England Vs New Zealand 2019 WC

England have booked a first World Cup Final appearance since France in 2007. They did that with a terrific composed 19-7 win over defending champions New Zealand. New Zealnd came into this game after a strong performance when swatting Ireland aside last weekend 46-14. On this occasion England had the ideal game plan that was certainly moulded from there narrow loss last November.

The axis of Tom Curry and Sam Underhill got the better of the Scott Barrett, Ardie Savea pairing that saw Barrett called ashore at half time to be replaced by Sam Cane.

The decision of Steve Hansen to pick Scott Barrett was a risk but on this occasion it did not work out and England who started like they had done throughout 2019 scored a cracking try after 2 minutes through Manu Tuilagi after some sublime handling that saw Kyle Sinkler provide a key tip on pass that finished with Tuilagi busting over.

England were very dominant in the opening 40 minutes and from the off they looked like team very in tune with the task at hand. From the moment the Haka took place and England formed a semi circle very similar to what England did in 1998 when the sides met in Twickenham. This was a signal that England would not fold easily in the face of taking on the World Champions.

Eddie Jones has worked very hard since taking on the England job in late 2015 after the disastrous efforts at the 2015 World Cup. His stated aim was to win a World Cup on Japanese soil. He worked very hard in 2016 to start his plan to get England back to the top of the tree where they feel they should always be. In 2016 they won the Grand Slam beating France in Paris in the final week to secure the Grand Slam. In 2017 they won the Six Nations and were continuing to integrate many of the players that were key to victory this morning.

Men like Sam Underhill who moved from Ospreys to play his club rugby with Bath, Tom Curry who alongside his twin Ben were key members of the England Under 20 side in 2017 also made waves and were in the wider England training squad as the Jones era took shape.

Eddie Jones also stated once he took on the job that he would work to build a new England side full of young players and this team is back boned by Under 20 World Championship winners from the last 5 years.

New Zealand did not look happy this morning and to me it looked as if the lack of tough games since facing South Africa on the opening weekend came back to haunt Steve Hansen’s men.  The lack of experience in his 23 this morning might also have come back to bite Steve Hansen who left experienced men like Ben Smith and Reiko Ioane out of his 23.

Youthful exuberance is great but when the pressure comes on it looked as if Sevu Reece and George Bridge were struggling. Both men were driven into touch and those moments were massive the overall scheme of things.

Owen Farrell and George Ford worked well in tandem where as Richie Mo’unga and Beauden Barrett did not match the heights that they have done only a few times since this was first tried out in July. This move seemed to be made after the loss to Ireland in 2018 and also the narrow win over England on the end of year tour.

Many people have made plenty of the Irish failure from last weekend where some players were selected where others players in better form may have done a better job but the fact that Brodie Rettalick was brought straight into the starting team at the quarter final after only 30 minutes in the Pool phase may have also contributed to how under cooked New Zealand looked this morning. It is not often you can say that about an New Zealand team but this time Steve Hansen can have no complaints about the defeat. He and his side will now go into a third / fourth place play off next Friday.

England will now be able to fully focus on a World Cup Final at 9am next Saturday. They can now settle in and watch South Africa vs Wales and plan for whichever side wins in the second Semi Final….

A Look Ahead- An Alternative XV For the 2020 Six Nations

As the dust begins to settle on another World Cup Quarter Final exit for Ireland, people will now be looking at the new regime under new head coach Andy Farrell who will be assisted by Mike Catt, Simon Easterby and Richie Murphy.

Many Irish players who didn’t get a look in under Joe Schmidt will feel that the slate is wiped clean under new coach Andy Farrell. People may also think that the regime might not change too much under Farrell who has been Ireland’s forwards coach since 2016.

But if things are to change within Irish rugby it is important that all available players are looked at over the next few months to try and rebuild the shattered confidence after the heavy loss to New Zealand.

