Six Nations: Peter O’Mahony full of praise for absent Caelan Doris

Calcutta Club free bar; new format for women’s tournament; quote of the day and more

Since his Ireland debut 12 months ago against Scotland, Caelen Doris, 22, has established himself as head coach Andy Farrell’s first-choice number 8. But this week he had to step back because of unresolved issues around concussion.

“Caelen has been one of the outstanding Irish players in the last 18 months, two years,” said Peter O’Mahony from the Irish base. “I have to say I’m beyond impressed with him particularly his football skills, his ability to hold his feet in the line, his ability to carry hard when he needs to carry hard, his tackling, his poaching. I think he’s been exceptional.”

It speaks volumes about the meteoric rise of Doris at Leinster that Irish flanker O’Mahony would be asked about a young player who will not feature in the first weekend of this year’s championship.

“It certainly will be a big loss. But as I say, there are guys there who are hungry,” added O’Mahony. “We demand that if someone goes down there’s someone there. It has to be as seamless as possible. Everyone in the group was gutted to see him go home. But at the same time there’s guys there who are chomping at the bit to get a go.” An embarrassment of riches.

On this day

Feb 4th 1984: It was the days of the Five Nations Championship. Italy would come in 16 years later at the turn of the century to make it what it is now. But as the championship kicked off that year all four captains of the Home Union teams – England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales – were front-row players.

On the day Scotland beat England 18-6, hooker Peter Wheeler, the onetime chief executive of Leicester Tigers, led England, while prop Jim Aitkin was in charge of that year’s Grand Slam winners, Scotland.

Hookers Ciarán Fitzgerald and Mike Watkins went head to head as Wales beat Ireland 18-9. Watkins, who won the rare honour of being given the captaincy on his first cap, didn’t hang around and won just four. Fitzgerald captained Ireland to Triple Crowns in 1982 and 1985, the Five Nations Championship in 1983 and captained the Lions on their 1983 tour.

Calcutta Club was all about the free bar

What you need to know about the Calcutta Cup, which will be played this weekend between England and Scotland is not that it is the oldest of all the cups played for in the Six Nations, or, that it was established in 1872 on the subcontinent. It is not that they liked it so much that they played again the following week leading to the formation of the Calcutta Football Club in January 1873. It is not that The Calcutta Club joined the Rugby Football Union in 1874 and prospered. What you need to know is that, when the free bar had to be discontinued, the membership took a nose dive. At the suggestion of secretary G.A.J. Rothney, the members decided to disband.

New format for women’s tournament

This year’s Women’s Six Nations beginning April 3th-4th has a new format. With two pools of three teams, each team plays one home and one away fixture. On completion teams face off against the opposing ranked team from the other pool in a playoff series.

Ireland, in Group B alongside France and Wales begin on the weekend of April 10th away to Wales. The following weekend, Ireland host France at home. The playoffs are on April 24th-25th.

The under-20 Six Nations under new Ireland under-20 Head Coach Kieran Campbell, who came in for Noel McNamara, is scheduled to kick off on June 19th and run across a three-week period in June and July. Further planning is required to finalise details.

By the numbers

51°34'38.2"N 9°17'13.9"W: The location of Betsboro in Skibbereen, West Cork and home of new arrival to the Irish squad and first from Skib RFC to earn a Munster contract, Gavin Coombes.

Quote of the day

“It’s not tough.” That’s Peter O’Mahony hanging tough when asked about the departure of Caelen Doris. O’Mahony was making the point that there are a string of hungry backrow players ready to step into his place.

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