Plus ca change

Jeremy Guscott yesterday revealed that he thinks interprovincial rivalries, as well as a lack of self-belief, have hindered Ireland. It’s all well and good to say the corpulent one has no idea what he is talking about, but it’s an interesting kite to fly, not least because most people had assumed the occasinally spiteful atmosphere between Leinster and Munster (for it can only be they to whom he is refering) had calmed down a little bit in recent years.  Guscott, the owner of several silk scarves, also observed that he didn’t think the entire group ‘were 100% behind some of the coaches’.  Some?  That can only be with reference to Declan Kidney and in particular that the Leinster players weren’t especially on message with his brand of rugby.

There’s more than a little truth to both points; certainly to look at Ireland in recent years, they haven’t always appeared a team playing as if their lives depend on it.  How many times have they sleepwalked into a series only to be cajoled into action in subsequent games by their wounded pride?   Certainly, when Leinster were cutting a dash on their way to back to back Heineken Cups under Joe Schmidt’s energising coaching, the body language of the players suggested they were weary and uninspired trying to execute Kidney’s more mundane gameplan.  In one interview with Matt Cooper on Newstalk Radio, Johnny Sexton was at pains to point out that what worked so well for Leinster might not have the same effect at test level so he was happy to play a different way for Ireland.  Unfortunately, his tone was a giveaway, suggesting he was trying to convince himself as much as anyone.

Then there’s the Ulster players who always appear to draw the short straw come selection time – up to and including this November series (for the majority of the game we won’t be discussing for a while, Tommy Bowe was the only Ulsterman on the field).  Men such as Rory Best and Stephen Ferris know of no way of playing other than at full tilt, but this Ulster group have a chippy air about them, and it would be no surprise if they too harboured grievances against management (current and previous) for the manner in which their colleagues appear to consistently miss out on selection.

Since Rob Kearney and the famous Enfield air-clearing, it’s been assumed that the Munster-Leinster divide has been successfully bridged and the longstanding issues put to bed.  However, such assumptions are perhaps premature.  The Enfield meeting is now five years into the past and much of the playing squad has changed in the meantime.  The Munster-Leinster rivalry may not be quite at the white-hot level when Felipe Contepomi was around or in the 2010 aftermath of the great power-shift, but it remains spicy.  Who knows if, privately, some of the Leinster players still harbour resentment over the POC-Dave Kearney incident last season, for example??

Johnny Sexton’s autobiography certainly hints at something that would imply the old rifts were still around.  He describes how several (presumably Munster) players commiserated ROG on getting dropped, but didn’t extend their congratulations to him on getting selected.  He said he knew there were certain players that he, more or less, couldn’t talk to in the squad, and this contributed to a pressurised environment in his early test career.  Does that sound like a united squad, with provincial alliances put to the side for teh greater good?  Not to us anyway. Maybe, just as Deccie did early in his Ireland coaching career, Schmidty needs to think about some way to get everything on the table and try and unite the group.

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62 Comments

  1. curates_egg

     /  November 28, 2013

    I totally buy Guscott’s point personally. If you listen to players or read (auto-)biographies, it is clear that provincial rivalries among players are just as deep-seated as they are for many fans (particularly Munster-Leinster). It would be utterly naïve to think that this simply dissipates or is parked as soon as they reach Carton House. That runs against human nature.

    Ironically, the success of the provinces, and the resulting fierce competition, would seem to have an influence on the coherence of the national side. The comparison with Wales (the lack of success of the regions, compared with national success) is oft-made but highly pertinent.

    For me, this is perhaps Schmidt’s biggest challenge. He is an outstanding coach, man manager and reader of the game, with an excellent squad at his disposal. If he can actually get all squad members to buy into the national side, we will be in a very good place.

  2. Bueller

     /  November 28, 2013

    “Who knows if, privately, some of the Leinster players still harbour resentment over the POC-Dave Kearney incident last season, for example??” …could easily have been written by Conor George.
    It is the fans and bloggers who perpetuate this provincialism and it nearly seems to be a mandate to mention it at every possible occasion.
    Anyway Schmidt doesn’t have to worry about rivalries in camp. If he just picks the entire Leinster squad again there’ll be nobody to feel aggrieved.

