Leinster’s Rubbish Season – Still

Leinster bowed out of Europe with a narrow defeat to Toulon.  The game was far closer than expected, going to extra time and was ultimately settled by a cheaply surrendered intercept try.  For all the fears that Leinster would be beaten out the gate, they got stuck in, and buoyed by a strong set piece and better discipline than their hosts, stayed in the match right until the end.  Indeed, had Jimmy Gopperth nailed a pretty makeable drop goal near the end they might even have made it to the final, which would have been extraordinary.  It’s not his specialty: that was Jimmy’s third clutch-drop goal miss of the season, and he looked like he needed to be a couple of metres further back in the pocket.

The match ultimately followed a familiar pattern to recent semi-finals involving Irish provinces, this time with Leinster replacing Munster in the role of gallantly losing underdogs.  Twice in recent years, an unfancied Munster took their amply remunerated French opponents to the wire, and lapped up the plaudits in the process for their noble efforts.  But on both those occasions they lost.

Amid the halooing over bravery and fronting up and such, it shouldn’t be lost in the wash that this was one pig-ugly game of rugby.  Robert Kitson tweeted that it was the ‘worst Euro semi-final anyone can remember’ and he was not wrong.  Sky Sports did an admirable job claiming that it was compelling, even if it lacked, y’know, tries, line-breaks or any frisson of anything, and the Champions Cup twitter handle was doing it’s odious thing by retweeting tweets from delusional viewers claiming the match was fantastic.  Purr-lease spare us.  Most of it was awful, and really quite boring.  Sure, any close game will throw up a bit of drama at the end, but even that was hardly the stuff of legend, unless you’re really into missed drop goals or swing-and-hope penalties from 55 metres.  Over on Eurosport you could instead have watched the Amstel Gold Race, a Dutch classic bike race, where nobody took any risks, hoping to still be in it at the decisive final climb.  One was a bike race, the other a rugby match, but they weren’t all that different.

Once the misty-eyed reverence for defending and not being thrashed by a Toulon side who themselves were utterly devoid of any creativity passes, it will have to be accepted that this wasn’t really all that different to the garbage Leinster have played over the rest of the season.  Certainly, their forwards fronted up to deliver a decent platform.  Undoubtedly, their set piece was improved.  And they didn’t go walkabout for a full quarter of the game, which is a big improvement on the norm.  But the same commitment to woefully narrow attacking and aimless kicking of the ball was on full display.  At no point in the first 80 minutes did they look even remotely like scoring a try.  In the first half they made four gainlines and carried for a collective 34 metres. Manning up in the set piece and making tackles is about the minimum demand that should be placed on a team in a European semi-final.  They did just that, they put their bodies on the line, they were disciplined, the fans can be proud of their team; but they still played an awful lot of abject filth.  The midfield of Madigan and Te’o played as if they had met each other for the first time that morning.  To these eyes, Madigan’s pass for the intercept wasn’t especially floaty, but the runners in the 13 and 14 channel were running too laterally, away from the ball.

Things changed after that moment.  In the second period of extra time, now having to chase the game and with Eoin Reddan at scrum half, Leinster upped the tempo, made significant ground off a number of phases where quick ball was plentiful and ultimately manufactured a try.  A try!  It was their first in Europe since the first half against Wasps, all of 200+ rugby minutes ago.  However, it only served to highlight how limited the gameplan had been up to that point.  It is well and good playing a certain way when chasing the game, but what was required was the bravery to play that way  when the match was there for the winning.  Instead, Leinster’s only attacking plan appeared to be a low-flying cross-field kick that even if caught gained no more than a handful of metres.

So that’s it.  Leinster’s dignity is intact, but it doesn’t really change much.  The season has been a poor one.  This was not the Toulon piloted by Nicolas Sanchez, which filleted Ulster; this was a team with Michalak at 10 having one of his rubbish days, Matt Giteau unable to influence the match and an old pack looking leggy after a long winter.  Forget the reverence for their star names; they were there for the taking.  The Irish Times have continued, this morning, to treat Leinster fans like a sort of baying mob, saying their ‘largely ignorant’ criticism of Matt O’Connor should be put on pause for a while now.  Largely ignorant?  Did they read Demented Mole’s piece last week and conclude this?  And the assertion is wrong in any case.  Leinster fronted up here, but they need to be aiming for one rung higher than coming out the losing side of the worst semi-final anyone can remember.

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81 Comments

  1. Jaybee985

     /  April 20, 2015

    Poor piece by Cummiskey I thought. Andy McGeady their occasional columnist referenced the Mole’s piece on MOC last week as a high quality contribution, Their regular columnist Liam Toland slammed MOC at the end of the newstalk broadcast yesterday. Am not a fan of Ian Madigan but I don’t think he should have singled him out as no 1 of the 5 things we learned about Leinster yesterday.

    • Leinsterlion

       /  April 20, 2015

      Just read that, what a moron. MOC has nearly killed Mads’s career and now Sexton is back to relegate him to bench or to be converted into a crap 12 as countless outhalves who weren’t trusted by their coaches have done. I hope Madigan moves to a club who will play him, such a waste of talent. Shocking article from a hack journo.

