Johne Murphy … Zhonnee Moorfee … Nul Points

It’s that time of the year again – awards time, when professionals get to tell each other how great they are, and everyone can feel good about themselves no matter how rubbish they are – even London Samoa get to have a player of the year.

Over in Blighty, Ooooooooohh Brad Barritt and Ooooooooohh Jordan Turner-Hall get to fight it out with Oooooooooohh Matt Banahan for Most Over-rated Bosher, in France Lionel Beauxis and David Skrela compete for Most Disappointing Ten, and over here in Ireland, rank parochialism means the usual provincial carve-up of the big prizes.

The process is that a committee at IRUPA pick 3 names and the players vote along provincial lines for their choice. This year’s nominees for the Big Boys Cup were Fez, Bob and Radge; and for the Toddlers Prize its O’Mahoney, Gilroy and Madigan. Tiernan O’Halloran would doubtless have got nominated were he not based in (Hell or) Connacht, but it would be hard to find fault with the nominees, with one caveat – ROG.

A bit like the nomination of Piri Weepu for IRB Player of the Year, the nomination of ROG seems to be based purely on column inches – the man’s preference for the dramatic has played in his favour. We’re not naive enough to think that the committee didn’t just select the best Munster player (in their eyes), but it’s a bit of a farce – O’Gara is still a fine, massively important player for Munster, but this hasn’t been a vintage year for him, late drop goals aside.

ROG had an ok World Cup – playing better than Sexton in the group stages, but having an utter shocker in the quarter-final. In the HEC, his impact was huge, but more due to dramatic fireworks than sustained excellence.  He spluttered rather than strutted at times in the group round, along with the rest of the team and conspicuously failed to fire against Ulster. He was a peripheral figure in the Six Nations, where he didn’t start any games and didn’t score a single point.  There were a few more deserving contenders within Munster:

  • Paul O’Connell. Superman wears Paul O’Connell pyjamas etc. Well, he probably does after this year. O’Connell seemed to be carrying Munster on his shoulders at times this season, and was comfortably their stand-out player in the HEC. At international level, he continues to astound – like the best locks these days (Bakkies, Shawsy, Nallet, Thorn), he appears to be peaking in his early 30s. Long may this last.
  • Keith Earls. Played like a drain in the World Cup warm-ups, then like silk in the group stages, before missing 5 of 8 tackles against the Welsh. Come 6N time, he grew into you-know-who (© G Thornley)’s shirt and has (finally) shown some real development as a player – his (and the Irish 13 jumper’s) future looks brighter than it did in August.
  • Donnacha Ryan. Displaced Stakhanov from the Munster HEC team, and has added some aggression and dog to the pack that the newbies behind him have yet to develop, excepting POM. Had a curious Six Nations, in which he was a contender for Ireland’s player of the tournament, yet failed to displaced Teacher’s Pet despite being laughably superior. It would be remiss, however, not to mention that it’s unlikely Big Jim, Johann Muller or James Horwill would be speared by their opposite numbers.

Still, at least ROG’s nomination gave David Kelly the chance to erroneously claim that it meant O’Gara’s peers rated him higher than Sexton, and it has given us a reason to rant. We can only assume the committee used the following criteria:

  • Impact at international level (5%)
  • Impact in Heineken Cup (25%)
  • Impact on fawning domestic media (25%)
  • Impact on YouTube viewing figures (45%)

By that logic, Tom Croft is the best player in the world. To balance the ledger, let us show you the reason ROG is on the list – note: we think its official to refer to this as epic…

P.S. at the Sunday Times round table, one of the panellists said that referees were given a notification to clamp down on sealing off and players going in off their feet after that game – it’s not the first time Munster’s sealing tactics have resulted in a new diktat from on high.  You can’t but be impresssed by Munster’s ability to bend the game to their will, but while they may have won the Northampton battle, they lost the Ulster war partly thanks to Paddy O’Brien being distinctly unamused at Owens’ home-towning.



  1. wha

     /  April 23, 2012

    What’s the “ooooooooh” thing a reference to? You use it a lot.

    • Its like our Coca-Cola recipe – the exact definition is only known to the 2 of us, all our mates and Barnesy.

      Here’s a clue:

      The following players all get an Oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooohhh before their names:
      Manu Tuilagi, Alesana Tuilagi, Henry Tuilagi, James Downey and Tom Croft

    • Amiga500

       /  April 23, 2012

      I’m not 100% on the exact recipe, however I believe it is along the lines of the following –

      The number of ‘o’s in the ooooooooohhh is proportional to the player’s boshership.

      However, there is an additional factor of two applied to the calculation of ‘o’s if boshing is pretty much the sole facet to that player’s game.

      Thus, Matt Banahan and Tom Croft would receive the same number of basic ‘ooooo’s for boshership, but since Matt Banahan cannot do anything else but bosh and Tom Croft can jump in a lineout, the end result is:

      Oooooooooohhh Matt Banahan
      Ooooo Tom Croft (… carried into touch by Paddy Wallace there)

      Any clearer?

      • You’re on the right track Amiga. It’s all to do with the sounds that certain SkyHype commentators make when, say, Ooooooooooohhh Shontayne Hape makes one of his trademark boshes up the middle with plenty of wallop, for a 50cm gain, before knocking on. ‘Ooooooooooooooohhh, Shontayne Hape showed awesome power there, shame he knocked on’.

