#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


RWC2011 Warm-up, Ireland v England Preview

26 08 2011

Date: 27th August 2011
Time: 14:30 GMT
Venue: Lansdowne Road, Dublin
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)

To say that this was an important game for both sides, would be a massive understatement. It’s the last game either team play before they head to New Zealand next week for the World Cup.  Ireland are probably under more pressure than England going into this game they have lost all three of the warm-up games. England have beaten, and been beaten, by Wales in their two warm-up games.


Martin Johnson has made 6 changes to the side that lost to Wales a fortnight ago. The new centre partnership of Tindall and Tuilagi has no doubt given Declan Kidney nightmares this week. Jonny Wilkinson claims the out-half jersey from Toby Flood and is joined in the half backs by Saracen’s Richard Wigglesworth. London Irish scrumhalf Joe Simpson makes the bench in what is set to be his international debut.

The precautionary absence of Brian O’Driscoll following a minor shoulder injury in the France game, means that the captaincy will be in the safe hands of Paul O’Connell. More worrying for Kidney is the news that Sean O’Brien is set to be out of action for a fortnight after picking up a knee injury. Stephen Ferris starts his first warm-up game as does Munster’s Jerry Flannery and David Wallace. Veteran fullback Geordan Murphy also starts and travels to New Zealand following the ankle injury to Felix Jones.

What to expect:
England will be keen to get some decent attacking backline moves, we all know what their pack can do and going into the World Cup they could do with an extra string to their bow. Tommy Bowe is making his first appearance in a green jersey since the 6-Nations and will be keen to make his mark. The Irish pack did well in the scrums last week against France and they will be keen to keep parity against a much bigger pack this weekend.

All eyes on:
England’s physical dominance over the Irish is most evident in the mis-match of the center pairings, Mike Tindall and Manu Tuilagi will face Gordon D’Arcy and Keith Earls. I would also expect England to target the Irish 10-12 channel as this is where they are weakest. Jonny Wilkinson will no doubt provide plenty of opportunities to test Irish lineout, which has shown a great improvement in the last two matches.

Last fixture:
March 19, 2011, Ireland 24-8 England, Dublin.

Weather: Chance of showers.

Ireland will be keen to get a win under their belt and always up their game when England come to town, so on that basis, I’m going for an Ireland win by 6 points.

The kick that cost Ireland the Triple Crown

21 03 2010

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7-1 is the statistic from Ireland v Scotland that jumps off the page at me. Lineouts Lost: 7-1. Ireland had 17 lineouts during the game and lost 7 of them. Alot of the blame lays at the feet of Ireland hooker Rory Best who had a pretty awful day at the office. “Sometimes you have to hold your hand up and say it was a poor day. I didn’t throw particularly well,” he said. “Things have gone well in the last two or three game and we’ve had plaudits. Now it’s time to take the criticism. I’ll have to take it on the chin and live with it. A lot of the blame will fall on me and that’s something I’ll have to deal with.”

Dan Parks slotted over a fine penalty with 2 minutes remaining in the game, this was not the kick that lost Ireland the Triple Crown however, that kick was delivered by Jerry Flannery 5 weeks earlier in Stade de France. One can’t help but wonder if Flannery had not had that moment of madness that Ireland would now still have the Triple Crown trophy in the cabinet.

Ah well.

Final 6-Nations Table 2010

Pos Team P W D L F A PD TF Pts
France 1 France 5 5 0 0 135 69 66 13 10
Ireland 2 Ireland 5 3 0 2 106 95 11 11 6
England 3 England 5 2 1 2 88 76 12 6 5
Wales 4 Wales 5 2 0 3 113 117 -4 10 4
Scotland 5 Scotland 5 1 1 3 83 100 -17 3 3
Italy 6 Italy 5 1 0 4 69 137 -68 5 2

IRFU hire Johnnie Cochran for Flannery defence

25 02 2010

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"Jerry, We can get you off, trust me"

Yes, I know that Johnnie Cochran is no longer with this world, but if ever there was a call for one of his slippery criminal defences, it’s now. Cochran was the defense lawyer involved in the acquittal of American NFL player OJ Simpson for the murder of his former wife and her friend back in 1994. This week the IRFU decided to launch an appeal for the 6-week ban that Jerry Flannery received following a wild tackle on France’s Alexis Palisson.

In my opinion, a 6-week ban was deserved and deemed to be a fair punishment for a tackle that could have resulted in serious injury. Flannery had pleaded guilty to the offence, the 6-week ban meant he would miss the rest of the 6-Nations tournament. By appealing the ban, the IRFU are risking that the ban could potentially be extended due to the cross-appeal that is automatically launched by the IRB to comply with European legislation.

