Ireland (archive)

Team of the Tournament

  • Mark Orlovac
  • 20 Mar 07, 01:45 PM

m_orlavac_6666.gifLondon - So after five weekends of thrilling action, the dust has settled on another Six Nations campaign.

Before the tournament started, our team of BBC Six Nations bloggers sat down to select a combined team of the tournament and we did the same three games in.

Now hostilities have come to an end, the votes have been painstakingly counted and we can exclusively reveal what we think is our definitive starting XV.

Triple crown winners Ireland provide six of the team, with champions France and Italy having four players apiece.

Youngster David Strettle is England's only selection while Wales and Wooden Spoonists Scotland miss out altogether.

Six players from the original team have kept their places, and interestingly five of them are in the pack.

Let us know what you think of our selections, what we've got right, what we've got wrong, and let us know how your Six Nations XV would look.

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Irish party falls flat

  • Andrew Cotter
  • 18 Mar 07, 02:04 PM

Andrew Cotterire_badge.gifI left Rome on Saturday night. There was a tentative plan to rearrange a flight and stay and experience this intriguing drink you call "Guinness" in the Italian capital with a big, bald former hooker. I'm glad I didn't.

Has a St Patrick's Day celebration ever fallen so flat?

The Six Nations may have been criticised for a lack of quality. Kiwis will be sleeping soundly in their nests. But I can't remember a more dramatic conclusion to the competition. In fact, it was one of the most dramatic afternoons I can remember in any sport.

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Six Nations - the final verdict

  • Rob Hodgetts
  • 18 Mar 07, 10:31 AM

Rob HodgettsLondon - The 2007 Six Nations ended in controversial, joyous, heartbreaking or infuriating fashion depending on the colour of your shirt.

But there's no doubt it's been a cracker - maybe not for the actual quality of rugby but for the drama and suspense right up until the final match.

France, Ireland and England were all tied at the top of the table going into Saturday's finale, meaning every point scored, for or against, would be crucial in deciding the eventual winners.

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Our Six Nations permutations guide

  • Phil Harlow, BBC Sport journalist
  • 13 Mar 07, 11:14 AM

Phil HarlowLondon - As we count down to the final weekend of Six Nations action, there are still four teams with a chance - mathematically speaking, at any rate - of winning the title.

If, like me, maths in not your strong point, pens, paper, a calculator and a protractor may well be required for what follows....

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Possession the key on St Paddy's Day

  • Jim Stokes
  • 13 Mar 07, 10:14 AM

Jim Stokesire_badge.gifBelfast – Now that my very temporary support of England (for very selfish reasons you understand) has quickly evaporated in the thermals above Twickenham, I can look forward to what should be a thrilling Six Nations finale.

While I didn’t honestly think Scotland would put the wind up Ireland, I was even less convinced that England would stop the French juggernaut rolling to a Grand Slam.

But fair play to Brian Ashton’s boys - who took advantage of a French team that looked asleep for most of the game. So much so, they should have worn their pyjamas, particularly out in the three-quarters.

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What is acceptable violence?

  • John Beattie
  • 12 Mar 07, 05:39 PM

John Beattiesco_badge.gifire_badge.gif Glasgow - Friends of mine know that I don’t like to beat about the bush. So, here goes...why did Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan accuse a Scottish player of deliberately choking one of his players? And this leads to another question: What is an acceptable level of violence on a rugby pitch?

I have been quiet on the blog over the last two weeks because defeat by Italy was hard to take. There has been much gnashing of teeth in this country, and even people with no teeth have been provided with them so that they can join in. But I left Murrayfield at the weekend with a feeling that Scotland had played much better and that they should have beaten an Irish team which turned out to be not quite as good as the hype.

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A Tale of Two Countries

  • Andrew Cotter
  • 6 Mar 07, 10:01 AM

Andrew Cottersco_badge.gifire_badge.gif "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.......... It was the spring of hope it was the winter of despair"

Two teams will meet at Murrayfield on Saturday travelling on very different paths in the rugby world.

As impressive as Ireland's win over England was, Scotland's loss to Italy was dreadful.

And as much as Ireland expect two straightforward victories to end their Six Nations, Scotland are contemplating two likely defeats.

So how can you possibly compare these two sides?

Continue reading "A Tale of Two Countries"

Super Saturday from a skewed angle

  • Sean Davies
  • 28 Feb 07, 05:59 PM

s_davies_6666.gifwal_badge.gifCardiff - There can only be one way to go after Super Saturday - the Six Nations must be expanded and taken to Spain.

Now we could have the worthy Argentina side playing from there, or we could allow the Spanish national team in to give Wales the chance of winning a game (I’m sure Scotland would throw the new boys a few tries to get them started).

But the basic plan is the only sober conclusion I can come to after witnessing Saturday’s eight-hour marathon feast from the depths of Finnegan’s genuine Irish bar in Valencia.

Continue reading "Super Saturday from a skewed angle"

Six Nations state of play

  • Phil Harlow
  • 27 Feb 07, 12:48 PM

Phil HarlowAfter the pivotal third weekend, the Six Nations table is starting to look more settled.

