Wednesday 26 December 2012

Irish rugby in 2012: All you need to know in 8 videos


2012 WAS A CURIOUS year for Irish rugby.
The Six Nations continued a worrying trend of Irish teams being unable to close out games when necessary but still featured a French draw that felt like a loss.
Leinster and Ulster then contested the Heineken Cup Final, with Joe Schmidt’s side capturing their third European title in four years.
Ireland were humbled in the first test against New Zealand before Declan Kidney chose 13 Leinster and Ulster players and pushed the All Blacks to bending point.
Breaking point came a week later, for the Irish, as the ABs ran in nine tries and delivered a 60-0 chastisement.
Another close game was lost to the Springboks before a glorious afternoon in brisk November surrounds sent the Argentineans packing and gave us all reason to believe in better times next year.
Here is Irish Rugby in 2012:

Feelgood story

On 14 January, Connacht lost their third away game against Toulouse and there was no wistful thoughts passed on the 24-3 loss.
Eric Elwood rallied his weary troops a week later to stun Harlequins 9-8 for the province’s first ever Heineken Cup win.

YouTube credit: irismedia

Best player

Rob Kearney won the ERC Player of the Year and a host of other personal accolades to go along with his third Heineken Cup medal. Personal highlights include a give and take duel with Israel Dagg, a collection of high ball claims in the Six Nations and a 40-metre drop goal against Clermont Auvergne in the Heineken Cup semi-final.

YouTube credit: David147v2

Best game

Tension held sway in most of the big matches of the year, apart from the Leinster’s 42-14 blowout in the Heineken Cup final. One week later they were Dan Biggar-ed as Ospreys pipped them in the Pro12 Final.
For sheer drama, however, Leinster’s 19-15 victory over Clermont in the Heineken Cup semi-final had it all.

YouTube credit: eurorugby2012

Best try

Back in April, Craig Gilroy was just a promising winger with high hopes and realistic expectations. Within 15 minutes of Ulster’s Heineken Cup semi-finals he had beaten six Munster players on his way to a stunning score.

YouTube credit: TheUAFC

Biggest heartbreak

Ireland tore into the world champion All Blacks from the opening minute at the AMI Stadium in Christchurch and set the platform for a real tilt at securing their first win in 26 matches.
Nigel Owens and Dan Carter then combined to shatter our dreams. The ABs stretched the winless streak to 27 a week later in Hamilton.

YouTube credit:  SuperRugbyBall

Best breakdown banter

When Clermont hosted Ulster back in January at Stade Marcel Michelin, Nathan Hines decided that it was time to take three Ulsterman out of the game during one hotly contested ruck.

YouTube credit: ddtblog1

Best newcomer

Craig Gilroy scored two tries against the Barbarians before he was left off the plane to New Zealand in the summer.
He got another chance in green for the Ireland Select team that blitzed Fiji at Thomond Park. Three more tries followed and a test debut was soon forthcoming.

YouTube credit: Tap Tackle
Gilroy followed that up a week later with another superb try against Argentina to confirm his arrival as a genuine wing star.

One to watch

Paddy Jackson is the undisputed kicking king at Ulster now but he showed enough in the Fiji game to suggest he can offer a genuine threat to Jonathan Sexton in the Irish team. He can also take nifty penalties from extremely acute angles.

YouTube credit: Beanyman62Sports

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