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!

6N:2011: Ireland Player ratings v Wales

14 03 2011

1. Healy – 6
On the positive side made some nice turnovers early on, but lack of discipline saw him concede a silly penalty on 28minutes taking Hook out off the ball.

2. Best – 6
Much improved throwing at the lineout, finding his man on every throw. Decent defensively.

3. Ross – 5

Didn’t have much to do in the scrums, and didn’t offer much else in the loose.

4. O’Callaghan – 6

Had a good day in the lineout, restarts need work, always involved in defense.

5. O’Connell – 7

Great cals in the lineout saw Ireland rob Welsh ball a couple of times, Awesome in defense.

6. O’Brien – 8
Easily the best player on the day, always makes yards, some superb breaks running great lines.

7. Heaslip – 6

Very quiet game by his high standards, Didn’t seem to get up to pace of the game. Replaced by Leamy after 69mins.

8. Wallace – 7

Showed great awareness when a penalty hit the upright, contributed well and created a couple of nice turnovers.

9. Reddan – Only lasted 38seconds, superb charge down and stopped the ball beautifully, with his face.

10. O’Gara – 6
Didn’t have his best day out, kicking from hand was lacking, worked the ball through the hands well on occasion to keep the back line moving. Very strange substitution on 50mins.

11. Earls – 8
Again, Ireland’s most creative player, gave a great performance in defense and attack, always looking for work.

12. D’arcy – 4
Was he even on the field in the first half? Had a couple of carries in the 2nd half, this was the only reason he didn’t have a negative rating.

13. O’Driscoll – 7
Defense as ever was superb, shot out of the line to thwart a Welsh attack when they had an overlap after 22mins.

14. Bowe – 7
Setup O’Driscolls try, had a very busy day, got through an amount of work.

15. Fitzgerald – 5
Took some big hits early on and never looked comfortable from then on. Thought he should have been subbed at halftime, instead played for 72mins!

16. Cronin – Only played 5 minutes but made two crucial throw-ins, looked less nervous than on previous appearances.

17. Court – Came on for Ross after 69mins, didn’t have much work to do in the line of scrums, but looked better in the loose than Ross.

18. Cullen – Only played 5 mins and won a crucial lineout.

19. Leamy – Replaced Heaslip and looked sharper than we have seen him in previous games, couple of smashing tackles.

20. Stringer – 6
Played the full game for the injured Reddan, crisp, fast passing kept the back line moving.

21. Sexton – 5
Brought on too early in my opinion, was involved in all that went wrong for Ireland, his sliced clearance led to the Welsh try, missed an easy penalty a few minutes later, looked like his confidence was rattled.

22. P.Wallace – Replaced Fitzgerald after 72mins, will only be remembered for a pass he never made in the dying moments.

Special Mention for Touch Judge Peter Allan who missed 4 separate infringements in one lineout which led to Wales’ second-half try.

6N:2011: Full Team Lineups, Week3

23 02 2011

Will continue to add teams as they are announced…

L McLean (Treviso); A Masi (Racing Metro), G Canale (Clermont), A Sgarbi (Treviso), Mirco Bergamasco (Stade Francais); K Burton (Treviso), F Semenzato (Treviso); S Perugini (Aironi), L Ghiraldini (Treviso), M Castrogiovanni (Leicester), S Dellape (Racing-Metro), Q Geldenhuys (Aironi), A Zanni (Treviso), R Barbieri (Treviso), S Parisse (Stade Francais).
Replacements: C Festuccia (Racing-Metro), A Lo Cicero (Racing-Metro), V Bernabo (Treviso), M Vosawai (Treviso), P Canavosio (Aironi), L Orquera (Brive), T Benvenuti (Treviso)


L Byrne (Ospreys); M Stoddart (Scarlets), J Hook (Ospreys), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues), S Williams (Ospreys); S Jones (Scarlets), M Phillips (Ospreys); P James (Ospreys), M Rees (Scarlets, capt), C Mitchell (Ospreys), B Davies (Cardiff Blues), A-W Jones (Ospreys), D Lydiate (Newport Gwent Dragons), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues), R Jones (Ospreys)
Replacements: R Hibbard (Ospreys), J Yapp (Cardiff Blues), J Thomas (Ospreys), J Turnbull (Scarlets), T Knoyle (Scarlets), R Priestland (Scarlets), L Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues)


Ben Foden, Chris Ashton, Mike Tindall, Shontayne Hape, Mark Cueto, Toby Flood, Ben Youngs; Nick Easter, James Haskell, Tom Wood, Tom Palmer, Louis Deacon, Dan Cole, Dylan Hartley, Andrew Sheridan.
Replacements: Steve Thompson, Alex Corbisiero, Simon Shaw, Hendre Fourie, Danny Care, Jonny Wilkinson, Matt Banahan.



