DONAL LENIHAN: New Zealand will improve, but so will Joe’s Ireland

With the much anticipated New Zealand test looming large in the background, the opening international of the November Guinness Series always had a bit of a matinee feel to it, the prelude to the main event.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Joe Schmidt’s powerplays can help Ireland exploit demise of the Bajada

Donal Lenihan on what Ireland must do to beat Argentina.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Back to the future as Ledesma puts the snarl back into Pumas

With an average of 13 internationals now scheduled in a single season, it’s clear that some tests rank higher than others, writes Donal Lenihan

Last Saturday’s November series opener against Italy in Chicago was as much about adding to the coffers of the IRFU — estimates range between €250,000 and €500,000 — as offering more game time and international experience to a number of players on the fringe of the full national side in advance of next season’s World Cup in Japan.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Oct 31, 1978: How privileged we were

Watching those re-runs on RTÉ of Reeling in the Years serves as a graphic reminder of just how much things have changed in modern Ireland — in the majority of cases — for the better.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Memories - and myths - that linger from a special day for Munster in 1978

The most obvious starting point when exploring the myths surrounding Munster’s historic win over New Zealand is the attendance. At least I can honestly declare that “yes, I was there”, a claim that many in the years that followed that famous encounter deemed to imagine.

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DONAL LENIHAN: Tackling interpretations now deciding match outcomes

For the second week in a row, the quality of rugby on offer across the Heineken Champions Cup pool fixtures has been overshadowed by decisions made by referees and their interpretation of tackling laws, writes Donal Lenihan

The dilemma facing officials at present was best summarised by the call made by promising Irish referee Andrew Brace in issuing a yellow card to former New Zealand World Cup winner Jerome Kaino for a collision with Bath’s Jamie Roberts in their opening round game against Toulouse.

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