Lots done. More to do

At this two-thirds stage of the last-ever HEC (in this form anyway), the Irish provinces are all in a reasonable position, and Ulster are best placed of the lot. That’s not to say they’ll all be feeling happy about the opening four games, and Leinster in particular will be pretty pissed off they lost at home to the No-Pressure-On-Them edition of the Northampton Saints; and that insipid performance in front of both fans in Murrayfield will likely cost Munster a home quarter-final, but with three wins both are expected to qualify.

Leinster would have looked at their trips to the Hairsprays and Franklin’s Gardens as odds-against trips – and the results and performances were excellent. The flip side has been the rubbish home form, which is a particular worry ahead of the Ospreys game. The last-minute concession of their bonus point against the Saints might come back to haunt them, particularly if it ends up consigning them to a trip to Toulon or Clermont.

In Munster, they will be hyping up talking about JJ Hanrahan’s try for a while to come, but it got them out of jail after a pretty average performance and a systemic defensive meltdown at the worst possible moment. But a win is a win, and it feels even better when it’s in France. But because of the aforementioned defeat to Embra, they’ll need to win in Kingsholm to even have a chance of a home quarter. It’s been done four times in the Premiership this season, by such luminaries as Sale Sharks, Wasps and Exeter, and once by Embra, so Munster shouldn’t travel in fear, and really should be able to navigate that trip. A low seeding and a trip to France might beckon, but that’s the stuff tears are made of, so how bad.

Up north, Ulster will bask in the glow of their 100% record over Christmas. Problem is, with Leicester’s win in Montpellier, they’ll probably need a bonus point in Welford Road (while losing by less than six) to get through, something that proved beyond them two seasons ago. If they don’t win the pool, they should still qualify, but by our reckoning they’ll be playing for home advantage in the next round. Incentive to give it a lash for sure, and they are much better than they were two years ago.  However cloudy the future of the competition, Leicester will play every game they face at full throttle, and their last-minute victory was tribute to their never say die attitude. They are a worthy adversary, and have much to admire. Even though they haven’t won the pot in 11 years, they have been eliminated by the eventual winners five times, the runners-up once, and big-game bottlers Clermont twice – if Ulster can win this pool, they are contenders for the trophy.

As for the province we get most-accused of being biased against, Connacht can retire from the HEC happy that they have their memory to dine out on for years to come. They’ve had quite a few oh-so-nears away from home in their few seasons in the elite competition, and its well-deserved. Some of the minnows add nothing (looking at you Zebroni), but Connacht have been consistently competitive and the Sportsground has translated well to games with big teams, and Saracens.

Predictions for qualifier rankings:

  1. Toulouse
  2. Ulster
  3. Toulon
  4. Clermont
  5. Munster
  6. Leinster
  7. Leicester
  8. Globo Gym

Now that that’s all gone, we have to talk about Leinster. A most disappointing and worrying performance – the last-minute withdrawal of Sean O’Brien left them without any effective carriers and the Saints managed to tackle Leinster backwards almost every time. When the Saints ambushed Ulster in similar fashion last year, they produced the physical template that Globo Gym used to administer the knockout blow in the quarters. Leinster better hope that they have O’Brien and Cian Healy fit for any trip to France in the knockouts, or it’s curtains.

Still, they nearly won it right at the end. When Kahn Fotuali’i sacrificed a penalty advantage to drop a goal with over a minute left on the clock, we smelled a mistake. All the Saints needed to do was go through a few more phases, then take the full minute to kick a penalty and the game was won. The decision to nick the drop gave Leinster the final chance they needed and they were incredibly close to punishing Fotuali’i for it. Small things add up at the highest level, and the likes of Leicester, Leinster, Munster, Toulon, Toulouse would never allow their opponents another chance in such situations.

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47 Comments

  1. Sub prime athlete

     /  December 16, 2013

    It seems as though it has become a more regular option in the last 2 years or so to opt for the cross kick than the drop goal when penalty advantage is given to the attacking team in the opp 22. It seems an obvious choice to roll the dice for a chance of a try than take the pop at the posts esp when the ensuing penalty is not on the touch line, but my word, it’s taken a long time for supposed clever fly halves to cop on to this. What’s twigged them on to it? My guess is seeing the last tackle play in rugby league reaping reward from cross kicks but that’s just a theory.