    • Most unintentionally hilarious comment of the year, Bueller: take a bow. Damn the provincially perpetuating bloggers! And while I’m at it, here are my provincially blinkered grievances!! That’s shown ’em.

    • Ciaran

       /  November 28, 2013

      Look up irony in the dictionary there, good lad.

      • Bueller

         /  November 28, 2013

        Thanks Ciaran for the sage advice. It seems you either got the joke or you very much didn’t. Your intellect and grasp of rhetoric are both extremely impressive and much appreciated.

    • Sound Steve

       /  November 28, 2013

      Look mate, if you read this blog you have to accept it’s Leinster/Ulster fan oriented. That’s the beauty of blogs, they don’t have to tow the party line. If you don’t like it, read a newspaper!

  3. Ireland's Answer (allthingsrugby1)

     /  November 28, 2013

    Guscott has point but when things were going really well with Kidney and under Eddie you had the team almost in two parts, it was 1 – 10 Munster wit Fez and Jamie, who were both world class, thrown in. That made things like the line out and scrum so easy as the players were so used to each other from the provinces. The backs were pretty much Leinster 11 – 15 with Bowe thrown in. World class players like him always slip into teams pretty easy so they found coming together for international duty pretty. Ronan O Gara was such a wonderful player it was easy for him to link both.

    BEFORE ANYONE STARTS I’M NOT ADVOCATING THIS NOW

    Nowadays bar the Darce/BOD we don’t have any provincial units in our team. Maybe the players just aren’t used to so much change in the international camp which had led to under performance recently? I mean it must be way more difficult to set up a world class line out now then when we had Jerry, Bull and Paulie around 09 when are line out was arguably the best in the world bar south africa’s

    Between 04-11 we were the most consistent 6 Nations team remember. Nowadays Wales and England have passed us out they don’t have many club/provincial units but they play a really simple game without ever complicating things really. We might slag them and hate watching their styles but it is probably a way Ireland have to play to regain consistency for the time being.

    The Southern Hemisphere teams are like clubs teams because they actually have an international season unlike the short windows we have in the Northern Hemisphere. I always felt this is a huge advantage for them over us.

    • curates_egg

       /  November 28, 2013

      We were not the most consistent 6 Nations side between 2004-11, France were.
      We played 40 and won 28; they played 40 and won 31 (they also won far more championships in that period – 4 6 Nations, including 2 Grand Slams). In terms of championships won in that period – which is really all that counts – clearly Wales were also more “consistent”. I would much rather a side that wins championships every few years (i.e. with some degree of consistency) than a side that is “consistently” second or third!

      Your selection of the time frame is interesting though and is worth looking at. It just shows it all depends where you set the boundaries when making statistics. For me, 4 RWC year cycles are more relevant at international level.

      Between 2008 and 2011, our record was: played 20; won 13. Between 2004 and 2007, our record was: played 20; won 15.

      Between 2008 and 2011, France played 20 and won 14. Between 2004 and 2007, France played 20 and won 17. So France beat us on both cycles, which is not surprising.

      As for your point about styles: we played with an utterly basic “style” for most of the period between 2009-12 and it didn’t seem to help us one bit as regards consistency. For our most consistent period – 2004-7, we at least played with some discernable gameplan and style and it did work.

      This style (or lack of it) argument is classic Kidney-think. You can do the basics well, whilst still playing with a gameplan that is adapted to get the most out of the applicable rules or the opposition you come up against (if nothing else, Sunday proved this). The problem with the period from 2010-2013 was that this never seemed to be done effectively, if at all.

      Hopefully, this can be changed but only time will tell. The canard that Irish players cannot get the basics right unless they are playing with a predictable and stale gameplan is really not something the new management needs to be thinking. There is no point getting the basics right if you have an utterly ineffective “style”/gameplan for the opposition you are facing.

      • Ireland's Answer (allthingsrugby1)

         /  November 28, 2013

        Sorry I meant consistency in performance we regularly performed to where we were at during the vast majority of that period beating the teams worse than us and troubling the teams better than us on the vast majority of games over that period.

        Sorry Curates I disagree with pretty much everything you say. Between 2010 – 2013 Ireland tried to play a lot more but were usually not good enough carry it out in my opinion. This week proves nothing as it was not more much skillful a performance than Wales last year .

