Friday, 13 May 2011
The win may have come at a huge cost with 4 of Leinster's key player's, namely Brian O'Driscoll, Rickardt Strauss, Mike Ross and Isaac Boss being taken off injured. Strauss' injury in particular looked like it might force the player out of the Heineken Cup final next weekend. With the Heineken Cup final a little over a week away all 4 will struggle to be fit in time. The resulting substitutions did not seem to have much impact on the game as Leinster dominated the latter stages culminating in Luke Fitzgerald's try.
Before the game the main story was the battle between Fergus McFadden and Luke Fitzgerald for the second wing spot on the Leinster team for the Heineken Cup Final in Cardiff next weekend. McFadden has being pushing for a place in the full team in recent months with some fine performances that won him man of the match against Glasgow last weekend. Fitzgerald on the other hand has being struggling for form all season after coming back from injury. He has falling into the trap of trying too hard to make an impact, over running the ball and missing scoring constantly in the last few months.
Wednesday, 11 May 2011
Mike Gibson playing for the Lions against New Zealand
For any Irish supporter the number 13 jersey will always hold a special pride of place in Irish rugby. Over the last decade Brian O'Driscoll has set the bench mark for outside centre play in world rugby. His creativity in the midfield, his eye for a gap and his determination in defence have highlighted Ireland's and Leinster success over the past decade. With this it easy easy to forgot other great Irish rugby players to wear the number 13 jersey, no more great than the ever young Mike Gibson.
Gibson rugby legacy was recognised on a world scale on Tuesday night as he became the 5th Irishman to be inducted to the IRB hall of Fame. Gibson joins Jack Kyle, Willie John McBride, Syd Millar and Tony O’Reilly as the Irish representatives in the IRB Hall of Fame. The category which was introduced in 2006 to recognise players who performed consistently to a high level in the world game.
Gibson was a similar type of player to O'Driscoll and was capped 69 timesduring a 15 year career than began in1964, a record not surpassed till big Mal O'Kelly broke that figure against Scotland in 2006. He represented the Lions on 5 separate occasions and is a worthy winner of the IRB Hall of Fame award.
Monday, 9 May 2011
Gavin Henson is to return to the Welsh fold for the non-test match against the Barbarians on the 4th of June, in the Millennium Stadium. If selected for the match, it will be Henson's first appearance for Wales since the final Six Nations match, against Ireland in 2009. That match ended in disappointment for Henson and Wales, with Henson taking an 18 month 'break' from rugby afterwards.
Since then Henson has took part in various television series on what seemed to be a personal quest for fame and appreciation. His rugby comeback has also being filled with controversy, snubbing the Welsh regions to join Saracens, Henson still had eyes for international rugby, stating, "I know I still have so much to give to rugby and I can't wait to get back on the field, playing for Saracens and hopefully for Wales,". His stay at Saracens wasn't a happy one, struggling with weight and injury problems his game time was restricted, missing Wales Six Nations campaign at the same time. As his Welsh colleagues were performing on Europe's biggest rugby stage Henson was busy changing clubs again after he was released by Saracens after only 4 games for the club.
South African world cup winning captain John Smit is to join English club Saracens after the World Cup. Smit who captains South Africa in the World Cup, is believed to have signed a two year deal with the club. Smit who can play at hooker or prop has been capped 102 times for his country and will be joining Saracens from the Sharks. He will add to Saracens' already large South African contingent.
Ulster supporters should be nervous of the rumblings from South Africa at the moment as Peter de Villiers lines up his options for the fourth coming world cup. It is rumoured, that the controversial coach wants Ruan Pienaar, as his scrumhalf option, in the tournament based on this recent form for Irish province Ulster. Pienaar can take great credit in his performances for the province this season, helping them to a play-off place in the Magners League and to the quarter-finals of the Heineken cup, for the first time since they won the trophy in 1999.
Northampton Saints have been boosted ahead of their Heineken cup final with Leinster with the news that Lee Dickson has signed a new contract with the club. The scrumhalf who has been in fine form as the Saints chase silverware on two fronts. Dickson who was overlooked for the Six Nations in favour of Ben Youngs and Danny Care has been arguably the form English scrumhalf in the last few months, with Youngs struggling for his best form.
Sunday, 8 May 2011
Isa Nacewa has capped of a fine personal year playing for Leinster by claiming the Bank of Ireland Players Player of the year award at the Annual Awards Ball in the Burlington Hotel on Saturday night. This is Nacewa second major award this week after also scooping the IRUPA player of the year award for the 2010/11 season. It marks a remarkable year for the 28 year old who played in all but one of Leinster's games this season.
Danny Cipriani's turbulent career continues to cause controversy. In his latest fall from grace, Cipriani has been omitted from the Melbourne Rebels squad for their two match tour of South Africa. The young English fly-half's omission comes on the back of a number of breaches of the clubs strict curfew rules which also prevented him for lining out for the Rebels last Friday against Quennland.
Undoubtedly a very talented fly-half with ball in hand Cipriani has struggled in recent months, after a strong start with the Rebels. After lighting up the early rounds of the Super 15 with his running game and his kicking, Cipriani has found himself having to answer more questions regarding his defensive duties which have been found wanting in recent times.
Northampton Saints came from behind to defeat a brave Leeds side 31-24. Leeds who started very brightly with tries from Hendrie Fourie, Rhys Oakley and Peter Wackett at led 24-15 at half time with Saints tries coming via Phil Dawson and a penalty try. A further try from England wing Chris Aston and penalties via the boot of Stephen Myler resulted in a win for the saints. The result secured forth spot for the Saints and kept them in the hunt for the double. The result also meant relegation for Leeds.
The first team to ease their supporters nerves were the men of Ulster who secured third place in the league by defeating the Dragons on a scoreline 20-13 at Rodney Parade. Centre Nevin Spence went over for two early tries for Ulster, with Pedrie Wannenburg adding a third before half time. Dragons who have been one of the form teams in the league over the last few month's responded with a try from Tom Riley but Ulster held on for the win.
Pool 1 Table Friday, 15 April 2011 17:03 UK
Pool 2 Table
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Pool 3 Table
Pool 4 Table
Pool 5 Table
Friday, 6 May 2011
Saturday, 7 May 2011
Six group winners and the two best runners-up on points go through to the quarter-finals on 8, 9 and 10 April.
Pool 1 Table
Pool 2 Table
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Pool 3 Table
Pool 4 Table
Pool 5 Table
Pool 6 Table