  2. ruckinhell

     /  December 16, 2013

    To be fair the Hanrahan try was a great effort, not only his step which left the last man on his arse but the offload by Sonny Bill Hurley and the strength of TOD to carry and offload so close to the touchline. And we will rave about it for a while to come, if only to mask the horror of the previous 79 odd minutes. I don’t think I’ve ever seen us play with such looseness and unintelligence. This isn’t about “traditional Munster rugby” it’s about sloppy kicking, poor linespeed and a misfiring lineout. The players still are not implementing the game plan in a smart manner.

    That being said, it does the heart good to see a Munster pack win a scrum penalty try against French opponents two weeks in a row. Cronin is turning into a gem. A hard, angry and bitter gem, which is all the sweeter!

  3. Brian Donnelly

     /  December 16, 2013

    Excellent point you make about the No-Pressure Saints performing. Northampton fans I chatted to on friday night were of that mind too and frustrated by it. That said I do not subscribe to MoC’s argument that Leinster were not complacent but inaccurate. Rather I think the initial complacency lead to the inaccuracy.

    Madigan’s showboating crossfield kick off the first minute penalty set the alarm bells ringing for me. Hindsight maybe but that should have gone down the line, and pressure should have been applied before the fancy stuff.

    That we were in touch at the endgame was a testament to Northampton’s ineptness. We produced rubbish, they are rubbish.

    • Thanks Brian, spot on. They declined an awful lot of three-pointers it must be said. No idea what they were thinking, they should have been out of sight with the number of scoring chances they had.

  4. Saw 3 games on Saturday and 3 horrid refereeing performances. The right team won in each match though.

    3-7 down at halftime, I was convinced Saints had thrown everything at us and we would be able to come back. However, our inability to score tries this season came back to haunt us – the previous 2 weekends’ try-fests now look like the aberrations. Beating Saints 5-4 over 2 games looked like the target before game one but looks disappointing after the trip to Franklins Gardens. Two tough final games as well. A lot at stake for O’Connor still.

    As for Munster, how they needed a last gasp try to win is beyond me. By far the better team, they allowed themselves to be dragged down to Perpignan’s level. They engaged in the niggle and lowered their game. 9 points a good return for the 2 weekends though. Gloucester were also generous. Seeing O’Donnell and Hanrahan involved in that final try bodes well for Ireland in the future.

    Didn’t see the other two games. Interesting final 2 rounds though. Nobody should relish a trip to Clermont.

  5. ruckinhell

     /  December 16, 2013

    As for the Leinster game, I think it underscores the necessity of Leinster and the IRFU to move heaven and earth to ensure SOB signs a new contract in Ireland. He was hugely missed and, allied to Garces’ laissez faire (TM Thornley) attitude to the breakdown which aided Northampton, his absence killed almost all the tempo and momentum that they had enjoyed the previous week.

  6. I watched the Ulster game but didn’t see much of it, an experience I’m sure everyone who was actually at the game could understand. It felt like a repeat of last week’s second half, stretched out to cover the entire game: first half, absorb the pressure and prevent scores, second half cut loose, exploit tiring bodies and score. Not sure if that was the plan, but it certainly worked. If only Leicester hadn’t picked up that final converted try – would be nice to get to the end of the qualifying rounds without needing heart medicine. As it is, I have a depressing feeling it’s all going to come down to the last few phases in Welford Road…

  7. Ciano

     /  December 16, 2013

    It is an outrage that we lost a game, but we should remember not only that it’s normal to loose games, but that it is normal not to function at your best all the time. As for what went wrong: the second Healy and O’ Brien were out we were left with 1 (Cronin) of our strongest 3 carriers meaning that this was always going to be a very different game.

    It’s horses for courses and Gopperth would have been a wiser choice for a slog like this. Maddog’s skip passes were not what the occasion called for and his couple of failures to find touch from penalties were as a mate of mine said: ‘unforgivable’ at this level.

    Now had we scored that try at the end we’d all feel like we showed great fortitude to win ugly in such a tight game (the real indicator of character I reckon), but on the whole, I think Northampton deserved their second try.

    ps – Was in the DART station end behind the goals so couldn’t see but Leinster fans seemed outraged at the ref for a number of breakdown calls which is why the booing started I think…I presume most of this was substanceless Sore Looserism?

