What the Papers Say 2013/2014

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What the Papers Say 2013/2014

Postby Mac » Sun May 26, 2013 10:00 pm

AND...............the journey continues starting here. Fermain is going to archive last year’s thread somewhere so that it can be used for reference when needed. The year ahead will undoubtedly again throw its usual high dose of emotions in the direction of the loyal Ulster fan, leading us into the unknown where much will be revealed and questions answered.
Will..........
- Big Stevie pull on an Ulster shirt again next year or instead be buying a copy of the greatest hits of the “Vapors”.
- Rory “the Roaring Lion” make Warren taste a bit of humble pie.
- Mrs. BBJ visit the Northern Hemi Province on her hols.
- Luke’s crash helmet fit.
- We get a “home” Pro12 final next year.
- EventSec get a sense of humour.
- The Ginger Prince ascend to the throne.
- Slim Nick be the “Biggest Loser” again next year and make us eat a little of Warrens pie.
- Where is DrH going on his Hols this Winter.
- Matches be played at “Ravenhill” after next year.
The journey continues..............Enjoy!

Mac.
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Re: What the Papers Say 2013/2014

Postby rocky » Sun May 26, 2013 10:23 pm

A big, big thank you from us all, Mac.

>clapping >clapping >clapping :salut: :salut: :salut: :bowdown: :bowdown: :bowdown:
It didn't take too long for me to reconcile my republican heritage with the diverse political and religious backgrounds of my teammates. There was no border in the Irish dressing room.
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Re: What the Papers Say 2013/2014

Postby shamalicious » Sun May 26, 2013 10:29 pm

:salut:
Stand up for the Ulstermen

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Re: What the Papers Say 2013/2014

Postby Amiga500 » Sun May 26, 2013 10:34 pm

rocky wrote:A big, big thank you from us all, Mac.

>clapping >clapping >clapping :salut: :salut: :salut: :bowdown: :bowdown: :bowdown:



+1 to that. :thumleft:
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Re: What the Papers Say 2013/2014

Postby Wee Woman » Sun May 26, 2013 10:35 pm

A real labour of love for you Mac & I've enjoyed reading the thread every day :salut:

Keep up the great work!
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Re: What the Papers Say 2013/2014

Postby bootlaced » Sun May 26, 2013 10:38 pm

Many thanks Mac, >appl >appl >clapping >clapping >you_rock
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Re: What the Papers Say 2013/2014

Postby Windeos » Sun May 26, 2013 11:24 pm

Thanks for keeping all the info together Mac, brilliant job so thanks!!
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Re: What the Papers Say 2013/2014

Postby Mac » Mon May 27, 2013 9:20 am

Right back to business............... :red:

Monday 27th May 2013

Times

Anscombe criticises appointment of inexperienced John Lacey as referee ..................
Ulster coach rues concession of 10 points in first seven minutes

Mark Anscombe is asked to sum up his first season as Ulster coach. “Enjoyable. Long. Enjoyable. Cold. Wet.” He went on to give Leinster due respect, criticised the decision to appoint John Lacey as referee, praised poor old Robbie Diack and Paddy Jackson before deeming his team equal to the champions.

The only problem was the concession of those 10 points in the opening seven minutes.

After 55 seconds, Diack wrapped himself around Jonathan Sexton while Johann Muller also went to ground. Lacey, a former Munster player, blew for not releasing. Sexton sent a perfect kick down the touchline. The lineout maul was defended but Tom Court was penalised for “side entry”. Sexton kicked to touch again. Cullen took Richardt Strauss’s throw and Jennings was shunted over.

“Discipline, little things. A couple of lazy penalties by us and without playing any rugby they find themselves five minutes from our try-line. They took the try well but two minutes into the game and we are seven points down.”

Jackson didn’t quite banish the ghosts of Twickenham or Murrayfield but he did rip open Leinster’s defence, forcing Lacey to sin-bin Isa Nacewa for a high tackle. “He’s had a hard year, he’s had a tough year, particularly since Christmas. He was thrown into something [Ireland team v Scotland], not by choice, but you are not going to say no to it. We’ve got a lot of faith in Paddy.”

Diack had a terrible day. On 17 minutes he butchered a try before being sin-binned early in the second half. “We got a man in there who has had a great season for us who is hurting like hell. It didn’t cost us the game but he probably feels as though it has. It didn’t.”

Another key moment at 10-0 had Anscombe quietly fuming. John Afoa squeezed two penalties out of Cian Healy, but the third scrum led to a turnover when Isaac Boss grabbed Nick Williams without the ball. Lacey waved play on. “My understanding is when the ball is in the scrum the halfback is not allowed to touch anyone in the scrum. I think Isaac Boss had a pretty good free groping on Nick Williams today.

“I’m not bitching about John Lacey. He’s a promising referee. I just think the showcase of a tournament surely the most experienced referee available should do the job.”

http://www.irishtimes.com/sport/rugby/a ... -1.1406906

Newsletter

Best unable to conceal his disappointment as Leinster have the final say.......................

Ulster hooker Rory Best found it hard to conceal his disappointment as Ulster lost the Pro12 final to Leinster.

“We’re devastated as we came here and we thought we could win,” stated
Best.

“As always with our squad, I think it is 10 out of 10 for
effort.

“We really competed for long periods of the game but ultimately it came down to the break down and they were a lot more wise that what we were.

“With a kicker like Jonny Sexton if you gave him chances he will take them.”

“I think they probably infringed as much as we did but they were probably a bit more street wise about it and that is where you have got to be.

“That’s why when you look at them they have improved at the breakdown by slowing ball down and getting away with it.”

“We were probably a little naïve at times and we hung round the tackler a bit longer than they did and it was disappointing we sort of got played that
way.”

Best believed Ulster’s poor start in the game left them with a mountain to climb.

“The penalty cost us field position and they scored a great try,” he said.

“I think we conceded far too many penalties at the breakdown and the penalty count is what ultimately cost us.

“It probably shows how good a team we are and how much character we had to get back in the game and to give us a chance at the
end.”

“They were clinical, in the first half they got into out half four times and they got four different scores from it, we had three or four chances and got two scores
from it.”

Best dismissed suggestions that Ulster should have a penalty try in the first half following a series on five metre scrums.

“A front row when you’re going forward you always think it should be a penalty try.

“I think it is only fair the referee resets it and on the third scrum we had them under pressure and we probably let the referee have an easy out and that is disappointing from our side of things.”

“When you get two penalties on the third one is where you really have to concentrate and we let them off and that probably summed the game up
for us.

“We were not as ruthless and as clinical as we should have been.”

Best felt the defeat in the Pro12 final would be harder to take than last year’s reversal in the Heineken Cup final against Leinster at Twickenham.

“It’s probably worse than last year because we were beaten out the gate at Twickenham and we were stuffed and they were the better team.

“For long periods we showed we were more than capable of matching and bettering them, street wise and a little bit of nous cost us.

“You have to look around and think we’ll have our entire squad back next year.”

“We have to put pressure on ourselves to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

“Saracens done us at the breakdown and Leinster have done it and the breakdown is a massive part of the game.

“Our set piece is always going to be decent at best and it was rock solid on Saturday and that’s were we wan
 to be.

“We’re always going to put phases together, we have a lot of attacking threats out wide but we just have to be better at the
breakdown.”

http://www.newsletter.co.uk/sport/rugby ... -1-5134097

Every Ulster player gave their all: Tom Court.........................

International prop, Tom Court, said there was major disappointment in losing the PRO12 final because everyone involved had given it their all.

“The boys can certainly hold their heads high even in defeat,” said Court.

“They went out there and gave their and it just so disappointing to have still come up short against a great team like Leinster.”

Court admitted it was their poor discipline which had cost them early on.

“We conceded penalties and then they got a soft try. It left us playing catch up for the rest of the game.

“We did get stuck in better in the second half and gained a bit of ground.

“It did seem that perhaps things were starting to turn in our favour.

“But then a lapse in concentration and they scored another try. It was just too hard to chase after that.”

Court went on: “Leinster are a good team. When they get in front they are hard to beat.

“You need to get on top of them and keep the lead on them.

“If they are starting to chase you then you have a better chance,” added Court referring to the way Ulster had held out for a win at the RDS in the regular league season at the end of March winning 22-18.

Court said the squad had kicked on this season in spite of losing in the final having finished top of the league.

“We definitely consolidated this season and kicked on well. It is not just a case of getting over the line.

“We did enough during the season to prove we deserved to finish as the top team on the table.

“I think with Leinster’s experience in finals they had that little edge on us on this occasion.”

Court goes on tour to North America this summer, but he is already excited about next season with Ulster.

“The nucleus of the 23 players who were named today will be here next season. We are still in a good place,” he added.

http://www.newsletter.co.uk/sport/rugby ... -1-5134090

Indo

Best's place in the Ireland squad for the tour to North America will be taken by Leinster's Sean Cronin, with Peter O'Mahony captaining the side and Chris Henry filling in as vice-captain.

http://www.independent.ie/sport/rugby/b ... 98505.html

EircomSports

Gatland: Best can make big impact................... :roll:

Warren Gatland has backed Rory Best to make a big impact on the British and Irish Lions tour after the Ulster hooker received a late-call up.

Best was drafted into the squad after Northampton captain Dylan Hartley received an 11-week ban for verbally abusing referee Wayne Barnes in the Aviva Premiership final.

The Lions will not officially decide on Hartley's participation on the tour until the result of any potential appeal is known - but he was absent from last night's official farewell dinner at the Royal Courts of Justice.

Best, who had been due to captain Ireland on their summer tour, will link up with the Lions today as one of three hookers, along with Tom Youngs and Richard Hibbard, heading out to Hong Kong.

