El Summer Tour Contra Los Pumas

Joe Schmidt has named his 30-man panel for the two-game series in Argentina – and it’s not in nice places like Buenos Aires and Mendoza, but swampy, tropical Resistencia and rural Tucuman, where Besty might feel at home. Sling another cow on the giant open barbie there, ranch hand!  The wine will be great, sure, but the nightlife might not cut it. We discussed the topic last week, and mooted that the most important bits of business are beginning the process of replacing O’Driscoll and winning the series.

It’s been a long old season and a good few bodies are deemed too tired or injured for the trip. In the past, the mantra from Irish coaches has been ‘these are the games the players are rested for’, but for the likes of Cian Healy, Tommy Bowe and Sean O’Brien, it’s been decided that they’d be better off recovering from whatever niggles they’re carrying. It must have been tempting to bring O’Brien and Bowe, who have relatively little rugby this season and could be reasonably fresh as a result, but discretion is often the better part of valour, and they’ll have the summer off to come back with renewed vigour for next season. There are bigger fish to fry.

Hookers: Rory Best, Damien Varley and Rob Herring

Herring is the beneficiary of a lengthy injury list, with Cronin, Sherry and O’Strauss all injured and he has deputized well for Besty. Best himself has only just returned to fitness, but given the lack of first-rate alternatives, it seems logical to pick him.

Props: Mike Ross, Marty Moore, James Cronin, Dave Kilcoyne and Jack McGrath

With Healy being given a free pass for the summer, James Cronin gets to travel. He hasn’t quite shot the lights out since his eye-catching cameo against Leinster last autumn, but there’s no rush and he seems to be made of the right stuff. He’s picked to get exposure to the test squad. Most likely he’ll be holding tackle bags, with McGrath the likely starter and Kilcoyne first reserve. It’s become a position of remarkable depth in the last season. On the tighthead side, Moore is likely to get his first start in a green shirt. Mike Ross tours again – we were incredulous he was brought to the US and Canada last year, although this makes more sense – you don’t want to be relying on Stephen Archer against top rate opposition.

Locks: Iain Henderson, Paul O’Connell and Devin Toner

Ireland look a bit light with just three. Presumably Robbie Diack and Rhys Ruddock are providing cover should it be needed. With Donnacha Ryan injured and Dan Tuohy operating at less than 100% options are thin on the ground, although Mike McCarthy might have been one, though his star has waned. The players named are uniformly excellent. Henderson had his best game of the season against Leinster, and just as Devin Toner looked to be running out of puff, he had a fine performance in the same game. O’Connell is captain. It will be interesting to see if Henderson gets a chance to mix it with Patricio Albacete and co.

Backrow: Lots of players NOT FROM MUNSTER

Back in the Six Nations we had the Great Tommy O’Donnell Outrage. But Schmidt was proved entirely correct in his selection of Murphy over O’Donnell. O’Donnell’s form has been nowhere near his 2012-13 level and he has subsequently found himself dropped by Munster, failing to even make the bench in ther last game. Never mind, let’s move on to Sean Dougall Outrage. With O’Brien not selected and O’Mahony injured, Rhys Ruddock is liable to get a first start for Ireland, and the uncapped Robbie Diack may feature at some point, though Jordi Murphy appears to be the most versatile man for the bench. Mr Indestructible, Jamie Heaslip, will almost certainly be relied upon for another 160 minutes of high-grade rugby, and Chris Henry will also ensure some degree of continuity. Diack is probably the most POM-for-POM replacement, but you wouldn’t think he’s at this level. The bigger question is how you re-integrate Sean O’Brien (presumably in November) – someone has got to miss out. Fez is injured again, and surely won’t wear green again – sniff.