    • Leinsterlion

       /  April 20, 2015

      Ha, just read his player ratings, Maddog-5″One crazy pass away from being the hero, his lack of control at pivotal moments was all too evident again. Responsible for Bryan Habana’s intercept try and put three balls out on the full, including the kick-off, he did only miss one of six penalty attempts.”
      Lack…..of….control…from 12? Cummisky doesnt know what he is talking about, what a rag the IT is, my boycott shall continue, they will not get a cent from me. Yes, pile on Madigan whilst we play dogshit rugby and kick away possession.. and have a traffic cone playing at ten, well done Cummisky, such analytical ability, expect a phone call from the CIA with a job offer.

      • What are u talking about? the only reason Madigan is in the team is he is a good place kicker. His game management, kicking out of hands, decision making and running a back line where other people make breaks besides him are all well below par. Its alot easier to play well in the auld Rabo with world class backs around you. But 2 and a half years later all the problems he had he still has. He hasn’t improvement and the world class players are fading or gone and his short coming have been exposed. The only reason he will make the world cup squad is his place kicking. As Keatley and Jackson are all round better 10s. Easy to blame MOC for Madigan short coming but that’s an easy out, Madigan is the second best 10 in Leinster and third / forth in Ireland even JM thinks so as Madigan only gets on the bench as a place kicker but didn’t start in Italy.

    • Almost as good as Cummiskey’s clickbaity 5 Things We Learnt rubbish (apparently this included learning Ian Madigan and learning Matt O’Connor, whatever that means) was his players ratings, in particular the one for Devin Toner, which was basically “7/10: Devin Toner is a professional rugby player for Leinster. Leinster is a province in Ireland. Ireland is well known for its cattle exports and green landscape.”

  2. D6W

     /  April 20, 2015

    As a member of the ignorant Leinster rabble, all I can say is what a missed opportunity. Our forwards were dominant in the set piece, and at least equal to them in the loose. And when we had to score a try, we were able to do so with seemingly consumate ease. If we had that urgency in the 95 minutes that preceeded that score, we could have put them away handily. We went on to the field with the worng mentality, and no need to say whose fault that was.

    • Yeah MOC right? not the players or the people in the background who haven’t brought a world class player in years. Ur like an English football fan we are crap its the mangers fault. Rubbish

  3. Leaving asides Leinster’s quality or lack thereof there was still plenty to be depressed about over the weekend. This season and the last 2 (the “Toulon” era), there have been a total of 5 semi-finalists. The previous 3 years (the “Leinster” era) there were 9.

    So we’re now in a Champions League style cycle where only a handful of teams (the big 2 in France, and at a push the bug 2 in Ireland and the debt-and-diamond-fuelled Plastic Fantastic) have a realistic chance of winning the tournament, and the knockout stages are less about doing yourself justice – because who knows when you’ll be back – and more about keeping it tight against the usual rivals.

    To make it worse the best rugby team in Europe are more Madrid than Barcelona, that is to say a collection of expensive individuals rather than a cohesive team; in Bryan Habana they even have their very own Cristiano Ronaldo, who spent the game asking the ref to give yellow cards to the opposition and (literally) getting in the way of his own team before fashioning a great finish from nothing.

    Ugh!

  4. Will

     /  April 20, 2015

    Brilliant piece, great analysis of the game and the general situation. It seems as if the best rugby commentary is coming from yourselves, the Mole, Andy McGeady and dare I say it – Neil Francis.
    I can understand ex-Leinster players not wanting to criticise other people and Rugby circles, although their in patience seems to worn too. Elsewhere, the analysis is not great even going so far as to insult true fans.
    We need a new head coach, anyone who can’t see that is a bit of a fool.

  5. VNVObit

     /  April 20, 2015

    I had listened to the build up off the ball spots on Newstalk and agreed with the pundits that Leinster weren’t expected to win so could play with abandon, instead I saw them clinging to the same defensive focused effort (with poor kicking) they’ve played all season.

    It was as if they didn’t watch the quarterfinal where Wasps showed Toulon up on a number of occasions by running with the ball (alien concept at Leinster these days it seems).

    I can’t help wondering if Munster and Leinster got their wires crossed when they selected Penney and O’Connor as their natural coaching instincts/game plan seem to better compliment the province they didn’t/don’t coach.

    When Habanna intercepted I knew the writing was on the wall and the pushover try was a consolation. We were lucky to be there the way we have been play but our luck ran out.

    • Leinsterlion

       /  April 20, 2015

      Exactly, it was like watching “prime” Munster, 100% perspiration, 0% Madspiration, dour dour rugby. Commendable from a “all effort must be praised” and “hearts on the sleeve”, “passshuun”, “honesty”, “the ball is a live grenade, get rid of it”, perspective, but jesus, what utter shite. At least Munster had ROG to be somewhat effective from ten and a prime Stringer, we had a shot Boss and Traffic cone at ten and Madigan is no ones idea of a Halstead at 12, even the corpse of Halstead would be more suited to the “gameplan” then Mads at twelve, cancerous stuff.