France are the only team who can still achieve the Grand Slam, while Wales, with three straight defeats, are looking up at the rest of the sides.

Ireland are on course for a Triple Crown, but England took a big step backwards with their massive defeat in Dublin.

Italy showed they are a genuine force in the tournament with their first ever away win over a misfiring Scotland.

I've assessed the state of play with two weekends left to go.

Continue reading "Six Nations state of play"

United by a sporting spectacle

  • Francis Keogh
  • 26 Feb 07, 02:22 PM

ire_badge.gif eng_badge.gifWhite City, London – In the end, my dilemma of who to support in the Ireland-England clash at Croke Park was solved, but not quite in the manner I intended.

Scores of you replied when I outlined my divided loyalties – born, schooled and living in England to Irish parents, and from a long Irish family line.

Many shared my dilemma, some scoffed at my neutrality, while others were simply dismissive.

I was called a weiner. Whether that was with English or French mustard had not been made clear...

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How Ireland stood tall

  • Jim Stokes
  • 26 Feb 07, 09:42 AM

Jim Stokesire_badge.gif Belfast – Wow. What a beautiful day Sunday was. It was only after I had finished my weekly jog around the green pastures of the Stormont Estate that I was able to take it all in. Like Saturday, it needed a sharp intake of breath.

I have been attending international matches since 1961, but none have matched the power, passion and emotion that emanated from Croke Park on Saturday.

I had to pinch myself, to realise Ireland had stuffed England out of sight. Okay, okay it was a very poor England team, but there again, who cares...

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How was "Super Saturday" for you?

  • Bryn Palmer
  • 25 Feb 07, 12:30 PM

So the dust is beginning to settle on the Six Nations' "Super Saturday" - three games, 163 points and 16 tries.

A good day to be a rugby union fan (although England, Scotland and Wales supporters may dispute that), the middle Saturday of the tournament was a real test of endurance.

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Ireland v England player ratings

  • Phil Harlow
  • 24 Feb 07, 05:48 PM

Phil Harlowire_badge.gif eng_badge.gif
Ireland produced a tremendous display to record their best ever win over England in a pulsating encounter at Croke Park.

See if you agree with my ratings for both sides.

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Moore blast provides perfect Irish pep

  • Jim Stokes
  • 23 Feb 07, 02:14 PM

Jim Stokesire_badge.gifDublin – There's one sure thing that unites Irishmen and that is a confrontation with the English. Somehow, I suspect it could be the same with the Welsh and Scottish, but don’t quote me!

And if there's one thing that really fuses the Irish together, then it's when an Englishman says that they're not really up to it. Well, the BBC’s very own Brian Moore has now given Irish coach Eddie O’Sullivan the perfect motivational material for his pre-match pep-talk.

"Ireland can take no comfort after choking - again," was the headline on Moore's usual hard-hitting column in the Daily Telegraph column following the last-minute defeat to France.

And when BBC Northern Ireland’s Season Ticket programme took him to task for his views - and indeed general Irish perceptions of bias - Moore, in his typical Pit Bull style, took an even harder line - insisting: "If people are honest in Ireland they ought to be furious about this because the team has blown yet another Grand Slam".

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A game of two halves

  • Francis Keogh
  • 23 Feb 07, 11:04 AM

ire_badge.gif eng_badge.gifWhite City, London - It’s the match Irish and English supporters have been waiting for – the Croke Park showdown.

As anticipation reaches fever pitch around Dublin with the arrival of the first batch of travelling fans, I am left with an awkward dilemma.

You see, and for some reason I’m slightly embarrassed to admit this, I support both sides. Yes, that’s both...

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England cool before Croke Park cauldron

  • Mark Orlovac
  • 21 Feb 07, 04:48 PM

Mark Orlovac eng_badge.gifBath - It’s international week and England are about to head to Dublin for their historic date with Ireland but seeing the players at their Bath University training base on Wednesday – you never would have guessed.

After a full-on training session - with members of the Bath academy standing in for the Irish - they talked respectfully and sincerely about the emotional backdrop that accompanies this game, using words like "privileged" and "honoured" in describing the prospect of playing at the home of the GAA.

But I could definitely detect a sense of calm as they gathered in one of the vast halls that make up Bath University’s impressive sporting complex.

I didn't actually see Jason Robinson get injured - most of the reporters had gone back into the complex by then.
Details of the injury were sketchy - and no-one was telling whether it was a tackle from a promising Bath youngster that did the damage!

Continue reading "England cool before Croke Park cauldron"

Why England may win historic Croker contest

  • Jim Stokes
  • 20 Feb 07, 02:30 PM

Jim Stokesire_badge.gif Belfast - The England team will travel to Dublin this week well versed in the historical importance of Saturday's Six Nations match.

Former Ireland full-back Conor O’Shea is now the (English) Rugby Football Union's Director of Regional Academies and he gave them the low-down about the significance of the GAA’s move to allow rugby to play on the hallowed turf.

