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URC Round 14

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Post by Welshmushroom Tue 14 Feb 2023, 2:47 pm

Big weekend coming up for top 8 playoff spots.

Munster vs Ospreys 17th Feb 7.35pm
Glasgow vs Ulster 17th Feb 7.35pm
Lions vs Sharks 18th Feb 1pm
Bulls vs Stormers 18th Feb 3.05pm
Zebre vs Connacht 18th Feb 3.05pm
Scarlets vs Edinburgh 18th Feb 5.15pm
Cardiff vs Treviso 18th Feb 5.15pm
Leinster vs Dragons 18th Feb 7.35pm

That Glasgow/Ulster game looks like a big game. Glasgow have 4 games at home in the run in and Ulster don't have a big enough point gap at the moment to secure a top 4 spot. Going to be fireworks in this one as I think both teams know how big this game could be for their season.

Scarlets/Edinburgh could also be a cracker. Edinburgh probably need to win this if they are going to get into that top 8 spot. Scarlets at this point would need to go on a 5 game winning streak with bonus points and even then its not fully in their hands. Think Scarlets are only playing for pride at this point.

Lions/Sharks - Sharks have to go fully loaded as they probably need to win 2 of the next 3.

Bulls/Stormers - Stormers are talking about resting players against Bulls. Probably going to be a Bulls win in that case which does Ulster no favours.

Munster/Ospreys - Munster need this to have 1 foot in the playoffs. Ospreys in 12th though are only 4 points behind the Sharks in 8th. If the Ospreys win this they have 3 home games (granted 1 is not really as its at the MS). Munster know that winning their 3 home games probably will get them a away quarter final. Hopefully Ospreys will go as strong as possible to make this a good game.


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Post by Oakdene Tue 14 Feb 2023, 3:05 pm

Welshmushroom wrote:Big weekend coming up for top 8 playoff spots.

Munster vs Ospreys 17th Feb 7.35pm
Glasgow vs Ulster 17th Feb 7.35pm
Lions        vs Sharks 18th Feb 1pm
Bulls        vs Stormers 18th Feb 3.05pm
Zebre vs Connacht 18th Feb 3.05pm
Scarlets vs Edinburgh 18th Feb 5.15pm
Cardiff vs Treviso 18th Feb 5.15pm
Leinster vs Dragons 18th Feb 7.35pm

That Glasgow/Ulster game looks like a big game.  Glasgow have 4 games at home in the run in and Ulster don't have a big enough point gap at the moment to secure a top 4 spot.  Going to be fireworks in this one as I think both teams know how big this game could be for their season.

Scarlets/Edinburgh could also be a cracker.  Edinburgh probably need to win this if they are going to get into that top 8 spot.  Scarlets at this point would need to go on a 5 game winning streak with bonus points and even then its not fully in their hands.  Think Scarlets are only playing for pride at this point.  

Lions/Sharks - Sharks have to go fully loaded as they probably need to win 2 of the next 3.

Bulls/Stormers - Stormers are talking about resting players against Bulls.  Probably going to be a Bulls win in that case which does Ulster no favours.

Munster/Ospreys - Munster need this to have 1 foot in the playoffs.  Ospreys in 12th though are only 4 points behind the Sharks in 8th.  If the Ospreys win this they have 3 home games (granted 1 is not really as its at the MS).  Munster know that winning their 3 home games probably will get them a away quarter final. Hopefully Ospreys will go as strong as possible to make this a good game.


We're finally in a bit of good form at the minute having won 7 of our last 8 games across all competitions so hoping we can extend that record against Edinburgh this weekend.

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Post by RiscaGame Wed 15 Feb 2023, 8:17 am

Not a good look for Gatland to release any players. There are at the very least players like Wainwright and Roberts who need minutes for Dragons. I would suggest players like Leon Brown would benefit more too.

I’m not surprised, but there’s an obvious difference in this league between how Unions treat their pro teams.

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Post by Oakdene Wed 15 Feb 2023, 9:33 am

RiscaGame wrote:Not a good look for Gatland to release any players. There are at the very least players like Wainwright and Roberts who need minutes for Dragons. I would suggest players like Leon Brown would benefit more too.

I’m not surprised, but there’s an obvious difference in this league between how Unions treat their pro teams.

incredibly so, I think Wyn Jones could do with some minutes, also Hardy who hasn't featured at all.

