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    Sunday Press Clippings

    <h1> Irish champions with fairer system </h1>
    @@@@SPAN>By Paul Ackford, Sunday Telegraph

    @@@@/SPAN><div style="float: left;">@@@@SPAN>Last Updated: @@@@SPAN style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">12:11am GMT@@@@/SPAN>25/03/2007@@@@/SPAN></div>

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    And so to, absolutely, the final thoughts on this season's Six Nations.

    Proper champions?

    If the championship had used the system of four points for a win, two
    for a draw, one for losing by a margin of seven points or fewer and one
    for scoring four tries, which is in place in every other major rugby
    competition around the world, then Ireland would have sneaked it and
    Wales would have grabbed the wooden spoon.

    final table would have looked like this: Ireland 19 points, France 18,
    England 13, Italy 9, Scotland 5 and Wales 5, with Scotland finishing
    above Wales by virtue of their victory at Murrayfield in the match
    between the two countries.<div><div>advertisement</div>&lt; src="" =""&gt;</div>

    would then have got rid of all the controversy over the staggered
    kick-off times on the final day with Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan
    complaining that his players were disadvantaged by participating in the
    earlier match. Once Ireland had won the game and scored four tries
    there would be nothing more they could have done.

    Most missed player?

    Gareth Thomas who was ruled out of Wales's first three matches because
    of a ban following his involvement in the Trevor Brennan affair. Mad as
    a March hare is 'Alfie' Thomas, but he is a man with real stature
    across the European scene and he does bring substance to the Welsh
    side. It was also heartening to see Thomas go up to Mike Catt and offer
    a consoling pat as the England captain limped off with a recurrence of
    his hamstring injury.

    Most infuriating double act?

    The BBC's Brian Moore and Eddie Butler. The bulk of what they offer is
    outstanding - lively, opinionated and informative - but am I the only
    one who cringes when they start to bicker over interpretations and come
    over all jingoistic? Disagree by all means, gentlemen, but don't let it
    become the distinguishing feature of your commentary.

    Unfinished business?
    the England coaching team adept at managing games as they unfold? Easy
    to be smug after the event but, in the Wales match, why was Shane
    Geraghty brought on to replace the injured Mike Catt when the more
    experienced Jamie Noon, an out-and-out centre and club partner to
    Mathew Tait, was on the bench? And why, when Joe Worsley went off
    crocked, did Martin Corry not move back to No 8 to shepherd Tom Rees
    and James Haskell, two young flankers who were struggling?

    Most worrying trend?

    The indifferent standard of officiating in the championship. It started
    on the first weekend when television match official Donal Courtney
    awarded Jonny Wilkinson a try against Scotland that simply wasn't,
    continued when Chris White got in an awful muddle about ending the
    Italy/Wales fixture and finished on the final Saturday when Courtney
    stood by and allowed Sean Lamont to be sin-binned against France when
    it was brother Rory who committed the foul. There were also too many
    instances of referees "going upstairs" for a verdict over the simplest
    of touch downs.

    Least likely reason for an improvement in form?
    for breakfast. That's the difference." England scrum-half Harry Ellis
    on the secret behind his scintillating champions

    Screen tests look set for extended run

    @@@@SPAN ="starrating">



    By Hugh Godwin

    Published:25 March 2007

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    The International Rugby Board are considering an extension to the power
    of the television match official, despite several controversial
    incidents during this year's Six Nations' Championship. The next IRB
    Council meeting in May is set to receive a recommendation from its
    rugby committee, proposed by the referee manager, Paddy O'Brien, that
    the TMO's "areas of adjudication" include the lead-up to a try, further
    back in the move than is currently allowed.

    The role of the TMO was a major talking point during the Six Nations.
    Spectators from Rome to Paris to Twickenham were baffled by rulings
    from a faceless individual they had probably never heard of, parked in
    a television production truck outside the stadium, yet liable to have
    as much of an influence as any Jonny Wilkinson drop-goal or Gordon
    D'Arcy sidestep.

    The most notorious incidents were Wilkinson's foot in touch while
    scoring a try for England against Scotland - missed by the Irish TMO,
    Donal Courtney - and the confusion between referee Chris White and TMO
    Geoff Warren in the last seconds of Wales's defeat by Italy.

    The latter brought an apology to Wales from White, while Courtney
    has also acknowledged his mistake, though neither is in danger of being
    dropped from the IRB's panel of top referees, from which the officials
    for this year's World Cup will be selected next month.

    O'Brien described both cases as isolated "human error", and also
    said "the teamwork was lacking" between White and Warren in Rome, when
    Wales thought they could have a line-out only for White to blow the
    final whistle. "The timekeeper should have left it for Chris rather
    than yell in his ear that time was up," said O'Brien. "The referee is
    still the sole judge of fact and time."