C Poitrenaud (Toulouse); Y Huget (Bayonne), A Rougerie (Clermont Auvergne), Y Jauzion (Toulouse), V Clerc (Toulouse); F Trinh-Duc (Montpellier), D Yachvili (Biarritz); T Domingo (Clermont Auvergne), W Servat (Toulouse), N Mas (Perpignan), J Pierre (Clermont Auvergne), L Nallet (Racing Metro), T Dusautoir (Toulouse), I Harinordoquy (Biarritz), S Chabal (Racing Metro)
Replacements: G Guirado (Perpignan), S Marconnet (Biarritz), J Thion (Biarritz), M Parra (Clermont Auvergne), D Traille (Biarritz), Alexis Palisson (Brive)



L Fitzgerald (Leinster); T Bowe (Ospreys), B O’Driscoll (Leinster, capt), G D’Arcy (Leinster), K Earls (Munster); R O’Gara (Munster), E Reddan (Leinster); C Healy (Leinster), R Best (Ulster), M Ross (Leinster), D O’Callaghan (Munster), P O’Connell (Munster), S O’Brien (Leinster), D Wallace (Munster), J Heaslip (Leinster)
Replacements: S Cronin (Connacht), T Court (Ulster), L Cullen (Leinster), D Leamy (Munster), P Stringer (Munster), J Sexton (Leinster), P Wallace (Ulster)


C Paterson (Edinburgh); N Walker (Ospreys), N De Luca (Edinburgh), S Lamont (Scarlets), M Evans (Glasgow); R Jackson (Glasgow), M Blair (Edinburgh); A Jacobsen (Edinburgh), R Ford (Edinburgh), M Low (Glasgow), R Gray (Glasgow), A Kellock (Glasgow), K Brown (Saracens), J Barclay (Glasgow), J Beattie (Glasgow)
Replacements: S Lawson (Gloucester), G Cross (Edinburgh), N Hines (Leinster), R Vernon (Glasgow), R Lawson (Gloucester), D Parks (Cardiff Blues, S Danielli (Ulster)

6N:2011 – Full Team Lineups, Week2

10 02 2011

For all you fantasy 6-Nations fans, here are the full team lineups for week 2…

Hugo Southwell, Nikki Walker, Joe Ansbro, Nick De Luca, Max Evans, Dan Parks, Rory Lawson; Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford, Euan Murray, Richie Gray, Alastair Kellock (captain), Nathan Hines, John Barclay, Kelly Brown.
Scott Lawson, Moray Low, Richie Vernon, Ross Rennie, Mike Blair, Ruaridh Jackson, Sean Lamont.

Lee Byrne, Morgan Stoddart, Jamie Roberts, Jon Davies, Shane Williams, James Hook, Mike Phillips, Paul James, Matthew Rees (capt), Craig Mitchell, Bradley Davies, Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton, Ryan Jones
R Hibbard, J Yapp, J Thomas, J Turnbull, T Knoyle, S Jones, R Priestland.



Ben Foden, Chris Ashton, Mike Tindall (capt), Shontayne Hape, Mark Cueto, Toby Flood, Ben Youngs, Nick Easter, James Haskell, Tom Wood, Tom Palmer, Louis Deacon, Dan Cole, Dylan Hartley, Andrew Sheridan.

Steve Thompson, Dave Wilson, Simon Shaw, Hendre Fourie, Danny Care, Jonny Wilkinson, Matt Banahan.

Luke McLean, Andrea Masi, Gonzalo Canale, Alberto Sgarbi, Mirco Bergamasco, Luciano Orquera, Pablo Canavosio; Salvatore Perugini, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Martin Castrogiovanni, Carlo Del Fava, Quintin Geldenhuys, Valerio Bernabo, Alessandro Zanni, Sergio Parisse (capt).
Fabio Ongaro, Andrea Lo Cicero, Santiago Dellape, Robert Barbieri, Fabio Semenzato, Kris Burton, Gonzalo Garcia.

Luke Fitzgerald, Fergus McFadden, Brian O’Driscoll (capt), Gordon D’Arcy, Keith Earls, Jonny Sexton, Tomas O’Leary, Cian Healy, Rory Best, Mike Ross, Donnacha O’Callaghan, Paul O’Connell, Sean O’Brien, David Wallace, Jamie Heaslip
Sean Cronin, Tom Court, Leo Cullen, Denis Leamy, Eoin Reddan, Ronan O’Gara, Paddy Wallace.

Clément Poitrenaud, Yoann Huget, Aurélien Rougerie, Damien Traille, Maxime Médard, François Trinh-Duc, Morgan Parra, Imanol Harinordoquy, Julien Bonnaire, Thierry Dusautoir (capt),  Lionel Nallet, Julien Pierre, Nicolas Mas, William Servat, Thomas Domingo.
Guilhem Guirado, Sylvain Marconnet, Jerome Thion, Sébastien Chabal, Dimitri Yachvili, Yannick Jauzion, Vincent Clerc.


