The Offload: Marty Moore still proving class is permanent

Taking advantage of momentum can play an integral part of sporting success so for Marty Moore a man-of-the-match performance in Ulster’s victory over Munster at Thomond Park was a decent response to his call-up to the Ireland A squad for next Friday night’s game against an All Blacks Development XV at the RDS (7.45pm).

The 31-year-old tighthead prop won the last of his 10 Ireland senior caps in 2015 but still retains the qualities to stand out at elite level, strong in the set piece, a responsible defender, a high work rate and good hands as a link player.

Many of those qualities were on display in Limerick, one standout moment a thumping tackle on Munster’s hugely promising secondrow, teenager Edwin Edogbo.

Moore smiled: “Yeah thankfully he didn’t see me coming. I think that was the only reason I got the better of that exchange; he’s a big man.”

The Dubliner played the full 80 minutes, a remit he was happy to embrace.

“I needed as many minutes as possible. I’ve had a pretty messy period with coming in and out with injuries and bits and pieces so as many mins as are available to me, I’m going to take them with both hands. Hopefully I will get a crack at more rugby next weekend.”

Moore agreed he was pleasantly surprised to be included in the Ireland A squad.

“To be honest I didn’t expect to be in either squad [senior or A]. Just the opportunity to play rugby as close to the top level as possible is something, whether it was a game like tonight, or a European Cup or obviously an A game, to be as close as possible to Test match rugby is something I’ll grab with both hands and hopefully get a good hit out next weekend. I would have been sitting at home and training so it’s definitely the better option.”

La Rochelle’s ‘lack of humility’ frustrates O’Gara

La Rochelle head coach Ronan O’Gara didn’t hide his feelings when discussing his side’s 38-21 defeat at home to Pau in the French Top 14. The former Munster, Ireland and Lions outhalf said: “Congratulations to Pau, the best team won, they deserved their victory.”

O’Gara admitted to being “frustrated” by his team’s attitude which obviously seeped into their performance. He continued: “When you lack humility, you pay the price. We were humiliated today, but that’s the law of rugby.

“We have lots of work ahead of us. It’s a big hit and we must react, and quickly. We can’t accept that type of game before our fans. The answer is pretty easy at the end of the day; look at ourselves in the mirror and understand the word ‘humility’.”

Ultan Dillane started on the bench for La Rochelle, having made a good impression at the club since his arrival from Connacht during the summer, his versatility reflected in the fact that he has played both blindside flanker and secondrow this season.

The defeat, their third in the last five matches, means the European champions are in third place in the table some 11 points behind leaders Toulouse; the latter, with a much depleted side, lost 26-22 to newly-promoted Bayonne.

La Rochelle begin the defence of their Heineken Champions Cup in December and visit Belfast to take on Ulster in the second round of fixtures.

Strong Irish contingent at Richmond

Richmond rugby club has become something of an Irish enclave in London, a fact reflected in the team sheet for their 36-33 English Rugby Championship victory over the Bedford Blues at the weekend.

Former Irish underage international Alex O’Meara was on a wing, Paul Kiernan, son of former Ireland and Lions centre Michael, wore the 12 jersey, with former Munster, Ulster and Ireland Under-20 playmaker, Bill Johnston at outhalf. Ntinga Mpiko, once of Lansdowne, and former Connacht scrumhalf Stephen Kerins were on the bench.

Prop Conor Maguire is also a member of the first team squad while Richmond’s skills coach is former Leinster schools interprovincial Barry Goulding. The London club didn’t have a complete monopoly on Irish players as Limerick-born prop and former Irish age-grade player Joey Conway and Cork’s Sean French, who won a Grand Slam with the Irish 20s (2019), started for Bedford.

Ealing Trailfinders lead the league unbeaten after seven matches – David Johnston, brother of Bill, Ross Kane and David O’Connor, brother of Ulster’s Alan are among their Ireland players – while Jersey Reds, also with seven straight wins had Tipperary’s Sean O’Connor, Alex McHenry (Cork) and Dubliner Eoghan Clarke in action over the weekend.

By the Numbers – 23

The number of points scored by Finn Russell – five penalties and four conversions – in Racing 92′s 43-38 victory over Brive in the French Top 14.

The 30-year-old was omitted from Scotland head coach Gregor Townend’s squad for the November Tests. Blair Kinghorn, who wore the 10 shirt for Scotland on Saturday, missed a late 40-metre penalty in a 16-15 defeat to Australia.

Word of Mouth

“Having played for the All Blacks, one of the things we used to talk about 25 years ago was that everyone was a wee bit scared of us. Perhaps that is not the case anymore.” – Japan head coach Jamie Joseph suggests that New Zealand may have lost a little of their aura in recent times after his side’s 38-31 defeat in Tokyo.


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