Half Backs: Conor Murray, Eoin Reddan, Kieran Marmion, Jonny Sexton and Paddy Jackson

No surprise that Jonny Sexton is picked, especially with O’Driscoll and Dorce missing. He presumably assumes the role of backline leader.  As usual, Ian Madigan’s inclusion/exclusion [delete as appropriate] becomes a talking point. He’s back on everyone’s radar after Saturday’s stunning match-swinging performance, but those whose memories extend back to before then may remember that his form has been in the doldrums since the Six Nations. Paddy Jackson has yet to have that match-dominating performance that elevates him to the level occupied by Sexton and O’Gara before him – the new Toby Flood anyone? – but he has had a solid season (to be fair to Jackson, with Pienaar inside, he’s unlikely to have the opportunity any time soon either). Kieran Marmion’s selection is welcome – Reddan will slow down at some point – like Cronin he is no doubt bought along to learn as much as possible from his seniors.

Centres: Luke Marshall, Darren Cave, Robbie Henshaw

The great one retires and 97-year old Gordon D’arcy gets to put his feet up. It’s a great chance for Luke Marshall to get the jump on him. McFadden presumably provides cover. At outside centre, the new era begins, and whichever centre gets selected to start is probably worth persevering with for both games to give them the best possible chance of settling in. No pressure Mr. New 13, you’ve only got to replace the best player in the world, like, evah! Angry Darren Cave feels like the sensible option to us, but if Anscombe is shuffling him around, it becomes a little muddier – no point in investing gametime in a player who might not start there for his province.

Back three: Keith Earls, Simon Zebo, Andrew Trimble, Fergus McFadden, Rob Kearney, Felix Jones

He’s back! The red corner will breathe a sigh of relief that Simon Zebo has returned to the squad. Joe Schmidt needed little prompting to remind the Munster flyer that he has things to work on, but since the Six Nations it’s been hard to fault his attitude. He used the media not to whine about his lot, but to let the public know he was going to work as hard as he could, and to these eyes anyway, appeared to show great desire on the pitch. Notable contributions included a brilliant try-saving tackle against Toulon that kept Munster in the match, and his restart-chase against Toulon resulted in him scoring a try a few phases later.  Surely the very details that Schmidt was looking for him to improve upon?  Ireland are crying out for a bit of stardust in the backline, so hopefully he will get his chance. Keith Earls is back from injury and has looked dangerous without quite cutting loose in recent weeks; the rest pick themselves with Dave Kearney now injured and Tommy Bowe given the summer to rest.

Team to start the first test, maybe, possibly, dependant on all players getting through the Pro12 final, not getting injured in training and not missing the flight: Kearney, Trimble, Cave, Marshall, Earls, Sexton, Murray, McGrath, Best, Moore, O’Connell, Toner, Ruddock, Henry, Heaslip. A nice blend of the established and the younger. NWJMB would be a brave selection alongside POC – he will likely scrum down at tighthead lock when Muller moves on, so it’s the future .. if Toner ever stops improving.

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68 Comments

  1. jacothelad

     /  May 21, 2014

    “Fez is injured again, and surely won’t wear green again “– sniff. Sniffle. Weep. I.T. reporting that he is finished. Woeful news.. if true. What a terrible 2 seasons for Ulster with the loss of Nevin Spence and his dad and brother, then all the injuries that ruined a promising squad. I have to say I find all the outrage about player X not being in / out is pretty unpleasant at times and just pathetic at others. G.T. in the Second Captains whine …oooops….meant report……claimed that TOD lost form and confidence after being dropped in favour of Murphy. Time to find another career if it’s true….maybe professional bangle making or Aromatherapy…..big girls blouse. I just don’t think he is that good anyway. He had a few good games against Zebre, treviso and Edinburgh and suddenly he’s seen as a cross between Ritchie McCaw and Nigel Carr.

    • I wouldn’t necessarily agree with Thornley’s take that being dropped for Murphy affected him. Seems a bit speculative/presumptious. It’s not like he was flying up to that point… the reason he was left out was because he had had scarcely any match time since coming back from a long time out with injury.

    • Stevo

       /  May 21, 2014

      A bit harsh on Tommy O’Donnell there, he’s not responsible for the nonsense Thornley spouts in lieu of actual rugby analysis. Nor is he responsible for, or the first victim of, the Munster hype-machine. He’s just a good player who’s hit a run of bad form who plays in a position with a lot of competition.

