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Champions Cup (The Heino) 20/21 - Semi Finals

Umaga's Witness

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Last week I met up with some friends for a chinwag about the Leinster game and I was the only one that worried our medium rare grilling was going to be an issue.
In a way its not surprising how the game panned out. Opening period Leinster choked the life out of LAR like they do everyone else but when LAR turned it up a bit the boys looked a bit perplexed by it. This was not the Leinster of old that went to the well in '11 to overcome Northampton or the barnstorming juggernaut that has contested 10/12 of the last Celtic finals and won 4 in a row. They looked to have had their rudder shot out a bit.

Reason IMHO? They're varied...

1) The P14: Its a joke. Its so much of a joke that Leinster win games with a 3rd or 4th string. Its so much of a joke that many teams playing Leinster put out a 2nd string because there's no point risking the 1st fitness in a 6 try BP defeat. In the 6N people pointed out that the likes of Farrell and Itoje were undercooked due to a lack of top rugby and Leinster for me at the weekend were much the same.
The solution? Well there is no solution really. Bring in the SA 4 maybe? They could spice up the competition and add some challenge to the likes of Leinster and Munster who are cruising around the P14 but I dont think its a long term solution. Joining the GP or T14 would hardly be allowed by the IRFU because of the possible relegation jeopardy that exists and the risk of "ghettoising" one or more provinces.
Ultimately the P14 is an issue that will not be resolved easily as the gulf between the haves and have nots is widening and week to week competition is non existent.

2) Nationalisation of the laws: I watched the game with a few friends, some of who are relatively high level referees. One thing that came up throughout was the fact Referee Carley was giving LAR a lot of soft penalties and seemed to be a lot stricter on Leinster when it came to the breakdown. Of course he was not out to get Leinster but it highlights how the game and its interpretation now vary widely between unions. In the P14 if you go hands past the ball and back on to jackel you're told to leave it or penalised, but in the GP and T14 referees allow more leeway on this. LAR exploited this well as they were smart in how they targeted the ball at the breakdown. First man arriving to the breakdown for LAR in attack was engaging the first Leinster player but rolling off feet to seal. On Leinster attacking rucks the first LAR man in was doing the old matador routine and stepping away so the arriving Leinster player went off feet. Ringrose got done by one of those in a promising Leinster attack. In defence when there was a jackel on LAR defenders we going hands past the ball and waiting for the clean out to push them back on. Just after the LAR yellow there was a clear example of it that was penalised and I was unsure why a second yellow was not shown. It was subtle though and well coached and classic Gibbs. It took Leinsters platform away.

3) Player Welfare: If you only play a handful of meaningful games a year you learn nothing and are undercooked. Simple as that.

4) The IRFU benevolent Academy fund: Simply put if you develop a talent like Joey Carbury you should have the right to play him when Sexton is injured. It appears probably more so going forward that the fruits of the Leinster Academy will be cherry picked to feed the needy elsewhere. A player like Carbury would have been useful on Sunday and if rumours are to be believed the man himself may agree.

*Bonus Opinion*

Why on Earth would ROG go near the Munster or Ireland job given where he is now? There's a lot of talk of him being the saviour of Munster rugby and yes he is the Messiah down there but given the issues at grassroots in Munster and the supply pipeline problems I can't see him going home any time soon.
Why do you say including South African teams in pro14 isn’t a long term solution?

also, do you know how New Zealand’s provincial competition (level below super rugby) works? You could implement something like that in pro 14, it has the best of a promotion relegation system without the same downsides. It wouldn’t solve the issue but it would help. The idea is you have two divisions but each team plays teams from both divisions, they just play more games against teams in their own division. Then there’s semifinals and a final in each division, with promotion and relegation for the next year.
 

munstermuffin

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Last week I met up with some friends for a chinwag about the Leinster game and I was the only one that worried our medium rare grilling was going to be an issue.
In a way its not surprising how the game panned out. Opening period Leinster choked the life out of LAR like they do everyone else but when LAR turned it up a bit the boys looked a bit perplexed by it. This was not the Leinster of old that went to the well in '11 to overcome Northampton or the barnstorming juggernaut that has contested 10/12 of the last Celtic finals and won 4 in a row. They looked to have had their rudder shot out a bit.

Reason IMHO? They're varied...