Head coach Gatland said: "When we picked the squad it was very, very tough. The decision on the hookers was by far the longest debate we had.

"Rory was very, very unlucky to miss out. One man's disappointment is another man's fortune and I am sure he will come in and do a great job.

"In previous tours, when players have had that chance they have come in and made the most of it. He has the chance to do that."

Hartley was sent off just before half-time in Leicester's 37-17 victory and banned after being found guilty of calling referee Barnes a "f****** cheat".

Alan Quinlan, who suffered depression after a ban for eye-gouging cost him a chance to go on the 2009 Lions tour, tweeted: "I do feel sorry for Dylan Hartley. It's a tough time for him now. Go easy on him."

For Best, the news was the perfect tonic after Ulster's RaboDirect PRO12 final defeat by Leinster and he is now determined to live up to the challenge Gatland has set him.

"It was hard when I didn't make the initial squad because it is everyone's ambition. To now be selected is a massive honour," he told ulsterrugby.com.

"To finally be selected makes playing professional rugby worthwhile. All the lows that you get and the knocks and bumps, it more than makes up for them and for a few weeks ago when I thought that the chance had gone.

"There will be 37 players getting on a plane to Hong Kong aiming to make the Test squad and I am no different. I am as ambitious as everyone else.

"To be on the tour is unbelievable but you have to go there and play your best rugby, put your hand up and see where that takes you."

http://eircomsports.eircom.net/News/new ... mpact.aspx

TheScore

Rory Best targets starting spot against Australia after Lions call-up.................
The call-up to Warren Gatland’s squad was just the tonic for Best after Ulster’s Pro12 Final defeat to Leinster.

THE FOLLOWING IS an interview carried out between Ulster Rugby and Rory Best when he learned of his inclusion in the 2013 Lions squad:

UR: After the disappointment of a few weeks ago, how good is it now, to be called up to the squad?

RB: It was hard when I didn’t make the initial squad, because it is everyone’s ambition, it is everyone’s ultimate goal to qualify to play for them. To now be selected is a massive honour.

Has it sunk in that you will be leaving with the squad on Monday?

It hasn’t fully sunk in yet, it is hard to describe because it is the ultimate for a rugby player. To finally be selected makes playing professional rugby worthwhile. All the lows that you get and the knocks and bumps, it more than makes up for them and for a few weeks ago when I thought that the chance had gone.

Being called into the Lions squad must have been a great high after the lows of losing the Pro12 Final?

Yesterday was bitterly disappointing from a team point of view. Today from a personal view it has lifted me out of a bit of despair after the game and it was great to get the news.

You have had huge support over the past few weeks. How encouraging has that support been?

When you don’t make squads, you doubt your ability and the way that you are playing. I was fairly happy with the way that I was playing, but the support that I have had over the past number of weeks, not just from friends and family but also from the Ulster Rugby players and Management and from the fans and general public has meant a lot to me.


Now, to finally be there, it’s hard to put into words, it makes it all worthwhile. The past few weeks, with the receptions at Ravenhill, everywhere I go, everyone wants to wish me well. Now, to finally be there, it is great.”

Now that you are in the squad, is the next goal is to make the Test Team?

Yes definitely there will be 37 players getting on a plane to Hong Kong tomorrow aiming to make the test squad and I am no different. I am as ambitious as everyone else. To be on the tour is unbelievable, but you have to go there and play your best rugby, put your hand up and see where that takes you.

http://www.thescore.ie/lions-2013-rory- ... 3-May2013/
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Spare a thought for Dylan.............Peace Man... Image
Image

Guardian

Two rash words, one shattered dream. For as long as Dylan Hartley continues to play the game he will regret the careless talk that cost Northampton any chance of winning their first Premiership title and has booked him a one-way ticket to nowheresville rather than a flight to Hong Kong with the Lions. Into his ultimate golden summer, to steal from his namesake Bob Dylan, a hard rain is now going to fall.

Leicester, having won their fourth grand final in nine years, will shed few tears over his 11-week ban and neither will the global refereeing community. If rugby union is to remain a sport which respects its match officials, it is difficult to lament that a potentially epic contest was marred by the red card brandished at the Northampton captain in those final hot-headed seconds before half-time. Hartley has ended up in a jam of his own making, regardless of who he was calling a "feck cheat".

It is a serious pain for the Lions management, if not his grateful replacement, Rory Best, which also raises issues for the sport as a whole. Everyone knows swearing at a referee is unacceptable but consistency remains maddeningly elusive.

While whingeing and unattractive appealing to officials has been steadily on the increase, only the Stade Français captain Sergio Parisse, in a Top 14 game, has received a high-profile recent ban, reduced to 20 days on appeal. Not long ago backchat or foul language, in the first instance, used to be routinely punishable by marching the offender 10 metres back upfield. A second offence might yield a stern team warning; further audible disrespect would risk a fully-merited red. As the latter-day Dylan now appreciates times are a-changing, although not every referee would have embraced the nuclear option as fast as Wayne Barnes.

Then again, Barnes had issued an unequivocal warning barely two minutes earlier. Leicester's director of rugby Richard Cockerill had it spot on when he revealed he had reminded his players to be extra well-behaved, stressing Barnes is a referee who "likes to be treated with respect". In Wayne's world, particularly in big games, there are rather fewer than 50 shades of grey. Hartley, in his frustration at how the scrum was being overseen, was also guilty of the very ill-discipline he claimed last week was a thing of the past.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2013/ma ... tley-lions

Hartley's England future on the line after his latest episode of indiscipline..............History
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/rugbyu ... z2UTgNkRK2

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/rugbyu ... abuse.html
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Re: What the Papers Say 2013/2014

Postby Mac » Mon May 27, 2013 12:15 pm

Monday 27th May............Cont'd

Newsletter

Ulster skipper Johann Muller says thanks you to the fans.......................

The Ulster fans travelled in their thousands to Dublin - 9000 of them taking up their half of the RDS and simply made it #ourDS.

All week the fans had between tweeting #ourDS, reflecting the fact Ulster were the home team in the RaboDirect PRO12 final even though they were playing in Leinster’s back yard.

The occasion was one to remember - and even the Leinster fans (there were 9000 of them too) managed to bring their game to the stadium, normally criticised for their ‘low level’ of support.

Ulster and Leinster went on to serve up a cracking, fast game which went right to the wire with a point short of a converting try separating the sides.

There was obviously huge disappointment for the Ulster fans as they once again saw their team beaten by the men in blue of Leinster.

But they sang their hearts out all afternoon, also venting their frustration at referee, John Lacey on occasions.

Ulster skipper, Johann Muller paid tribute to the fans who had turned out, not just those at the RDS on Saturday, but those who attended all their matches at home and on the road all season.

“They definitely came here today and gave of their best,” said Muller.

“The boys knew that with the amount of tickets we had for the final that we get the good support we needed.

“Leaving the hotel earlier today and going through the streets of Dublin to the RDS was a special feeling for all of us as players.

“You have got give a lot of credit to the Ulster supporters, not just today, they have been outstanding all season.

“From the players and the management point of view we bascially want to say thank you for the support.”

http://www.newsletter.co.uk/sport/rugby ... -1-5134088

Tele

Gatland: Best can make an impact.........................

Warren Gatland has backed Rory Best to make a big impact on the British and Irish Lions tour after the Ulster hooker received a late-call up.

Best was drafted into the squad after Northampton captain Dylan Hartley received an 11-week ban for verbally abusing referee Wayne Barnes in the Aviva Premiership final.

The Lions will not officially decide on Hartley's participation on the tour until the result of any potential appeal is known - but he was absent from Sunday's official farewell dinner at the Royal Courts of Justice.

Best, who had been due to captain Ireland on their summer tour, will now link up with the Lions as one of three hookers, along with Tom Youngs and Richard Hibbard, heading out to Hong Kong.

Head coach Gatland said: "When we picked the squad it was very, very tough. The decision on the hookers was by far the longest debate we had.

"Rory was very, very unlucky to miss out. One man's disappointment is another man's fortune and I am sure he will come in and do a great job. In previous tours, when players have had that chance they have come in and made the most of it. He has the chance to do that."

Hartley was sent off just before half-time in Leicester's 37-17 victory and banned after being found guilty of calling referee Barnes a "f****** cheat".

Alan Quinlan, who suffered depression after a ban for eye-gouging cost him a chance to go on the 2009 Lions tour, tweeted: "I do feel sorry for Dylan Hartley. It's a tough time for him now. Go easy on him."

For Best, the news was the perfect tonic after Ulster's RaboDirect PRO12 final defeat by Leinster and he is now determined to live up to the challenge Gatland has set him.

"It was hard when I didn't make the initial squad because it is everyone's ambition. To now be selected is a massive honour," he told ulsterrugby.com. "To finally be selected makes playing professional rugby worthwhile. All the lows that you get and the knocks and bumps, it more than makes up for them and for a few weeks ago when I thought that the chance had gone."

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/sport ... 99014.html

Indo

Job done – but new Blues boss must sort out pack..............George.

Leinster's second trophy in a week was won with a workmanlike display rather than the exciting running rugby that is the trademark of Joe Schmidt's side. For the second week in a row, Leinster lost the territorial battle, but once again the opponents could not convert possession into points.

They were crucially aided by the refereeing of John Lacey of Munster. The young referee, in his first big game, was clearly nervous and handed out a large number of penalties which went very much Leinster's way in the early part of the game. Ulster looked bemused at many of the decisions and there was a sense that Lacey would decide this game.

