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On the other day I think some people are seeing it as worse than it was (not that it was great or anything). A number of small things that effected the scoreboard didn't go our way, of course you expect a few in any game but normally at least one or two would have benefitted us:

  • Larmour throws a poor pass inside off a linebreak in their 22, McGrath knocks on and LAR exit
  • Byrne crossfielder takes a bad bounce and goes over Lowe's head when it's at least a linebreak in their 22 if he catches it
  • Baird can't quite gather the ball when he would have scored if he caught it, LAR win a penalty off the scrum, then off the subsequent lineout and stretch their lead
  • LAR player is fully tackled and held by Kelleher but Carley doesn't penalise it a phase or two later and West knocks over the drop goal
That's ignoring Byrne missing a kick early on that he makes 9/10 times and the fact we played 52 minutes with really only two backrowers. Losing Ruddock was huge in my opinion. He was stopping LAR's big carriers on the gainline and allowing VDF to focus on poaching. Baird made as many tackles in his 52 minutes as Ruddock did in 28, VDF isn't a good enough poacher to have to be both the main tackler and groundhog, not being able to get turnovers really cost us as did our unusually inaccurate performance at the breakdown. I think the kicking game was also a massive factor in the loss, La Rochelle absolutely destroyed us there. Our main kicking options were McGrath and Lowe who are both just way too inconsistent to be relied upon in that manner. Keenan's most obvious weakness as a 15 has to be his kicking it's also something our centres don't really do despite both being useful enough at it.

Obviously it doesn't do to decry injuries but I do think the result could have been quite different if we had Doris, JGP and one of Sexton or HB.
Broadly agree with all of this. There isn't anything structurally wrong with Leinster rugby. On another day, a few small breaks could have led to a very different result. The one the stands out to me is Baird not holding it, if he gets that we're two scores up and in a great position. We were also pretty unlucky to not capatalise more on Rhule's pathetic catch attempts in the first half.

Also agree that Ruddock was a huge loss. Baird isn't a top level 6 right now, I think we saw that last week too. He doesn't bring what Ruddock brings around the park for all his talent. It also seriously threw off the balance of the back row, which had been well on top in the breakdown early on (and also against Exeter). You have to give LAR credit for adapting too but it's silly to pretend it wasn't a factor in us losing control of the breakdown. You can't beat having a 6 at 6, a 7 at 7 etc etc. Was a problem against Sarries too, first time the nonentitiy that was 2019 SOB and the second time trying to squeeze Conan and Doris into the same back row. Admittedly in 2020 we had plenty of other, bigger problems in that game but it still matters. The one we started with on Sunday was pretty perfectly balanced and losing Ruddock was a huge blow.

That all being said, everyone agrees we lost to the better team on the day, and it's the third year in a row that's happened and given the talent available it is starting to feel like underperforming. Sunday wasn't that bad but it's the the first time we've had periods of looking badly out of our depth in Europe (thinking more about Saracens last year and the first 20 against Exeter here). The league absolutely is a problem. Watching PSG last night struck me as really similar, we're polar opposites to them in many ways but they're another team who are completely dominant domestically (admittedly in a fight this year but that's beside the point) to the point of detriment at the highest level. They showed a lot of the same problems as we did, they started well but once things started going wrong they didn't/couldn't adapt because they're just not in the situation where they have to often enough. Once City had them figured out defensively they just couldn't find a way through (again, happened to us multiple times). The other thing that stood out is not seeing weaknesses, because we're better than almost every Pro14 team (at the teams we play in Euro group stages) in almost every area it papers over cracks and it's really hard to tell where you're actually the best in Europe and where you're need work but are being carried by the fact that you're great in every other area. Then we play someone else who's really good and get exposed. The most glaring example of this is our scrum collapsing last year but I think it applies in other areas and times too. For PSG it became apparent (to me anyway) that there fullbacks aren't great and that they're not creative enough in midfield but you don't notice that until it's too late if Neymar and Mpabbe score 70 between them and you win the league with a month to go. Obviously there are differences but watching them last night and watching us on Sunday were really similar experiences.

