Friday, March 20, 2009


Who will it be?

Just over 24 hours to go and the butterflies in the anxious stomachs of the Irish players must be morphing into rampaging elephants. A Grand Slam is on the cards and a deprived and frustrated Ireland waits in agonizing expectation. Win, and the party will last a lifetime. Lose and the pain will last equally as long and this “Golden Generation’ of players will fragment and go their separate ways with another “what if?” ringing in their ears.

Call me old fashioned but the Grand Slam is the ultimate Northern Hemisphere prize and the only one you’re remembered for. Triple Crowns and Championship titles are nice but it’s the big GS every player dreams of, and I really hope the Irish boys can do it on Saturday.

This isn’t a wish fuelled by any anti Welsh sentiment, merely a desire to see a great bunch of players finally fulfill their potential and grasp the prize their talents and characters deserve. Let me just re cap a few of the great names for you and as you read through them be honest with yourselves; would you deny them their great day? O’Driscoll, O’Connell, Stringer, Murphy, Leamy, O’Gara, D’Arcy, Hayes, Horan. I thought not.

It’s far too easy in this modern age of contracts, spin and citings to forget the romance of this amazing game, and what is rugby if it is stripped of its tradition? It becomes a collection of statistics on a piece of paper, hence my lack of enthusiasm for the final table standings. I realize you need to present a trophy to someone come the end of the show but unless it’s received as Grand Slam winners the shine isn’t quite as bright.

Heaven knows Ireland have come close in their quest for top spot; their best chance being two years ago when, having the French exactly where they wanted them with minutes to go at Croke Park, they threw it all away, and that was on the first day!

Every player will have relived those moments, and a million others I’m sure, but now they must mobilize their aching bodies for one final push; a gargantuan challenge against a highly motivated Welsh team.

I won’t bother going into team tactics and predictions and I’m not even going to mention the other matches (ok, so I just did), I’m going to leave you with this one mental image and hope that it stirs the same traditional and feel good emotions within you as it does in me; Brian O’Driscoll, Grand Slam Captain 2009. He deserves it; they all do. Good luck Ireland.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

To scrum or not to scrum?

The rugby season must be nearly upon us since the eternal debate of whether to scrummage or not scrummage is once again raising its head (a penalty offence I believe)!

It is only natural and right that eminently qualified individuals should feel compelled to question this skill since it can, sadly, lead to serious injuries. I speak from bitter experience having been forced to retire from the game following a neck injury; though not one brought about through scrummaging. Oh no, mine was caused by a big “po-po” prop landing on my neck during a rucking drill.

The scrum can be a dangerous place; you only have to look at the psychological profiles of many front row forwards to understand the calibre of human being who would willingly place himself in the front row, risking ear malformations, nose replacements and any number of skin complaints. It is, however one of the most policed areas of the game and a vital weapon in any team’s armoury - even the Aussies are taking it seriously now!

Any team that dominates scrum has gone a long way to dominating a match and by removing it from the tapestry of the sport, you would alter it irrevocably. The scrum has already been altered to increase safety, both at age group level and at senior level. Tragically accidents do happen but even though one serious injury is one too many, they happen infrequently when set against the number of individuals who play the game.

What does need to be looked at is the exposure of young men to intensive scrummaging before they have had an opportunity to develop technically ad physically. There is a danger that by placing promising front row players in academies at such an early age you deprive them of the regular matches that would develop the necessary neck and shoulder strength and tactical know-how to cope with the rigours of the game. You will never be able to eradicate neck injuries from the scrum completely but you can reduce the likelihood of them occurring and in this instance, rugby as a whole is taking its responsibilities seriously.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Welcome to my new blog!!!

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?