    • Garces was very inconsistent and definitely more generous to Saints at the breakdown. The final penalty against Reddan was very poor (Harpin on Rugby nails the incident here: http://www.harpinonrugby.net/2013/12/leinster-9-northampton-18.html ). If you are a booer, that is fine, but you have to stop when the kicker lines up the ball.

      Garces’ inconsitent reffing of the breakdown should not take away from the fact that Saints were more than worthy winners though. The element of sore-loserism (if it was present) is particularly unfortunate because the Saints fans I met last weekend were incredibly gracious in defeat.

      A lot of questions for Leinster after this weekend for sure but one is: what does Leinster Rugby see these Landsdowne days as? Two losses in a row is not good for growing the fan base on the one hand. On the other hand, the people who paid money to be entertained but are not fans are also not doing the image of Leinster Rugby any favours.

      • Ciano

         /  December 16, 2013

        Not *quite* two loses in a row in the Aviva for Leinster. I believe their last game there was V. Munster last spring?

      • Stevo

         /  December 16, 2013

        I wasn’t booing, I was saying ‘Boo-urns’.

      • Leinsterlion

         /  December 16, 2013

        While I personally wouldnt boo the kicker, lets be honest, its a(nice) holdover from the amateur era and will eventually disappear the more mainstream rugby becomes, a bigger issue imo is music blaring through PA systems. Crowd noise(vuvuselas, clackers etc aside) even booing, is preferable to music deafening me.
        I’d rather see a total Irish Rugby ban the of PA/piped music, and hire an Oompa/French horn band to play during breaks/trys etc, would generate a positive atmosphere and possibly stop booing.

        • Bowe Gathers

           /  December 16, 2013

          Have a Boy’s Brigade Brass Band up in Ravers who get the price of admission to add a little oompa at key moments. Certainly does the trick – if you’re prepared to lug a tuba to the arse end of Belfast then you certainly love Ulster rugby. Surely there are enough Protestant Percussionists in Dublin to arrange something similar?

          On an entirely different note, when does going to L’Aviva become a mistake? I can’t help feeling the RDS would have been a better venue for a result. Certainly easier to get a crowd atmosphere going, in any case.

          • Leinsterlion

             /  December 16, 2013

            I’d wholeheartedly support that, brass bands are massive positive addition to the atmosphere of any ground. I’m actually going to shoot of an email to Leinster about it.

            As for the Aviva, once the crowds and cash are there, I think Its a positive. You cannot underestimate how much exposure and cash those Aviva games bring in. I can see Leinster becoming full time tenants(for HC and Rabo knockouts) sooner rather than later(dependant on the growth of the HC of course), kind of the IRFU to build us a perfectly sized venue wasnt it?

    • L.P.O.

       /  December 16, 2013

      Let’s just clarify. Booing the kicker is never on. However, the kicker has 60 seconds to kick the ball, after which the kick is invalid, as per Law 9.B.1.e. Myler decided to re-tee after the minute mark, which caused the frustration as he was doing so, because it was grimly predictable.

      “The kicker must take the kick within one minute from the time the kicker has indicated an intention to kick. […] The player must complete the kick within the minute even if the ball rolls over and has to be placed again.

      Sanction: The kick is disallowed if the kicker does not take the kick within the time allowed.”

      That said, he kicked to no booing from our section at least, which was the section mentioned, just the noise of the odd sanctimonious tosser loudly feigning self-righteous indignation while not actually having a clue what’s going on on the pitch. Nothing new there, then.

      People tend to get very worried about this issue. It’s not a tradition that’s going to disappear. It’s just that in the bigger stadiums, if the kicker is pulling a fast one, there will be a reaction as he re-tees for the seventh time like old Dan Parks in Croker in 2010. At that point many of the people who follow the sport might well emit a groan or say a colourful oath, then fall silent as he’s finally got the ball in a position he’s deigned fit. He’s still a good 30 seconds from kicking the thing at that stage at least, and the referee is showing he’s not going to be one of those types that applies the laws at all, like Monsieur Garces, so that’s fair enough in anybody’s book. It’s at that precise second the self-righteous loud-mouthed onanist chooses his moment to start shouting about how it’s disgrace to make any noise when a kicker is on/or near the field, and how he’s more of a gent than anyone, which creates noise much more noise than any groan/oath could and far closer to/during the kick, but it’s his moment to shine, so he doesn’t mind, ironically! ‘SHUT UP, YOU BOUNDERS… CAN’T BELIEVE PEOPLE ARE SO RUDE! CAN’T YOU SEE HE’S TAKING A KICK, HAVE YOU NOT BEEN TO AS MANY MATCHES AS I? I HAVE BEEN TO SEVEN! SO SHOW A LITTLE RESPE…OH… HE’S MISSED!’ which the buses of brats who are too young to have a clue about rugby anyway, take that as a signal that screeching at the kicker is finally ok.

