ninetyninecall – HCup:2011: Referee analysis

27 03 2011

Everyone knows the referee can be the single most influential participant in a rugby match. All to often the focus of analysis is on the players and teams, but the analysis of the referee should also be taken into account for every game. Last week saw the announcement of the referee’s to officiate in the Heineken Cup quarter finals, Nigel Owens, Romain Poite, Allain Rolland and Wayne Barnes will do the honors in a fortnight’s time. But what has their previous record been in Heineken Cup history?

Romain Poite will referee Ulster’s clash with Northampton Saints. The match is Ulster’s first in the knockout stages since they won the competition in 1999. It is also Poite’s first ever knockout stage assignment.Poite is top of the table for average number of cards per game, This season he has handed out on average 2.75 cards per game which is more double the amount of the next closest referee. Surprised by the high number, I decided to go back over the last three seasons and check the stats… He still comes out on top of the table with 1.6 cards per game over 15 games! The one thing you can say in Poites favor is that he is impartial, handed out the same amount of cards to both the home and away teams!

Wayne Barnes of England will referee the final quarter-final between Biarritz Olympique and defending champions Toulouse at Estadio Anoeta in San Sebastian, the second match on the Sunday.Analysis of Wayne’s carding habits show something even more interesting, a definite bias towards to the home team in each game, this season he has not awarded a single card against the home team, in the last three seasons he has awarded only 3 cards against the home team and 10 against the away team, Toulouse beware!

Irishman Alain Rolland has been given the contest between Perpignan and Toulon at the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona in the early game on the Saturday of quarter-final weekend.Another referee that tends to favor the home team, clear divide between the number of cards against the home team (3) and cards against the away team (8) in the last 3 seasons.

Nigel Owens, Wales, will take charge of Leinster’s Heineken Cup quarter-final match against Leicester Tigers in Lansdowne road. The Welsh official was the referee for the last time Leinster and Leicester met in the Heineken Cup, the 2009 final at Murrayfield. It will be his fifth time officiating at the quarter-final stage of the Heineken Cup and his 54th Heineken Cup match. Nigel is the bottom of the table for average number of cards per game over the last 3 seasons, only 0.55.

I was quite surprised on two fronts when looking through the stats, what stood out for me was the large gap between Romain Poites number of cards per game and the home-team bias on display from Barnes and Rolland. Food for thought!

Analysis of the HCup QF Rugby Referee's performance

Stats were compiled from


6N:2011: Highlights compilation

27 03 2011

Here’s another quality video compilation by Adam Keane on youtube, great stuff!

ninetyninecall – England Grand Slam Fail Parody

23 03 2011

Brilliant take-off of the Nike/England Grand-Slam Ad

England Grand-Slam Fail video

21 03 2011

A pre-prepared Nike Ad that was produced ahead of their final game against Ireland in Dublin which they lost, I guess Ireland didn’t read the script!

** No swans were harmed in the production of this video **

And the email that let the whole game slip

[I have removed the persons email and other personal details]:


Sent: Friday, March 18, 2011 08:22 PM
Subject: 6 ONWARDS

Hi All

Following on from XXXXXX’s note, this weekend sees the culmination of England’s most exciting 6 Nations campaign in recent years. Not only could England win the tournament but also the Grand Slam which bodes very well for the Rugby World Cup later on this year in New Zealand.

We have commissioned a special limited edition t-shirt to celebrate the England Grand Slam 2011, which we will give to the players when we win against Ireland on Saturday The t-shirt is inspired by the iconic English rose (like the kit) and 5K units will go into retail at the RFU & NikeTown London after the game.

In the spirit on owning sporting moments, we will also execute a burst of Digital Out-of-Home activity that will start right on the final whistle in over 20 of London’s most prominent underground stations through Digital Escalator Panels and Cross-Track Projections. This will be further amplified through large Transvision screens at Waterloo, Kings Cross, Euston and Charing Cross. This will run throughout the weekend until Monday night catching consumers after the game and peak rush hour times for maximum impact.

