Matty Gets The Chop

Matt O’Connor has been sacked by Leinster Rugby. It brings an end to an undistinguished chapter in Leinster’s history.  Now that he’s been shown the door, perfect hindsight allows us to see the recent public slapdowns from Joe Schmidt and Shane Jennings as the death throes of a dying regime.  The news will be well recieved by a fnabase which had grown frustrated by the team’s performances and results over the last number of months.

It’s alsp a little surprising, and the details of the exact status of the third year on his contract seemed to be shrouded in mystery, but the Leinster branch has bit the bullet. It’s the right decision; Matt O’Connor had his good days, none better than their victory over Glasgow which secured silverware in his first season, but while he was given a bit of a free pass in his first year for some of the error-strewn rugby he deployed, the second season was one of marked decline. Any glass-half-full analysis of his first season quickly evaporated as Leinster’s attack and set pieces became sloppier than ever. In short, the rugby Leinster have played has been dull, unambitious and inaccurate. The players spoke highly of O’Connor, but their actions on the pitch have spoken louder.  A third year of such torpor was unimaginable, and there was no signifier that things were about to improve.

It’s worth remembering that when O’Connor was hired, the keyword was ‘continuity’; Leinster’s previous coach had been a roaring success and O’Connor was seen as somebody who would be able to keep the train on the rails. He was seen as a coach with a similar profile, having been a No.2 at a big club, and his Wikipedia page described him as ‘steeped in the ethos of the ACT Brumbies’, which appeared to give off all the right vibes for a team which had come to be regarderd as the most accurate passing team in Europe. It’s been alarming just how little continuity he has provided, how different his ethos has been to Schmidt’s, and indeed how it appears to owe nothing whatsever to the ACT Brumbies.

The excusemakers in the meeja have repeatedly lined up the Sexton-O’Driscoll-Nacewa absenteeism argument, which has been a factor for sure, but doesn’t excuse the shoddy passing, directionless game-planning and ho-hum breakdown work that have littered every single game this season. There has been no occasion this year on which Leinster have cut loose and looked a great team, or even a potentially great one. Even in the days of Bad Leinster, they were able to conjure up occasional brilliant performances. The narrow loss in Toulon was held up in some quarters as ‘epic’, but the truth is it was a torpid match between two nervous teams content to hang in for as long as possible and wait for mistakes.

It seems from the outside that O’Connor simply didn’t ‘get’ Leinster. While the phrase ‘buying into the ethos’ of a province is almost always applied to Munster, it would appear that Matt O’Connor didn’t buy into the Leinster ethos, where the players and fans are used to playing the game with a certain style. That’s not out of a sense of entitlement, and nor does it make Leinster fans ‘spoiled’, just as much as Munster fans expecting their team to play with a certain level of ‘passion’ doesn’t make them entitled. It’s just in keeping with the identity of a province which has a long tradition of dashing three-quarters, and has operated on the principle of giving them the ball at least a few times a match. Every club or province has a sense of identity, something that makes them who they are, and if it’s going to be compromised it had damn well better be worth it.  O’Connor never really presented any evidence that his vision for Leinster Rugby was an improvement on the old one.

Judging by the players’ comments, O’Connor is an ‘enabler’, a Declan Kidney-style coach, who allows the players leeway to make their own decisions on the pitch. The players appear to like him, and he seems to be a decent fellow. But perhaps Leinster’s success has allowed people to forget that this is a group that has done best when dealing with hard and exacting taskmasters. It seems that despite the large medal hauls, they still benefit from the big stick treatment.

Now, for the tricky bit. Amid the hallooing that an unpopular coach has been shown the door, there remains the important job of identifying and securing his successor. Previous appointments have been put in place long before the season was over, with both Cheika and Schmidt giving notice of their plans to leave well in advance, affording the men upstairs ample time to identify the next recruit. That won’t be the case this time around, and the race is now on. The risk is that they fall into the same trap as Ulster, patching together solutions on a season-to-season basis. The only certainty is that it is only a matter of time before the likes of Graham Henry, Nick Mallett and – of course – Jake White are linked to the role.

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82 Comments

  1. “The news will be well received.” I don’t know about that, some of the fans where I work are distraught. The Munster fans, that is…

  2. D6W

     /  May 21, 2015

    I would not be so sure that Leinster are so far behind the curve regarding identifying a new coach. It is possible their minds were made up re MOC after the Nucifora/Schmidt slapdown press conference, and they have been looking since then.

