Farrell making IRB shortlist plain daft


The IRB judging panel for world player of the year, which includes Ireland’s Paul Wallace, opened themselves up to widespread ridicule by including Owen Farrell on the short-list.

Farrell is struggling to nail down the outhalf slot at Saracens, due to Charlie Hodgson’s presence, while his selection for England last Saturday was due to Toby Flood’s injury.

Still, the undoubtedly talented 21-year-old was named alongside Richie McCaw (tipped to win for a fourth time), Dan Carter and France’s Frédéric Michalak.

The judging panel of John Eales (chairman), Will Greenwood, Gavin Hastings, Raphaël Ibanez, Francois Pienaar, Agustín Pichot, Scott Quinnell, Tana Umaga and Wallace couldn’t find room for the European player of the year (Rob Kearney), the Six Nations player of the tournament (Dan Lydiate), the stand out performer in Super Rugby (Sonny Bill Williams) – a competition Carter and McCaw missed large chunks of due to injury. The list goes on, with Brian O’Driscoll – surprisingly passed over by the judges in 2009 – noting the absence of Argentina captain Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe on Twitter. Unbelievably, Kieran Read didn’t make it, nor did Bryan Habana, scorer of seven tries in six Rugby Championship matches.

New Zealand's blackest days

New Zealand’s heaviest defeats are a good indicator of just how successful they are as a rugby nation (as is Richie McCaw’s phenomenal 102 victories in 116 Test matches). Saturday’s surprising result at Twickenham ranks joint second for losing margins by the All Blacks, with Australia and South Africa responsible for the other defeats.

The 43 points racked up by France at the 1999 World Cup, while astonishing, don’t count as Taine Randell’s side got 31 of their own.

New Zealand’s blackest days:

1999 Australia 28 New Zealand 7
1928 South Africa 17New Zealand 0
2012 England 38 New Zealand 21

GAA move onside

The idea of the All Blacks or Springboks, Pumas or Wallabies running out at the home of hurling (Semple Stadium, Thurles) or to the stunning backdrop of the Magillacuddy Reeks (Fitzgerald stadium, Killarney) inched a little closer to reality last week.

“We’ll be putting a motion to Congress next April which would allow a feasibility study to be done by the IRFU regarding hosting the rugby World Cup,” said GAA director general Páraic Duffy when asked about the union’s bid for the 2023 tournament. “Clearly, it wouldn’t be possible to run the event here without the use of some GAA grounds.” Very true, but Duffy also appears to have grasped the silver lining.

“It’s a matter for Congress to decide if we should make grounds available, but, obviously, there’s a potential benefit there for the GAA . . . Government support for the bid is crucial and that would have to involve refurbishing GAA grounds to bring them up to the standard required for such a major world event.”

Quote of the Week

“It’s probably our biggest challenge ever. Especially with the couple of guys that we are missing, we are going to need the younger guys that come to really step up to the plate and for everybody to play to have one of their best games in a Leinster jersey. And even then it might not be good enough.” Jonathan Sexton plays down Sunday’s trip to Clermont.

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