Sunday, July 23, 2017

My two cents on the bigger, better? Pro 14!

I thought I might as well throw in my two cents about the PRO 14, as it'll now be called. First off, we should see some good games. The Cheetahs and the Kings aren't top teams in South Africa, but they aren't terrible either. South Africa has so many players, it's a just question of good coaching to put together decent sides. I'm not really saying good coaching is all that common though. Watching the Sharks, Stormers and Lions in action this weekend...omg the handling skills are just brutal! There's no lack of flipping huge forwards, and speedy backs, but their basic skills are woeful. In fairness, I've seen the Lions a few times this season where their handling was unreal, but not this weekend that's for sure!

So some good games then, but what about everything else? The home and away is a problem. If Munster want to fly to play one of them, that's a drive to Dublin, fly to the UK, fly to Joburg, then another flight to Bloemfontein (voted in the old Super 14 as the most boring city on the circuit by the players) ( That's where Rassie is from by the way) or to East London. That's going to take a long time, and is just about going to rule out away fans on either side.

Then there's the conference system, two blocks of 7 teams, who play each other home and away and then the other conference one. With Leinster and Munster in opposite sides apparently, that's one derby out the window.

Sponsorship? How's it going to work for Guinness? And harder now to find a common European/South African sponsor.

Overall, there's a few big flaws that are going to be hard to overcome...things could get messy!

It was good to see James Lowe in fine form on the weekend, he's going to be great addition for Leinster this season.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Lions for a clean sweep in 2029!


The Lions tour came to an unusual end on Saturday, a draw, and a drawn series too. It would have been good to have had had a definitive result, and the whole stadium and all the players went quiet at the final whistle - who gets excited about a draw? . But really, it just showed how close the whole series was, that there didn't deserve to be a clear winner. Both sides had chances, and while the All blacks scored two tries, they left at least another two behind, and the Lions should have scored a try early on. And if Beauden Barrett had brought his kicking boots, it could have all been different. In a perfect world, they would have been playing a deciding match next weekend...

For the Irish players, Furlong was epic, as usual, Murray was imperious again, Sexton showed class, composure and created space for other players, and O'Brien and Stander were physical and busy. Five out of the best 23 European players outside of France? We'll take that. They were playing side by side with an excellent group - Davies, Itoje, Williams, Alwyn Jones, that pushed them all to new heights.

The Lions as a concept is in rude health - to come from a three match wipeout in 2005 when they last toured New Zealand to a drawn series this time is a big step up. Let's face it, it all points to a clean sweep for the Lions in 2029!