That’s All Folks! (until later)

It’s been a long and exhausting season, and we’re looking forward to a break. While the drama has been constant, the rugby has been largely lacking – Ireland’s most memorable display was half their opening Six Nations game against Wales, as well as a romp against a disinterested Argentina, the best game at provincial level was Munster’s HEC semi-final against Clermont, and the Lions ultimately prevailed in a low-quality series.

At national level, it’s the end of an era – Declan Kidney started by delivering a Grand Slam (only the second ever), but followed that by progressive degeneration which ended in the shambolic capitulation in Rome. Deccie’s struggles to assimilate newer players and a more modern gameplan as the heroes of 09 departed one by one ultimately brought him down. Next year will be the start of the Messiah Joe Schmidt’s reign – the cuddly Kiwi is unlikely to make any massive changes in personnel, but a coherent gameplan for the first time in years will be a huge relief.  Kidney’s management of the team was a constant source of articles and opinion, and we look forward to critiquing the new man in the job and seeing if he can improve matters – Ireland are at their lowest ebb since the Five Nations became Six so here’s hoping.

For the provinces, the story of the year has been Rob Penney and Munster. After years of limping out of Europe with their tail between their legs, Munster harked back to their great tradition with memorable wins against Sarries and Quins then a heroic defeat against a petrified Clermont team.  Penney deserves huge credit for his work, but replacing Rog and the perennial Keet Earls question will be keeping him awake, and the jury’s still out on this one.  Were the knockout performances emotionally driven unsustainable peaks or the start of Penney’s vision for Munster crystallising?  We shall see.

Given the lamentable choking that Clermont displayed at the end of the HEC, Leinster will regret the insipid performance in the Aviva in December which killed their three-in-a-row hopes. The Amlin and (especially) the Pro12 will be of consolation, but the departure of their best player and question marks over the front five mean some consolidation is likely. The young guns at Ulster progressed at home, but inconsistency in Europe cost them a home quarter-final. They’ll need to make better use of their forward power next year – it’s no use having all these great backs outside if you box-kick everything.

In the West, it’s the Pat Lam story from next year, but Eric Elwood has left the province much stronger than he got them – mid-table battlers in the Pro12 and HEC experience gives a really solid platform for growth. Now, what about that dog track?

The season finished with the uber-full on Liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiions tour – the team came home immortal victorious, largely thanks to Alex Corbisiero and Dingo Deans’ selection policy. No-one enjoyed the rugby too much (unless you were from Wales) but a first series victory in 16 years shouldn’t be sniffed at. Besides, if they couldn’t beat that shower, who were they going to beat?

Finally, thanks to all who came on here to read the blog, and especially to those who joined the debate below the line in the comment box and on Twitter.  The blog would be nothing without its readers, and this year the comment box really exploded, which is really great.  More so than ever, the comments add so much to the pieces we write, and made for some really great reading this year.  Even occasionally from Leisterlion.  Ah, we love you really Leinsterlion.  Never change.  Never.

We’ll return in a few weeks, tanned and refreshed with some look-forward pieces, and we’ll hopefully be less bitter.

Palla & Egg

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  1. ORiordan

     /  July 29, 2013

    Thanks for all your efforts WoC. Your opinions were always worth a read whether I agreed with them or not and there are very few commentators in the “legacy” media I can say that about. Next season looks like being fascinating albeit it has the potential of ending up being fairly traumatic for Irish rugby.

    It could end up being the death of the HEC as we know it, and I can’t see Irish rugby recovering from that for some time given its importance to the rugby calendar, certainly in comparison with other countries.

    How will a Radge-less Munster and a Schmidt-less Leinster perform? Will Ulster stop choking and actually win some silverware? Can Connacht win the 3-4 more games they need to be the 3rd province rather than the perennial 4th? Were Ireland’s performances down to the players or the coach?

