European Club Rugby



  • Pat Lam's Connacht have gone top of the Pro 12 after beating Munster in Limerick this morning. He's been doing great over there to turn that club around.



  • Yep, pretty impressive yesterday against a Munster team which looked a mere shadow of its former self - plus a good showing by Bundee Aki and Nathan White. 
    Aki has piled on the pounds, still as abrasive as ever and is the pro-12 top try-scorer having scored 9 so far, including the match winner - a one-handed touch down in the corner 3 mins from full time, to set up the historic win here at Thomond Park. (Connacht last won here against Munster in 1986) He carried into contact a lot, made several half-breaks, and generally made a nuisance of himself around the ruck area. A MOTM performance. Reminded me a lot of Ranger actually.
    Munster had Francis Saili, who tried desperately to ignite and lift the spirits of those around him and almost succeeded - seemingly taking on Connacht single-handed in the second half.
    I thought it ironic that we were watching a duel between the two NZ centres - among the 2 best players on the field.
    Couldn't help thinking of the ABs in 2016, and how we could really utilise midfield players like Aki in particular, and think Saili with all his experience still has a lot to offer. 
    Pat Lam has brought a definite edge to Connacht, they are aggressiive in contact and inventive in attack. Wouldn't be surprised to see them kick on to win the Pro 12.
    Seems a shame he couldn't do the same with the Blues.



  • I have looked a bit at the stats of NZ players (or other players who used to play in NZ) in the Aviva Premiership.
     
    It's interesting that three players who debuted in the comp recently scored a try on debut:
    Bryce Heem - Worcester Warriors (has played 2 games)
    Teluse Veainu - Leicester Tigers (has scored 4 tries in 5 games, incl 2 Eur Champions Cup games)
    Brendon O'Connor - Leicester Tigers (scored that try in his first of 2 Eur Champions Cup games; has played 3 games in total for LT)
     
    Other players debuting in England this year:
    Charles Piutau - London Wasps - has scored one try and played 3 games (one Eur Champions Cup game)
    Frank Halai - London Wasps - has scored 2 tries in 5 games (one Eur Champions Cup game) 
    Jeremy Thrush - Gloucester - has played 3 games (two Eur Challenge Cup games)
    Willi Heinz - Gloucester - has played 6 games (one Eur Challenge Cup game)
    Ben Franks - London Irish - made his debut this weekend (a loss to London Wasps)
     
    Of the other players, Nick Evans - Harlequins - is leading the Premiership's top points scorer's list at the moment with 84 points from 5 games (2 tries, 7 conversions and 20 penalties).



  • goo to see  pat  and his boys  going well



  • Pat Lam's Connacht have gone top of the Pro 12 after beating Munster in Limerick this morning. He's been doing great over there to turn that club around.

    They went top last weekend after their 33-19 win against Treviso in round 7.
     
    Long way to go in the season, and Lam has benefited from having very few RWC absentees from his squad so their next matches against Cardiff, Ulster and Leinster will tell a lot.   Teams need to win approx 12 games to be in the mix for the top 6 European Cup spots.  They've 7 in the bag so far.   If they can stay in the top four, it would be one hell of an achievement.
     
    Last night was a strong win for the men in green, and the combo between Henshaw and Aki for the last minute try was great to watch as part of a Connacht desire to go for the hammer blow rather than try hold out for a one-point win.
     
    Lots of talk of Henshaw being snaffled to cross the Shannon and join Leinster next season - hopefully he stays put with the promise of H Cup rugby next season.



  • So is Brendan O'Connor English qualified?



  • Thought Veainu was a bit unlucky down here. Deserved a lot more super rugby time than what he got.



  • So is Brendan O'Connor English qualified?

    Yes, he is.



  • How soon will Steddie rush him in then I wonder?



  • Bundee O'Aki going great and has some Jerry Collins tribute guns to go with it. Must be nothing to do in Connacht except hit the gym.
     
    If he had stayed here he could of been a contender this year. Aki/ Fekitoa midfield anyone?



  • Bundee O'Aki going great and has some Jerry Collins tribute guns to go with it. Must be nothing to do in Connacht except hit the gym.
     
    If he had stayed here he could of been a contender this year. Aki/ Fekitoa midfield anyone?

    You're not doing it right.
     
    Bundí O'Akí
     
    Always rated him higher than Saili, but it was Francis who got the AB caps.  Think there is about 18 months until BA can theoretically swap the Connacht green for the Irish green.
     