      So, if you want the problem sorted, you need more whips for the people wrangling the sproglets and a mandatory gag for Mr.SelfrighteousRugbyFan. Or get referees who apply the law (seems a long shot), or failing that, stop the clock to avoid the “gamesmanship” which produces the groan, that spurs the eejit, that stirs the sprogs, and the bog down in the valley oh.

  8. Re the Munster match, I’d disagree with the characterisation of their try as a “systemic defensive meltdown at the worst possible moment”. Looked as straightforward a case of the outside man (Hurley) not trusting his inside man (Earls) as you’ll ever see, and nothing wrong with the system at all. As Hurley’s tweeting post-match would indicate:

    “Off the bench u hope to make an impact,not quite what I had in mind with their try. Lucky for a chance to reprieve myself #magicmomentsinred”

    And that’s leaving aside the two forward passes in the Perpignan move! The fact that it didn’t go upstairs just adds further fuel to my ire at the awfulness of the new TMO laws.

    The rest of the game was a real slog to watch, and I was laughing bitterly at our attempts to move the ball off the initial scrum in those final moments before jumping out of my seat when we went over. That try from JJ really was something special, and no hype required. A sidestep out of the top drawer.

    Didn’t see much of the Ulster game (not for lack of trying), but 10 points from Treviso is an excellent return and they look the pick of the provinces. Connacht were unlucky to be decimated by a flu virus which essentially put their hopes of another victory to bed, and Leinster… Well, that was a disappointing watch. Nowhere near as mentally sharp or as motivated as the week before, and that told both in the back play, which was uncharacteristically predictable, and in the collisions, which Saints routinely won. The ref’s dogmatic interpretation of the breakdown didn’t help, but none of the Leinster players seemed to gather that he wanted an almost immediate release from the tackled player at every ruck, so they were partly to blame for not adapting. I doubt it’ll happen again this season. and when you see Heaslip making a 50 metre break and almost setting up a winning try, you know the raw materials of a champion team are still there. Was gutted for him at the final whistle, he looked like he was in a dark place.

    • Fetcher

       /  December 16, 2013

      I was quite impressed with how Ieuan Evans refused to correct his reading of the defensive misread, initially accusing Earls of not listening to Laulala, despite each replay making it clearer and clearer that Hurley had moved off his man as he didn’t trust Earls or wanted to take man and ball.
      Great try at the end, the TOD showed why he was ahead of Stander; couldn’t see CJ getting that offload away.

      • The man has persistence if not perspicacity, I’ll give him that.

        I’d say CJ is competing with Coughlan more than O’Donnell. O’Donnell is locked into the team for me; when he’s fully fit and on form, he’s the best back row we have. The only reason he was on the bench was presumably because he was barely back from injury.

  9. Andrew

     /  December 16, 2013

    Really worrying loss, not just losing to a team we tanked for forty the week before but also the losing BP. The big turn around will remove some of that magic we had earned with how we have won in Europe. If one team can turn them over using ten man rugby why not us too?
    We have our bogey team to come and Castre away will be very difficult especially when they left the RDS thinking they might have let a win slip.
    You would also think that there was enough brain power on the pitch last Sat to start trying keep the ball and look for a bit of territory. We are not good chasing games generally we go for the mirical play/pass rather then play a safety and build again. Funny the line out malfunction happened when the pressure was on against Clermont last year. Just when you need the regular stuff done well we made a utter mess of it.
    Credit to Northampton they simplified what they were about and just did it.

    • Ciano

       /  December 17, 2013

      Spot on Andrew, even if we took stock around 60 or even 70 mins and started playing their slow game, and brought Gopperth on to try and kick for touch, that still would have been enough time! We seemed to stubbornly keep at it. If playing a certain way won’t yield a try in 60 mins, it’ll rarely yield one in 80…

  10. Amiga500

     /  December 16, 2013

    Erm, just to correct you on your last sentence; Leicester’s game management supremo Ryan Lamb took the conversion too quickly giving Montpellier another chance, albeit more theoretical than real, at the death.