A bit part of 2018 was that we'd fallen short the previous year but also that we weren't as dominant domestically. While we showed pretty conclusively that we were better than the Scarlets, the fact that we had to wait all year to prove it as much to ourselves as anyone definitely drove the entire squad on.

The other thing and I've already talked a lot so I'll keep this shorter is that our backline isn't as good as we like to think it is. A part of this is Ringrose being injured/out of form but compared to the Schmidt era backline it's a few steps down as a collective. Henshaw over late era D'Arcy is the only obvious upgrade and we're significantly weaker at 10, whatever position Isa was playing, and 15. The guys we've got in those positions now are all very good (one is the same player after all) but they're not as good and it's not like we're better in other positions to make up for it. It's not a weakness but when we need a bit of creativity it's often not there. Overall, I rate them all individually as players but if someone only watched us in European knockouts I'm not sure they'd be particularly impressed by them.

Overall, this is extrapolating a lot from not a lot of games but that's the problem on one level, we don't lose enough. We could use a real rivalry with Munster too, 10 in 11 or whatever it was was fun but it didn't help us as a team. More competition (and I don't mean whatever last week's game was) would be good.
 

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Ringer, Ryan, Sexton all have the summer off which is excellent for us and Ireland next year, the two younger lads have looked jaded in 2021 and Sexton only has so many minutes left. Gutted for them individually but at least they'll be able to say they've never played with Jonny Hill and not be crocked like 20% of the lads on the plane will be.
 

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So Furlong, Porter, Conan, Henshaw.

Missing anyone? Gutted for the lads who missed out but it will do them good in the long run. When you're out of form the last thing you need is a long tour on the other side of the world.
 

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Ringer, Ryan, Sexton all have the summer off which is excellent for us and Ireland next year, the two younger lads have looked jaded in 2021 and Sexton only has so many minutes left. Gutted for them individually but at least they'll be able to say they've never played with Jonny Hill and not be crocked like 20% of the lads on the plane will be.

Doubt they have the summer off, imagine anyone who's on standby will be involved in Irish summer fixtures.
 

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Thought you guys would like the latest upsdate on an old-boy.
Girvan Dempsey, sidelined then sacked by Bath this year has a new role.
At Colston's School!
Up the Swirve, easy wedge.

Any pushback over the name of the school? I reckon they're well enough removed from it these days but any link to the slave trade is presumably frowned upon...
 

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Looks like Sean O'Brien the Fourth has signed for the LA Giltinis. Seems to be on loan as the Leinster Instagram says see him again in a few months. He's Irish American according to the Giltinis.
 

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Porter looking stupidly lean in his last few Instagrams. Just a lad who's injured and on holiday not wanting to eat the same ridiculous amount or converting to loosehead?
 

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This year's academy intake:

Jack Boyle

Lee Barron

Chris Cosgrave

Mark Hernan

Temi Lasisi

Ben Murphy

Rob Russell
 
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big ginger 8

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Thought I'd do an overview of the squad as the season approaches. This is not made easy by Leinster not updating their squad on the website yet.

Loosehead: Porter, Healy, Byrne, Dooley, Milne, Hanan, Boyle, Lasisi - Pretty confident Porter is converting to loosehead based on a few things I've heard. Will leave us in rude health compared to any club side, with the first four on the depth chart being internationals. Healy isn't what he used to be but would still start on a lot of teams. Hope Milne can push on, Byrne and Dooley are good players but we could do with someone standout pushing through. Boyle and Lasisi might have that potential but probably won't see that much of them this year.

Hooker: Kelleher, Sheehan, Tracy, Cronin, McKee, Barron - Kelleher the obvious standout hopefully he can stay injury free and establish himself as one of the best hookers in Europe. I'm expecting a lot from Sheehan he has an exceptional athletic profile and Kelleher and him could be an incredible 1-2 punch for a number of years. We know what Tracy is and he'll be very useful over the season. This is Cronin's last season so hopefully he goes out well. Not expecting McKee to be a standout, Barron is first year academy and missed the u20 6N but have heard good things.