  3. Had to happen. Am delighted Mick Dawson et al have bitten the bullet. The decision sends out the right signal to players and fans, that mediocrity is not an option. Lots of talk of Jackman and O’Shea as possible replacements. Much as I like both, neither of them has won anything as coach. Mike Ruddock coached Wales to a Grand Slam and did great things with Ireland U20s and Lansdowne. He as head coach with Girve as assistant and successor in waiting would for me be the way to go.

    • To be fair, O’Shea won the Boshiership (and a Challenged Cup I think) and took Quins to the Twickenham final again, and had them in the knockout stages of Europe fairly consistently (although this season has been fairly shambolic for Quins). I think if you paired him with a forwards coach who could make sure that when the higher risk game wasn’t on they could play more pragmatically he could be a good option.

      • D6W

         /  May 21, 2015

        Looking at the Quinns signings for next season, they are clearly aiming for great things. I doubt O’Shea would be leaving now.

        • Leinsterlion

           /  May 21, 2015

          You think? I reckon they will struggle in Europe, as usual, and only challenge for the last play off spot due to their international call ups. Roberts screams DeWet Barry MKII, Adam Jones is finished, the rest of their signings are not in the calibre of Nick Evans, speaking of, Evans is done.

          • D6W

             /  May 21, 2015

            All teams struggle in Europe unless they are owned by a French billionaire. Leinster case in point. That said, I think there is more to come from Byrne, and Visser is a great signing. Either way, I don’t see O’Shea moving to Leinster.

          • D6W

             /  May 21, 2015

            APols, I meant Roberts!

    • D6W

       /  May 21, 2015

      It might not have been such a hard bullet to bite. Both Cheika and Schmidt had 2 year contracts with an option on a 3rd year, so despite the mystery, it is probably that MOC had same. And if it had no cost involved, hard to imagine the option been taken up.

      LIke your Mike Ruddock/Girve suggestion.

      • scrumdog

         /  May 21, 2015

        Ruddock-Dempsey is a real possibility or Jonno Gibbes/ Dempsey. Wayne Smith would be closer to the Schmidt playing philosophy. I’d like to see Cullen go overseas for coaching experience..maybe to NZ. The Leinster set pieces were not great nor was the rucking. Not all former high level players make good coaches.

  4. Trust Leinster to steal Ulster and Munster’s headlines just because they aren’t in the playoffs, eh?

    Anyway, was surprised to hear MOC was gone, but it’s probably a good decision. I’m not sure White will be available given he’s just signed a new contract with Montpellier (although that’s just as a Consultant so who knows?)

    It’s interesting to see that Cullen is taking the Interim Reins, given that the pack have hardly been a source of strength this season. One suggestion that I’ve made regarding the ticket is to promote Girve and let Cullen cut his teeth in the academy/A’s for a while and most Leinster fans I’ve talked to have agreed.

  5. LarryM

     /  May 21, 2015

    When he was taking public issue with the player management protocols a few weeks ago it sounded to me like he was talking to prospective future employers as much as anything else. IIRC Joe voiced his disagreement – so in that context this isn’t a surprise.

    Leinster have easily the best squad in the Pro12 so to not make the playoffs, lose eight games and only win is a very poor return. Plus, for the first time in quite some time, they were pretty bad to watch.

  6. DK

     /  May 21, 2015

    I would like to see Jono Gibbes. He knows the Leinster set up & players well. He wasn’t quite ready 2 years ago, maybe he would fancy the job now having experienced the Top14?

    • I expect you’ll hear his name a lot and he is someone a lot of people would kile to see in the role. A lot of credit in the bank after his outstanding performance as forwards coach. Is he avilable?

      • DK

         /  May 21, 2015

        If he wanted the job & Leinster wanted him I suspect they could find a way to get him. They may need to buy him out of the remainder of his contract….might only be a year.

  7. Leinsterlion

     /  May 21, 2015

    Who hates surprises? I think I’ll have a celebratory lunchtime pint, or two.

  8. aoifehamill

     /  May 21, 2015

    I am delighted. I’ve been going to Leinster games for about 10 years now & it’s never been like this last season. I know this sounds over the top but all joy and optimism had been sapped out of the whole experience. That Treviso match was the whole season in a nutshell.

