The Steve Walsh Show, and Ireland’s Backrow

Before we go through this game minute-by-minute, first let’s ask what the press made of the contribution of our back-row? The Sunday Times plaudits went to Peter O’Mahony – O’Reilly rates him highest (8, with 7’s for Sean O’Brien and Jamie Heaslip), crediting his impressive all-round game while Denis Walsh had POM as man of the match. The Sindo had Sean O’Brien in contention for the gong (with Murray). The press in Blighty made no mention of our hotly-debated backrow, restricting themselves to managing to staying awake as two bald men fight over a comb while ENGLAND sniff a Grand Slam.

Based on the live Saturday viewing, we thought POM had his best game to date for Ireland, SOB was the highest class of the unit (what about that kick!) and Heaslip played with authority and continued his personal upturn in form in a green shirt. But will the statistics back it up? With due trepidation, we get reviewing ….

After cracking open two bottles of wine (Valpolicella Ripasso, in case you were wondering) and re-playing the entire game, stripping out Steve Walsh’s contributions, we have to say that the backrow appeared to work – it may not look conventional, but collectively they functioned well. All three men played well for the first time this series, and it was about as good as we have looked in that unit since Fez broke down.

We graded every action as:

  • +2: big play
  • +1: positive play
  • 0: neutral
  • -1: bad play
  • -2: awful play – a cross-field kick in your own 22 that goes straight to an opponent, for example

There are several things to note about our findings:

  1. Steve Walsh bestrode the match like a collossus – the man dominated the game, his tanned and ripped torso was rarely off-screen and he even refereed well – there was a clanger of a penalty on each side, but they balanced out. There was no shoving over of players, a la Conrad Smuth, but we were left in no doubt who was in charge – this was the Steve Walsh Show
  2. Morgan Parra’s passing was terrible – we have a lot more sympathy with Freddy than we did on first look, although he was rubbish too
  3. The volume of ruck inspecting by green shirts was ridiculous – either they don’t know what they are doing, or they do, and it’s rubbish. You would often have two green shirts in a ruck vs one blue, with two other green shirts inspecting – how can 11 men expect to break a 14-man defensive line?
  4. Donncha O’Callaghan’s tears during ‘Ireland’s Call’ were emotional. All the talk was of BOD, but this was likely Stakhanov’s last appearance in Lansdowne Road as well – whatever your opinion of him, 95 caps is a tremendous return and he will retire one of the most decorated players in our history. Hat tip.

What about her eyes the results, you say?

Well, looks like we picked the right week to stop sniffing glue.  All three men contributed hugely.  Our numbers have Peter O’Mahony scoring the most points by a cigarette paper, largely down to big turnovers (which got bonus points), but all three scored between 22 and 24 points – there’s some margin of error of course, and another review might place either of the other two in pole position, and we are sure people will disagree with some of our findings.  By the by, if we missed anything significant, please let us know.  We can attest to how tricky it is to capture every nuance of the match, especially in tight phases.

O’Mahony was the tidiest player, with only one error. He produced big plays when needed, two massive turnovers standing out, and (notably) didn’t start  any silly fights. His lineout work was good, and he tackled well.

Heaslip, as we suspected, was the groundhog/blindside groundhog – not always first to the ruck, but the most effective when he got there. Missed tackles were costly for Heaslip – two in two minutes against Kayser didn’t look good. As captain, we reviewed Heaslip’s decision-making (without awarding points) – with power comes responsibility. He was decisive and authoritative and looked, for the first time, a real leader. He trusted Jackson and the team seemed united and cohesive.

O’Brien was the most impactful player, and we feel we probably undersold his all-action excellence, but you live and die by the numbers. If you factor in the points earned for kicking and chasing, O’Brien scored the lowest pure back-row points, but he was almost Parisse-esque in his ubiquity at times.

Mauling was one of the big success stories of the day and all three were prominent, with good body positions and lots of aggression.  We awarded points for anyone who was in a maul which moved forwards, and there were plenty of them.  Heaslip in particular appears to excel at this element of the game, but all three were part of a huge mauling success.

All three players effectiveness declined in the second half, in tandem with Ireland’s in general. Some tables are below for your viewage.

NB: does not include Steve Walsh

NB: does not include Steve Walsh

NB: Steve Walsh's actions are broken down in the pdf file at the bottom

NB: Steve Walsh’s actions are broken down in the pdf file at the bottom

The complete analysis is below – feedback is welcomed and assumed, particularly from those who tweeted us at half-time from their high horse, assuming we’d make up stats to ensure O’Mahony wasn’t recognised – we expect a mea culpa below the line.

