Longford RFC Club News 15/02/2021   19/02/2021

By Tommy Butler Longford RFC PRO lrfconnects@gmail.com 

Rugby Digest

As the snow melted in Ireland, we had another great weekend of Six Nations rugby, great from a neutral’s perspective but not so from an Irish one.  England scored their inevitable win over an Italy side who now have lost 29 games in a row in the Six Nations.  Everyone loves the biannual trip to Rome but surely there must be a rethink as regards allowing a playoff against the best of the others, such Georgia, for the bottom Six Nations team, with the winner taking part in the following years Six Nations Championship?  Scotland v Wales was another great game and after a terrible start the rugby gods are now benevolently looking down on Wayne Pivac’s Wales, who for the second week in a row had the benefit of playing part of the match against 14 men.  The offence committed by Xander Ferguson was very similar to the one committed by Peter O’Mahony the week before.  There is a big focus on cutting down any contact with the head and although it had a very negative effect on a match hopefully will have long term benefits for player safety.

So where now are Ireland?  The positives are that Irelands defensive and attacking line outs have improved, no doubt from Paul O’Connell’s influence, the scrum is solid and defence has generally been good.  The tries that were leaked in the first two Six Nations games were largely down to individual rather than system errors.  James Lowe has a lot of great attributes but sharpening his defence to an international standard is something that he needs to do immediately or his game time will be limited to an impact sub at best.  The playing pool has also expanded quite a bit since the last World Cup.  However, the elephant in the room is still at out-half.  Would we have won yesterday if we had Jonny Sexton starting, quite possibly yes, as the gap between himself and the other pretenders, even allowing for age starting to catch up with him, is still quite pronounced.  Ireland seemed to play better yesterday when Ross Byrne came on though.  The Italy match is surely an opportunity to look at another scrum half such as Craig Casey and also an out half like Harry Byrne.  There is plenty of experience in the squad to guide them through against the Italians but with the pressure mounting on Andy Farrell it is unlikely that we will see a whole lot of changes.

It is actually quite a good Ireland squad and with a few more bounces of the ball going their way and with a bit of luck they would be now two wins from two.  However, the lack of a discernible pattern in attack is worrying and there will have to be questions asked about what Mike Catt is trying to do?  When Ireland are attacking it is collision based and predictable and lapped up by a good rush defence.  Contrast this when the French players had the ball, there was plenty of innovation and offloading, with an air of danger accompanying their every visit into the Ireland 22.  Irish teams have routinely beaten French opposition in Europe this season and in the past, so they are more than capable of scoring tries but kicking the leather off the ball especially when you are losing ground in every kicking duel is not going to score tries.  A shot at the championship is lost at this stage but if Irish fans do not see some positive progress especially in terms of attack before the end of this year’s tournament then the calls for Andy Farrells departure can only grow.   PS did anyone feel like they should have been in the environs of Lansdowne Road yesterday around one enjoying a pint of Guinness and anticipating the match?  Hopefully, we will be back in force this time next year with Italy, Scotland and Wales due to visit the Aviva.   

Ireland 13 France 15 Player Ratings by Tommy Butler

This was the first time Ireland lost their first two Six Nations game and their first loss at home since being turned over by England.  The set piece was again solid but individual mistakes and lack of guile in attack is definitely holding this team back.

Cian Healy 6 What a legend Cian Healy is, gave his all, bloodied and bandaged.  At this stage should be rotating with a younger prop and emptying the tank for 30 minutes.  Another solid display even when bloodied after his collision with Henderson.

Rob Herring 5 Keeps the lineout ticking over but we need more around the pitch.  His ruck defence was exposed again yesterday.  Kelleher needs to start.

Andrew Porter 6 His form has never really dipped despite his huge workload, scrummaged, carried and tackled well.  His axis with Tadhg Furlong is going to be one to savour for Ireland but certainly not for opposition loose heads.

Tadhg Beirne 6 Did not really work for him yesterday.  Tried his heart out but his impact at the breakdown and around the pitch were much less marked than a week before.