      • osheaf01

         /  April 20, 2015

        That Munster team also had a better pack, and a good 13 in Tipoki. Nowadays, Munster have flashier backs – Earls, Zebo – but nowhere near the pack quality – prime exhibits the meek surrender at Saracens and the absolute bullying they took at home to Clermont.

        • Leinsterlion

           /  April 20, 2015

          Forgot about Tipoki, he was a tidy player.

          Munster backrow needs more ballast Stander and POM are too lightweight to pair with TOD, one needs to make way for an road grader of a player imo, both are great athletes, but with Munster tight five getting beaten up and no real ball carriers amongst them, they get swatted. I cant see where they could get the bulk from in the tight five, barring going out and signing someone, Quinn Roux would be a great replacement for POC, he will be top class imo(so long as he gets gametime).

  6. Amiga500

     /  April 20, 2015

    I watched the game (well, the 80 mins – I couldn’t stay for extra time) with mixed feelings.

    On one hand, I wanted an Irish win. On the other, for the betterment of Irish rugby, I wanted no excuses for MOC not being shown the door.

    I now fear the worst of both worlds will transpire. Moneybags are already in the final, and I have the sickening feeling MOC will be retained.

    I say this as an Ulster fan – MOC is ruining Leinster – and by extension 1/4 of Joe’s pick. The players can talk all the sh!te in the world about loving him and feeling “free to do what they want” – but they are professional sportsmen – they aren’t paid to be happy – they are paid to be the best they can be and win games.

    • This is pretty much exactly how I felt/feel.

      And I find it pretty f*****g insulting how some ‘journalists’ dismiss the genuine concerns of fans as if they know nothing and the newspapers are the gatekeepers to all rugby knowledge.

  7. Right on the money, WoC. Leinster’s demise continues and will not be stopped by yesterday’s one-off. Toulon were there for the taking. If anything one could accuse Leinster of dragging Toulon down to their level – a stick MO’C so infamously used to beat Pat Lam last season after the Connacht match in the RDS. Jamie Heaslip referred to yesterday’s game as a “slug-fest” which it was. To stick with the boxing analogy, MO’C has Leinster playing the equivalent of Muhammed Ali’s Rope-a-Dope, which is ultimately no damn use if, have soaked up the opponents pressure and worn him out, you can’t apply the knockout punch – i.e. get over the whitewash and score tries!!!

  8. Fair play to George Hook, for sticking up for Madigan – not for the first time either – in today’s Indo:

    http://www.independent.ie/sport/rugby/george-hook-ian-madigan-only-lost-the-game-because-he-tried-to-win-it-31155147.html

    • The scapegoating of madigan is really unedifying. Actually it’s completely disgusting.

      • Well said. There were some who did the same thing with Sexton after that BNZ game. It’s a team game, and a team effort. Sure, a single player can make the difference in one moment, but it takes the entire team to get to that moment and follow through afterwards.

  9. Ed Burke

     /  April 20, 2015

    It seems to me to be inevitable that o’connor will be let go, it’s just a question of whether it’s this year or next. Last year was transitional and we won a trophy which is great, but the team has definitely regressed this year and the big fear is another year of stagnation/regression which is time that could be used better by a new coach. Leinster need to bite the bullet and put us all out of our misery. There’s no point in dragging this out another year before making the hard call, by which time who knows what shape we’ll be in. I bet they won’t though. Main reason being Europe starts fortnight after WC, so new coach gets 16 players he’s never met for a week before biggest game of the season. Anyway, roll on the world cup, and hopefully a trophy for munster or ulster before then

  10. Don

     /  April 20, 2015

    I like how when we actually played rugby for those three minutes, we tore them asunder and scored a try.
    I don’t like how that seems to be the longest period we have played rugby all season.
    I don’t like how O’Conner has an excuse for everything. If there is one area Leinster fans have been spoiled in, it was in Schmidt’s straight talking.
    And I really don’t like how, in two seasons, O’Çonnor has given 7 academy players any sort of game time.
    Surely with so many players away for the world cup, it would be an excellent time for Dardis, Ringrose, Byrne and the others to get some valuable game time and experience? Yet I dread to think of who will be picked instead.

  11. zdm

     /  April 20, 2015

    Are Leinster maybe just over the crest of a hill?

    The structure put in place by the IRFU will not allow for permanently successful Irish provinces when up against the unlimited bank accounts in France and England where a galaxy of stars can be assembled in the off season so I think we can expect Irish teams to cycle up and down as key players come and go.

    Munster peaked and looked to have troughed and should climb back up again soon. Ulster bombed out, hit the bottom and have managed to rebuild with a fairly patient approach to recruitment. Do Leinster need to take it on the chin and accept that they need a bit of time to rebuild their squad after key departures?