    I think we’d all like definitive answers to these types of questions but life being what it is, I predict we’ll just have different questions…

  2. Well done guys. A great season from you.

  3. Laurence Rocke

     /  July 29, 2013

    Yes, a big thank you to you guys for writing the stuff I most look forward to reading in rugby terms. Only Stephen Jones is better – well, that’s what he says anyway (what a tosser he is!).
    I am really looking forward to next season’s journey with Ulster, who should be stronger again (in theory) and Ireland, who couldn’t be worse and will hopefully be a lot better. If nothing else, the Lions showed just how badly we missed POC. I too have hopes for Connacht but I can’t see them displacing Munster to become the third best province 🙂
    It will be a real shame if the HEC goes down but better that than giving in to the English clubs, whose collective (political) behaviour has been pretty despicable. Mind you, it’s hard to see the Heiny going and not being replaced by something else.
    it will be fascinating!

  4. Leinsterlion

     /  July 29, 2013

    I got mentioned in a post..
    Rest assured gentlemen/WOC/ladies and troglodytes from outside the pale, my appetite and penchant for banter will assuredly never fade. Enjoy the break WOC, now that DK isnt providing reams of material It’ll be tough to match your assuredly prodigious output, with competent leadership at the helm.

  5. SteveO

     /  July 29, 2013

    For a second I thought you were giving the whole blogging lark up for good, lads. My heart was in my mouth, I don’t think I could take the it after Isa and J10.

    Anyway, cheers lads, both the quantity and quality of your work this season past have been exceptional. Have a few well deserved weeks off and we’ll see you back for whatever the blog equivalent of the dreaded pre-season training is – I’m thinking a few 3000 word pieces on the merits of the club game vs the academies for developing young front-row talent, that kind of thing.

    • Yup, I thought that too and was about to go full stage five clinger on you.

      Seriously though guys, thanks for all the great work this season. It’s especially admirable that this blog is a labour of love but offers higher quality analysis than most of the mainstream media. It’s also a great forum to engage with like minded rugby fans, once we all keep it civil of course! 😛

      Looking forward to seeing you back in a few weeks, enjoy the break

  6. Reggie G

     /  July 30, 2013

    Cheers lad for all your hard work this year, really enjoy your analysis and look forward to your posts this coming season.

  7. Thanks WOC for the excellent analysis all season. I’ll busy myself trolling until the new season begins.

  8. SMH

     /  July 30, 2013

    Thanks Gents. Great work and stellar dedication. Looking forward to next season…

  9. Cheers fellas.

  10. R’after gents. Nice work.

  11. Good work men. Although is it true that this blog will be written by a Kiwi next season? BNZ.

  12. Amiga500

     /  July 31, 2013

    Enjoy yer break lads and see yez back for pre-season… which will be a brutal mix of reading the Oxford Thesaurus, The Art of Scrummaging and a video analysis of the weak points of the opposition; with these counting Conor George and Gerry Thornley in the ranks, this in itself will be a test of endurance like no other (we’ll condense it down to just their main weak points, otherwise we’d be aiming for the 2015/2016 season!).

  13. osheaf01

     /  July 31, 2013

    See you next season, and thanks for being the best blog on Irish rugby on the net, with the possible exception of Mr Demented Mole.

  14. Dave W

     /  July 31, 2013

    Always a jump of anticipation when my feed reader tells me that there’s something new to read here. Except when I read this title, don’t do that again, please!

    A more knowledgable and civilised place to read about rugby, I’ve not yet found – both due to the folks at Cordite Towers, and also those in the comments section. Thanks to both, and looking forward to next year and it’s inevitable Grand Slam at the hands of the Messiah.

  15. Thanks for the posts, lads. ‘Twas my first full season working in an office, so the rugby blogosphere has really tided me over through some dull times, no-one moreso than WoC. In the spirit of review, I’ll say your high point was the play-by-play review of the Irish backrow performance against France, which made for a really interesting read. Conversely, the “good face” article still gets a chuckle from me, but what’s life without a diversity of opinions. Looking forward to the new season already, and more commentary to go with it.

  16. Well earned rest for the gentlemen of WoC; thanks for all the hard work. Roll on next year and a blistering HC for the Ulstermen, Gerry’s psychic energy going haywire and Ireland putting together a back move. Can’t wait

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