O’Shea would have been the perfect intermediary as his father was a genuine GAA star who won three All-Ireland medals with Kerry in the Fifties.

Reams of paper, a spectrum of radio waves and light years of cyberspace have been filled explaining what Saturday’s visit of England really means. Hopefully history does not overshadow the future.

Continue reading "Why England may win historic Croker contest"

Your Six Nations feedback

  • Claire Stocks
  • 16 Feb 07, 05:58 PM

Some of you may be interested in a post on the BBC Sport editors' blog from Carl Hicks, editor of the Six Nations TV coverage.

He's been writing about the last-gasp drama in Dublin and answering some of the questions you raised in feedback.

Tips for O'Sullivan & my Croker verdict

  • Jim Stokes
  • 16 Feb 07, 11:46 AM

j_stokes_6666.gifire_badge.gifBelfast – Apart from the obvious, will Eddie O’Sullivan tinker with his line-up against England next weekend? Going by previous selections I doubt it.

There will be no new faces emerging into the 22-man squad next Tuesday, that’s for sure.

Watching the Ireland A performance last week in Belfast where they were well and truly whipped by the England Saxons, there was certainly nobody putting their hand up.

So I reckon O’Sullivan will not be making too many changes other than the much-missed Brian O’Driscoll, and Peter Stringer returning to action for the second game at Croke Park - which I'm not sure is ideal for hosting rugby union.

Continue reading "Tips for O'Sullivan & my Croker verdict"

Breaking the spell

  • Rob Hodgetts
  • 15 Feb 07, 09:58 AM

Rob HodgettsLondon - I can't quite decide how I feel this morning. Not about life in general, though that's got me unusually stumped too, but about whether it's a good thing there's no Six Nations this weekend.

By this time, we're normally upping the ante and starting to salivate over the weekend's clashes.

The teams have been named, the coaches and captains are in the process of delivering their final news conferences and we, the fans, are easing into our familiar pre-match routine of talking a load of old cobblers at each other until 30 seconds before kick-off.

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Ireland v France player ratings

  • Jim Stokes
  • 11 Feb 07, 06:09 PM

j_stokes_6666.gifire_badge.gifCroke Park - I was one of the 82,000 or so spectators who witnessed Sunday’s historic Six Nations encounter as Ireland's dream was shattered by France.

See if you agree with my ratings for players on both sides.

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Why Ireland could be undone by Croker choker

  • Jim Stokes
  • 8 Feb 07, 03:39 PM

j_stokes_6666.gifire_badge.gifDublin – La France, un accueil chaleureux au parc de Croke.

Gauls against Gaels at the cathedral of Irish sport where this weekend a little bit of history will be recorded.

The French are certainly accustomed to what Dublin itself has to offer, and were well used to the concrete mausoleum that was Lansdowne Road with its shifting, swirling winds.

However, the little corner in the north of the city may surprise, or even shock the visitors. They’ll enjoy themselves, but hopefully not too much on the green acreage around Jones’s Road!

Yes, Les Bleus do like to embrace their rugby in the purest sense, particularly on hard, perfect surfaces with wide open spaces like the one that will be offered on Sunday.

Continue reading "Why Ireland could be undone by Croker choker"

Refs must punish handling in the rucks

  • John Beattie
  • 6 Feb 07, 12:57 PM

John BeattieHandling in rucks, it is starting to get to me.

Now, I am a big fan of Irish rugby as I think their efficiency in keeping hold of the ball looks to be the best in the Six Nations.

But exactly how much handling in a ruck are we going to allow for goodness sake, and isn’t too much of it going to spoil the game?

Referees have to be far stricter, don’t you think? Aren't killers of the ball murderers of the game?

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Wales revels in defeat

  • Sean Davies
  • 5 Feb 07, 03:43 PM

s_davies_6666.gifwal_badge.gifCardiff - Considering Wales’ early February dreams of Triple Crowns and Grand Slams had been shattered after the first 80 minutes of their Championship campaign, there was a remarkably positive feeling reverberating around the streets of Cardiff on Sunday night.

Now there’s no doubt that the liberal amounts of alcohol doled out on St Mary’s Street had a major influence on that.

But, inebriation aside, I think that the lightness of Welsh spirits can be attributed to three specific factors.

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Wales v Ireland player ratings

  • Sean Davies
  • 4 Feb 07, 06:07 PM

s_davies_6666.gifwal_badge.gifMillennium Stadium- I witnessed at first hand the thrills and spills of Sunday's Six Nations clash in Cardiff. See if you agree with my ratings for players on both sides.


K Morgan - 8. Wales’ biggest counter-attacking threat; pulled off a stunning, try-saving tackle on O’Driscoll.

H Luscombe - 4. Luscombe’s talents in the centre are often unfairly criticised, but he showed again that he lacks the pace of an international wing and is only an emergency stand-in in the role.

J Robinson – 5. Although Robinson offers genuine pace at 13 there was a lack of penetration from the Wales three-quarter line.

J Hook – 6. Flashes of his attacking skill came through, but he struggled to handle D’Arcy’s physicality and had a crucial second-half clearance kick charged down.

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