Longford RFC Club News 22/03/2021   22/03/2021

By Tommy Butler Longford RFC PRO lrfconnects@gmail.com 

Rugby Digest

Ireland produced their best performance of the Andy Farrell era in comfortably beating England to sign off their 2021 Six Nations campaign with three wins from five starts.  The 32-18 score line did not adequately reflect Irelands dominance, in a game where they came out on top in all facets, after an early England onslaught.  Bundee Aki’s late red card allowed England to put some gloss on the score line via a Jonny May try, which was merely a consolation.  The performance featured the cutting edge that Ireland have been seeking since pre the Word cup, was epitomised by Jack Conan’s try, which came at the end of a dazzling 20+ phases, where Ireland used a mixture of straight forward carries, footwork, aerial guile and speed, to carve open an England team, which Ireland could find no way through in their previous four encounters.  The win was much more than harnessing the emotion of CJ Standers last outing in an Ireland jersey, it was a mixture of aggression, skill and execution all coming together.  The move of the match was Keith Earls second try, which was harshly ruled out.  The man from Moyross definitely has gas left in the tank, which showed when he rounded Jonny May for Irelands opening try, after Jack Conan’s great tap down into his path.  Not a single Irish player did not contribute to the cause on the day.  You can quibble on Stockdale’s defence, along with Herring for the Youngs try or Bundee Aki’s red card but that would take from what was an undoubted collective effort.  Johnny Sexton certainly rolled back the years and is back as a live contender for the Lions along with Murray, who looked for the first time in many outings back to his All Black conquering best but it was Athlone man Robbie Henshaw, who was the catalyst for nearly all the good things Ireland did, whether it was in defence or attack.  Barring injury he looks nailed on for a Lions start, whether at 12 or 13.  Another man with local connections, Tadhg Beirne, whose father is from Ardagh, was again excellent and is certain to make the Lions squad along with New Rosses all singing and dancing tighthead Tadhg ‘Jukebox’ Furlong, who made mincemeat of a player whom many people would have starting beside him in the Lions front row, Mako Vunipola.  The win certainly does not mean everything is great in the Ireland camp but it certainly leaves any fan with enough to believe that Ireland are moving in the right direction, after their near 2 year slump, subsequent to vanquishing the All Blacks in Dublin.  Focus now turns back to the Pro 14 final next weekend between Leinster and Munster followed by European action and then maybe the Rainbow Cup where the Pro 14 take on four teams from South Africa; the Bulls, the Lions, the Sharks and the Stormers, the Lions and possibly a low key end of season tour for Ireland.  All I can say in this Covid era is, thank you to all the Six Nations teams, as you supplied badly needed light and distraction in the midst of this madness.  

Ireland Player Ratings by Tommy Butler

Dave Kilcoyne 6 Unfortunately, due to a head knock only managed 20 minutes in a start he had been craving for a long time.  Luckily, Cian Healy was in reserve and acquitted himself well both in the tight and around the pitch.

Rob Herring 7 Hit his targets the majority of the time and put in a lot of tackles.  Got sucked in for Youngs try.

Tadhg Furlong 8 Brilliant, made light of work of Mako Vunipola and frustrated his replacement Genge.  A shoe in for the Lions No.3 jersey, Ireland play a lot better with him in the team, his ability to pass/link play is up there with the best.

Tadhg Beirne 8 Another great showing around the pitch, lineout and at the breakdown.  Shows how much he has grown as a player in that talk has moved on from him being vital for Ireland, to being a key cog for the Lions in their attempt to down the Boks.

Ian Henderson 8 Again, Led from the front with a great performance all around the pitch.  His recent performances have surely caught the eye of Warren Gatland.  He is exactly the type of hard working, powerful and no-nonsense player he favours.

CJ Stander 7 His 51st and last cap from Ireland, seemed to be enjoying himself more and more, as the match went on.  A mark of what Ireland will miss is when he bounced a double tackle from Curry and Billy Vunipola and emerged smiling.  By all accounts a great guy who will be sorely missed in Munster and in the green jersey.

Josh VanDerFlier 8 I have always been a big fan of the man in red scrum cap.  A huge engine and a massive work rate allow Ireland to play at a higher pace.  Memorable strip from Vunipola epitomised his strong performance.

Jack Conan 8 His first start in a number of years was a brilliant one, made Earls try and scored Irelands second.  Great work rate and made yards on every carry using power and smart footwork.

Conor Murray 8 This was the Kiwi taming Murray, who brought a pace of passing that has not been seen in a long time in a green jersey by him, combined with his usual great kicking game.

Johnny Sexton 8 Another brilliant game, he kicked 21 out of 22 kicks in the Six Nations with the one miss hitting the post.   Mixed his game up well and also attacked the line to keep the English defence guessing.  It is great to see Joey Carberry on the comeback trail but on the evidence of this match Sexton is far from finished yet.

Jacob Stockdale 6 Looked keen for work and played his part in Conan’s try but was caught out badly for Youngs try.

Bundee Aki 6 Worked well with Henshaw on a day that Irelands attacking vigour finally ignited.  His copy book was blotted by a needless red card for a high tackle, which was although harsh, to the letter of the law.

Robbie Henshaw 9 A brilliant all round performance.  Henshaw was the catalyst for all things good for Ireland and snuffed out all of England’s early attacking threat.  The Six Nations as a whole was ‘tour de force’ for the Athlone man who is a nailed-on Lions starter based on current form.

Keith Earls 7 Has really enjoyed something of a renaissance in the last two matches, gassed Jonny May for the first Ireland try and was unlucky not to have bagged a second after his superb finish was unfortunately ruled out.  Looks like he is not planning on vacating his Ireland jersey anytime soon.

Hugo Keenan 7 Undoubtedly Irelands find of the past 12 months.  He combines great reliability under the high ball with a good attacking threat.  Will be slightly disappointed not to have nailed May for England’s second try but this was only a small blot in an exemplary copy book where he played all the minutes of Irelands 2021 Six Nations campaign.

The Bench: All the Ireland bench added something when they came on, with Healy leading the way.

Management:  It was a day of vindication especially for Head Coach Andy Farrell, Backs Coach Mike Catt and Defence Coach Simon Easterby.  It is not often that England are bested in all aspects of the game and the attacking dynamism on display genuinely looked like a big step forward.  While one swallow does not make a summer, Ireland fans will feel positive about the team and where they are going.  Maybe it might have been Ireland and not Wales going for the slam bar the early red card?.

Leinster Fixtures

Saturday March 27th Leinster v Munster Pro-14 Final RDS 5PM

Friday April 2nd Leinster v Toulon Champions Cup Last 16 5.30PM

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. 

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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