    • Roundy

       /  April 20, 2015

      Munster’s demise was a direct result of too many average players in when International class left. Leinster still have a magnificent squad, full of current internationals who can perform admirably when on International duty but (with the exception of yesterday) fail to do it with Leinster. We all knew things would take a dip when Joe, BOD, Cullen, Sexton, Isa left, most teams would loosing that talent however the squad is still full of international class and an academy structure the envy of any club, anywhere. MOC is incapable of halting the slow decline of Leinster rugby and should be replaced before its too late. If gate receipts continue to fall we may not be able to hold onto our key players going forward.

    • vshra

       /  April 20, 2015

      We did just win the six-nations, you know, with the bulk of the players being from Leinster!

  12. The fact that Leinster won so much ball only served to highlight the fact that they hadn’t got a fucking clue what to do with it.

    Some of the worst kicking from hand I’ve ever seen at such a high level, from both sides.

  13. andrew097

     /  April 20, 2015

    A good outline of what happened, Leinster playing like they have for the whole season and coming up short. The same game plan as the 1/4 final last year the same result against the same side. Nothing different tried nothing learnt and it goes on week after week.
    Its the aimless kicking away of the ball cheaply that really bugs me more then any other fault. You work so hard as a team to get your hands on the ball and then give it away, no territory, no competition for the ball, no time to reset your defence, no chance for an attacking pack to get up from a ruck and walk back thirty meters to start again.
    Its like something out of a cartoon.”Ha Ha attackers is that all you can do? Here have the ball and try again” Its sad because there is real quality in that Leinster side but it is being strangled by very poor tactics and player management.

    ps
    I can almost hear the Antipodian tones. ” hey Ronnie we are among the four best in Europe give me another two years plus one extension”

    • That’s exactly it – we were begging them to score points at times, just pleading with them by giving them the ball over and over and over.

    • connachtexile

       /  April 20, 2015

      Agreed. I don’t know how many times I saw them kick away the ball and not one chaser after it. Disillusioning stuff.

  14. aoifehamill

     /  April 20, 2015

    It was good to see a performance from Leinster (it feels like it’s been a while since they looked so committed) but I really don’t want to return to a time of “heroic defeats”. Toulon were there for the taking and we couldn’t do it.

    Leigh Halfpenny by the way after the match – it was like pulling teeth, hadn’t realised he was such a personality vacuum (No pun originally intended but I’ll stick with it!)

    Also +1 on the IT’s labelling of unhappy fans as “the rabble”. It’s like bloody thinkspeak. How dare we comment on the complete slide of quality of Leinster’s play. I am a lot bloody better informed than Gavin Cummiskey on the basis of what he writes. We’re ill-informed, INFORM us then oh wise one – what are we missing?

    • In fairness Halfpenny was absolutely knackered and they kept him there for ever. Love his whistling tooth gap tho!

      • curates_egg

         /  April 20, 2015

        He is a terrible interviewee. Just very shy I think. Nothing to do with tiredness anyway.

  15. Billy

     /  April 20, 2015

    Based on my observations of blogs/comments in the last 12 months or so; how to be a Leinster fan in today’s day and age, from a lapsed Leinster fan:

    1. Blame Matt O’Connor for anything and everything
    2. Defend Ian Madigan in the face of irrefutable evidence (preferably while bashing Gopperth)
    3. Steadfastly hold on to memories of the good times and use this as a reference point for everything
    4. Maintain head in sand at all times

    • Leinsterlion

       /  April 20, 2015

      Do you pray to some form of Jack Charlton/Kidney/Cthulhu hybrid at night?

    • D6W

       /  April 20, 2015

      Any thoughts on yesterdays game?

      • Billy

         /  April 20, 2015

        Pretty awful conditions were not conducive to any sort of flowing rugby. Regardless, I can understand the wish to not play rugby inside our own half given; a) their ability to turnover at the ruck, b) Halfpenny’s boot, c) the potency of the their backline. That said, a lot of the kicking was redundant.

        The Leinster backline is a not a patch on recent years. When your main attacking threat seems to be a guy who played his first pro game in October, you know you’re in trouble. The poor backplay this year is a personnel issue as much as a coaching issue. There are coaching issues too but we lack materials.

        The Madigan interception has been waiting to happen for a while. I just hoped it would happen when 50-0 up against Zebre. Blaming the players outside him is farcical. Far from the worst thing I’ve ever seen him do and you can see why he did it, plus it was a great read from Habana, but pushing blame is just ridiculous. A complete lack of objectivity.

        • Roundy

           /  April 20, 2015

          Habana didnt need to do much once Teo drifted away from the pass. MOC is being blamed because he is in charge and formulates the plan (?)

  16. Ireland's Answer (allthingsrugby1)

     /  April 20, 2015

    I’d wonder would Ulster and Munster fans trade their seasons for Leinsters!

    • D6W

       /  April 20, 2015

      Why would they? Leinster’s season is effectively over, while they still have a shot at silverware.

      • curates_egg

         /  April 20, 2015

        Munster fans have never cared about the Pro12 because Munster Rugby has consistently told them it is meaningless. Look at the attendances. Europe is everything for the brave and faithful. We were a drifting dropgoal away from a final. They would take that in a heartbeat.

