RWC2011 – Ireland’s host towns and training bases

30 08 2011

Ireland depart for New Zealand today for the Rugby World Cup. If you are traveling to watch them, you might be interested in the below schedule of their host cities and training facilities they will be using.

Ireland hold an open training session in Queenstown Events Centre Sept 4th from 1:30pm, keep an eye on this page in the next week or two for details of more..

Ireland’s Host Town and Training Centres

RWC2011: Get the apps: Android

30 08 2011

RWC2011 Android Apps review

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With the Rugby World Cup only around the corner, we are going to review the best free apps available for your smartphone, today it’s Android’s turn, will follow up with a post on iOS apps shortly!

Official Rugby World Cup 2011

– Access the Match Center for live match coverage, including live commentary, stats and video highlights.
– Get the latest news and keep up to date with the RWC Daily video.
– In New Zealand and want to know what to do? Go to the Fan Zone section to find out what events are on near where you are right now.
– Going to the match? Check out stadium locations, seating plans and facilities.

Our Verdict: Polished and packed full of info, would be handy if match times were localized.
Our Rating: *****
Marketplace Link

Rugby World Cup 2011 Tracker

– Live match updates
– Summary of the most recent match results
– All upcoming matches
– All match fixtures including stadium and referee info
– Group tables
– Knockout stage
– Team Information
– Localized match times
– News
– Background results updates and match summaries
– Reminders for upcoming matches
– Add a match to your calendar

Our Verdict:  Not as polished as the official app but a quality product none the less, we love the localised kickoff times!
Our Rating: ****
Marketplace Link

Rugby World Cup 2011 Free

– Live score updates
– top scorers
– fixtures and group standings
– squad lists and player records
– historical data
– all the results from every tournament starting from the first in 1987
– collated tables, see who has the best overall win loss record in world cup history
– head to head, see how your country stacks up against other teams in past tournaments
– see who the all time top points scorers are

Our Verdict:  Again, not as polished as the official app, Love the historical data from every RWC, will settle a few pub arguments no doubt!
Our Rating: ***
Marketplace Link

#RWC2011 Warm-up, Ireland v England player ratings

29 08 2011

Jonny Wilkinson tackled by Ronan O'Gara and Keith Earls. Pic: Ken Sutton

15 Geordan Murphy – 7
Great return to the international fold for the Tigers captain, showed he still has juice in the tank matching Manu Tuilagi for pace in a one on one situation. Assured under the high ball, Rob Kearney will have to watch his back!

14 Tommy Bowe – 6
First game of the warm-ups, took a long time to get into the game, This was not aided by Ireland’s repeated habit of drifting wide with no penetration in the center. Needs more game time.

13 Keith Earls – 5
Earls was at fault for Tuilagi’s almost unchallenged try early in the game but he was probably the only back that could break the line in attack. Multiple times he skipped passed tackles, but as he looked up he had no support to offload to.

12 Gordon D’Arcy – 3
Another anonymous game for D’Arcy, has not shown any improvement in the last 2 matches he has played. Made Mike Tindall look dynamic.

11 Andrew Trimble – 6
Another decent performance from Trimble, similar to Bowe hampered by the lateral play of the Irish backline. When he drifts infield he looks dangerous.

10 Ronan O’Gara – 6
Opting to kick for touch instead of taking easy points on offer was a big mistake in yesterdays must-win game. Other than this, he surprised everyone by opting to run with the ball on a couple of occasions and making some decent ground.

9  Eoin Reddan – 5
Did decently, was under quite a bit of pressure at the rucks as England were quite aggressive in this area and weren’t shy of letting their presence felt.


1  Cian Healy – 7
Industrious, took some real punishment from the English pack, seemed to be getting singled out for it quite often.  Unfortunate to sustain some damage to his eye socket which will mean he will miss Ireland’s first game against the USA in 2 weeks.

2  Jerry Flannery – 6
Looked comfortable, provide plenty of quality lineout ball for O’Connell and O’Callaghan to hoover up.

3  Mike Ross – 6
Scrums were on the whole, quite positive, winning one against the head in the first half should have been a big inspiration to the rest of the team but the scrum conceded a penalty 30 seconds later.

