Crusaders, Leinster, Waratahs, Cardiff, Stormers. Could the Celts be in Super Rugby’s future?
The Roar: This shapes as a really interesting weekend of rugby. I reckon Round 11 has a bit of a ‘moving weekend’ feel about it.
There are two groups of teams that this applies to: the Crusaders we already know are going to be there or thereabouts, but the three teams immediately behind them on the table – the Hurricanes, Bulls and Highlanders – have a really good chance to put one over teams in and on the fringe of the top eight.
Below them, the Sharks, Brumbies, Waratahs, and the Blues all have a chance to remind the top eight teams the they need to keep an eye over their shoulder. So here’s some Round 11 talking points:
- Is Super Rugby’s future Celtic?
- Rise of the third bananas?
- Make or break week for the Blues;
- Will Steven Bradbury top the Australian conference? And..
- Neutral referees: I reckon it’s happening.
Ireland players react to their gutsy win over France in Cardiff on Sunday. Image: ABC Grandstand
Ireland have beaten France in their final Pool game of the Rugby World Cup, but it’s come at a massive injury and possible suspension cost to some key players. Here’s my reaction for The Roar, written straight after the game..
Ireland’s depth and resolve will be tested massively in the knockout stage of the Rugby World Cup, after they suffered serious injuries to three key players, and may lose another one to a citing, in their gutsy 24-6 win over France in Cardiff.
In the space of half an hour, Ireland were dealt the triple blow of losing playmaking lynchpin Jonny Sexton to a groin strain, and inspirational skipper Paul O’Connell before halftime, and then lost vastly underrated blindside flanker Peter O’Mahony after halftime. O’Connell and O’Mahony had to be stretchered from the field, while the pain and anguish on Sexton’s face was obvious as he gingerly walked off.
ESPNscrum.com: Ireland hit a speed bump in their final preparations for the Rugby World, after their rise to an all-time-high No.2 on the World Rugby rankings. The two-time defending Six Nations champions had been cruising along, having defeated Scotland and Wales to take their record to 15 wins in 17 Tests since the post-siren defeat by New Zealand in November 2013.
But then came disappointingly comprehensive defeats by Wales and England, in Dublin and London respectively, a drop to No.3 on the world rankings, and then to No.6; Ireland and their fans now, suddenly, are not looking forward to the tournament with quite so much anticipation.
“Again, Folau was stationed deep at the back, at least near his only 22m again in this passage and out of shot in the image above. If we note that the grass is mown in different directions at five metre intervals, we can quickly work out that Folau is again at least 15 metres away from where this ball came down.”
ESPNscrum.com: The Wallabies lost a second Spring Tour Test, 26-23 to Ireland in Dublin, but won plenty of praise for the way they played in what was certainly their best of the three Tests to date in November.
Up against the reigning Six Nations Champions, and maybe even the best defence they’ve faced on tour, the Wallabies looked a whole lot more threatening as the short passes and offloads started to stick.
The set piece also saw improvements, with the lineout very good and even stealing a bit of ball from Ireland throw-ins. The scrum held its’ ground well for the first hour, but again degraded as the replacements came on late in the game. Backrow engagement height – a bugbear of this column in recent weeks – looked much better, too.
But for all the improvement, there were still a few things to highlight, and so for the final Scrum column of the year, here are this week’s lessons, as the Wallabies arrive in London for their final match of 2014.