1) The P14: Its a joke. Its so much of a joke that Leinster win games with a 3rd or 4th string. Its so much of a joke that many teams playing Leinster put out a 2nd string because there's no point risking the 1st fitness in a 6 try BP defeat. In the 6N people pointed out that the likes of Farrell and Itoje were undercooked due to a lack of top rugby and Leinster for me at the weekend were much the same.
The solution? Well there is no solution really. Bring in the SA 4 maybe? They could spice up the competition and add some challenge to the likes of Leinster and Munster who are cruising around the P14 but I dont think its a long term solution. Joining the GP or T14 would hardly be allowed by the IRFU because of the possible relegation jeopardy that exists and the risk of "ghettoising" one or more provinces.
Ultimately the P14 is an issue that will not be resolved easily as the gulf between the haves and have nots is widening and week to week competition is non existent.

2) Nationalisation of the laws: I watched the game with a few friends, some of who are relatively high level referees. One thing that came up throughout was the fact Referee Carley was giving LAR a lot of soft penalties and seemed to be a lot stricter on Leinster when it came to the breakdown. Of course he was not out to get Leinster but it highlights how the game and its interpretation now vary widely between unions. In the P14 if you go hands past the ball and back on to jackel you're told to leave it or penalised, but in the GP and T14 referees allow more leeway on this. LAR exploited this well as they were smart in how they targeted the ball at the breakdown. First man arriving to the breakdown for LAR in attack was engaging the first Leinster player but rolling off feet to seal. On Leinster attacking rucks the first LAR man in was doing the old matador routine and stepping away so the arriving Leinster player went off feet. Ringrose got done by one of those in a promising Leinster attack. In defence when there was a jackel on LAR defenders we going hands past the ball and waiting for the clean out to push them back on. Just after the LAR yellow there was a clear example of it that was penalised and I was unsure why a second yellow was not shown. It was subtle though and well coached and classic Gibbs. It took Leinsters platform away.

3) Player Welfare: If you only play a handful of meaningful games a year you learn nothing and are undercooked. Simple as that.

4) The IRFU benevolent Academy fund: Simply put if you develop a talent like Joey Carbury you should have the right to play him when Sexton is injured. It appears probably more so going forward that the fruits of the Leinster Academy will be cherry picked to feed the needy elsewhere. A player like Carbury would have been useful on Sunday and if rumours are to be believed the man himself may agree.

*Bonus Opinion*

Why on Earth would ROG go near the Munster or Ireland job given where he is now? There's a lot of talk of him being the saviour of Munster rugby and yes he is the Messiah down there but given the issues at grassroots in Munster and the supply pipeline problems I can't see him going home any time soon.
Just on this. A lot of faults.

On Point 1. The Pro14 is weak but the IRFU were one of main reasons for this and can't complain really. This was originally set up to keep the players ticking over from Europe and to protect the frontline guys in Welfare. People fail to see even when SA teams join our provinces will still have same approach.

On Point 2. It subject but I thought Carley was very fair and consistent on both teams. LAR were just that bit cuter and hungrier.

On Point 3. Player Welfare is IRFU approach that serves them well at International level but offset is club game. The proof is there for that and well they pay wages.

On Point 4. Joey asked to moved to play 10. Leinster saw him more as a 15 and even before he moved Ross was getting more time at 10. Working with Joey he'd say straight out he moved to be a 10.

On ROG noone sees him as the messiah here yet. He wants to build up profile and is doing it right. Doesn't want to coach an old teammate.
 

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Just on this. A lot of faults.

On Point 1. The Pro14 is weak but the IRFU were one of main reasons for this and can't complain really. This was originally set up to keep the players ticking over from Europe and to protect the frontline guys in Welfare. People fail to see even when SA teams join our provinces will still have same approach.

On Point 2. It subject but I thought Carley was very fair and consistent on both teams. LAR were just that bit cuter and hungrier.

On Point 3. Player Welfare is IRFU approach that serves them well at International level but offset is club game. The proof is there for that and well they pay wages.

On Point 4. Joey asked to moved to play 10. Leinster saw him more as a 15 and even before he moved Ross was getting more time at 10. Working with Joey he'd say straight out he moved to be a 10.