    • Sound Steve

       /  May 21, 2014

      I don’t think Thornley’s suggestion about TOD’s fall-off in form being caused by him being dropped for Murphy is that ridiculous. It does fit quite neatly from a timing perspective although I’d be surprised if a pro’s confidence was quite that brittle. I’d bet anything that Thornley’s sources are far superior to anything the general population have access to. There seems to be an agenda against Thornley based on his overuse of a few journalistic props and his support of Kidney. I mean the guy is the main rugby writer in the country’s most respected paper, he has to toe the party line to an extent, so give him a break. He is certainly a lot more astute than most of the tosh you read these days.

      The fact that Murphy can’t get onto a first choice Leinster bench must be quite worrying for all (except Leinster). I reckon if Munster become more direct next season, the game plan will suit TOD much more than Dougall and should help him find some form. Otherwise a long-term absence next year for Jennings could be the best thing that could happen for Irish rugby.

      • I agree. Gerry’s a bit of an eejit, but I love his enthusiasm (and his dishevelled look), which particularly comes/come across in the mini-videos the IT puts up on the website. No one’s ever gonna be able to fill Edmund van Esbeck’s shoes, so we should really cut GT a break.

      • curates_egg

         /  May 21, 2014

        The agenda against Thornley is based on the fact that he is a totally partial Munster fan, not his style. His X factor writing and that little bit of je ne sais quoi it brings to the rugby pages in Ireland is enjoyed by all.

        • Sound Steve

           /  May 21, 2014

          Honestly? Is this based on his coverage of Munster matches or his coverage of Ireland? Or both?

          • curates_egg

             /  May 21, 2014

            Both. It’s understandable why: he has been treated very well by Munster over the years. It is grating for fans of the other provinces to read though. Otherwise, I personally like the Thornley 101 style.

          • Bobby T

             /  May 22, 2014

            A journalist would have to come out and declare Munster the worst rugby team in history for it not to be deemed irrational pro Munster conspiracy jargon. Suggest tat Zebo is good enough for selection – you are a Munster Media Mogul, suggest that Madigan is worth a shot and you are just a rational human being who loves attacking rugby.

          • curates_egg

             /  May 22, 2014

            Right on man. You said it. Nice contribution. Considered. Damn Dublin meeja bias.

          • Bobby T

             /  May 22, 2014

            Thanks

  2. Stephen

     /  May 21, 2014

    Hard to disagree with most of that selection. Re Cave in the centres: is it possible it’s not just Anscombe who’s made the decision to play him at 12? Is Cave-Henshaw a possible centre pairing for this tour, a la Wolfhounds?

    • I’m not sure; I’d be surprised. My understanding (such as it is) is that national coaches asking for particular selections is very rare and not for crunch games; it’s highly unlikely they would force a coach to experiment in one of the biggest games of a province’s season.

      That’s not to say we won’t see Cave at 12, but I’d have thought Marshall is the best bet for that position.

      • Bushmills

         /  May 21, 2014

        I agree. I have to struggled to accept the recent viewpoint that Anscombe selected Payne in the centre to accommodate the national interest. If that was the case, surely he would have insisted on Madigan ahead of Gopperth?

        • Stephen

           /  May 21, 2014

          I’m not referring to the specific instance of Cave-Payne at 12-13 in the Pro12 semi: that seems to have been a function of “Jared Payne viewing himself as a 13”, to quote Anscombe at a recent Q&A session. However around the time of the AIs and 6Ns, neither of which Cave was selected for (although he was in and around camp along with Henshaw, getting advice from the great one), he was played at 12 in a few Pro12 games.

          That combined with the fact that he was played inside Henshaw for the Wolfhounds (which presumably Schmidt has the final scan over) makes me think it’s possible.

          Put it this way, if you were going to play Henshaw at 13, who would you want inside him?

          • Ro

             /  May 21, 2014

            Madigan perhaps! With PJ on the doubtful list now becasue of a back injury Mads could be travelling and holding a place on the bench as reserve 10. Could end up seeing him and Henshaw as our centre pairing.