So, our preceonceptions turned out more or less correct.  Heaslip is the closest thing to an openside we have, but relies not so much on being the first man to the ruck, like a classic seven, but more on being the strongest man at the ruck.  O’Mahony plays like a No.8, and O’Brien is a carrying machine.  The numbers may be a jumble, but we seem to get away with it.

But one thing stuck out beyond all others.  Well though the three of them played, they were no match for Steve Walsh.  The tan, the arms, the demeanour, the chatty style, the mad new TMO rules he invented on the spot.  It’s Walsh’s world, the rest of us just live in it.

The full breakdown of every action is in the link below:

Backrow Stats – All Actions

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66 Comments

  1. ArtVandelay

     /  March 11, 2013

    What was the point of Walsh going to the touch judge for foul play and then overruling the TMO? The TMO clearly said that it was a penalty and then Walsh said he was happy that it wasn’t a penalty. Seemed bizarre to me.

    He also has this wide-eyed uber-familiar look about him. Even the wife spotted it and said he looked weird.

    • The mad octopus

       /  March 11, 2013

      Open to correction here but the TMO didn’t call for a penalty. Watching it live in a packed room I also thought he said “penalty Steve, penalty.” but when I watched it later it seems he was saying “bare with me Steve, bare with me”. Doesn’t read the same but sounds similar of you say it quickly!

      • Yes, this is correct, from my viewing of the game anyway. ‘Bear with me, I need to see the angle again’. The TMO was not even within his rights to call for the penalty since that occured outside the act of scoring.

        It was an odd way to reach teh decision but it was the right one in the end. Debaty played to the edge of the law rater cleverly and a penalty would have been very harsh.

      • Dave

         /  March 12, 2013

        I havn’t seen the incident since the game but on initial viewing I thought a penalty would have been harsh, but they have been given before. I actually thought that Picamole carried it over which should have been a scrum 5 to us but like I said I havn’t seen it since so I’m not sure. The new TMO laws are in play in Super 15 and there were incidents in the Highlanders V Cheetahs and Hurricanes V Crusaders game. It worked very well. Perhaps Stevie thought he was calling Supah Fufteen and not the Sux Nations.

        Overall a decent performance by a very inexperienced group compared to the French. Foley’s influence is clear in the maul. There was a purpose about what the forwards were doing. The players could never be accused of lacking heart but on Saturday they showed tremendous passion (Rob Kearney taking out TV camera at the final whistle).

        It would be unfair to criticize our backline too much given the inexperience at 10 and 12 but they need to learn to develop a varied attacking startegy. The French defence were clearly targeting Marshall (wo was very assured again) by coming up and in very hard. Some variety from Jackson in the form of a grubber or dink over the top rather than up and unders (fair enough it was a bad day and difficult to field but still a lottery) may have kept the French defence honest.

        I thought our backrow were immense. Heaslip’s best game in green since South Africa 2009 AI. O’Mahony and O’Brien were outstanding.The roles of each player are still a muddle but if it works? O’Brien’s has tended to crab sideways a bit when taking on static ball and often ends up slipping. Stick on some longer studs Seanie! Murray was having his best game for Ireland when he was taken off which was puzzling.

        My thoughts are with Eoin Reddan after what looked like a horrible break.

  2. solidalarry

     /  March 11, 2013

    Good stuff fellas. Is there any way we can see your working? Also – and I’m sorry to have to break this to you – while I think your methodology seems both interesting and sound, it needs context… care to keep this up?

    If you’ll allow me a Monday morning indulgence, I’ll flex my own muscles here: a back row needs balance, which ours has, and Ireland’s problems lie elsewhere. Rugby union may belong to the back row but it’s not enough to be good there, and we were pretty piss poor overall.

    Question completely unrelated to what’s above: with D’Arcy, McSharry and McFadden (and Paddy Wallace, fwiw) all definitely out, what should we do at 12 if Luke Marshall’s marzipan-limbed octopus from the pitch on Saturday means he can’t play this week either?

    Hanrahan? Just chuck him in? I find it a tempting proposition.

    • Michael

       /  March 11, 2013

      I’d guess McFadden to 12, Luke Fitz to the wing.

      • Amiga500

         /  March 11, 2013

        McFadden has a broken rib – he’ll definitely not be playing.