    • Ha! Yes he did, that was remarkable. He’s not a real Leicester man though, is he? More Gloucester/London Irish in spirit 🙂

  11. I watched both the Munster and Leinster games. Munster weren’t great. Their handling and their backline’s offence were poor. Their scrummaging however was quite impressive. I was delighted they won, but God almighty, they really need to raise their game, if they want to progress beyond the quarter-finals. Perhaps I’m being biased, but I thought the contest in Lansdowne Road was of a much higher standard than the one in Perpignan. The intensity the Saints brought to the match was massive. The work our fellahs had to do to repel them on our own line again and again was also commendable. From start to the final second it was a one-score match, that could have gone either way. Leinster kept themselves in contention until the very end. The belief, that they could win, was always there. Perhaps however this belief led us to assume, that we would prevail in the end. If so, it proved to be an illusion. This match showed up weaknesses, which MO’C, his coaching staff and the team can now go about attending to. If we had to lose this year in the Heino, then this was the match, which still leaves us leading our group, to do it. As Andrew said, ten-man rugby on this occasion showed us up. We daren’t let that happen again.

    • Just a note on the Munster scrum: Paul McCarthy, who was the dedicated scrum coach, hasn’t actually been replaced, which means that the scrum coaching this year has been chiefly taken care of by Penney himself, as far as we in the public are aware. I’m sure BJ Botha has had a big role as well, but it must be said, for a former number 8 to be the primary coach of such a dominant scrum is a serious feather in the cap.

    • Sound Steve

       /  December 16, 2013

      Fantastic job at extracting every possible positive from a home defeat against a team we gave a hiding to the week before while having a pop at Munster after, an albeit sloppy, win in France. The fact remains as it has done for a while; we will struggle against juggernaut packs who can kill our quick ball. Northampton won and fully deserved it. If there was a third game next week and the exact same teams I’d probably put my money on Northampton.

      The Leinster game reminded me of the England match last February, a lighter (and more skilful) Irish team outgunned by suffocating defence and superior territorial game.

      • toro toro

         /  December 16, 2013

        “we”? You’re kidding nobody.

      • Spikes

         /  December 17, 2013

        That’s a bit negative Steve. Home or away, I’d still back Leinster against the Saints on average. A fit and functioning Jennings or O’Brien, a better read of the ref, or just one last pick and drive in the 80th minute and we win that game despite not playing our best. Regardless, congratulations to Northampton on turning it around and showing real resolve. I’ve a soft spot for them and their fans since the HEC final a couple of years back. They were the same friendly folks when their team were dishing it out in the first half as they were when they were taking it in the second – an absolute credit to the game.

  12. Fetcher

     /  December 16, 2013

    Munster fans hype JJ? That would never happen. We’d never bestow foolish nicknames upon him like Jesus Jaysus, we’d never tout him to replace Sexton be the end of the Six Nations, we’d never call him a out half with the deceptive hips of Barry John, the low centre of gravity of Ward, the sidestep of Shane Williams, the passing skills of Carlos Spencer, the kicking skills of Ronan O’Gara and the swagger of a young JPR Williams. Nope. Never.

    • connachtexile

       /  December 16, 2013

      You forgot his ability to cure the sick and walk on water but seriously he’s the greatest player since POM or Killer (just ask Frankie Sheahan if you don’t believe me). As for Leinster I thought Jennings was off the boil and just plain rusty. I know he wasn’t meant to start and he’s just coming back from an injury but couldn’t O’Connor have changed the bench and replaced McLaughlin with Dom Ryan? I think it would have made a big difference to the result if Jennings only played 60 mins.

  13. L.P.O.

     /  December 16, 2013

    You nailed it on the loss of both Seanie and Healy being huge, as it left Cronin, McCarthy and Heaslip trying to punch the holes. We were always going to miss those two. And honestly, I don’t think Jenno was fully fit. In theory, he should have been able to excel in a game where anything went at the breakdown, but he was anonymous. Still don’t think McCarthy is fully fit either. And Jamie… well, can’t talk about that still.