    In terms of who they get next… I like Jackman but I don’t know it it’s his time yet. With his book I’d worry he’s burned some bridges & there are some players left from his time as well. I’d rather wait a few years. Jono Gibbes sounds promising…

    Whoever they get it has to be an improvement. Presumably they’ll have learnt from their mistakes and will specifically be looking for an enforcer!

  9. Billy

     /  May 21, 2015

    Wow.

    Firstly, articles like this are why Leinster fans are considered deluded.

    1. Champagne rugby from a 3/4 line of Madigan, Te’o, McFadden, Kearney, Kearney – get real
    2. If you think a top level coach is going to take this job, you are crazy. You are restricted in your access to your own players, your team selections and your ability to sign players is heavily restricted and your internationals are more focused on playing international rugby. This is why we have taken in promising unknowns on the last three occasions.
    3. If you think any new coach is going wave a magic wand and turn Leinster into a team who play entertaining, winning rugby you are in for a very disappointing future. There is literally no chance of this happening with the current playing staff and organisational setup.

    • D6W

       /  May 21, 2015

      Leinster fans demand “entertaining” and “champagne” rugby. Yawn!

    • Leinsterlion

       /  May 21, 2015

      “Champagne rugby from Mads, Teo, McFadden, and Kearnage deluxe”

      Yeah thats totally impossible when we managed(not quite champagne rugby, but enterprising, attacking smart rugby, would cover it) it with Mads, Reid, Collie O Shea(all appearing together for the first time) Kearnage deluxe and Sideshow Bob. Swap in Teo for O’Shea at 13 and McFadden for the cancer that is Sideshow Bob and you have a very good backline. Easily good enough to do some serious damage in the pool stage of any group in the HC and waltz through the Pro12. Coaching and an attacking gameplan is all we require, and trust in the young, fast, backs we have on the books.

      • Billy

         /  May 21, 2015

        You’re using a dead rubber against a totally disinterested, not to mention mediocre, Edinburgh team as evidence. Those gaps simply don’t appear against better quality opposition. If you think that midfield can scythe top quality teams open then you don’t know what you’re talking about.

        • Yep, for sure. I mean it’s not like Edinburgh were playing for anything like table position to get Champion’s Cup rugby or at least a playoff or anything. Definitely disinterested, especially the way they led 23-22 at 66 minutes.

          • Billy

             /  May 21, 2015

            You obviously didn’t watch the game. Edinburgh were awful. It’s actually pretty visible in the highlights – see Cuthbert’s jog after Reid for his try, Toolis defending the inside channel for Conan’s try or Du Preez falling off Murphy for his try. For whatever reason Edinburgh were not at the races.

        • Leinsterlion

           /  May 21, 2015

          Pace and misdirection from Reid and Mads, sniping 9 in McGrath, add serious power from Teo to draw in defenders and actually utilise his offloading ability, yeah, I would be confident in that backline opening up holes (or punching them with Teo). Add Sexton to the mix and its a tasty selectoral dilemma.
          Slate the Edinburgh result all you want, but we contrived to impotently batter our way to losses against the Dragons, twice, and a draw with Treviso and a home win that felt like a loss, so saying “oh you played well but the oppositon was crap” is redundant, we managed to play badly and lose against worse.

          • Billy

             /  May 21, 2015

            There’s no denying there was some good rugby on show but I find it interesting that you give MOC no credit for it – is he only responsible for the bad performances?

            Also, I had to laugh at the Madigan misdirection remark – couldn’t have put it better myself!! Ha!

            I’d love to see Reid gain 5kgs and retain his gas and agility – really exciting player

          • Leinsterlion

             /  May 21, 2015

            MOC picked the teams, why was Mads on the bench, or worse, at 12, for the majority of his tenure? Why wait until “a dead rubber”(for us) to send out a young team with attacking intent??
            When 95-99% of your performances feature the same laboured crap, and then, for one game, you go against everything you have done before, eg, no aimless kicking, passing into the opposition half as opposed to kicking, a young(ish) team, pack and back interplay, offloading etc, fine give credit to MOC for finally tapping into the potential of the team, the fact it took him two years to do it is an even bigger indictment of his reign. Well done MOC, but, why has it taken you two years to play Mads at ten, Reid at 12 and play the game the fans have been screaming for you to play? That smacks more of luck than design.

