Getting the Chip Back

Rob Penney’s comments about Munster ‘playing the Six Nations champions’ have managed to drive the media narrative for the upcoming Leinster v Munster battle this Saturday. And why not? Everyone loves a good soundbite and Penney, who is out the gate this June and has probably lost any appetite he had for toeing the line on IRFU politics, has handed one to the meeja on a plate.

We wrote a lengthy piece a couple of years back outlining how the ‘chip on the shoulder’ has been passed around the provinces. Traditionally it was a Munster thing, as they perceived the old selection regime, where the national team was picked by a so-called Big Five, routinely left Munster under-represented. But once The Munster Brand went supernova in the early-noughts, it was Leinster who fostered the spirit of righteous indignation as they came to be held up as the opposite of everything that was great about Munster, when in fact they weren’t all that terrible. And latterly, it was Ulster who were running with the baton. Something of an afterthought among the Irish media, they didn’t seem to get much credit for their excellent recent results and under Kidney’s regime, couldn’t get many of their players selected for Ireland. Remember “Ulster are the better team but Munster are the better province” and “a win for Ulster (over Munster) will be bad for Irish rugby”?

So, is this the moment where Munster re-apply for ownership of the shoulder-chip? Have we gone full circle, with Munster taking back what is rightfully theirs? It’s too early to say for sure, but they look to have a pretty chippy feel about them for this match, and no doubt Penney is trying to stir the pot a little. Again, why not, and while Gerry Thornley’s assertion that ‘there is no more dangerous team in the world with a chip on their shoulder than Munster’ is way OTT, every little helps. It seems only natural that the like of Tommy O’Donnell, David Kilcoyne and Simon Zebo are coming into this game with a huge point to prove.

We not only had Penney’s comments, but Axel Foley chimed in when asked if he would be giving his players extra motivation by asking them to show Schmidt why they should have been picked. Foley’s response was that he didn’t expect he’d need to.

Another interesting comment by Foley was that he would consider playing Keith Earls at 13 ‘because we want to see more Munster players picked for Ireland’. It seemed an odd thing to say, and it would be something of a surprise if Foley saw his Munster team as a breeding ground where he could experiment with players’ roles with a view to getting them into the Ireland team, as opposed to a self-contained entity. He has bigger fish to fry, surely? Well, yes, and as one commentator pointed out, he is probably not being as generous to the national team as he appears. With Laulala leaving in the summer and no replacement coming in as yet, it’s looking like Keith Earls is the best – possibly only – contender to play there next season, which is undoubtedly the real motivation behind persuading him to play 13.

It’s been a while since we saw a really chippy, indignant Munster (probably dating back to Deccie’s first term – by 2008-09 they were a strong and confident Rolls-Royce), so it’ll be interesting to see how the look suits them. The game itself will ultimately define how successful Penney’s better-when-we’re-bitter strategy is. Fail to show up, and they’ll look like the Emperor’s New Clothes, but such occasions are rare in this derby match. Another tight, scrappy, full-blooded affair seems most likely – odds on disciplinary ramifications are low, but then again, some incidents have escaped being cited in recent years, apparently.

One thing’s for sure though: if Penney and Foley want to build a siege mentality from within, they’re unlikely to get much help from the meeja. We expect The RTE Munster-mania Show to roll out the big guns on Saturday, with every kick-chase drooled over and every pass that goes to hand lauded as setting up a potential try-of-the-season.

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59 Comments

  1. osheaf01

     /  March 26, 2014

    “We expect The RTE Munster-mania Show to roll out the big guns on Saturday, with every kick-chase drooled over and every pass that goes to hand lauded as setting up a potential try-of-the-season.”
    Ha! You do realise Royle Nugent comments on rugby for RTE? Leinster are loike, sooooo totally awesome, mon! Points of Ken for the goys in Koiley’s!

    • You clearly didn’t see their coverage of the Scarlets game – the commentary team were like schoolgirls at a Beatles concert, and made BBC NI look like neutral and impartial observers of Ulster games.

