Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Whats Declan Kidneys and the IRFU's four month plan?

Ireland manager Paul McNaughton believes the team's gruelling autumn schedule has offered an insight into the demands of the World Cup.Ireland face into their final match of the November internationals against Argentina on Sunday with a lengthy injury list.

'This has been a tough autumn because it's the first time we've had four games,' said McNaughton. 'The four games were put together to have the extra match against South Africa to mark the opening of the Aviva Stadium.

'We haven't had time to analyse whether we should play four games again. It's been a long five weeks with four matches against very physical opposition. South Africa, Samoa, New Zealand and Argentina, they don't come more physical than that.

Today at team training Brian O Driscoll took part but not in contact I ask myself why are we pushing BOD to ensure his fitness for what is a meaningless game on Sunday against Argentina when we would be much better advised in having a look at alternatives with the World Cup only 288 days away. We gallantly fought well at the weekend but fell short of what is clearly the best rugby team in the world bar none currently. We have been badly exposed over the last year to our shortages on back up players in key positions and it seems we have not done a huge amount to rectify this. As currently stands in the World Rugby rankings 1.New Zealand, 2.Australia, 3.South Africa, 4.England, 5.France. The only upward movers have been Australia and Scotland while the rest remain the same, apart from us the Springboks and Argentina who are beginning to slide. Looking at the top teams and those on elevating their status there is a definite trend in the brand of rugby they are trying to play, you could almost say they each are repetitions of one another. This says two things to me firstly is trying to develop a game plan similar to the worlds best going to make the game a more tedious spectacle to its audience or is it just that someone has found a winning formula and as the saying goes "If it ain't broke don't fix it" Well clearly from our perspective it is broken and we need to fix it. We don't need an engine replacement we just need a service. We need to look at adding a second game plan to our armoury. If you analyse the teams in the ascendancy they all have one thing in common they have the option of a big ball carrying centre. New Zealand have Sonny boy Williams, England have Shontayne Hape and Matt Banahan Scotland have Graeme Morrison, France have Yannick Jauzion and Fabrice Estebanez and of course Mathieu Bastreaud, I could go on but this trend is obvious. Teams on the slide take Wales as an example when things were golden Wales had big bashing off loading , try scoring Jaime Roberts since his injury spell they had not sought to repair this loss hence now they find themselves languishing in a lowly ninth in the World rankings with the Roberts close to a return and a tame World cup group they should not despair just yet we on the other hand should.

This is not about replacing Brian O Driscoll and Gordon Darcy this is about developing other alternatives and that means adopting a reserve game plan should we need to call on it. Since Saturdays loss we have not called up any new players to the squad I believe Kidney needs to look across the water to Northampton centre James Downey one of the Premierships leading players this year. Argentina visit this Sunday we have nothing to prove we gave a solid performance last weekend but where beaten by the worlds best team. Lets tear up the the IRFU how to play rugby coaching manual and try something different and what better time than now otherwise we are in danger of yet another under par World Cup.

Villa Maria Pinot Noir Private Bin, Marlborough New Zealand 2009
(Currently on €9.99 Special in Tesco)

Marlborough is the biggest of New Zealand's big three wine regions.Marlborough is one of New Zealand’s sunniest and driest areas. In these bright, but relatively ‘cool’ climate conditions, the grapes have the advantage of a long slow, flavour-intensifying ripening period. The contrast between day and night conditions also helps to enhance the colour development in the skins of Pinot Noir.
Lovely light cherry fruit on the nose typical hallmark of Marlborough Pinot, with a touch of savoury spice the palate delivers ripe red cherry fruit with medium tannins and decent length drink aged development will not overly enhance this wine.

Asda's Wine Progression

On my annual Fungi Foray up north the location of which for reasons of Cep confidentiality will never be disclosed we generally make a pit stop normally on our return to Asda the well known British subsidiary of the largest retailer in the world Wall Mart. Specializing in food, clothing, toys and general merchandise and more recently concerting their efforts towards a much improved wine section. They have always had choice on offer but normally of entry level sub standard wines and with no real effort in displaying these products. Phillippa Carr joined Asda's ranks in 2005 but her influence has not really been felt on these Isles until more recently and what a welcome relief it is. On entering Asda's wine section it still has the feel of a supermarket drinks emporium, but with more a systematic approach. I had already prepared my list on what I was looking for based on the International Wine Awards and Decanters Wine awards. However I had still prepared myself for the thankful task of trudging through shelves trying to locate these wines to my surprise they now have a dedicated an area to all their award winning wines. I quickly cleared the shelf and assembled some other interesting bottles to add to the already cumbersome basket. In regards to value I have always believed in spending my currency in M & S as I have always thought their selection to be excellent with well chosen wines from interesting regions as well as the key producing areas. However I firmly believe Asda are making the steps in the right direction the only problems for us mortals from the Hemorrhaging state is the arduous journey to get to an Asda. I say the next petition we have in this country is too Wall Mart to pressure them to set foot in the south and put retailing pressure on the likes of Tesco who have ruined our retail sector with aggressive business tactics. Anyway we will leave that one for another day this blog is about all things rugby and vitis.

Asda Marsanne, Vin de Pays d'Oc, France, 2009 (£3.98, €4.70/5.00, Asda)

The white grape variety Marsanne's home is the northern Rhône, making full bodied, scented white wines. It has taking over from its blending partner rousanne. This example from Languedoc, shows what it can do on its own: Quite summery but don't let that take away from the fact we are in the cooler part of our climatic year,this is so suitable for drinking now with notes of honeysuckle and white blossom and a touch nutty its fresh peach palate with zesty acidity is just the ticket. Enjoy