Outhalves still on show
All in the Scrum:All eyes were on Ireland’s outhalf this weekend and while he was named in the Ireland squad last night it remains increasingly unlikely that Jonathan Sexton (grade two hamstring tear) will feature against France next Saturday.On Friday night Paddy Jackson had everyone’s nerves a jangling in Ulster’s 29-all draw with Treviso. The 21-year-old did good, finishing with seven kicks from nine attempts. He missed his first shot and memories of Murrayfield came flooding back.
He recovered to have a decent game, which is good news for Ulster as Ruan Pienaar went off injured. Seven from nine is a decent stat, far better than six from nine anyway.
And it so nearly could have been that for Jackson as he skewered his eighth kick well left in the 69th minute. He was allowed re-take it, however, as the Treviso players clearly don’t know a ancient rule of rugby: you can’t rush a penalty. He nailed his second attempt.
Also on Friday night, Ian Madigan finished with three from four as Leinster beat the Dragons 26-19 in Rodney Parade.
Down in Limerick, Ronan O’Gara, who turns 36 on Thursday, landed two penalties and a conversion in Munster’s 13-all draw with the Ospreys, missing a 40-metre drop goal at the death.
It now seems that O’Gara is fourth in the pecking order.
All told, the stats and general performances allow Declan Kidney to stick with Jackson for France with Madigan poised to make his first squad.
TMOs can go back in time
In rugby it always seems like the Southern Hemisphere are quicker to embrace change. Or maybe it is just the time difference. Either way, the rolling out of new TMO powers is already evident in Super Rugby with referees now allowed to ask the eye in the sky to go back two phases in the build up to a score.
The refs seem to be liking the option with one example being Israel Folau’s – the much heralded rugby league, via Aussie Rules, convert (Sonny Bill mark II) – first try for the Waratahs taking some time to be awarded as Chris Pollock wanted to see who ricocheted the ball into open country.
Turns out that opposing winger, the Queensland Reds Digby Ioane, was the culprit.