John Haughey

Emerald Isle wants answers after World Cup flop (130)

It hasn’t quite matched the national trauma induced by Roy Keane’s departure from Saipan five years ago but Ireland rugby team’s hapless efforts in France have gripped the Emerald Isle over the past three weeks.

Two months ago, a semi-final place in this World Cup was being spoken about as the minimum acceptable requirement for this so-called Golden Generation of Irish players.

Instead, their World Cup was over before we made it into October as the shambolic displays against Namibia and Georgia were followed by conclusive defeats against France and Argentina.

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Alastair Hignell

Advance Australia unfair (103)

Thank God for John O'Neill.

If the chief executive of the Australian Rugby Union hadn’t put it so succinctly, we would never have known. "It doesn't matter whether it's cricket, rugby union, rugby league – we all hate England,"

As a statement of the bleedin’ obvious, it’s one of which Basil Fawlty would be proud.

In recent times Ronan O’Gara and Imanol Harinordoquy, among a whole host of others, have uttered similar sentiments.

Crowds at England’s last two matches, at Stade de la Beaujoire in Nantes and the Parc des Princes in Paris, have backed up the theory put forward by head coach Brian Ashton that there won’t be any neutrals at England’s matches.

In fact, several supporters were seen at the Parc wearing T-shirts proclaiming their affiliation to the Gwent branch of the Tongan Supporters Club.

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Ben Dirs

Northern exposure leaves Dirsy depressed (79)

To lose one Six Nations side before the quarter-finals of a World Cup is unfortunate. To lose three just goes to show how stagnant and outmoded northern hemisphere rugby has become.

Some claim this tournament has proved that rugby runs stronger and deeper than ever before, with Fiji’s stunning victory over Wales and Georgia’s near upset of Ireland cited as prime examples.

I don’t go for that. After all, the All Blacks and Australia have been gubbing the minnows at this World Cup just as they always have done.

I hesitate to pick on the Scots – at least they managed to scrape through their group - but it was our misfortune to witness their clash with Italy which was the rugby equivalent of a wet weekend in Prestatyn with only a stack of David Essex LPs for company.

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