He should have yellow-carded Chris Henry for kicking the ball away at a ruck and Isa Nacewa was also lucky to escape for a high tackle when an Ulster try was a real possibility. Lacey is a promising referee and will recover from this, but he would have been the topic of conversation in the cars heading north afterwards.

The Leinster three-quarters ran pretty patterns, but never really threatened to score a try and were fairly comfortably shepherded by Ulster. The two tries came from back-row forwards Shane Jennings and Jamie Heaslip, which were set up by massive touch-finds close to the line by Jonny Sexton.

While Sexton's line kicking was impeccable, his judgment was at times faulty, particularly with his restarts in the second half. He constantly kicked long, allowing the Ulster catcher plenty of time to gain 40 yards downfield aided by the elements.

Schmidt suggested that his team had spent all week practising defence rather than attack. Given Ulster's fallibility with the ball in hand, the defensive structures were hardly tested. Ulster made it easy for their opponents with a succession of poor tactical decisions. Ruan Pienaar did most of the kicking when the game required control from fly-half. This season Paddy Jackson has never shown that he can kick to pin teams deep in their own half.
At half-time, Ulster were really in with a shout as they were to be the beneficiaries of a strong breeze in the second half. Sadly, they never committed to one strategy, as kicking for position and running wide were constantly intermixed. Their best period was in the third quarter when they committed almost entirely to a kicking game from Pienaar.

After a disastrous first 15 minutes, Ulster forced their way into a strong position five metres from the Leinster line and opted for consecutive scrums in an attempt to win a penalty try.

At the third time of asking Mike Ross (below) drove Tom Court into a difficult position, but Ulster succeeded in getting the ball to the feet of No 8 Nick Williams. Leinster won the turnover and cleared to touch, although it seemed certain the ball was still in the scrum and the referee should have awarded a penalty to Ulster. It may have been the turning point.

Substitutions in rugby union are invariably made in the closing minutes and only a fraction of the personnel changes made during a game have a meaningful effect on the result.

It is impossible to control a kicking game from scrum-half and Pienaar should have been moved to No 10 at half-time to use the breeze and Paul Marshall would have posed a threat at scrum-half. Mark Anscombe was guilty of falling between two tactical stools.

Meanwhile, Schmidt took a needless risk late on in substituting both props. At that point, Ulster needed a converted try to win and had they won a scrum close to the line, John Afoa, Rory Best, and Court, would have minced Jack McGrath and Jamie Hagan and perhaps won the penalty try denied them in the first half.

ELECTRIC

The atmosphere was electric and the rival fans were in full voice, but the contest deserved a bigger stage and while one understands the reasons, it was wrong that the best team in the qualifying were forced to concede home advantage.

The Aviva was denied because, at the time the decision was made, there was still the possibility of a lack-lustre pairing in the final.

Meanwhile Casement Park in Belfast lay idle. An imaginative decision could have led to an economic boon to the city, a triumph for community relations and, perhaps, an Ulster win.

It would have been worth the entrance money to watch Ulster's rugby faithful troop through Andersonstown to a ground named after a gun-runner from 1916.

Next year will see a new coach at the RDS. His first task will be to mould a pack that can compete with the best. Leinster cannot continue to defy the odds with a minority of territory and possession.

http://www.independent.ie/sport/rugby/j ... 98513.html
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Re: What the Papers Say 2013/2014

Postby Mac » Mon May 27, 2013 8:57 pm

Monday 27th May.................cont'd

Tele

'The Lions are something you dream of'..........................
Best reflected today after being called into the British and Irish Lions squad for the tour of Hong Kong and Australia

Ulster Rugby's Rory Best reflected on the fluctuating fortunes of professional sport as he prepared to join the British and Irish Lions' flight to Hong Kong tonight.

On April 30 Best was devastated to have been omitted from the 37-man squad selected for the tour to Australia, experiencing the darkest moment of his career.

The 30-year-old, a respected figure among his Ireland and Ulster team-mates, was considered unfortunate to have lost out to England's Dylan Hartley for a place among the three hookers.

But just as Best was coming to terms with another hammer blow in Saturday's RaboDirect PRO12 final defeat by Leinster, news filtered through that Hartley had been sent off for abusing referee Wayne Barnes in the Aviva Premiership's equivalent earlier that afternoon.

An 11-week suspension was issued to Hartley yesterday and Best was immediately summoned by the Lions.

"When the initial squad was announced that was as low as I've felt. We were training at Ulster at the time and more and more people on our management were avoiding eye contact with me," he said.

"Nobody avoids you when it's good news, so I had an idea from that. It was bitterly disappointing and on that Tuesday afternoon I allowed myself to dwell on it and think deeply about the whole thing.

"The Lions are something you dream of, an absolute honour to be here. I had to pull over on to the hard shoulder to make sure I didn't veer off the road at that stage," he said.

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/sport ... 99923.html

PlanetR

Best feels for Hartley....................

Ulster and Ireland hooker Rory Best has expressed his sympathy for Dylan Hartley after his call-up to the British and Irish Lions squad.

Hartley was handed an 11-week suspension after being sent off in the Aviva Premiership Final for verbally abusing referee Wayne Barnes.

Best, who was seen by many as a surprise omission from the original 37-man Lions squad, received the call after Hartley's suspension was confirmed and will now compete with Richard Hibbard and Tom Youngs for a Test spot.

The Ireland number two revealed that whilst his original omission was a new low, getting the call was "great news."

"When the initial squad was announced that was as low as I've felt. We were training at Ulster at the time and more and more people on our management were avoiding eye contact with me," said Best.

"Nobody avoids you when it's good news, so I had an idea from that. It was bitterly disappointing and on that Tuesday afternoon I allowed myself to dwell on it and think deeply about the whole thing. But we had a few very important games coming up so it's a case of picking yourself up and dusting yourself down.

"It was obviously disappointing to lose the RaboDirect PRO12 final to Leinster on Saturday but yesterday I got the call to come along and join the boys.

"You don't like to dwell on other people's misfortune, but I definitely feel for Dylan and it's bitterly disappointing for him to miss out. That's sport.

"The Lions are something you dream of, an absolute honour to be here. I had to pull over on to the hard shoulder to make sure I didn't veer off the road at that stage.

"When you don't make the initial squad you try to stay fit and always keep your phone by your side.

"When the call came through it was a number I didn't recognise. I don't normally answer those but for this I made an exception. It was great news. Everyone's here to play in the Test team and I'm no different. It will take a lot of hard work but it's something I'm looking forward to."

http://www.planetrugby.com/lions/story/ ... 82,00.html

Times

Gatland admits that Hartley made poor judgement call .....................

Lions coach said Northampton hooker had ‘gone to the edge of the cliff and jumped off’

British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland admits that Dylan Hartley had “gone to the edge of the cliff and jumped off” in response to his 11-week ban for abusing referee Wayne Barnes.

Gatland believes that Hartley will not appeal against the suspension, a decision that will rule the England hooker out of the tour to Hong Kong and Australia.

Instead, Ireland’s Rory Best will depart with the 37-man squad tonight after being the beneficiary of Hartley’s indiscipline.

Hartley called Barnes a “f****** cheat” during Northampton’s Aviva Premiership final defeat by Leicester at Twickenham on Saturday.

“Dylan’s a young man who has made an unfortunate error,” said Gatland at today’s departure press conference in Kensington.

“To play the game you have to play on the edge, but unfortunately he’s gone to the edge of the cliff and jumped off it. That’s the only analogy I can draw.

“I called him yesterday and left a message on his phone. He left a message on my phone today thanking me for the call.

“I was looking forward to working with him and really feel for him. He’s made a poor judgement. Hopefully he can put this behind him and move on.

“It’s my understanding that he won’t be appealing the decision, but that’s entirely up to him. He may decide to do that in the next day or so.”

Many felt that Best, who has been capped 67 times, should have been selected ahead of Hartley in the original squad announced last month and Gatland agrees that it was a difficult call.

“That decision had been going through my head as well,” he said.

“I have no problem admitting that post-selection I had that discussion with myself and said ‘Did I make the right call?’

“Everything that’s been written and people saying how unlucky he’s been is 100 per cent correct because I had those doubts initially myself.

“When we made the selection, the debate on hooker took by far the longest on and was he really unlucky.

“As soon as Dylan was ruled out he was the obvious choice, it was not even something we had to talk about.

“Sometimes fate can intervene and a player who was very unlucky to miss out never has a chance to step up and fight for his place.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if later on in the tour he’s in contention for a Test spot.”

http://www.irishtimes.com/sport/rugby/i ... -1.1407808
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Re: What the Papers Say 2013/2014

Postby Mac » Mon May 27, 2013 11:53 pm

Tuesday 28th May 2013

Newsletter

Fresh hopes Stephen Ferris may stay on with Ulster........................

Stephen Ferris may yet still remain on Irish soil after a decision was taken to undergo another operation on his troublesome right ankle.

The hard-hitting backrow forward was due to go under the knife on Tuesday morning for mostly exploratory surgery on the ankle which has kept him out of playing since last November.

There had been strong rumours linking Ferris with a move away from Ireland after his current contract finishes at the end of June.

The News Letter understands that any potential move as it was rumoured to Japan is unlikely to happen.

However, a move from Ulster can still not be ruled out at this stage.

It is understood negotiations are continuing with the Irish Rugby Football Union and if this latest operation is a success - although he could be in rehab between three to six months - there are fresh hopes a deal can be struck with Ireland, which could keep Ferris at Ravenhill for at least another two seasons.

That would be a huge boost for Ulster and Ferris who has been left frustrated this season by having to sit and watch from the sidelines as Ulster made the Heineken Cup quarter-finals and lost in the RaboDirect PRO12 final.

http://www.newsletter.co.uk/sport/rugby ... -1-5135722

Rory Best celebrates late call to join British Lions tour.........................