Finally, we have created an AV celebration piece that we will be pushing out to our PR & Retail over the weekend and the RFU will be posting it on their sites too. To view it please click on the link password: 6NATIONS

Thanks to the whole team for working so quickly to pull this together and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask.

Have a good weekend


Athletic Training, Rugby, Basketball, Tennis & Livestrong


ninetyninecall – 6N:2011 Ireland player ratings v England

21 03 2011

1. Cian Healy – 7
Put in a savage performance for 80 minutes, Really stood up to the English front row and they didn’t get much change from the Irish forwards. Always busy in the loose, only negative was conceding 2 penalties.

2. Rory Best – 7
Decent day in the lineout, offered plenty in defense, His counter rucking was very effective in turning over a number of balls. His best performance of the tournament.

3. Mike Ross – 6
Decent day in the scrum, Dominated his opposite number Corbiserio, but didn’t offer much else on the day.

4. Donncha O’Calllghan – 7
Showed his usual tenacity and aggression, Managing to hold the ball-carrier and prevent him from going to ground was successful to slow ball down.

5. Paul O’Connell – 9
The last game of the 6-Nations was the first time O’Connell demonstrated that he is 100% back to his pre-injury self. Awesome display of physicality, turn overs, rolling-mauls, My man of the match.

6. Sean O’Brien – 7
Rounded off a highly successful campaign with a solid performance, Our tip to keep an eye on this player from last October came good this Spring, Watch out New Zealand!

7. David Wallace – 8
Belied his age early on, Clean breaks, beating defenders, cleaning up at the breakdown, Proved his critics wrong and showed that this 35year old has plenty left in the tank.

8. Jamie Heaslip – 8
Good performance from Heaslip, Showed great leadership on the pitch, motivated and inspired the players around him. Future Irish captain.

9. Eoin Reddan – 6
Distribution was decent, kept at a nice high-tempo, suffered from a lapse in concentration that led to the ultimate price being played, no excuses for that intercept try gifted to Thompson.

10. Jonnny Sexton – 9
Kicked the demons from the Welsh game to touch, put in an excellent performance and was delighted to see the smile on his face at the final whistle, We will head to the World Cup with two excellent out halves.

11. Andrew Trimble – 7
Was busy all over the park, brought some real muscle to the Irish defense, teamed up well with Bowe in a few double-hits.

12. Gordon D’Arcy – 7
Defense was solid as ever and discipline was top notch. Centre pairing of BOD and Darcy didn’t give an inch to their opposite numbers. D’Arcy always made it over the gain line when in possession.

13. Brian O’Driscoll – 8
What a game to claim the highest 6-Nations try scorer of all-time? Superb performance, defense and attack was flawless.

14. Tommy Bowe – 8
Another player who has returned to his best, Was involved in everything good about Ireland, only negative was the forward pass to O’Driscoll, where there was no need for it!

15. Keith Earls – 8
Even though England didn’t test his fielding abilities, he was lethal on the counter, playing full of confidence, backs himself at the right times and is a viable alternative in the fullback jersey. Selection nightmare for Kidney at fullback!


Tom Court – 4
Replaced Ross at 59′ Had a nightmare, popped up in every scrum and didn’t offer anything in the loose.
Eventually penalised for popping up at the scrum

Ronan O’Gara – 8
Replaced Sexton at 70′ BBC got it correct when they described him as the master, closed the game out by pinning England back in their own half.

Denis Leamy – 6
Replaced D Wallace at 71′ Typical hardworking performance from the Munster back row.

Sean Cronin
Replaced Best at 78′ – not on long enough to rate.

Leo Cullen
Replaced O’Connell at 79′ – not on long enough to rate.

Peter Stringer
Replaced Reddan at 79′ – not on long enough to rate.

Paddy Wallace
Replaced D’Arcy at 79′ – not on long enough to rate.

Original article written for

ninetyninecall – Interview with Geordan Murphy

17 03 2011

14 years at Leicester Tigers, seven Premiership titles, two Heineken Cups and an Anglo-Welsh Cup win as well as 67 caps for Ireland and two Test appearances for the British & Irish Lions. Geordan Murphy took some time out to answer a few of our questions…

– How is the foot injury coming along?
“It’s coming on very well, saw a specialist the other day and he’s very happy with the way things are going. I’m still on crutches, I still have some plates and screws that have to be taken out in the first week of April, hopefully be back on my feet and train fully after that.