  3. Delighted to see Zebo back. He has huge talent, but as the Rabo semi against Glasgow proved, he still has a bit of improving to do on his defence. As a former hooker, I’d personally rate Herring above Varley. Looking forward to some serious squad building by JS and with a bit of luck two victories!!!

    • Herring looks technically superior. Varley is a pretty old-skool player; doesn’t have much skill or ball-handling ability, but he’s pretty doughty and his jackalling over the ball at the ruck is superb.

  4. Cian

     /  May 21, 2014

    Anyone else feel a bit queasy at the thought of Herring and Diack getting capped for Ireland? Strauss was a bit different, being the best hooker available at the time, but now feels a bit like the thin end of the wedge that will see non-Irish players selected in positions where we have a fair bit of indigenous strength.

    I don’t think Joe has been retrospectively proven entirely correct in his selection of JM, unless he’s psychic. TOD had a storming game vs the Saxons prior to his dropping, and on repeated viewing I still can’t see his supposed grievous errors vs. Wales.

    Of course, his form has indeed plummeted since, and it’s entirely his own responsibility to get that back, nothing to do with Joe. I still think JM is getting a relatively easier ride to Ireland caps than other back rows at the moment, but then you could say the exact same about POM prior to his coming dramatically good in the 6N. Maybe the coaches see great potential in Murphy. As it is though a man dropped for an ageing, inconsistent Jennings couldn’t claim to have earned a national squad position the hard way.

    • Schmidt was asked the question specifically on Diack. Herring is Irish-qualified through ancestry, Diack by residence. As Schmidt says, they are the rules, he will pick the best players available to him – and the vast majority of the squad is indigenous.

      And also – Diack would be unlikely to be picked if we had a full hand to choose from.

      • Matt

         /  May 21, 2014

        I flipping love Diack. Never going to absolutely dominate a game like SOB or Fez, but then again either are any of Ruddock, Henry or Heaslip. Never has a bad match, except perhaps last years pro-12 final- d’oh!

        • Leinsterlion

           /  May 21, 2014

          He also had a quality 50/60 mins against Leinster on the weekend.

        • Peat

           /  May 21, 2014

          Depends what you mean by dominate – there’s been a couple of big HEC games where I’ve thought Henry was the best man in an Ulster shirt and that his influence on the breakdown one of the crucial factors on the game.

          Diack, bless him, has an awful lot going through for him and is utterly committed, but will never be top class.

        • Mike

           /  May 21, 2014

          I’m still struggling to forgive him for not scoring in the Rabo final last year when Sexton held him up. A fly half stopping a number 6 one on one from a couple of yards out? Something very wrong there.

    • Bill

       /  May 21, 2014

      Jennings is playing some unbelievable rugby! Was superb against Munster in the Aviva and again against Ulster away so he deserved his spot!

    • Paddy

       /  May 21, 2014

      Prior to the 6Ns TOD had shag all top level rugby. He basically got into the squad on his reputation from the previous season. That’s a relatively easy ride to a bench spot. Not sold on Murphy myself though as a leinster fan quite happy with his progress these last 2 seasons. I think what got him into the squad was versatility similar to McFadden and Madigan

      • seiko

         /  May 25, 2014

        TOD had 5 games (4 starts) before the Six Nations. He came on for the last 20 mins against Perpignan (remember JJ try) just before xmas, and he started and played the 80 minutes for the final 2 Heineken Cup games before the 6Ns. He started the game for the Wolfhounds as well.

        Whatever happened to him, he seemed to have lost his confidence when he was dropped for what seems no apparent reason during the 6Ns in favour of someone who wasn’t starting for Leinster. I hope Schmidt has explained why he dropped him and has given him his work-ons like everyone else seems to get them.

        • I’d posit its highly unlikely that he was unceremoniously dumped (Ryle moment) without homework

    • I feel queasy about Diack because he’s not Irish, not because there might be other back row options! I know I’m in a minority and I know NZ do it, etc, but these rules are stupid when Diack or Strauss can play for a foreign country simply by turning up for the standard length of a rugby contract.

