Toulouse not as fearsome as they once were; GAA needs more referees
Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team
Leinster’s Cian Healy takes part in training ahead of their Champions Cup meeting with Toulouse. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Champions Cup rugby continues this weekend with Leinster looking to add to their opening round win over Wasps when they face the once-fearsome Toulouse in the south of France on Sunday (3.15pm, Sunday). Toulouse’s clichéd ‘aristocrats of French rugby’ title doesn’t hold much weight anymore as they only float above the Champions Cup waterline and, for Guy Easterby, the confidence with which Leinster go into this game shows just how far they have come. The current head of rugby operations for the province was scrumhalf on the famous day in Toulouse in 2006 but now he says: “In ’06 we celebrated that Toulouse win for two days. Well, we probably didn’t, but it certainly felt like that. The player group are hungrier now. The organisation is more driven.” Meanwhile, Ulster also travel to France for the daunting task of facing Racing 92 (Saturday, 5.30pm). Will Addison is one of those looking to spring a surprise against last year’s beaten finalists and is hoping to be included in Joe Schmidt’s Ireland squad which is announced next Wednesday. Munster are the first Irish team in action on Saturday when they take on Gloucester at 1pm and you can follow all three matches with The Irish Times via our liveblogs.
On to GAA and there is help wanted. Men and women dressed in black and willing to control 30 players on a pitch while also suffering plenty of abuse from the stands and on social media are needed. Writing this morning, Ian O’Riordan says that the GAA’s admission that the single biggest challenge of their new Referee Development Plan is the recruitment and retention of referees presents an obvious dilemma; it gets more difficult to raise standards from a decreasing pool of referees. Meanwhile, Daniel Kearney has his sights set high for next year with Cork as he goes into awards season with an All Star nomination. Kearney says he is not a stereotypical wing-forward and believes that gives him an unknown quality which makes him dangerous.