        We will almost certainly have to play a play a basic style of play while trying to sort out our defense and the rest of our basics. We need to evolve pretty similar to Ulster under Anscombe. Who made Ulster incredibly good at the set piece and defense and is know adding a real attacking element to their game. Otherwise we are going to see more series like this awful one week, excellent the next week.

        • curates_egg

           /  November 28, 2013

          Am not convinced you have properly read my comment, based on this response. To sum up:

          (a) performing at a consistently mediocre level is not what we should be aiming for: we need to win things and that implies working towards performance peaks.

          Schmidt needs try and develop this talented group into an international outfit that can peak to high performance levels at the right moments (like Wales), and not just trundle along with consistent mediocrity;

          (b) playing the same tried and failed gameplan against completely varying teams in totally different circumstances is utter nonsense, and clearly did not help players get the basics right. It is the Kidney canard that needs to be turned permanently into foie gras.

          Having the right strategy for the right opponent and circumstance makes it easier for players to get the basics right – that is where a good coach comes in. The players all do the basics very well and do far more than that well. The problem is transferring that to international level. To enable them to do that, you need to play the right tactics for the right match, which makes it easier for them to do their jobs. Simply stripping down to the same basic gameplan for every match is totally the wrong strategy in this age of professional analysis. It is not 2009 anymore and we will not win anything at international level with an approach like that.

          I said it from the beginning but I would happily give Schmidt the benefit of the doubt until the end of the 6 Nations to try and shape this squad into a group that can challenge for the big time. He will need that time to really start making progress, as we are a long way behind. It is a semi-final in 2015 we need to work towards and that will take time. For this reason, the hysteria and euphoria of the last few weeks has been utter nonsense.

          • It’s miles off topic but a worthwhile discussion: for what it’s worth I’d take Curates’ side on this one. This business of reverting to a simple gameplan like Wales or England is totally redundant if you ask me. For starters, why? Irish players have shown that they have the skill levels to play a high tempo game with an emphasis on passing. For sure, we need to encourage our forwards to pass the ball a little more but with the likes of Cronin, O’Mahony and Toner now in or arund the squad there are more ball handlers available to pick from than in previous years.

            But all that pales when compared with the ‘how’. Just how are we going to execute this Warrenball gameplan? Wales have a backline of monsters – of course they’re going to play to their strengths by running hard and straight. We just don’t have a team of players who look anything like that. Telling Simon Zebo, Gordon D’arcy and Keith Earls to ‘truck it up there lads, and none of the fancy stepping or running angles’ would be so redundant and doomed to failure as to be ridiculous.

        • Ireland's Answer (allthingsrugby1)

           /  November 28, 2013

          I think reverting to a simple game plan and building up the basics again then morphing into the style Curates wants is the way to go. If you watch Wales they definitely adding a lot more strings to their bows as time goes on.

          At the moment no matter what are game plan is meant to be with a leaky defense, creaky scrum and hit and miss line out I can’t see it working too often.

          • curates_egg

             /  November 29, 2013

            You definitely crawl, before you can walk, before you can run…to quote some fella. But the goal should be trophies and not mere consistency.

  4. Ulster are entitled to feel most aggrieved at present as their representation doesen’t match standing.if Muller, afoa, Williams and piennar were Irish qualifiedtthey would all make the team leaving an 8/4 or 5/1 or 2 / 1(sexton) split more in line with squad strengths. Munster might feel a little aggrieved but it would be largely balanced without too many contentious calls.
    Thought the rivalry thing was dying down. H cup appetites sated,possible disappearance of it anyway.etc. England manage to amalgamate rivalry like Northampton/Leicester/Saracens it can be managed. With more fluid movement of players from squad to squad could help also. Anyway,the best solution is probably a winning environment,people tend to complain less when they are winning!

    • that’s the thing though, none of those lads are Ireland Eligible. If you took them out of the Ulster team then Ulster wouldn’t be as competitive. Payne looks favourite to take over from O’Driscoll at second centre but doesn’t qualify until next autumn. Henderson, Olding, Jackson, Scholes should all move into contention for Ireland. Ulster now are more competitive than Ulster of 3 years ago so the overseas influx and retention looks beneficial for the province.
      The IRFU’s policy relating to non-qualified players makes sense from the national team’s point of view. As WoC wrote about before, what didn’t make sense was stating a policy and then disregarding it themselves.
      to any Ulstermen, why isn’t Scholes getting more gametime? He looked top quality in JWC and I’d like to see him played at 15 and believe he could do a job at 13.

