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Rugby Shorts: November 7

Rugby Shorts: November 7

…Irish Wheelchair Rugby Team at Euro Champs…Latest IRB World Rankings…Kiwi Rendez-Vous at Deramore Park…January Date for Ireland Women’s Side…Irish Referees On The Move…

WHEELCHAIR RUGBY: Ireland’s wheelchair rugby team, under the guidance of manager Martin Baxter and coach Peter Barron, competed at last month’s European Championships in Denmark.

In only their second EC games, the Irish unfortunately lost all five of their Pool A fixtures and their play-off against Norway 21-17 to finish 12th overall – one place below their seeding.

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Baxter, whose side still have an outside chance of qualifying for the World Cup in Christchurch, New Zealand next autumn, put the poor performance partly down to player classification.

With each internationally classed tournament we attend, each player needs to be classified to be able to play and one of our players was unfortunately raised to a higher class," said Baxter.

"Therefore the balance of the team was disrupted making it harder for us to play our strongest team.

"Overall, it was a disappointing result for us but the guys played their hearts out in every match and did the Irish flag proud."

Garrett Culliton and Stephen Hickey finished as top scorers for Ireland, who count on players from Dublin, Cork, Galway, Louth, Tipperary, Antrim and Wexford, at the EC games.


ALL BLACKS STRENGTHEN THEIR POSITION: Graham Henry's New Zealand strengthened their position at the top of the IRB World Rankings, relased today (Monday, November), on foot of Saturday's all-too-easy 41-3 defeat of Wales in Cardiff.

France, aided by Saturday’s 26-16 victory against Australia, have also leapfrogged the Wallabies into third. Ireland remain seventh having not seen any action since June. Eddie O’Sullivan’s side were as high as fourth at the end of February before Six Nations losses to France and Wales.

Latest Rankings: (1) New Zealand 92.57 Rating points, (2) South Africa 88.99, (3) France 84.90, (4) Australia 84.08, (5) England 82.81, (6) Wales 82.46, (7) Ireland 82.14, (8) Argentina 75.66, (9) Scotland 74.20, (10) Fiji 73.47


KIWI RENDEZ-VOUS AT DERAMORE PARK: Belfast Harlequins RFC are hosting some notable All Black supporters on Sunday, November 13, at the clubhouse at Deramore Park from 1-5pm.

A lunch and drinks reception will be held in honour of the Kiwi visitors with ex All Black players Billy Bush, Brian McKechnie, who also played cricket for New Zealand, and Mark “Bullet” Donaldson due to attend.

An added bonus will be the presence of Munster’s own Christy Cantillon, who famously scored the winning try for the province against the All Blacks in 1978.

‘Quins have a number of current links with New Zealand – former Ulster captain and Ireland flanker Andy Ward, who now acts as player-coach to the club’s first team, was born in Whangrei, while centre/wing Nopera Stewart and props Hamish Fraser and Chris Tipene are all Kiwis.

Everyone is welcome to attend on Sunday afternoon.


JANUARY DATE FOR IRELAND WOMEN’S SIDE: Philip Doyle’s Ireland side will get an early chance to size up the strengths and weaknesses of the United States, one of their Women’s Rugby World Cup opponents in Edmonton, Canada next autumn, in January.

The USA, as part of their 2006 European tour, will play Ireland in a friendly match at Thomond Park on Wednesday, January 25 (kick-off tbc). The fixture is seen as good preparation for the forthcoming Six Nations championship, which Ireland begin against Spain on February 4/5.


IRISH REFEREES ON THE MOVE: Three of Ireland’s leading referees will be in action at Twickenham next Saturday for the England v Australia Test match. Alain Rolland and Alan Lewis will be on touch judge duty, while Simon McDowell will assume the role of television match official.

Lewis is at Twickenham again the following Saturday to be the matchday referee for England’s clash with the All Blacks.

Continuing on the refereeing front, irishrugby.ie would like to wish South African referee Jonathan Kaplan a happy 39th birthday today (November 7)! Kaplan is the man in the middle for Ireland’s duel with the All Blacks this coming Saturday at Lansdowne Road.