      • Fractured rib but still 4-6 weeks. Cave also injured I read today. Too soon for Eoin O’Malley, so a frigthening spectre of Jackson-Sexton-Earls or Sexton-Fitzgerald-Earls is on the horizon. Unless you write for planetrugby – in which case Downey has to start.

    • The link at the bottom shows all the actions for every player, with a description etc.

      No idea what to do at 12 if Marshall is out. I expect we’ll see one of Earls, Fitzgerald or Trimble shoveed into the 12 shirt.

    • Amiga500

       /  March 11, 2013

      Stuart Olding has **really** looked the part there for Ulster in a couple matches recently. So much so that Luke Marshall’s previously assumed long-term taking of Paddy Wallace’s spot is no longer so assured. Yes, that good.

      Yep, I know its really chucking a young man into the lions den – but it’d be no different from Hanrahan.

      • Connachtexile

         /  March 11, 2013

        Cough Dave McSharry Cough

      • Sam

         /  March 11, 2013

        Cough injured Cough 😉

      • Amiga500

         /  March 11, 2013

        McSharry would have been my first pick, but as Sam says… also on the treatment table right now!

    • I found Steve Walsh distracting at the match in general, and not just because of his flowing raven locks. I’ve never seen a ref insert himself so much into the game, in the literal sense. I often felt he was bodily in the way. Also, did he really make the call on the foul on Earls looking at the big screen & ignoring his TMO?

      Also big love for Stakhanov. Always good for a lusty anthem contribution, he’ll be missed on the pan along the squad. Sometimes lacking, often reviled, seldom thanked but never wanting when it came to effort or commitment to the Irish effort. Donners, I salute you.

  3. Michael

     /  March 11, 2013

    Good research lads. Most important thing about a back row is that they cover all the bases as a 3 man team. It doesn’t really matter who does what (think LBND, Back, Hill). I’m sure Hill had terrible ball carrying stats and Dallaglio had a poor turnover rate by comparison, but they got the job done.

    For me, I thought that they played as well as a unit as they have for a while, and that Heaslip looked the part as captain. Shame we just couldn’t hang on.

  4. Amiga500

     /  March 11, 2013

    Good work fellas. I know how hard it is to try and compile these kinda stats out of a game.

    Before any of the folks on here start complaining, I’d guess it took at minimum 3 hours to do this, probably the far side of 4 hours. Please consider that before complaining about it!

    It was POMs best game in a green shirt I’ve seen. Hopefully he can build on it.

  5. Simon Farrell (@SFarrell_5)

     /  March 11, 2013

    Interesting stats lads, and much appreciated for taking the time and effort to collate it all for us. I’ll donate to the wine fund for the next instalment! My immediate thoughts are on where this leaves us going forward.

    (This bit is prefaced by saying I know stats from one game is hardly conclusive but it is a good baseline to add to general consensus/opinion)
    Previously I would have been calling for the inclusion of Henry, probably at the expense of O’Mahony, with a view that Henry would be better used at the ruck area, freeing Heaslip up to carry more. Now I’m not so sure. If the unit is working, and working well, should we change it?
    Moving to the bench with the mish-mash of roles being carried out by the backrow should the bench spot be taken by a ‘specialist’ like Henry (I’m aware he’s a converted 8) or someone like Henderson who strikes me as more ‘jack-of-a-few-trades’ like the rest of the backrow.

    • You had us at ‘wine fund’. Like you say, it’s only one game and I’d be fascinated to see if playnig with someone like Henry had a big impact on how we play.

      I thought this was the first game in which all three of our backrow played well together and the unit seemed to work well. Shame we couldn’t win the game.

  6. Thomas

     /  March 11, 2013

    I would have given O’Brien a 2.5 for the kick, seems these days when he’s not playing at 7 he’s playing hooker or fullback.

    The hope is that POM will turn into a David Wallace type, work rate, controlled aggression and good enough support lines to silence any doubts about the stuff he seems worse at. I can’t quite recall what type of player Wallace was in his youth, I can only really remember him in his middle/later years, was he anything like POM. Perhaps an unfair comparison since Wallace did have the ultimate, ” Good face.”

    On another note, what about Liam Gill, where do we get a lad like that, he must have some of the best turnover skills I’ve seen, and he’s 20. Ive never believed in the natural openside being necessary when your backrow is filled with well rounded strong players, but watching The Reds I think we’re missing out a bit. (I know that’s hardly original thought, but I think an overall lack of breakdown speed detracts from our defensive strength. I can’t remember the last really quick turnover we got that resulted in anything.)

