Stringer – A Tribute

Peter Stringer – A Tribute

After a 20 year career that took in Cork Constitution, Munster, Ireland, Sale Sharks, Saracens, Newcastle Falcons, Bath and finished in December 2017 with Worcester Warriors, Peter Stringer has called time on his career. He was capped 98 times by his country after a debut in 2000.

He will always be associated with Munster having appeared in European Finals in 2000 vs Northampton Saints, the 2002 Final against Leicester Tigers, the famous Final in 2006 against Biarritz when Munster won their first of two European titles when he famously scored a try when he broke from the back of a scrum and fooled all the forwards to scamper in for his most famous try.

He is the most capped scrum half in Irish rugby but one suspects that Conor Murray may get close or even surpass his record of 98 caps if he stays fit over the coming years. He was partnered by Ronan O Gara for most of his career, in the AIL with Cork Con, then in the professional ranks with Munster and Ireland. Stringer provided the pass for O Gara to kick the drop goal to seal the win against Wales in 2009 to win the Grand Slam.

Stringer was rarely injured during his career and kept his body in good shape and this certainly helped as the years advanced on him and he made several different moves to prolong his career after finding his path to the Munster and Ireland scrum half spot blocked by Tomas O Leary and Conor Murray.

Both men denied Stringer the chance to win 100 International caps by gaining selection over Stringer from 2010 onwards. He never retired from international rugby in the hope of winning those two elusive caps to get to the magical mystical number of 100 caps.

He was selected by the Barbarians when they faced Australia in November 2013. He famously raced out to deny James O Connor the chance to kick three points by timing his run and picking up the ball and ending the half.

Now that Peter Stringer has retired all of the Munster team I grew up watching and helped me grow to love the game of rugby union have retired. He did so well with Munster and Ireland and will also be remembered for his tap tackle on Dan Luger in 2001 that helped Ireland defeat England to deny them the Grand Slam.

He patented the “Tap Tackle” and did it on several times doing it again in 2004 when Ireland beat England to become the first side to beat the newly crowned World Champions. He stopped Jason Robinson in his tracks after he danced between Reggie Corrigan and Malcolm O Kelly and thought he was away under the posts until Stringer’s intervention stopped him in his tracks.

Thanks for all the memories Strings, enjoy a well deserved break and enjoy the next phase of your life…..


Cian Mc Gibney



Summer Tour 2018

Ireland 20-16 Australia

For the first time since 1979 and the first time in the professional era, Ireland have completed a Series win in the Southern Hemisphere after beating Australia 20-16 in the third Test in Sydney to win the Series 2-1.

Although the win wasn’t perfect, It was the ideal way to end a terrific year where a Grand Slam was secured with a 24-17 win against England in Twickenham. This win like the win in the 2nd Test was built on solid defence and a real willingness to work hard in attack. The loss of Gary Ringrose looked to have had an impact although the partnership of Henshaw and Aki looked far more secure today than it did in the first Test.

Ireland dominated possession in the first half and did well to take a few of the chances that were presented and led 12-9 at half time after Jonathan Sexton kicked 4 penalties while Conor Murray left a long range effort behind him. Australia started with real purpose and used the axis of Nick Phipps and Bernard Foley to put the likes of Folau and Beale into space.

Also early on the Aussie’s looked far more composed at the break down where the duo of Hooper and Pocock did there level best to slow Irish ball down and set Australia off on many attacks. The loss of Hooper early in the first half had an effect on the effectiveness of the Aussie break down work and although Pocock continued to try and pilfer ball he wasn’t having it all his own way owing to some real tigerish work from Peter O Mahony who has grown into a real leader on this tour.

The loss of Sean Cronin wasn’t has keenly felt as it may have been because Niall Scannell did his homework and did well in the set piece and also in defence where Ireland did not shoot up as much as they had done in game one. Yes there was moments where they got caught wide and had to depend on some top notch scramble defence to get them out of jail on more than one occasion.

The one thing that Joe Schmidt wanted to do in the aftermath of the last World Cup was work on player depth and he certainly had to do that in the back row with injuries to the likes of Josh Van Der Flier , Rhys Ruddock , Sean O Brien and Jack O Donoghue. Men like Tadgh Beirne , Iain Henderson , Jordi Murphy and Jack Conan made the most of their game time on this tour. They all had a positive impact when called upon and all played a part in this huge Series win.

This win will show Joe Schmidt that he can call upon these players at any time and they will step up to the mark. The importance of both Conor Murray and Jonathan Sexton to this quest for World domination can’t be underplayed. Sexton put his body on the line numerous times in particular during the 2nd half when Australia dominated territory and possession. He kicked the vital three points to see Ireland home at the end but not before driving Ireland around the field in the third Test.

The set piece worked well at times in this Series and will need to be looked after when they reconvene in September. John Forgarty might be brought in while Greg Feek is away in Japan to help out but that is a issue for next season.

