Longford RFC Club News 15/03/2021   15/03/2021

By Tommy Butler Longford RFC PRO lrfconnects@gmail.com 

 Rugby Digest

Ireland secured their second win of their 2021 Six Nations campaign when they just edged Scotland in a game where they were 14 points up at one stage in the second half.  It was all down to Johnny Sexton, who was imperious from the tee and nailed the crucial penalty wide on the left to secure Ireland a three point victory, 24-27.  Irelands forwards were brilliant on the day, dismantling the Scottish lineout, getting on top at scrum time and coming out on top at the breakdown.  However, Irelands back play is still a worry.  There seems to be a severe lack of clarity in what the Irish back line are trying to do, they are caught between two stools of playing what is in front of them and playing a patterned territorial game, where the boot is put to ball as a first resort.  That makes it 10 wins for Ireland out of their last 11 matches versus Scotland.  However, the performance alone will probably not be enough to beat an England side, who have had Irelands number in recent exchanges and who came out with a morale boosting victory in ‘Le Crunch’ on the weekend past.  Wales, as expected, thrashed a hapless Italy side, who’s place in the Six Nations championship must now be in serious question.  It is pretty certain that not even the most ardent Welsh supporter would have put much money on Wales being the team going into the last weekend (the Scotland v France match has been refixed for the end of the month after the Covid fiasco in the French camp) who could win the Grand Slam.  Wayne Pivac was definitely under the most pressure coming into this Championship, after his first year in charge, which was pretty disastrous results side.  Now he can bring his charges led by the ever-green Alan Wynne Jones to the Stade de France on Saturday, with every hope of securing the slam with very little pressure.  However, this young rapidly improving French side are a very tough prospect, especially at home and I would expect Wales to come up short in Paris.

The Pro 14 continued over the weekend.  The main talking point was that Joey Carberry started for Munster for the first time in well over a year and looked to be getting back in the groove, where he made a great break and set up a try versus the Scarlets.  An end of season tour would be the ideal time to integrate him back into the Ireland set up but Covid looks likely to have put pay to that.  Munster and Leinster have already booked their place in the Pro-14 final, with the season truncated in order to squeeze in the inaugural ‘Rainbow Cup’ with the four top South African teams; the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers and Pro-14 teams taking part, which kicks off in April, although it is still very difficult to see how it will take place, with 14 day mandatory quarantine now in place for people travelling from South Africa.  So, for Connacht, their main goal was to secure Champions Cup rugby for next season, which despite losing to Edinburgh in the wind and rain on Saturday, they accomplished thanks to other results going their way.  Overall, the good news is that all the Irish provinces will be in the draw for next seasons Champions Cup.  However, for now the focus turns to last weekend proper of the Six Nations to see if Ireland can turn the recent tide against England and if Wales can secure the slam.  PS put your house on Scotland hammering Italy.

Ireland Player Ratings by Tommy Butler

Cian Healy 6 Came back in ahead of Dave Kilcoyne and justified his place in getting the upper hand in the scrum and participating in a great collective effort from the pack.

Rob Herring 6 Darts were on the money.  However, a hooker needs to offer more than that against England, where the decision to start Kelleher has to be made.

Tadhg Furlong 7 Working his way back to his best, his side-stepping exit from the 22 will have props worldwide dreaming of similar endeavours.

James Ryan 7 Great defensive performance in the lineout and efficient around the pitch, probably booked his ticket on the Lions tour with Gatland watching on.

Ian Henderson 8 Led from the front with a great performance all around the pitch.  Since coming back into the team, he his stepping up as the player everyone always hoped he would become.

Tadhg Beirne 8 Another great performance from the Kildare man with Longford connections and another ‘Man of the Match’ award.

Will Connors 8 You could hear the crunch in some of his hits.  A big part of a back row that edged the Scottish unit that destroyed England in Twickenham on the opening day of the Championship.

CJ Stander 7 As always, gave his all on his 50th appearance for Ireland.  Goes down the dark alleys where others will not venture but heading down there is not always the best option.

Jamison Gibson Parke 6 A performance that will split supporters.  Seemed to take the wrong option too much, his passing at times was poor and his box kicking was made look great by the superb kick chase rather than by his execution.

Johnny Sexton 8 A great all round game, especially slotting the last difficult penalty to seal the win.  Looks in great shape at the moment and is enjoying his rugby.

James Lowe 4 I for one could not wait for affable Kiwi to get in an Ireland jersey for what he brings in attack but unfortunately, he has become a defensive liability costing Ireland tries in all matches so far and needs to go off on work on that part of this game before returning to a green jersey again.

Robbie Henshaw 8.1 The Athlone man is operating at the peak of his powers both defensively and in attack and was my Man of the Match.  Sure to have impressed the watching Gatland.

Garry Ringrose 5.5 Uncharacteristically poor performance from a player who is normally one of Irelands best performers.  A natural runner with the ball who needs to be told to go and look for space instead of trying to kick through.

Keith Earls 7 A great battling performance from the man from Moyross who just signed a new IRFU contract, superb kick chasing, defence and looked for the ball in attack.

Hugo Keenan 7 Reliability personified under the high ball, did not get a chance in the attacking line, probably should have done better in conjunction with Lowe for Huw Jones try.

The Bench: Kelleher showed what he can do around the pitch and why he should start against England, Baird made the match winning charge down of Ali Price.  Curious why Conor Murray was not brought on got the last 15 minutes when Ireland desperately needed control at the base.

Management:  Paul O’Connell and John Fogarty take a bow, Simon Easterby will be wondering why Ireland stood off Scotland in the last 15 minutes, the backs are probably still wondering like the rest of us what Mike Catt wants.  Overall, a good day for Andy Farrell as winning was most important and sets up a great battle with England, win that and the glass is definitely half full.

Ireland Six Nations 2021 Fixtures

Saturday March 20th Ireland v England 4.45PM


Big congratulations to our Director of Rugby Niall Moran and his wife Edel on the birth of their baby daughter Joy.

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 https://twitter.com/quinn_dylan

The Longford/Mini Youth Section have also launched an initiative where club coaches will be posting weekly skills challenge videos.  Log onto https://www.facebook.com/minisrfc to view these.

 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. 

Referees Point of View

If you missed it last week our referees penned a number of articles on new rule interpretations and explaining some notable talking points from a referee’s point of view.  It was part of last weeks notes, which you can access at: https://bit.ly/3leEHtU

New 3G Pitch

Like all non-essential construction sites work on our new state of the art 3G pitch has been suspended since the start of the year.  However, be assured that all systems are ready to go to take advantage of the improving weather to have the pitch ready to go for the start of new season, when hopefully we will be back to playing rugby.


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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