      • osheaf01

         /  May 21, 2015

        “Easily good enough to do some serious damage in the pool stage of any group in the HC and waltz through the Pro12.”

        Don’t think so. Clearly 3rd best in Ireland and 5th best in the Pro 12 now; given you’re likely to get something like Munster’s or Ulster’s group in the HC, “serious damage” might be overstating it a bit too. Get Toulon and Sarries, say, and 4 wins would be an achievement.

        Bottom line: pack has been a joke this season, especially when Ireland are playing. That’s what needs fixing, not some nebulous “style” issue.

        • Yeah, but the point is they should be doing better, right? This is still the province providing the bulk of the national team, which is currently as successful as it has ever been.

          But you’re right about one thing. The pack has indeed been terrible this season. The speed of the ball coming back from rucks has been a joke. But that’s the thing, the ‘style’ issue and forward play are inherently linked. Joe Schmidt’s Leinster played with what appeared to be great flair and style, but it was all predicated on everyone accurately performing their role, none more so than the forwards providing Eoin Reddan with silver-platter ball.

        • Leinsterlion

           /  May 21, 2015

          I would put Leinsters 9/10/12/13 axis up against anything in the EP. McGrath, Sexton/Madigan, Reid/Teo, Fitz/Teo, is as good as anything in the EP and more than a match for most French teams. Granted, we dont have the quality in the back three that most/all French teams have. But we have good smart footballers who can play a high paced intelligent passing game.
          Take Sarries backline, Wigglesworth-average, Strettle-JoeSchmidt winger, Farrell- LOL, Barritt-international standard 12, Bosch-solid, wont damage a top team, Ashton-solid, not as dangerous as a few years ago, though more rounded. Goode, massively overrated, Boring Dave is his equal,and I dont rate Boring Dave.
          I’d take Leinsters 9/10/12/13/15 over that, same with Toulons(barring the 9). All Leinster are really missing is a David Smith/Ranger type of a winger to add to the “industrious unseen work” types, we already have.

          • osheaf01

             /  May 21, 2015

            It’s not about the backlines vs Sarries, LL. Look at Munster’s 2 games with them; @ Thomond their pack got the better of Sarries, and, yes, Sarries’ average-ish backline couldn’t save them; @ PlasticPitchWithPlasticFans, Sarries’ pack totally and utterly dominated, and Sarries’ backline couldn’t even manage a BP with about 85% of possession and territory. If ever there was a team that epitomised the cliche “packs win matches, backs decide the margins”, it’s Sarries. The 2014-15 Leinster pack would be blown away by Tuilagi and company.
            Leinster’s decent show vs Toulon in a one-off notwithstanding, there’s a similar issue vs the top French teams.
            To me, Leinster 2014-15 scream of recent vintage Munster; capable of good one-off performances, clearly should be doing better, but also, clearly, over the hill as a top side, without getting a lot of new blood in.

          • Leinsterlion

             /  May 21, 2015

            Leinsters first choice pack is more than a match for anything in the Premiership, we battered Toulon with a half fit Healy and SOB. Hooker is the only position(in terms of darts and, well, hooking) that is substandard in the Leinster pack. Healy, Strauss/Cronin, Moore, Toner, McCarthy, SOB/Ruddock, Heaslip, Jordi is big enough and tough enough to front any pack in Europe
            Not one player in that is over the hill, arguably Heaslip doesnt have the dynamism of old, but the rest of his game more than makes up for it.

          • osheaf01

             /  May 22, 2015

            Leinster’s pack certainly hasn’t been playing as a “match for anything in the Premiership”, let alone Toulon, and they certainly didn’t “batter” Toulon either – held their own would be about the size of it.
            Leinster have a pretty poor backline, IMO, certainly compared to Ulster; very poor second rows; very poor half-backs; and a total lack of leadership without BOD. You’ll note this is the stuff (locks, 9/10/12, try-scoring wingers, leadership) the other 3 provinces provide to the Ireland team.
            Seen this before with Munster – the road back will be longer and harder than you think.

    • “If you think a top level coach is going to take this job, you are crazy.”

      Yup, who’d want to take over a team with 26 or 28 internationals, state of the art facilities, 2 academies crapping out players by the dozen, massive union subvention and therefore no financial demands to break even; where the players can’t leave or they won’t play international rugby and the previous incumbent has dropped the bar so low that your first season’s target is to be clearly & obviously better than Scarlets, Connacht, and Edinburgh.