Rory Best reflected on the fluctuating fortunes of professional sport as he prepared to join the British and Irish Lions’ flight to Hong Kong on Monday.

On April 30 Best was devastated to have been omitted from the 37-man squad selected for the tour to Australia, experiencing the darkest moment of his career.

The 30-year-old, a respected figure among his Ireland and Ulster team-mates, was considered unfortunate to have lost out to England’s Dylan Hartley for a place among the three hookers.

But just as Best was coming to terms with another hammer blow in Saturday’s RaboDirect PRO12 final defeat by Leinster, news filtered through that Hartley had been sent off for abusing referee Wayne Barnes in the Aviva Premiership’s equivalent earlier that afternoon.

An 11-week suspension was issued to Hartley on Sunday and Best was immediately summoned by the Lions.

“When the initial squad was announced that was as low as I’ve felt.

“We were training at Ulster at the time and more and more people on our management were avoiding eye contact with me,” he said.

“Nobody avoids you when it’s good news, so I had an idea from that. It was bitterly disappointing and on that Tuesday afternoon I allowed myself to dwell on it and think deeply about the whole thing.

“But we had a few very important games coming up so it’s a case of picking yourself up and dusting yourself down.

“It was obviously disappointing to lose the RaboDirect PRO12 final to Leinster on Saturday but yesterday I got the call to come along and join the boys.

“You don’t like to dwell on other people’s misfortune, but I definitely feel for Dylan and it’s bitterly disappointing for him to miss out. That’s sport.”

Best, who has been capped 67 times, had been appointed captain of Ireland’s tour to North America and was due to meet up with the squad at their Carton House training camp this morning.

But now that he is ready to embark on his debut Lions tour, only the Test number two jersey will do.

“The Lions are something you dream of, an absolute honour to be here. I had to pull over on to the hard shoulder to make sure I didn’t veer off the road at that stage,” he said.

“When you don’t make the initial squad you try to stay fit and always keep your phone by your side.

“When the call came through it was a number I didn’t recognise. I don’t normally answer those but for this I made an exception. It was great news.

“Everyone’s here to play in the Test team and I’m no different. It will take a lot of hard work but it’s something I’m looking forward to.”

Best enjoyed a strong start to the RBS Six Nations but his form fell away later in the Championship with his line-out throwing the area of gravest concern.

The abrasiveness of Hartley ultimately decided it in the England front row’s favour.

Lions head coach Warren Gatland admits that omitting Best from the original 37 was a decision that subsequently occupied his mind.

“I have no problem admitting that post-selection I had that discussion with myself and said ‘did I make the right call?’” Gatland said.

“Everything that’s been written and people saying how unlucky he’s been is 100 per cent correct because I had those doubts initially myself.

“When we made the selection, the debate on hooker took by far the longest on and was he really unlucky.”

England hooker Dylan Hartley has yet to be officially ruled out of the 10-fixture itinerary due to his right of appeal, but his participation is effectively over.

“Dylan’s a young man who has made an unfortunate error,” said Gatland at Monday’s departure press conference in Kensington.

“To play the game you have to play on the edge, but unfortunately he’s gone to the edge of the cliff and jumped off it. That’s the only analogy I can draw.

“I called him yesterday and left a message on his phone. He left a message on my phone today thanking me for the call.

“I was looking forward to working with him and really feel for him. He’s made a poor judgement. Hopefully he can put this behind him and move on.

“It’s my understanding that he won’t be appealing the decision, but that’s entirely up to him. He may decide to do that in the next day or so.”

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Re: What the Papers Say 2013/2014

Postby Mac » Tue May 28, 2013 8:16 am

Tuesday 28th May 2013

Ulster's errors undo final hopes.......................

The horrible thing about finals is that there is no hiding place for the losers and you really felt for Ulster as, yet again, they could only collect their losers' medals and then look on and watch as Leinster celebrated lifting a trophy for the third time – Leinster A's British and Irish Cup included – in just over a week.

Johann Muller and his battered men gathered in the corner of the pitch alone with their thoughts in an area which not long before had been just a phalanx of Ulster flags and raucous noise bellowing out huge decibels of support as the 'home' side tried to make their comeback count.

And while Leinster drank in the adulation from the blue part of the ground, there was little solace to be found in the fact that 12 months on from suffering a heavy Heineken Cup final defeat, Ulster had at least significantly narrowed the margin of loss from that day out in London.

No, this one cut very deep indeed and there was no escaping some rather harsh realities foremost of which was that Ulster had been out-muscled and out-thought in a way which seemed eerily reminiscent to last month's flat Heineken Cup exit to Saracens.

Then Mark Anscombe's side had been undone by a combination of errors and an apparent lack of composure against a side possessing more of that streetwise ability to take into the game's key moments.

And it happened again on Saturday evening. We all knew Leinster were quality it didn't worry them that they went into the game without Lions squad members Sean O'Brien and Rob Kearney with the latter pulling out just prior to kick-off.

Could Ulster have managed if something similar had befallen two of their key men? It was hard to see it.

Leinster also had the big-game players all primed with the marvellous Jonathan Sexton – how they will surely miss him as well as Joe Schmidt – being ably assisted by Jamie Heaslip, Brian O'Driscoll, Shane Jennings, Cian Healy and the now retired Isa Nacewa – high hit on Paddy Jackson aside – who all delivered and who all know just what it takes to win silverware.

They played it fast and direct but also with that bit more nous about them, facets that just weren't sufficiently there for Ulster. Leinster also seemed to know just how to play Munster referee John Lacey – who punished Ulster so severely in the first half with his whistle – and oh how they got away with things.

There was Isaac Boss picking the ball out of the scrum at Nick Williams's feet and Cian Healy deciding that it was fine for him to hang on to John Afoa as Leinster inched towards Ulster's line. Then there was a very tight looking call when Sexton's penalty touch-finder was ruled to have made gone the right side of Ulster's corner flag for the attacking side.

That one led to Jamie Heaslip's second half try which again saw some rather soft-centred Ulster defending and seemed to pretty much kill off their comeback after Ruan Pienaar had kicked nine unanswered points to narrow the lead to just four.

To their credit, though, Ulster didn't pack it up and Pienaar's marvellous long range penalty gave them a scent of something to play for, only for it all to almost inevitably slip away in that final 10 or so minutes.

Trailing 24-18, it was a big call to kick for the corner from a penalty as Pienaar had kicked all six from six.

True but with four minutes on the clock, and Leinster's restarts being so superior, it was probably felt that now was the moment to go for what could still have been a win had Ulster scored a try and converted it. Instead, replacement Iain Henderson took it into contact and was tackled by O'Driscoll before being penalised for holding on. With that it really was game over.

Of course they had sown the seeds of their own destruction much earlier on. It was only three minutes in when Sexton put a kickable penalty into the corner and moments later Leinster's driving maul had easily propelled Shane Jennings over the line.

It looked like it was just a training drill for Leo Cullen and his forwards such was Ulster's supine defence at the lineout – again a reminder of the Saracens game – and minutes later Sexton had a penalty to add to his superb conversion putting 10 points between the sides.

And after a whole series of Ulster put-ins at scrums from penalties on Leinster's line led to nothing save a lesson in the art being meted out by Afoa to Healy and, of course, Boss illegally stealing the ball, you could already sense that Ulster were going to struggle.

Robbie Diack's head-wrecking failure to score when he was put over the line just added to that sinking feeling and the sense that such a lack of accuracy would never do. Indeed, it was Ulster's only clear cut scoring chance and that, alone, said it all.

Though Pienaar's opening penalties saw the scoreboard read 13-6 to Leinster the concession, by Best, of another three-pointer just before half-time meant that another 10-point cushion existed between the sides and then Diack's yellow card three minutes after the resumption made it 19-6 and, well, Leinster were never going to surrender from there.

And, of course, they didn't even though they coughed up nine points with Nacewa binned for his collaring of the sharp Paddy Jackson after the out-half's searing break.

So there you have it. Though there was no doubting the desire and the hunger, Ulster just didn't have the game to make it three wins this season over Schmidt's talented squad.

Williams couldn't get going and was taken down low and early by blue shirts and neither Jared Payne nor Tommy Bowe had much in the way of quality ball to work off.

And without sufficient presence at the breakdown, there was little hope of prospering. Even kicking some restarts to Devin Toner suggested lack of thought in the heat of battle.

It all led to an inevitable end with nowhere to hide and nothing to show for another season's effort.

Lesson absorbed, but lesson learned?

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/sport ... 98780.html

Our indiscipline hurt us at last hurdle: Muller...................

Ulster captain Johann Muller pointed to his side's indiscipline as having been the Achilles heel in their PRO12 final showdown with Leinster.

I think that's the one area where we really let ourselves down," he admitted. "I was really proud of the boys, the way they played to come back and play the way we did in that second half, but finals are all about small margins and discipline was one of those for us."

Conceding that Ulster had suffered as a result, he continued: "We gave away too many penalties, gave them easy yards."

He had no misgivings about the totality of his side's commitment.

"Obviously you've got to ask yourself the question. Last year in the (Heineken Cup) final we didn't pitch up as a team, and then there was another big one (disappointment) against Saracens in the quarter-final when we didn't play well at all.

"Today there was no lack of effort. I'm really proud of the way the boys played and of their performance but, like I've said, the small things cost us big time."

Whilst agreeing that the breakdown had been "a bit of a lottery" – Ulster struggled with referee John Lacey's interpretation for most of the contest – Muller was gracious in defeat.

