Ian Keatley sees the visit of Toulon to Thomond Park not only for the huge challenge it is for Munster but also as a massive opportunity for a young side eager to stake its own place in the province’s rich European heritage.
British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland should take note — All Blacks fly-half Beauden Barrett is on a different planet right now and might be even better than three-times World Player of the Year Dan Carter, New Zealand rugby pundits have said.
Described simply as “a genius” by Jonny Wilkinson, Dave Alred stands among the world’s top coaches in a variety of sports, including rugby, golf, cricket and soccer. He has been involved in Rugby World Cup success with England and Ryder Cup victory with Team Europe.
Dean Rock spent much of his teenage years kicking goals for Catholic University School’s Junior and Senior Cup rugby teams but no-one had to look very far even then for evidence of his GAA background or signs as to his future sporting path.
Gary Brennan seldom gets the chance to showcase his outstanding football talents for a national audience. But the Clare captain has won an army of admirers, including International Rules boss Joe Kernan, as the Banner’s footballers begin to rise again.
With renewed focus on concussion, there are contrasting cultures in the northern and southern hemispheres in that the approach here is to seek ‘collisions’ while the emphasis down there is to avoid ‘contact’, writes
Jonny Wilkinson may not have known what he was unleashing when he mused aloud near the end of last year that Matt Giteau was such an “exceptional” player, that he didn’t quite know how Australian rugby could have ever let one of the most gifted playmakers in Wallaby annals disappear to work his wonders in Europe.
The pressures on England at this World Cup can hardly be over-egged. Their status as hosts, as founding fathers of the game, and as the country with both the greatest playing resources and finances, guaranteed a level of scrutiny and sense of expectation that was only heightened by their placement in Pool A alongside Wales and Australia.