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Post by Kingshu Wed 15 Feb 2023, 5:15 pm

Welshmushroom wrote:Big weekend coming up for top 8 playoff spots.



Bulls/Stormers - Stormers are talking about resting players against Bulls.  Probably going to be a Bulls win in that case which does Ulster no favours.




I diagree, Ulster have a game in hand and a easier run in than Stormers, I think 2nd place is a real possibility for Ulster, Bulls beating Stormers would be a good result.

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Post by Kingshu Wed 15 Feb 2023, 5:17 pm

1 Leinster Pld 13 Pts 61
Dragons (H) Edinburgh (A) Stormers (H) Lions (A) Bulls (A)

2 Stormers Pld 13 Pts 50
Bulls (A) Sharks (H) Leinster (A) Munster (H) Benetton (H)

3 Ulster Pld 12 Pts 43
Glasgow (A) Sharks (A) Cardiff (A) Bulls (H) Dragons (H) Edinburgh (H)

4 Bulls Pld 13 Pts 40
Stormers (H) Lions (H) Ulster (A) Zebre (H) Leinster (H)

5 Glasgow Pld 12 Pts 39
Ulster (H) Lions (A) Zebre (H) Munster (A) Scarlets (H) Connacht (H)

6 Munster Pld 13 Pts 37
Ospreys (H) Scarlets (H) Glasgow (H) Stormers (A) Sharks (A)

7 Benetton Pld 13 Pts 34
Cardiff (A) Ospreys (A) Lions (H) Sharks (A) Stormers (A)

8 Sharks Pld 12 Pts 33
Lions (A) Ulster (H) Stormers (A) Scarlets (A) Benetton (H) Munster (H)

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Post by thebandwagonsociety Thu 16 Feb 2023, 1:30 pm

Kingshu wrote:1 Leinster Pld 13 Pts 61
Dragons (H) Edinburgh (A) Stormers (H) Lions (A) Bulls (A)

2 Stormers Pld 13 Pts 50
Bulls (A) Sharks (H) Leinster (A) Munster (H) Benetton (H)

3 Ulster Pld 12 Pts 43
Glasgow (A) Sharks (A) Cardiff (A) Bulls (H) Dragons (H) Edinburgh (H)

4 Bulls Pld 13 Pts 40
Stormers (H) Lions (H) Ulster (A) Zebre (H) Leinster (H)

5 Glasgow Pld 12 Pts 39
Ulster (H) Lions (A) Zebre (H) Munster (A) Scarlets (H) Connacht (H)

6 Munster Pld 13 Pts 37
Ospreys (H) Scarlets (H) Glasgow (H) Stormers (A) Sharks (A)

7 Benetton Pld 13 Pts 34
Cardiff (A) Ospreys (A) Lions (H) Sharks (A) Stormers (A)

8 Sharks Pld 12 Pts 33
Lions (A) Ulster (H) Stormers (A) Scarlets (A) Benetton (H) Munster (H)

Fixtures are fairly mixed. Some thoughts.
The SA sides have a lot of derbies left (Stormers, Bulls and Sharks have 2 each)
The Irish sides sides are finished knocking seven shades of sh!te out of each other, each have at least 2 games against SA sides left.

Leinster due to play 2 of the top 8
Stormers to play 5 of the top 8
Ulster to play 3 of the top 8
Bulls play 3 of the top 8
Glasgow take 2 of the top 8
Munster take on 3 of the top 8
Benetton have 2 of the top 8
Sharks 4 of the top 8

So splitting it that way, Stormers and Sharks have a heavy schedule against more of the top of the league suggesting they're at risk of dropping points.

Leinster , Benetton and Munster need their places/seedings sorted out before the last 2 rounds as they are away in SA for the final weeks.
Both Benetton & Munsters route goes to Stormers, that ground will shape the matchups for the playoffs!!

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Post by Welshmushroom Fri 17 Feb 2023, 11:21 am

I do wonder how fixtures are sorted. Seems a little unfair that both Leinsters South African away legs have appeared at the end of both seasons.

I suspect they will field their second/third string side as by that point they will have the league wrapped up.

Surely if the league really wants to be credible how fixtures are determined must be looked at. Fixtures should be randomized so that stats like the one above can't be picked out.