It will take all 31 players time to get over the manner of the defeat but for some of the 31 while this weekend in Round 4 of the Pro 14 will be too soon you can be sure that the interprovincial derbies in Round 6 will see all 31 back in action with some guys returning in round 5 depending on how many minutes were played by each individual in Japan.

Munster will benefit straight away as will Connacht with men like Chris Farrell, John Ryan and Jack Carty all sure to be back in contention ahead of Round 5.

As I mentioned it will take time for all the players to recover from this loss both mentally and physically but with the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup on the horizon they won’t have much time to dwell on what might have been…..

Looking to the 2020 Six Nations in February 2020, Ireland are certain to have fresh blood in the first 23 to play Scotland , I look at the possible 23 that Andy Farrell may look to include…

15 Andrew Conway – Munster

14 Jacob Stockdale – Ulster

13 Gary Ringrose – Leinster

12 Chris Farrell – Munster

11 Matt Healy – Connacht

10 Joey Carbery – Munster

9  Conor Murray – Munster

8 Max Deegan – Leinster

7 Josh Van Der Flier – Leinster

6 Tadgh Beirne – Munster

5 James Ryan – Leinster, Captain

4 Iain Henderson – Ulster

3 Tadgh Furlong – Leinster

2 Niall Scannell – Munster

1 Eric O Sullivan – Ulster


16  Ronan Kelliher – Leinster

17 Dave Kilcoyne – Munster

18 Andrew Porter – Leinster

19  Ultan Dillane – Connacht

20 CJ Stander – Munster

21 Luke Mc Grath – Leinster

22 Ross Byrne – Leinster

23 Jordan Larmour – Leinster

Here is one selection I would go by, I know I have left out certain players but there would be room for those players in the wider squad. Just trying to show an alternative XV to what played last Saturday.




World Cup Quarter Final 2019

Ireland will play New Zealand in the 2nd World Cup quarter final this Saturday at 11.15am. Ireland have faced New Zealand 4 times under Joe Schmidt and three times since the 2015 World Cup, winning twice in 2016 and 2018.

The questions of the Irish campaign have started up again after mixed performances against the 3 opposing teams in Pool A. The manner of the display against both Samoa and Scotland gave rise to some real positivity but the loss to Japan quelled some of that good mood.

New Zealand will be well warned of what to expect when facing Ireland and after being beaten by Ireland in November 2018 New Zealand will be going full throttle to make sure Ireland don’t register a 3rd win over New Zealand under Joe Schmidt. It could be Joe Schmidt’s final game at Ireland head coach if the result does not work out so you can be certain he will have 1 or 2 tricks up his sleeve that supporters will not have seen before.

Steve Hansen has indicated he make try and “trick” Schmidt with some moves we haven’t seen before. For an Irish rugby player the sight of an England shirt usually does enough to get people up for the challenge and you can put that famous shirt with the silver fern on that list.

It is another chance for Ireland to make a World Cup Semi Final where they are pencilled into face either England or Australia… Here is the XV I would select to play New Zealand to play in the Quarter Final….

15 Andrew Conway

14 Keith Earls

13 Gary Ringrose

12 Robbie Henshaw

11 Jacob Stockdale

10 Jonathan Sexton

9 Conor Murray

8 CJ Stander

7 Josh Van Der Flier

6 Tadgh Beirne

5 James Ryan

4 Iain Henderson

3 Tadgh Furlong

2 Niall Scannell

1 Cian Healy

16 Sean Cronin

17 Dave Kilcoyne

18 Andrew Porter

19 Rhys Ruddock

20 Peter O Mahony

21 Luke Mc Grath

22 Joey Carbery

23 Chris Farrell

World Cup 2019- Quarter Final Time

The World Cup Quarter Final line up is complete, England will play Australia at 8.15am next Saturday and then in the second quarter final Ireland take on New Zealand at 11.15am. Sunday will see Wales vs France at 8.15am and hosts Japan play South Africa at 11.15am.