      • And a top seeding and decent group for the Whatever-it’s-called Cup next season. Whereas Leinster are looking at the likes of Clermont/Toulon/Saffracens in theirs.

    • @Completebore

       /  April 20, 2015

      I was pondering this question as it was repeated by Thornley on each of his nine dozen podcast appearences, radio spots and articles in the week building up to the semi, and as an Ulster fan I don’t think I would. Don’t get me wrong, the couple of days out would have been nice, but going deep in the cup and falling short in the league is usually a sign of fundemental issues being papered over by an unknowable mix of good fortune and good play.

      Not that Ulster are short on problems…

    • osheaf01

       /  April 20, 2015

      Nope.
      When you’ve hit bottom and are on the way back up, you’ll take what you can get. Munster have had a lean enough half-decade, too lean to be turning up our noses at the Pro12.

      Saying that, I think it’s Glasgow’s year.

    • No, while our Champion’s Cup pool was disastrous, and we had some pretty shaky times just after Kiss left again, there’s been glimmers of hope (the first half against Toulon before we got crushed by injuries, Leicester at home), a home playoff is probably a fair reflection on where we are.

  17. curates_egg

     /  April 20, 2015

    As a Leinster fan, I don’t share your sentiment on the game. At all in fact. I am gutted that we lost and proud that our squad fronted up and came so close to beating Toulon, with their huge budget, all-star line-up, 2 successive Heineken Cups and bouclier de brennus. Anyone who feels differently should ask themselves if they really are Leinster fans…or should try and remember other semi-finals we have been in (like 2003 or 2006). It has not always been 2009 and we have never had a tougher semi-final on paper (with 2010 maybe the only contender).

    The conditions were poor and we played them and the ref as well as we could in the first half and showed serious character to put ourselves in a position to win the game at the end. If we (or Irish rugby in general) ever played for and practised drop goals, we might have won. I was impressed with how a number of our squad players raised their game to match their more illustrious counterparts (Boss, McCarthy and Murphy stand out in that category). I was impressed with how good our setpiece was – particularly our lineout and maul, which had gone missing this season.

    I have been very forthright in criticising O’Connor’s coaching, selection and tactics for over a year. I do think he is not getting the best out of the resources he has BUT yesterday is not an example of that. Apart from the 10-12-13 selection, which again looked totally wrong, the coaching team got it right and so did the players. Well done and hard luck.

    O’Connor is staying, so it is all moot anyway. We need to hope that Sexton and Nacewa can bring the coaching team on – and they are the type of players that can do that. We need to hope for a miracle in the Pro12 before that.

    • Billy

       /  April 20, 2015

      Well said. I think Sexton will make an enormous difference in leadership as much as anything else.

    • D6W

       /  April 20, 2015

      Actually I cannot understand how Sexton could tolerate being part of a team that has Leinster’s current game plan, or working with a coach who advocates it. For that matter, I cannot undertsand how MOC could have wanted a player like Isa either.

      • curates_egg

         /  April 20, 2015

        One of the principal reasons I think MOC is a bad fit at Leinster is that we have always needed a good bollocking, whereas he is pally with the player by all accounts. The unacceptably high error count this season should have been bollocked out of them.
        Sexton coming back can only help in that regard.

        Cela dit. We showed up yesterday and we showed up with the means to win that particular contest. The rest was in the players’ hands. Jimmy slots the drop goal and WOC writes a different blog.

        • George

           /  April 20, 2015

          I’d like to see what the total amount of money paid to Leinster’s centrally contracted players are … how far are we from the amount Toulon’s total?

        • Billy

           /  April 20, 2015

          Again, I agree. Schmidt/Cheika seemed to have a lot more distance with the players. MOC doesn’t seem to have anything near that ruthless streak. Ally that to the loss of a few leaders, guys who drive standards and you have a recipe for a large drop in standards.

          The guy’s no chump – he coached a pretty expansive Leicester team and one of the most attractive teams ever to play the game at the Brumbies. He’s no Schmidt but he’s no dickhead either.

    • Thanks curates for sharing a different perspective. Lots of reasonable arguments in there, and I’d agree that if you were offered 12-12 with 78 minutes to go and for Leinster to be lining up a drop goal… of course you’d have taken it!

      But you can’t just throw away how awful the match was and how poor Toulon were. The budget, the players’ legacy and trophy cabinets, all those things exist off the pitch and outside the 80 minutes. On the pitch, on the day they were useless. When Freddie Michalak plays like at 10 that no team will play well. They were there for the taking. If Leinster had even a shred of savvy in attack they might just have won.

      • curates_egg

         /  April 21, 2015

        But you can only play the game you are in. Given we have had no attacking nous all season, we were not going to realistically be able to invent one on a day when it was chucking it down. We played smarter than Toulon and the players (almost to a man) performed better than they have all season.

        I have been part of the baying mob – earlier than a lot – that maintains MOC is a bad fit at Leinster and is not getting the best out of his squad. However, I don’t see Sunday as an example of that. On Sunday, the team played what was in front of them (bucketing rain, Wayne Barnes and a comically illegal Toulon breakdown) and would have won the game if dropgoals were part of the game in Ireland (something that now surely needs to be looked at, as the tighthead issue successfully was).