    • I’ll leave Leinsterlion and HenryFitz to take that one up with you (see thread on thursday’s post teeing this one up).

      Yeah, O’Brien’s kick might well have deserved an extra point. It’s a subjective process, so another person’s report might differ. Either way, it’s heartening to see that there was so little between the players in terms of positive contributions, and the variety which they bring to the roles.

      • Thomas

         /  March 11, 2013

        Having gone back and read Thursdays comment section, I’m sorry I brought the whole thing up.

    • Liam Gill’s parents are both Irish!

  7. Leinsterlion

     /  March 11, 2013

    Meh I thought they were all average. I’d give them a 6 as a unit and as individuals. Picamoles was the form 8 of the weekend, Warburton the form 7 and Zanni the best 6, none of the Irish came close to matching them. I expected more from the Irish pack as they had less changes and should have had more cohesion then the disjointed french, we seemed content to match them through working really really hard as opposed to doing anything game changing or brave. Our backrow did nothing out of the ordinary, to say that POM had his best game merely highlights how low his standards have been. He did all the basics and worked hard, the bare minimum for an international 6, put away the ticker tape.
    Heaslip didnt show much leadership for me, unless leadership means instructing your 10 to kick points means your a great leader. SOB was bottled up as he (by instruction?) ran at the heart of the french defence and unsurprisingly got no change. The Irish backrow matched the rest of the team, in that they were dour uninspiring and playing with fear. They matched the French through hard work and relied on them making mistakes to advance. A poor, disappointing performance by all involved.
    France were there for the taking, they actually play a worse version of Kidneyball called PSA-ball, its like Kidneyball but PSA has better players at his disposal so getting a crap disinterested performance requires a lot more effort. We should have hockeyd France, instead we bashed up in the 12 channel and kicked away posession to the french in the hope they would make a mistake and not us. It was an embarrassingly cowardly performance for a home team. It was a gameplan and team selected with fear. The fact that we were afraid of the worst French away team since Moscow in 1812, speaks volumes at the confidence and coaching these player are receiving. Anyone who praises the Irish team for their performance yesterday must be be pining for Jonestown and some Kool aid. This game was the death throes of the regime, it wasnt quite the nadir of NZ 2012, but considering the opposition it was close.

    • Simon Farrell (@SFarrell_5)

       /  March 11, 2013

      How would you have preferred Ireland played that match? Running it from the 22 at all opportunities, and to hell with the weather conditions? Tap-and-go every penalty to ‘take the game to the French’? What sort of fireworks do you need to see from a backrow to earn an above average rating.

      For your information the French pack that started on Saturday was identical to the one that started vs England. the Irish pack however had two changes from the Scotland game; Healy for Court and McCarthy for O’Callaghan. So much for your cohesion argument.

      • Leinsterlion

         /  March 11, 2013

        I would have preferred to see some variation and attacking intent, I clearly didnt make any refer to tap and go’s or running it from the 22, stop excusing shocking rugby with those old canards anytime crap rugby is criticised. All Ireland did all day was run it up at 12 and then kick it, it was brainless cowardly rugby that didnt succeed. You can pass ten meters no matter the weather, its a basic skill.
        Shifting SOB 5-10 meters infield from where he was carrying would give him space to run, add support to take a pass(I know revolutionary concept, bear with me) and continue the move. Have Jackson skip to Drico set up a ruck further out from the french pack for example. Create space with decoys for SOB to burst into. Do you want me to give you an entire gameplan we could have played?
        We played limited route-one rugby and were completely unsuccessful doing it. Compare the areas of the pitch Picamoles popped up to carry to SOB’s carries, he was everywhere.
        Ireland should have had more cohesion, we play and train for literally double the amount of time the French team. Healy and McCarthy surely added more cohesion as both are considered regulars.
        The Irish back row worked hard, nothing more. There was no dynamism, no running of shoulders no link play. They played in isolation of the Irish team, the back row didnt link with the backs. The Irish backrow is unbalanced from the team, they are all very similiar and the end result is a lot of hard work but no difference makers as evinced by this weekend performance.
        Look at Zanni, Warburton and Picamoles I would suggest they represent the three best in their positions from the weekend. None of the Irish backrow matched up to them, therefore in my eyes they worked hard but offer nothing extra to warrant any further continuation of the current backrow by committee experiment that DK is using.

