Talk can be cheap, did you see it coming? Friday week ago Ulster travelled to Cardiff and after a minutes silence began a match in a fashion that not many could honestly say they were going to win emphatically

The Editor of this site is due some overdue credit for predicting a win though were he bothered he’d probably tell you it wasn’t a plus 29 points prediction he had in mind.

Mind the Ed was due a change of luck and it duly arrived, congratulations to him, I look forward to this week’s Connaught ‘Editor’ outcome.

Having stuttered through the last 3 league games with winning margins that left the nerves in tatters, Ulster eventually put a result beyond use by decommissioning Cardiff up front and allowing the backs to wreak havoc with T-Bowe running riot – eventually.

Interestingly there is conflicting views on Nick Williams ability despite his dual MOTM awards this season, both coming from a Welsh source. From my lowly perspective, yes he does occasionally get man shamed at the rear of the scrum going forward at a rate of knots.

I still can’t quite work out how a scrum half can be snapping at the heels of an 8 when his forwards are in retreat. I’m not always up with the laws, I’ll admit, which is why I don’t make too many technical comments.

Anyway the theory is that when Roger Wilson returns we’ll have this voodoo like control of scrum ball. I doubt it though as with the defending 9 virtually standing next to the attacking no.10 there is not much chance of taking advantage of go forward scrum ball.

I think on balance, Williams is in great form and his go forward rugged style of play is an asset to Ulster more so than anything negative outcome from off loads that don’t come off.

Neilly Concern.

Mind Jim Neilly produced a couple of commentary gems last Friday week ago, especially his, “I really do worry about him,” sighed Jim, “ he may be called Williams, but he is not Sonny Bill!”
Lamented Neilly as one of Williams off loads went straight to a Cardiff player.

Mind there were plenty that went to Ulster players so he could be excused the odd faux pas.

The Westies Go Back to Sleep

Normal service dating back to 1960 resumed for the Westies last Friday after their resounding trouncing of the Leinster tyros Friday week ago.

Not that one should be blasé about such matters. Connaught were half a forward short of a powerful scrum.

Irrespective of Clancey’s apparent scrum interpretations or conspiracy theories amongst Connaught fans that the IRFU were suppressing their ambitions through Clancey, they simply were underpowered in the forwards even if Ulster weren’t at their most precise.

Anscombe was right to be under impressed by the performance as we got away with too many things that will be punished by Castres next Friday. Too many scrums ensued, as Clancey’s whistle reverberated more often than is normal as he sought to impose his brand of refereeing on the game.

Ulster can look forward to the Castres game with confidence, they have a scrum to match them and by all accounts better backs.

Front Row Union Awakes

My apologies to the redoubtable Jonathan Bill (bills you like) of the URSC, as he mentioned to me that the front row union will be putting in an appearance somewhere around the 23rd October I think it was.

Sparky Gender Change

Consternation abounded amongst the Terrace faithful on Friday.

Not because Connaught threatened occasionally to score points or Eventsec might bar everyone from the Terrace. No, it was Sparky, what an earth has happened to him/her.

I recall at last year’s Heineken final he came in for criticism for going up against Leo the Leinster Lion in a goal kicking competition, in his bear feet.

Alas the even the bear feet were gone on Friday night to be replaced with shiny shoes that wouldn’t look out of place on the front cover of red shoe diaries. The rest of the costume was eye-catching, especially the eyes, Sparky looked like he/she had fallen off the wrapper of a caramel bar.

One almost felt it was animal cruelty, assuming it was meant to be an animal. Even that was in some doubt given the costumised one’s awkward attempt at being something akin to a lobotomised ballet dancer.

One has to hope for a return to normality and the bear we have finally accepted into our close knit rugby fraternity otherwise the poor thing will suffer further humiliation from the terrace aficionados.

Ward Off

Talk can be cheap, quothed Tony Ward in the Irish Indo the other day as he mounted a defence of Declan Kidney and the IRFU. Some of his comments though, take the Provincial biscuit.

Knockers

‘Like Kidney, I do not believe that there is a growing disconnect between the public and the national team.
I implore those idiots who wear provincial colours to Ireland games — please desist. If the four proud provinces are to stand shoulder to shoulder, then let it be through the wearing of the green’.

Really Tony, so we should all just whip out to the IRFU shop or buy an Ireland shirt online on top of trying to stump up the 90 odd euros to watch a national team underperform and see players who appear to be every bit as disconnected from the coach as supporters are from them in green shirts

‘All I ever want is the best players in the best form pulling on that Ireland shirt –‘

Unfortunately perception is nine tenths of the law and provincial perception of Kidney’s selections are of someone undeniably loyal beyond contempt to players out of form and being selected on their undoubted redoubtable past reputation.

‘…and for anyone to suggest that the man now charged with that responsibility, whose job is on the line, would want it any differently is beyond comprehension’.

Isn’t that the problem, with the job on the line he reverts to his tried and trusted old faithful in the hope that they produce the proverbial rabbit from the hat performance and win a match for him.

Civil Rugby?

Had a half hour to while away on Saturday whilst waiting for my daughter to finish work. Being near the Civil Service Rugby Club and close to 2.30p.m. I decided to drop in and sample the rugby fayre.

A paltry 6 or 7 spectators lined the touchline as Civil Service first xv took on Cavan in the AIL qualifying 3. A kindly gentleman explained the structure of the league as I ran a gimlet eye over the teams.

Difficult to know if this level of rugby is watchable or not. The gentleman told me the difference in standard between this level and AIL Qualifying 1 was quite striking. As I left the fellow called out, “feel free to come back anytime!”

All due respect to the fellas on the pitch, I’m not sure I could endure 80 minutes of it on a Saturday afternoon.

Nice to see Malone old boy, Stuart Porter prowling the touchline as coach!!

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