        Tom Croft normally elicits more of a purring…

      • Amiga500

         /  April 23, 2012

        Sorry, yeah, I knew it was all about the commentators on the PremierHype*.

        I was more concerned with the formula for calculating the exact number of ‘o’s. It definitely isn’t random!


  2. wha

     /  April 23, 2012

    Thanks for clearing that up. I thought it was a Thornleyism, although his is more of an Ummmmmmmmmmmmmm.

  3. ABROG

     /  April 24, 2012

    D’arcy talked about that new directive in his interview with the IT just after the 6N

    • He did indeed ABROG, we read that piece, but what O’Reilly was alluding to, which we weren’t aware of, was that apparently that stretch of play was held up as the reason for it!


     /  April 24, 2012

    Do you have a link that backs up your statement that an IRUPA committee short lists 3 players? Newspaper reports give the impression that the 160 members of IRUPA vote for a player, but they can’t vote from anyone from their own province. (A bit like how they vote for the French president first of all to shortlist 2 candidates (without the stipulation that you can’t vote for someone from your own area).

    And why would they devalue their own awards system by selecting someone purely on the number of column inches he gets and ignore someone like Gavin Duffy who had a fairly good season.

    Having seen so many fail to get a drop goal in the last few months to win games (on some occasions not taking the opportunity when presented – sexton against France for instance, he ran it instead of going for a drop goal when he was within distance, to a couple of botched attempts, I think maybe rugby players value a match winner more than you think.

    • @radgefan If you can prove that the players voted for this list, we’d gladly take your point.

      Re drop goals, surely you are talking about Beauxis? There were 68 minutes on the clock when Sexton ran that ball – hardly a match-winning situation.

      This parochial provincialism is a boil on the Irish rugby landscape that needs lanced – arguing other Munster players had better seasons than Rog is hardly tantamount to requiring a reply on Sexton is it?

      Also, if you think this isn’t a Leinster/Munster/Ulster carve-up, you are being naïve – how many times has a Connachtman been President of the IRFU for example? Connacht rugby is many things, but an equal at the top table it is not.


     /  April 24, 2012

    O’Gara still top 10 among his peers
    Friday April 20 2012
    Ireland’s love affair with Ronan O’Gara shows no sign of abating after his peers voted to include him rather than out-half rival Jonny Sexton in the final shake-up for the 2012 IRUPA Player of the Year award, writes David Kelly.

    The Irish Times mentions the 160 players (and that they are not allowed to vote for someone from their own province). Anyway, you haven’t explained why the players who rate this award so highly, would devalue the Award in this way. I also think Brian O’Driscoll (chairman of IRUPA) has integrity and wouldn’t try and humiliate his good friend Ronan O’Gara by shortlising him in a competition that he didn’t think he earned.

    Its a bit rich you banging on about provincialism. LOL. This website is dedicated to fanning the flames.

    • @radgefan this isn’t rational – saying a player has made a lower contribution than another player is not the same as a personal attack.

      I think its time to agree to disagree.

      If your issue is us being from Leinster/Ulster, that’s fine, but lets try and be constructive.


     /  April 24, 2012

    Not too sure why you are posting about lower contribution v personal attack. My point remains that I doubt if someone like Brian O’Driscoll would allow anything to undermine the integrity of the peer Award which seems to be an Award that all players (no matter what sport) rate higher than any other awards they might get by nominating someone who most players would not see as deserving (which is what you are argueing – O’Gara isn’t deserving of a nomination and its all provincial politics).

    I’d be shocked if the IRUPA treat their colleagues in Connacht any different to the other provinces. As far as I know, all provinces have representation (usually club captain) on the IRUPA executive unlike the IRFU. Fionn Carr did win Young Player of the Year (ahead of Keith Earls) 2/3 years ago and John Muldoon has got nominations as well. But for Player of the Year, they are more than likely going to be an International player – and Gavin Duffy didn’t make that grade. Can’t think of any other Connacht player that really stood out all season.

  7. @Radge Fan – let’s meet halfway here. We don’t want to be in an unseemly squabble. It smells like a bit of a provincial carve-up to us. Now that Ulster are halfway decent, we have three provinces more or less at the top table, and it looks to us like the nominations are built around this new scenario, so as not to upset anyone. BOD is a fugurehead in IRUPA but I can’t imagine he has that much to do with the awards (perhaps he has more pressing engagements to think of!). But we accept this is conjecture, so let’s park it there.

    We don’t want to be sniffy about ROG either, because he has played well this season, and as you say, there is huge value in his ability to do the business in clutch games. But having been fairly peripheral in the Six Nations, and having had a pretty ordinary quarter-final, a number of other players have superceded his contribution to the season (both in and out of Munster), with Paul O’Connell’s omission particularly surprising.

    For consistency, you could argue that Gilroy is a tad fortunate to make the cut, and perhaps his YouTube Heroics factor was increased by his try in Thomond. It could quite reasonably be argued that Simon Zebo has almost twice as many tries as him and is unlucky to miss out. Rather than Gavin Duffy, the Connacht player who I reckon is hardest done by is Tiernan O’Halloran for the young player list. He’s been terrific in a team not known for their back play.

    Anyway, Ferris and O’Mahoney will win, and surely nobody will be able to argue with that.

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