Longford RFC Club News 02022021   02/02/2021

By Tommy Butler Longford RFC PRO lrfconnects@gmail.com 

Domestic rugby competitions finished for the season

The inevitable decision was made during the week by the IRFU to cancel the rest of this seasons Men’s and Women’s All Ireland League (AIL) League competitions due to the resurgence in Covid.  As the competition involves teams travelling the length of Ireland it was not longer feasible.  Leinster rugby competitions are heading the same way, you cab find statements from the IRFU/Leinster branch below in this regard.

However, at least we have the consolation of the Men’s Six Nations going ahead, which will hopefully be some solace for rugby players, coaches, administrators and fans during these tough times.

Statement from the IRFU on the All Ireland League (AIL)

“Following a meeting of the Union Committee, it has been decided that the 2020/21 Energia All-Ireland Leagues for men and women will not proceed, due to the on-going impact of Covid-19.

The Vodafone Women’s Interprovincial Series will not take place until the 2021/22 season.

The IRFU and the four provinces will now work with clubs to look at the completion of the Energia Community Series and to review alternative forms of rugby, such as Lucozade Sport Touch and VW Tag, which may provide players with much sought after rugby later in the year.

Greg Barrett, Chair of the IRFU Rugby Committee, said:

“As Covid-19 continues to impact our lives we had to make the difficult decision to cancel the 2020/21 Energia All Ireland Leagues and the Vodafone Women’s Interprovincial Series. A huge amount of work is on-going, and we continue to look at avenues that may provide players and clubs with the rugby that they love.

“In the meantime, we will continue to innovate and develop education opportunities that can help players developing skills beyond the traditional forms of training for the game. With over 10,000 players signed up to our ‘Level Up’ workshops, we are helping players develop understanding and skills that will stand to them for many seasons to come.

“Our commitment to players and our clubs remains clear – we will continue to adopt a flexible approach to season planning and will proceed with rugby when cleared to do so by government guidelines.”

Statement from Leinster Rugby

Following the statement issued by the IRFU (above) that this season’s AIL has been cancelled Leinster Rugby would like to make clear that if a window of opportunity presents itself before the end of the season, we will indeed get some club rugby played.

With that in mind the club season in Leinster will be extended to 31st May.

The IRFU in its press release also states it will review, along with the four provinces, alternate forms of rugby which may provide participation in rugby for players.

So, the message is that Leinster Rugby will facilitate the resumption of rugby before the end of the season if allowed.

Please note this does not apply to schools or youths.

Pro 14

Two rearranged fixtures went ahead at the weekend in the Pro-14 with Leinster travelling to Llanelli to face the Scarlets and Munster travelling to Italy to play Benetton Treviso.  Munster made thirteen changes from the side that lost to Leinster the previous week with only Mike Haley and Gavin Coombes retained.  It nearly had the feel of any intercounty team, with the Wycherley brothers starting together for the first time, the brothers Scannell also starting (Rory and Niall), while starting winger Liam Coombes and back-row Gavin Coombes are cousins.  Munster won the game 16-18 due to a last minute JJ Hanrahan drop goal.

Leinster racked up another bonus point win despite also ringing the changes 25-52.  From an Ireland point of view it was heartening to see the return of Tadhg Furlong who on his day is one of the best tight heads in the world.  He played a solid 40 minutes and looked well on the pace and is probably now going to be in the Ireland squad to face Wales on Sunday.  Furthermore, Dan Leavy looks like he is getting back to his best, winning man of the match, along with impressive tackle and carrying stats and bagging a try for himself.  Tough to know who Ireland and Leinster are going to leave out instead of him though!

2021 Six Nations Preview by Director of Rugby Niall Moran

Like Christmas, the Six Nations comes around once a year, and brings a huge about of excitement and anticipation to all the rugby households in the Northern Hemisphere.

Us, Irish, have been spoiled with success over the last decade. While Eddie O’Sullivan didn’t manage to win a holy grail “Grand Slam”, he did annex three Triple Crowns during his tenure, and in fairness it was his foundation work, that laid the groundwork for the success of Declan Kidney and Joe Schmidt.

But time stops for no man, and Andy Farrell faces into his second Six Nations as head coach, after, what can only be described as a modest outing in year one. Farrells transition from assistant to head buck cat just hasn’t won over the Irish rugby public. Schmidt, his predecessor, was known for his attention to detail, where, each and every player knew their role in finite detail. Farrell, is more of a “suck it and see” merchant, rugby’s version of Jack Charlton’s “give it a lash” philosophy. The issue for Farrell is that, not only were the players well coached during the tenure of the previous three coaches, but the general rugby public were educated on the coaching trends prevalent at the time. In short, the jury is out on Farrell.

In the even years, Ireland host England and France at home, and in the preamble to the Championship at least there is talk of Grand Slams. Farrell, himself, has talked about having a pop at England on St Patrick’s weekend for the Grand Slam. Considering that his son, Owen, is the English captain, it is probably no surprise that the coach has let himself dream a little. What parent wouldn’t like to test his wares against his son?