    Haven’t watched the game back yet… not ready. If we end up having to head to Toulon, as you predict, or Clermont again, because we were pushing for a winning try and got stung… well, it is sport, as you say, but it’s a punch square in the gut. Time to get all Shakespearean… Oh Fortune’s wheel…. etc. etc. you’re so high and looking at a home quarter, a lotto semi and a possible ferry to the final, and whoosh, you’re in a shite situation. Not the exact quote, but you get the idea. Nice piece, as ever, lads.

  14. The match at the Aviva was a cup final for Saints as deep down they probably feel
    that Leicester will cook their goose again in the Premier league.
    It will be the “do you remember that great etc” story at their annual end of season party.
    If you add a desire for revenge to that plus the absence of 2 of Leinster’s top forwards
    the result makes sense.
    This group may be won with just 19 points which means the scenic route to the semi, or out ,most likely out.
    As far as booing the visitors place kicks is concerned,it is awful – no excuses – full stop.
    It put fans on a level with soccer and basketball types not to mention the Welsh and French.
    I am happy to be pompous on this point. Fans of the other 3 provinces seem to have better manners than many at the Aviva.
    Munster do what they do best; dug out a win away from home while not playing well.
    Scenic route towards the semis likely for them as well.
    But it is looking bright for Ulster as a home quarter final is well within their grasp.
    They are the top Irish hope for winning the the competition at this stage.

    As for Connacht – rotten luck with the virus before facing a very classy French club who rarely funk it on the road.
    Toulouse always take the HC seriously and are a joy to watch.

    Not a joy to watch are Globo Gym so please Connacht – 2 goals for the rest of the season
    1. Up the Rabo table to 7th place starting with thumping Newport on Friday.
    2. Deny Globo Gym a bonus point on the Barnet plastic pitch in Jan.

    • 7th in the table wouldn’t be enough for Connacht I thought? They would have to leapfrog one of the other provinces, as the Scots and Italians are each guaranteed a place, or did I remember that incorrectly? Of course, it’s still not clear what the tournament will look like next year.

      • Ciano

         /  December 17, 2013

        I believe there are now no national anythings for the Pro 12 it’s just a straight top 7.

        • L.P.O.

           /  December 17, 2013

          It seems nobody knows what’s going on, me included. But from what I can make out, as it stands the English are out, and the Welsh are engaged in some taffy-civil war. The latter could run because of the relationship between the WRU and the Unions. I’d speculate that the longer it does run, the less likely they are to participate.

          What we do know is if either or both are out, there will be a 20-team cup regardless. If the Union wins in Wales and the regions remain, that could still look like a 12 from the ProXII and 8 from the TopXIV. If the regions win, again we put in our full league (or what’s left after the taffy treachery), which is 8… so we either up the French quota or get other European teams involved… or half and half.

          The long and the short of it is Connacht automatically qualify without doing anything or being done any favours by another province for the first time ever so long as there is a breakaway. So does every team from the ProXII… slightly ironically, since the means of qualification was perhaps the main front for this gambit in the first place.

          The only was Connacht won’t get European Cup action next year is if a Province doesn’t win a Cup this year, combined with the English *ha* apologising and coming back to the fold. It usually takes them a year. Seems unlikely, but it would be a bit harsh to spring on the Italians, the Scots and Connacht at the last that suddenly league position did matter all along for European action the following season.

  15. Len

     /  December 17, 2013

    Have to say Saints were brilliant at playing the ref on Saturday, something Leinster used to be good at but have clearly forgot. There were a lot of very frustrated fans in the section I was in (between the lower west and south). People seemed to believe that some of the calls were very harsh especially as we appeared to give up a penalty every time we got into the Saints half in the second half. We forced things early on looking for quick trys to put them away as we had the previous week and when that didn’t work we resorted to aimless kicks from most of the back row. I agree with the points above, Jennings did look off the pase as did drico and a few others. No SOB = no go forward. I heard in a very “sisters friends boyfriend knows Heaslip” that a deal has been done and he’s off to France at the end of the season. Saw the Munster game in the barn that is the gasworks pub and the final try for a great cheer. Very poor kicking from both out halves.

  16. Munstermicko

     /  December 17, 2013

    Pure munster moment on Saturday. A mediocre performance won by a single moment of “Pishun” at the end.

