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Clermont through to first ever Heineken Cup Final after tense win over Munster

Man city have a really long history too. They also had the best U23 team in Britain, locally built up, before the money came in. Then that disappeared into the ether.

This final represents big money. That's unquestionable. And its something rugby fans think about from time to time - and this is an apt time to think about it, because this final has these teams in it because of big money.

Yes, they have real fans and long histories, more than many teams do. But that alone would not have gotten them into the final.

Sometimes, things are protected and for good reason: Irish club numbers of foreign players for eg. (and of course in life outside rugby that happens too, and again for good reason - PGI DOC PDO etc in food)

Of course every single fan would like their individual club to have loadsa money. That's a pointlessly obvious and myopic notion.

But something is lost when the game becomes primarily about the worlds top 100 players in each hemisphere playing almost exclusively for whoever pays the most.

This is especially the case if there are weak or no rules on balancing the books (even soccer is getting rid of that one soon, thankfully).

One of the many effects of this is that fans become irreverent cheerleaders as the years roll by: replaceable by other, better paying fans if they don't like the arrangement.

When this happens, rugby may be a large spectator sport, but it will be something only slightly more relevant than 3d cinema or an xbox.

Specifically:

@colombes you are making presumptions. I know that well paid players can try hard etc

@vanadaryl thanks for the extra info (the 4th Irish club qualified this time around because Leinster won last time. And if the negotiations go a particular way about how the H cup works, Italian and Scottish teams may end up never even getting close to competing)

And obv there is more to this than the two french clubs btw - its at a trend, a dynamic in the game that's worth examining.

4 Years, 11 Months ago

Clermont through to first ever Heineken Cup Final after tense win over Munster

finally the big big budgets in France are starting to work at H cup level:

these 2 finalists have budgets many multiples of munsters...and yet, that second kick through almost yielded a try near the end for munster, and you know o gard would have converted for 16-17.

Ah well. The man-cityification of rugby rolls relentlessly on.

4 Years, 11 Months ago

Elliot Daly clearance kick lands straight in the bin

I love how comedy old school the bin is too! classic

5 Years, 2 Days ago

Paul O'Connell knocks out Dave Kearney with clumsy kick to the head

its a funny one (as in strange)

You just can't imagine him doing it deliberately - its not his style at all - and yet it looks so clear cut.

One thing - Kearney was already at least winded and groggy when he hit the ground hand. (and then he took that boot to the head!)

Moment of complete madness by POC.

5 Years, 1 Week ago

Ian Madigan chip from behind tryline and winning try vs Glasgow Warriors

after a couple of replays and I'll still struggling to follow his sidestep there for that try. V impressive.

5 Years, 4 Weeks ago

Italy give Lo Cicero famous send off with historic win over Ireland

Good point on the wales match Nixx, good tactics reduced the negative 'impact' of size....but still, all told, I'd rather have that bit of bulk...

See here for comment from a former Irish International on this topic:
http://www.irishtimes.com/sport/rugby/lack-of-bulk-could-be-the-reason-behind-ireland-s-chronic-injury-crisis-1.1331591

5 Years, 1 Month ago

Italy give Lo Cicero famous send off with historic win over Ireland

Those 5.11 guys may be listed as 5.11 on their provincial team sites, but really? Earls 5.11? They are all v light/skinny too. (and he's listed at 5.10 on the ireland site- but then, he's also listed as 14.1 stone - really?!! Earls 14.1 stone?)

BOD and D'Arcy are listed as 5.10, and sometimes as 5.9 in various places.

Gilroy 6 ft? Do you really think so?

And 5.11 is close to 6 ft, fair enough. But they are quite small by modern international standards, and they are light. And for some reason, most of the newer players are smaller than the likes of Horgan, Bowe, trimble, fitzy- ierecent or other available /injured backs. And they are smaller than many dominant international backs these days.

The combo of not that tall and quite light is the problem, and is the main, non pedantic point.

Maybe you could respond to the actual basic point- "our backs are quite small aren't they" - points rather than just nit pick? Because they are quite small, esp when taking height and weight into account.

5 Years, 1 Month ago

Italy give Lo Cicero famous send off with historic win over Ireland

Damn! No excuse now for Kidney picking those small guys.

5 Years, 1 Month ago

Italy give Lo Cicero famous send off with historic win over Ireland

There is another issue too re Kidney: he's opting, continuously, for really small players! Why is he doing this, in the modern game esp, when the exact opposite is occurring everywhere else? This is esp the case for the backs, where physically small players are now dominating the Irish backline. I know some are injury related but eventually, you have to look at the overall size of the team and not just the quality of the individual player coming on.

We can end up with no player even close to 6 ft between Sexton and Kearney at times in the backs now (i.e. 11,12, 13, 14) and that's just madness. A few, fine, but none? (#9 replacement Reddan is small too, and Jackson, on for Sexton at 10, is tiny!)

And there are two really really good, significantly bigger alternatives for the wingers: Trimble and Fitzy, who find it hard to get their game, unlike Earls and Gilroy who don't. But see the provinces, who are more successful, where both Trimble and Fitzy get their game)

(and @gezza- don't forget Tommy Bowe!)

(Finally, I think these small guys have probably stunted their growth taking private school rugby too seriously, overdoing the creatine and weights.)

5 Years, 1 Month ago

Italy give Lo Cicero famous send off with historic win over Ireland

Finally, its ok to talk about the Lions, now that the 6N is actually over.

Who from this Irish team would travel, based on this and other recent performances?

O Brien, Healy and Sexton will for sure, and possibly all start. Lots of backrow competition for SOB, but O Brien's carries make him something special .(Likewise with Healy actually, and the game is faster in Oz than the NH)

Kearney will certainly travel, but Hapenny would prob start instead now. Don't think Lions will suffer with either of them starting though: might depend on performances in the build up to the first test.

Other than those 4, not sure who from Irl should travel. A wildcard could be someone like Trimble ,who ireland sorely need again (as Ireland seem to be competing with the Welsh 1970s side in stature in the backs these days)

Don't think it will or should be dominated by either Welsh or English: both are still flaky as even this 6N has shown, and, in Wales' case, the build up to the 6N when they simply couldn't beat anybody!

Scotland have an excellent back 3 and some excellent forwards (Grey would really suit speed of Oz game)


5 Years, 1 Month ago