"They read it better than we did and you've got to take your hats off to them for that. So we're not going to complain about that; the better side won. Hopefully we'll get an opportunity again."

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/sport ... 98781.html

Ulster Rugby hooker Rory Best almost driven to distraction by 'dream' Lions call-up................

A few hours after Dylan Hartley had veered off the rails into British and Irish Lions oblivion, Rory Best almost veered off the road in excitement.

"I'm way beyond the highest high," the Ulster hooker said after replacing his disgraced rival in the most exclusive of all rugby gatherings. "I don't like to dwell on other people's misfortunes: in sport, good news is often received at the expense of someone else. But I'm elated. It's a dream."

Like Hartley, who beat him to the third hooking slot in Warren Gatland's original selection for the forthcoming tour of Australia, the man from County Armagh lost a cup final on Saturday.

Unlike Hartley, he managed to get through the game without swearing at the referee or calling him a cheat, and as a consequence, it was he who was on the night flight to Hong Kong for the opening game against the Barbarians this weekend.

Best was not contacted by the Lions until Hartley's disciplinary hearing had ended with the imposition of an 11-week suspension – more than enough to prevent him playing a part in events in Wallaby country.

"We wanted to be fair to Dylan; we didn't want to prejudice anything in any way," said Gatland, the head coach, who also went out of his way to ensure that Hartley was properly represented in his attempt to convince the tribunal that his frank and forthright remark during the Premiership final between Northampton and Leicester had not been aimed at Wayne Barnes, one of the sport's leading officials.

When the call came, from the Lions operations director Guy Richardson, Best was licking the wounds inflicted by defeat in the Pro 12 final in Dublin. "I was driving to the Ulster training facility to pick up some bits and pieces when my phone rang," he said.

"I didn't recognise the number and when that happens, I don't usually answer. I'm glad I made an exception. I had to pull on to the hard shoulder to make sure I didn't drive off the road."

According to Gatland, the contest between the two hookers – fierce competitors who had come to blows during a Heineken Cup match before Christmas – was the closest in the entire selection process, and while the coach initially felt he needed Hartley's bristling abrasiveness and exceptional close-quarter handling skills, he does not feel the party has been weakened by this controversial turn of events.

"The decision was that hard, I was discussing it with myself even after we'd made the announcement," Gatland revealed. "I kept on asking myself if I'd made the right choice."

It was a whole lot tougher on Best. "I didn't watch the squad announcement on television," he said, "because I was training with Ulster at the time. However, I had an inkling that I'd missed out because more and more people from the management were avoiding eye contact.

"You don't avoid eye contact when you're about to give someone good news, do you? I was disappointed, but I also knew I had to dust myself down pretty quickly because I was a leader in the Ulster group and we had big games coming up."

As the "laughter in the darkness" jokes started to circulate – one member of the Lions party ventured to suggest that Hartley was the first man in British history to be prevented from going to Australia on grounds of bad behaviour – Gatland expressed genuine sympathy for a player with whom he fell out publicly a couple of years ago but has since come to admire.

"He's a young man who has made an unfortunate error," he said. "I feel for him, and I left a message for him to that effect at the weekend.

"In top-level rugby you have to play on the edge. Sadly, Dylan has gone to the edge of a cliff and jumped off it. It's hard on him, but it's a reminder to us all that while we want to play a confrontational, physical game, discipline is vital. That goes for the coaches too. The responsibility is on us not to wind the players up past the point of no return."

When Best arrived in London at lunchtime, the Lions were fully together for the first time. Mercifully, Gatland had no serious injury hassles to concern him: only the Welsh prop Gethin Jenkins, who can now consider himself a three-tour Lion, was unable to train, but the calf strain he suffered while playing for Toulon in the Heineken Cup triumph over Clermont Auvergne 10 days ago is expected to sort itself out by the end of the week.

Meanwhile, Gatland is planning for the Barbarians on the basis that they will be significantly more formidable in Hong Kong this weekend than they were at Twickenham 48 hours ago.

"You'll see a different team," he predicted. "Maybe it was the sun or perhaps they'd had a few beers during the week, but they were walking around after 20 minutes on Sunday," he said. "They'll be a bit more motivated against us."

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/sport ... 00316.html

Examiner

Best sets sights on Test spot after Lions reprieve......................

Rory Best has gone from desolation to elation in just under four weeks.

Best was the shock Irish omission from Warren Gatland’s initial British and Irish Lions squad for the tour of Australia, and he knew he hadn’t made the cut when the Ulster coaching staff pointedly refused to catch his eye during a training session that was taking place as Gatland was making his announcement.

He admits it was ‘the lowest of lows’ and the next 24 hours were a time for self-flagellation as a man who was a year ago considered a near-certainty for a starting spot in the Test side faced the prospect of not even being on the tour.

But on Saturday, Dylan Hartley decided to call referee Wayne Barnes “a feck cheat” during the Aviva Premiership final. The end result was a red card for the Englishman, an 11-week ban and a phone call to Best that was prefaced by the words, “you’d better pull over, we don’t want you driving into a ditch”.

That conversation ensured Best will be heading to Australia rather than on Ireland’s tour of North America, but now he is again a Lion he has immediately set his sights on claiming the No 2 shirt ahead of Richard Hibbard and Tom Youngs.

“When the squad was announced that was as low as I’ve felt,” admitted the 30-year-old. “We were training at the time and more and more of the Ulster management were avoiding eye contact.

“Nobody avoids you when it’s good news, so I had an idea from that. It was bitterly disappointing and on that Tuesday afternoon I allowed myself to dwell on it and think about the whole thing.

“But we had a few big games coming up so I had to pick myself up and dust myself down.

“It’s something you dream of, an absolute honour to be here. I was expecting to be at Carton House this morning to meet up with the Ireland boys when the call came through.

“I had to pull onto the hard shoulder to make sure I didn’t veer off the road at that stage.

“You don’t like to dwell on other people’s misfortune, but I definitely feel for Dylan and it’s bitterly disappointing for him to miss out. That’s sport. And everyone is here to play in the Test team. I am no different. It will take a lot of hard work but it’s something I am looking forward to.”

Gatland himself admitted he had wondered whether his original decision was the right one.

He said: “I have no problem admitting that post-selection I had that discussion with myself and said ‘did I make the right call?’

“Everything that has been written about Rory saying how unlucky he has been is 100% correct because I had those doubts myself initially.

“When we made the selection the debate on hooker took by far the longest and he was really unlucky.

“As soon as Dylan was ruled out he was the obvious choice. It was not even something we had to talk about. Sometimes fate can intervene and a player who was very unlucky to miss out has a chance to step up and fight for his place. It wouldn’t surprise me if later on in the tour he is in contention for a Test spot.”

And although Gatland had some words of comfort for Hartley — who is thought unlikely to appeal his ban — and had left a consoling message on the Englishman’s answer machine, he also summed up the reaction of most rugby fans to the incident in succinct fashion.

“To play the game you have to play on the edge,” said Gatland. “Unfortunately he’s gone to the edge of the cliff and jumped off it.”

http://www.irishexaminer.com/sport/best ... 32600.html

Times

Ireland training camp...........

There was some concern yesterday over the fitness of Ulster’s Stuart Olding, who was also picked for the tour to the US and Canada. The inside centre, who has had a meteoric rise in Ulster following injury to Luke Marshall and Paddy Wallace, was replaced by Mike Allen 64 minutes into Saturday’s final. It is thought that Olding suffered an ankle problem.

http://www.irishtimes.com/sport/rugby/s ... -1.1408225

Indo

More................

Some of the tourists were discarded by the previous regime, others ignored, and there is also the case of Sean Cronin, who Kiss and Schmidt were sending on the Emerging Ireland tour to Georgia until Rory Best got his Lions reprieve.

Now that he has been bumped up, with Ulster's former Ireland U-20 captain Niall Annett moved into the Emerging squad, Cronin has a chance to prove that his fall from second to fourth-choice hooker was premature.

Six players in particular have something to prove in North America.

1 SEAN CRONIN

The Leinster hooker can't have been impressed when he was told he was off to Georgia. That tour is about developing the next generation and here was a 27-year-old with 26 caps relegated to fourth choice.

Dylan Hartley's foul-mouthed accusations of Wayne Barnes' motivations were roundly seen as a boon for Best, but they did Cronin a major favour too. Had Hartley's suspension come when the tours were ongoing, then Damien Varley would have been boarding a flight as the squads are to be left separate if possible once the tours have begun.

It is now up to the Limerick native to use his snub to his advantage and force his way back into favour. He goes to the States behind team-mate Richardt Strauss and Munster's Mike Sherry in the pecking order, but he offers impact off the bench, as shown during his Pro12 final cameo on Saturday.

2 PETER O'MAHONY

Best's promotion left a void at captain, but the coaches had already nominated O'Mahony for the honour and now the 23-year-old will become Ireland's youngest captain since Brian O'Driscoll when he leads the team out at the BBVB Compass Stadium on June 8.

He looks set to play at No 8, but the true test of O'Mahony's tour will be how he connects with his team-mates and how his captaincy runs.

This may be a short tour, but it affords him a gilt-edged opportunity to connect with the coaches and the players and O'Mahony can cement his status in the Irish game by doing it well.

For, despite his obvious qualities and heroic displays, the reality for O'Mahony and all the back-rows is that they play in Ireland's most heavily populated area. Adding the leadership string to his bow would be a real bonus when the selection headaches hit Schmidt next season.

3 JAMIE HAGAN

The Balbriggan tighthead was in tears as he said goodbye to the RDS on Saturday and it can't have escaped the 26-year-old that it was only when he confirmed his departure that he finally established his place at his home province.