More immediate is the test from Wales, in Cardiff, this Sunday. Like Ireland, the Welsh are suffering from coach fatigue. Warren Gatland moved on at the end of 2019, haven overseen a hugely successful period in Welsh rugby. His replacement is no flat tyre, but it just hasn’t clicked for Wayne Pivac. The Welsh struggled in the 2020 Championship, finishing 5th, and only managed to beat Georgia and Italy in the Autumn Nations Cup. Pivac has form, he brought the Scarlets from mid table mediocrity to Pro 14 Champions, but this national coaching job isn’t taking off the way he wished.

So, Sunday brings together two coaches struggling to find a rhythm that their CV suggests they have in spades. The Welsh certainly have a player base that, when they pull on the red jersey, play way beyond their Pro 14 form. Year on year they put it up to the Irish, and this Sunday will not be any different.

Farrell has been making noises about selecting on form, but the squad selected had notable omissions. No room at the inn for the inform Luke McGrath, Jack Carty or John Cooney, yet, Tadhg Furlong and James Lowe are in the squad, having missed 12 months of rugby in the case of Furlong.

This game will have battlelines drawn early, so whoever team gets a front foot in the forwards should win. The Welsh will call on a number seasoned players, but the Irish pack should have their number, but that relies on Farrell making the correct selection calls. Cian Healy will start in the number 1 shirt, simply because David Kilcoyne is only back from injury. Form suggests Rob Herring will take the hooker spot. Ronan Kelleher has yet to deliver on the promise he showed in early 2020. Andrew Porter should start at tight head, as Furlong regains match fitness.

The second row has James Ryan’s name on the team sheet already. What Farrell does next is anyone’s guess. Joe Schmidt didn’t trust Tadhg Beirne. Not bulky enough to be an international second row, nor good enough to be an international blindside. Beirne does get over the ball unquestionably, but has a tendency to play in the 12/13 channel a little too often for Schmidt’s liking. Farrell has started Beirne a lot, and may well do so again this weekend. It’s a big call, and one that might impact the longevity of Farrells international coaching career. The alternatives are Iain Henderson or Quinn Roux. I would select either of the alternatives.

The back row and half backs select themselves. CJ Stander, Peter O’Mahony and Caelan Doris will fill the jerseys 6 to 8, with Conor Murray justifiably continuing to own the 9 shirt, and captain Sexton at 10.

The Leinster duo of Henshaw and Ringrose will start at 12 and 13, although Farrell has a soft spot for Aki, so he could be a wild card instead of Henshaw.

Finally, the back 3 will consist of three from Jordan Larmour, Keith Earls, James Lowe and Hugo Keenan. Farrell’s faith in combinations playing together for their province could mean that Earls with lose out to the Leinster trio. Larmour’s failure to deal with the long hang time that Conor Murray put on his box kicks last weekend, would suggest that Earls is a better bet.

The Irish squad isn’t quite the same quality as the golden generation of O’Driscoll, O’Gara and O’Connell, but they should be strong enough to pull this out of the bag. If they don’t, maybe, just maybe we will see O’Gara join O’Connell in the Irish coaches’ box quicker than we thought.

My Ireland XV: Hugh Keenan, James Lowe, Gary Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, Keith Earls, Jonathon Sexton, Conor Murray, Cian Healy, Rob Herring, Andrew Porter, James Ryan, Iain Henderson, CJ Stander, Peter O’Mahony, Caelan Doris.

PROs Predictions for 2021 Final Six Nations Standings







Ireland Six Nations 2021 Fixtures

Sunday February 7th Wales v Ireland 3PM

Sunday February 14th Ireland v France 3PM

Saturday February 27th Italy v Ireland 2.15PM

Sunday March 14th Scotland v Ireland 3PM

Saturday March 20th Ireland v England 4.45PM


All collective training is currently suspended in line with Government and IRFU guidelines.  At the moment, there is no date for a resumption of activities but needless to say we will be ready and willing as soon as we are allowed to do so.  It is possible that a Rugby 7s programme will take place during the Summer to allow players to get back playing rugby.  Rugby 7’s on faster harder pitches is normally a great spectacle.

We would urge all our players and members to keep active during this time.  The IRFU are currently running a series of free webinars for players and coaches, which can be accessed at the following link https://www.irishrugby.ie/2021/01/19/registration-open-for-new-level-up-player-workshop-series/   Why not keep your rugby brain ticking and sign up for the workshops?  Also our CCRO, Dylan Quinn will be posting a series of rugby related challenges, which you can do at home on his twitter page https://twitter.com/quinn_dylan

IRFU Your Club Your Country Survey

The IRFU are inviting your feedback on the recent Your Club Your Country draw, which saw Longford RFC raise over €7000 thanks to generosity of our members and friends, the survey can be accessed via the following link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Z7CHKRK


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