Looking to next year, It will be tough to maintain all these high standards that Schmidt and his men set this season winning the Grand Slam, going to Australia and winning a Series going unbeaten in November and also winning in Japan and USA while all the established players were away with the Lions last summer where Schmidt got the opportunity to cap James Ryan and Jacob Stockdale to name two new corner stone’s of this squad. Now we see why Schmidt declined to tour with the Lions last summer.

Now they can relax for the summer and enjoy some well earned time off and bask in the glory of the greatest ever year in Irish rugby history but they will know they are greater challenges ahead in season 2018/2019. For now though, soak it in and enjoy all the plaudits because these results don’t come around that often in Irish rugby.

Well done to all the players, coaches and support staff for a memorable end to a remarkable season…


Cian Mc Gibney


Heineken Champions Cup Pools 2018/2019

Heineken Champions Cup Pool Draw 2018/2019

Season 2017/2018 hasn’t yet ended for some of the players who played this year and yet today saw the draws for the Champions Cup Pools for the 2018/2019 season. Leinster have been drawn in Pool 1 alongside Bath, Toulouse and Wasps. As defending champions Leinster were top seeds and as such would have felt they would have gotten an easier than normal group. Leo Cullen and Stuart Lancaster can be pleased with how the cards have fallen for their squad. They will know each time well having faced side in recent years.

Leinster have lost the experience of Isa Nacewa but have moved quickly and added Joe Tomane to their squad. He has been capped by Australia and has European experience with Montpellier with whom he has just spent three years. Also as defending champions there will real expectations that they can defend the crown they won less than 6 weeks ago.

Munster have been drawn in Pool 2 alongside familiar foes, Castres who were crowned Top 14 champions by defeating Montpellier on the 26th of May in Paris. They will also face two teams from the Gallagher Premiership namely Exeter Chiefs and Gloucester. Exeter will travel to Irish Independent Park for a pre season game in August and after today’s events that game will now carry extra significance in terms of making plans for the Champions Cup game later in the year.

Gloucester will also be significant because Gerbrandt Grobler whohas just spent a year with Munster has just signed for them and he could have some key inside information for his new team in how to crack the Munster code.

Ulster have been placed in Pool 4 along with Racing 92 the new home to Simon Zebo , Scarlets and Leicester Tigers. Not an easy Pool for new Ulster head coach Dan Mc Farland to get his head around but with his coaching team of Dwayne Peel , Aaron Dundon he will have two men who have been here before and he was also with Connacht in the Challenge Cup a few years ago. Jordi Murphy will add some quality to the back row and also his experience will be invaluable for the first few months of next year.

Connacht are in a Pool in the Challenge Cup with Sale Sharks , Perpignan who have just signed Paddy Jackson on a two year deal and Bordeaux Begles so Andrew Friday will have a tough introduction to European rugby with two trips to France along with a tricky trip to Manchester to face Sale Sharks. Of course Kieran Keane was sacked at the conclusion of last season and replaced by Friday who has been in charge of the Australian 7s side in the past.

He will hopefully bring fresh ideas to the table to help and get Connacht back playing the type of rugby that saw them win the Pro 12 back in 2016. They had some very mixed performances last year in Europe and domestically and will hope now that the dawn of a new era can begin for season 2018/2019.


Cian Mc Gibney


Ireland 26-21 Australia

Ireland 26-21 Australia

So we will be level in this three Test Series down in Australia after Ireland bounced back from defeat last weekend recording an impressive 26-21 win in AAMI Park Melbourne. After being dominated by Australia at the breakdown, Ireland used this week to reset the clock and they realigned the back row bring Dan Leavy back in to the XV instead of Jordi Murphy and they also brought Jonathan Sexton back in to partner Conor Murray who himself seemed back to his best with Sexton in tandem.

The Irish team seemed to have a better balance with Gary Ringrose outside Robbie Henshaw who learned from his errors in the 1st Test. He didn’t shoot up as fast in defence and seemed to trust that Ringrose would be able to get his man at every turn. From an Australian perspective they seemed to want to try and intimidate the Irish defence and there attack was as quick witted with Kurtley Beale instrumental in scoring their only try in the game.

Ireland went back to a game plan that has served them really well in recent seasons , where a high work rate and a solid set piece is vital while the Irish attack can utilise a large array of power plays from the Joe Schmidt play book.

Although Ireland do seem to be struggling to convert pressure and territory in points , they only won by 5 points this morning and will really need to learn quickly how to kill off teams with all that possession and territory. Let’s face it had New Zealand had over 80% of possession and territory in any game they would have scored at least 5 tries in both games.

As it was, they scored two tries through Andrew Conway who retired injured shortly after getting on the scoreboard and Tadgh Furlong who crashed over after some quality build up through the forwards who used some really good handling skills to set him free to get in.

The introduction of Devin Toner alongside James Ryan also gave Ireland a slight edge in the line out because of his height. James Ryan for his part is seriously starting to show the class that was so obvious to Joe Schmidt so much so that he organised a situation where Ryan turned out for the Ireland 20s development side to get him some game time before capping him on the Tour of the USA in 2017. 12 months on he is a Grand Slam winner and also he has a Champions Cup and Pro 14 winners medals from earlier this season.