On ROG noone sees him as the messiah here yet. He wants to build up profile and is doing it right. Doesn't want to coach an old teammate.
I'd agree with a lot of this

In the past as well, Sexton has really driven standards, and Ross is a sizeable step down unfortunately in the dogfights. Leinster in general have run away with pro 14 because the first string is quite ridiculous. They can field an all international XV easily, with further internationals on the bench. They have the bare bones of the Ireland pack

One issue I can think of however is that Leinster's pack usually being so dominant can result in the backline looking better than it actually is. Some good players, dont get me wrong, but there's more weaknesses there that dont get shown up unless you can at least manage the pack dominance they've had for most of the last 3 years in competitions. Also every team can have a one off bad performance

Regarding players switching, as an Ulster fan, it forced us to Lose Ruan Pienaar, which gutted me, and I dont necessarily enjoy how crap Dave Shanahan is to replace him. However you do see it bear fruits in the likes of a Nick Timoney, who's vastly improved and Alan O'Connor. Im not as big a fan for the older players when they're pushed out of Leinster, ala Jack McGrath, but cant say the system is complete crap, as although they'll maybe not play for Ireland they are good club players
I'd have more of an issue with players like Henshaw moving to Leinster from Connacht, a team playing well and on the up losing its best player to a team with the same wage because he was IRFU funded
 

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Why do you say including South African teams in pro14 isn’t a long term solution?

also, do you know how New Zealand’s provincial competition (level below super rugby) works? You could implement something like that in pro 14, it has the best of a promotion relegation system without the same downsides. It wouldn’t solve the issue but it would help. The idea is you have two divisions but each team plays teams from both divisions, they just play more games against teams in their own division. Then there’s semifinals and a final in each division, with promotion and relegation for the next year.
I'm not entirely sure if the SA teams will stick around if there is a kiss and make up situation in the Southern Hemisphere on the table. Couple that with not knowing exactly how successful they will be I think there's a possibility they could fall away in one way or another. I could be wrong

The issue with 2 divisions is how far ahead Leinster, Munster and Ulster are on a weekly basis. Doesn't matter who they play in the P14 or how many times, they'll win as many games as they need to be there in the final shake.
Just on this. A lot of faults.

On Point 1. The Pro14 is weak but the IRFU were one of main reasons for this and can't complain really. This was originally set up to keep the players ticking over from Europe and to protect the frontline guys in Welfare. People fail to see even when SA teams join our provinces will still have same approach.

On Point 2. It subject but I thought Carley was very fair and consistent on both teams. LAR were just that bit cuter and hungrier.

On Point 3. Player Welfare is IRFU approach that serves them well at International level but offset is club game. The proof is there for that and well they pay wages.

On Point 4. Joey asked to moved to play 10. Leinster saw him more as a 15 and even before he moved Ross was getting more time at 10. Working with Joey he'd say straight out he moved to be a 10.

On ROG noone sees him as the messiah here yet. He wants to build up profile and is doing it right. Doesn't want to coach an old teammate.
1) I agree that the IRFU motives were as you say, however I'm not sure they foresaw the absolute farce and cakewalk it would turn into. As I said when teams are not even sending their first team players to Dublin to face a 3rd string Leinster team with several first senior caps in it and losing on the end of a 7 try caning nobody really wins in the long run. Ultimately we get a false sense of quality when picking a national team

2) As I said LAR played to his interpretation better and adapted

3) I'm not sure the welfare system is serving its purpose fully now. The pudding is a bit over egged and the top internationals undercooked.

4) From anecdotal stuff I've heard Ross Byrnes lack of real spark coming behind Sexton could see Joey return to Leinster sooner rather than later

ROG will know better than most the movings and shakings in Munster and unfortunately I'm not sure any amount of coaching acumen could remedy systemic issues at play
 

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I'd agree with a lot of this

In the past as well, Sexton has really driven standards, and Ross is a sizeable step down unfortunately in the dogfights. Leinster in general have run away with pro 14 because the first string is quite ridiculous. They can field an all international XV easily, with further internationals on the bench. They have the bare bones of the Ireland pack

One issue I can think of however is that Leinster's pack usually being so dominant can result in the backline looking better than it actually is. Some good players, dont get me wrong, but there's more weaknesses there that dont get shown up unless you can at least manage the pack dominance they've had for most of the last 3 years in competitions. Also every team can have a one off bad performance

Regarding players switching, as an Ulster fan, it forced us to Lose Ruan Pienaar, which gutted me, and I dont necessarily enjoy how crap Dave Shanahan is to replace him. However you do see it bear fruits in the likes of a Nick Timoney, who's vastly improved and Alan O'Connor. Im not as big a fan for the older players when they're pushed out of Leinster, ala Jack McGrath, but cant say the system is complete crap, as although they'll maybe not play for Ireland they are good club players
I'd have more of an issue with players like Henshaw moving to Leinster from Connacht, a team playing well and on the up losing its best player to a team with the same wage because he was IRFU funded
I'd also argue Cooney has benefitted in a round about way from the system to potentially being viewed as a Lion and on merit. But as you show there is no system perfect but what works on an overall best for IRFU who will see national team as main priority.
 

