#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 Warmup, Ireland v France – Ireland player ratings

22 08 2011





15  Felix Jones – 6

Had a cracking first half, but showed some nerves early in the second half, slicing a ball into touch on the full. Extremely unlucky to fall awkwardly on his ankle while contesting for a high ball, unfortunately his World Cup is over before it began.

14 Andrew Trimble – 6

For the third game running, Trimble has looked in good form, always looking for work and using his physicality to break the line.

13 Brian O’Driscoll – 6

Seemed to take a little too much on himself rather than distribute the ball a bit earlier. Utterly committed at the breakdown put his body on the line, to the gasps of the Irish supporters.

12 Gordon D’Arcy – 5

In his first game back since the Heineken Cup final, D’Arcy was off the pace and didn’t manage any line breaks. Rougerie and Heyman sliced D’Arcy and O’Driscoll open for their well taken try.

11 Keith Earls – 5

While providing a real attacking threat early on, when things started to go down-hill, panic set in. In his defence, the centers were drifting too far wide and not offloading earlier giving the wingers almost no room to operate in.

10 Jonathan Sexton – 6

Had a decent game, showed some great defensive play, was moved into center when ROG replaced D’Arcy. Acquitted himself well, was rewarded for his hard work with a try in the second half.

9 Tomas O’Leary – 2

Started brightly, great speed on the pass, nice distribution. Fell apart after the first 20 minutes, one brainfart after the next. One could be forgiven for thinking he doesn’t like New Zealand!?

1 Cian Healy – 7

Good performance from Healy, always looked lively in the loose and performed well in the scrum. Gave Kidney heart failure as he limped off the field with what turns out to be a bruised foot!

2 Rory Best – 6

Set-pieces were much improved this week for Ireland and the hooker is integral to that, seemed much more at ease and confident this week and it showed in his throwing.

3 Mike Ross – 6

Ross’ main job is the scrummage well, and that he did, His fist XV spot is nailed on and he knows it!

4 Donncha O’Callaghan – 5

Quiet day for O’Callaghan, claimed a couple of lineout balls and setup a nice rolling maul. Not sure if he has done enough to warrant a first XV spot?

5 Paul O’Connell – 7

Best 80 minutes Paul O’Connell has put in since returning from his long injury lay-off, Seemed willing to carry the ball more and was the decoy in the lineout all day. Needed to settle the team on the half-hour mark, instead they collectively lost the run of themselves.

6 Sean O’Brien – 7

The Tullow-Tank rolls on, great performance. Made more runs and tackles than anyone else on the team and was rewarded with a late try.

7 Shane Jennings – 3

Metres run with ball: 1, Tackles made: 1, 60minutes of ball-watching. Looked out of his depth.

8 Jamie Heaslip – 5

Went missing in the second half for long periods of time, Was partially to blame for O’Leary’s gift of a try to Trinh-Duc. Worked well in the lineout claiming two throws.


16 Jerry Flannery – 6

Keeps the tempo of the game up, his throw-ins are quick and accurate. Needs to get a hearing aid to avoid being penalised for not using the ball.

17 Tom Court – 5

Pretty anonymous around the park but held the scrum together well.

18 Mike McCarthy  – Not on long enough for rating

19 Stephen Ferris – 6

Delighted to see Ferris come through his 20 minutes, some nice carries and huge collisions, his trademark.

20 Eoin Reddan – 5

While O’Leary was diabolical, Reddan didn’t offer much more in attack, but managed not to make the same amount of mistakes as his counterpart!

21 Ronan O’Gara – 6

Actually combined quite well with Sexton in the center, A combination that I doubt will be repeated any time soon however!

22 Luke Fitzgerald – 6

Much improved performance from Fitzgerald, made beautiful runs from deep to setup both Sexton and O’Brien’s try’s.

Looking for decent rugby tee’s?

26 05 2011

If like me, you are always on the lookout for unique or funny rugby-related gear, I think you’ll like this site: dumptackle.com They are a new business started up by a couple of mates selling rugby-related t-shirts.

I’ve been enjoying some banter with these lads on twitter and facebook where they regularly have giveaways and promo’s. dumpTackle want to hear suggestions from fans and try to get out as many ideas as possible, I reckon that we should submit some Irish rugby suggestions, They already have a “BOD is GOD” design in the Legends section, who else from Irish rugby would you like to see in there? I’m sure there could be a best-selling t-shirt in Paul O’Connell’s “Fear of God” speech from below?

Keep an eye out for their soon-to-be-launched RWC range!

Disclaimer: Recently I won a T-Shirt from the guys in dumpTackle and as a thank-you I said I would do a small promo piece for this start-up business.

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 theRugbyBlog.co.uk

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