Tighthead: Furlong, Alaaalatoa, Clarkson, Abdaladze - WIth Furlong unlikely to be back for a while this group could be a bit thin at times. Have heard Vakh still isn't fully fit as well. Alaalatoa will have to slot in immediately and perform. AIL prop Mick McCormack is training with the team at the moment and I'd say he'll be around for the year. Very athletic and a strong scrummager but hard to tell how he'll go at this level. Clarkson should get plenty of experience very early on and with the SA teams face some stronger scrums than he would have previously.

Secondrow: J Ryan, Baird, Toner, Moloney, Dunne, Deeny, C Ryan, McCarthy - A lot of good but probably missing a big TH lock. Hoping Dunne can show something there. Definitely has the size for it. Toner's last year as well so expect him to be used sparingly. Would like to see Baird showing improvement in his fundamentals like clearouts and being used primarily as a lock. A lot of talent in the academy but they need to stay fit and get opportunities.

Flankers: Ruddock, Connors, Van Der Flier, Leavy, Murphy, Penny, Moloney, Soroka, O'Brien, Hernan - The talent is pretty obvious throughout, just have to hope most of them can stay fit this time. Really hoping we can see Leavy properly this year.

Number Eight: Doris, Conan, Deegan - ridiculous quality, again the question is staying fit.

Scrum half: McGrath, Gibson-Park, McCarthy, Foley, Murphy - definitely our weakest position group and no one coming through in the squad who looks like they'll change that. The main guys are all fine and can definitely perform but also very capable of ******** the bed in the big games.

Out half: Sexton, H Byrne, R Byrne: Really need Harry to stand up this season and get some big starts. Hawkshaw and Frawley will probably also get gametime here and probably Corkery even though he didn't get the academy.

Centres: Henshaw, Ringrose, O'Loughlin, Frawley, C O'Brien, T O'Brien, Hawkshaw, Turner - Pretty deep compared to most teams and defintiely star quality there. Henshaw will have to be managed after how much he played last season. Frawley and TOB are two I'm really hoping can stay fit as they both provide something different.

Backthree: Byrne, Kearney, Lowe, Larmour, Keenan, Comerford, Osborne, Smith, O'Reilly, Cosgrave, Russell - Tentatively excited about the return of Adam Byrne but very hard to know what state he'll be in. It's a strange group overall as apart from Keenan and Kearney the senior players are all capable of the magnificent and the dreadful. Hoping Larmour can put the consitency together with an injury free year and really showcase how talented he is. I'm expecting a good bit from Osborne. Has all the tools and looks very calm. Also a rarity in recent years for Leinster produced backs in actually having some size to him.

If everyone is fit and firing at the same time (which won't happen obviously) I think I see this as our strongest 23 by season's end.

1. Porter
2. Kelleher
3. Furlong
4. Baird
5. Ryan
6. Doris
7. Leavy
8. Conan
9. Gibson-Park
10. Sexton
11. Lowe
12. Henshaw
13. Ringrose
14. Larmour
15. Keenan

16. Sheehan
17. Healy
18. Alaalatoa
19. Dunne
20. Connors (back five is stupidly hard to pick and it will be even harder for Ireland)
21. McGrath
22. H Byrne
23. A Byrne (It'll really be DK)
 

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Can't disagree. European glory will fall fairly heavily on Ryan's shoulders. A fit Leavy would help him out in no small measure though.

Afraid that we might be a bit of a known entity and drop further though.
 

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Injury Update – Available for Selection:

Conor O’Brien: is back training after his knee injury and available for selection

Jamison Gibson-Park: is back training after his hamstring knee injury and available for selection

Max Deegan: is back training after his knee injury and is available for selection

Rhys Ruddock: is back training after his calf injury and is available for selection



Injury Update – Unavailable for Selection:

Andrew Porter: picked up a foot injury in the game against Glasgow Warriors and is nearing the end of his rehabilitation period

Nick McCarthy: picked up a foot injury last week and is unavailable for selection for the Harlequins game

Garry Ringrose: had a procedure at the end of last season for a shoulder injury and is integrating back into training at the moment but is unavailable for the Harlequins game

Ciarán Frawley: picked up a shoulder injury towards the end of last season and is integrating back into training at the moment but is unavailable for the Harlequins game