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Post by Welshmushroom Fri 17 Feb 2023, 11:41 am

I do think home and away fixtures will play a part in terms of where the advantage is. Bulls with 4 out of 5 home games must at this stage be a shoe in for top 4 especially when you look at teams away ratio in South Africa.

Lions & Glasgow also have 4 home games. Ulster, Munster, Ospreys. Stormers and Sharks still have 3 home games. Everyone else is playing the majority of games away from home.

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Post by Welshmushroom Fri 17 Feb 2023, 2:19 pm

Edinburgh lineup with a massive front 8. I didn't think the Scarlets lineup looked to bad but on seeing theirs I can see Edinburgh winning this and with a bonus point as well possibly.

Glasgow have gone for a very big pack as well. Ulster look a little light in the tight 5. Think Glasgow will edge this with their lineup. Reckon this might be the game of the weekend.

Quite like the look of the Dragons lineup. Leinster have a couple of quality players on show but there is also quite a bit of inexperience at this level. That said they always seem to keep producing gems and its not the first time this season I have watched a bunch of kids batter Welsh opposition. Could be our best chance of a win at Leinster in forever. Hope Leinster are not 100% up for this and we can take them into a dog fight.

Munster/Ospreys - Lineup for Ospreys looked alright. Then I saw the Munster team sheet. BP win for Munster on this one I reckon.

Cardiff / Treviso - not sure on the team for Treviso. Cardiff have gone as strong as they can. Plus they got battered by 60 points last season. I'd imagine Dai will use that. Reckon Cardiff will win this. Probably no bonus point though.

Connacht/Zebre - Lineup for Connacht looks a bit light in the front 8. Zebre are going to have size and weight on them. Connacht have to win this though or i would say their chances of top 8 are over. Not sure they are good enough to get a BP away against them. Probably just miss out on the BP but with a comfortable point margin of 10+

Bulls / Stormers - Both lineups look good. Going to be a cracker I reckon. Bulls slightly stronger as stormers missing some of their big forwards. Going to enjoy this one and probably my second pick match for the weekend.

Lions/Sharks - Lions like some of the others gone for another heavyweight pack. Lot of stars out for the Sharks but their backline looks quality on paper this weekend. Sharks need to win here to keep the race for top 8 going. Edinburgh in 9th I think will be a big threat to them. Out of their remaining 6 fixtures they dont have many left that they can pick winning BP up on. This might be one of them though. Sharks need this and probably the Ulster game to make sure they have breathing room in the top 8.

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Post by RiscaGame Fri 17 Feb 2023, 2:28 pm

Dragons do look pretty good. I still think Leinster will have too much, but hopefully we will have a go.

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Post by Oakdene Fri 17 Feb 2023, 3:10 pm

RiscaGame wrote:Dragons do look pretty good. I still think Leinster will have too much, but hopefully we will have a go.

Good starting XV but the quality is lacking on the bench for me.

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Post by Intotouch Fri 17 Feb 2023, 10:22 pm

Oh God that Munster v Ospreys match was shocking to watch. Im a Munster fan and I was wising Garland had released their players for this. This should have been a competitive fixture. Not a walkover. Damn you WG.

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Post by BigGee Fri 17 Feb 2023, 11:02 pm

Good win for Glasgow over Ulster, who may just be one away win away from a home quarter final now. They will certainly fancy a shot at the Lions next week, even going down south with a weaker team. They may get a few more of their injured players back though like Darge and Keeble, which would certainly be useful and give them a chance.

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Post by LeinsterFan4life Sat 18 Feb 2023, 6:23 am

Another blockbuster crowd of 36k expected for the Bulls v Stormers game. We've had some big attendances in the league this year.

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Post by mikey_dragon Sat 18 Feb 2023, 8:04 am

Intotouch wrote:Oh God that Munster v Ospreys match was shocking to watch. Im a Munster fan and I was wising Garland had released their players for this. This should have been a competitive fixture. Not a walkover. Damn you WG.

The team they put out should have been more competitive than that. I wonder if the result is in part due to everything else going on…

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Post by mikey_dragon Sat 18 Feb 2023, 8:05 am

Oakdene wrote:
RiscaGame wrote:Dragons do look pretty good. I still think Leinster will have too much, but hopefully we will have a go.