      Poisoned chalice I tell you.

      • Nail on the head! Good one!!!

      • Billy

         /  May 21, 2015

        You should write the marketing material! Tell me why they have never done it in the past? The closest any Irish province has ever had to a big name coach is Pat Lam, i.e. never. Please name one.

        The fact of the matter is as a big name coach you can go to England or France, earn better money and have autonomy or go to Leinster and have the IRFU hand you a teamsheet every week.

        Sadly, if you look past the gloss, it’s a limited role.How much access do you get to said internationals? How interested are said internationals? Every club has academies too.

        • Yossarian

           /  May 21, 2015

          agree “big name” coach is somewhat unlikely but that doesn’t mean it is not an attractive job prospect for an ambitious coach. Been a stepping stone to international rugby for Matt Williams, Cheika and Joe.
          the number of Pro coaching jobs out there is limited. Leinster is among the more attractive job opportunities.

          • Billy

             /  May 21, 2015

            Agree completely, if I was an ambitious assistant somewhere I’d be very interested. I just don’t see why an ex-international coach would accept such a drop in responsibility.

      • Lop12

         /  May 21, 2015

        Its a great job if you can have Dawson publically state before you start that the season is written off for development purposes. Iv stated this in comments section of previous article to wont repeat here, but essentially Leinster are goosed next year due to the WC. Will provide 15/16 of the squad (probably the largest representation of any club at the WC) and players will be battered and bruised for a long spell afterwards. I would suggest that with the Euro Cup following hot on heels of the WC that many of Leinsters internationals may not play, or will make their first appearance in blue in the cup. Just when you may have some continuity in selection comes the 6N.

        Very very tough ask for a coach IMO.

    • Bang to rights, Billy-o! The calls for champagne rugby, big name coaches and the assumption that said big name coach showing up will transform Leinster into the Harlem Globetrotters next season were all clearly stated in the post. Thanks for calling us out on them, it’s a big help. Deluded, I tells ya! DE. Lu. Ded.

    • curates_egg

       /  May 22, 2015

      Straw man much?

  10. Stevo

     /  May 21, 2015

    I’m just glad we won’t have to listen to the frankly bizarre chorus of support O’Connor has received in recent weeks from our ‘expert’ pundits any more.

  11. col

     /  May 21, 2015

    Dingo Deans is 1/4 now on powers for the job. They must know something but I’d be happy with him. girv, jackman, Gibbs @ 25/1 and Ruddock 30/1 so seem to be outsiders especially with his BODness and and Ross o caroll Kelly around the same price

    • Hairy Naomh Mhuire

       /  May 21, 2015

      Hard to see Rosser being tempted given continuing recovery in South Dublin property?

      • D6W

         /  May 21, 2015

        Not to mention his coaching CV is light. Biggest achievement was to get Andalucia to score an international try against Ireland!

        • Hairy Naomh Mhuire

           /  May 21, 2015

          Andorra. I was there.

  12. cp

     /  May 21, 2015

    Jake White just signed a new 2 year contract. Literally yesterday. Surely they can’t pretend he’s in the running for this job? Right?

    Incidentally, Leinster have a tenancy to pluck up and coming coaches from left-field. I don’t think one high profile failure should discourage them from casting the net wide again -Matty’s CV was as good as any’s before he arrived. Wouldn’t be at all surprised if another relatively unknown name crops up in the coming weeks/months.

    • Xyz

       /  May 21, 2015

      I think the comment regarding Graham Henry, Nick Mallett and Jake White has to do with Graham Henry, Nick Mallett and Jake White being linked to every coaching job in the northern hemisphere.

      • cp

         /  May 21, 2015

        I got that.

        • Xyz

           /  May 21, 2015

          Oh well, at least it is there for Billy, above, now. Who clearly didn’t get it.

  13. I hear Sir Clive is looking for a job? He’d fit right in there at Leinster 😉
    And speaking of sirs, I don’t see COS returning home from England. He’s well embedded there in ‘Quins and the RFU – he’d be mad to give that up.
    Surprised no one has mentioned he-who-cannot-be-named-EOS as a possible candidate? He might be out of a job when\if the merger of Bayonne and Biarritz. His name was bandied about the last time the Connacht job became vacant.
    Either way I expect Leinster to name none of the above and pull someone out of the bag who can work along side Mr. Sexton next year.