4  Donncha O’Callaghan – 6
Always looks a better player playing alongside Paul O’Connell, did well at the lineout and put in a good defensive performance.

5  Paul O’Connell (c) – 7
Extremely busy and committed, was Ireland’s best player on the day. Questionable decisions along with ROG on kicking for touch when points were on offer.

6 Stephen Ferris – 6
Ended up playing a full 80 minutes, was great to see him back with ball in hand, will need more game time to get up to match speed but looked in peak physical condition.

7  David Wallace – 6
Heartbreak for Wally, a seemingly innocuous tackle on the touchline for Tuilagi resulting in a serious knee injury has put an end to what was to be his 3rd World Cup.

8  Jamie Heaslip – 6
Only managed 34 minutes before being subbed off with a head injury. Unfortunate for Ireland as his ball-carrying abilities were missed.



16 Rory Best – 5
First action was a lineout throw which was crooked but made up for it with an audacious steal minutes later.

17 Tom Court – 6
Held his own against a strong English pack, needs more game time which he will probably get against USA.

18 Donnacha Ryan – 6
Early introduction due to Heaslip’s injury, decent shift but didn’t offer the same carries that Heaslip can.

19 Denis Leamy – 6
Introduced after Wallace’s injury, the Irish backrow was completely unbalanced after the two forced substitutions and this really affected the whole team. Leamy was busy in defense and managed a couple of carries.

20 Conor Murray – 7
Another good performance from Murray, introduced some pace into the attack when he came on.

21 Jonathan Sexton – 6
Kicked the ball more that ROG had done in the preceding 60 minutes, doesn’t seem to have the ability to change the game in the same vein that ROG can off the bench.

22 Fergus McFadden – 6
Came on for Trimble with 10 minutes to go, didn’t get too many opportunities to show what he can do.

Original article written for

Ireland, Organised Chaos?

29 08 2011
Pic: Ken Sutton -

Andrew Trimble gets smashed by Manu Tuilagi and Mike Tindall. Pic: Ken Sutton

This article has been floating around in my head over the last week and may be wishful thinking on my part, I’m still not convinced if it is true, but I’m going to put it out there and see if it gets some discussion going…

Ireland have lost all four of the World Cup warm-up games where they were expected to win three from four, at a minimum. They have dropped from 4th in the IRB rankings to 8th in one month, this is their lowest position since the rankings were introduced in October 2003. While there have been marked improvements in the set-piece, their once best-of-breed backline has now turned into the teams major weakness. It has looked sterile and bereft of ideas in the last few games, offering little or no penetration and seemingly no game plan. This beggars belief when you look on paper and see the caliber of players that have made the team sheets in the last 4 games: O’Driscoll, Earls, Fitzgerald, D’Arcy, Bowe, Trimble, Kearney, Murphy are all players that any team in the world would be envious of, but yet when combined in the current system they look one-dimensional. Does this strike anyone as strange?

What if…
Ireland purposely have been selecting strange combinations in the backline, They have played a total of 6 players in the centers over the last 4 games, even out half Jonathan Sexton got a run out against France in the 12 jersey. What if the backs have been told to tone it down, nothing fancy, just ship it wide as part of Declan Kidney’s masterplan. These are players that have won the Heineken Cup and Magners League last season and it’s a backline that failed to unlock the Scottish defense even once. Could it be plausible that Kidney has kept all his cards close to his chest on purpose. Is this the big plan to catch Australia unawares?

Besides the opening 20 minutes against France in Dublin, Ireland have hardly produced one decent backline move. They have scored 3 tries in 4 games, two of those coming when the French had all but given up. Jonny Sexton is the only Irish back to get a try in four games. As far as I can see there can only be 2 explanations for this, either Alan Gaffney (backs coach) actually does not have any kind of game-plan, or, the players have been deliberately told not to give anything away.

We are all fully aware what Genia, Cooper, Ioane, Beale and O’Connor can do after their Tri-Nations series victory, But what do Australia know about us if they review our last four games? They have no idea what the starting half-backs will  be, they won’t be sure of which centers will start against them. They will surely be expecting an easy ride.

Leinster were second highest try scorers in the Magners League last season with Munster and Ulster at joint fifth. You don’t forget how to score try’s in the space of a few weeks. Of our best centers, O’Driscoll has been wrapped in cotton wool and D’Arcy (top performer in the last Six Nations) is playing so quietly he looks as if he has been sedated before games. Could Gaffney and Kidney have planned this?

