Category: Archive

Changes on tap for Irish ruggers

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Mark Jones

DUBLIN — Ireland rugby coach Warren Gatland has made wholesale changes for the visit of Italy to Lansdowne Road on Saturday. Although Gatland indicated in the past that he wanted to experiment for the final international game of the regular season, the changes have come in the aftermath of his team’s hugely disappointing 30-13 Five Nations loss to Scotland on March 20.

Even with David Humphreys and Eric Miller unavailable because of injury, five new names make their way into the lineup as Keith Wood, Paul Wallace, Andy Ward, Jonathan Bell and Conor McGuinness are all dropped.

Gatland was insistent that both Wood and Wallace are being "rested." However, there can be no doubt that Ward, Bell and McGuinness have all paid the price for their indifferent performances against the Scots.

Rob Henderson, Ciaran Scally, Justin Fitzpatrick, Ross Nesdale and Trevor Brennan all come into the starting 15, while Eric Elwood and Victor Costello take over from the injured Humphreys and Miller.

If there is some logic to giving as many of his squad as possible an opportunity, Gatland is running a high risk against the Italians. It’s not as if Ireland can afford to experiment for what is now a must-win game.

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What’s more, Italy have comprehensively beaten the Irish in the last three matches between the countries.

Constitution clock Ballymena

Cork Constitution moved to the top of the All Ireland rugby league with a 21-12 victory over Ballymena at Temple Hill last weekend. The timely victory means that Constitution could still afford to lose their final game of the campaign against Shannon and still make the semifinals.

Meanwhile, the Ireland Under 19 team finished fourth in the Junior World Cup in Wales to guarantee a top seeding for next year’s tournament. Having been defeated by eventual winners New Zealand at the semifinal stage, the Irish youngsters were pipped 27-20 by South Africa in the third place playoff game.

Glennon quitting

Jim Glennon is quitting as manager of the Leinster rugby team at the end of the season. Glennon, the first and only Skerries player to be capped at senior level for Ireland, has been involved with Leinster as a manager and coach for the last nine years.

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