Rugby Thoughts

luke_fitzgerald

Luke Fitzgerald shock retirement

It was with great surprise this morning that Luke Fitzgerald announced his retirement from the game with immediate effect. The talented Blackrock College player who oozed class with ball in hand and ability to find a gap from absolutely nothing. Fitzgerald has had many highs with province, country and representational honors with the Lions. However, the number of injuries sustained in the last two years have taken their toll culminating in the neck injury sustained against Connacht in the Guinness Pro 12 final which has forced this shock retirement.

It is very sad to see such a talented player forced to retire before his thirties but the wear and tear on the modern professional rugby player is pointing to a career if you are lucky of around seven or eight years. Luke Fitzgerald class was seen in the RWC Quarter Final loss to Argentina last season with one of the tries of the tournament. Fitzgerald ability to evade contact and his blistering pace were too much for Argentina and gave Ireland a sniff of crawling back Argentina’s lead.

Leinster have lost a model professional in the dressing room and compounds the departures of the likes of Eoin Reddan, Ian Madigan and potentially Mike McCarthy if rumors are true that the second row will retire due to concussion. A sad day for Ireland Rugby. All the best Luke in your future plans, no doubt whatever you do, you will excel in your chosen career of choice.

Racing Metro are Top 14 Champions!

A brilliant final in the Nou Camp last Friday which was nearly destroyed again by match official in vogue Raynal for a somewhat debatable sending off of Marchenaud early doors. This match official is so trigger happy that he actually scares me what he will do next.

The early sending off should have being that as Toulon built a nice lead before the interval but Racing Metro were not to be denied with a performance of absolute defiance. It always helps when your fly-half is only one Dan Carter who was instrumental in the victory; cool head under pressure and his game management was on the money throughout.

Toulon will wonder how they conspired not to score a try at the death; a scrum virtually on the Racing Metro line but it was squandered thanks to an impressive scrum by Racing Metro. Rokocoko’s try midway through the second half was sensational.

You can call it an upset but given Racing’s financial riches along with their final counterparts, the shock factor is minimal. The setting of the Nou Camp set a magnificent backdrop to the final. The fast track surface lent itself to an expansive game.

Well done Ronan O’Gara, his coaching reputation continues to soar. It is only a matter of time until the Munster man is head coach at a top rugby club.

RWC U20 Championship Final

The post-mortem has already being written but Ireland came up against an England side whose team contained several players who have experienced first team experience for their clubs; massive experience on an occasion like this. Ireland were on the back foot throughout and it was only a matter of time until England hit the front where Mallinder and Marchant were outstanding providing the game management and dynamic ball carrying respectively.

The fact that these two players are playing regular first team rugby with their clubs of Northampton and London Scottish highlighted the need for our Ireland players to get immersed into our provincial first team squads as soon as possible. Ryan, Porter and Deegan who were superb in this tournament need to be given the opportunity to stake their claim in their respective provinces but such is the player pool in Leinster that Ryan and Deegan will struggle for genuine game time next season thus stunting their professional growth and development.

It is time for Peter Nucifora to take responsibility and assign these underage players to the four provinces to achieve this, otherwise we are in danger of letting slip a new exciting generation of Irish rugby player. James Ryan has all the skills, work rate and leadership to become an Ireland great already.

It was a disappointing end to the tournament but given the wins against Wales, New Zealand, Georgia and Argentina indicates the massive pool of talent unearthed by Nigel Carolan and coaching staff. Their philosophy of playing expansive rugby in the 6N tournaments despite making at times mistakes has to be applauded and is now bearing fruit.

England U20 setup and grass roots development are on the money, expect massive England performance strides in the senior side come the next RWC with the likes of Mallinder, Marchant and Chick in their ranks.