– The Tigers are riding high on top of the Premiership, a huge Heineken Cup Quarter Final in Dublin against Leinster coming up, how do you think that game will go?
“I think it’s going to be very difficult obviously, always a very difficult place to come and play. Leinster gave us a good beating the last time we were over, they are a very good side, providing most of the Irish team so it is gonna be really difficult for us. We have a couple of games in the Premiership to play before then and if we can come over with almost a full-strength team, we can give Leinster a good game.

– A lot of criticism levelled at the Irish coaching setup and players over the past year, do you see their change of game plan to a more running rugby game as being a positive coming into the World Cup?
“Yeah I think it was the way it was going to go, most teams are trying to hold onto the ball as much as possible, obviously there is still a place for a kicking game but most teams are trying to play more of an expansive game, hold onto the ball and create scores. I think Ireland have been forced to change.”

– You’ve had a difficult history with the World Cup, missing the 2003 competition due to a broken leg in a warm up game against Scotland and then getting minimal game time in 2007. Presumably you have a huge desire to get to New Zealand in September?
“That’s really my goal, It’s been difficult being injured, but I’m hoping to be able to get fit in time to challenge for a place. You have to appreciate that Ireland have a lot of talent at the back, and a lot of very very talented fullbacks so it’s going to be very difficult for me to secure a place in the squad, but that was my goal and that’s what I’m going to work towards over the next few months.”

– There has been a rumour circulating that there has been a chicken dish named after you in a restaurant in Leicester?
“Haha, well that’s actually mine and Castro’s (Castrogiovanni’s) place, we opened it together, so yeah there is a dish in there that has my name on it alright!”

ninetyninecall – Interview with Stephen Ferris

17 03 2011

– Heineken Cup quarter-final is on the 10th April against Northampton Saints in Franklin’s Gardens, Do you hope to be back in time, any update on the injury?
“Well I have started back running last Monday, fingers crossed I get a couple of good fitness sessions in over the next few weeks and try and get back onto the pitch, that’s the target for the minute”

– Have you been keeping an eye on Northampton’s recent form? Since January they have only won one Premiership game out of seven – What do you think of this slump in form?
“Yeah, they have, but they are a pretty good team with a lot of internationals to return into their squads, they’ll get a couple of wins before we play them I’m sure of it. It’s gonna be a tough game but we’re definitely up for it, it’s been all the talk around Ulster for the last 6 weeks or so, we’ll go over there and try and put a bit of pressure on them.”

– Ulster this season have been strengthened by the signings of Springboks (Muller, Wannenburg, Pienaar along with Botha) how have they settled into Ulster lifestyle?
“Brilliant, they are really loving it Ruan and Johann Muller are having an awesome time at the minute, really settled in and enjoying their rugby, All playing well and they are a good inspiration for the rest of the lads as well”

– I have to ask your opinion on the line-out incident in the Wales last weekend, the players must have been gutted to have such a poor refereeing decision go against them?
“Every supporter and fan is feeling slightly robbed, small decisions like that in test matches are the difference between winning and losing, and unfortunately we lost. I think if something like this was to happen at a World Cup, it would be a laughing stock. It is something that’s really hard to take for the lads, but I’m sure if we get a win this weekend, it’ll be quickly forgotten about!”

– Next weekend’s game against England, sure to be an intense battle, the lads will not need any extra incentive to get fired up, what has he thought of England’s performance so far in the 6N?
“That’s it, I’ve been asked a few questions tonight, ‘Will the boys be fired up? After last week being defeated, there is nothing to play for?’ – I say there is a lot to be played for, there’s a lot of pride at stake. You don’t want England beating you on your own home patch. England are a good side to play against and an even better side to beat. It’s gonna be a big game for us.

– What do you think about Will Greenwood claiming that England go into this game as Underdogs?
“He’s probably right, from my perspective, it’s gonna be a very tight game but I think that Ireland will come out on top!”

Original article written for

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