Ireland are going into this World Cup as write-off’s, completely under the radar. They will field a second string team against USA and should beat them, but is it possible that they could come out all guns blazing against the Aussies a week later and perhaps create a huge upset? Of course I’d love if this were true, guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Am I delirious/dreaming? Leave a comment!

RWC2011: France v Ireland preview

14 08 2011

Date: 13th August 2011
Time: 19:45 IST
Venue: Stade Chaban-Delmas, Bordeaux.
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)

Ireland face France in the first of their two leg World Cup warm-up games. (Return leg in Dublin next Saturday) Ireland line up with what is a vastly more experienced side than the team that faced Scotland last weekend. The French have named an almost full strength team with only one new cap, Biarritz back-row Raphael Lakafia.

Lakafia will be joined in a very strong back row by French captain Thierry Dusautoir and fellow Biarritz player Imanol Harinordoquy. Vincent Clerc starts on the wing and he will be hoping to maintain his quite amazing try-scoring record against Ireland. Saturday also sees a return for French centre Maxime Mermoz who makes his first appearance since suffering a serious shoulder injury during their Six Nations game against Scotland in February, Mermoz is one player to keep an eye on at the World Cup, he was very impressive early in the Six Nations.

Two new partnerships to be tested for Ireland, Paddy Wallace and Keith Earls play alongside each other for the first time in the centres, as do Leo Cullen and Donnacha O’Callaghan in the second row. Wallace will be expected to deliver a stronger performance than last weekend’s, although I suspect France will have reviewed that game and seen how how Scotland targeted him in particular, expect more of the same. Ronan O’Gara starts this week alongside Eoin Reddan, while most fans are eager to see Munster scrum half Conor Murray come off the bench and show what he can do at this level, this is a huge game for him to stake a claim for a World Cup place.

What to expect
This could be a very fast open game with conditions that will suit spreading the ball wide. Earls at centre should be able to provide some much needed creativity that was lacking last weekend against Scotland. France have not named a full strength starting front row, allowing William Servat and Fabien Barcella (travelling as 23rd man) much needed recovery time from their respective injuries. This may allow the Irish pack some chance of parity in the scrum, giving them a platform to build from.

All eyes on
Much focus from an Irish perspective will be on Keith Earls at centre, is he the player who can replace Brian O’Driscoll in the long-term? Jerry Flannery came through his 20 minute appearance last weekend and will be keen to get much needed game time under his belt. Leo Cullen did a fantastic job last weekend in rallying the pack when under considerable pressure from the Scots throughout the game, and I feel the team will rely on his leadership again to get through this much sterner test. For the French, much focus on how the new cap Lakafia embeds into the vastly experienced back row.

Last fixture: 13th Feb: 6 Nations, Ireland 22-25 France, Aviva Stadium, Dublin

Weather: Sunny, warm, temps in the low 20′s

A high scoring game could be on the cards, I’m going to go with a home win, France by 8.

RWC2011 – Useful travel links for Ireland and England pools

13 01 2011

With the Rugby World Cup only nine months off, it’s time to start planning what you are going to be doing in the time off between games. Most matches in the Group stages have at least a week between them so there is plenty of time to explore both the North and South Islands.

General Travel info for New Zealand

Of course a good starting point is to get a list of Pools, match schedules and stadium guides. Travel site have excellent, informative, forums where you can ask questions and chat with other fans planning the trip down under on their dedicated Rugby World Cup travel forum and the New Zealand forum for planning activities and accommodation.

Lonely planet have a nice piece on the 15 Top Spots in New Zealand that is worth a read.
The “100% pure New Zealand” site is very slick and has tonnes of useful information on getting around, local attractions, interactive maps etc. Another similar site with plenty of reading available on the country itself is the New Zealand Tourism Guide.

If you have some time there are some amazing videos on the Pure New Zealand’s youtube channel.

Host towns:

Ireland in Pool C are going to be based in New Plymouth, Auckland, Rotorua, Dunedin and all going well, their Quarter final in Wellington. England in Pool B will be based in Christchurch, Dunedin and Auckland with their Quarter final venue being back in Christchurch.