    Not sure Bundee was quite at the level to become a permanent fixture in black, but certainly a talented player.
     
    https://vine.co/v/iaw6vFnUxdX



  • The tacit agreement is paying off so it is to be sure .
    Does Jake Heenan have a tacit agreement? He plays for Connacht too



  • Heenan is perma-injured Jegga. Already 2 shoulder reconstructions I think.



  • Daniel Kirkpatrick (Castres) had a tackle gone wrong badly this weekend. Totally knocked-out. He tweeted early this morning he was okay, fortunately.
     
    It happened at 1'20''
     
    [media]


     
    Not long after, former NZ7s, Wellington & Taranaki player Alex Tulou scored his 5th try of the season (in 7 games, including one Eur Challenge Cup game).
     
    Edit: yes, in the beginning of the video they briefly discuss/show the ref who officiated the semi-final between the All Blacks & Springboks.



  • Heenan is perma-injured Jegga. Already 2 shoulder reconstructions I think.

    That's no good , he was in this article a couple of months ago http://i.stuff.co.nz/life-style/life/72159970/The-lives-and-times-of-players-in-exile



  • Heenan is perma-injured Jegga. Already 2 shoulder reconstructions I think.

    His contract is up in May next year, BT. There's going to be a few provincial dances and shuffles by season end with a lot of Irish players at end of contracts and negotiating for better terms.
    Heenan isn't a project player and prone to injury. The IRFU may think their national back row stocks are sufficient and it'll be up to Lam as to whether he's worth renewing.



  • You're not doing it right.
    Bundí O'AkíNeither are you.
    It would be Bun D. O' Kee
    Or possibly Bundy McKee 🙂



  • Neither are you.
    It would be Bun D. O' Kee
    Or possibly Bundy McKee 🙂

    I'll defer to a true Irishman on how to give a Polynesian an Irish flavour to their name...
     
    I thought Heenan IS a project player?



  • Pat Lam is certainly making waves in Connacht. A young team playing the best rugby in the pro12 and winning. Its his third year there and was given time to build the squad.
     
     
    Jake Heenan had shoulder surgery and came back too early last season and damaged the same shoulder. So he has missed about 2 years through injury. 
     
     
    The Aki try is here. Good finish. 



  • Connacht have done brilliantly - it's only a few years ago that their die hard fans had to march on Dublin to save the team from the axe. They have gone from being an underfunded feeder team in the GAA heartlands, everyone's favourite second side, to top of the pile and I can't think of anyone in our league who would begrude them their hard-won status right now.
     
    Night's over in Galway were never easy with that wind whipping up what seemed like half the Atlantic Ocean to sting opponents faces, and now they have a beast of a pack and are not afraid to play wide -
     
    Gwan the Wesht,
    (unless you're playing Edinburgh or Glasgow)



  • How is Tom McCartney going?



  • I'll defer to a true Irishman on how to give a Polynesian an Irish flavour to their name...
    I thought Heenan IS a project player?
    BT - He's been cited as being one by some media largely because he fits the profile of uncapped young player from another country (apparently he's third generation Irish as well which means nothing for qualification thankfully).
    However, Heenan is quoted as saying it would be a good achievement to be asked after his 3 year contract is up, but he's not sure that's the route he'll want to take. Doesn't sound very project-like to me.
    I remain highly sceptical about the whole programme, which players fall into it, and how realistic prospects are. More than happy for the players to stay on and enjoy themselves playing for the provinces, but don't stand in the way of the domestic players for test caps remains my view. Hopefully WR change it to 5/7 years residency soon and that'll can it pretty good because it's effective immediately since it's not contractual - a bit like the foreign player provincial restrictions which curtailed renewal of some contracts in last few years.
    Be interesting to see what happens with Payne when he recovers from injury. Does Schmidt continue with him or start to look at some other domestic prospects for midfield and developing them? Hopefully so.
    And will Schmidt call up CJ Stander now that he's passed the 3-year mark at Munster? Probably the best No 8 out of the other choices beyond Heaslip - Conan, Murphy, etc. Stander is a highly popular player down south and made captain and very committed to the cause it would appear. A bit like Richardt Strauss who became an Irish citizen last year along with Joe Schmidt and even took the time to learn the Gaelic words to the Irish national anthem.
    You've got to admire the commitment of some of these players but it's the thin edge of the wedge and it has to be stopped.



  • How is Tom McCartney going?

    Going well early season until he tore hamstring in a European cup match in early November. Scored a try before he did though. Out for six weeks, so he might make the Christmas interprovincial derbies or New Year matches.



  • Sounds like some drums have been beating for Brendan O'Connor to be England's new fetcher.