      • Leinsterlion

         /  March 11, 2013

        PS. The fact our “openside” made one pass and the other two made none sums up how this back row contributed. We need an openside, SOB to 6, Heaslip to be given the “Ludovico technique” on how to revert to being a proper 8. Our lack of creativity and narrow play is great for our backrowers to do lots, but actually not be effective

  8. Connachtexile

     /  March 11, 2013

    I thought SOB was very good again but he has this annoying habit of not looking up and seeing whose around supporting him. Every time he gets the ball his first (and second thought) is to run straight and hit the wall and while it works most of the time there are occasions where an off-load wouldn’t have gone amiss. Otherwise a great performance.

  9. Egg just got asked a very good question in another forum: is 24 any good? The answer is we just don’t know, so we have scheduled a new review.

    In the summer, we’ll do the same thing for an All Blacks-Springbok game with Ruchie, Kieran Read, and all the Bok boshers – if they are all in the 30s or 40s (as we suspect they will be), then we have a target performance level for our boys!

    • solidalarry

       /  March 11, 2013

      That’s what I was getting at with my “context” post above!

      Although, even within that, it’s difficult to factor in the handicap adjustment our boys should get when we factor in the tonking we received at scrum time. From a position of disadvantage they dragged us back to parity and beyond.

    • That’s an interesting point. Also, and I’m aware that this is probably the last thing you feel like doing, would there be anything to be said for performing this exercise with the French in the game above, for the sake of context? Bring forth more wine! Picamoles is being widely lauded as a team of the week player, his stats would be a worthy comparison. Can you really look at a team (or unit’s) stats without looking at their opposition for context.Plus you get into the questions of does your opponent playing badly drag you down to their levelor give you more of a chance to excel? Conversely does playing a superior unit force you to up your own game lest you get overwhelmed. However by looking at both sides of the ABs Boks you’re probably covering that, without having to relive Saturday’s heart ache yet again!

      • Agree with you there Kate, it would be nice to see how we stacked up against the French. At a guess, I’s have thought Picamoles would have scored the most points of anyone on the pitch; he caused havoc, and I think ESPNScrum have him down with 90m carried or something. I’m not sure he was all that well supported by his flankers though. Dusatoir had a strong tackle count – hey, what’s new? – but I felt Nyanga was fairly peripheral. So maybe there would have been a greater spread among the points in the French backrow.

        By the way, if anyone else wants to take up the mantle here and go through the French team in a similar manner, we’d publish it. There may even be a bottle of Valpol Ripasso in it for you. I wouldn’t recommend Egg Chaser’s ‘decanting into a measure jug’ approach though.

        • In my defence, Mrs Egg only reminded me that we had a rustic penguina decanter after we had decanted the second bottle into the measuring jug. At least we could be sure the volume on the bottle wasn’t a lie though

    • WhisperingDeath

       /  March 11, 2013

      Possibly reviewing the French Backrow in the same game in the same way would provide the best benchmark — same conditions etc? Doubt you want to watch the game again though…

      • I’d imagine a wider spread of points across the backrow unit would be preferable. Obviously in an ideal world you’d have 3 40 pointers but I’m guessing 3 solid performances would serve you better than a Picamoles or a Parisse (on a regular basis, as mentioned Zanni was in the zone yesterday). Another interesting question though, if it came down to to it is one set of superstar stats better or worse than 3 solid sets? Suppose it depends on the game really

      • Pretty impressed you were decanting at all, especially by the second bottle. After the first half, I think I’d have needed the bottle and a straw

  10. On the theme of Steve Walsh, maybe just maybe there is some redemption for him. BOD hobbling off for a “blood injury” as deemed by Steve Walsh in the dying minutes seemed pretty incredulous but it gave BOD the chance to get back on and finish what may well be his last home international game. Maybe a hidden compliment or acknowledgement of greatness.

    • With a suspected concussion the player can go off to be evaluated by the doctor.

  11. Hookisms and Hyperbole

     /  March 11, 2013

    A few thoughts on the match:
    POM plays as a forward not hiding in the 12/13 channel or the wing looking for Hollywood carries and he excels. Who would have thunck it- a forward doing a forward’s job means an upturn in personal performance.

    Individually the backrow did pretty well, but do they function as a unit? They clearly don’t. They don’t complement each other and all three are having their strengths compromised to carry out functions they don’t excel at.

    How can a player be MOTM when they only play 60 minutes and when their passing is so substandard? Murray’s kicking was excellent, really tremendous, but the rest of his game was pretty average. I thought Ryan, Best and Healy all played better than Murray and POM was clearly Ireland’s best player. Of course none of them were a patch on Picamoles. George Hook looked positively apoplectic when asked about Jackson who was equally as good as Murray. The decision to take him off was positively moronic by Kidney and obviously pre-designated before the match. What could possibly be wrong to watching the game unfold and reacting then?