  5. I can well imagine Henshaw getting some time at 12 on this tour, I think Joe is a fan of players who can legitimately multitask, rather than theoretically fill other positions. Of course he has yet to play 12 but surely has all of the attributes. Would argue that perhaps this is one of the reasons Ruddock and Diack have been picked as they have both filled in at second row at times.

    Personally would not be surprised to see Cronin ahead of Kilcoyne I think he’s a much better scrummager than the latter.

  6. Leinsterlion

     /  May 21, 2014

    Would have liked to see Madigan tour, but he’s been MOCballed all season so it wasnt exactly a shock to see him left out. Dont really get the point of sending him to play for emerging Ireland, surely that should be for fringe players who as a taste of international rugby as opposed to guys who have been on the scene already? He would have been better off getting in a break and a full pre season.
    No one can have any real complaints about the squad, if we were facing NZ I would be worried, but I think we’ll just about shade the Pumas.

    • I reckon Joe’s sent Madigan off to lead the emerging team from the fore, whack assorted Russkies, Romanians and Georgians and establish his game management credentials.

      • Leinsterlion

         /  May 21, 2014

        True, he may yet reach Paddy Jackson levels of “game management”, hopefully soon.

        • Stop press!!! PJ out with back injury, Madigan to travel to Argentina, with JJ and Keatley the likely 10s headed to the Black Sea.

          • Leinsterlion

             /  May 21, 2014

            Haha, you cant script this. MOC is probably gnashing his teeth, he very nearly has Madser away from Joe to ruin him as a player, only semi joking.

          • Leinsterlion

             /  May 21, 2014

            *”away from joe long enough to ruin him..” that is.

  7. Jesus. Are you aiming for a Stephen Jones persona in your missives on all things Munster now?

    “Backrow: Lots of players NOT FROM MUNSTER

    Back in the Six Nations we had the Great Tommy O’Donnell Outrage. But Schmidt was proved entirely correct in his selection of Murphy over O’Donnell. O’Donnell’s form has been nowhere near his 2012-13 level and he has subsequently found himself dropped by Munster, failing to even make the bench in ther last game. Never mind, let’s move on to Sean Dougall Outrage.”

    A) How was Schmidt “proven entirely correct”? He picked Jordi Murphy instead, a player who’s never produced a performance of note in a high-level game. O’Donnell had done well when he had come off the bench in previous games, and contrary to what jacothelad says above, actually has played outstanding matches at a high level, notably two performances in HEC knock-out games that were MotM-worthy, away to ‘Quins and Clermont. Now I rate Murphy, he has a huge amount of potential and is clearly a game-breaker, but Schmidt didn’t trust him to bring him on *at any stage* in Paris, even when we were fighting a rearguard action with players close to being out on their feet. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of his selection, and hardly decisive vindication.

    B) If O’Donnell’s subsequent dropping vindicates Schmidt, then presumably Murphy’s subsequent dropping by Leinster behind Jennings also damns him. What’s good for the goose…

    The whole notion that “we won the 6 Nations, therefore all decisions are vindicated” has always been absurd. The fact that we won doesn’t mean people (even those hilarious Munster fans!) can’t reasonably have differing opinions on how we got there, and nothing has been “proven” beyond dispute. As well apply that post hoc ergo propter hoc “logic” to the IRFU’s decision to let Sexton go to Racing (an issue on which you, remarkably, have a different take).

    And look, even if you disagree with all of the substance of the above, the “humour” of these pieces has become increasingly stale and one-sided. Writing posts which mock supporters from one province is hardly funny in and of itself. And if you’re hitting back at the crazies from that province, it just puts you in the same demented conversation as them. The only difference is you write above the line. Which is a shame, because I used to enjoy your blog (I’ve even defended it elsewhere), but I have to say that’s a rarity now.

