Longford RFC Club News 08/02/2021   08/02/2021

By Tommy Butler Longford RFC PRO lrfconnects@gmail.com 

Rugby Digest

Thankfully in the absence of all other rugby the 2021 Six Nations kicked off on weekend past, albeit with no fans as has become the new norm.  It was great to see some competitive rugby during these tough times.  The result of the weekend was unquestionably Scotland’s 6-11 Calcutta win in Twickenham, their first since 1983.  The Scot’s, led by a brilliant Stuart Hogg, played with incredible commitment and vigour and despite Finn Russell doing more wrong than right at pivot, earned a deserved victory against a flat and predictable English side.  Undoubtedly, the lay off for the Saracens players, Captain Eoin Farrell, Billy Vunipola and Maro Itoje left them lacking game time and they seemed off the pace at times.  Itoje is a very similar player to Irelands Peter O’Mahony in lot of ways in that they never take a backward step and are a constant nuisance.  However, as we saw the way they play leaves them constantly walking a thin line and both crossed it, with Itoje giving away a number of penalties and O’Mahony earning himself a red card for needless badly timed clear out.  The Six Nations is all about momentum and now France, Scotland and Wales go into their next matches with a pep in their step and dreaming of a Championship or even Grand Slam, while the recrimination begins in the losing camps.  None more so than in the England camp, who consistently talked themselves up, but shorn of a few of their front liners especially Manu Tuilagi and an over conservative game plan relying on physically dominating their opponents, they need a major rethink if they are going to continue to aspire ‘to be the best’.  Ireland showed enough signs to be positive but welcoming a sparking French side to Dublin next Sunday is a tough way to have to turn it around.  France looked every bit the favourites for the Championship and possibly a grand slam, a feat they have not achieved since 2010.  They are brilliantly led by their ‘petit-général’ Antoine Dupont, who is possibly the best player in world rugby at the moment.  Ireland will go into the game against France as underdogs possibly shorn of Johnny Sexton, who was removed late the match, which what looked like a head injury and also second row James Ryan, who also went off earlier in the game with a head knock.  One thing is sure, Ireland are now looking down instead of up and it will take a herculean effort to beat a French side who are seriously on the up.

Wales 21 Ireland 16 Player Ratings by Tommy Butler

This game was a tough one to sum up.  On the day everything seemed to go against Ireland, however, the team played unbelievably well, playing the majority of the match with 14 men.  The writing was on the wall with O’Mahony’s needless red card, however Ireland nearly snatched it at the end but for the final penalty of the game kicked dead.  You find players rating below.

Cian Healy 6 Got around and did a lot of clearing out etc.  Was not as conspicuous in the loose as usual.  Is going to come under pressure to start if Kilcoyne remains fit.

Rob Herring 6 Solid if unspectacular.  There was some improvement in the lineout and the South African born hooker always empties the tank.

Andrew Porter 7 Worked hard all day especially after being give a thorough examination by Wyn Jones at scrum time.  Great foot work going into contact meant he carried over the gain line more often than not.

Tadhg Beirne 9 A brilliant game from the man whose father hails from Longford.  Hard carries, turnovers and a big tackle count certainly justified the Kildare man’s inclusion from the start.  Hard to know how he did not win the Man of the match gong.

James Ryan 5 Looked set for a big game and was making a mess of the Welsh lineout before going off after 20 minutes with a head knock.  Will be needed at the peak of this powers if Ireland are going to have any chance of turning over the French.

Peter O’Mahony 2 A player that always empties the tank and plays on the ragged edge.  Ultimately cost his team the game with a needless high no arms clear out, which deserved a red.

Josh Van Der Flier 8 Had his best game in the colours of Ireland.  Mixed up his usual high tackle count with great carries and was nuisance at the break down.

CJ Stander 7 As always gave his all, with lots of big carries, the most memorable one, when he bounced Faletau.  Stander deserves to be in the team but Doris better guile and footwork at 8 was missed.

Conor Murray 6 Mixed up some good box kicking with some inaccurate passing.  Really needs to be more of a running threat.

Johnny Sexton 6 Battled gainfully as always and was disappointed to go off with a head knock.  Made some uncharacteristic errors kicking out of hand.  Still the best we have in the position though.

James Lowe 6 Great going forward and used his big boot to clear Ireland lines on repeated occasions.  However, was caught out badly for Norths try.

Robbie Henshaw 9 A brilliant game from the Athlone man in defence and attack especially his thrust down the blindside to set up Beirnes try.  Looked very inch the Lions starting 12.

Garry Ringrose 7 Solid defensively as usual and constantly probed in attack.  However, his needless attempted offload ultimately led to Norths try.

Keith Earls 6 Not his best outing in and Irish jersey, giving away a needless penalty and kicking out on the full.  Is going to come under increasing pressure to start.

Hugo Keenan 8 Good performance from a player that is making 15 his own.  Great positioning, solid under the high ball, good defensively and frequently popping up in attack.

Replacements  The whole Irish bench made a big impact, especially Henderson who came on early and the replacement front row of Kilcoyne, Kelleher and Furlong.  Looks like reshuffle is going to be necessary next week.

Coaching Team: There was a lot of pregame optimism especially with the addition of O’Connell.  The game plan looked spot on but was undermined by the early red card.  Will have been frustrated by the concession of some needless penalties and some key moments that helped Wales to the win.  The pressure is very much on Andy Farrell and anything less than a good performance against the French will only add to that. 

So onwards to Lansdowne Road next Sunday, where the rising French side come to town.  Its going to be a tough one, Ireland will be firm underdogs but as Scotland showed on Saturday, the underdogs can win.

Ireland Six Nations 2021 Fixtures

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

Glenn Baskett reacts to the announcement of end of the competitive Domestic rugby season.

“The IRFU announcement last week that the AIL leagues are cancelled now for the 20/21 season, and by extension all Leinster League will now follow is of no surprise to me. I know they had been holding out hoping for a window to get playing but it just isn’t there. It’s hugely disappointing as the season held only 2 pre season games for us and we had to sit out the first week of league games because our fixture against Clondalkin was moved due to them not preparing for the game adequately. I know the boys are frustrated at not getting any rugby played, and in reality when the 2021/22 season starts we will have gone 18 months without a competitive fixture. I have my own frustrations with how the IRFU watched proceedings around them when they could have led in this environment. And from a personal point of view a year’s work is lost with these boys. A lot of planning and preparing had gone into the season that people don’t necessarily realise. You try to upskill yourself by looking elsewhere to improve, which in turn hopefully improves the players and that is all done in the off season and windows of time, and then you don’t get to implement a lot of the new stuff. As a group we came off the back of a J2 league win and were looking to back that up. And the J1 team had a clear goal that we had looked at and now we obviously have lost those opportunities. There is talk form Leinster at possibly extending our season till 31 May to try to get some rugby played, but I don’t believe that is a viable option and it will not happen. Now we need to reassess where we are at, the club are in the middle of putting in a world class pitch to add to the excellent facilities and I would hope that this can become the switch to flick and start again fresh. Because now we all just have to look ahead to a new season with new opportunities, we can’t look back. The important thing for everyone is to loom at the opportunities we have and not be frustrated by the past 12 months.”


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

Lyndsey Bennett

The club would like to wish Lyndsey Bennett and her family well in her fight against cancer.  Lyndsey’s sad story was covered extensively in the national media last week.  Her spirit in the face of tremendous adversity is inspiring.  The Bennett family have a long association with the club with her father Coote and her uncle Cecil former 1st team members. Her father Coote played Longford 2nd XV side that won the 2nds Towns Cup side in 1982.

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