  • Good luck winning any turover ball with him as your no.7.



  • Good luck winning any turover ball with him as your no.7.

    He is probably the best genuine openside in England at the minute . . .



  • Sounds like some drums have been beating for Brendan O'Connor to be England's new fetcher.

    Something looks odd reading that a bloke named Brendon Ryan O'Connor is qualified though his grandmother for England??



  • I saw a good stink just now, i assume it's from France. French rugby is great for an old-fashioned all-in





  • Something looks odd reading that a bloke named Brendon Ryan O'Connor is qualified though his grandmother for England??

    With first name and last name initials like that he should be playing for South Africa..



  • Ali Williams is Dan Carter's new media manager?
     
    http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2015/dec/07/dan-carter-all-blacks-ali-williams-minder-racing-92-northampton-european-champions-cup

    Makes sense, Ali clearly speaks French.
     
    By speaking English slowly, it a sort of French accent
     
    http://www.rugbyonslaught.com/2015/06/ali-williams-does-speaking-english-in.html



  • Irish rugby having to contend with a lot of English and French cash sloshing around and getting players contracts renewed and keeping them with the provinces.
     
    Lots of rumours flying around about players such as Madigan (who reportedly has an offer of €500k on the table from English first division side, Bristol.  Premiership side, Harlequins are also inquiring as well as two French clubs.   Other players like O'Brien, Murray, Henshaw, Healy are up for negotiations.   Ideally, the IRFU can offer them revised terms and possibly move them around the provinces to ensure more first choice games, and balance out some of the stocks with Leinster supply too many players to the test squad.  With foreign player quotas reducing again, the importance of bringing through players from each of the provinces academies can't be understated.  But the last line in the article is disappointing in seeking to find a scrum-half in NZ and gaining him through residency.   There's an Irish scrum-half, John Hart, playing abroad in France for Grenoble in the Top 14, under his Irish coach, Bernard Jackman.   He's only 22/23, the IRFU/Leinster should target him.
     
    The following report in The Irish Times gives a useful update on what might be happening in the various negotiations led by Performance Director, David Nucifora.
     
     
    Ian Madigan, who is out of contract with Leinster this summer, is waiting to hear from the IRFU’s high performance director David Nucifora, with an offer from Bristol worth €500,000 a season already on the table. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
     
    The IRFU want Ian Madigan to join Munster next season. That’s presuming they keep the 26-year-old in Ireland by coming close to matching lucrative offers from English and French clubs.
    Madigan, who is out of contract with Leinster this summer, is awaiting a formal offer from the union’s high performance director David Nucifora after Bristol tabled €500,000 a season for the place-kicking outhalf-cum-inside centre.

    Along with that deal offered by billionaire Stephen Lansdown, owner of Bristol Rugby and Bristol City FC, three other foreign clubs are seeking Madigan’s signature. Harlequins currently look the most enticing option as he would be joining an established Premiership club to work alongside Conor O’Shea (Bristol are expected to be promoted from the Championship).
    “The English clubs are now in play [financially] which probably wasn’t the case even two or three years ago,” said Johnny Sexton. “I think players have a decision to make. If you want to be starting for Ireland week in week out and looked after under the Irish system, you obviously need to stay here. 
    “But there are other guys who need to go and get game time and are obviously not going to get that in the provinces, so you wouldn’t blame them for going abroad and getting that game time, and they might get more exposure there.”
    The Irish Times can also confirm preliminary discussions have taken place with Madigan’s representative and French clubs Bordeaux-Begles and Montpellier.
    Getting Madigan to sign his first national contract and join Anthony Foley’s Munster would mean Ireland’s three outhalves at the World Cup – Sexton in Leinster and Paddy Jackson in Ulster – could all regularly feature in a provincial number 10 jersey next season. Munster lost outhalf JJ Hanrahan to Northampton last summer. 
     
    The other major contracts currently being negotiated are Robbie Henshaw, Simon Zebo, Conor Murray, Cian Healy and Seán O’Brien. Henshaw is believed to be Leinster-bound, especially if Madigan went to Munster, with Ben Te’o almost certain to leave the province. 
     
    The current exchange rate between euro and sterling (£1 to €1.39) severely weakens the negotiating positions of the IRFU and the provinces, particularly when enticing or keeping foreign players or established internationals.

    “It’s different for every player,” Sexton continued. “I can only speak for myself; I had two great years away and really enjoyed myself but the most important thing for me was playing for Ireland and I only realised that when I was gone.
     