    • The fans of Bayonne and Biarritz hate each other. Think this was muted as an option fater the owners started getting death threats.

    • EOS failed to steer BPOB into the ProD2 play-offs, a matter that has greatly alarmed both CapGemini and and Mr. Blanco! In any case, Bayonne pulled the plug on a possible merger at a press conference on Monday…Mr. Blanco took this news in his stride (or perhaps not).

      Ergo.. EOS for Leinster?

    • aoifehamill

       /  May 21, 2015

      Like…. ROG?:)

    • Lop12

       /  May 21, 2015

      merger is off. Id love to see EOS getting the job (NB: I am a Munster fan). The opprobrium would be something to behold

  14. connachtexile

     /  May 21, 2015

    Fair play to Dawson and the Leinster branch for having the b*lls to get rid of him. I think it was here or on Demented Mole that mentioned the IRFU not firing Kidney after Ireland lost 60-0 to New Zealand showing that they cared more about money than the results on the field. Leinster have not fallen into that trap they have put a marker down that if your not good enough your gone. Think this will hold Leinster in good stead in the seasons to come.

    For my money I’d want Gibbes back. There’s rumours that he has a clause in his contract about accepting a head position meaning that he wouldn’t cost a fortune. Leinster might learn how to challenge in the breakdown again and as a forwards coach he could show Cullen how to do his job properly. They could also promote Girve to backs coach for the experience meaning the conveyor belt is kept going and that Leinster would have a ready made replacement when Gibbes leaves.

  15. Jaybee985

     /  May 21, 2015

    Conor O’Shea has been linked with the Italy job post World Cup so I’m not sure he’s completely locked into Quins, He’s certainly listening to offers and he did apply for the Leinster job when Chieka was leaving

  16. osheaf01

     /  May 21, 2015

    Gutted. Absolutely gutted. Surely the David Moyes of Irish rugby could have been given another 12 months to finish the job?
    Yours,
    Munster Supporters Club.

  17. Red Wolf

     /  May 21, 2015

    One step closer to the dream:
    Matty and Frano as the coaching ticket. We move back to Donnybrook, homes games on a Friday night and after a phoenix like return, Acc Bank sponsor us.

    Ignoring bloodgate, Dean Richards might be an option.

    • osheaf01

       /  May 21, 2015

      Deccie Kidney and LeinsterLion will be unveiled tomorrow…

      Seriously, Leinster should consider poaching Gregor Townsend.

  18. This is fantastic news for Irish Rugby but that is where it stops. Leo Cullen is on the same page as Martin Johnson was and he should go off and learn the trade. Leinster should stop making decisions with their heart and put in a new team. Surely Joe Smidth knows a few Kiwis who are like Joe and would fit in with our system.

  19. Roundy

     /  May 21, 2015

    Another great article which spells out why MOC failed at Leinster and why supporters were so vocal in wanting him removed.. Why dont we get this is the mainstream media? The news of O’Connors departure put me in good form, so much so I am going to break my self imposed alcohol ban and go for a few this evening to celebrate. The hope is we get a better ‘fit’ as our next coach. My personal favourate would be Gibbs (with Girv as back coach) but would be happy with McKenzie or even Townsend. Looking forward to next season now.

  20. andrew097

     /  May 22, 2015

    Didn’t expect that news, sort of out of the blue but I,m not shocked. Now if only the blonde ex would ring so we could have another reunion I would be very happy this weekend.

  21. Simon

     /  May 22, 2015

    Gregor Townsend should be prized away from Glasgow – he has made a mediocre team play like the globe trotters (admittedly to the point where they lose the plot in every game and play 7’s). With slightly less feral tactics and better players, Leinster could look more like themselves again – a sort of post O’Connor shot of pure morphine.

    He would be my first choice, Gibbs would be equally great.

    I don’t get the Jackman thing, because he’s from Clontarf ? How would that qualify anyone for anything. If he ever wins a Bouchlier De Trevor Brennan, he can come back and we’ll see if he can remember how do get the Dart.

  22. I know this is your site and you can do whatever you want, but we have Ulster and Munster in semi finals this weekend with Leinster performing abysmally and the last 3 articles are all about the ‘drama’ at Leinster.

    What about the (Irish) rugby that is actually happening?