The move back from Connacht didn't seem to work out for Hagan and, when Michael Bent was parachuted in ahead of him last November, there was little surprise that his agent started making plans. However, the prop proved his worth in the closing stages of the season as Leinster won the double and will be missed.

England-based players rarely get a look-in for Ireland, but if Hagan can see off Declan Fitzpatrick to support Mike Ross and even gain a start he can at least leave knowing that his stock has sky-rocketed in the months since his departure to London Irish on a three-year deal was confirmed.

4 TOM COURT

Court was given a chance to re-establish himself in Cian Healy's absence at Murrayfield and it didn't go well. The Australian-born Ulster loosehead was under pressure from Jack McGrath for this tour until injuries to Paddy McAllister and Denis Buckley gave him another shot.

Dave Kilcoyne is the man in form and should start the Tests, meaning the 32-year-old must take every opportunity he has to prove that he played an influential part in Ulster's fine scrummaging performances and not piggy-backed on the strong work of John Afoa and Best.

With a new generation of exciting props breathing down his neck, time could be running out for a man who has won 23 of his 30 caps off the bench.

5 ANDREW TRIMBLE

Cast aside by Declan Kidney after the defeat to South Africa last November, the Ulster winger had an excellent season for his club.

His hard-running style is sure to endear him to Schmidt, who values size in a backline and one wonders would his presence have been of value when Ireland's undersized wide men were being battered in the spring.

Still, there is a queue of younger men looking to take the back-three places and, given Kiss was part of the brains trust that dropped him, the 28-year-old knows that he has a chance to re-establish himself on tour.

6 KEVIN MCLAUGHLIN

The blindside is one of Schmidt's most trusted lieutenants but appeared, along with fellow tourist Dan Tuohy, to have fallen out of favour with Kidney after last year's humiliating 60-0 defeat to New Zealand.

It was harsh on a player who fully played his part a week earlier when Ireland pushed the All Blacks to the pin of their collar and he has bounced back with a stellar season, playing a crucial role in Leinster's double glory.

He faces competition for the No 6 jersey from Iain Henderson, but Schmidt knows him well and McLaughlin can use this tour to reclaim his place.

http://www.independent.ie/sport/rugby/d ... 00610.html
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Re: What the Papers Say 2013/2014

Postby Mac » Tue May 28, 2013 12:52 pm

Tuesday 28th May........Cont'd

Tele

Lions leave Best pick to last............. :bowdown:

Rory Best is a British & Irish Lion after all. Yesterday he jetted off with the tourists en route to Australia via Hong Kong.

Omitted in 2009 and, more controversially, four weeks ago, finally his call-up papers arrived on Sunday in the aftermath of disgraced Northampton Saints and England hooker Dylan Hartley's 11-week ban after getting himself sent off for swearing at referee Wayne Barnes in Saturday's Aviva Premiership play-off defeat by Leicester Tigers.

His unavailability created a vacancy for a third hooker and this time Lions coach Warren Gatland did what most people believe he ought to have done a month ago by including Best.

Twice before the player has known heartache at the hands of the Lions. Four years ago, when Ireland colleague and Munster rival Jerry Flannery withdrew from the South Africa tour with an arm fracture suffered in training, then-head coach Ian McGeehan surprised everybody by summoning Scotland's Ross Ford rather than Best as the replacement.

As recently as April 30, he suffered an even more crushing blow when Warren Gatland omitted him, instead opting for Hartley, Leicester Tigers' Tom Youngs and Ospreys' Richard Hibbard.

The response in Ulster was one of disbelief. While cases could be made for Youngs, the Aviva Premiership Player of the Season, and Hibbard, who had an outstanding Six Nations campaign for Wales, the 2013 champions, Hartley's inclusion ahead of Best was a particularly controversial call from day one, primarily in view of his infamous indiscipline.

The New Zealander-turned-Englishman has an unsavoury past. In 2007 he was banned for six months for eye-gouging against Wasps. He was suspended twice in 2012 – eight weeks for biting Stephen Ferris in England's victory over Ireland at Twickenham in March, and for two weeks – a surprisingly lenient punishment – last December, ironically for punching Best in Northampton's 25-6 drubbing by Ulster in their pre-Christmas Heineken Cup clash at Franklin's Gardens.

In addition, he had been warned about his language. On Sunday, England coach Stuart Lancaster said: "I'm sure he's regretting it now. He's got a ban so he's got to serve that now and miss what would have been the highlight of his career."

Having been disappointed on those previous occasions by the Lions, it was wholly understandable that Best was taking nothing for granted this time. Following Saturday evening's RaboDirect PRO12 final defeat by Leinster the Ulster favourite made it very plain that he would not be answering any questions on a possible call-up.

Three attempts to coax a response to developments at Twickenham where Hartley had made history – for all the wrong reasons by becoming the first man ever to be sent off in English club rugby's end-of-season showpiece – ended in failure.

Asked if he expected to be changing his plans next week, Best – who was to have captained Ireland on their north America tour – initially straight-batted by replying: "At the minute I'm focusing on this game (Ulster v Leinster). If anything comes out tomorrow, whatever."

A second questioner was rebuffed in similar fashion when Best was asked if he had anything to say on the changed situation arising from Hartley's dismissal.

"No. I'm talking about Leinster-Ulster," was his reply.

A third attempt, beginning with the words, "If you were to be called up ... ." drew a noticeably more terse response.

"I don't want to talk about it," Best said, with a look which made it pretty clear that any further efforts to get him to bare his soul would be a complete waste of time.

While all of that was going on, the fact that the Lions were assembling in readiness for yesterday's departure meant there was no time to waste in dealing with the matter.

The Rugby Football Union acted promptly in confirming that there would be a next-day hearing by a Disciplinary Committee, chaired by Judge Jeff Blackett, to examine the case against Hartley who was shown a red card for verbally abusing referee Wayne Barnes a on the stroke of half-time in Northampton's 37-17 defeat.

A post-match statement by the RFU confirmed the reason for the red card being brandished. It read: "Hartley was sent off for alleged verbal abuse of a match official contrary to Law 10(4)(s)."

The Lions duly informed Press Association Sport that in the event of Hartley being unavailable for the second match of the Lions' tour – against Western Force on Wednesday, June 5 – he would forfeit his place.

Given those circumstances and knowing that the minimum ban for swearing at officials is a ban of six weeks, Hartley was equally quick off the mark via Northampton's Director of Rugby Jim Mallinder, who acted as his spokesman in insisting the hooker's comments had been directed at Leicester hooker Youngs, not at the referee.

Stressing that Hartley's version of events was backed up by a number of other players, Mallinder told journalists: "I asked Dylan at half-time and I've just asked him again 'What happened? What did you say?' He said he was talking to Tom Youngs.

"If you talk like that to a player I wouldn't expect anything to happen. Clearly, Wayne Barnes has believed Dylan has spoken to him. I support Dylan. He is my captain. If he says he wasn't speaking to the referee and he was speaking to a player on the floor I can only support what he says.

"We will support Dylan. He said that a number of senior players that were around the ball agreed with Dylan that he was looking down and speaking to Tom Youngs."

On Sunday, though, that defence was rejected out of hand by members of the disciplinary committee who, rather than giving Hartley the minimum suspension, instead handed him one of 11-weeks duration.

The visual evidence confirmed he had been looking at the referee, not at Youngs. Blackett – the most experienced of the RFU judges – stressed that the referee's words were that he was "absolutely positive and 100% certain" that the abuse had been directed against him,

He also added that the use of the word 'cheat' in addition to the provocative language called into question the referee's integrity, something he denounced as "contrary to the core values of rugby".

Hartley's loss is Best's deserved and overdue gain. The 2013 Lions will benefit handsomely, too.

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/sport ... 98775.html

ONE for the mix...................

Indo/Tele

Football accepts it has problems, rugby should do the same...................Lawton.

No doubt it will take a lot more than a near flawless Champions League final to make us believe that football is near to the rehabilitation of a seriously battered image. However, the world's most popular game is entitled to at least one concession.

It is the acknowledgement that from time to time it does display some kind of awareness of the extent of its own failings, something which its uppity cousin rugby union, not to mention golf, rarely displays too profoundly even in the most wretched of circumstances.

Events at Twickenham in the weekend Premiership final hardly broke the trend.

Can anyone, for example, begin to imagine the furore, the sheer stomach-clenching sense of crisis, that would have enveloped football if a referee and his assistants, having performed their duties with exemplary professionalism, decided they could not risk the gauntlet of abuse, or worse, that would have accompanied them to the after-match presentation?

Rugby had an anarchy problem at Twickenham, created most outrageously by the serial offender Dylan Hartley and augmented, whatever you thought of Courtney Lawes' escape from punishment for a marginally late and disabling tackle on Tony Flood, by the persistent harassment of officials by Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill.

But then you wouldn't have had much of clue on this from the typically airy statement of rugby union's head of discipline, Judge Jeff Blackett.

In a most interesting use of words Judge Blackett summed up the decision to ban Hartley for 11 weeks and wreck his hopes of flying off with the Lions: "We cannot get around the fact that Wayne Barnes [the highly rated referee] was certain that Mr Hartley's comments were directed at him," said the judge.

Also impossible to swerve was the fact that shortly before Hartley accused Barnes of being a "f***ing cheat" he had been directly warned about his language and the tone of his comments.

Judge Blackett added: "Calling a referee a cheat is an attack on his integrity and contrary to the core values of rugby."

The phrase hangs in the air pregnant with the implications loaded into the comment that closed the ESPN television first-half commentary seconds after Hartley had been shown the red card. "This is rugby not football," said the ESPN man, no doubt also fretting about a fresh erosion of rugby's high ground.