      • Bushmills

         /  March 26, 2014

        You gotta love BBC NI. Mainly because they actually show games (BBC Scotland chose to air a program about alcohol abuse in Finland instead of sending cameras to Murrayfield for the Embra v Ulster game). Also because Jim Neilly is a national institution. He learnt his trade during the golden era of BBC Sport (Harry Carpernter, Barry Davies, etc) when context not hype was a key attribute. We will miss him when he retires. Look (listen?) at the alternative… Mark Robson!

        • Hairy Naomh Mhuire

           /  March 26, 2014

          To be fair to BBC Scotland, that was actually the Scotland v Finland friendly soccer international.
          My favourite Jim Neilly moment was a press conference when David Humphreys announced that Brian McLaughlin was ‘moving to a new role’ (before taking Ulster to Heino Cup Final) & Humphreys kept talking about how he hoped the new coach would be as ‘fantastic’ as Brian was. Neilly repeatedly kept asking Humphreys ‘So if Brian is so fantastic why are you replacing him’. Then asking BMcL ‘Do you actually want to leave Brian?’. Followed by ‘Brian doesn’t want to go David. You seem to think he’s fantastic. Why is he leaving’? And on and on it went. Neilly like a dog with a bone. Lots of squirming in seats at the top table. Bizarre but very funny.

          • Bowe Gathers

             /  March 26, 2014

            Jim Neilly is my all time favourite, rooted in the facts rather than the blather that we’re supposed to buy into (“Oh we totally respect Treviso, they’re very hard to break down when they’re away from home” BS). My own user name is a little quote from his “Holy God in Heaven, Bowe’s scored!” moment in ’09. A great commentator.

    • I may be wrong, but I’m pretty sure RTE were visibly drooling over Munster during the Thomond match last season, even going so far as to blame Dave Kearney for POC kicking him in the head. Obviously that’s over there and way back then and this is now, but when you put POC on the pitch he’s going to be superlatived constantly (although this being BOD’s last Munster interpro will probably mean he gets a few column inches too).

      • You’re wrong alright. Ryle was apoplectic.

        • Leinsterlion

           /  March 26, 2014

          And that was about as far as the criticism went, the Munster media machine was in full swing after that, lo and behold, nothing came of it, most people blamed DK for putting his head in front of the ball over on MF, the Indo, times, and the Journal. POC was quickly absolved of blame.

        • Yes, that’s exactly what happened. Aside, of course, from the reams of media generated by Joe referring to the number of Youtube hits the video of the kick had gotten, the French media coverahe which posited an Irish conspiracy, and, among many other columnists’ views, Neil Francis’s article on the subject whose headline considered that Dave Kearney could have been killed.

          I imagine Munsterfans (which is a broad church but certainly has a substantial number of absolute loopers on it) and possibly BTL on The Score (I rarely bother) were the only places where anyone suggested Dave Kearney might have been even remotely to “blame” for getting kicked in the head. The notion that it was covered up by a crack team of Munster media co-conspirators is deluded paranoiac nonsense.

          • Well, leaving aside those blaming Kearney for putting his head in the way, the way it was handled by the media was embarrassing and parochial. Francis’ article was a week after the event and he used it to castigate others in the media, who he accused of spinelessness.

            Whatever side you come down on over the incident, Gerry Thornley, writing for the paper of record, didn’t even allude to it in his match report, presumably for fear that he’d be directing the citing commisioner towards something. If that isn’t a dereliction of duty as a journalist I don’t know what is.

          • I also believe (well, I know) that the huddle-up in the press box at full-time agreed not to mention it in any reports.

    • jacothelad

       /  March 26, 2014

      One word. ‘Tremenjus.’ One more. ‘Frankie’. A third. ‘Quinnie. Jizz alert.

      • Of course there was a confluence of interests, which prevented Paulie being cited, in order to make sure he’d be available the Heino quarter final the following week against Harlequins. And as events subsequently proved, it paid off. The French were absolutely right in their criticism, that here was another example of Irish “stroke” politics.

