Coaching Appointments

This week, we have confirmation of two significant coaching appointments with La Rochelle confirming Ronan O Gara to their Head Coach role under Jonno Gibbs who is there Director of Rugby.

He will return to France after 2 seasons in New Zealand as part of the Crusaders coaching ticket alongside Scott Robinson that won a Super Rugby title in 2018 and are still on course to secure another title in 2019 but only time will tell about the destination of the 2019 Super Rugby campaign.

He was part of the Racing 92 coaching team under Lauren Travers and Lauren Labit for 4 years before making his move to New Zealand to continue his apprenticeship in coaching. He has been very clear that although he has been linked to any job that has come up in Ireland since retiring he will return to Ireland to coach one day soon but for now he will continue to ply his trade elsewhere.

This will be his first head coach role as he has only be an assistant since he started out including a short stint with Ireland under Joe Schmidt in 2017 when Ireland went to the USA and Japan for three Tests during the 2017 Lions Tour of New Zealand.

You can be sure he was in the frame to take up a role with Munster when Felix Jones left his position as backs coach but he will instead take up a role in the Top 14 with La Rochelle.

Moving to Munster who yesterday announced the arrival of Stephen Larkham as a senior coach to complete the Munster coaching team for the 2019/2020 season. There is a rumour that another coach may be added to the coaching team before the new season begins.

Larkham will join Munster in August just in time for the pre season matches but you can be sure that he will have certain plans in place and will have forwarded on stuff he will want done before he arrives in the scene to try and hit the ground running.

The hope now will be that the arrival of Graham Rowntree and Stephen Larkham may be the missing pieces of the puzzle after so many near misses in the Pro 14 and Champions Cup in the last few years.

The Munster squad will only have one new name in Nick Mc Carthy and a few players stepping up from the academy like Shane Daly, Gavin Coombes and Sean O Connor who has already played many times for Munster and they will step up to the senior squad and will feel that with the new coaching set up that they will get chances to show what they can do in the new year where you will be short of some Irish Internationals during the World Cup period.

Munster have now put a coaching team in place that they will hope will be there for the long term after Larkham signed on until 2022 and Rowntree did likewise recently. The back room staff is in place now it is over the players to go out and thrive because the focus will be on from week 1. The heavy investment will hopefully reap rewards from early next year. All the clubs who will play in Europe next year will find out who they will face in Europe next week…..

Ireland Under 20s Vs England Match Day 1

Ireland Under 20s began their World Championship campaign in Argentina with an impressive 42-26 win over England. Like the opening game of the Six Nations it was an extremely open affair with England racing into a 10-0 lead with scores from Ollie Sleightholme with Manu Vunipola adding a conversions and a penalty. Then Ireland found a rapid response with David Mc Cann getting over for the first of his two tries, Jake Flannery added the extra 2 to bring the contest close to 10-7.

England were full of very familiar names like Vunipola , Manu is a 1st cousin of the senior Internationals Billy and Mako , you had Tom De Glanville whose father Phil played for England and won a Heineken Cup with Bath in 1998. This group is not the strongest group that England has sent to the Under 20 World Cup in recent times but they will look to bounce back against Italy on match day 2.

Back to the game, England will look back on their indispline where they had two players sent to the sin bin and had replacement hooker Alfie Barbery red carded for a tip tackle on John Hodnett which led to the number 7 having to go off for a head injury assessment.

They will know that they had to play 35 minutes of the games with only 14 players on the field after the two yellow cards and the red card late on. They will also need to sharpen up at the break down where starting scrum half Ollie Fox was caught at the base of a number of rucks and his slow presentation directly affected two of Ireland’s tries where inside centre Stewart Moore used his knowledge of the laws at ruck time to snipe in and score a clever try.

Ireland will need to tighten up in defence because just thinking they will out score teams at will won’t sustain as we go on in this Championship. They play a very open style that also includes some elements that the senior men’s team also do well like the pick and go and also some line out drills that the senior team use. It has been great to see the linkup between the senior men’s team and the 20s that has seen a number of training sessions take place involving both squads.

Ireland went to this Championship shorn of guys like Scott Penny, Harry Byrne and captain David Hawkshaw who were all ruled out of the campaign for varying reasons over the past few months. But Ireland can still call on live wire scrum half Craig Casey who has recently signed a development deal with his home province Munster, others like John Hodnett, Dylan Tierney-Martin, Charlie Ryan and Ryan Baird have plenty of experience at this level.

They will know after a successful opening day that if they can beat Australia at 2pm this Saturday live on Eir Sport that they will be well on the way to qualifying for the play off section of this Championship. They have started this campaign is good fashion and will be keen to continue the good form on Saturday afternoon.