Good starting XV but the quality is lacking on the bench for me.

Absolutely it’s lacking, where as Leinster can call upon someone like Jason Jenkins.

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Post by Kingshu Sat 18 Feb 2023, 12:03 pm

Glasgow have a very good chance of finshing 2nd, and if they do I think it will highlight and there will be a big issue made of the imbalanced fixtures.

Ive highlighted before how the imbalance really handicaps Connacht and the Lions in the race for play off places, but as they are smaller teams not much fuss was made of it. If Glasgow with much easier fixtures than their rivals finish ahead of the likes of Stormers, Bulls, Ulster and Munster I think a much bigger deal with be made of it esp if they only finish a point or two ahead, making other teams with more difficult fixture travel for away knock out games.

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Post by RiscaGame Sat 18 Feb 2023, 2:03 pm

Oakdene wrote:
RiscaGame wrote:Dragons do look pretty good. I still think Leinster will have too much, but hopefully we will have a go.

Good starting XV but the quality is lacking on the bench for me.

Yes this is true. That’s why there is a great case to dropping to three teams, but the funding and governance still has to change.

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Post by LeinsterFan4life Sat 18 Feb 2023, 5:43 pm

Kingshu wrote:Glasgow have a very good chance of finshing 2nd, and if they do I think it will highlight and there will be a big issue made of the imbalanced fixtures.

Ive highlighted before how the imbalance really handicaps Connacht and the Lions in the race for play off places, but as they are smaller teams not much fuss was made of it. If Glasgow with much easier fixtures than their rivals finish ahead of the likes of Stormers, Bulls, Ulster and Munster I think a much bigger deal with be made of it esp if they only finish a point or two ahead, making other teams with more difficult fixture travel for away knock out games.
Would love to have balanced fixtures, but we know why the fixtures are the way they are. I still feel like the teams that deserve to make the playoffs will. Perhaps the fixtures have more an impact on who gets the home legs though.

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Post by TAFKA The Oracle Sat 18 Feb 2023, 7:33 pm

Well done to Scarlets and Cardiff, winning in what has been a tumultuous week for the Welsh regions. Lots on the players’ minds. Without some of the bigger names too. Not sure what happened with the O’s though. Just hope the Dragons don’t go the same way!

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Post by TAFKA The Oracle Sun 19 Feb 2023, 7:53 am

TAFKA The Oracle wrote:Well done to Scarlets and Cardiff, winning in what has been a tumultuous week for the Welsh regions. Lots on the players’ minds. Without some of the bigger names too. Not sure what happened with the O’s though. Just hope the Dragons don’t go the same way!

Well, a bit of fight in us but Leinster just highly clinical as always.

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Post by LeinsterFan4life Sun 19 Feb 2023, 8:44 am

TAFKA The Oracle wrote:
TAFKA The Oracle wrote:Well done to Scarlets and Cardiff, winning in what has been a tumultuous week for the Welsh regions. Lots on the players’ minds. Without some of the bigger names too. Not sure what happened with the O’s though. Just hope the Dragons don’t go the same way!

Well, a bit of fight in us but Leinster just highly clinical as always.
Thought the Dragons fronted up really well and the scoreline flattened us a bit.

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Post by Maine man Sun 19 Feb 2023, 1:01 pm

LeinsterFan4life wrote:
TAFKA The Oracle wrote:
TAFKA The Oracle wrote:Well done to Scarlets and Cardiff, winning in what has been a tumultuous week for the Welsh regions. Lots on the players’ minds. Without some of the bigger names too. Not sure what happened with the O’s though. Just hope the Dragons don’t go the same way!

Well, a bit of fight in us but Leinster just highly clinical as always.
Thought the Dragons fronted up really well and the scoreline flattened us a bit.

I haven't seen the game yet. How did Harry Byrne get on? And when is Frawley back from injury?

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Post by RiscaGame Sun 19 Feb 2023, 1:39 pm

Score line was a bit harsh. There was a difference in class, but not that much. Was just a bit of a lesson in being clinical and we didn’t help ourselves with two of the tries conceded being pretty cheap. I was a little concerned by Reed and Rhodri (who is normally better) was quite erratic yesterday too.

