The Offload: O’Mahony and James Ryan at the heart of a feisty encounter

Leinster secondrow has his Ireland teammate to thank; Ian Madigan stands alone

Stephen Archer gets to grips with James Ryan during Munster’s win over Leinster. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Stephen Archer gets to grips with James Ryan during Munster’s win over Leinster. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

 

Studs R Us

The RDS on Saturday night felt like a finishing school of hard knocks, with several players forced to repeat their exams this summer. There was nowhere to hide, especially under Munster’s jagged steel.

Tap Dancing on torsos could be the working title of The Rainbow Cup’s northern soul edition.

Did anyone else breakdown James Ryan’s two scraps with Munster players as if they were the Zapruder film?

It took 63 rewinds before we identified Peter O’Mahony as the lone gun man in the book depository. Stephen Archer left stud marks on the grassy knoll and Ryan’s torso, but it was O’Mahony who should be credited with bringing enough ferocity to soften Ryan’s cough.

Really, Ryan should thank O’Mahony for saving him from murdering the Munster tighthead (aka “you *** c***”).

It started innocently enough as Archer snuggled between Dan Sheehan and Hugh O’Sullivan, who had a nightmare experience at scrumhalf.

This allowed Tadhg Beirne to smother Sheehan under a pile of bodies. Beirne’s underground antics prompted Ryan to fling his fellow Irish lock onto the grass, whereby O’Mahony’s forearm instinctively removed Ryan from the fray, leaving Ryan Baird to walk into a collective Munster embrace (all the while Jean Kleyn and CJ Stander gave it to Scott Penny).

“Have a word with them,” said O’Mahony after referee Chris Busby penalised him for being third man into the melee.

Busby must have gulped at the prospect of another 77 minutes of what was wonderfully close to the Killing Fields of Tom Clifford Park in the 1990s when Peter Clohessy first met his soul mate Trevor Brennan.

On 33 minutes Stander carried into Ryan four metres from the Leinster try line. A pirouette by the homeward bound Stander left Ryan’s torso exposed to Archer’s ladder climbing routine.

Again, it was O’Mahony’s timely forearm that saved Ryan from committing a homicide. A true friend and bitter enemy all revealed in one embrace. You really do love to see it.

Word of mouth

“John McClean was not employed as director of rugby by UCD, but by the UCD Rugby Club, and we do not have control over, or access to the records of the rugby club.” - UCD distances itself from convicted paedophile and UCD director of rugby who, from 1997 to 2011, had a massive role in hand picking teenage rugby players for the university’s scholarship scheme.

“....” - David Carrigy, UCD rugby club president and World Rugby’s head of development and international relations, refuses to comment on whether the club sought references from McClean or if any were provided.

“Always listen to the ‘experts.’ They’ll tell you what your [SIC] doing wrong, what can’t be done and why. Then go do it! Great squad effort through the Six Nations #privatesuccess #MEWE” - Adam Griggs, the Ireland head coach who last Tuesday did not know who was running the domestic game, ends the Six Nations campaign with poor grammar.

By the numbers

€6 million - South Africa’s participation fee to play, or not as the current season has proved, in the Pro 16 (broadcast money translates into €500k per province).

Rog Media Empire

Something brand new landed in the inbox on Thursday morning. It sparked the latest whatsapp whirring about Ronan O’Gara entering phase two of his dual empire as media savant and rugby coach.

Actually, it was just a press release from La Rochelle confirming that he had replaced Jono Gibbes, who is off to Clermont, as “head of the professional team,” on a three-year deal. What made us chuckle was the email came from Oglivy not La Rochelle.

When will Ronan O’Gara swap France for a return to Ireland? Photograph: Xavier Leoty/Getty/AFP
When will Ronan O’Gara swap France for a return to Ireland? Photograph: Xavier Leoty/Getty/AFP

Pitch sessions and family life remain O’Gara’s dual priorities. We know all this because he said so on Off The Ball and in his weekly column for The Irish Examiner. This got us to thinking that the bottom line to tempt him back to Munster would need to be very tasty to make him cash-in his TV, radio and print gigs. Never mind leaving France.

“Hell of a day for the head Wednesday,” O’Gara wrote. “A round of media interviews en français with Le Parisien, L’Equipe, RMC radio et al. Thinking your way through a minefield of questions about your future, about Leinster, about the race for the Bouclier is taxing enough in English but transferring the entire thought process to French can feel gruelling.”

Ever the showman, Rog couldn’t resist stirring the pot, just a little, with: “Coaching in English sometime in the future will be a lot easier. But that won’t be for some time yet. The plan is to be here in La Rochelle until 2024.”

In many ways, Irish rugby is well served by O’Gara’s media musings as he weaves an always interesting path through the labyrinth of not biting the hand that might someday feed him. Who wouldn’t have WHPR on speed dial?

Lone male voice

Ian Madigan stands alone. Ulster pays the mortgage, podcasting on House of Rugby with Fergus McFadden and Eimear Considine is part of his post playing exit strategy, but that is not what makes Madigan stand out from all the other active male players.

Madigan is the only one of 250-plus professionals to speak about the problems facing the women’s game as professionalism sprints away from them, just like the men’s game needed that horrendous night in Lens in 1999 - followed by an awful stuffing at Twickenham in 2000 - to get their act together.

“I would have been very aware when I was going through school that the opportunities I had weren’t there for women, and it didn’t sit well with me,” said the 32-year-old.

At Madigan’s former club, the Bristol Bears, kicking sessions with their female equivalent was standard behaviour. It would be of enormous benefit for Stacey Flood and Hannah Tyrrell to spend time with him. In fairness, Ireland scrumhalf Kathryn Dane has spoken about her delight to see injured nine’s in her job as Leinster’s academy physio as she can train alongside them.

“Just more cross-pollination between the men’s and women’s game,” said Madigan. “That’s the first step I’d like to see. There’s no reason why the provincial teams can’t have that.”

None at all.

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