Schmidt Contract To Expire

Joe Schmidt is the head coach for IRFU; he has to take a crucial decision as to whether he will extend the four year contract that exists with the team at present. He has certain family commitments that he needs to consider that would affect his decision as to whether he will continue or end the contract.

Joe Schmidt has an important role to play as the head coach for the Irish rugby team. He is deferring a decision for his future with the regional team. Some are optimistic about his extending contract period while others are unsure about his decision.

The current contract that he holds with the Irish team would finish by this season. He informed IRFU that he might take on a new contract with them, which would continue till the 2019 World Cup is held in Japan. You can click here to follow Ireland’s progress as they aim to qualify got the World Cup. Alternately, if not, his association will change the region end this year.

There are certain family related decisions that would affect his final decision that is being stretched for some more time, though the contract has technically expired by the end of August. IRFU has made an open end offer to him, which allows him to continue even if the season has ended. This would be his fourth stint with Ireland team.

Steve Tew is the chief executive of the NZRU, has considerable admiration for Schmidt. He has contacted him and might want Schmidt to come back to New Zealand. There are rumors of Schmidt tying up with the Highlanders, but he has denied that such a link has been established. Both men were together in a tour to South Africa.

Schmidt states that he has not made any commitment with any other team like the Highlanders through Roger Clark. He stresses on the fact that he has not signed on any agreement with any other team till now.

Sweetnam Stars In Munster’s Win

The pre-season friendly match played in August looked as if it was held in late November because of the heavy winds and rain.

The gusty weather conditions did not upset the rhythm and performance of the Munster team as they won their game 17-0 against Zebre in Waterford. This was the first win for Rassie Erasmus after being appointed as Munster’s director of Rugby.

Munster had to play against the wind in the opening half and it was the out half Ian Keatley adapting to the conditions pretty quickly and showed his game experience. He came up with well timed grubber kicks that allowed Muster to enjoy two tries. The first of the tries was through eventual man-of-the-match Darren Sweetnam.

Sweetnam was the star of the day as he put in a lot of work on the rugby field to end up with a brace of scores.

This performance puts him in good strides for the forthcoming season. Keatley was instrumental in the opening try as he made a first kick that found lively center Colm O’Shea. Keatley’s second kick that was a bit deep into the opposition 22 was pounced by Sweetnam after Zeber’s winger Giovanbattista Venditti missing it and it finally ended up with a touchdown for Sweetnam.

There was pressure from the Zebre team, but with solid defense Munster were able to keep them quiet for the first half that ended at 5-0. Munster looked very solid and firm in their defense as well as their set piece game. They really played well to come out with a superb win. Munster players played the perfect game and did not allow the well-built Italians in the Zebre side to score or move freely. Keeping them scoreless through the entire game is a very good effort from the Munster’s defense.

Herring and Trimble are Ulster Captains

Rob Herring and Andrew Trimble will be sharing the captaincy of the Ulster province for the forthcoming season. Ireland skipper Rory Best has stepped down from the role of the captain of Ulster and both Herring and Trimble have been chosen as the captains this season.

Herring, the hooker, was a deputy to Best on plenty of occasions last season and has a bit of experience in captaining the Ulster team. Trimble is the most capped player in the squad and this explains why he has been chosen by the Ulster management to lead the team this season.

The Ulster Director of Rugby, Les Kiss, said that both these players have gained the love and respect of everyone in the organization. The appointment of these two players as the captains of the squad will offer more flexibility and continuity for the team. He said that he was excited that the two players have said ‘yes’ to captaining Ulster. As it is very difficult to confirm that one player will be available for the team all the time during the season, Kiss though that the two captains idea is a better option for the team.

Herring joined the Ulster team in 2012 and Trimble has made a total of 206 appearances for Ulster so far. He made his debut for Ulster against Cardiff province in 2005. Herring after his appointment said that he is really excited to share the captaincy of Ulster province with a person like Andrew.

He is sure that with the mutual support of other leading players in the team and Andrew, the squad can make huge progress in the 2016/17 season.

Trimble was also very excited with the new captaincy post of his home province and acknowledged that it was the proudest moment of his rugby career.

Connacht Extends Contract With Bealham

The Ireland rugby international Finlay Bealham has signed a new contract with his team Connacht Rugby and he will be seen playing for the team till the 2019 summer. It looks like the Connacht team management was pretty much impressed with the show that Bealham put up last season.

The 24 year old prop is capable of playing on both sides of the scrum and this was showcased during the last season. Bealham had featured in all the 31 games played by Connacht Rugby team last season that involved PRO12 and European Rugby Challenge Cup. This could be one the reasons for Connacht to extend his contract.

The CEO of Connacht, Willie Raune, said that the team was happy to have Bealham retained in their squad. He is mighty pleased with what Bealham has achieved has come into the team through the Academy system. His game and play has developed tremendously and this is evident from the rise he has shown on the international stage in the past few years.

Finlay is very important to Connacht and for the vision of the club. Willie is sure that Bealham has a very bright future ahead of him with the club as well as his international team.

The head coach of Connacht, Lam, said that Finlay is entering this season after a very successful season for Ireland as well as Connacht and he will be a force to reckon with for the next three seasons. He is impressed with the attitude and the dedication of Finlay and is sure that he will continue to be a team man in the upcoming seasons. He is very popular with other Connacht players and has a lot to offer for the team as a front row player. Bealham said that he did not have to think twice to sign the extension contract with Connacht.

Mike Ford Set for Leinster Role

Leinster was quick to react after the surprise departure of defense coach Kurt McQuilkin. The Leinster province did not waste much of its time and started to carry out discussions with many coaches to fill the shoes of Kurt.