    • Ulster have a core of very good players as you point out. However if you remove Pienaar, Muller, Afoa and Williams the replacements are fairly average. i.e. the local replacements are a step down. Deccie Fitz is a good prop and is coming in to his prime but behind him we are screwed at tight head. Calum Black is a very good loosehead and is no. 1 there even though Court is still here and possibly unfairly underutilised – unless there is a crisis. Henderson is the logical replacement for Muller. He and Tuohy will make a dynamic partnership but behind them we are a plane wrapped helically around and axis…i.e. screwed ..again. Wilson is on his last lap. Williams is injury prone and we have no back ups apart from the unrecognised Diack. He has started to fulfill his promise. Ulster have very promising backs in Olding – stellar prospect – Marshall, Farrell, Shanahan, and of course the much maligned Jackson. There aren’t many who most commentators would select over their Leinster or Munster counterparts.
      Black, Best, Herring, Fitzpatrick, Tuohy, Henderson, Ferris(?) Henry, Jackson, Olding, Marshall, Luke Marshall, Cave, Trimble, Allen, Bowe, Payne. Do they look like international players? Not to Schmidt by and large. When Darren Cave is ignored in favour of a 20 year old full back, the writing is in his wall.

    • Connachtexile

       /  November 28, 2013

      I don’t think Ulster can feel aggrieved with there representation during this November series. Maybe before but not under Schmidt so far. Henderson, Ferris, Gilroy and Olding were injured. Henry would have played more except he was injured during the series. Best, Bowe and Fitzpatrick all got gametime during the series. Yes Marshall and Jackson were rotated out but they weren’t the only ones. The only Ulster player who could have a chip on his shoulder during the November series was Tuohy (and rightfully so).

  5. Xyz

     /  November 28, 2013

    If you pay attention to who talks to whom during Ireland matches the division is pretty obvious.

    What are sleeping arrangements during Ireland camp? They should be shoe horned into a two bed room with someone from another province if possible. (There is an obvious semi topical joke that goes here but which I’ll omit.)

  6. hulkinator

     /  November 28, 2013

    Guscott makes a good point. I don’t think its a conscious provincial division though. Its probably more subconscious than anything else. BOD and ROG were always great friends for example and you’d have others.

    However, subconsciously to the players and fans the provinces are massive and it probably overshadows the national side a bit. For example many fans always what their own provinces’ players in the team. If the fans think like this then the players might too. A pet hate of mine is players wearing their provinces scrum cap colours. Rory Best had a green scrum cap against NZ and that should be the only colour allowed

    Most other international sides don’t have this type of issue. For the Welsh its Wales above everything else. Same for English players etc. I think the root cause of the problem has been Ireland’s underachievements of the last 13 years. This is at the same time the provinces have been very successful. There has been a general lack of belief in the Ireland jersey and they’ve just failed on so many occasions that its turned fans off Ireland.

    Hopefully Joe Schmidt will help nurture a new era for Ireland. One where the players and fans feel better about team Ireland and theres a buzz around the team. .

  7. Munstermicko

     /  November 28, 2013

    Not trolling here despite the name!

    Picked up Radges book. Had a skim read before I paid for it but he definitely mentions that some players are more provincially then nationally loyal then others. He named checks Cullen and Jenning for Leinster but also names a few Munster lads as well will give the book a proper go this evening and report back.

    • curates_egg

       /  November 28, 2013

      You should read Bernard Jackman’s biog if you want a real insight into the extent of the rivalry at Leinster. I have no doubt that it is the same story at Munster: you probably wouldn’t get it from a professionally ghost-written (hat-tip Goebbels) ROG biog though, you want some bitter, one-eyed hack like Frankie to get that kind of insight.

    • jojo

       /  December 1, 2013

      In fairness, why would those two Leinster players have loyalty to Ireland, when they were over looked unfairly for years

  8. Barry

     /  November 28, 2013

    Leaving this blog now – no mention of Connacht and to me it seems the author (s) is an Ulsterman and that bias clearly shows – good luck!

