…The Captaincy Life Of Brian…Answering Baby’s Call…Pitch Perfect For Coach Dan…Say What?…Numbers Game…
THE CAPTAINCY LIFE OF BRIAN: Brian O’Driscoll will reach another historic point in his Test career at Murrayfield on Saturday as he equals Keith Wood’s 36-match record in the Irish captaincy list.
Since his first game as captain of his country in 2002, O’Driscoll had led Ireland to 26 wins in 35 matches, including seven victories in his first seven outings as skipper.
In those matches as captain, the Leinster centre has scored 10 tries – against Fiji (2002), Italy (Feb 2003), Wales (2, 2004), Italy (2004), South Africa (June 2004), England (2005), France (2005), New Zealand (2006) and Wales (2007).
Brian O’Driscoll’s 35 Matches At The Helm –
November 9, 2002 – Ireland 18 Australia 9, Lansdowne Road
November 17, 2002 – Ireland 64 Fiji 17, Lansdowne Road
November 23, 2002 – Ireland 16 Argentina 7, Lansdowne Road
February 16, 2003 – Scotland 6 Ireland 36, Murrayfield
February 22, 2003 – Italy 13 Ireland 37, Stadio Flaminio
March 8, 2003 – Ireland 15 France 12, Lansdowne Road
March 22, 2003 – Wales 24 Ireland 25, Millennium Stadium
March 30, 2003 – Ireland 6 England 42, Lansdowne Road
August 30, 2003 – Ireland 61 Italy 6, Thomond Park
February 22, 2004 – Ireland 36 Wales 15, Lansdowne Road
March 6, 2004 – England 13 Ireland 19, Twickenham
March 20, 2004 – Ireland 19 Italy 3, Lansdowne Road
March 27, 2004 – Ireland 37 Scotland 16, Lansdowne Road
June 12, 2004 – South Africa 31 Ireland 17, Vodacom Park, Blomefontein
June 19, 2004 – South Africa 26 Ireland 17, Newlands, Cape Town
November 13, 2004 – Ireland 17 South Africa 12, Lansdowne Road
November 20, 2004 – Ireland 55 USA 6, Lansdowne Road
November 27, 2004 – Ireland 21 Argentina 19, Lansdowne Road
February 6, 2005 – Italy 17 Ireland 28, Stadio Flaminio
February 27, 2005 – Ireland 19 England 13, Lansdowne Road
March 12, 2005 – Ireland 19 France 26, Lansdowne Road
March 19, 2005 – Wales 32 Ireland 20, Millennium Stadium
February 4, 2006 – Ireland 26 Italy 16, Lansdowne Road
February 11, 2006 – France 43 Ireland 31, Stade de France
February 26, 2006 – Ireland 31 Wales 5, Lansdowne Road
March 11, 2006 – Ireland 15 Scotland 9, Lansdowne Road
March 18, 2006 – England 24 Ireland 28, Twickenham
June 10, 2006 – New Zealand 34 Ireland 23, Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
June 17, 2006 – New Zealand 27 Ireland 17, Eden Park, Auckland
June 24, 2006 – Australia 37 Ireland 15, Subiaco Oval, Perth
November 11, 2006 – Ireland 32 South Africa 15, Lansdowne Road
November 19, 2006 – Ireland 21 Australia 6, Lansdowne Road
November 26, 2006 – Ireland 61 Pacific Islanders 17, Lansdowne Road
February 4, 2007 – Wales 9 Ireland 19, Millennium Stadium
February 24, 2007 – Ireland 43 England 13, Croke Park
ANSWERING BABY’S CALL: Two bundles of joy arrived into the arms of Ireland players in recent weeks – flanker Simon Easterby’s wife Sarra gave birth to Soffia, while utility back John Kelly and his wife Grace welcomed Denis into the world.
Congratulations to both couples, and goodbye to your sleep-filled nights!