    • Yeah – been finding it pretty hard to get enthused about the Pro12 tbh. We have a few draft posts on it that we just couldn’t get over the line.

      Sorry. Our resources are finite.

  23. curates_egg

     /  May 22, 2015

    Amazed to have made it to the bottom without anyone having mentioned Nacewa as part of the ticket. A smart appointment would involve both him in some way and Gibbes. The precipitous drop off in our forward play since Gibbes left has been, well, precipitous. Quite what re-signing Gibbes would mean for Leo is not clear.

    Getting a big name coach would require a lot of money and presumably mean more private financing would be required – which financier is next in line? Is it what Leinster needs? Not sure – it would seem more to be a stopgap while the indigenous coaches are upskilled and Leo has clearly not shown he has what it takes yet.

    As for the Irish abroad: very difficult to see O’Shea leaving Quins and he is not the hands on coach that Leinster have had in the past; EOS just failed to get Biarritz to the play-offs despite having officially the top budget in the Pro D2 (I don’t believe Pau’s official budget); for all the kudos Jackman got, Grenoble are in a relegation battle despite having the 8th biggest budget in the Top14 – Birch is the defense coach and they have leaked by far the most points in the league, by far; we don’t need ROG (Dempsey, Nacewa etc. can all fill that role)…I will stop before I get annoyed by dissecting lazy thinking.

    There are some ITM coaches out there that would tick the box too but I hope we can find a way to bring Gibbes back.

    • D6W

       /  May 22, 2015

      Agree with most of that, although harsh on Jackman. *8th biggest budget” means in lower half of budget range, and Grenoble are only in 2nd year of Top14, can’t expect them to in the playoffs yet.

      Gibbes is one for me, with Girve promoted to backs coach, and Leo reshuffled to Girve’s old job to learn his craft at Academy/Leinster A.

  24. This may be supposition on my part but I heard from a Client back at the end of March whose children are attending St Andrews school that they were told by Matt kids they would not be returning in September. That might suggest in light of recent events that this decision was made some time ago but not made offical until the end of the season (which would make sense to do it that way). As I said at the start its pure conjecture to some degree but if there is a link it might indicate the search for a replacement has been going on behind the scenes for a while now.

  25. andrew097

     /  May 22, 2015

    Don’t want COS he only talks a good game. Jackmsn is not the answer. Time to have a tie in with the NZRFU they have lots of coaches with limited out let. Our coaches could go there and learn, their coaches could come here and get a different experience.. Some type of exchange program could benifit both countries. New Zealand rugby suits the Irish players quick thinking fast rugby rather then big forwards and kicking it to the corners. Schmidt, Cotter, Hyden, Kirpatrick must know some good coaches who would love to have a crack with Leinster with maybe Cullen and Dempsey going the other way for a season or two.

  26. I’m glad to see you highlighted the Sexton-O’Driscoll-Nacewa absenteeism argument which the media went for again today. Can you think of one player in Leinster who was there in Schmidt’s last season that has improved under O’Connor? Sean Cronin is the only one that springs to mind. To emphasise the point you make in the article, it isn’t the results that people complained about because there were complaints when Leinster were winning last season, its the drop in quality over two seasons that has alarmed all supporters.

  27. This is a Lenister blog now?

  28. paddyo

     /  May 23, 2015

    I’m someone who tried to defend Declan kidney in the past who took what I feel was over the top criticism. I still do it, but found the experience exhausting and now prefer to do so in person rather than online. It’s fair to say that generally speaking I don’t like the notion of kicking O’Connor or any other coach when he is down and the hysteria it creates is not pretty. But the line coming from the media here is divorced from reality. Today is an historic day on marriage, but sometimes they don’t work out. The media seems to be saying that you should stay married for the duration of the contract even though it is an absolute disaster. Perhaps the coach after Schmidt was always doomed (although Schmidt did follow a kinda successful Leinster coach himself), but blaming the supporters for this needs to be challenged.