    • curates_egg

       /  November 28, 2013

      Another genius ironic post I hope…

    • That’s because we all love Connacht and it’s players. No sense of them and us. We are as one in supporting the team.

      In regard to Ulster players feeling a sense of disillusion, there aren’t many who could do so. Cave is one and Tuohy is another. Henry definitely is under used. On occasion when injury intervenes on others, them Trimble seems unfairly excluded.Apart from them, the others are still young. One thing that is bizarre is Schmidt shoe-horning Fitz – a winger and Henshaw – a full back (and a poor 13) into the outside centre position. In the future, Henderson, Marshall and Olding could feature and Farrell and Herring look positives also.

      • Might be a post on Provincial Gods there Whiff. I’ve come to the conclusion that Cave is to Ulster fans what Swifty is to us Connacht folk: there is no criticism, there is just heresy.

    • Sorry to see you go lad. Author in this case was from Leinster actually!

    • Leinsterlion

       /  November 28, 2013

      Whats a “Conn-augh-it”? Some type of fowl?

  9. Buccaneer

     /  November 28, 2013

    I was delighted that our 3 try scorers were from 3 different provinces on Sunday. I thought it fitting considering how we played in the first half, like a united team. Valid point about headgear colours in my opinion

  10. Munstermicko

     /  November 28, 2013

    Yeah, Jackman’s book is far more frank on the rivalry. Conteponi “Hated Munster and all they stood for” was one quote that jumped out! He also gets annoyed when Flannery ribs him on how Leinster only got the First Hcup because of Rocky.

    The Conteponi stuff is always mentioned and seemed to flair between himself Rog, Leamy and DOC.

    Some of this even carries on retirement it seems. Here Leamy having a pop at Jamie in the indo last week.

    http://www.independent.ie/sport/rugby/all-blacks-clash-may-be-odriscolls-last-act-in-green-leamy-29774826.html

    • Blimey, that’s a bit of a cut from Leamy, isn’t it?! Still resentful that Heaslip took his national jersey from him? Looks like he picked the rong week to stop sniffing glue, because Jamie fairly shoved that where the sun don’t shine against the BNZers.

      • Sound Steve

         /  November 28, 2013

        Jesus WoC, that’s very petty, even by your standards. Slagging off a guy who had his career ended through injury. In fairness, around 2006-07 Leamy was probably the best 8 in the world – not sure when his hip issues started but I’m pretty sure it was a contributory factor in Heaslip taking his spot. In fairness, he hasn’t been the only one to question Heaslip’s form in the last 18 months or so, even if he did have a stormer on Sunday.

        • Bob

           /  November 28, 2013

          “Probably the best 8 in the world” – Hilarious

        • Leinsterlion

           /  November 28, 2013

          “Around 06-07 Leamy was probably the best 8 in the world”. Fantastic stuff. I’m going to tweet that at the likes of Spies(monster in 07 before he stopped juicing, er, had “lung problems”) Jerry Collins, So’ialo, Parisse and the multitude of other 8’s equally as good as Leamy(a converted 6) in 06/07.

      • Munstermicko

         /  November 28, 2013

        Yep. Pretty harsh.

        If Leamy said they should play another 8 in rotation with Jamie I would have no issue-It would be quite healthy having POM or Seanie breathing down his neck and this might be a good thing(Or will be a good thing once a certain Ulster Manbeast gets fixed and comes back into contention)

        Although calling for a 5 times test lions, former captain and 3 times Hcup winning number 8 to be left out of Wc15 plans is quite extreme. He wont exactly be a fossil come 2015.

      • Bueller

         /  November 28, 2013

        In fairness to Leamy, he seems to be referring to Heaslip’s age (30 in a few weeks) mainly. Possibly a bit premature to be getting concerned about his age but he is actually the oldest first choice no.8 of all the 6 nations or tri-nations (Parisse is the same age and Fernandez Lobbe is older but isn’t really a no.8). Toby Faletau is nearly a decade younger than him.
        That being said I fully expect Heaslip to be around in 2015 (barring injury, which he never seems to get) and think the flack he takes most of the time is very unjustified. I’d be interested to see POM and SOB utilised at 8 more in their provinces to see if they are a viable alternative but for me Heaslip is probably the 3rd best 8 in the world at the moment and for the past few seasons.