Ireland had hoped if they had qualified to be playing next Sunday against either South Africa or New Zealand and after the 19-12 loss to Japan it was felt that the most likely opponent was going to be 3 times winners New Zealand. Since the crushing loss to Argentina in Cardiff 4 years ago, the hope was that Joe Schmidt would firstly sign up to lead the Ireland charge and then after he did so it was hoped he could make Ireland hard to beat and finally be in a position to challenge for at the very least a Semi Final spot in Japan.

He has achieved that goal and has also hit some big markers in the 4 years since that big quarter final loss, winning in South Africa in 2016, beating New Zealand twice in late 2016 and again in 2018. He has also masterminded a Grand Slam win in 2018.

These are the markers with which the 2019 World Cup campaign was going to be judged and after a poor 2019 it looked as if the whole positivity surrounding the Ireland camp from 2018 was going to count for very little but Ireland managed to make a 7th quarter final and the hope of making a first semi final will be severely tested by the triple winners New Zealand who were winners in 1987,2011 and 2015.

So far in this campaign, the Irish performances have not been what is required to show they are true contenders but now that they are in another quarter final, all the talk can stop and they can fully focus on a shot at the world champions who they have faced 4 times since the 2015 World Cup winning twice.

With the involvement of Bundee Aki to be decided tomorrow the other 30 players can fully focus on the task at hand with the likes of Chris Farrell on standby to step in should Bundee Aki miss out through suspension.

New Zealand will be well rested having had there last pool game called off due to the typhoon that struck in Japan this weekend.

They will also know that they haven’t had it all their own way in recent times against Ireland and with the possibility of this game being Joe Schmidt’s final game in charge of Ireland after 6 years at the helm that will spur Ireland on to hopefully do what they have so far failed to do in the other 7 World Cup’s since 1987 and that is make a first Semi Final and then who knows what may happen but for now, it’s all eyes on the Quarter Final next Saturday at 11.15am Irish time.

Maurice Hartery – Limerick Man and Northampton Saints Team Manager

Maurice Hartery

Hi Maurice, It’s great to get the opportunity to speak to you about your recent move to take up the Team Manager role with Northampton Saints.

How did the move to Northampton come about ?

I saw the post advertised on Twitter said I would chance handing in my CV. Got called for an interview and got the job. It came as a surprise really but it was something I was actively looking at.


What role’s did you fulfil with the clubs you were involved with here at home ?

I had been manager of Thomond RFC for 4 seasons as well as Ireland clubs for 3 seasons. I also managed Munster U18 for a season and was Manager of SCT in Castletroy for 2 years.


When did Northampton approach you about taking on the Manager role ?

As mentioned above they didn’t approach me, I put in my CV and got called for an interview, which I did in South Africa when I was on honeymoon. When I arrived back from South Africa, they flew me over to Franklin’s Gardens to meet the relevant people.


Do you work closely with the coaching team including head coach Chris Boyd ?

I would work very closely with Chris, more so than the coaching team. He is an unbelievably nice man and is very laid back and easy to get on with.


Can you explain your role on match day ?

Most of my work is done before matchday to be honest. I’ll come in maybe 3 hours before Kick Off, make sure the dressing room is correct and everything is in order. The players will start to arrive about 1pm and from then on it’s helping them in anyway I can. The main one is ensuring that their tickets are available for collect by their family members so they aren’t receiving calls taking their focus. Once the match starts I am in charge of the technical area and making substitutions and ensuring all rules are followed.

What sort of qualifications would a professional team like Northampton look for when recruiting a member of their staff ?

Like all businesses they would be looking for the most suitable person available. There is a young staff in place right across the club which is excellent.

How have your family settled in to your new surroundings ?

I have moved over on my own for the time being. My wife flies over for all the home games or close away games. It is a massive burden on her but I will try to get back to limerick when I can later on in the year.


During the week, what do your day’s look like ?