munstermuffin

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I'm not entirely sure if the SA teams will stick around if there is a kiss and make up situation in the Southern Hemisphere on the table. Couple that with not knowing exactly how successful they will be I think there's a possibility they could fall away in one way or another. I could be wrong

The issue with 2 divisions is how far ahead Leinster, Munster and Ulster are on a weekly basis. Doesn't matter who they play in the P14 or how many times, they'll win as many games as they need to be there in the final shake.

1) I agree that the IRFU motives were as you say, however I'm not sure they foresaw the absolute farce and cakewalk it would turn into. As I said when teams are not even sending their first team players to Dublin to face a 3rd string Leinster team with several first senior caps in it and losing on the end of a 7 try caning nobody really wins in the long run. Ultimately we get a false sense of quality when picking a national team

2) As I said LAR played to his interpretation better and adapted

3) I'm not sure the welfare system is serving its purpose fully now. The pudding is a bit over egged and the top internationals undercooked.

4) From anecdotal stuff I've heard Ross Byrnes lack of real spark coming behind Sexton could see Joey return to Leinster sooner rather than later

ROG will know better than most the movings and shakings in Munster and unfortunately I'm not sure any amount of coaching acumen could remedy systemic issues at play
I can say now more than 100% certainty. Joey isn't going back to Leinster.
Why would he. Being realistic. Joey has had bad time with injuries. But asked for Munster move and loves it here. But from Leinster POV - Are we saying Harry Byrne isn't up to it.
Like I'd argue we could afford to let Joey go as we probably have a better crop of 10s coming through but can't see why Joey would go back in say 2 years time unless it was a statement Harry Byrne will not make it. Which I think he will be a future Lion.

The IRFU will argue the Welfare propose is working though. As for ROG he knows if he came back he'd have free reins but will not want to come near any Irish provinces for a while.
 

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From Joey's POV a Leinster move could make sense once Johnny is gone. A move home for him and his girlfriend and he'd back himself to get the start too. I wouldn't say no to it but wouldn't exactly chase it either, Sexton for another season, the Byrne bros and Corkery are enough to work with.

It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the IRFU are puppeteers controlling everything but at the end of the day provinces are working on a budget and players have free will. Leinster can't offer Jordi Murphy as much to be a bench option as Ulster can to be a key player for example. And Robbie Henshaw moved on his own volition. Carbery was encouraged to go to Ulster and resisted, thought Munster was a better fit and went, fair enough.
 

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4) The IRFU benevolent Academy fund: Simply put if you develop a talent like Joey Carbury you should have the right to play him when Sexton is injured. It appears probably more so going forward that the fruits of the Leinster Academy will be cherry picked to feed the needy elsewhere. A player like Carbury would have been useful on Sunday and if rumours are to be believed the man himself may agree.

*Bonus Opinion*

Why on Earth would ROG go near the Munster or Ireland job given where he is now? There's a lot of talk of him being the saviour of Munster rugby and yes he is the Messiah down there but given the issues at grassroots in Munster and the supply pipeline problems I can't see him going home any time soon.
I would agree the issue on Saturday and for provinces going forward was a mixture with your first three points, but mostly want to address the quoted text.

Haven't heard these rumors anywhere, but should a player like Carbery sit on his thumbs waiting for Sexton to retire? The fact is the man himself says no, he shouldn't. Hence the move South. Easy to forget players have free will and don't think in terms of what benefits their current team if it flies in the face of their career ambitions.

We can paint Leinster as the victim of other teams picking off their players, and don't get me wrong, they are a net loser in this regard, but that's obviously going to happen when you produce so many players on the back of an excellent setup (absolutely to Cullen and Lancaster's credit), and external factors like the high density of extremely strong and well resourced rugby schools, population and a variety of other reasons. That's not me using Leinster's strength as a stick to beat them with, but of course they're going to lose players. There's 15 starting positions among how many pro Leinster born players? It might suck for Leinster, but that comes with the territory.