        I am a Leinster fan and, as such, I found the sentiment before and after the match just bizarre. Some people seemed not to care about the match, some seemed not to want us to win and some are now happy we didn’t. That is insanity. This is our province and we should always want Leinster to win. This is all the more relevant as we are not going to be getting close to a final next season (due to the tough seeding we will get and the world cup disruption) and who knows when we will again (unless we can adapt our model to compete financially with the increasingly emboldened Top14 and Premiership sugar-daddies).

        MOC is staying, so we need to just get on with it and hope that the influence of Sexton and Nacewa can bring some of what has been missing: discipline and focus. Who knows? Maybe an appropriate gameplan and coherent selection might follow.

        While I think most of Tony Ward’s article today is the same groupthink tripe that is being served up ad nauseam in the Irish press at present, I do agree that Leinster fans now need to get behind their team and their players, who left little out there on Sunday.

      • curates_egg

         /  April 21, 2015

        One addition: the 10-12-13 selection was never going to enable us to play a fluid attacking game, even without the conditions (outlined above) and precedent. It was only their second game together and they looked totally disjointed in their first. Madigan is not a 12 and Te’o is not a 13 and is still only learning the game (he has lots of potential but is still so green). I would and did criticise that selection by the coach but, on the day, I think he deserves some kudos.

  18. SportingBench

     /  April 20, 2015

    Whilst Leinster played with the intensity and commitment required yesterday, surely the lack of intensity and missed tackles throughout the year are a justified stick to beat MO’C with rather than praising him for the team raising their game yesterday which seems to be the tone of some of the mainstream press coverage. If they could do it yesterday, why not against the Dragons?

    On a separate point, ignoring yesterday completely I think it is interesting the views many on this board have of Madigan. I haven’t seen anything particularly from him to suggest he is as good as some on here suggest. That isn’t a criticism of him at all, just it is interesting that disliking MOC appears to have become equivalent with rating Madigan as world class where as I see to two issues as separate and think Madigan is a promising player but not an outstanding one(yet). If Leinster replace MOC and Madigan doesn’t develop in to a top player, will that coach be rated a failure?

    • I think you raise a really good point in the last paragraph. Obviously there is some overlap, partially judging O’Connor as a coach by how he uses his resources but it does appear that where some people are concerned, the more frustrated they get with O’Connor, the better Madigan gets in their own heads. Obviously Madigan is extremely talented but I’m not sure he gets judged objectively.

    • SgtUnruly

       /  April 20, 2015

      My thoughts on Madigan are that he is a technically gifted player. Nice pass, excellent feet, great kicker but he appears to make really poor decisions quite a lot of the time.

      Any time I’ve seen him play out half he steps into contact more often than not. I’ve seen him do it so much that I just can’t believe that its a coaching decision, it appears to be impulse.

      Have to feel form him after the intercept but I think that this could help him grow a bit in a weird way.

      • Leinsterlion

         /  April 20, 2015

        “Help him grow”..until Sexton comes back and he is consigned to the bench, or worse starting at twelve. Madigan is quality, BMT in spades, unfortunately I dont think he will make it at Leinster, MOC pissed away two years of his career in favour of playing ten man dirgeball with the journeymans journeyman Jimmy Gopperth. I think a move to the SH or to France would be best for him, go to a team like Bordeaux, a team who can play nice rugby and could build a team around him.
        This is bottle, you cant teach it, Mads had it, MOC killed it.

        • It was also very smart and completely risk free. Looked like a nuts thing to do but the ref was playing an advantage.

          • Leinsterlion

             /  April 20, 2015

            Its an example of the player he was and the eye for a gap he has rarely shown under the “coaching” of MOC. That he has regressed badly under MOC was my point, so much so that the entire Leinster backline drifted towards the touchline as Madigan ran flat from the ten channel, clearly looking to flash the ball flat. Munster built their team around ROG’s immobility, lack of defence and game of sitting in the pocket kicking the ball away, its criminal that we have a player who is the antithesis of that, and we shove him at twelve and have Gopperth hide in the pocket and kick the ball away.
            I think its very sad that he wasnt backed and given support and we didnt play to his strengths, in all probability he will not fulfill his potential, barring a Sexton injury. He has spent the past two seasons at twelve and has a third looming, complete mismanagement, such a waste.

          • SportingBench

             /  April 20, 2015

            Glad you mentioned the advantage there!

          • Billy

             /  April 20, 2015

            Madigan’s career and reputation are almost entirely based on the above – that four seasons of poor decision making and even worse execution are ignored only serves to illustrate the fickleness of the vast majority of fans. He is a world class goal kicker though.

            If he has any balls/self respect he’ll try to cut his contract early and head elsewhere and prove himself. I’d personally love to see what Marsh/Crosbie or especially Ross Byrne have to offer…

          • SportingBench

             /  April 20, 2015

            How about Madigan moving to Connacht?