Was it "core values" we were hearing of again? Yes, we were, and each time we do so there must be the suspicion that in rugby union there remains in some quarters a blissful ignorance of quite how threatened some of this working morality has become.

In football the outrage over the biting by Liverpool's Luis Suarez of Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic was as fierce as it was legitimate, especially in the light of the fact that it was his second offence. Yet when you review the rap sheet owned by Hartley as he contemplated glory with the Lions in Australia you see a tide of recidivist indiscipline which, had it flowed on to the street rather than the field, might have prompted talk of a custodial sentence.

Of course, down all the years of rugby union's disdain for the mores of football the kind of violent offences committed by Hartley have been routine. Yet, naturally, this didn't prevent Ireland's stalwart hooker Keith Wood saying that the importance of the heavy sentence handed to Hartley was that it would preserve rugby from the kind of indiscipline, and aggression towards officials that so bedevils football.

This relentless assertion of moral superiority would sit better in a game that has shown some serious capacity to heal itself of the most gratuitous violence.

Hartley indeed broke an extremely important regulation at Twickenham but then there were plenty of reasons to ask why on earth he had been given the responsibility of leading the Northampton team into such a heavily charged match. They included convictions for eye-gouging two opponents in a Premiership match, biting Ireland hooker Stephen Ferris in a Six Nations game and, just five months ago, punching Rory Best, the Ulsterman who now takes his place in the Lions squad. How was it possible that a man with such defaced credentials might get to lead England, an honour which was immediately marked by a sin-binning against South Africa last summer?

Football, you have to say, is entitled to ask how a game with such a lofty belief in its own inherent values, which never misses the chance to sneer at the failings of others, could bestow the highest honours on such a relentless offender. Nor could football be accused of being too querulous – in the wake of the latest jibes from rugby – if it speculated on how long it would take one of its leading figures to reinstate himself after the kind of scandal Dean Richards brought to Harlequins four years ago.

As far as rugby union is concerned, Bloodgate is consigned to the remotest history. Richards is lauded for his fine work at Newcastle, which is, of course, hardly surprising in that he was a feted visiting speaker at many clubs when the ink of his three-year suspension, for some of the most outlandish and egregious cheating any form of sport had ever known, was still fresh on the page.

Richards and his many admirers say that he has served his time, however brief it was when set against the scale of his offences, and that this particular slate is clean.

Not too many around Twickenham are prepared to discuss what this says about the enduring and precious core values of rugby, of course, which is just another reason why they should keep their wider judgements entirely to themselves.

http://www.independent.ie/sport/james-l ... 02512.html
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Re: What the Papers Say 2013/2014

Postby Mac » Tue May 28, 2013 7:16 pm

Tuesday 28th May................Cont'd

Times

Kiss delighted at Best’s belated Lions call-up.......................

Ireland acting head coach Les Kiss and captain Peter O’Mahony today welcomed Rory Best’s call-up by the British and Irish Lions, but claimed he should have been in the original squad.

Best was the biggest omission when the 37-man touring party for Hong Kong and Australia was announced on April 30th with the Ulster hooker losing out to England’s Dylan Hartley.

But a twist of fate has given the 30-year-old his chance after Hartley was banned for 11 weeks for abusing referee Wayne Barnes during Northampton’s Aviva Premiership defeat by Leicester on Saturday, resulting in his exclusion from the Lions.

Kiss, speaking in advance of the two-Test tour of North America which departs Dublin on Saturday, saluted Best as a worthy Lion whose presence will concern Australia.

“It’s something that all of us in this island thought was deserved in the first place, but that’s the way it happens in selection sometimes,” the Australian said.

“We’re extremely happy for what Rory’s got, it’s great reward for everything he’s done over the last four years. He’s been immense for Ulster and Ireland.

“I do know that he’s the type of player Australia will hate to play against and if he gets his chance he’ll take it.”

Best was originally chosen to lead the tour to North America — Jamie Heaslip, Brian O’Driscoll and Paul O’Connell are with the Lions — but that post has now been passed to O’Mahony.

The Munster flanker, who has been capped 14 times, is relishing the role and feels that justice has been done after Best joined the Lions.

“It’s a huge honour for me and my family. I was delighted by the call and delighted for Rory to get his chance with the Lions,” the 23-year-old said.

“We all thought he deserved it in the first place and we should have been sending text messages of congratulation on April 30th.

“This is an exciting Ireland squad with a good mix of youth and experience, so it should be a fun and interesting trip.

“Some things are different when you’re captain, but on the pitch you just do what your normally do.”

Kiss has backed O’Mahony to thrive as skipper.

“It was noted from a young age that Peter had leadership skills and those skills have come through often for Munster and during underage rugby for Ireland,” he said.

“It’s a great opportunity for Peter to feel what it’s like to take a team to a different environment. I believe he will handle it very well.”

A decision will be made on the fitness of Ulster centre Stuart Olding on Thursday ahead of the Ireland departure to the United States on Saturday.

The uncapped 20-year-old went off injured in last Saturday’s RaboDirect Pro12 Final defeat to Leinster just after the hour mark to be replaced by Michael Allen.

An MRI scan showed damage to an ankle and Olding has been wearing a ‘moon boot’ in a bid to aid his recovery.

Munster’s James Downey has been training with the Ireland squad at Carton House and will take Olding’s place if he fails to make it. The former Northampton player is also uncapped at full international level.

Tighthead prop Mike Ross is suffering from a dead leg after the Pro12 decider and has rested up.

Ireland play matches against the United States in Houston on Saturday June 8th and Canada in Toronto the following Saturday.

http://www.irishtimes.com/sport/rugby/i ... -1.1408789

BBC

Ulster's Stuart Olding doubtful for Ireland tour of North America .................

Ulster's Stuart Olding doubtful for Ireland tour of North America
Ulster centre Stuart Olding could miss Ireland's tour of North America because of an ankle injury.

Ireland will make a decision on the uncapped 20-year-old on Thursday, with Munster's James Downey on stand-by to replace Olding.

Mike Ross sat out training on Tuesday with a dead leg, while Leinster hooker Sean Cronin has replaced Rory Best after the Ulster man's Lions call-up.

Munster flanker Peter O'Mahony takes over from Best as captain for the tour.

Ulster hooker Best was not in the original Lions squad but his got his chance after England's Dylan Hartley was banned for 11 weeks for abusing a referee, resulting in his exclusion from the Lions.

O'Mahony, who has been capped 14 times, is relishing his role and captain and feels that justice has been done after Best joined the elite of British and Irish rugby.

"It's a huge honour for me and my family. I was delighted by the call and delighted for Rory to get his chance with the Lions," the 23-year-old said.

"We all thought he deserved it in the first place and we should have been sending text messages of congratulation on 30 April.

"This is an exciting Ireland squad with a good mix of youth and experience, so it should be a fun and interesting trip.

"Some things are different when you're captain, but on the pitch you just do what your normally do."

Les Kiss, who is in temporary charge of Ireland until new head coach Joe Schmidt takes charge later in the summer, has backed O'Mahony to thrive as skipper.

"It was noted from a young age that Peter had leadership skills and those skills have come through often for Munster and during under-age rugby for Ireland," he said.

"It's a great opportunity for Peter to feel what it's like to take a team to a different environment. I believe he will handle it very well."

Ireland will face the USA in Houston on 8 June before the game against Canada in Toronto seven days later.

Ireland squad for North American Tour

Isaac Boss (Leinster), Darren Cave (Ulster), Tom Court (Ulster), Sean Cronin (Leinster), Declan Fitzpatrick (Ulster), Jamie Hagan (Leinster), Iain Henderson (Ulster), Chris Henry (Ulster), Robbie Henshaw (Connacht), Paddy Jackson (Ulster), Felix Jones (Munster), David Kilcoyne (Munster), Ian Madigan (Leinster), Kieran Marmion (Connacht), Paul Marshall (Ulster), Mike McCarthy (Connacht), Fergus McFadden (Leinster), Kevin McLaughlin (Leinster), Tommy O'Donnell (Munster), Stuart Olding (Ulster), Peter O'Mahony (Munster), Mike Ross (Leinster), Mike Sherry (Munster), Richardt Strauss (Leinster), Devin Toner (Leinster), Andrew Trimble (Ulster), Dan Tuohy (Ulster), Simon Zebo (Munster).

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/rugby-union/22695124
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Re: What the Papers Say 2013/2014

Postby Mac » Wed May 29, 2013 8:45 am

Wednesday 29th May 2013

Newsletter

Ankle injury threatens to see Stuart Olding miss out on American dream......................

Young Ulster centre, Stuart Olding, is sweating on an ankle injury which could rule him out of his first senior Irish call-up.

The 20-year-old suffered the injury during Satuday’s RaboDirect PRO12 Final shoot-out in Dublin against Leinster.

Ulster were unable to say after the game how serious the injury was, but it had obviously put a doubt on his chances to tour North America with Ireland.

Olding joined the Irish training camp earlier this week and a decision will be made on Thursday on whether he will travel with the squad.

It would be a major blow for the Ulster centre.

Although still on an Ulster Academy contract, Olding found himself thrust into the spotlight when other centres were felled by injury.

Form being a possible fifth choice midfielder, Olding became the regular starter at inside centre and has certainly impressed not just at Provincial level but National now too.

Olding had expected to head to France with the Ireland Under-20 side for the Junior World Cup.

However, he was one of several uncapped players who was given the nod to feature with the Irish senior panel in North America.

Munster’s James Downey is poised to replace the Ulster centre if the call tomorrow was negative.

