Ulster got their Magners League campaign off to a winning start beating reigning champions, The Ospreys, by one point in an exciting if somewhat scrappy game at Fortress Ravers!
This was a strong Ospreys side who appeared determined to improve on their previous two league outings this season. They brought a large pack and were determined to use them, taking on the Ulster forwards at every opportunity. However, these Ulster forwards, led by Wilson, are no pushovers and for the third match in a row they gave an impressive display.
I'm really starting to like like the front row of crusty old Fitzy, a fit and strong Court and the vastly underrated Brady. (If Brady had been fit last year we would have won the league.) It's a nice balance up front and this balance continues in the second row with the mobile and aggressive Caldwell and the steady, hard working Barker - the sort of player that every team needs.
I'm disappointed that FRU favourite Neil McMillan is not getting a run out in the back row, but who would you drop? Dawson is like a new player and he adds a hard edge to the tireless work of Wilson and McCullough.
In the backs, Campbell was his usual self, putting his body on the line and giving 110%. He linked well with Niall O'Connor, this years hot young thing. Cool, calm, collected and he can tackle. Once he develops a running game he will be the real deal. (The gorgeous pouting O'Gara will soon have plenty of free time to spend down the bookies.) Bowe and Mallon failed to fire in midfield, which is a pity as I was really looking forward to seeing Tommy get more ball. Hopefully this paring will be tried again. The back three combination is looking really strong. McCrea is fast, strong and confident and Danielli looks more and more like the player he was five to six years ago. He certainly seems pleased with all things Ulster at the minute. Bart or Bryn, it doesn't matter as either will do a job.
It will be interesting when "The Unplayable's" return from World Cup bench warming. No doubt they'll be busting for games and how McCall manages their re-integration will determine whether or not we have the huge season that this promises to be.
Reading the above you would be forgiven for thinking that Ulster won the game at a canter and not by one point in a nail biting finale. There were problems. Frustrated by inconsistent refereeing from David Changleng, Ulster lost their discipline mid way through the second half and nearly let the game slip. It was unfortunate that this lack of concentration coincided with those publicity seeking clowns on the terrace, the 2BU, winding up Shaun Connor enough for him to set up a ten point turnaround.
Ulster's Niall O'Connor kept his nerve to restore Ulster's lead in the dying moments despite the bizarre behaviour of Ospreys benched second row Michael Powell who shouted abuse at O'Connor from the stand as he strolled up to slot over the winning penalty.
It was a close competition in the FRU Man of the Match voting with Tom Court getting two votes to Niall O'Connor's three. Well done to young Niall for clinching this contest with his final kick as well.
Unfortunately Ulster are away for the next three games but you can follow their progress in The FRU.
May this weak and troubled body now find some peace (or grow some balls and get rid of O' Stunted).
The FRU are sad to announce the death of Irish Rugby. Irish passed away quietly in his sleep on Friday 21st September 2007. He had been unwell for some time and previous bouts of illness, while holidaying in Bordeaux, had taken their toll on Mr Rugby's well being making him weak and defenseless when attacked by the "les bleu's" virus.
Mr Rugby had been attacked by this same virus over the years but had always been strong enough to repel or overcome it. However sustained poisoning by the evil Eddie O' Stunted (right) led to the development of the deceptive "Untouchables" disease where the afflicted person becomes stale and uncoordinated as the motor functions fail to fire correctly. Symptoms of "Untouchables" disease are dropped balls, knock-on's, missed tackles, missed touch and a complete inability to follow any game plan. When Irish developed these symptoms the "les bleu's" virus was simply able to run right through him.
Mr O' Stunted has so far managed to escape justice for the mortal injury he has inflicted on Irish Rugby but it is suspected that he will be dealt with in the near future.
Irish Rugby is survived by his sons Ulster, Munster and Connacht and his daughter Leinster. He will be sorely missed by all those who knew him.
Although Ronan O’Gara’s tenure as first choice out half on the Irish Rugby Team may hang by a thread amidst rumours of massive gambling debts and philandering, the FRU’s own ‘Free State’ political correspondent, Tighthead Prod, predicts that the Blessed Ronan is almost certainly guaranteed a highly successfully future career in public life ‘down Mexico way’.
THP has it on good authority (iluvni at Friday night’s Lodge Meeting) that the real reason for Ba Ba Ba Bertie Ahern’s trip to France was not to see Friday’s match or even to get his head showered from the scrutiny of his finances by the Mahon Tribunal. Rather, Bertie was sounding out O’Gara about the possibility of standing as a Fianna Fail Candidate in the next Dail Election. In discussion with ROG, Bertie highlighted how his popularity with the punters in the habitat of the Celtic Tiger actually soared, when questions were raised about his financial probity. Similar to his own situation – Bertie assured ROG that he accepted there was no truth in the rumours, but with all the publicity he’d waltz into any Dail seat.(More than he ever did on the rugby field!!)
THP CANNOT confirm that Bertie offered ROG the post of Chief Executive of Bord nag Con - nor that Bertie chartered a plane from Manchester to Paris so that Ronan could meet a group of generous businessmen.
I love that wee Peter Stringer I do!
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Homes! He's over fifty and frisky - he's Stately Homes!
A recent visit to Spain during the Summer (Aigues, outside Alicante).
Rumour has is that a chum of mine (ex- Irish Guards) is to form an Orange Lodge; "The Rising Sons of Aigues".
These are a sample of the local ladies (right) who will make the teas & sandwiches, following our traditional march around the village.
Yes please !!! - I start Spanish classes to-morrow: TRUE!
It's amazing what a "working knowledge" of French does for you! (Right)
Though it could have been the Ulster Rugby baseball cap (a la reversee) she was after !!! - Maybe she's a good judge??
See you & your taxi @ my place ~ 5.30 p.m. Friday?
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Letters to the Editor.
The Grahmn R. M. Lynn household was feeling like it had to do it's bit for Irish rugger as they felt polishing screens, aka shamrocks, was a bit of a sham really. The result was that a little shrine was erected to the saintly BOD and a wee candle lit underneath such was the desperation to see Ireland do well.
In the event it may have been the heat beneath BOD's feet that kept Ireland in the game and the World Cup.
I attach a picture of the disparate measures taken in the Grahmn R. M. Lynn household to ensure Ireland's continued success!
Yours desperately seeking success,
G.R.M. Lynn Ed. - I don't know where it all went wrong. This was the best prepared set of Irish supporters ever - shrines, lucky shamrock we had it all covered.
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Weekend Friday 28th September 2007.
Dragons v Munster
Scarlets v Connacht
Blues v Leinster
Edinburgh v Ulster
Ospreys v Warriors
Predictions to be in by 6:00pm Friday 21st.
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Also with real prizes!
Predict the match day 22 that Eddie
will play in the group games by 11:00am GMT on the following days.
Namibia - 4th Sept 2007 Georgia - 11th Sept 2007 France - 17th Sept 2007
Argentina - 26th Sept 2007
The competition will continue
if when Ireland get out of the group.