        • moreinhope

           /  March 26, 2014

          What!? Is that true about press box huddle-up!? Shameful incident – and not for what occurred on the rugby pitch. There’s something crushingly inevitable about this kind of media collusion. That is not journalism, of any stripe. As you say Riocard, a sporting re-enacment of depressingly familiar stroke politics

    • zdm

       /  March 26, 2014

      The BBC NI commentary/analysis is an Ulster fans wet dream – they know the only people watching are card carrying Ulster fans so the partisan analysis of their play is so overcooked, you almost need to check the top left corner to make sure there are actually two teams present.

  2. kinger83

     /  March 26, 2014

    Plus the fact that the match is on TG4 not RTE.

    • Gosh you’re right! Err, we meant in the, eh, highlights package. Yes, that’s the one.

      • If only they could get Jerry back for his standard “ah yeah, so…”*mumbles about something which may or may not be related to what the commentators have been saying and “yer man doing well there”*

        • Hairy Naomh Mhuire

           /  March 26, 2014

          Jirry will actually be pitch-side Saturday night for TG4. His mumblings are actually wonderfully insightful when spoken ‘as Gaelige’. Apparently?!?

          • Riocard Ó Tiarnaigh

             /  March 26, 2014

            Is fíor sin. Tá Gaeilge an-mhaith ag Fla!

    • jacothelad

       /  March 26, 2014

      Crap.

      • jacothelad

         /  March 26, 2014

        Pity they don’t have a red button English option like S4C.

  3. Good point osheafo1, thanks for contributing to the debate. Sod off back to the journal.ie\indo comments section please.

    • osheaf01

       /  March 26, 2014

      Good point diblinidiot. Sod off back to leinsterfans please.

    • Leinsterlion

       /  March 26, 2014

      In fairness Nugent is a tool.

  4. Yossarian

     /  March 26, 2014

    Is there a feeling in the media of trying to get the old rivalry back?easy column inches to fill? The height of it was around the 06-09 time when there was a real bit of nastyness to the games. Contepomi/ROG/Leamy etc. There is (to Irelands benefit) a little more of a firendly rivalry “like playing your brother” “we will all be friends after” kinda vibe from the players. I’m sure it will be a hugely physical game but not concerned with the fixture the same way as before.

    • curates_egg

       /  March 26, 2014

      Get it back? Where did it go? From my perspective, the unseemly and grating rivalry has never been more prominent. Also, it is not the meeja making these comments…it is the Munster management and former players.

      I dread these derby games because there are always incidents that have nothing to do with rugby. Putting even more ‘grudge’ into the match is totally unnecessary.

      • Yossarian

         /  March 27, 2014

        I don’t think it is at the fever pitch that it was in 06-09 thats all. Zebo was talking this week and it was nothing like the venom of the Contepomi/Leamy variety. I see Penney doing it but not sure its there for the players to the same extent as before.Maybe if it was a Heineken Cup it might be different or else i am getting old and don’t have the same energy to engage in Munster fans the way i used to before!

  5. mohill11

     /  March 26, 2014

    And of course Stephen Archer and the Killer Kilcoyne will justifiably feel that they could’ve contributed to the Six Nations victory too!

    • Jill

       /  March 26, 2014

      England’s 6 Nations victory?

      • 😀 I don’t know whether to say “Saucer of milk for table 2” or “Well in!” to that. Bit from column A, bit from column B I suppose.

  6. B

     /  March 26, 2014

    I think it could actually be a big game for Keatley/JJ v Madigan. There’s spaces up for grabs for the trip to Argentina and only the most hardcore Madser fans believe he’s had a really good season. Keatley should surely be looking at Madigan knowing that as a utility option he’s the better 12/15, and if he can prove he’s a better 10 too then he’ll have to start pushing Madigan for an Ireland spot soon. The main problem with Keatley is despite the win over Leinster in Thomond this season there have been nagging questions about his ability to keep the head in the biggest games. Away to Leinster before starting a heineken up quarter final is his time to prove his credentials.