Prop Mike Ross sat out training yesterday while Leinster hooker, Sean Cronin joined the panel yesterday replacing Best.

Meanwhile, Peter O’Mahony, is delighted he has been given the opprotunity to captain Ireland on the tour.

The 23-year-old Munster backrow forward was handed the skipper’s armband after Rory Best was a late call up to the British & Irish Lions squad.

O’Mahony said: “It is a huge honour for me and my family. I was delighted to get the call.

“This is an excting Ireland squad with a good mix of youth and experience, so it should be a fun and interesting trip.

“Some things are different when you are captain, but on the pitch you just down your job and what you normally do,” adeded O’Mahony

Ireland acting head coach, Les Kiss, how is holding the fort until new coach, Joe Schmidt, comes into the position, belives O’Mahony will thrive as captain.

“It was noted from a young age that Peter had leadership skills.

“Those skills have come through often for Munster and during under-age rugby for Ireland.

“It is a great environment for Peter to feel what is it like to take a team to a different environment.

“I believe he will handled it very well.” added Kiss.

Ireland will depart on their summer tour on Saturday.

Ulster hooker, Niall Annett wil joing the Emerging Irish side which will take part in the Tibilisi Cup in Georgia this summmer.

http://www.newsletter.co.uk/sport/rugby ... -1-5139086

Reuters

:red: Jared in at 15 for Baa Baas.........................
http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/05/2 ... E820130529

Newsletter

POM............

Best received the call on Sunday to take what many had felt was his place on the tour instead of Hartley, and arrived in Hong Kong yesterday with the rest of the Lions squad.

O’Mahony said he was honoured to have been given this opportunity to captain Ireland on their summer tour to North America.

“I was delighted to get the call and was equally delighted to see Rory get his chance with the Lions,” said the 23-year old backrow forward, capped 14 times for Ireland.

“Many of us felt Rory deserved it in the first place and that we should have been sending him our texts of congratulations on April 30.

“It is great to see another Irish international recognised by playing on the British Lions, something which all want to do, but may only get the chance to dream about.”

Kiss, who is standing in until new Irish coach Joe Schmidt joins the tour, echoed O’Mahony and added: “It is something all of us on this island thought was deserved in the first place, but that is the way it happens in selection sometimes.

“It is great reward for what Rory has done over the past four years. He has been immense for Ulster and Ireland,” Kiss added.

http://www.newsletter.co.uk/sport/rugby ... -1-5139059

Times

Hartley will not appeal against 11-week suspension......................
Player had until yesterday morning to appeal
http://www.irishtimes.com/sport/rugby/i ... -1.1409274

Incoming coach Joe Schmidt to take hands-on role during second week of North American tour.................
Main injury concerns ahead of Saturday’s departure to Houston are Mike Ross (dead leg) and Stuart Olding (ankle)
http://www.irishtimes.com/sport/rugby/i ... -1.1409285

Sportal.co

O'Driscoll lauds Lions' Best option......................
http://www.sportal.co.nz/rugby-union-ne ... ion-237206

HOTH

All in all, these two seasons have probably been building seasons for Ulster. Before the 2011/12 season they hadn’t reached a final for thirteen years. Now they have reached two in two years, and although they have lost both, Ulster will be far better off for the experience. Both Leinster and Munster had to go through a few years of failure before they became successful. Ulster are going through that now.

So for fans, all they can do is wait patiently. Ulster’s time will come, maybe not now, possibly not next season, but this side is too good not to win trophies. Ulster will keep building and will keep getting stronger and they will be in plenty more finals, and eventually they will win one. With a brand new stadium and a young squad quickly developing, the future is looking bright for Ulster, regardless of Saturday’s result.

What Anscombe will have to do, in what has been a very successful first season in charge for the Kiwi, is use this final to build. The Ulster side have built from the Heineken Cup final last year, they must now use this defeat to go that one step further. Next season will be a big season for Ulster Rugby. Because in my opinion it has to be a trophy season.

The longer Ulster reach finals and cannot finish it off, the longer they will start to believe they are a side that cannot get the job done. So next season will be crucial for Ulster – if they can bring a Heineken Cup quarter-final to Ravenhill and reach the play-offs of the Pro12 again then they will be on the right track. However, this should be an aim for Ulster every season.

This season has been mixed. A strong league showing, a 13-match unbeaten run and a lot of young players brought up through the ranks has been positive, but a poor knockout record and the loss of one of rugby’s young rising stars has made for an upsetting finish. Take it whatever way you will, but this has been another building season for Ulster and hopefully it will pay off in the long run.

Onwards and upwards for Ulster!


Best will roar for the Lions

Congratulations to Dylan Hartley for missing his second Lions tour due to his own indiscipline.

After swearing at referee Wayne Barnes in the Aviva Premiership final on Saturday and calling him a ‘cheat’ as well, an RFU disciplinary committee found Hartley guilty of the offence and banned him for 11 weeks which rules him out of the British & Irish Lions tour to Australia.

Capitalising on Hartley’s stupidity is none other than Ulsterman Rory Best who was unlucky to miss out on making the original tour squad and now gets a second chance to prove himself worthy of a Lions test spot. However, Best’s call-up, in my opinion, isn’t as much of a personal victory as many believe.

Getting into the Lions squad is an achievement, yes, but getting in because someone pulled out is not ideal. Best will be happy he’s got another chance but it still doesn’t disguise the fact that he’s not the first choice for the squad. Nevertheless, he has his chance and hopefully it is one he can grasp with both hands.

Good luck Rory!

http://thehoundonthehill.blogspot.ie/20 ... urdle.html

Whiff

The Last 2%......................

So Leinster saw off Schmidty, Johnny Sex-bomb and Isa Nacewa with a much-coveted Pro12 title – while Ulster were the better team over the year, Leinster were better on the day. They out-scored their hosts/visitors two tries to none, and looked a little more composed all day.

Their experience of bigger days certainly told, and they had ice in their veins at key moments. Ulster came out a tad over-exuberant and struggled to come to terms with Lacey’s refereeing, giving away 4 penalties in 8 minutes, while Leinster eschewed three points from an early penalty and went for the corner, resulting in their first try. Hurting your opponent at key times is something Leinster excel at – think early in the second half in Bordeaux last year.

Ulster had a similar situation with an hour gone – they had momentum and had turned Leinster over a few times, then earned a penalty in the corner at 12-19. Egg remarked to his companion that this was the time to go for the corner and try to really turn the screw on Leinster, but as he talked, the entire Ulster team walked backwards and prepared for Pienaar to take a shot. There was no discussion of going to the corner at all, which surprised us. What would Leinster have done? What would Munster have done – the theatrical conversation between O’Connell and O’Gara preceding the inevitable kick down the line is well known at this stage. We’re just not sure three points was what the doctor ordered at that stage in the game.

In the final analysis, Leinster were able to eke out tries and Ulster weren’t – or conversely, Leinster were able to keep Ulster out, while Ulster couldn’t do likewise - Leinster had key interventions to prevent tries – Boss after PJ’s chargedown, Sexton holding up Diack, the scrum just about holding up from 20-25 minutes.

Those little extra things, and the nous that comes from multiple finals (this was their sixth in three years under Joe Schmidt) told for Leinster – and Ulster will be back, hopefully with lessons learned. They have had another good season, but the next step is going to be learning how to win these big games. It isn’t a given that a team will make that final step from contender either. Some teams climbed the mountain step by painful step (Munster), some went virtually straight to the top (Leinster), some seem to be forever bridesmaids, but do get the occasional fulfillment (Clermont) and some simply never do it (Northampton Saints).

Ulster’s homework this summer is to figure out what they need to add to their game, and plan accordingly. They seem to have most of the starting XV personnel in place (caveat, Fez is a massive loss) but just need to work out the next step – be it better execution, more ambition in the gameplan, a better use of the bench, whatever. Oddly, the one impact sub in the backline they had, Paul Marshall, was unused – having a Plan B would certainly be a start if Plan A wasn’t really working. Still, they can feel satisifed with their efforts in this years Rabo, and rest easy that they did the memory of the tragic Nevin Spence proud. As for Leinster, all you can say is Matt O’Connor has one hell of a tough job living up to this.

Postscript: John Lacey did not have a good game. Leaving aside his obvious frustration at the early penalties, Anscombe made an excellent point after the game – shouldn’t the best referee available be in charge for the final? Of the Celtic refs, Owens would have been that man – was there a reason he wasn’t there? Was it that we wanted an Irish ref? If so, it couldn’t have been Rolland, so the only other alternative was *gulp* Clancy. Last year, though, it was Poite, but presumably the best French refs were busy at the Top14 semi-finals. Getting to the nub of the issue then - if the Pro12 wants to be taken seriously, it needs to start awarding finals to referees with the kind of stature the league aspires to – Superstar Steve Walsh, opportunity knocks!

http://whiffofcordite.com/
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Polls

Glasgow vs Ulster MOTM

Jared Payne
2
3%


Louis Ludik
25
40%


Darren Cave
3
5%


Stuart McCloskey
0
0%


Stuart Olding
0
0%


Rob Lyttle
1
2%


Charles Piutau
4
6%


Paddy Jackson
18
29%


Ruan Pienaar
2
3%


Andy Warwick
0
0%


Callum Black
0
0%


Rob Herring
0
0%


Rory Best
0
0%


Rodney Ah You
3
5%


Ross Kane
0
0%


Alan O'Connor
0
0%


Peter Browne
0
0%


Franco van der Merwe
0
0%


Iain Henderson
0
0%


Sean Reidy
3
5%


Roger Wilson
1
2%


Clive Ross
1
2%


 
Total votes : 63

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