Easterby arrived just in time, after Ireland’s historic win over England, for the birth of his baby daughter in Bridgend’s Princess of Wales hospital.
Soffia, who weighed in at 9lb 3oz, could well be primed for second row duty at the 2030 Women’s Rugby World Cup as Easterby admitted: “She is quite long.”
A hockey career could also be mapped out for the new arrival as Easterby’s mother Katherine Doyle, who hails from Blackrock in Dublin, played hockey internationally for Ireland.
Whatever career path the little one takes, she is sure to have a head start on most children as she will speak English, Irish and Welsh.
Easterby, whose wife Sarra is a Welsh speaker, said in a recent interview: “Because even though I’m Irish and play for Ireland I wasn’t brought up there and I don’t speak Irish, but there are a lot of guys in the Irish team who do speak the language and I think it’s really important.”
PITCH PERFECT FOR COACH DAN: Ireland Under-20 assistant coach Dan McFarland is eagerly awaiting his charges’ Friday night battle with Scotland in Falkirk.
The former Connacht prop is hoping Ireland can chalk up their fourth straight win in this year’s inaugural U-20 Six Nations championship, adding to the defeats of Wales, France and England.
And amidst all the talk of a potential Grand Slam, he feels the Falkirk Stadium is the ideal arena for Ireland’s stars of the future to let their rugby do the talking.
It’s an extremely good venue,” commented McFarland.
“It’s a soccer ground and the surface is lovely, so from that point of view we’re very much looking forward to playing.
“As regards the match, we’re expecting it to be very tough. Scotland are very passionate at all levels of competition and they won’t be happy with their results so far.
“We’ve seen them play and there are certain aspects of their game we’ve made the lads aware of.”
Despite the fact that the Scots have lost all three games so far to England, Wales and Italy, McFarland is expecting the hosts to mount a big challenge.
“We’re under no illusions that we’ve a serious test on our hands and we’re expecting a very tough game,” added the up-and-coming coach who is hoping his club side Monivea can negotiate their way through the AIB League Round Robin Series when it begins on March 24.
“We need to play at the same level as we played against England and if we do, there are few teams that can stay with us.
“Ireland are looking for favours if they are to win the Six Nations. We’re hoping England will get over their loss and beat France and, that being the case, we need to score a serious amount of points against Scotland to boost our points difference.”
– Former Ireland hooker and captain Keith Wood has his fingers crossed for a big win for the visitors at Murrayfield, and a French collapse at Twickenham
“The Argentina tour, as well as the Churchill Cup, will have a role to play in development in the way the autumn internationals did, and probably more so.
“There might be an opportunity against Argentina to give guys some Test time. We have established what is roughly our starting 15 and 22.
“Now we must supplement that to make up the 30 for the World Cup. There are places up for grabs and Argentina will play a part of that.”
– The seniors’ summer tour to Argentina and May’s Churchill Cup will see a number of players given the chance to impress Eddie O’Sullivan, according to the Irish coach himself
“I’ll dedicate this cap to my parents John and Margaret, who will be getting the ball for her cabinet.
“I couldn’t have reached 83 caps without my dad getting me interested in sport to begin with and whether I’ve been playing for Preston Lodge, Edinburgh Accies, Bedford, Saracens or Edinburgh my mum has never missed the opportunity to see me play.”
– Edinburgh lock Scott Murray reveals that the specially embossed ball he was presented with for winning his 83rd cap – a new Scottish record – this weekend will be residing in his parents’ house
2 – The number of players in Scotland’s 22-man squad for Saturday that have scored tries in previous Tests against Ireland. Full-back Hugo Southwell (in 2005) and replacement centre Andrew Henderson (in 2001) are the only two to have touched down against the men in green
207 – The amount of caps the Scotland starting backs – numbers 9 to 15 – have accumulated at Test level
425 – The amount of caps that Ireland’s starting backs for Saturday’s game have won so far in their Test careers