Jordan Larmour: had a procedure at the end of last season for a groin injury and is still undergoing a period of rehabilitation

Dave Kearney: had a procedure for an ankle injury picked up in pre-season training and will be unavailable for the next few months

Michael Milne: picked up a calf injury this week and will be unavailable for up to six weeks



No New Injury Update – Unavailable for Selection:

Will Connors (knee), Thomas Clarkson (hamstring), Tommy O’Brien (hamstring), Jack Dunne (ankle) and Dan Leavy (knee)

Oof
 

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Thought I'd do an overview of the squad as the season approaches. This is not made easy by Leinster not updating their squad on the website yet.

Loosehead: Porter, Healy, Byrne, Dooley, Milne, Hanan, Boyle, Lasisi - Pretty confident Porter is converting to loosehead based on a few things I've heard. Will leave us in rude health compared to any club side, with the first four on the depth chart being internationals. Healy isn't what he used to be but would still start on a lot of teams. Hope Milne can push on, Byrne and Dooley are good players but we could do with someone standout pushing through. Boyle and Lasisi might have that potential but probably won't see that much of them this year.

Hooker: Kelleher, Sheehan, Tracy, Cronin, McKee, Barron - Kelleher the obvious standout hopefully he can stay injury free and establish himself as one of the best hookers in Europe. I'm expecting a lot from Sheehan he has an exceptional athletic profile and Kelleher and him could be an incredible 1-2 punch for a number of years. We know what Tracy is and he'll be very useful over the season. This is Cronin's last season so hopefully he goes out well. Not expecting McKee to be a standout, Barron is first year academy and missed the u20 6N but have heard good things.

Tighthead: Furlong, Alaaalatoa, Clarkson, Abdaladze - WIth Furlong unlikely to be back for a while this group could be a bit thin at times. Have heard Vakh still isn't fully fit as well. Alaalatoa will have to slot in immediately and perform. AIL prop Mick McCormack is training with the team at the moment and I'd say he'll be around for the year. Very athletic and a strong scrummager but hard to tell how he'll go at this level. Clarkson should get plenty of experience very early on and with the SA teams face some stronger scrums than he would have previously.

Secondrow: J Ryan, Baird, Toner, Moloney, Dunne, Deeny, C Ryan, McCarthy - A lot of good but probably missing a big TH lock. Hoping Dunne can show something there. Definitely has the size for it. Toner's last year as well so expect him to be used sparingly. Would like to see Baird showing improvement in his fundamentals like clearouts and being used primarily as a lock. A lot of talent in the academy but they need to stay fit and get opportunities.

Flankers: Ruddock, Connors, Van Der Flier, Leavy, Murphy, Penny, Moloney, Soroka, O'Brien, Hernan - The talent is pretty obvious throughout, just have to hope most of them can stay fit this time. Really hoping we can see Leavy properly this year.

Number Eight: Doris, Conan, Deegan - ridiculous quality, again the question is staying fit.

Scrum half: McGrath, Gibson-Park, McCarthy, Foley, Murphy - definitely our weakest position group and no one coming through in the squad who looks like they'll change that. The main guys are all fine and can definitely perform but also very capable of ******** the bed in the big games.

Out half: Sexton, H Byrne, R Byrne: Really need Harry to stand up this season and get some big starts. Hawkshaw and Frawley will probably also get gametime here and probably Corkery even though he didn't get the academy.

Centres: Henshaw, Ringrose, O'Loughlin, Frawley, C O'Brien, T O'Brien, Hawkshaw, Turner - Pretty deep compared to most teams and defintiely star quality there. Henshaw will have to be managed after how much he played last season. Frawley and TOB are two I'm really hoping can stay fit as they both provide something different.

Backthree: Byrne, Kearney, Lowe, Larmour, Keenan, Comerford, Osborne, Smith, O'Reilly, Cosgrave, Russell - Tentatively excited about the return of Adam Byrne but very hard to know what state he'll be in. It's a strange group overall as apart from Keenan and Kearney the senior players are all capable of the magnificent and the dreadful. Hoping Larmour can put the consitency together with an injury free year and really showcase how talented he is. I'm expecting a good bit from Osborne. Has all the tools and looks very calm. Also a rarity in recent years for Leinster produced backs in actually having some size to him.