    • I’d say they did reasonably well as a unit. The fact that POM and Jamie won some penalties by playing close together and helping each other out in double tackles, turnovers etc. was a good sign. They seemed to be trying to play close to one another at times.

      I’d have said each player knew his role and performed it well.

  12. Good post. Like the system. Thought all 3 backrow had strong games. Definitely O’Mahony’s best by a long country mile (although Goebbels’ suggestion that he is our player of the tournament is clearly trolling in the extreme). However, would agree with Leinsterlion that Picamoles was the best backrow on the pitch. Imanol who?

  13. Cathal

     /  March 12, 2013

    Why not play Heaslip at 7, POM at 8, leaving SOB as is. France did it with Harry and that seemed to work just fine.

  14. Rich

     /  March 12, 2013

    Great stats!! This could well become a feature…….

    Have to say , Heaslip stepped upto the plate at weekend, he got stuck in and had a good game. Not quite all forgiven but on right path. POM had a good game, but not an outstanding one. SOB outplayed him. As he will for the next 5 years

    A lot of positivity but masking the fact that we lost the game and gave away a comfortable lead. Why have a sub prop on the bench then have Ross playing almost 76 mins? Like having a spare wheel in the boot, getting a flat and then driving on regardless. Ross is a pen machine after 50 mins so get him out of his misery!! Jackson improved bit still not at the level of an intl kicker. Of we had got the pen for earls barge Jackson wold have missed it – giving him 3/6 – not even close to good enough.

    • Rich

       /  March 12, 2013

      Sorry – read as lost the 2nd half again

    • Anonymous

       /  March 12, 2013

      That’s some serious nonsense about Jackson – you’re just inventing statistics to support your argument.

      It’s getting a bit old to pan Jackson as a fly half just on the basis of his kicking – yes most fly halves are place kickers but just because he isn’t a good place kicker doesnt nullify his obvious talent in the 10 jumper.

    • Ah Rich – the whole idea here is to see behind the stats. Citing Jackson’s kicking showed just how misleading the stats can be. 60% kicking ratio sounds substandard but all the kicks were hard, so opinions must reflect that. As for crediting him with another miss for a kick he didn’t even take, well, I’ve heard some harsh assessments in my day, but that takes the biscuit!

  15. Go Ruck Yourself

     /  March 12, 2013

    I think some comments have been exceptionally harsh on the Irish back row. As good as Zanni was, I’d have taken POM on the back of last weekend. I also find Picamoles a tad overrated. He is an exceptionally strong ball carrier, maybe the best in the world at the moment, but I find him a real one-trick pony. Sometimes I think people mistake conspicuousness for contribution. His contribution outside of ball-carrying is zip. France pretty much use him like an American football running back to get over the gain line and generate decent ball and for that he is effective but I guarantee when it comes to playing NZ and SA, he will get shut down very quickly and he will offer precious little else around the field.

    Also, as a general point, Iain Henderson is some way short of being an international quality back rower.

    Would be interested to know what back row LeinsterLion would pick for Ireland given all options?

    • Yeah. What you really want is players that are not at all conspicuous and who do the miraculous unseen work.

      Just to burst your one-trick pony bubble though, apart from making the most yards and beating the most defenders, he also made the most turnovers http://www.espnscrum.com/six-nations-2013/rugby/match/133792.html There are no stats for his work at the back of the scrum but he did a pretty decent job there too.

      Sometimes its good to go against the grain…but sometimes people do it just for the sake of being different.

      • Go Ruck Yourself

         /  March 12, 2013

        Eh… I’d be very interested to see what qualifies as a turnover seeing Huget is also credited with two turnovers!

        You just stick to reading the numbers off the screen buddy and leave the interpretation to others!

      • Miaow! Classic: when all else fails, play the man and not the ball. If you can back up your opinion on Picamoles being overrated with anything other than insults and bluster, I would be all ears (or eyes). In the meantime, I will stick with my opinion of him being by far the best back-row on the pitch on Saturday.

        As for your interpretation, what is it of? If it is of a blustering couch jockey, you have it nailed…buddy.

      • Go Ruck Yourself

         /  March 12, 2013

        Fanboys like you are what is wrong with forums like this. You regurgitate the opinions of others and try to add credence to your half-baked arguments with headline statistics from that noted book of record; the ESPN website. “This is number is bigger than that number, therefore this player is better than that player…”

        Trust me, (and this is not the opinion of a “blustering couch jockey”) real rugby statistical output, as in the type that players receive and coaches pour over, does not look like that.

