Longford RFC Club News 01/03/2021   01/03/2021

By Tommy Butler Longford RFC PRO lrfconnects@gmail.com 

Rugby Digest

It was another very interesting weekend of the Six Nations rugby.  Ireland put a woeful Italy easily to the sword and rediscovered some of their ‘Va Va Voom’, Wales put one over on the old enemy, helped by some questionable decisions from the match officials and France v Scotland was cancelled in a very French way.  France demanded extra safety measures for the Six Nations to go ahead in the first place and then proceeded to break their own regulations by inviting their national 7’s team to train with them, which looks the source of a Covid outbreak in the camp.  Fingers crossed they will get it sorted and assuage the concerns of the French Sports Minister so that their remaining fixtures can be fulfilled.

You may have missed it but a full round for Pro 14 fixtures were also played over the weekend, with the Irish sides again enjoying a clean sweep.  It shows that among the Celtic Nations, Ireland have the best strength in depth but this is not necessarily translating to the national side.  It was again an opportunity for players on the fringes of the national squad to put up their hands for selection.  From an Ireland point of view, Jacob Stockdale enjoyed a solid return and is likely to feature in the Ireland squad for the final two rounds v Scotland and England, John Cooney again played well, but seems way down the pecking order and Bundee Aki scored Connacht’s match winning try at the back of a maul in injury time away to Benetton in Italy.  However, most Irish eyes were on Cardiff Arms Park to see how Joey Carberry got on in his first match in over a year.  Well, the good news is he did pretty well, he took some heavy hits, showed some nice touches and nailed a touchline conversion.  It is only the start of a long road back to full match fitness for him but everyone is hoping that he can get a good injury free run to see if he truly is Johnny Sextons natural successor.

Ireland Six Nations 2021 Fixtures

Sunday March 14th Scotland v Ireland 3PM

Saturday March 20th Ireland v England 4.45PM

Italy v Ireland Player Ratings by Tommy Butler

Please note that ratings are good more or less across the board but this must be tempered against the woeful standard of opposition, who at the moment are really only offering one of the best away trips to the Eternal City.

Dave Kilcoyne 8 If ‘Killer’ keeps fit, it looks like he will take over from Cian Healy for the next World Cup, some great carries and scrummaging and his clearout of two Italian players where he drove them back 5 metres will live long in the annals of ‘Rugby Dump’ clips.

Ronan Kelleher 7 Offers a lot more around the pitch than Rob Herring but is still not quite as solid as regards lineout throwing.  The management need to stick with him as his dynamism will be required against Scotland and England.

Tadgh Furlong 7 The big man from New Ross was excellent.  Probably has the best hands of any tight head in the world.  It is an embarrassment of riches to have two tight heads of the quality of Furlong and Porter available.  Long may it continue.

Iain Henderson 7 The big Ulster man was not quite up to the same level as against France but still put in a big shift.  Will be furious his perfectly good opening try was ruled out.  Not quite unmoveable from the row but himself and Ryan are what many people see as Irelands best combination.

James Ryan 8 Until he is absent you nearly forget how good he is and the work he puts in around the pitch.  Led the Irish tackle stats with 19 tackles and carried for 24 metres.

Tadhg Beirne 8 Another Man of the Match performance from ‘Tag’ who looks like he has to start whether in the back of second row.  Is leading the tables with five turnovers in the tournament so far and is playing a big part in Irelands defensive lineout.

Will Connors 8 Could have easily won man of the match.  His ability to spring up after his trademark chop tackles is second to none, also ran a great trail line to secure his first try.  Looks like he has done enough to secure his place for the next round even allowing for the return of Peter O’Mahony.

CJ Stander 7 Looked like he was enjoying himself, brough his normal combination of strong carries and work rate.  Also looks like he is trying to play more heads up rugby and pass rather go to contact, if it is a better option.

Jamison Gibson Parke 7 Brought a lot of zip to the Irish performance and seemed to be given license to speed up the game when ever he could.  Was very lively around the pitch and put in some well weighted box kicks.  If Ireland are trying to play a quicker game the Kiwi might be the better option as Murray was the perfect on field general for Schmidt’s methodical approach.