    • I’d take issue with a couple of points. There was a huge amount of crowing for Tommy O’Donnell to be picked, even though he was just back from injury and had no form to speak of. The argument was essentially to pick him based on his performances from last season. The decision not to pick him is vindicated because it’s become clear that 2014 Tommy O’Donnell has little in common with 2013 Tommy O’Donnell. You’re right in that O’Donnell has delivered some noteworthy performances in high profile games, no question he’s done more in the game than Murphy, but that doesn’t necessarily count for all that much in the here and now. Anyway, surely he’s good enough to come back?

      As for Murphy and Jennings: Was Murphy ever definitively ahead of Jennings. I’d be of the opinion that he’s picked mainly on the back of his performances at No.8, where he’s been frequently outstanding, but wheree he’s being blocked out of the Leinster team by Jamie Heaslip. He can do a job at 7 but his skillset is almost entirely different to what Jennings brings there.

      • O’Donnell has been fit since mid-December, and has played in 16 games (11 starts, 5 subs) in that period of time. He’s suffered a severe drop-off in form in the last few weeks. He had in fact been quite good for Munster prior to the 6 Nations, which Schmidt recognized. Hence the selection in the Ireland squad, and hence the two appearances off the bench. He was decent if unspectacular in those appearances too; check out the Demented Mole pieces reviewing ruck effectiveness, and his 5 tackles in 7 minutes when Wales were pounding away at us toward the end of that game. The narrative that “2014 O’Donnell isn’t the same as 2013 O’Donnell” is something that’s sprung up in the last three weeks, and it’s hard not to see it as a way of justifying Schmidt dropping him for a novice when the easily available alternative explanation is that he lost’s some confidence. As Thornley has suggested. and as is now being derided in the echo chamber of Leinster and Ulster fans that is this blog and its comments section.

        Anyway, the point I was most interested in making was that the blog has gotten worse by engaging in exactly the same kind of internet sniping which, by incessantly mocking, you act like you’re above. I presume you guys are happy with it one way or the other, but there’s a reason barely any Munster fans ever post here, and it’s probably related to the fact that the very first thing you tweeted when you found out Madigan had been selected to replace Jackson was nothing to do with rugby, but instead to do with Munster fans’ inevitable (and perfectly reasonable) unhappiness with that decision. Think about it.

        • Which itself mocked Leinster fans inevitable (and perfectly reasonable) unhappiness with PJ being picked ahead of Madigan?

          Anyway, appreciate the feedback as always chief!

    • Sound Steve

       /  May 21, 2014

      Agreed and a really well articulated comment. The blog suffers from a mildly dismissive attitude towards Munster and its supporters and this is a view shared by others. Each province has their own cause celebre – Leinster and Ian Madigan, Munster and TOD/Zebo, Ulster – Marshalls/Cave/Tuohy and I don’t see why some should be dismissed while others held up.

      • We’ve consistently pointed out the following:
        – PJ has clear blue water between him and the challengers as Sexton’s backup this season (not buying the Leinster/Madigan cause celebre line)
        – Zebo should be in the panel (supposedly a Munster cause celebre)

        So neither backing up an apparent anti-Munster pro-Leinster sentiment. We don’t apologize for giving our opinion on TOD (not as good as he was playing last season), JJ Hanrahan (give the lad time for Gawd’s sake), Earls (smashing, one of our favourite players), POM (we argued he was over-hyped 12 months ago, still believe he was – but developed into a smashing player), POC (simply the best), Kilcoyne (over-rated a little, we thinkg Cronin will end up ahead of him), Archer (wrote him off post Scarlets last season, but he’s improved consistently since), etc, etc.

        Do you think we’re unfair to Munster players in particular?

        • Sound Steve

           /  May 21, 2014

          In general you’ve been quite fair with regards to players but there is a clear mocking or dismissive tone where Munster are concerned. Much of it is facetious, i.e. the back rows headline, but Munster or its fans seem to consistently be the butt of the joke. I’m not a Munster fan so I don’t think it’s any sort of sensitivity on my part.

        • “you don’t want to be relying on Stephen Archer against top rate opposition”, sounds like your still writing him off. He was having a pretty good year. Now the fact he hasn’t played a game in two months would be a fair criticism.