          • Leinsterlion

             /  April 20, 2015

            Madigan was making hay that year, playing front foot rugby, the step, the flat pass off the wrist, cracking stuff. I only utilised that clip because it really was a brilliant piece of play, as was his winning try.
            He has always had his detractors(see Cummisky(with his shot at him and King Carlos(how many Super titles have they won since he left?)) Munster fans pining for ROG, and Leinster fans content with MOC myopia.), but the talent is there, he makes mistakes, but he hasnt had a chance to eradicate them as he has been shunted to twelve for the past to seasons to accommodate an aging journeyman. See JJ Hanrahan at Munster, Keatley is a nice guy and hard working, but his ceiling has been reached, Hanrahan has the stars, yet Foley would rather go with the Corolla over the Supra. Irish rugby has an aversion to excitement and exciting players, I honestly think most people prefer bullshit narratives about passhun and sacrifice over genuine skill and entertainment.

          • D6W

             /  April 20, 2015

            @Billy ” four seasons of poor decision making and even worse execution”. Please see my comment below about OTT criticism of Madigan. Players who take risks will make more errors than those that don’t.

            I would love to see him do a Cipriani and go south.Super 15 style rugby would suit him down to the ground.

          • SportingBench

             /  April 21, 2015

            Interesting observation there D6W about Cipriani moving south and Super 15 suiting him. I was in Australia when Cipriani was there and he wasn’t that heralded down there and wasn’t a big success though not a complete flop either.
            To a certain extent he came home with his tail between his legs and the same criticisms ringing in his ears as when he left Wasps. I did read that what had changed (and I can’t remember if this was direct from Cipriani himself or a journalist making assumptions) was that he realised that he wasn’t “miss-understood” but did actually have to deal with his weaknesses if he wanted to be a top player. And fair play to him, by all accounts he has confronted his limitations and improved.
            My original question was kind of motivated by exactly Cipriani’s experience. Various coaches had been accused of “not understanding” his raw talent and therefore not appreciating him and the assumption was that he just needed to play somewhere they did want a running rugby and appreciate his skills. Well, Cipriani only stepped-up when it became clear that the miss-understanding thing is nonsense and not tackling is too big a weakness.
            In relation to Madigan, the supposed limitations are obviously very different to Cipriani but I wonder where the continued championing him as the anti-MO’C is doing him any favours longer term.
            I don’t know Madigan at all so I can’t say what he thinks but if he believes his lack of development is all MO’C’s fault then I think there may be a problem come any new coach. To be a top 10 you need a variety of skills and be able to adapt to the game and conditions. This includes being able to tactically kick when required (instructed). Only able to play one way with only front-foot ball and a dominant pack is a luxury player not a piece of any puzzle (unless you are picking a baa-baas squad)however easy on the eye it is.
            Just to be clear, I do rate Madigan but he has potential rather than proven talent and I wonder if making him the anti-MO’C poster boy is not helping him develop – it is instead giving him an excuse to not improve.
            In saying that, with Sexton coming back I think he seriously has to consider leaving Leinster. If that he makes the WC squad, then he doesn’t even have the chance to play over the extended period Sexton will be anyway so therefore should move asap.
            In truth though, when you run the numbers, he is probably not making the WC squad (a parlour game for another time) so perhaps he should stay at Leinster for next year, use the opportunity when Sexton is away to develop in to a more rounded player by playing the tactical kicking game that undoubtedly he will be instructed to play and move the year after.

          • kevin

             /  April 21, 2015

            Hear hear Leinsterlion, Irish rugby’s distrust of players with any sort of flair or footballing availabilty is so disheartening.. Girvan Dempsey>Geordan Murphy, Neil Best>Keith Gleeson, Stringer and TOL>Reddan, Rob Kearney>Jared Payne, Zebo>Fitzgerald, Jackson>Madigan in his prime, a shot Boss>Marmion, Eddie O Sullivan never giving an on fire Heaslip (when playing in a pathetic Leinster pack) a chance at the expense of undroppable Leamy (top class 6 but not the first cousin of a #8). ”That Olding fella looks serious, will we play him against Georgia? Nah man we’ll pick Cave and a 35 year old Darcy that shot it 4 years ago”. There seems to be a school of thought that if you show something special, a bit of flair or ‘x factor’ (cringe) then you can’t execute the basics, it’s either one or the other. I thoroughly disagree with this.
            If managed correctly Madigan could have been a top class 10…now we just have a Cipriani on our hands. Move to Connacht who have a better scrumhalf and centres anyway

            *Rant Over*

        • “Those were the days, my friend, We thought they’d never end…” Boy, were we mistaken!!!!

          • Leinsterlion

             /  April 20, 2015

            Truly depressing.

          • Fair analysis of cipriani maybe sporting bench, but I don’t think it applies to madigan. If the issue is taking responsibility then I would argue he has taken more than his fair share. The key difference is that one ran in front of a bus, one was thrown under it, so to speak.

          • D6W

             /  April 22, 2015

            Tbh Bench, I my reference to Cipriani was only as far as Madigan choosing to try his luck down south, nothing else (although they are similarly attacking players). I could easily have referenced Andy Goode also.

