#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 therugbyblog.co.uk


Ireland, Organised Chaos?

29 08 2011
Pic: Ken Sutton - http://pa.sepaphoto.org/

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!

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 http://vimeo.com/21207620 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 therugbyblog.co.uk

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.

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