    “I wasn’t able to do that to the best of my ability in terms of coming home for Six Nations and going back [to France] for games in between and not getting that rest between Six Nations matches.”
    Sexton was asked if a time would come when all Irish players who do go to England or France could expect to be called by the Ireland coach.
    “I was very lucky that I was still getting picked when I was abroad but is it worth some guys going and sacrificing two years to get game time? I don’t know. That’s questions for those guys.
    “The best place for an Irish international is at home. Hopefully we will retain most of those guys – hopefully all of them.”
    Henshaw’s proposed move to Dublin may also indirectly see a loosening of Leinster’s grip on their three international tightheads and overflowing backrow stocks.
     
     
    Tadhg Furlong is signed up for two years but Mike Ross and Marty Moore are both soon to be out of contract. Last season Moore signed a one-year extension at the same time Ross got a single-season deal despite seeking two years.
     
    However, the expected changing of the tighthead guard has yet to happen with Ireland or Leinster due to Moore’s injury profile and an Indian summer by Ross. 
    One of them, probably Ross, could move to Galway should Rodney Ah You be redirected to Ulster. Ross is 36 this month but has stated his desire to continue playing next season. 
    Regarding the Leinster backrow, Josh van der Flier has already made an impression in his first season on a professional contract, while Dan Leavy and Dominic Ryan are also waiting in line behind Rhys Ruddock, Jack Conan, Jamie Heaslip, O’Brien and Jordi Murphy.

    Leinster have also narrowed down their search for a new scrumhalf to a three-man short list. The main recruiting area is New Zealand with a view to naturalising the player through residency. 
    Isaac Boss and Eoin Reddan are both 35, while 22-year-old Luke McGrath has yet to dislodge the Irish internationals from Leo Cullen’s starting XV.



  • DC starting for Racing outside the glacial service of Pikey Mikey
     
    I'm quite keen to see how our world cup hero stacks up. I wouldn't complain if he just phoned it in but he's a bit classier than that. Reckon he might have to duck and weave off the ball a bit though
     
    He's got Casey Laulala, Roks and Masoe to help him out too
     
    I guess Racing is my new favourite french club - previously it was "I couldn't give 2 fucks"



  • Thomas Waldrom was man of the match in the Exeter Chiefs' bonus point win over Clermont (31-14), having scored two tries. Last week, he scored a hat-trick. Makes me wonder, again, why he was not in the English RWC squad. He was a top try scorer last year, too.
     
    One of the two Clermont tries was scored by Hosea Gear.



  • So I watched 4 games of European rugby in the weekend
     
    Ulster - Toulouse
    Racing 92 - Northampton
    Munster - Leicester
    Toulon - Leinster
     
    Kiwis involved: Williams (Ulster), Flynn, McAlister (Toulouse), Tameifuna, Masoe, Carter, Laulala, Rococoko (Racing), Paterson (NH), Saili (Munster), Fitzgerald, O'Connor (Leicester), Nonu, Taylor (Toulon), Boss, Nacewa (Leinster)
     
    Fat Nick Williams went OK for Ulster, got a try.  McAlister was awful for Toulouse at 10.  Carter went OK, but Rococoko was the best Kiwi there, Nonu was well managed by Leinster.



  • 38-0, son! Kiss has reminded them that it's not just down to Pienaar and Jackson to pass. Marshall was spraying the ball about like . . . well not Super Rugby, but the closest we'll get.
     
    The prospect of Piutau with front-foot ball arouses me.




  •  
    Conrad leaves his old buddy grasping at thin air




  •  
    Conrad leaves his old buddy grasping at thin air

    That's a bit rough on Ma'a TBF he did have have two men to mark.




  •  
    Conrad leaves his old buddy grasping at thin air

    Great stuff from Snakey. He's an excellent signing for Pau. Not Nonu's fault alone. He was left marking two men and was in the right place for the interception if Conrad had passed. More guilty are Matt Stevens (23) who was marking Conrad Smith on the open side and failed to track his run and Mamuka Gorgodze (6) who was stuck in a offside position.
     
    Toulon won the game with Tom Taylor at fullback. Colin Slade was at 10.



  • I watched a bit of Top 14 on the weekend (SF v someone i had never heard of, played on an artificial pitch?), and some other game, Toulouse i think. The quality i saw was so poor. The game plans were basic, and the skills really lacking. I was actually bored watching rugby, and that normally only happens when i am watching the Brumbies or the Stormers. 
     
    For SF Genia tried hard to create stuff, but with Morne Steyn at 10, it was not a match made in heaven.


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