A Leinster team with three fringe players scored 36 points against Edinburgh, with five tries to boot. Given their poor run of form this season, five tries is no mean feat against any team, especially given their lacklustre performance last weekend against Treviso.

Whereas Ulster failed to ignite much, Glasgow enjoyed a good victory at home running in four tries and earning a bonus point. Glasgow are the team tipped to win this year’s playoffs and given the season they’ve enjoyed, it’s no wonder. They love to throw the ball about and their forwards are just as comfortable on the ball as their backs. Townsend has done a fantastic job with them. And with Taqele Naiyaravoro joining from the Force, they’re only going to get better.

For years southern hemisphere teams have been saying that northern rugby is boring. We rely too much on our kickers and not on scoring tries. New Zealand Maori team have gone on record in previous interviews that at training the coach will sometimes throw players a ball and just let them at it-no moves, no set calls, just playing. The skills they learn from playing off the cuff rugby have become an integral part to their game. Geordon Murphy wrote in his book that these sort of skill games should be introduced in under-age rugby in a bid to develop these skills. New Zealand forwards have always been comfortable ball carrying and offloading out of the tackle. Just look at Sam Whitelock’s try for the Crusaders a fortnight ago-he has no problem relying on his running ability.

But northern hemisphere rugby is catching up. The days of “taking your points”, the 3-6-9 leads through penalties, are slowly fading away. They will never be completely gone as winning comes first. But teams are starting to throw caution to the wind, especially when the points margin comes into effect. This years Six Nations and Rabo have shown us that teams can play fantastic rugby when push comes to shove. Long may it continue.

A lot has been written in the papers lately about Leinster’s end of season campaign to finish on a high. It seems that players are all singing off the same hymn sheet, that a strong end to the season will put them in a good place for next year. In one way it’s true; it’s the final few games of the season that will be remembered. But what will impact on them more are their failures.

Leinster have become the best Irish provincial side in the last six years. Granted, they have lost games to other provinces during that run, but they’ve won more competitions, and that’s what counts. In the last few years, Leinster have based their success on silverware, much like Munster have in the years previous.

Leinster now need to finish in the top six of the Rabo to secure a place in next year’s Champions Cup. Odds are they’ll do it (they face Benetton Treviso tonight), and will no doubt be one of the favourites to win in 2016, as they were in previous years. In terms of getting into next year’s competition, it will be a case of mission complete. But that alone is a poor return for their season. Jordi Murphy has stated in today’s Irish Independant that “the focus of finishing in the top six is keeping us all on our toes”. This is not the sort of team Leinster have fought to become. This is not the mentality they worked so hard to shape. A top six finish should be guaranteed regardless.

Winning the last game of the season will not be enough for these players. When you think of the quality of the Leinster team along with the highs they’ve experienced in the past, it’s not hard to see why. Let’s look at two Heineken cup finals in particular.

Down and out at half time against a strong Northampton Saints side, Leinster managed one of the greatest comebacks in the tournament’s history. Many other teams would have played that second half trying to salvage some pride-Leinster played it to win, and did. Fast forward a few years later to their final against Ulster. From their form, many were tipping Ulster to finally reclaim the Heineken cup for the second time. They were playing well and had been all season. That day in Twickenham, they were absolutely dominated from start to finish, and the final score reflected it. These are the games these Leinster players are used to. Not qualifying-deciders against Treviso.

You would also have to wonder what will happen with Matt O’Connor. His style of play has not worked well, nor has he been a crowd favourite, even though he won a Rabo title last year and nearly coached the team to victory over Toulon. You would have to feel sorry for him. Rob Penney suffered the same fate when he stepped up to coach Munster; his brand of rugby was not what the Thomond Park faithful were used to seeing, and he was heavily criticised for his first season.

But O’Connor has been an unpopular choice for too long, and beating Treviso to qualify for Europe next year probably won’t be enough to save him. He didn’t have Sexton or the ever-mentioned O’Driscoll like his predecessor, but nor did a lot of teams this year, and five are probably going to finish ahead of them. With the return of Sexton and Nacewa next year, Leinster will enjoy having more fire-power in their back line, even if it means the likes of Dave Kearney or Luke Fitzgerald’s game time suffers. But will O’Connor be the man to call the shots?

A win over Treviso tonight and finishing in the top six could be deemed a salvaged season by some. But rugby is now more professional than ever, and seasons are now based on trophies and medals. In those terms, Leinster have failed, regardless of what hymn sheet players are singing off.