6N:2011 – Italy v Ireland match preview

3 02 2011

Italy v Ireland, Rome, Feb 5th 14:30GMT

Italy: Sergio Parisse returns to 6-Nations action leading his side out in the Stadio Flaminio this Saturday. Italy have shown a marked improvement since they joined the 5-Nations 12 years ago. I believe that the next 2 season will see the greatest leap in performance, Italian teams are competing week-in, week-out, in the Magners League and Heineken Cup. Already this season Aironi beat last season’s Heineken Cup finalists Biarritz. The confidence the players will gain from such performances will start to show at club and national level.

Ireland:The return of inspirational captain Paul O’Connell will give the Irish a huge boost coming into this game. The Irish team have been decimated with injuries, but this may well turn out to be a blessing in disguise giving players like Fergus McFadden, Sean O’Brien and Mike Ross an opportunity to squeeze their way into the first team. With so many forced changes in the side Declan Kidney has not experimented too much in other positions and reverts to the experienced pairings of O’Connell and O’Callaghan in the 2nd row and Wallace and Leamy to partner O’Brien in the backrow.

What to expect: Both Ireland and Italy are notorious slow-starters, so don’t expect the first 20 minutes to be fast and furious! Expect the scrums and inevitable resets to play a big part in this game, Ireland will need to have patience and keep their discipline. If Nick Mallet has been watching any rugby this season he will know that Ireland’s fullback Luke Fitzgerlad has not been on-form since returning from injury and he could be in for a torrent of high balls raining down on him this Saturday. The atmosphere in Rome is always electric, the weather will be sunny and 15C so that will suit Ireland style in getting the ball wide fast.

All eyes on:

Making only his 3rd senior cap, Mike Ross, the 31-year-old Corkman lines out against Italy this Saturday in what will be the biggest test of his scrummaging ability of his career. Ireland have suffered massively in the scrum of late and there have been some pretty strong calls for Ross’ inclusion in the senior setup. Ross has been in excellent form playing for Leinster this season

Italian outhalf Kristopher Burton will come under close scrutiny in this game, the young Aussie will earn his 5th cap on Saturday after putting some impressive performances in this season at club level with Treviso. Italy have lost their first-choice out-half Craig Gower to a knee injury and Burton will be keen to make his mark on the Azzuri squad to asure himself of a place in the Italian World cup side. Edoardo Gori will partner Burton at half-back and this inexperienced pairiing will surely be a target for the very experienced Irish backrow.

Head to head: Sergio Parisse v Sean O’Brien
The battle of the number 8’s sees 2008 World Player of the year nominee, Parisse, face off against Leinster dynamo Sean O’Brien. Parisse is returning to 6-Nations action after missing last years tournament with a knee injury, but will be keen to put his stamp on the game. Parisse dislocated a finger during Stade Francais’ defeat to Castres last week, but has been confirmed to start on Saturday. O’Brien has been in scintillating form for Leinster this season, always popping up in the right place at the right time. O’Briens performances for Leinster in the Heineken Cup have seen the Carlow man pick up 2 Man of the Match awards already this season.

Last year’s result: Ireland won 29-11, Dublin

Prediction: Italy will try to kill the fast ball that Ireland will want to generate, pressure on the scrum will be immense. Ireland’s forced changes will all be trying to stake a claim for 1st team places and this should inject a sense of urgency to the game, could turn out to be an interesting game. With the weather being dry and clear Ireland will have the advantage, In the end they will have too much for Italy and should emerge winners. Ireland by 18.

Article originally written for

6-Nations 2011 – Full Team Lineups, Week1

2 02 2011

For all you fantasy 6-Nations fans, here are the full team lineups for week 1, Italy team has been announced, see below.

Ben Foden, Chris Ashton, Mike Tindall (capt), Shontayne Hape, Mark Cueto, Toby Flood, Ben Youngs, Nick Easter, James Haskell, Tom Wood, Tom Palmer, Louis Deacon, Dan Cole, Dylan Hartley, Andrew Sheridan.

Steve Thompson, Dave Wilson, Simon Shaw, Joe Worsley, Danny Care, Jonny Wilkinson, Matt Banahan.

James Hook, Morgan Stoddart, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, Shane Williams, Stephen Jones, Mike Phillips, Paul James, Matthew Rees (capt), Craig Mitchell, Alun Wyn Jones, Bradley Davies, Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton, Andy Powell.

R Hibbard, J Yapp, R Jones, J Thomas, D Peel, R Priestland, L Byrne.
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