If everyone is fit and firing at the same time (which won't happen obviously) I think I see this as our strongest 23 by season's end.

1. Porter
2. Kelleher
3. Furlong
4. Baird
5. Ryan
6. Doris
7. Leavy
8. Conan
9. Gibson-Park
10. Sexton
11. Lowe
12. Henshaw
13. Ringrose
14. Larmour
15. Keenan

16. Sheehan
17. Healy
18. Alaalatoa
19. Dunne
20. Connors (back five is stupidly hard to pick and it will be even harder for Ireland)
21. McGrath
22. H Byrne
23. A Byrne (It'll really be DK)
Agree with basically everything except I struggle to buy into Doris at 6. We're at our best with Ruddock there. As hard as it is we have to pick an 8 and somehow try and keep the other ones happy.
 

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Doris needs to develop a hard edge and Leinster need to develop a 6 alongside Ruddock who brings that to the team. Josh Murphy isn't the answer, maybe Leavy will focus on 6 when he gets back.
 

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Leinster 19's vs Ulster highlights:

Leinster 19's vs Connacht highlights:

Leinster U18 clubs vs Ulster highlights:

Leinster u18 club vs Connacht highlights:

Leinster 18's club vs Munster: here:
 

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Leinster Rugby (caps in brackets):

15. Chris Cosgrave (0)
14. Rob Russell (0)
13. Jamie Osborne (6)
12. Conor O’Brien (23)
11. James Lowe (52)
10. Johnny Sexton (173) CAPTAIN
9. Luke McGrath (151)

1. Peter Dooley (93)
2. Dan Sheehan (13)
3. Michael Ala’alatoa (0)
4. Devin Toner (266)
5. Brian Deeny (0)
6. Rhys Ruddock (188)
7. Scott Penny (29)
8. Max Deegan (65)

Replacements from:

Cian Healy (231), Seán Cronin (195), James Tracy (129), Vakh Abdaladze (12), Ross Molony (116), Ryan Baird (27), Martin Moloney (1), Cormac Foley (1), Ross Byrne (104), David Hawkshaw (8), Liam Turner (6), Niall Comerford (0)

Nice mix, very inexperienced back three, some guys it's good to get a first look at and some others it's great to see return.
 

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Leinster Rugby (caps in brackets):

15. Chris Cosgrave (0)
14. Rob Russell (0)
13. Jamie Osborne (6)
12. Conor O’Brien (23)
11. James Lowe (52)
10. Johnny Sexton (173) CAPTAIN
9. Luke McGrath (151)

1. Peter Dooley (93)
2. Dan Sheehan (13)
3. Michael Ala’alatoa (0)
4. Devin Toner (266)
5. Brian Deeny (0)
6. Rhys Ruddock (188)
7. Scott Penny (29)
8. Max Deegan (65)

Replacements from:

Cian Healy (231), Seán Cronin (195), James Tracy (129), Vakh Abdaladze (12), Ross Molony (116), Ryan Baird (27), Martin Moloney (1), Cormac Foley (1), Ross Byrne (104), David Hawkshaw (8), Liam Turner (6), Niall Comerford (0)

Nice mix, very inexperienced back three, some guys it's good to get a first look at and some others it's great to see return.
It will never not astound me that Smith is 22 and has 110 caps for quins and Sexton is 36 and has 173...

Like I understand that both are anomalies but it's still crazy. At his current rate (no injuries or intl call ups) Smith would have almost 500 caps by the time he is 36
 

big ginger 8

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It will never not astound me that Smith is 22 and has 110 caps for quins and Sexton is 36 and has 173...

Like I understand that both are anomalies but it's still crazy. At his current rate (no injuries or intl call ups) Smith would have almost 500 caps by the time he is 36

Toner is Leinster's most capped player at 266. Very difficult to be a Leinster starter without being good enough to play somewhat regularly for Ireland and missing time due to that and the player welfare scheme.
 

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