Horrendous luck for Jack Dixon, especially after he spoke about his concern of picking up an injury during this uncertainty. He certainly led from the front yesterday, especially in D with some great hits.

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Post by RiscaGame Sun 19 Feb 2023, 1:40 pm

I also watched the Cardiff game before and credit to them for a good performance overall and win.

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Post by LeinsterFan4life Sun 19 Feb 2023, 2:17 pm

Maine man wrote:
LeinsterFan4life wrote:
TAFKA The Oracle wrote:
TAFKA The Oracle wrote:Well done to Scarlets and Cardiff, winning in what has been a tumultuous week for the Welsh regions. Lots on the players’ minds. Without some of the bigger names too. Not sure what happened with the O’s though. Just hope the Dragons don’t go the same way!

Well, a bit of fight in us but Leinster just highly clinical as always.
Thought the Dragons fronted up really well and the scoreline flattened us a bit.

I haven't seen the game yet. How did Harry Byrne get on? And when is Frawley back from injury?
Dragons did a great job holding onto the ball, so Harry didn't have a whole pile to do. A 6/10 performance imo. Don't know when Frawley is back, he has no luck with injuries.

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Post by mikey_dragon Sun 19 Feb 2023, 5:41 pm

In an ideal world we’d be properly funded. In that case I’d like to see us go after Ben Thomas and James Ratti. They need more regular game time at 10 and 8, then I think they could go onto Wales honours (more honours in Ben’s case).

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Post by LeinsterFan4life Sun 19 Feb 2023, 6:15 pm

mikey_dragon wrote:In an ideal world we’d be properly funded. In that case I’d like to see us go after Ben Thomas and James Ratti. They need more regular game time at 10 and 8, then I think they could go onto Wales honours (more honours in Ben’s case).
I was surprised to see JJ not starting, thought he was good when he came on and the young Dragons Fly half really struggled (tough game for any young fly half to play in tbf)

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Post by mikey_dragon Sun 19 Feb 2023, 8:52 pm

We have two flaky 10’s in Reed and Davies. I’d start JJ if he was available, or put AOB at fly-half.

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Post by RiscaGame Mon 20 Feb 2023, 12:38 am

It was a bit brutal to put Will Reed in, I agree. But then Sam Davies can be flakey and so can JJ. The only thing they really have is both can kick goals better normally. JJ anyway, as I know Sam had his wobbles too. Reed is ballsy, but can be picked off as shown.

What I hate about all the Welsh teams performances, is that people are now seeing how bad the WRU are. They’ve always mismanaged us, yet now there’s publicity people see it now. When we had the covid loan saddled on us, in comparison to the other teams in our league, nobody saw anything wrong. When Roger the dodger chose to refinance the stadium loan over backing us, again it was allegedly equal to our competitors. When you hear people who don’t have a clue and don’t have skin in the game, like our old Merthyr mate, Welsh teams should be doing better for some reason Doh

This isn’t something new. Only now people see what shysters the WRU are. WRU are reaping what they have sowed. This isn’t a matter of a short while. It has been a long term problem. But it took national press to highlight how bad it is, as the “national press of Wales” or whatever it was called, was always on the gravy train as well.

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Post by Welshmushroom Mon 20 Feb 2023, 10:25 am

The way I see it Reed can learn from this. Davies and JJ are basically at this stage in their careers not going to improve substantially.

I know a lot of current Welsh Team & Regional woes are being passed on the WRU which I agree with in small parts.  But part of the issue in Regional rugby is that the regions have always taken short term views.  The regions have essentially been left alone without are clear goal.  That essentially led to scenarios where they spent money on trying to achieve short term success without any or very little long term plans in place.  Personally my view is the regions primary goal should have been to produce players for wales.  I think its safe to say at this stage the regional argument that both overseas and senior players are required to be competitive is clearly not valid as we are not competitive at this level.  They are not competitive employing this ethos as we have seen the last 2 seasons in the URC. Far to much of the WRU money has been spent on players who either can't play for wales as overseas players or are players past their prime.  Regional rugby should not be a retirement home for our players.  It should be a development pathway to international rugby.  You only have to look at regional squads at the moment to see there is a problem with the amount of overseas players we have which is in excess of 30 players at this point in time (granted a couple of qualified for wales but are probably not up to the standard).

