All in the Scrum



IRB clamp down on Thomson's sanction

The International Rugby Board brass are going where their judicial officer Jean-Noel Couraud would not when it confirmed that it will appeal what it believes to be an unduly lenient sanction handed down to New Zealand forward Adam Thomson (inset) for stamping or trampling on the head of an opponent.

“As custodians of rugby worldwide, the IRB has a duty to protect its image, values and integrity, together with the welfare of players at all levels, in order that the sport can continue its unprecedented growth,” said an IRB statement.

Thomson was given one week for stamping on the head of Scotland’s Alasdair Strokosch in the All Blacks recent 51-22 win over the Scots. “The IRB strongly believes that the sanction of one week is unduly lenient for this particular act of foul play,” said the statement.

Green Pumas

Normally we look to the US, Britain or Australia for the Irish diaspora, but around 700,000 Argentinians claim Irish ancestry, making the Irish input to recent international Argentinian rugby teams perhaps less surprising.

Santiago Phelan, the current coach and former player, is one such rugby man who “is very proud” to have green blood in his veins, while Dermot Cavanagh also coached the team in the 1960s.

More recently Adolfo ‘Michingo’ O’Reilly headed the coaching staff in the 1980s, with Saturday’s replacement hooker Agustin Creevy also claiming an Irish background.

A game too far?

Of Argentina’s six matches in the Rugby Championship involving Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and Argentina ,only the All Blacks put more points on Los Pumas than Ireland did on Saturday. The 54 points that the world champions racked up went unmatched, with South Africa, in the first match of the series, getting exactly half that total with 27 points.

The question is whether Argentina came into Dublin battle-hardened or weary from their stretch of games, which ran from August to the final match against the Wallabies on October 6th.

They then played against Wales in the first of their November internationals before meeting France and the weekend’s comprehensive drubbing.

Just five of the same faces remain from 2009

Much as we love stats, the results of previous games often have no bearing on how current matches will pan out. The game on Saturday seems one such case.

Cian Healy was the only player in the front row playing in the 2009 match against Argentina, while none of the current second row players were there and just captain Jamie Heaslip in the back row was present.

Peter Stringer was the scrumhalf three years ago, Andrew Trimble on the left wing and Geordan Murphy at full back.

In all just five players from the 29-9 win in 2009 began the match on Saturday: Heaslip, Healy, Sexton, D’Arcy and Bowe.

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