          I would also agree the “Munster Meeja conspiracy” carry on has become a little bit over bearing. Thoughtless is about the only consistent Munster commentator I can think of straight off top of my head on this blog these days. I definitely remember there being more a year ago.

          • Leinsterlion

             /  May 21, 2014

            Well internet coverage is patchy outside the M50….they are probably only getting through the 6 nations blogs.

        • Yossarian

           /  May 22, 2014

          While i might not always agree with everything posted here i like that the blog is not trying to keep everyone happy. The mainstream newspapers are scared to offer any strong opinion for fear of losing sales numbers.(except Neil Francis who like him or loath him doesn’t care who he offends)
          If you want bland pandering to provincial sensitivities stick to the indo and the times. If you want to read some opinions being offered and a chance to discuss them log in here.

          • As a Munster fan I’ve no recollection of feeling offended by the blog and largely agree with the analysis and I’m certainly not afraid to say when I don’t. The commenters can be a mixed bag, shocking given it’s a diverse bunch of people who don’t all agree, but in general disagreements below the line are usually done with respect, especially by the regular visitors.

          • I don’t think anyone’s offended by differing opinions or criticisms. It’s more the constant, tired, one-sided “jokes”, like the above dig at the “Great Tommy O’Donnell Outrage” and the “Great Sean Dougall Outrage”, and the constant bitching and moaning about the Munster Meeja, and the “liginds”, and the Cork Con mafia. and the etc etc… “Offended” isn’t even the right word. I certainly didn’t use it. It’s just tedious, unoriginal, and a low-level irritant on what is otherwise an occasionally decent place to talk rugby.

          • Bobby T

             /  May 22, 2014

            Have to agree with thoughtless. It has definitely become tiresome. Seems like a sub-concious thing and definitely a little bit of over-sensitivity on my part at least but there are minor jibes in nearly every single article.

  8. Ireland's Answer (allthingsrugby1)

     /  May 21, 2014

    I would liked to have seen Dave Foley tour. He has done really well for Muster in some pretty demanding games and given how light we look I’m quite surprised? and if I was Ruddock i’d be pretty annoyed if I get stuck in the second row b/c of it.

    Also I can’t understand how Schidmt is vindicated by TODs form post six nations? If you go down that route it wasn’t the smartest in picking Mads over Pj, Boss or Reddan/marmion? Really weird comment to make.

    • The point is that O’Donnell had no form to speak of coming into the Six Nations. Everyone who wanted him to be picked was arguing on the basis that he was the same player as the prevoius season i.e. to be picked on reputation. That has simply not been the case.

      Foley might have been worth a look, he’s finished the season very well. Almost certain for a starting role in the Emerging Ireland team I expect.

  9. bigger fish to fry……Herring is the beneficiary……[snigger]

  10. Jackson out with an injury. A stress fracture in his back. Sounds sore.

    Ian Madigan’s fanclub can breathe a sigh of relief. He’s in!

    • D6W

       /  May 21, 2014

      Let’s hope he gets the opportunity to show what he can do, and that he takes that opportunity. There are an awful lot of doubters out there who don’t rate him, and don’t believe the Leinster fans who say he can be sensational.

      Regarding starter at #13, you did not mention McFadden. Whether people rate him or not, I do think Joe likes him at #13, and I would guess he will get at least one start at that position.

      • I could be wrong, but I think in Schmidt’s last season at Leinster, he played exclusively as a wing, and he has done so for Ireland under Schmidt as well.

        Our sense would be the 13 running order is: Cave, Henshaw, Earls, McFadden. With Earls and McFadden as break-glass-in-case-of-emergency options

      • Peat

         /  May 21, 2014

        There’s a lot of Madigan doubters who believe he can be sensational. I think everyone’s seen him be sensational. It’s his consistency and game management that’s in doubt – and I think it’s fair to say its impossible for him to prove anyone wrong off of 2 games.