There is no doubt that Kurt had left a void, according to Leo Cullen, the head coach. He had to leave due to family reasons and it is for Leinster management to bring in someone with a positive attitude into the squad.

McQuilkin is leaving the team before the 2016/17 season opener against Treviso, slated for 2nd September. Leinster has made a massive effort in finding a replacement for Kurt and has spread their net far and wide. Leinster had Graham Henry and Andy Farrell in their mind, but they are out of reckoning now. Farrell will not be able to devote a lot of time to Leinster rugby as he has international duties to attend to coming in November.

Henry returning to coach Leinster is most unlikely after he had returned to New Zealand after a two week stint at Leinster. John Fogarty, the scrum coach of Leinster, said that he has his roles to play for the New Zealand international rugby team and also his family is located there. So, Mike Ford is the best bet as he brings in a lot of experience with him. He has been with the Irish rugby for many years and has also the experience of the coaching Irish national team as a defense coach from January 2002.

Mike Ford is looking to put his coaching career back on line by coaching the Leinster province. The move to Leinster would help Ford to return to Ireland where he has worked previously under Eddie O’Sullivan as the defense coach from 2002 to 2005. His appointment would bring to Cullen’s coaching team a lot more experience.

Six Nations reaches pivotal weekend

This Six Nations returns this weekend having taken a well deserved breather last week, with teams again set to battle it out for victories over their Northern hemisphere rivals.

Ireland

It is hard to look anywhere else for the tie of the round, as England host Wales at Twickenham on Saturday evening in what could well be the title decider.

Having started confidently in their new era under Eddie Jones, England will be looking to banish painful memories of their World Cup exit to their neighbours, which eventually contributed to their exit at the group stage. For Wales, Warren Gatland’s side will be looking to build upon recent victories against Scotland and France.

There is huge expectation from both sides heading into the fixture, with no clear favourite revealing themselves this time around. Unlike in the 1970’s when Wales consistently defeated their rivals or during England’s glory years under Sir Clive Woodward, this match is delicately balanced, with Wales certainly not fearing a trip behind enemy lines.

A potential return for England centre Manu Tuilagi after a 15 month international absence through injury could well provide the home side with an added boost going into the tie, although he looks set to be named amongst the replacements.

Elsewhere on this Six Nations weekend, Ireland host Italy in Dublin hoping to recover from a defeat to England last time around, whilst a Scotland side still bouncing from a first Six Nations victory in two years, host a France team struggling for consistency under Guy Noves.

With this weeks fixtures looking too tight to call, compare the odds on latest events and sit back and enjoy what is sure to be a treat for rugby fans. Wales’ superior experience in such situations may well prove to be the difference when bookmakers compare odds. However, with many players enjoying a rest last week, they will certainly be raring to go come game time.

With Southern hemisphere coaches dominating the Six Nations this year, it remains to be seen who will come out on top. With two Kiwi’s leading Scotland and Wales, and an Aussie in charge of England, it is perhaps a worrying time for home grown coaches in terms of their potential progression to the international arena.

It certainly adds another dimension to the Six Nations Championship this year however, as it remains to be seen who will be the most pleased come the end of the tournament.

Can Ireland win the 2016 Six Nations?

Ireland have won the last two Six Nations competitions and will be chasing down a third consecutive success in the tournament. Although they have lost a number of key personalities, Joe Schmidt’s side is still extremely talented and the Irish will be quietly confident of achieving their ultimate goal in 2016. We take a look at their chances of success in spring’s competition.

2015 Player of the Tournament Paul O’Connell hung up his boots after Ireland’s disappointing exit in October’s World Cup. The Irish lock suffered a tournament-ending injury that cost him the opportunity to lead his team out against Argentina and they missed his presence as they fell to the Pumas at the quarter-final stage of the competition.

Ireland will be one of the leading candidates to win the tournament but the likes of England and Wales will also fancy their chances of success. Punters will have to compare odds from various bookmakers via Bookies’ website to ensure they get the best odds on Ireland to succeed. If they perform like they did last year, they will be very hard to beat.

Despite losing O’Connell, Ireland still have plenty of experience in their ranks. Jamie Heaslip has taken over as captain and Jonathan Sexton has an abundance of quality and knowledge to advise the younger members of Ireland’s squad. Schmidt will try to keep the bulk of the squad the same, however he must give some players the opportunity to prove their worth.

Ireland may have suffered a disappointing defeat to Argentina, however they can still hold their heads high after a decent tournament. They weren’t the most exciting side in the competition but managed to secure some impressive victories throughout the group stages.

If Ireland perform at their very best, they should cruise to a third successive Six Nations title and many who are confident enough should already head to Bookies and check out their odds with various bookmakers – full listings are available here and their price will only shorten as the tournament approaches.

England may be a threat but are currently undergoing a transitional period after appointing Eddie Jones as their new manager. Stuart Lancaster lost his job after a difficult World Cup and Ireland will believe they are capable of beating England at Twickenham.

Meanwhile, they will host Wales – arguably Ireland’s closest rivals for the crown – in the opening fixture of the tournament. Warren Gatland’s men are perhaps the most complete side in the competition. They will have a number of players back from injury and will fancy their chances of going all the way and lifting the title.

Despite losing their rock O’Connell, it is incredibly difficult to back against Ireland. Three home games will help Schmidt’s side but you have to feel that the away fixture against England will be the crucial one. Win that, and Ireland will secure the title. Anything else and the Irish may struggle to win a third straight crown.