The Offload: It’s time to put trust in Munster’s talented young guns

Rugby media’s ‘nasty underbelly’; Nigel Carolan and the Irish coaching exodus

Jack Crowley possesses all the skills to be an international outhalf. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Jack Crowley possesses all the skills to be an international outhalf. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

 

Munster youth SOS

Leinster will always hold a mirror up to Munster weaknesses. Frontrow is a glaring one. The honesty of local tightheads John Ryan and Stephen Archer has managed to keep Romain Salanoa and Kenyan Knox at bay, without either prop entering a genuine discussion about Ireland selection.

That is a problem.

Thomas Ahern - despite the 21-year-old’s perfect frame for a second row - was unable to dislodge Billy Holland, never mind Jean Kleyn. None of them come remotely close to the Ireland conversation.

That is a problem.

Same goes for outhalf where JJ Hanrahan has earned a nice deal from Clermont without ever coming into consideration for the Six Nations. Like Ahern and the young tightheads, Ben Healy and Jack Crowley could not lay claim to the 10 jersey throughout Joey Carbery’s year long rehabilitation.

That is a problem.

Next season Johann van Graan will construct a ferocious pack around RG Snyman, Gavin Coombes and Peter O’Mahony but consider the selection decisions made this weekend. Crowley possesses all the skills to become an international outhalf but, like Healy, Ahern and Knox, he was not deemed ready for exposure to a Pro14 final at the RDS. When the veterans ahead of the coming talent are nowhere near the standard required to slow Leinster’s march to another trophy, then, well, that is a major problem.

Since Munster caught Leinster cold in the 2011 final, they have beaten their arch-rivals in five regular season matches, losing 18. Four of the defeats were knockout. Actual progress is happening in Limerick but Saturday was a missed opportunity to unleash the next generation of Munster men just as Leo Cullen was turning to British and Irish Lions. Johann van Graan sees the talent. Perhaps the time has come for everyone else to as well.

Word of mouth

“Bit of a silver lining. Some good publicity for the school.” - Leinster’s Jack Conan - man of the match in the Pro14 final - laughs off a question about his alma mater St Gerard’s School.

“We can’t just dip into the GAA world or throw Sevens at it to solve the problem. It takes a lot more people on the ground and a lot more investment and money to turn people towards rugby.” - Leinster talent scout Trevor Hogan

By the numbers

6 - Leinster beat Munster for a record sixth time in a row.

Rugby media’s “nasty underbelly”

“I am the only woman who covers men’s rugby for a UK national and I can see why,” tweeted The Daily Telegraph journalist Kate Rowan, beneath her article that should concern, but probably won’t, everyone working in rugby media.

“This isn’t a men versus women thing,” Rowan explained. “There are some brilliant men in rugby who have helped me. But there’s a very nasty underbelly that doesn’t like people who don’t fit their mould.”

No reporter worth their salt wants to become the story. But Rowan has a story to tell about her experiences covering rugby in Ireland and the UK. One man grabbed her crotch in the Twickenham press box. “I was terrified,” she wrote. “Not just by this unexpected act but of what people would think if I reported it.”

She speaks out about “micro aggressions” from press officers, verbal abuse that would never be visited on a male reporter and sexual assault, again at Twickenham, by a security guard.

“The Rugby Football Union dealt with the situation well, and once again I decided to remain silent for the sake of not becoming the story, and for fear of being blacklisted.”

Kate Rowan is not seeking anything other than the common decency that her colleagues take for granted.

“It is 2021 and it should not be radical for a woman covering men’s rugby to want to feel safe.”

Devin Toner and Michael Bent lift the Pro14 trophy. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
Devin Toner and Michael Bent lift the Pro14 trophy. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

New glue needed?

Comings and goings are a little different than other seasons. The sight of Scott Fardy, Devin Toner and Michael Bent, Leinster’s best tighthead this season (and that is no joke), lifting the Pro14 trophy tends to indicate the trio’s imminent departure even with Leo Cullen describing them as the “glue” that binds the squad together.

The IRFU have been lauded for getting contracts over the line for key players but there is some worrying movement of coaches. Munster parted ways with academy manager Peter Malone late last year while Ulster have lost another academy coach as Kieran Campbell, who is also trains the Ireland Under-20s, has been recruited by Ealing Trailfinders. Willie Anderson retired last summer.

Nigel Carolan - the highly regarded Connacht attack coach - is also leaving Galway.

“I’m at the stage of my coaching career where I need to challenge myself in a new environment,” said Carolan.

“I know I speak for a huge amount of players by saying the affect Nigel has had on our careers and lives is immeasurable,” said Connacht outhalf Jack Carty. “I certainly wouldn’t be in the position I am today if our paths hadn’t crossed almost 15 years ago.”

Hopefully this flow of coaching exits does not turn into a flood.

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