    • Kelly Peters

       /  November 28, 2013

      This is the sort of stuff that gets twisted by media and fans to fuel the Munster v Leinster rivalry. He has a go at Heaslip’s form which is fair enough. He’s not the only person to raise questions in the last couple of years. But so far no one has mentioned the fact that he also questions POC’s long term suitability as captain. How about we view this as an ex-player raising some valid questions as we look towards 2015 and not an ex-Munster player having a spiteful dig at Leinster.

  11. contraflow

     /  November 28, 2013

    ‘I don’t believe the Irish players as a group have all, at the same time, believed they are good enough most of the time.’

    I think the above statement from Guscott, the silk scarf buckle swasher, rings truest. Trying to get the average Irish man to believe in himself, or his country, is like trying to keep your ice cream from melting on a Spanish beach.

    Our deference and admiration for French and Kiwi teams is the biggest factor in our shameful and embarrassing records against these nations. Case in point, Franno was pontificating on second captain’s podcast as to why NZ are so good. His basic thesis is that they are genetically superior to us, e.g. if they played Gaelic football they would trounce us routinely at that as well, he said. Franno went on to tell us about Bill McClaren’s NZ admiration, which he also shares, based on seeing them fight at Monte Casino in WWII where they were regarded as the fiercest fighters and were willing to lay down their lives to such an extent, that per capita NZ lost more of its population than Russia.

    More than Russia? I had to check this. The internets tells me that NZ lost 0.71% of its population in WWII while Russia lost between 13% & 17% depending on which estimate you use. So Franno was wrong by 1500%. He was wrong about Monte Casino also, where the Polish troops were generally credited with breaking the deadlock through life disregarding bravery.

    How was Franno ever to beat a NZ team when he has such regard for them? He holds them up on a mythical level. Irish people like Franno are legion, and this view permeates the population, fans, media, players and coaching staff. Hence our shameful record.

    An Aussie would choke before he would say something nice about NZ, hence they regularly beat NZ.
    An Englishman would choke before he would say something nice about France, hence they regularly beat France.
    An Irishman would choke before he would say something nice about England, hence they regularly beat England.

    They next jump Ireland, that means you reading this if you are Irish, needs to make is to start believing in yourselves and the team and the country. Let’s stop being beaten before we even step on the field.

    • Leinsterlion

       /  November 28, 2013

      Completely agree, that defeatist attitude is ingrained in our culture, one only has to look at the treatment of our greatest olympian, Michelle Smyth, in comparison to all the lauded “glorious losers” who accomplished nothing. Its the “happy to be there” brigade that are a pox on the Irish sporting landscape.
      A large part of this is typified the GAA imo, an utterly insular organisation playing an insular sport, taking prime athletes away from competition where they might be tested against the best, and consigning them to pointless parochial amaturism . The international rules series has gone to the bin as they couldnt hack the physical challenge the Aussies brought, so they changed the rules to suit their insular game as opposed to meeting the challenge head on.
      From the IFRU disregarding the RWC and international competition, building an under capacity stadium, to our pathetic olympic endeavours, Roy Keane summed up Irish football. We dont for the most part have ruthless people running our organisations, we have ruthless individuals who succeed in spite of them, and they are the people we need in charge. We need to bring through a generation of arrogant, ruthless sportsmen and women, the type Australia and England have built their sporting legacies off, the Christies, Dallaglios, Warnes etc.
      We need a cultural shift to vilify failure and praise victory, its not going to happen though, too many people have built their own little fiefdoms for us to start producing athletes on a mass scale that we need to succeed(not just at rugby).

      • Paddy o

         /  November 28, 2013

        Wow, are we still doing attempted irony here? I agree with one of you two anyway, the other not so much.

        Contra flow I must say there is an awe for New Zealand that goes too far and is a bit out of touch with reality (as deserving of respect as they are). I first realised this when starting to watch super rugby. Reared on the reverence as I was, I figured this was easy to make money on – just back the kiwi team, sure they’ll hardly lose. Much to my surprise and financial pain, they were getting beaten a fair proportion of the time.