    Regarding the booing this is very much an Aviva thing and its normally coming from the schoolkids who seem to be blockbooked into big clumps dotted around the nosebleeds of stadium where Mummy and daddy bring the whole family on the 20 euro tickets.(Who can blame them)

    I had it last year at the Clermont Game too where the little treasures would get irate when the Clermont fans “clapped” Morgan Para when he lined up his kickers as per their tradition. The same kids didn’t notice that our French visitors kept quiet for the Leinster kicks

    • curates_egg

       /  December 17, 2013

      Woah Micko, the curtain has fallen! Surely you meant:

      “The legend lives on. Munster showed why they are the best championship side in the country, if not the world. The king may be gone but the ability to close out close games remains. Ladyboy chokers choked again.

      As for those ladyboy ghouls and their booing, what else would you expect from that bunch of Johnny-come-lately, fair-weather fans? Spoilt little rich langers from posh private schools, with no manners and Union Jack underpants. You won’t get that in Thomond because we are born with rugby in our DNA and didn’t just stumble on it as a fad because of a hard-on for Chris Ashton’s swan-dives. Molly Malone was a slapper and her spawn is a bunch of yobbish fiends.”

  17. Munstermicko

     /  December 17, 2013

    Touche

    Great material there!

    You get a special voucher at the gate in Thomond though that allows you to boo Jonny Cash and Dr Phil.

  18. osheaf01

     /  December 17, 2013

    A refereeing whinge, but from a winning position, so not Sore Loser-itis: that is twice in a row that Mr J P Doyle (an exiled Dub, by the sound of him, surely?) hasn’t exactly been consistent in refereeing a Munster away HEC game.
    Exhibit 1: he called back a Munster try in Edinburgh for a marginal forward pass; he ignored 2 blatant forward passes, refusing to even engage the TMO, for the Perpignan try.
    Exhibit 2: he ignored a late tackle on Hanrahan in Edinburgh, resulting in the winning try; he blew a marginally late tackle by Jones in Perpignan. Same offence, different treatment – the very definition of bias.

    Combined with ignoring Perpignan tacklers making a bed and lying in it on the Munster side of the ruck, almost every time; with taking an age (7 or 8 minutes’ gametime, 6 scrums), and palpably not wanting to, award Munster a penalty try, and refusing to even warn the Perpignan loosehead for what must have been 8 or 9 infringements, including one laughable one where he broke off and scrummed perpendicular to the scrum; and with refusing to deal with constant Perpignan cheap shots, while fobbing off Munster with “don’t get involved, I’ll deal with it” (but you DON’T!!), I don’t think I’ve disliked a referee this much since Romain Poite’s heyday about 2 or 3 years ago (Poite has improved greatly in the meantime). If he referees Munster again, it’ll be far too soon.

    • Never attribute to bias what could more easily be attributed to incompetence. He’s a young referee who’ll get better with age, but right now, I shudder when he’s refereeing an Irish side, especially away from home. The low-point was the absolutely absurd yellow cards for handbags, which he dealt with in favour of Leo recklessly using his feet and throwing a punch. Or perhaps the low-point was the failure to spot either of the forward passes for Perpignan’s try, or to refer it to the TMO, which of course he subsequently did for a Munster try over which there was absolutely no doubt. Or maybe the bizarre penalty he gave against Kilcoyne for not releasing the tackled player when he hadn’t even been the tackler. Not to mention the crazy amount of time he allowed players on the ground to hang on to the ball before whistling. It was a bad day at the office for JP alright. Thankfully it didn’t end up having a decisive effect on the outcome, and he’ll learn from it, so we can be magnanimous about the whole thing.

  19. osheaf01

     /  December 17, 2013

    Yes, forgot that, the Kilcoyne one is the one about 10 minutes to go? Botha tackles by the ankles and rolls away, Kilcoyne and POM try to jackal. Penalty for “tackler not releasing.” WTF?
    There was also a Perpignan lineout that started off crooked and ended up about 3 m crooked, so non-straight that the tail of the lineout had to stretch to claw it in with the outside arm.
    I taped the match and watched it back on Saturday night, and let’s just say he wouldn’t have wanted me as his referee’s assessor!

    • Fetcher

       /  December 18, 2013

      While I agree Doyle’s performance was extremely poor I think the call on Kilcoyne was ok. As the tackle was nearly completed Kilcoyne went in on the USAP player. A half second thing.

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