Johnny Sexton 8 Must have been satisfied to play the full 80, ran a hapless Italy ragged, 100% from the tee and gave a fantastic pass to Keith Earls to close out the match with Ireland’s deserved 6th try.

James Lowe 7 A Curates egg performance from James Lowe, which never quite clicked for him.  Topped the Irish metres made with 125 m and was unlucky to be called back for his try after a good interchange with Craig Casey

Robbie Henshaw 8 A proud day for the Athlone man reaching 50 caps for Ireland.  Formed a great combination with Ringrose putting in 13 tackles and carrying for 56 m.

Garry Ringrose 8 Showed his full range of skills against a poor Italy side took his own try well but the highlight was his great offload to Hugo Keenan, which led to the try of the game.

Jordan Larmour 7 Looked very lively for the first half but did not emerge for the second half, great offload to create Will Connors try.

Hugh Keenan 8 A near flawless day bar one bouncing ball mix up, looks very assured at the back but it his lines of running that are a weapon in the attacking arsenal that Ireland badly need, superb line and finish for his try.

Replacements:  Things degenerated a bit in the second half with the first half sharpness not quite there, which coincided with a lot of the replacement’s appearance.  However, it was great to see Craig Casey and Ryan Baird make their international bows.  Both looked at home on the international stage, although there are a lot tougher tests to come.

Coaching Team:  Ireland showed a lot more zip and incisiveness along with a willingness to give a pass or offload around the contact area.  Will be disappointed not to have added on a few more tries.  All in all, a good day out and now have two weeks to fine tune things before two far tougher tests against a resurgent Scotland and a seething England.

Pro-14 Rugby

The Six Nations takes its last break this weekend but there is a lot to look forward to as two ‘Possibles’ trials take place, where the final opportunity to put their hand up for all Irish fringe players, goes ahead in the form or two provincial derbies.  Indeed, they are both top of the table clashes, where both Ulster and Connacht have to win to have any chance of claiming top spot and a place in the final on March 27th.  Connacht visit Thomond Park on Friday night while Leinster visit Ravenhill on Saturday night.

Congratulations to Robbie Henshaw

It was great to see Athlone man Robbie Henshaw receive is 50th cap for Ireland. Our Director of Rugby, Niall Moran, coached back in his formative years, where he played for Marist College.  Robbie has visited the club on many occasions and his father worked in Longford for many years too.

Clubs in a state of limbo

Longford RFC would like to put on record our grateful appreciation for the ongoing support and assistance from the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport & Media and Sport Ireland. Without their support our club would have endured extreme difficulties.

Last year the club implemented a very tough Covid 19 safety plan & protocols based on Government & IRFU Guidelines. These were put in place to ensure continuous safety & Health of all Club participants, members, non-playing and playing.  Level 5 restrictions changed all that, there was complete disappointment by young people that rugby did not get clearance to resume at a restricted level.  Training and matches for children are a release valve for families. There is a lot of pressure on parents, so they need to get their children out and into healthy physical activity away from TV and laptops.  I believe that this playing group, which is one of the largest in the Midlands should not be marginalised when they are experiencing such extreme pressure due to Covid 19.  The time has come to get back playing relieving some of the misery and get them out for if nothing else than for the betterment of their Mental Wellness.  Maybe vaccination brings some hope!  In the meantime, keep well & stay safe.

LRFC Covid Officer.

100 miles in a month

Well done to Senior Men’s Player Ryan McHugh who ran 100 miles in February to support the great cause that is the Mater Foundation.  You can make a donation at https://www.facebook.com/donate/2932967253589955/?fundraiser_source=external_url

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? 


Great news, www.longfordrugby.com is back up and running with an updated club crest, which goes back to the future and an updated header and footer.  Check out our website for all things Longford Rugby and more.  If you want to contribute articles or pictures, they are welcome, please email lrfconnects@gmail.com.


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