        I think their vulnerabilities have been dawning on us more and more over these last few years and Sunday was when it was blown open for a wider audience. It’s a personal opinion, but I don’t feel you need to be a little hateful or indisciplined, or unable to say anything good about them and certainly not arrogant (which for me is a totally negative performance mindset). You just gotta be focused and able to continue to perform your skills at higher and higher pace, pressure and that old chestnut intensity.

        Anyway regarding guscott, I’m happy enough having some rivalries and competition. It suggests a healthy level below international, which is a loss for some other countries that don’t have that. Schmidt is skilled enough to handle it I reckon, as kidney did too when he first got the gig. It just requires plain talking and then move on. Schmidt was able to do it at the time of POC gate, where he had the guts to say his bit and leave it behind him. The lads are right though, if it is an issue with the players he cannot just leave it unaddressed. I would safely say enda mcnulty will be a help given his own background in “pointless parochialism” though! Some of us posters could maybe do with a session with him as well to work out a few issues perhaps?

        • contraflow

           /  November 28, 2013

          I agree with you Paddy re having respect for international adversaries however you should know the average Kiwi has zero respect for Irish rugby. They might be nice to our faces when visiting but amongst themselves they are at best dismissive but honestly they are actually very derisory towards us. This is based on us never beating them in 100 odd years so we are to blame for their lack of respect towards us.

          There is nothing wrong with having a healthy disregard for an opponent who out-guns you. The over-respect and deference is un-Irish and has to go. Particularly when it is towards a nation whose players and population have utterly no respect whatsoever for us in rugby terms.

          I think we are largely in agreement Paddy, I just like to put my posts on this issue in polemic terms so I am coming across a bit strong perhaps for some people but I am sick of lilly livered Paddies always talking ourselves down and insisting consistent success is not possible for Ireland. Wales won 3 Slams in 9 years. If I tell my friends I see no reason why we can’t do that I get blown out of it with self hating Irish tirades. I am sorry but anyone who thinks Wales are inherently better then Ireland is a half Irish man in my opinion.

          Irish rugby has never been stronger, remember the 90’s. The sun is shining let us make hay.

          • Paddy o

             /  November 30, 2013

            Don’t worry contra flow – you were the one I was pretty much agreeing with!

      • You aren’t actually serious are you? Michelle Smith? No reason whatsoever to glorify her achievements.

        • Leinsterlion

           /  November 29, 2013

          “If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying.” Its the Olympics lets not be naive, every top level athlete since the 70’s who has won a medal in a sport where physical improvement will win medal has doped.
          Her vilification is sanctimonious in the extreme, especially in light of how larger nations treat their drugs cheat, aiding or hiding what they do(aka Carl Lewis)

      • Tell the truth, you’re Dominic Sandbrook, aren’t you?

        • Leinsterlion

           /  November 29, 2013

          LOL, a more articulate contrarian version perhaps. I’ll never side with the establishment!!!

  12. The illusion glimpsed in victory is generally more beguiling if there are lots of victories. Win a few games and I’m sure the worries about team spirit and interprovincial splits will just melt away.

    Darce had it right in the aftermath of the match. There are no excuses for these Irish players. There were some when Kidney was in charge, but not now. They have some of the best coaches in the world training them. If they can’t motivate themselves to play their best rugby for Ireland, then they shouldn’t be on the team.

  13. Yossarian

     /  November 28, 2013

    Some of posts here really add to Guscotts point of view. Jack Kennedy above “Black, Best, Herring, Fitzpatrick, Tuohy, Henderson, Ferris(?) Henry, Jackson, Olding, Marshall, Luke Marshall, Cave, Trimble, Allen, Bowe, Payne. Do they look like international players? Not to Schmidt by and large. When Darren Cave is ignored in favour of a 20 year old full back, the writing is in his wall.”
    firstly instead of being delighted that one of the brightest young talents in the country is getting a chance with the national team the slight on a good club player is all that is seen. the players listed either have represented Ireland,(Best,Fitzpatrick,Henry, Jackson, luke marshall, Bowe) can’t represent Ireland(Ferris injured, Payne not qualified) or don’t even start for their club(Herring,Henderson,Olding Marshall,Cave,Allen)!!! that leaves Touhy(in squad) and Trimble the only one who isn’t getting a fair crack under Schmidt!one player!but it is used to call into question the selection process!

