Sunday, January 21, 2007

Heineken Cupset

Widespread woe this weekend with the defeat of both Leinster and Munster in their final pool games of the Heineken Cup, Leinster losing to Gloucrester, who don’t even qualify for the next phase of the competition, and Munster falling at fortress Thomond to Leicester.

Ronan O’Gara will presumably be asked if there are any grounds to reconsider his comments earlier in the season regarding the relative quality of English premiership rugby. Neither Leinster or Munster can have any grounds for complaint, both were beaten by better teams on the day.

Anyway, it’s not all bad news, several positives seem to flow from the outcome:

Both teams still qualify for the quarter-finals, albeit with an away draw. But even that isn’t such a big issue, given that both teams might well have had to go abroad anyway, with both Lansdowne Road and Thomond Park closed for reconstruction and no noises coming from the GAA to suggest that any of their grounds will be made available.

Following Leinster’s defeat on Friday, a Saturday victory for Munster would have meant the two Irish sides meeting each other in the quarter-final draw, so at least we retain the possibility of 2 Irish teams getting to the semi-finals. It currently looks like Leinster will play Wasps in London, with Munster travelling to Llanelli.

With a bit of luck, this defeat might just inject a modicum of modesty into the average Munster fan, who believes his own hype and has traditionally displayed a superior smugness when making comparisons with Leinster or other supporters. They have come to mimic Cork people who, like barristers, have no real understanding of just how much the rest of the population genuinely dislikes them.

Having €10 @ 2/1 on Gloucester and a further €10 @ 3/1 on Leicester means that I made €50 on the two results. Now that can’t be a bad outcome either!

The only downside may be the blow to confidence for the upcoming 6 Nations and a couple of injury worries, notably Shane Horgan.

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