To your bonus opinion, if Van Grann is fired or resigns tomorrow, where exactly is the Munster job now? What are our supply problems? We make the knockouts of our domestic competition and Europe every year, and rarely lose to anyone who isn't an eventual finalist in either competition. That's a pretty damn good baseline for an ambitious coach, whether that be RO'G or someone else. You're saying that's a worse situation than what RO'G walked into in la Rochelle, a team that got beaten by Sale, Exeter and Glasgow in Europe last year? That's not to say we shouldn't do better in bigger games, we should, but the idea that we have hugely systemic problems and produce no talent is false. The usual take is that we produce nice players, but don't play them enough and we also get our tactics badly wrong in big games, which are coaching issues. The idea we don't produce players and have a supply problems is an interesting departure considering we have a lot of depth and have blooded the best crop of young players we've had in many many years.
 
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I would agree the issue on Saturday and for provinces going forward was a mixture with your first three points, but mostly want to address the quoted text.

Haven't heard these rumors anywhere, but should a player like Carbery sit on his thumbs waiting for Sexton to retire? The fact is the man himself says no, he shouldn't. Hence the move South. Easy to forget players have free will and don't think in terms of what benefits their current team if it flies in the face of their career ambitions.

We can paint Leinster as the victim of other teams picking off their players, and don't get me wrong, they are a net loser in this regard, but that's obviously going to happen when you produce so many players on the back of an excellent setup (absolutely to Cullen and Lancaster's credit), and external factors like the high density of extremely strong and well resourced rugby schools, population and a variety of other reasons. That's not me using Leinster's strength as a stick to beat them with, but of course they're going to lose players. There's 15 starting positions among how many pro Leinster born players? It might suck for Leinster, but that comes with the territory.

To your bonus opinion, if Van Grann is fired or resigns tomorrow, where exactly is the Munster job now? What are our supply problems? We make the knockouts of our domestic competition and Europe every year, and rarely lose to anyone who isn't an eventual finalist in either competition. That's a pretty damn good baseline for an ambitious coach, whether that be RO'G or someone else. You're saying that's a worse situation than what RO'G walked into in la Rochelle, a team that got beaten by Sale, Exeter and Glasgow in Europe last year? That's not to say we shouldn't do better in bigger games, we should, but the idea that we have hugely systemic problems and produce no talent is false. The usual take is that we produce nice players, but don't play them enough and we also get our tactics badly wrong in big games, which are coaching issues. The idea we don't produce players and have a supply problems is an interesting departure considering we have a lot of depth and have blooded the best crop of young players we've had in many many years.
To be fair I don't agree that there are supply issues etc (in fact the opposite, I'd be inclined to blame the lack of trophies on coaching which isn't a factor in how appealing the job is) I would be fairly wary of taking the Munster job if I was ROG. There's no arguing there's a higher baseline there than La Rochelle, but in reality La Rochelle are a better team right now, he's had a role in them getting there and walking away from something you helped build to a weaker team wouldn't even be a prospect if it wasn't Munster.

Not to mention that the Munster job comes with way more pressure and expectation. La Rochelle have never won a major trophy afaik (happy to be corrected). Munster have a history of success and winning is the expectation. If things go wrong, we've all seen how viscous the Irish rugby media can get, they love to build them up and tear them down and god knows they've already built him up.
 

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To be fair I don't agree that there are supply issues etc (in fact the opposite, I'd be inclined to blame the lack of trophies on coaching which isn't a factor in how appealing the job is) I would be fairly wary of taking the Munster job if I was ROG. There's no arguing there's a higher baseline there than La Rochelle, but in reality La Rochelle are a better team right now, he's had a role in them getting there and walking away from something you helped build to a weaker team wouldn't even be a prospect if it wasn't Munster.

Not to mention that the Munster job comes with way more pressure and expectation. La Rochelle have never won a major trophy afaik (happy to be corrected). Munster have a history of success and winning is the expectation. If things go wrong, we've all seen how viscous the Irish rugby media can get, they love to build them up and tear them down and god knows they've already built him up.
I don't disagree, he's built a very good squad and contending for trophies now, I don't think he's going to step out right when it's paying dividends and he's getting huge plaudits, but I think we agree Munster is far from a poisoned chalice and I do think he'll be back with us at some stage for a variety of reasons.

Would agree on Irish rugby media being absolutely cutthroat. Munster and Leinsters issues being blown wildly out of proportion when we underperform as an example. You'd think Munster were a bottom of the table side from some of the discourse around us and that Leinsters are now on the decline. Has its rewards too though and I think if RO'G stays the course he could easily be groomed for the top job for Ireland after doing a routine two years as a provincial coach when the times right.

I don't think French fans are all that forgiving of poor performances either mind you.
 

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