    • therealspratt

       /  November 28, 2013

      Not entirely sure what you’re talking about with Cave, Cave is Ulster’s Heineken Cup starting 13, both matches so far it was him in 13 and Payne in 15 and it will likely continue to be so unless Darren manages to get himself injured!

      • Yossarian

         /  November 28, 2013

        Thought there was a big game this year when Gilroy was fullback and Payne at 13 with Cave on the bench?Injury will probably mean that won’t happen too often but figured Anscome realised he needed more at 13. Cave is a great player just below top level(he was superb on friday v edinburgh) but at the highest level he just isn’t quite fast or strong enough(came off the bench v NZ in the 3 test tour and looked so slow,he had to tug someone back if i remember correctly; vs Connacht Henshaw managed to chase him back when the line was at his mercy etc)pity as he has a lovely skill set. He typifies the kind of player fans love at club level and therefore can’t see how he isn’t valued internationally.

        • therealspratt

           /  November 28, 2013

          I believe that was the Treviso match, which I suppose you could describe as a fairly big match them being a reasonably improved side and one of our HC group members. But yes it seems he’s lacking some of that top level gas(though strangely there was talk at the start of the season that he had the fastest Ulster sprint times before Gilroy came back into the squad).

    • Sorry, you missed the point entirely. I was pointing out that they weren’T ACTUALLY GOOD ENOUGH BY AND LARGE. Some, such as Best are but the restare pretty average. Perhaps I wasn’t clear einough when I said “few Ulster players are being hard done by? I’ll try to find a clearer way to say it. The list of players was the I.Q. ones minus the NIE stars.
      While most are decent, they wouldn’t exactly make opponents bite their nails. That was my point. As for Henshaw, great fullback, shite centre. Happy to see him at 15 in lreland shirt, or Zebo even for that matter but as a 13 he is pretty poor.

      • Should have said to read my posts above. The quest for an Ireland shirt isn’t a Provincial dogfight. It is about the best players being selected irrespective of their province. I’d be happy with an Ireland side made up of players from the AP if they were our best guys.

  14. Paddy

     /  November 28, 2013

    Being cynical….. is some of the division perhaps to do with money? They’re playing for their livelihood after all. Heaslip didn’t just take Leamys jersey, he went on to became the highest paid player in the country. I’d like to think that means nothing when they go out on the field but in the training camps I can see how they’d have sympathies and loyalty to players they know well and play with on a regular basis.
    I’m not aiming this squarely at Munster players, I’ve heard it’s an issue at club level with players refusing to pay the subs when there’s a pro on the books of the club.
    Definitely thought there was an element of

    when Murray got moved to the bench for the Australia game from a former indo journalist.

  15. Yossarian

     /  November 29, 2013

    Provincial loyalty alive and well in the media,who gave leamy a column!
    http://www.independent.ie/sport/rugby/munster-rugby/bring-on-the-six-nations-29793053.html

    • Mike

       /  November 29, 2013

      That article is hilarious. Are there no sub editors at the Independent?

    • Seiko

       /  November 30, 2013

      Leamy’s article is from the Indo Munster Rugby Weekly Supplement that is only circulated in Munster – a bit like the Herald Leinster Supplement.

      Worth reading ROG in the Examiner this week.

      ROG says that Schmidt sees Henshaw as someone he can work with in the guise of a Welsh back (Cuthbert/North) and a bit different to our other backs.

      http://www.irishexaminer.com/sport/columnists/ronan-ogara/ronan-ogara-ronan-ogara-learning-the-lessons-and-closing-the-deal-251153.html

      With regard to the disharmony in the Ireland camp. It takes a bit of time (and a few good wins/losses) for players to gel (Alan Quinlan wrote an excellent article about it last year). Players on the periphery like Jackman, Cullen & Jennings are never around long enough to gel and probably feel resentment. As for resentment towards POC over Dave Kearney, I heard Rob Kearney say before the Munster v Leinster derby that it was all forgotten about as he and everyone else knew that POC didn’t do it intentionally.

      Oh, and for the record, Rory Best was Leamy’s best man recently, so

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