This week on Blues Talk TV we take a look back at Leinster’s bonus point, but ultimately disappointing, win over Zebre and review the rest of the weekends Pro12 action. We then preview the crunch RBS 6 Nations match between Ireland and England in the Aviva Stadium.
This week on Blues Talk TV we take a look back at a week of differing fortunes for Ireland and Leinster. Ireland beat France in the Aviva Stadium whilst Leinster lost to The Dragons across the road in the RDS. We also take a look forward to what looks like a winner takes all clash with England.
“There can be only one”
It’s that time of year again, when we pause slightly from the exciting Six Nations tournament and take a look at the Guinness Pro12 runners and riders.
Nine league games left. 4 during the Six nations. All teams, with the possible exception of the Dragons, with something to play for.
Now that we have European places riding on league placings it makes things more exciting with several “Inception, Film within a Film” scenarios going on.
Firstly we have a race for the playoff places as usual. With a race for home semi finals at the top.
Secondly we have a race for European Champions Cup (Effectively Top 6) places opening another front below the playoff spots.
Thirdly we have a race for a European playoff between 7th place in the 3 Euro leagues. Slightly more complicated by the allocating of a playoff spot for the Euro Challenge Cup winners to any unqualified team, ahead of the 7th place team in their league.
And Finally we have a race for the last Euro Champ Cup place (between the two Italian sides)
Got the hang of it? Yep. It’s far too complicated. (and I haven’t even dealt with what happens if we get more or less than 3 nations in the top 7)
So. Firstly. The Race to the top.
5 teams in a race for 4 spots.
Ospreys, (44 pts) Glasgow, (43) Munster, (42) Leinster (41) & Ulster (39).
It’s surely tight at the top. With the top 2 sides having to play each other twice, giving a chance to the Irish Provinces stacked up behind.
Here are the 9 crunch games between the top 5 that could decide the placings. 4 of them during the 6 nations. 4 of them in the last 3 rounds, and Leinster v Glasgow in the RDS in between.
Sat 21 Feb…Glasgow… v…Ospreys
Fri 27 Feb…Ospreys… v …Leinster
Sat 28 Feb…Munster… v…Glasgow
Sat 7 Mar…Ospreys… v…Munster
Fri 27 Mar…Leinster… v…Glasgow
Fri 24 Apr…Ulster Rugby…v …Leinster
Ospreys play in 4 of them (3 at home)
Glasgow in 5 of them (2 at home)
Munster in 3 of them (1 at home)
Leinster in 3 of them (1 at home)
Ulster in 4 of them (2 at home)
Perhaps another disadvantage to the current top 2. Glasgow certainly. The top 4 play each other over the last few days of this month and that will be crucial for all 5 of the teams in question
Ospreys: As mentioned they have to play Glasgow home and away.
This 6 Nations period is tough for them as they have both Scottish teams away and the top 2 Irish sides at home.
If they are still in the top two after these games though, they have a great chance of staying there.
Glasgow: Possibly the hardest run in with the only bright spots being home and away to Zebre.
They have Ospreys, Munster and Leinster away, and Ulster and Ospreys at home.
Hard to see them in the top 2 after all that, despite the fact that they have no Euro distractions.
Munster: Two away games in Wales during the 6 Nations, but things ease up a little afterwards with just an away trip to Ulster to worry about. No Euro distractions either.
Ulster: They have it relatively easy during the 6 Nations, but things heat up in the closing stages with Connacht and Glasgow away and Leinster and Munster at home.
Leinster: After two relatively soft games in 5 days, things get harder with the same two away games in Wales as Munster.
Again like Munster there is an away trip to Ulster afterwards but also some Euro distraction in the form of Bath.
The crucial point for Leinster here is how we do in the away games in Wales.
Having used up our margin for error by losing back to back to Munster, we really need to get back on track by winning here.
If we can win both we could take a loss in Ulster and still make a home semi. Lose either one and we are under pressure.
Lose both and I predict an away semi final in the Pro12 at best.
My prediction would be 2 of Ospreys, Munster and Leinster for the home semis with Glasgow and Ulster perhaps playing for the last spot in the last game.
However there are always upsets and one thing for sure is that some unfancied team will take the scalp of a higher one and upset my predictions somewhere.
Just hope Leinster will not be that scalp
This year with the final fixed in Belfast top spot in the league is not as crucial as it will not determine the final venue.
The battle for 6th and 7th spot (Auto qualification to the Champs Cup and entry to a playoff) is a 3 way battle at the moment, with an outside chance of Cardiff discovering some form and joining the battle.
Connacht lead the way, but probably have a harder run than Scarlets.
You would have to fancy the Scarlets.
If they are in contention after the 6 Nations they have a very easy run to the end.
Connacht’s main chance is to beat them this weekend and get on a roll.
If not they are locked in a battle with Edinburgh for a playoff spot.
Interestingly Edinburgh have 2 chances of making this playoff.
Firstly by winning league games and secondly by winning the Challenge cup.
This route is also open to the Dragons and Cardiff (Who play each other in the quarter final) and of course Connacht.
However I fancy an English team to win the Challenge Cup this year. Most likely Gloucester and if not then Exeter.
That just leaves the Italian shoot out.
I think we need another year or 2 of rebuilding in Treviso and just “building” in Zebre before we can get too excited either way.
Both teams seem nailed on for 11th and 12th in the League.
This week we review Ireland’s victory in the RBS Six Nations over Italy, preview this weekend’s match against France in the Aviva Stadium and take a look at the rest of the Six Nations news. We also preview Leinster’s fixture on Sunday against The Dragons.
This week Blues Talk takes on a green tinge as we preview Irelands chances in the 2015 RBS Six Nations and look forward to our first game against Italy in Rome. We take a look at the rest of the tournament and discuss the weeks rugby news
This week on Blues Talk the team take a look back at Leinster’s draw with Wasps in Coventry, a result that ultimately delivered a home quarter final in the European Champions Cup. We take a look at the other results from the weekend that helped and the rest of weeks rugby news.
Apologies for the delay in this weeks episode. Sometimes the day job needs doing!
This week on Blues Talk we take a look back at Leinster’s seven-try bonus point win over Castres in the European Champions Cup, a win that has set up a winner takes all final pool game against Wasps in Coventry – a match we preview. We also discuss the fortunes of the other Irish sides in Europe.