        I may not agree with every post from say WoC or Leinsterlion but I can at least appreciate the original thought. I can’t say the same for the contrived drivel you produce. Having a Sky Sports HD package doesn’t make you knowledgable, despite what you think.

      • Take it easy there Go Ruck Yourself and keep the tone up a bit. Come out from behind the cloak of mystery and tell us what real rugby statistical output looks like.

    • Leinsterlion

       /  March 12, 2013

      Jenno at openside, SOB at 6, Healip at 8. Diack on the bench, covering 6/8. That gives us ballast on the bench and balance on the pitch. Bring on Diack to bulldoze Italians whenever SOB tires( an option we dont have atm).

      As for my choice Zanni over POM, I’ll just dot down the stats from ESPN, I dont/didnt need them( my eyes told me which 6 was better last weekend), but I think they might help you evaluate a good performance.
      Zanni 3 pass, 1 offload, 62meters gained, 10 tackles, 1 turnover
      POM 1 pass, 1 offload. 10meters gained, 8 tackles, 0 turnover

      You can talk about context, unseen work blah, blah, blah. The fact is Zanni did more and was more effective and thus was more conspicuous, therefore he gets the nod for 6 of the weekend.

      • Do not – I say do not – quote stats to this poster. He is only interested in interpretation: his.

      • Go Ruck Yourself

         /  March 12, 2013

        Diack – really?! IMO, he’d be lucky to make a full-strength Ulster bench with Randy Roger there tbh. Fair enough LL but I hate the metres gained stat, means nothing. So Zanni makes 50+m in open country off a set-piece move – seriously, what does that tell us!

      • Leinsterlion

         /  March 12, 2013

        Im a fan of Diack, we dont have the luxury of a Nick Williams(I assume hes NIQ) style bulldozer at 8 and with Ferris out we are down to SOB and Diack as our only “bulldozer option”. I think a balanced back row requires a gritty aggressive ball carrying six or 8. Diack would be ahead of the likes of Muldoon, POM, Locky, Ruddock in that criteria.

        As for Zanni gaining meters, it tells us his ball carrying put his team on the front foot at the very least. His three passes and offload indicate he brought others onto his meters gained.

      • Williams has never been close to being capped and is about to finish his 3rd season in Ireland. Surely he is open for IQ next year? If so, Capitano Heaslip should be worried based on this season anyway. Key question is whether Williams can keep it up – hard to forget his two years on the doss with Munster but he had a good season with Aironi last year.

      • zdm

         /  March 12, 2013

        There is an idea in business called the Peter Principle which says that if you show talent in a particular field, you will be continuously promoted until you reach a position where you do not have the capabilities to do the job.

        Ireland is flush with back rows at the minute but there are about a dozen or less who are capable of making the step up from Pro-12/HC group games (I class HC knock out as on a par with most international games). I would argue for SOB, POM, Heaslip, Ferris, Henry and Roger Wilson being at this standard now with NWJMB included based on him being very close but with the potential to be a world class player.

        Kevin McLaughlin typifies the kind of player who got found out when he made the step up – hero for Leinster in the HC but quiet and limited at international. I would argue that Diack and Jennings would find themselves out of their depth against a tier 1 nation because the step up crosses their “competency limit”.