The return of Sexton was very crucial to that Irish performance today and it proves again how important he will be in 2019 at the World Cup. Ireland have now levelled the Series and will want to finish the job now that they are back to winning ways on this Tour. It is a first win in Australia since 1979.

Roll on the deciding Test which will kick off at 11.05am Irish time next Saturday in Sydney…..


Cian Mc Gibney


Summer Tour 2018

Australia 18-9 Ireland

So the Three Test Series in Australia has started in defeat for Ireland who have been beaten 18-9 in Brisbane. Ireland will be disappointed to have been defeated in a game that they dominated in possession and territory. Ireland struggled in defence throughout the game and were very guilty of being caught out wide on several occasions. Robbie Henshaw got caught cold twice in the opening half and was rescued by some good covering work by Jacob Stockdale and Keith Earls.

From an Australia point of view, they used the high ball tactic to great effect against Ireland where Israel Folau dominated the air against the Irish back three where he beat Rob Kearney in the air several times. Australia welcomed David Pocock back from his time on sabbatical and he turned over the ball on many key occasions and this was crucial in stopping Irish momentum. Ireland selected Joey Carbery at 10 and while he started well and kicked three penalties from 4 attempts he will be disappointed that when it mattered he struggled to find touch when it was needed.

In attack Ireland showed some deft touches and created two clear chances in the game that they failed to convert those chances fell to CJ Stander and Conor Murray , firstly Stander made a clean line break and failed to get the ball down after he rolled to place the ball , Dane Haylett Petty did very well to get his body under the ball and make sure Stander didn’t get the ball down.

Then Murray made another break as the defence was fixed on the newly introduced Jonathan Sexton and as he broke clear, the Aussie defence managed to scramble back and snuff out the chance.  A couple of issues arose during the game the defence needs to be sorted as Australia found it easy to break down the up and in line speed quite easily. The partnership of Henshaw and Aki made need to be revised for the second Test where the introduction of Gary Ringrose may just ignite the faltering attack that didn’t get going in the First Test.

On a positive note, the Irish line out worked out and the hard work of Henderson and James Ryan was a sight to behold. Rob Herring will hold his place for the second Test after his display. Ireland held their own at the break down even though the returning Pocock and Hooper made it a real struggle for Ireland to get any real go forward ball and this in turn made it tough for Murray and Carbery to get Ireland moving forward.

Australia will be delighted to make it 1-0 in this Series having been beaten 3-0 by England in 2016. From there perspective they will only get better as the next two games come along. From an Irish perspective they will make a few changes next week to try and freshen things up. There passing will need to be much crisper and they will need to make the most of the chances that come their way.

Australia again proved that you don’t need to own all the ball to win a Test match. The only Irish win in Brisbane in 1979 will stand alone for another few years and hopefully this sobering experience will tell Ireland that they need to be much sharper to get a win down south. This Test Series is not gone yet and all it will take is Ireland being more clinical when they get into the opposition 22. They didn’t win the Grand Slam in March by any fluky means but that word consistency crops up again and Ireland will now need to find a real top quality performance to level up the Series and take it to a Third game decider.


Cian Mc Gibney


South Africa 30-17 Ireland

South Africa 30-17 Ireland

Ireland were beaten 30-17 in the second game of this year’s Junior World Championship and will now go into the third game against Georgia next Thursday looking to end the group phase with a win that will boost their confidence heading into Finals day and they will want to finish with the best possible position of the twelve teams.

South Africa like there senior team used their strength at the set piece to exert their dominance over Ireland and they capitalised on two errors by Ireland to score two early first half tries and they converted one of them to lead 12-10 at half time.

Through the opening half, Ireland dominated in terms of possession and territory but they could not convert that into points until late in the first half when Caelan Doris crashed over to score Ireland’s first try.

Conor Dean was brought in at out half to replace Harry Byrne and this move seemed to work a treat he and Jonny Stewart clicked and for short periods in the game it looked as if Ireland were going to kick on and find a way to beat South Africa.

This performance was much improved from the opening night against France and although the result was not what they would have wanted they can still something out of the campaign if they defeat Georgia and then they can focus on Finals day and see can they gain a win to save this campaign.

Looking to the team performance, they seemed to learn from all the issues of the opening night but still could not find a way around the South African defence. This squad will need to find a way to convert pressure into points.

The centre partnership Tommy O Brien and James Hume worked well together and gave Ireland go forward ball and this in turn led to the domination of territory and possession.

Looking to the Georgian game, Ireland will look to move the ball wide and it will very interesting to see who Noel Mc Namara decides to select at half back as both pairings have seen game time in the first two games.

Ireland will need to put in an 80 minute display to end the group phase in the correct manner and they will need to push on with their attacking game plan and sort out there set piece and put in an 80 minute display at the set piece time also…


Cian Mc Gibney