Ian Henderson 8 One of the standout Irish players, who led from the front.  It was no coincidence that Ireland looked a bit rudderless, when he was off the pitch being patched up.

Rhys Ruddock 6 Great to see a very deserving player back on the pitch.  A very solid return to the Irish jersey complemented by his normal huge work rate.

Josh Van Der Flier 6 Like Beirne worked hard as usual without much return.  A fully fit Dan Leavy is probably what Ireland need packing down on the openside.

CJ Stander 7 Received practically every kick-off and was triple tackled at times.  He was one of the only Irish players generating front foot ball and did not stop for the whole 80 minutes.

Jamison Gibson Parke 5.5 A real curate’s egg of a performance.  Tried to bring tempo at the breakdown and kicked well at times.  However, made an appalling read in defence to give France their first try.  With so many good scrum halves in Ireland at the moment, it is time to let someone else have the chance.

Billy Burns 6 Shanked his first attempt at goal but orchestrated things reasonably well for the first thirty minutes before going off with a head injury.  The jury is still out on Burns but is moving towards a decision that he does not want to hear.

James Lowe 6 Great going forward and used his big boot to clear Ireland lines on repeated occasions.  However, unless he can sort his defensive reads, he is too much of a liability for an Ireland team that are struggling in attack to carry.

Robbie Henshaw 6 Like much of the Irish team tried hard all day without getting much return.  However, he was solidity personified.

Garry Ringrose 7 Looked by far the most dangerous Ireland back and threatened to break through on a number of occasions, so much so that the commentators mused ‘just get the ball into Ringrose’s hands’.

Keith Earls 6 A much more solid outing from Earls who was good under the high ball and looked dangerous in attack.  The Italy match is one to try someone else on the wing though.

Hugo Keenan 7 Another good performance from a player that is making 15 his own.  Still learning but is undoubtedly the find of the last year for Ireland.

Replacements It was a bit disjointed with all the injuries although Ross Byrne definitely looked more the part when he came on.  It is a pity that Casey did not get one but hopefully will get the start against Italy.  It was brilliant to see Tadhg Furlong continue his return to fitness.

Coaching Team The set piece was again very solid and the defensive system seems to be improving.  However, there is a lack of a progression in Irelands attack who were wedded to kicking the leather off the ball even in the dying minutes versus France.  There must some progression in this department in the final three matches for the pressure on attack coach Mike Catt and Andy Farrell not to reach boiling point. 

Next up

The Six Nations takes a break next weekend, with Ireland then heading to Rome on Saturday week.  However, there is a full round of Pro-14 fixtures this weekend with Leinster and Ulster travelling to the Dragons and Glasgow respectively on Friday night with Munster travelling to Edinburgh and Connacht hosting Cardiff on Saturday.

Ireland Six Nations 2021 Fixtures

Saturday February 27th Italy v Ireland 2.15PM

Sunday March 14th Scotland v Ireland 3PM

Saturday March 20th Ireland v England 4.45PM

Virtual skills camp for all our young players

Keep your budding young rugby stars active from home this February mid-term break with our Mini Rugby Virtual Skills hub! Created by IRFU coaches, a new skills video will be released each day demonstrated by UL Bohs, Munster & Irish Rugby International player Eimear Considine. This video series caters for kids of all ages and abilities, whether you’re a complete novice or a rising rugby star!

The virtual skills hub is a safe online space for kids to develop their rugby skills and love for the game over the mid-term break.

Starting on February 15th at 10am, you can find these daily videos right here, so keep your eyes peeled!

By taking part you can also earn kit of Longford RFC.  You can register at:


Skills Challenges

Log on to our Club Community Rugby Officer Dylan Quinn’s Twitter page for weekly skills challenges from Dylan and other Leinster CCRO’s.  It is tough for everyone not being able to train but now is the time to work on your skills especially something you have always wanted to work on as hopefully come September rugby will be back in full swing.  Why not contact your coach and ask him to help you plan a training strategy which you can do from you own home?


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? 


The club website www.longfordrugby.com has been down for the last week.  The problem will hopefully be resolved this week.


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