New Plymouth/Taranaki have a very swish tourism site that has some spectacular photography to wet the appetite. This also has a dedicated World Cup section with plenty of information for the travelling fan. The City of NewPlymouth site contains plenty of links for accommodation, places to eat and drink and local attractions.

Dunedin have setup a special Rugby 2011 site that is packed full of great information also keep an eye out for Ireland’s favourite Kiwi Brent Pope who has a Top 10 things to do in Dunedin article.

Auckland is going to be the heart of all the RWC2011 action. It is the host town for both the opening and final games in the newly redeveloped Eden Park. Again, like Dundedin, Auckland have setup a dedicated site for the World Cup and this along with the official tourism site for Auckland should contain enough information on the surrounding area for you to plan plenty of off-field activities! Be sure to have a quick read of  50 must-do’s in Auckland.

Rotorua/Bay of Plenty is the next stop for Ireland. There is plenty of volcanic and geothermal activity here and you have probably read by now about the town’s unique odour! A great resource to find you feet is the Official Tourist board site for Rotorua. Information about the surrounding area Bay of Plenty is here.  And of course the dedicated site for the World Cup is here.

Wellington is touted as the ‘Capital of Cool‘ after being awarded Lonely Planet’s “Coolest little Capital in the World 2011”! Wellington is nationally regarded as New Zealand’s arts, culture and cuisine capital. Tana Umaga has filmed some pretty cool Rugby Road Trip videos that are worth a look.

Christchurch, New Zealand’s city of Inspiration has a really handy Accommodation-Finder if you haven’t yet booked anything. Of course they also have a dedicated World Cup site. Finally, here is the Top 10 things to do in Christchurch.

Well that’s all the links I have for you today, enough there to keep you quiet?


Ireland v NZ player ratings

23 11 2010
New Zealand national rugby union team

Image via Wikipedia

Healy – 6
Big game from Healy, much improved in the scrum, Ireland managed parity 100% success on our own put-in at scrum time.
Best – 6
Made himself incredibly busy for the opening 20mins, fierce defensive display. Court – 5
Was under severe pressure early on in the scrum, popped up out of multiple scrums.
O’Callaghan – 7
Had a great performance, you could see how pumped he was early on, displayed some ‘manic aggression’ as POC would put it.
M O’Driscoll – 6
Certainly can’t complain about his work rate, Called the lineout well in the 1st half. Restarts need allot of work.
Ferris – 8
Massive performance from Ferris, his work rate was through the roof.
Wallace – 6
Questions remain on Wallace’s match-fitness, Not the greatest day at the office for him.
Heaslip – 8
Superb performance, some huge carries. Really had his hands full containing the All-Blacks backrow.
Kearney – 5
Poor game again from Kearney, didn’t threaten at all with ball in hand. ELV’s are not suiting his style of play.
Bowe – 7
Consistently good displays from Bowe, surely one of the finest wingers in world rugby at the moment.
B O’Driscoll – 8
Much improved on recent performances, threw himself into every tackle, defense was superb and that try was a reminder for everyone of the magic BOD can produce.
D’Arcy – 7
Huge work rate in defence, his distribution could improve.
Fitzgerald – 5
Poor game by his standards, didn’t threaten at all during the game.
Sexton – 8
Quality performance, defended well, which has been an issue with ROG at 10 in previous encounters with New Zealand. That door was firmly closed on Saturday.
Reddan – 6
Mixed some brilliance with some madness, Poor decision making may have cost us a try in the first half. His passing left allot to be desired. Defensively poor, 4 missed tackles.

Replacements :
Cronin- 7
Excellent display from the young hooker, introduced after 22mins. Despite one crooked throw which could be chalked down to nerves, he went on to put in a solid performance.
Earls -6
Probably should have been able to ground the ball for his try or put it back inside.
Toner – 7
Excellent in the lineout, he did the job he was brought in for.
Hayes -6
Hit some rucks pretty hard on Saturday, decent performance.
Leamy -7
Played well when introduced for Wallace, possibly looking for his first start of the Autumn series next weekend?
Stringer -7
The tempo of the game immediately changed with his introduction, feel he should have come on earlier.O’Gara – Introduced after 76mins, not on long enough for a rating.

Original article written for

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