I've no issue with players moving abroad if they are in their twilight of their careers which is why I do agree the WRU should drop the 60cap rule.  The issue in recent seasons is the sheer exodus of young welsh talent that has left purely for a lack of chances at regional level has been the more worrying trend.  I'm therefore not going to bag Dai for giving Reed chances to break into the team.

Regional rugby should be spending far more in terms of long term planning on identifying and developing the next generation of players.

One of the things I have been happy to see at the Dragons is we are starting to lean into younger players which I think is the way to go in the long term to solve this problem.  Players like Reed will need a couple of seasons before they are experienced enough at this level but at that point we will see if those players are good enough to keep playing at this level.

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Post by thebandwagonsociety Mon 20 Feb 2023, 10:30 am

Welshmushroom wrote:I do wonder how fixtures are sorted.  Seems a little unfair that both Leinsters South African away legs have appeared at the end of both seasons.

I suspect they will field their second/third string side as by that point they will have the league wrapped up.

Surely if the league really wants to be credible how fixtures are determined must be looked at.  Fixtures should be randomized so that stats like the one above can't be picked out.

Is it the fact that both are away? The fixtures aren't set up that everybody goes on a two weekend trip to SA for the most part?
This stuff usually appears every now and then.
Old H Cup days.... the jibe thrown over the Irish Sea was that Munster/Ulster/Leinster had easier fixtures the week before HCup weekends so their teams were rested.... then 'randomly' those lead in weekends turned into interpro fixtures..... Irish teams adapted and the narrative turned to 'of course they do good in Europe, they come out of a perfect interpro fixture the weekend before so they are battle hardened!!'

I do wonder how fixtures are sorted too.
I wonder how many extra weeks all teams have to wait until clubs that share grounds with soccer teams know what weekends they can play at home.
I wonder how much leeway those clubs get and how many fixtures are changed and moved around to accommodate those 'special' clubs?

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Post by Welshmushroom Mon 20 Feb 2023, 10:44 am

thebandwagonsociety wrote:
Is it the fact that both are away? The fixtures aren't set up that everybody goes on a two weekend trip to SA for the most part?
This stuff usually appears every now and then.
Old H Cup days.... the jibe thrown over the Irish Sea was that Munster/Ulster/Leinster had easier fixtures the week before HCup weekends so their teams were rested.... then 'randomly' those lead in weekends turned into interpro fixtures..... Irish teams adapted and the narrative turned to 'of course they do good in Europe, they come out of a perfect interpro fixture the weekend before so they are battle hardened!!'

I do wonder how fixtures are sorted too.
I wonder how many extra weeks all teams have to wait until clubs that share grounds with soccer teams know what weekends they can play at home.
I wonder how much leeway those clubs get and how many fixtures are changed and moved around to accommodate those 'special' clubs?

There are usually parties in other leagues that will make these sort of links. For the most part the URC has addressed the competitive nature of the league in the last 2 seasons as most games are incredibly important for top 8 finishes.

Is the ground share a thing though? I thought the Irish have their own grounds as do the SA sides and Scottish. Come to think of it I can only think of the Ospreys who share with a football club. I know Cardiff do share with some other sport groups but given they are the primary sport I would imagine they can pick and choose fixtures based on needs.

My issue with the Leinster issue is what ends up happening in terms of narrative for the league. By having these fixtures at the end of the season they have the option of sending weaker sides without worrying about the points loss. Now if that was at the start of the season I don't see a scenario where Leinster don't send a first team squad as I doubt they would want to start to the first 6 games of the season with potentially 2 losses on their record becoming involved in the dog fight for top 4 places that has been clearly evident this season.

Now as you say this could be a anomaly but my concern would be what if this happens again next season? If it did as a URC fan that would bother me. And this isn't a anti Leinster post. I'm just saying that the only input clubs should have into the fixtures is home and away availability (and even then I actually think this shouldn't be determined by them either). The league needs to be able to generate totally neutral decisions on fixtures.

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Post by the-goon2 Wed 01 Mar 2023, 3:38 pm

The timing of the fixtures only benefits Leinster because they won every game this season. If they didn't, and needed to pick up 6/7 points to finish in the top 2 or 4, then the timing would be terrible. Sandwiched between a HC QF and SF, and just after a grueling 6N.
Then the decision on which team to send down is a lot more difficult.

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