You could make this up, well perhaps not but if you had to find a suitable paradox for mollycoddling people and being bitten for it, then look no further than the Ireland team.

With more rests than an overweight man climbing Slemish, the Irish team are surely the most cosseted rugby players in the Northern or any rugby hemisphere for that matter. Notwithstanding, they still managed to cop so many injuries they looked as though they’d ‘fought’ the 100 years war without firing a shot in anger.

I once sat on a couch and suffered eye strain from watching too much television. I won’t be trying that in a hurry again. Just sitting there can induce all manner of injuries because the body goes into a semi physical meltdown.

Take Jonathon Sexton for example, he is extremely unlikely to play in Leinster’s Amlin cup quarterfinal as a result of an injury he suffered during the 6 Nations. Much to his disgust, Sexton sat out the Ulster/Leinster game at Ravenhill at the behest of the Irish management .

Fat lot of good it did, pardon the pun.

Injuries are part of professional sport, especially contact ones but you would have thought, without recourse to scientific discourse and on a purely practical level that resting a few more times than your opponents would gain you an advantage in terms of physical condition and by extension resilience to injury.

Not so it seems as Ireland shipped more injuries during the 6 Nations than all the other 6N teams put together.

Something rotten at the heart of Denmark?

Not actually sure what event that term refers to but the intent is all too clear. Something is going wrong to such an extent that Ireland’s casualty list represented a MASH clearing station and it’s length ensured Ireland lost the war and almost every one of the battles.

The leader of the Irish army has lost his job as a result. This particular war is results driven, nobody died of course but strategy tactics and deployment of resources all came to the fore here and the head man was found wanting, irrespective of who was pulling his strings in the background.

People will say Declan Kidney was unlucky, with injuries playing a major part in his coaching demise. Conversely he struck lucky when Ireland won the Grand slam when the squad was almost injury free.

If luck had anything to do with it then Kidney got off to a lucky start in his international coaching career even though Ireland struggled over the GS finish line in the manner of a blind man running late for a train.

In the latter stages of his tenure with Ireland, Declan Kidney came in for as much perverse criticism as conversely the plaudits he earned when he started it. I don’t know the man but whilst he came across as a kindly figure he reminded of one out of his depth when taken out of his native Limerick.

It’s traditional to feel sorry for people once the smoke and shrapnel of the dying days of their professional career subsides. I don’t honestly feel much sympathy. He has lost his job, one in which he gave 100% commitment to and on a personal level someone losing their job is always a tragedy, no matter the circumstances.

Personal level aside though I’m not sorry to see the back of Kidney’s Ireland.

It rankled too much of patterns, programmes, provincialism and permutations which may be perception on my part but in all honesty when I’m not privy to anything that goes on behind the scenes then it’s the only game in town.

My instinct, which I trust nearly as much as the BBC’s weather forecast led me to a growing disconnect with team Ireland because that is the nature of perception. It is based on a recipe of hearsay, false or real and on the opinion of others.

Ultimately you have to make your mind up, what is truth, as you know it.

The powerbrokers in D4 ultimately made their mind up about Kidney, irrespective of what role they played in his coaching career trajectory because the people that support team Ireland became disconnected in a commercial sense, in what is now a results driven sport.

Meanwhile a prospective coach for the Ireland position and a media favourite Joe Schmidt may just have talked himself out of the job in the aftermath of his team’s defeat to Ulster on Saturday night.

Laced in amongst the usual coach’s platitudes of how well the opposition played was a rant about the referee. Unmindful in the heat of the moment that the referee appeared to have kept his team in the game more than they should have been, Schmidt was overtly critical of the Mr. Clancey.

Perhaps he should have been coach of Ulster for awhile when refereeing decisions, especially in games involving Welsh teams and one or two involving Mr. Clancey were blatantly loaded against them.

Ulster coaches kept their counsel throughout these periods, never openly criticising a referee and his assistants, even though they might well have been justified in doing so. Schmidt’s uncharacteristic blurting out of referee critique may well have lowered his standing in the eyes of prospective employers.

Defeat to a close provincial rival may also have hurt badly and in that sense there was plenty of meat in the game to satisfy a grinder on a murder spree.

Chief grist to the mill amongst many aspects was the behaviour of Leo Cullen. Is there a more hateful sight in world rugby than the beetroot faced beanpole haranguing a referee?

Possibly the only rival is that other second row behemoth, Al Kellock of Glasgow, another in the hectoring mould of captains who make you feel sorry for referees having to put up with gurney features in their face for 80 minutes.

Talking of gurney features, master of the splashdown and apparent good time boy, Chris Ashton will feature on Saturday for Saracens against the men and supporters of Ulster.

He’s not recorded many splashdowns recently, (let’s hope that trend continues on Saturday) and in tandem with that, has been criticised for his tackly efforts. Saracens apparently now hunt in wolf packs, in a rugby sense, although bringing wolves into the changing rooms recently to emphasise the wolf qualities they should aspire to was possibly a bit off the wall.

Anyway, in tandem with a wolf mentality, Sarries have established a wolf rating table which all their rugby players, from wimps to warriors are clamouring to be part of. The table rates how big a tackle you made and its impact and so on. Chris ‘splashdown’ Ashton has made a rating on the tackly table after last Saturday’s match against Wasps.

As they wander around the Fermanagh resort, putt, putting and spa grazing the Ulster team will no doubt have been quaking in their collective boots at the sounds of howling emanating from across the Irish Sea.

On the other hand they may recall, one of the greatest wolf packs ever seen in a time of warfare, the German U-boats, were ultimately defeated.



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  1. you mean you know it now 🙂 i look forward to reading the partial review of Saturday, least i will know who reffed the game

  2. Wont comment on your personal views even if i agree or not. But must point out your poorly researched inaccuracy, Kidney is a native of Ballincollig, Cork and NOT Limerick .

  3. Broadly agree with your perception of Declan Kidney and the 4 P’s (patterns, programming, provincialism and permutations)
    By the way he’s a native of Cork.
    Don’t worry too much on his demise, he’s due to be offered his old teaching job back in PBC and there’s talk of Director of Sport at UCC.

  4. Raging Raven on

    BP – you are completely correct in your views regarding George, seldom has one team been penalised so much and the other so few for identical offences. The touch judge who awarded the yellow card should immediately be removed from the Pro12 panel and be returned to Turnipstan where in the land of the one eyed man he can be king. 😈

  5. Totally with you on player management – the best way to prepare for 80 minutes of rugby is to regularly play 80 minutes of rugby. Injuries are a reality of the sport and the proper way to “manage” players is to have replacements ready to come in to do the job when they happen.

    Still think you’re wrong about Clancy though. Not because I disagree he made bad decisions, but that they were stacked against Ulster as you suggest. If his bias was so overwhelmingly against you he would have binned someone long before the 82nd minute.

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