    1. If a tree falls in a forrest and no-one hears it, does it make a sound? Yes it does because joe Schmidt will pick it up on the video review and next time the tree will fall with better ball presentation.
    I saw Ulster-Leinster in a pre-season friendly at the start of Matt O’Connor’s reign. It was a great evening (-a friend of mine courted the head off sparky) and the atmosphere was pumping. I was very excited at getting a chance to see Tadhg Furlong and Kyle McCall ahead of a new season. I tried to watch it like a hawk. I know it was just a bit of a “hit-out” for the teams, but was amazed to see O’Connor walk in behind the back of the goals and leaving to the changing room with a few minutes to go. Here was me, a random punter watching intently. There was he, the guy paid to be head coach and needing to learn about these players quickly, appearing to be dandering off. Maybe he watched everything back on dvd, I don’t know, but it struck a chord as being some difference from the attention to detail and accountability of the previous regime.

    2. Recruitment and selection.
    I met lote tiquiri (and Wendell Sailor) about 10 years ago on the street in Brisbane. He was affable and one hell of an impressive athlete at that time, but was already being found out as an international Union player and was spending a lot of his time out of position and going backwards to get kicks in behind him. Leinster got him 10 years later, he spent most of his time injured and then they wanted to extend his contract. I may be wrong but I think O’Connor unbelievably gave out that the IRFU blocked it. I wouldn’t put Kirchner in the same bracket and want to see him under a different regime before criticising him – all Leinster backs are playing poorly – but it don’t look good presently. He has re-signed whilst homegrown, younger talents have fled.

    Jimmy Gopperth is a signing credited to the previous regime, but Matt O’Connor embraced him as his main man. Even when it was decided Gopperth wouldn’t be there next season he continued as the 10, playing nearly the full 80 repeatedly. I’m in near total agreement with leinsterlion on this one and it reached a comical level against Toulon when Madigan who supposedly wasn’t being entrusted with game management basically had to totally game manage from 12, take the kicks and tackle the big guys, with a novice Union player on his outside and a 10 standing deep and shuffling ball to him on the inside. All the while the pack played superbly and an experienced legend of a 12 sat on the bench until the game was lost. Post match interview at best you would say O’Connor didn’t do much to help out Madigan. In my opinion there was arguably some bad play by Madigan, some definitely very good play by habana, but (for me anyway) the fault was really the preceeding selection. People say Schmidt gives “withering” dvd reviews. I don’t know if that is at all reflective of the theme of them. I remember sexton saying something like even when I make a mistake joe says it’s not a mistake because I was trying to do the right thing. That is the environment that the likes of McGrath, Madigan et al require.

    3. Gameplan. It looked ugly and it played ugly.
    The return match with Northampton last year, which was a very costly loss indeed, involved one of the most bizarre game plans that I’ve seen. I remember Leinster kicking and on one rare occasion they managed to have enough pressure on to get the ball back from the kick. They were faced with a fractured, disorganised defensive line, at home. They kicked again. I said to my wife who wasn’t really watching it, how many times would they have to kick and get it back before they’d eventually cross the line, or would they forever go on making infinite smaller and smaller territory gains and never actually score. We’ve been married long enough that she now hates rugby even more than she hates me. I think.

    4. Youth development. Hmmmm.
    Like it or not this is a big part of the gig for an irish provincial coach. Even if you don’t like it….its best to light a candle rather than curse the dark. The worry for the coach is that if I have to play these young lads then the fans will go bleedin mental when we lose. The funny thing is (and people saying this isn’t an attractive post should be aware) Leinster fans, I think, would absolutely give you the benefit of the doubt in this instance. My memory is really fuzzy and anyone with better info please correct, but one of the most impressive nights of schmidt’s tenure was when they played the Ospreys, lost two tight heads and rather than go uncontested moved (possibly McGrath) across. I recall they lost narrowly. It was a little pain, but the gains to the individual and to the team mentality…..priceless. My recollection could be rose tinted by the sands of time, but I can say when you divide your squad into the first choices and …..errr……the rest……(you know those unnamed guys who just aren’t putting it in)…..you are on the road to no development. Of anyone.

    To get to where he has got Matt O’Connor is clearly a capable guy, but he has had a bad run here-it happens, even to good coaches. I don’t think you could call this a poisoned chalice, but there certainly were high standards to keep up over at least two previous regimes. That is not easy to do and against that harsh light it just wasn’t working out. He can definitely recover from this but neither he or the media should pretend it wasn’t bad and blame others. Tony Mcgahan has returned South and done rightly. Gregor Townsend has recovered from being a turkey of an attack coach (sorry mole😄 – your words – im just winding) to now running a really impressive show in Glasgow. His CV remains strong and he will get work. Good luck to him.

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