      • Leinsterlion

         /  March 12, 2013

        @zdm I agree about us being flush with backrows, where we differ is in how we gauge/value what they do, and how it applies to HC/international standard.
        I think POM, Locky, Hendo are all the same type of 6, rangy, lineout options, hardworking can carry reasonably effectively good handling skills. The prototype for this is Croft imo and all of the above play in a similiar style to him. All backrow need to carry or a bulldozer is needed at 7 or 8 if this style of 6 is picked.
        SOB, Ferris and Diack, are the other kind of 6, physically abrasive, bulldozers in the tight and the loose. I’d argue that this type of game is the easiest to put on the international stage, whereas the first type require the game to go their way the SOB type can literally bulldoze their way into the game with shortside carries and big hits while the openside does the jackel work. All of the backrow do not need to be massive carriers if a 6 like this is selected.
        At 8 we have Heaslip, Nick Williams(if hes IQ), Wilson, Diack and Ruddock with Coughlan and Auva bringing up the rear. Heaslip the frontrunner Wilson is in second both are similar sort of players ball carrying footballers with good hands. Diack holds the edge over Wilson that imo he is a better 6 then Wilson so he is more versatile and deserving of a bench slot.
        A good 8 should be a mixture of a 6 and a seven, abrasive, controlling, ball carrying with a reasonable ground game. Heaslip fits that criteria perfectly.
        At seven we have Jennings, Henry, Ryan, Jordi, O’Donnell, O’Connor. Usually they are the quickest and smallest of the back row, lineout skills optional, good passing and quick hands are necessary, tackling and stealing ball are essential skills. Out of the forwards your openside should be the link man. Jennings based on Leinster games the premier in the country in those roles imo.
        To make the backrow work you should have one out and out ball carrier at either 6 or 8, a good lineout option at 6 or 8. One position has to be devoted to a Bulldozer ideally 8 or 6. Then to dovetail those positions you would have the smaller openside who links play on attack and is a nuisance on defense aka a classic openside.
        We have to play Jennings at seven as there is no one else, the only other option that we have tried is the two 6’s option hoping Heaslip can cover for the absence of an openside, which clearly, has not worked. Far better to have the best player in their right position then shoehorning players into unfamiliar roles. I think the sucess of the unit is in having balance which Ireland lack. We are down to the third choice “bulldozer 6” in Diack on the bench as Ferris is out. POM, Locky and those guys cause our backrow to loose too much ballast if SOB is to come off, though they are better footballers then Diack.
        A Jennings, Heaslip, SOB unit has done the job in Europe I dont see how it wouldnt work at international level. You are concentrating on the players as individuals rather then how they would work in a unit. SOB, Ferris and Heaslip are our best three backrowers, but they are not our best backrow.
        I think you need to play the best Jackal/classic 7 at 7, the best all round backrow at 8, and a bulldozer at 6. Maybe the best players wont always be on the park, but the best combination will be. We currently have a Bulldozer at 7, and 8 covering for the lack of a 7 and ball carrier at 6, and a tall rangy lineout option at 6. That combination hasnt worked and has confused all the roles and contributed the lowest number of passes from 6 nations forwards.

    • Go Ruck Yourself, I think you’re on your own on this one. Picamoles, overrated? It’s not like he just tries to bosh his way through the defensive line with the ball tucked underneath his arm, Andy Powell style. He has an offloading game to die for, that creates vast oceans of space for players who can support his brilliant lines of running. He’s a monster for sure, but he’s a footballer first and foremost.

      • Go Ruck Yourself

         /  March 12, 2013

        OK, OK, I hardly said he was shit. He’s a fantastic ball carrier and I wouldn’t mention him and AP in the same sentence in terms of footballing ability. I just get the impression that an NZ/SA will shut him down with ball in hand and if this was to happen he’d be pretty anonymous! This probably says as much about how France use him as it does about him to be fair.

  16. Yossarian

     /  March 12, 2013

    I think “go ruck yourself” needs to look at some of Picamoles performances this season more closely.i agree he used to be primarily a ball carrier(prior to this season i would have agreed with your assessment of him) but this season he has really stepped up in other facets of his play.On a number of occasions this season he has added the physicality he shows in attack to his defensive work.can’t recall which game but in one of the Autumn internationals he was destroying people in the tackle. he is the one covering back on the Earls chip chase. he just looks fitter in general and looks like a guy trying to nail down the national jersey.
    Have to admit POM had a great game,i was quick to criticise him after the Welsh game but fair play to him on Saturday. hopefully a sign of his maturing as a player.

    • Go Ruck Yourself

       /  March 13, 2013

      Fair point re: his cover work for the Earls incident! I only saw the Australia game and France didn’t have much cause to defend if I remember correctly. I’ll reserve judgement on him until France play NZ and SA!

  17. RICH

     /  March 12, 2013

    HAHAHA – Maybe a tad harsh on the boy Jackson! I m just sick of us losing these big games by missed kicks – thats 3 in a row where sub standard goal kciking has cost us wins – as bad as we have been (#weather) we would be in cracking position if we had made our kicks. We can t win ugly, nor do we seem to want to – I ll take a scrappy win than a “take the positives” draw anytime. Jackson good player but not an intl goalkicker. Critical i know as we called for ROG to hang em up for a while so have to take this bedding in period i suppose.

    • Sexton had to bed in too remember and the first two years of his bedding in were a disaster (through not real fault of his own). Lets hope whoever the management is after the summer makes it easier for us to bed players into a squad than Kidney did.

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