    • curates_egg

       /  May 21, 2014

      As a member of said fanclub, I think it is a real shame for Ireland that Jackson is not going. He and Ireland would have benefited from him having 60 minutes of rugby this summer. There won’t be that many more opportunities to get him on the pitch in an Ireland shirt between now and the world cup (barring injury) and he seems to be clearly the back-up starting ten.

      As for Madigan, I think he should have been included in the squad from the start. We are a year away from a world cup and we need our world cup squad players to be training together…even if Madigan has not had the form/support/chances this year and wouldn’t have made it into the 23. The fact he is now on the tour is a silver lining.

  11. MunsterJack

     /  May 21, 2014

    Have to agree with Thoughtless – I have enjoyed the blog and the comments section for some time but found the increasingly overt Ulster bias and slagging off Munster a bit trite and alienating. Not hugely impressed with your defence WoC – when you are explaining you are losing as they say. You should not have let the blog get to that stage. Pity it was the best around!.

    • Riocard Ó Tiarnaigh

       /  May 21, 2014

      “was”? Ah Jaysus, Munster Jack, ná bí mar sin! As David Soul used to sing: “Don’t give up on us, baby”. I think everyone who writes here is interested in the success of Irish rugby i.e.,the national team and all four provinces (and not just one’s own one). It could be that it comes easy to the rest of us to slag Munster, because you guys have been so successful in mythologising your “brand”. Please don’t take offence. I don’t believe there was any intended.

    • ‘ when you are explaining you are losing as they say’ -Never heard that one, I think you meant ‘thou doth protest too much’ and I disagree, WOC have the right to reply.

      • MunsterJack

         /  May 21, 2014

        There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio (labrecha1!), Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

        • Riocard Ó Tiarnaigh

           /  May 21, 2014

          @MunsterJack lol!!!!!

  12. scrumdog

     /  May 21, 2014

    “Diack is probably the most POM-for-POM replacement, but you wouldn’t think he’s at this level”……..’EITHER’ is the missing word here and not fair to Diak who probably registers a double digit tackle count….. which POM has never done for Ireland.

  13. MunsterJack

     /  May 21, 2014

    Nicely put Riocard! I would not describe the trend as offensive just that some themes were was wearing a bit thin. I won’t be deserting.

    • Riocard Ó Tiarnaigh

       /  May 21, 2014

      Maith fear! Personally I’m thrilled Fla’s returning to his spiritual home and hope sincerely that yiz get the Munster machine purring again. Unfortunately it probably means he won’t be doin the anailís for TG4 anymore, which is a pity, mar tá Gaeilge maith aige!

  14. Will

     /  May 22, 2014

    Jeez, everyone’s getting it today. Poor Gerry, Tommy, WOC’s sense of humour…
    It’s been a bad few weeks – Toulon and Sarries for the last HEC, Ulster and Munster out of the Rabo, Leinster playing like they only practice defence drills, PJ injured, Fez possibly in premature and unfulfilled retirement.
    True Gerry liked Kidney a bit too much for comfort and his defence of Gatland after BODgate was cringeworthy, but he’s still one of the standout rugby journalists.
    TOD will be back and then some. Start the debate back up then.
    WOC may be a bit more white than red and a bit more blue than green, but it’s only a bit and it IS the best and most humorous rugby blog around.
    Roll on Argentina and a break for everyone for the summer. Goodbye Penney and Mannix. Hopefully goodbye MOC in a year, as it’s the best we can hope for.

    • D6W

       /  May 22, 2014

      Hear, Hear. And I don’t mind if WoC makes Leinster the butt of a few more jokes, I can take it. So long as they are humorous, and they usually are.

  15. Thanks for all the comments and feedback everyone – good and bad. As some commenters have pointed out, we are ‘only’ rugby fans at the end of the day and we do have our allegiances and that can’t be helped! We don’t consider ourselves anti-Munster, but maybe we still haven’t gotten over some of the more lunatic anti-Schmidt stuff that went around during the Six Nations. Perspective is important and we know they’re not representative. Needless to say we would hate to see our Munster readers desert the blog. Big post on the new Munster coaching ticket coming up today that should hopefully get everyone chatting below the line.

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