            Some of the Leinster ignorant rabble (© IT) are saying all Madigan’s current problems are MOC’s fault, which is not true. But some of his problems are. And I agree that making him the anti-MOC posterboy probably doesn’t help him either. There are many other and bigger legitimate sticks to beat MOC with.

            I am surprised you don’t think he will make WC squad. Currently he is number 2 OH based on 6N selections, and his versatility puts him ahead of PJ and Keatley from a squad point of view.

        • osheaf01

           /  April 20, 2015

          Not quite as mad at this. But I suppose Cooper’s team were 29-3 up. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JpaszVJaM4

      • The problem I have with MO’C is the neglect of Leinster’s own strengths. When he came in Ian Madigan was just back after a successful North American tour and had nearly been called upon as back up outhalf for the Lions on the basis of his performance in the Pro 12 that season. Instead of Madigan being the default 10 and Gopperth the back up, MO’C went the other way around. This was a mistake in my opinion. Gopperth is as fine player, Madigan is/was a potentially great player. MO’C complained about not being able to buy in foreign players. When Ulster came down to the RDS pre-Xmas 2013 Reid and Macken made mincemeat of their opposite numbers, who at the time were being praised to the high heavens. I don’t remember seeing that centre partnership togged out for the first team since. As a result Macken is now leaving for foreign shores. MO’C is prepared to run T’eo out for only his twelfth Union game in a Used-to-be-the-Heino semi, but hasn’t started Coghlan Murray since the warm ups last August. He has the greater part of the back to back 6 Nations champions and the finest academy in the Northern Hemisphere at his disposal and all we get to see is dross. Leinster had potentially the most exciting half-back partnership in the Pro 12 this season in Madigan and Luke McGrath. How many minutes have they played together: zero.

    • D6W

       /  April 20, 2015

      Some people do seem to equate dislike MOC with rating Madigan world class, but for the more rational, there is still linkage

      – Many Leinster fans saw signs of a great player in Madigan and were expecting him to take over the 10 slot when Sexton left. It was entirely clear that MOC did not give him a fair chance to claim that slot, favouring Gopperth regardless of form
      – MOC compounded this by criticising Madigan in the press, going way beyond what a coach should say about any player, showing what appeared almost to be unfair personal dislike for him
      – Clearly Madigan has not developed in to the world class player many Leinster fans had hoped. Madigan’s loss of form reflects entire team, which can be clearly laid at MOC’s door.

      But is as much as many Leinster fans seem to build up Madigan to be better than he is, which I have to agree, there are many non Leinster fans who seem to take any chance to heap unwarrented, unfair and OTT criticism on him.

      • It’s easy for someone criticising some strawman of “dumb Leinster fans” to paint every criticism of MOC or Gopperth as invalid or the same – I was in the pub yesterday and some moron behind me was slating Gopperth for the duration, it was incredibly irritating.

        It doesn’t mean that I am a massive fan of Gopperth, no more than kneejerk blanket bombing of MOC makes me change my mind about the job he’s done.

        Truisms can become annoying – it’s easier for someone to say “MOC out” than it is for someone to do a 1000-word analysis of why he should go while accepting yes it was a few years of transition and no he probably shouldn’t be expected to win in Europe.

        • It’s been a frustrating couple of seasons for Madigan fans, of which I count myself as one. This blog wrote its first piece about him way back in 2011 and he got in touch with us to tell us he agreed only with the negatives and that he had lots to work on!

          I don’t think we can blame O’Connor for all the ills of Madigan’s last 24 months, but he never really seems to have had the trust of his coach, and I feel he has played like a man with a little too much to prove. That footage Leinsterlion showed of him against Glasgow is instructive not just because of the skill on show, but because it shows a less burdened, angsty version of the Ian Madigan playing today. He really did rip it up that season, and could have toured with the Lions.

  19. col

     /  April 20, 2015

    Radge threw a much worse intercept in a semi and everyone got over it. I’d back madigan everytime to take on the pass, we had to go for it with them down a man.
    As WOC said the fact our only ploy once up the jumper didn’t work was to cross kick barely contestable balls was truly maddening.
    Serious whiff of Ireland 2010-2013 off the team at the moment, although kidney always got a big performance every 4 or 5 games, no sign of that with Matt. Ulster by 10 on Friday

  20. Well said and written…Joe Schmidt is a renowned disciplinarian yet also has a great personal touch…the drop off from this level of coaching is also very evident

  21. andrew097

     /  April 21, 2015

    Madigan is a fine player with the potential to be a excellent outhalf, he will not be a top 12, trust me he just won’t. MOC just does not play him at ten therefore he will not develop as one. MOC does not play anybody at ten that is not called Jimmy. How strange is that, certainly very rare nowadays. A bit risky too as that means the team has one ten and if Jimmy is injured during a game it’s trouble. So why is MOC so against having another player finishing a game at outhalf?
    In my mind I thought it would be a strength to have two outhalfs playing and rotating. The opposition would find it very difficult to prepare for two class outhalfs pulling the strings for good periods of a game. MOC does not like that idea by the looks of it.

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