Now, the Irish squad has plenty of depth, with Flannery’s number 2 jersey being filled by Ulster’s Rory Best, with Connaught’s Sean Cronin as 3rd choice, Munster, on the other hand, are facing quite a different story. Should Flannery’s ban be extended by one week, He will miss their Munster’s crucial Magners League match with Leinster on Good Friday. Should the band be extended by 2 weeks, he will miss the HEC quarter-final against Northampton.

Even Jesus can't bear to watch

In a radio interview today, Flannery refused to drawn on what the defence they intend to present at the appeal, he only stated that he had taken a blow to the head  90 seconds earlier and was dazed. This alone cannot form the basis of the appeal in my opinion. It’s far more likely that the IRFU have found a legal loophole that they intend to exploit to get Flannery off (Which in itself leads to some serious moral questions on the behaviour of the IRFU).

Either way I can’t see this ending well for Munster or Jerry Flannery. The appeal will be heard in London next Wednesday, The case will be heard by an independent appeal committee chaired by Judge Jeff Blackett, the disciplinary chief of England’s Rugby Football Union. Blackett will be assisted by Italy’s Marco Cordelli and Douglas Hunter of Scotland.

Munster Hooker Problems

17 02 2010

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Thought that headline might get your attention!

Jerry Flannery’s disciplinary hearing was held today in Dublin. The disciplinary panel found Flannery had been reckless but not deliberate in his actions and decided the offence was mid-range in its severity.
The panel handed Flannery a 6-week ban for his actions. The ban runs until March 29, which means Flannery will be available for Munster’s Magners League game against Leinster and their Heineken Cup quarter-final against Northampton on April 10.

Munster’s 3rd choice hooker, Damien Varley is currently out with a shoulder injury and is not expected back until the end of March.
Between now and the end of March Munster have the following games:

Friday 19th Feb – Home v Edinburgh
Sat 6th March –     Away v Dragons
Fri 26th March –  Home v Glasgow

The Munster Academy's Mike Sherry

Munster’s 2nd-choice hooker, Denis Fogarty, will be back in the number 2 jersey that he has been quite familiar with this season, due to Flannery’s injury problems that have dogged him since before the Lions tour last Summer. Since Munster are down 2 of their 3 senior hookers, this is a great opportunity for the Academy’s Mike Sherry to step up and gain some valuable Magners League experience.
Sherry (21) impressed in Munster’s British & Irish Cup win over Nottingham last weekend and has been included in the 25-man squad to face Edinburgh this weekend.

Munster: C O’Boyle, S Deasy, D Hurley, D Howlett, I Dowling, T Gleeson, L Mafi, J de Villiers, P Warwick, D Williams, P Stringer, B Holland, J Coughlan, N Ronan, T O’Donnell, A Quinlan, I Nagle, M O’Driscoll, D Ryan, M Sherry, D Fogarty, Dave Ryan, T Buckley, J Brugnaut, M Horan.

Flannery to be cited.

14 02 2010

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*** Please see latest update at bottom of this post ***

As I watched the Ireland-France game yesterday there was an incident which made me wince, No, it wasn’t when Cian Healy got yellow-carded for a professional foul on Morgan Parra, but a different incident, that went unpunished, a few minutes later.

France had Ireland on the rack, looked like scoring a try, Ball had broken loose around the middle of the field and flanker David Wallace had fumbled the awkwardly bouncing ball. French winger Alexis Palisson gathered, but not for long, as Jerry Flannery arrived with a very late challenge for the ball. The Irish hooker made no attempt to tackle Palisson, instead drew a wild kick across the player up-ending him.

It seems referee Wayne Barnes did not see the event nor the Touch Judge, who  only recommended that Flannery get a warning for not tackling with use of the arms/shoulder. In my opinion it was a yellow card at least. But it seems that Barnes may have chickened out of the decision as Ireland were already down to 14 men. This was a moment of utter madness from a very experienced player.

Flannery being cited will certainly mean the end of his participation in this years 6-Nations, possibly his ban will extend into the knockout stages of the Heineken Cup. This is very bad news for Flannery as he has just returned from a very long layoff due to injury.

The citing commissioner will be making a decision in the next 24hrs.

The slow-motion version of the video makes the incident look a lot worse than it actually was in my opinion. Here’s the slow-motion version from French TV (of course!)

Read the rest of this entry »

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