Archive for January 2013

Blues Talk TV – Episode 96   Leave a comment

This week on Blues Talk TV we discuss the departure of Johnny Sexton to Racing Metro and of Andrew Conway to Munster and what these moves mean for Leinster. We also preview this weekends Six Nations action including Irelands match in Wales

Audio only download available from here

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Sexton Est En Feu!   Leave a comment

A change of speed, a change of style.
A change of scene, with no regrets.

So the worst kept secret in Irish rugby has broken into the mainstream. Johnny Sexton is leaving Leinster at the end of this season and moving to Racing Métro 92 in Paris. Despite what they claim to be their best efforts, the IRFU couldn’t match his new pay packet, reported to be €750,000 per annum for two years.

Its not the first time that a player has been offered big bucks from abroad, but its the first time that a player has taken them. So what is different now? The Union has always relied on a couple of factors to make up the difference between what they offer and what the overseas, french in particular, clubs offer.

First was the National Team. Patriotism may be the last refuge of the scoundrel, but it was the first refuge of the IRFU. Whist the IRFU were never in the top echelon in terms of the salaries offered, they were always competitive, and the gap covered by the carrot of the irish jersey. The media, ignoring Geordan Murphys 74 caps whilst at Leicester and Tommy Bowes 34 whilst an Osprey, were quick to inform us that playing overseas was all but a bar on playing for Ireland. Things are different for Johnny though. With Keatley and Madigan both being underexposed to European Cup rugby, Paddy Jackson being both young and callow and age and a changing game exposing Ronan O’Gara this season, then Ireland have to pick him whether hes playing in Dublin, Paris or Perth. And lets face it, Johnny knows this. There are also rumours of a major training ground bust up between Kidney and Sexton during the summer tour to New Zealand, with a (the) senior Leinster player having to talk Sexton out of retiring from International rugby. Taking either or both of those into account, the carrot of the Irish jersey looks somewhat withered. Plus theres the Bernd Schuster paradigm. Schuster fell out with nationalmannschaft coach Jupp Derwall and retired from international football at 24, but his performances for Barcelona were a constant thorn in Derwalls side, contributing hugely to the media and public pressure that led to his resignation. Not saying that Johnny would countenance such a move, but…

Secondly was the Unions Player Management Scheme. Despite being sometimes bemoaned by supporters and provincial coaches, the Player Management Scheme was a bonus for players playing for the Irish provinces. They looked at their peers in England and France being flogged by their clubs to play non-stop and whilst injured and compared it to their own experience of being carefully managed, with supportable amounts of gametime and generous rest periods throughout the season. The Union believes that a player thus managed will have an extra two or three years added to their career compared to those in France and England. But are two years earning mediocre money at the end of a career going to compensate for a couple of years of major money now? And remember its still only two years. By which time Sexton will be only 29. Plenty of time to come home to benefit from good player management and pick up some tax rebate goodness whilst hes at it.

Lastly was loyalty. Most of the players in Ireland play for the province of their birth, where they were raised and schooled before entering their local academy. Both Brian O’Driscoll and Ronan O’Gara have spoken in the past about how much more it meant to win the European Cup playing with their friends and for their own hometown team. Johnny has already won the Heineken Cup three times with his native province and loyalty cuts both ways. The Leinster players were privately shocked at how Luke Fitzgerald was treated by the Union when he got injured and it reminded them that its a short career where they have to maximise their earnings whilst they still can, because when the chips are down, the Union will have them of its books as soon as it possibly can.

But what of Leinster. We’ve lost the pivot that our team is now built around just as he is entering the period where great players are at their most productive. Its a huge loss, as big a loss I’d suggest as it would have been had BOD gone to BOPB in 2005-2006. The reaction of Leinster supporters so far has been mixed. Some see the reasons why he’s made the decision hes made, some are angry at what they see as mercenary behaviour. What we would all do well to remember is that under Sexton we’ve won three of the last four Heineken Cups (losing out the year Johnny was injured for the semi final) and made all three Celtic League finals. During his time at Leinster he left nothing behind him in his desire to win for Leinster and for that we should all be grateful.

The IRFU have made a statement on his departure. Leinster won’t be allowed do the same “For the Good of the Game”

Blues Talk TV – Episode 95   Leave a comment

This week on Blues Talk we take a look back at Leinsters match away to Exeter in the Heineken Cup, a bonus point victory that wasn’t enough to prevent exit from the competition and look at how and why it happened. We also take a look back at the rest of the weekends action. We ask if the Amlin Cup is a worthwhile exercise, discuss the elevation of Jamie Heaslip to the role of Ireland captain and Brian O’Driscolls departure from that role, and take a look forward to the Irish Wolfhounds game against the England Saxons on Friday night in Galway

Available as an audio only download from here

Blues Talk TV – Episode 94   Leave a comment

This week on Blues Talk TV the team take a look back at Leinsters bonus point win over Llanelli Scarlets in the Heineken Cup and look forward to what could be a season defining tie away to Exeter Chiefs in the final game of the group. We also take a look at the rest of the weekends results and discuss the Jonathan Sexton situation.

Also available as an audio only download from here

Blues Talk TV – Episode 93   Leave a comment

This week on Blues Talk, we take a look back at Leinsters games over the festive period, and review the bonus point win away to Edinburgh. We preview the must-win Heineken Cup match against Scarlets and take a look at the rest of this weeks action and news.

Audio only download available here

Posted January 10, 2013 by bluestalktv in Ireland, Leinster, Rugby

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