During the off-season it was crazy. You could be pulled left, right and centre with small issues but now that the season has started it is more structured. I try to get in for 7.30am and from there it depends on the daily schedule. I try to get on the field for training every day if possible.

What has the reaction been like here at home when people heard you were taking up the position of Northampton Saints Team Manager ?

Shock was the main reaction. But in fairness people have been unbelievably nice with congratulations etc. castletroy college were fantastic and allowed me take the opportunity by granting me a career break.


What do you hope to achieve in your time with Northampton ?

Enjoy it. I can’t control any results on the pitch but working in an environment like Pro Rugby is a privilege and I am learning new things every day.


Lastly Maurice, For anyone who may read this and think they may want to follow in your footsteps. Have you any advice ?

Be yourself. I have had this question a lot since people heard the news but if you are doing this job you are more than likely organised and outgoing anyway. The key is just be yourself and enjoy it.

Thank you for taking the time out to chat to me Maurice. All the very best for season 2019/2020….



Ireland vs Russia WC Match 3

Ireland managed to beat Russia 35-0 after stumbling for well over 60 minutes. This win will do nothing to convince the masses of Ireland true credentials to finally make a Semi Final or even for the bravest of Irish fans a place in the World Cup Final.

The late withdrawal of Joey Carbery will also have people concerned although Jack Carty’s cameo in the 2nd 40 minutes will ease concerns over both Sexton and Carbery as Sexton was replaced at half time although kicking coach Richie Murphy has said it was a tactical change rather than an enforced change.

The hope that this game would lift the gloom after the loss to Japan was mistaken as this performance will have done little to help the squad. The lack of a Plan B was missing again today as on a few occasions when keeping the ball in hand looked to be the better option players like Andrew Conway, Rob Kearney and late on Jordan Larmour all needlessly kicked away possession when holding onto the ball and trying to attack Russia with width looked to be an easier option.

Russia for their part played very well although being niled would say it wasn’t the best day at the office but twice they had a man in the sin bin and only conceded one try over the 20 minutes they were down to 14 men.

The most concerning aspect was the real lack of imagination in attack, numerous times the ball was knocked on or lost in contact which will disappoint Joe Schmidt and the lack of imagination is again a issue there is a real sense of de ja vu with this aspect of play and we are now in a situation where there is no more time to fix this before the competition as we are 3 games into the Pool.

On the plus side Ireland did get the required 5 points to push clear at the top of the Pool and are now on 11 points with a +52 points difference and now the focus will be back on Japan when they play Samoa on Saturday morning. Japan will look to regain control of the Pool with a bonus point win that will push them onto either 13 or 14 points heading into the final round of games where Ireland face Samoa on Saturday week with Japan facing Scotland both games will be extremely interesting as to the outcome of the Pool.

For Ireland, it will be a extended break of 9 days before they play Samoa where a few players will hope that there knocks clear up with Robbie Henshaw the only member of the travelling 31 still looking for match minutes and it may also see others players join up as recently arrived Jordi Murphy may yet be on his way home depending on the severity of his rib injury. Men like Tommy O Donnell or Sean Reidy may look to dust off the passport as they may yet receive the call to head for Japan.

Here is the XV I would select to play Samoa in 9 days time. I realise players may not make it due to injury or something else cropping up over the next week and a half.

15 Andrew Conway

14 Keith Earls

13 Gary Ringrose

12 Robbie Henshaw

11 Jacob Stockdale

10 Jonathan Sexton

9 Conor Murray

8 CJ Stander

7 Josh Van Der Flier

6 Peter O Mahony

5 James Ryan

4 Iain Henderson

3 Tadgh Furlong

2 Niall Scannell

1 Cian Healy

16 Sean Cronin

17 Dave Kilcoyne

18 Andrew Porter

19 Tadgh Beirne

20 Rhys Ruddock

21 Luke Mc Grath

22 Jack Carty

23 Chris Farrell