    • Munstermicko

       /  March 26, 2014

      The tide will turn. Saturday will be de beginning. Just ye jackens watch when Munster go on to win De hydrogen cup,, de Rabo and de Amlin

      Saturday is a full house though all the same. Been to this fixture in the Aviva the last few years and they never quite managed to completely pack it out.

      • B

         /  March 26, 2014

        Just because I can write relatively clearly doesn’t mean I’m a jackeen????

      • Scrumdog

         /  March 31, 2014

        I hear that the job market has really picked up, is their someone out there who can offer Munstermicko some work (preferably in Leinster somewhere) so he has less time to submit this ‘illiterate garbage’ ….to more than a few rugby sites?

    • Definitely a match-up to watch… if it happens. I think Gopperth will get selected for Leinster. Not sure how Munster are expected to line out, but are they sticking with Downey at 12 or he is he effectively in the dustbin?

      • B

         /  March 26, 2014

        That would be a shame if Madigan doesn’t start but also an indictment of where he is tbh. I know this has been debated ad nauseum all season but now that we’re at the pointy end its more important.

        • Leinsterlion

           /  March 26, 2014

          An indictment of where MOC has Leinster, you mean.

  7. Bobby T

     /  March 26, 2014

    A lasting inferiority complex pervades the constant exaggeration of imaginary Munster media bias.

    • curates_egg

       /  March 26, 2014

      Imaginary? It is hard to pick up an Irish sports page without getting your fingers all wet from the drool of whichever two-bit journalist has written about Munster or whichever ex-Munster-player-turned-columnist is giving his tuppence-hapenny about the pashun. Ditto with the national broadcaster. There are one or two exceptions but, by and large, the Irish media is a branch of the Munster supporters’ club. I am not sure if it was a consciously orchestrated campaign (and, if so, Pat Geraghty deserves massive kudos) but the predominance of the Munster line in the media is impressive.

    • Would that inferiority complex afflict those who exaggerate the Munster media bias, which is in itself imaginary; or would it infect the imaginary slights invented by the biased Munster media? Or, alternatively, are you agnostic about the existence of a Munster rugby team, and the complexes and exaggerations are neither here nor there?

      • Bobby T

         /  March 26, 2014

        Agnostic is a perfect description.

        • connachtexile

           /  March 26, 2014

          Three words ‘Cork Con Mafia’. If I hear another rugby commentator use the word ‘like’ after every sentence as they do in begrudger land aka Cork then I’m gonna smack someone. And people can say what they like about TG4 but at least they have Maire Treasa Ni Dhubhghaill. A lot easier on the eyes then George Hook.

    • What it looks like inside the Leinster fan filter bubble:

      Column about Munster player: “Sickening Munster media bias! Cork Con Mafia! Ligind pashun honesty ha ha ha!”

      Column about Connacht player: “Boy Leinster could sure use Robbie Henshaw to replace BOD!”

      Column about Leinster player: “I appreciate this balanced and objective coverage.”

      There are no columns about Ulster players.

      • connachtexile

         /  March 26, 2014

        ‘There are no columns about Ulster players.’ – You Canadians should consider yourselves lucky that even deign to let you play in the same league as Team Pashun and Connacht B (aka Leinster)

        • zdm

           /  March 26, 2014

          Please, it constantly irks us Ulster fans that we don’t get a bye to the final of both the Heino and the Rabbid each year. It’s tiresome enough that the IRFU forces us to travel to Dublin to mix with the nouvea-riche in their shopping centre of a stadium but the ignominy of having to tolerate your pot-hole strewn roads all the way to Limerick or Cork is almost too much to bear!
          At least Galway has an airport. And the dog-track, I like the dog-track. Also the garden shed serving beers is nice.

          • Bowe Gathers

             /  March 27, 2014

            I was not aware there were roads into Limerick. I’ll bring it up at the next order meeting.