    But there is confusion over what the TMO can and cannot do. Seasoned
    reporters of the game misinterpreted the situation last weekend when
    France's Elvis Vermeulen scored the championship-winning try against
    Scotland. "It was a great piece of refereeing as far as the protocol
    goes," said O'Brien. "One of the questions the referee can ask, if he
    believes a try has been scored, is whether the TMO can see any reason
    why it should not be awarded." The fact that the TMO was Irish, with
    Ireland vying for the title, was just a St Patrick's Day coincidence.

    Put simply, the TMO is there to use video replays to answer a
    question put to him by the referee. Apart from goal-kicks, or when a
    player may have gone into touch in the act of try-scoring or touching
    down, all the rulings currently are confined to the in-goal area.
    O'Brien wants to look additionally at "the lead-up" to a try - for a
    foot in t



      PERSON OF THE MONTH</font>

      Sunday March 25th 2007</font>

      Eddie O'Sullivan
      IT says a lot about the character of
      Eddie O Sullivan that despite the 43-13 demolition of England on that
      great and historic day in Croke Park, he still wasn't satisfied.

      O'Sullivan is a perfectionist and his quest for five perfect games
      in a row in the Six Nations championship of 2007 wasn't attained -
      despite last weekend's heroics in Rome that ended in such bitter

      Still, it was a great championship for Ireland and it is a measure
      of how far we have come as a rugby playing nation that our Triple
      Crown, won after a hard-fought single point victory over Scotland, did
      not spark wild celebrations and fires on the hillsides.

      The fact that there is frustration and disappointment that this
      team didn't complete the Grand Slam this season is a tribute to
      O'Sullivan's mercurial talents as a manager.

      In his low key way, the Galway-based Corkman has moulded one of the
      most talented bunch of players Ireland has ever produced into a
      formidable team.

      We go to the World Cup later this year with a great chance of being
      involved in the latter stages of the competition and O'Sullivan
      deserves great credit for that.

      Last month's performance against England at Croke Park was perhaps his finest moment as a coach.

      In the emotion charged atmosphere there was always a danger that
      the Irish XV would lose focus, especially after all the pre-match hype
      over national anthems. But the Irish team, marshalled by O'Sullivan,
      put on a champagne performance.

      O'Sullivan commented afterwards: "We played a game of real quality
      in difficult conditions. The result shows we can mix and match with the
      top teams in the world and I put England in that category."

      That summary, typically, understated the achievement. O'Sullivan's
      preparations were spot on and a wonderful day at Croke Park was capped
      with a record breaking victory over the current world champions that
      will live long in the memory.

      It is for that marvellous day in Croke Park that Eddie O'Sullivan
      is the Irish Nationwide, Sunday Independent Person of the Month for




        Irish vital to health of European Cup</font>

        Sunday March 25th 2007</font>

        BY this time next weekend, we might once again be entering very
        unfamiliar territory in the Heineken Cup: only once since the turn of
        the century have the final four got together without an Irish presence
        - in 2005 - and with that sort of record, we have come to take for
        granted that Europe will occupy us to the end of each season. Factor
        out the captains Paul O'Connell and Brian O'Driscoll and all bets are

        In Munster's case, there are other injuries compounding the loss of
        their leader. Remarkably, Marcus Horan's calf injury was sorted in time
        for last week in Rome, and there has been no reaction, but in his place
        in the physio's room with a more serious version of the same injury is
        John Kelly. His chances of being fit to face the Scarlets are slim,
        though Mick O'Driscoll's ribs may yet be up to the stress of taking on
        the side who have played perhaps the best rugby of the competition so

        There is good news, though, regarding alternatives. It was the late
        withdrawal of Barry Murphy, selected on the wing against Ulster on
        Friday night, that allowed Brian Carney get an early taste of the
        action - his first since playing a season with Lansdowne on leaving
        school, eh, a long time ago.

        If you look at the big successes in the changeover from league to
        union, they have come out wide: Jason Robinson, Lote Tuquiri, Mat
        Rogers - when selected there by Australia - and even Wendell Sailor.
        Carney is a rugby league winger being asked to play wing in rugby
        union. The further away from the set piece the greater the space, and
        the more chance there is to make the transition. He is strong and quick
        and skilful, and after a ropey start in Ravenhill he got better and
        better, finishing with the winning try. It isn't Declan Kidney's style
        to pick someone so new and with no track record in the sport, but
        circumstances might force his hand for the better.

        Certainly Munster will need something to give them some impact out
        wide. And they will have enough on their plate hoping to find their
        rhythm with their international contingent coming back into the mix
        without a warm-up.

        Llanelli in Stradey will be a tougher prospect than the French were in Lansdowne Road at the same stage last year

        Whereas Leinster opted to get their mob back into blue as soon as
        possible, Munster's Ireland contingent went for the extra week off
        after the Six Nations. At this time last year it left them rusty
        against Perpignan. Llanelli in Stradey, with an off-loading game ahead
        of anyone else, will be a tougher prospect than the French were in
        Lansdowne Road at the same stage last year.