          • zdm

             /  March 27, 2014

            Better thought of as escape routes out.

  8. Munstermicko

     /  March 26, 2014

    I think it was the Ulster Munster game recently where they had Tremenjus, quinie and someone else(O brienne?)covering and it was comical.

    You’d swear the commentary was a bunch of Munster supporting mates sitting around a couch watching the match on the box. Ulster were the foreign team. “Elaine” Roland was being particularly harsh on the Munster lads and both Quinnie and Donal sounded like they were going to throttle him.

    • I *love* the way Triminjus calls Rolland “Elaine”

      • Rolland was dreadful that day it must be said. Now we get the dubious pleasure of him in the middle again this weekend, a former Leinster scrum-half refereeing Leinster v Munster in Lansdowne Road.

  9. Bob

     /  March 26, 2014

    It used to drive me nuts when Leinster/Ulster fans used to go on about the bias in selection when Munster players made up most of the Irish squad. Better player got his game as the coach at the time felt he could do a job for him. Nothing has changed in selection terms under the new coach, he feels like Leinster players can do a better job for him in the majority of cases. Provincial bitterness has now moved on to Munster fans. The reason being the majority of Irish people are bitter, can’t see reason and are illogical most of the time. Sure look at the Celtic tiger, it will be back any day

  10. Wrote a similar post on this issue earlier in the week: http://ovaldigest.com/index.php/petty-provincialism-bitterness-card-youve-learned-lot-rob/

    No matter what you think about Penny’s tenure, the way he’s handled the media hasn’t been great. The interview after Treviso was cringeworthy.

  11. Bill H

     /  March 26, 2014

    All this bitterness from Munster fans is warranted. They are now the 3rd best team in the Rabo and are coming up to the Aviva like lambs to the slaughter!

  12. SportingBench

     /  March 26, 2014

    The grudge stuff is all a bit tired. Ireland used to pick a majority of Munster players strangely enough during an era when Munster where amongst the best teams in Europe and ahead of any other Irish province. Now Leinster make up the majority of the Ireland team and weirdly enough are also universally acclaimed to also be one of the top 3 teams in Europe and the best team in Ireland. Victories tend to speak louder than media talk in selection and as of this moment most people would say Leinster are Ireland’s best team so if Ulster or Munster want to change that they can go out and smash Leinster on the pitch and win the HC. If they demonstrate they are better teams I guarantee Joe will start selecting more of their players.
    Of course the one exception to that was the trail end of Kidney’s coaching reign when players like DOC got selected when clearly they were not the best option. Hard to see how this was Muster bias though as one of the people DOC kept out of the Ireland team was D Ryan who had taken his Munster place. This is more a bias towards the well-known and trusted and a conservative fear of the unknown than a provincial favouritism. And the crucial point is Kidney failed to get results with Ireland in the last few years and got the sack. I doubt Joe Schmidt or any other serious coach is going to risk their job by selecting based on our local rivalries. And that includes selecting some Munster men just to quieten down the undoubted Munster media fan club.

  13. Personally, I feel far more is being read into Penney’s statement than was actually intended. He was essentially making the same point RO’G had made in the course of his and Shaggy’s match with Andrew Trimble post-match in Paris, namely that those players who had taken part in such an occasion – Penney was of course referring to the whole 6 Nations – will have profited from the experience. As Leinster had by far the largest contingent in the squad it stands to reason, that the eastern province will profit from Ireland’s success in the competition proportionately more than Munster, Ulster or Connacht. The Leinster-Munster “rivalry” gets over-egged far too much, with last year’s uproar about the rights and wrongs of the younger Kearndashian’s concussion courtesy of Paulie’s boot – an incident, which was totally devoid of malice – being a low-point. I hope it’s a great match, with no dirt and may the best team win. If I were to make a prediction, I think Leinster are going to hammer Munster. But then I would say that, I’m a Leinster fan. Na Laighiní abú!!!!!!!! COYBIB!!!!!!

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