        It's Leinster, however, who will have the harder time up front when
        they go to Adams Park to take on Wasps. Ignore the Wasps' defeat by
        London Irish in the Premiership last week, where they were shunted
        around the Madjeski by the home side. It was their second string.
        Virtually their entire pack will be recast for Saturday, with Lawrence
        Dallaglio likely to be the only survivor. And he sounds keen.

        "The latter stages of the Heineken Cup are as big as any game of
        rugby you will ever play in terms of atmosphere, intensity and
        passion," he says. "The semi-final against Munster in 2004 was one of
        those games we were fortunate to win in the end. That game had
        everything - the lead changed hands seven or eight times, there were
        players sent to the sin-bin and some great tries.

        "There were big moments, big tackles and it was an amazing
        atmosphere at a packed Lansdowne Road. I thought nothing could be
        better than that, but a few weeks later we w


          O’Gara key as Munster aim to march on
          The fly-half must banish his Six Nations flaws if his side are to
          overcome the Scarlets
          Stuart Barnes
          SERIOUS contenders for next autumn’s World Cup or a side who
          remain seriously flawed? The verdict is out on Ireland in the wake of
          an RBS Six Nations campaign that was sometimes wonderful but will
          have to be wistfully remembered as a waste — a wake for the Grand
          Slam that should have been claimed.

          Ireland produced the best rugby by some distance. France had their
          moments, but the startling Irish effort against England towered over
          any other 80 minutes of the championship.

          And last weekend in Rome, when Ireland were intent on raining tries
          down on Italy, the backs conjured an inventiveness and efficiency
          that only the All Blacks, on a good day, could match. In the second
          half the Irish backs were deadly, cold-blooded. Every time they
          sniffed the Italian 22 they left with another try.

          New Zealand apart, no other international team is in their class as an
          attacking side, brilliant indeed but also brittle in a way the All Blacks
          are not. Or maybe that is yet to be seen. Those in World Cup denial,
          who think we are in for a competition rather than a coronation, point
          out the threat of injury to Richie McCaw and Daniel Carter. How good
          are the All Blacks without their two controlling forces? There is no
          doubt that they would be a lesser team for the loss, but the strength
          in depth is formidable. With or without them, they have a mighty look
          to them. Ask the same question about Ireland, stripped of the
          captains of Leinster and Munster, Brian O’Driscoll and Paul O’Connell,
          and the evidence of the Six Nations throws up questions Ireland are
          yet to answer.

          Ireland’s front five is being held together by the considerable plaster
          that is the Munster second-row combination of Donncha O’Callaghan
          and O’Connell. The colossal O’Connell delivered a thunderous
          performance against England that blasted the men in white from the
          field. When he stirs, Ireland’s pack bristles, but when he is off form,
          as he was against Wales and France, the head of steam generated is
          little more than a puff as O’Callaghan works his hide off on the back

          When the talismanic lock is absent, as he was in Rome, the pack
          appears even further from world championship material. The half-
          century of points masked the fact that Italy caused Ireland too many
          problems at the set-piece for a team who are intent on challenging
          the world’s best. Mick O’Driscoll is an able deputy but the fire is
          extinguished too easily without the red-haired Munster giant. Unless
          O’Connell can produce a series of performances to eclipse anything
          that Martin Johnson achieved, then Ireland’s pack is going to be
          underpowered against the likes of France, South Africa and New

          His broken thumb rules him out of the Munster team for the Heineken
          Cup quarter-final away to Llanelli Scarlets, the flamboyant side of the
          pool stages. The European champions’ pack contains seven of the
          Ireland pack, whereas the Welsh team major in the loose. If Munster
          are to retain this tournament title, they must do what Ireland failed to
          do without O’Connell and thrive in the tight.

          Ronan O’Gara, the golden boy of Munster, must dictate the shape of
          the game and he will be the man around whom the team will plant
          that fearsome red flag it carries defiantly around Europe. The fly-half
          as an individual is a lot like Ireland as a team. He is the best in
          Europe in his position (James Hook gave the individual performance
          of the Six Nations, but O’Ga


            Their is a piece in the Sunday Times Irish edition today that Ollie Le Roux is close to signing for Leinster ( but it hasn't been confirmed yet), I can't find the piece online. They look to be building a decent pack for next year.



              Originally posted by Clon
              Their is a piece in the Sunday Times Irish edition today that Ollie Le Roux is close to signing for Leinster ( but it hasn't been confirmed yet), I can't find the piece online. They look to be building a decent pack for next year.

              As a hooker!


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                He is so lazy and unfit its isnt even funny. Seems to be getting only a few minutes in each game.

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                My computer thinks I'm gay
                What's the difference anyway
                When all the people do all day
                Is stare into a phone


                  The last time I can remember him play was a few years ago when he made a come back, and was playing very well. He is supposed to be doing a marketing campaign for hamburgers now though [img]smileys/lol.gif[/img], and is about 34.


                    Theres a really good article / interview with Chris Wyatt in the Sunday Times but I can't find it online.....anyone else ?

                    Also, an additional article on the history / tradition, including similarities between Munster and LLanelli by Stuart Barnes - can't find online either - anyone ???????