The Roar
The Roar

Derm McCrum

Roar Guru

Joined December 2008







The truth shall set you free.



Furlong is back in training – should be out on the park for the Scarlets match on Saturday week. Bent might get another year if Abdaladze doesn’t recover and may be cut from squad. Notwithstanding that, Leinster have Tom Clarkson (TH) and Michael Milne (LH) coming through from academy. That should allow Andrew Porter to shift across to his better playing position at LH to provide a first-rank replacement for Cian Healy who ain’t getting any younger – he turns 34 in October.

Nationally, Furlong has ideal TH back-up coming through from Tom O’Toole who moved to Australia at age 10 and returned before finishing school to play at Ulster, and Keynan Knox at Ulster.

Chris Cloete is contracted at Munster until June 2022.

Kevin Maggs on the search for new Irish rugby stars

Nearly – I got my numbers slightly mixed up. Butler born in NZ.

Player birthplace breakdown by province – Aus/NZ only

Aus (3): Porch, O’Donnell – NIQ; Bealham (GPQ);
NZ (3): Butler, Aki (RIQ), Papali’i (NIQ)

Aus (1): Carter (NIE);
NZ (3): Mathewson (NIE); Faddes (NIQ), Reidy (GPQ)

Aus: 0
NZ (2): Marshall (RIQ), Carbery (PIQ)

Aus (1): Fardy (NIE);
NZ (3): Bent (GPQ), Gibson-Park, Lowe (RIQ)

Under current contract negotiations with Nucifora and provinces, I reckon the following are likely to be gone in June:
Fardy, Bent, Mathewson, Papali’i.
Carter and Faddes are both at end of their 2-year contracts in Ulster – if Nucifora thinks they’re blocking players coming through, they won’t be renewed.

Kevin Maggs on the search for new Irish rugby stars

The IQ Rugby programme has a network wider than UK. It extends into SA, Aus, NZ and particularly moving into USA where a number of Irish players have moved for opportunities including test duty with the Eagles.

Kevin Maggs on the search for new Irish rugby stars

The Irish clubs are not aggressively recruiting SA players. One of them has been. I know people like to employ this kind of hyperbole on this topic, but it’s worthwhile looking at the actual numbers.

Munster has the largest cohort, driven mainly by the presence of SA coaches who pick what they know, and undoubtedly, the continuing links with Rassie Erasmus from his time there (hence him picking Felix Jones after he left Munster).

Munster – 6
Stander – moved in 2012 cos he wasn’t being selected for Boks and Munster needed a new back row – 2-year contract only.
Knox – moved from after school into Munster academy in 2017; now playing senior as prop
Kleyn – brought in as a special project player in 2016 on 3-year contract to qualify on residency.
Cloete (2017) cheap uncapped back row stock contracted until 2022.
De Allende (2020) first decent foreign capped player recruited by Munster in over 5 years
Snyman (2020) – injured early on – remains to be seen how he goes but should be good. Both De Allende and Snyman only allowed stay for 2 years max as foreign capped players.

Connacht – 1
Roux – sought one-season trial with Leinster in 2012, got it, it was renewed for another year but loaned out to Connacht eventually in second season. Got another contract due to long term injury to domestic lock, and became an ‘accidental’ residency qualified player, similar to Connacht’s Ah You and White. Getting a new lease of test life under Farrell, but that could have been down to injury/absence of Dillane, Henderson, and Baird.

Ulster – 4
Herring – IQ through grandfather. Moved to London Irish, then semi-pro clubs, before joining Ulster in 2014.
Ludik – moved from Agen in France for 2014/15 season. A stalwart club player in his last season.
Milasonovich (2019j – qualified through his grandfather who played for Ulster. Injured on arrival in 2019, hasn’t played yet. Suspect he’ll be let go if budgets have to be cut.
Coetzee (2016) – arrived from Japan, and injured for nearly first 2 seasons, played a blinder since. Bulls have since pinched him back and will finish in June with Ulster.

Leinster – 0.

Of foreign-born players in Irish rugby currently

Eng – 8 – all PQ or GPQ
SA – 11 – 2 GPQ
Aus – 6 – 1 GPQ
NZ – 10 – 4 PQ or GPQ.

Kevin Maggs on the search for new Irish rugby stars

Great player for Ireland alongside O’Driscoll – scored some cracking tries to boot.

IQ Rugby seems to be motoring along nicely since it started in May 2017. The provinces are gradually reducing numbers of NIQ players on their books. One recent weekend of Irish derbies had something like 87 of the 92 squad players as Irish qualified including 5 qualified through residency. Leinster haven’t recruited anyone external for last two seasons.

With over 90 contracts being looked at over next few weeks by Nucifora & Co, numbers will drop further with squad budgets being cut by 10%.

Kevin Maggs on the search for new Irish rugby stars

Yep – they’re the usual suspects, Nic. Some selectors had Murray and Sexton in there as well. Stockdale needs to recover some form and Farrell needs to decide if he’s 15 or not at test level – I think not. Not sure about Larmour there either. Ringrose is a good call for 13 but that’s his specialist position, and Gatland likes flexibility in his midfield players. Henshaw can at least do that and – god forbid – play 15. Healy is 34 in October – is he going to be flogged come whenever Lions tour takes place?

Will the Lions actually tour South Africa in 2021?

Sure, but at this point there won’t be 10 Irish players in the Lions squad.
Nor is it likely that the top 10 players from the Irish squad would be selected – Lions selection doesn’t work like that, with better choices available from the other countries, particularly England, for particular positions.

Most Lions selections estimated by pundits so far have featured 18-20 English players with Wales (8), Ireland (5-6) and Scotland (3) making up the rest of the 35 players Gatland plans to take.

Moreover, there are a few positions where Andy Farrell needs to develop and test more of the depth in the squad – those players are unlikely to feature in a Lions selection, and he needs them to be in NZ.

It’s entirely doable.

Will the Lions actually tour South Africa in 2021?

There’s a funny video clip doing the rounds where Ulster scrum-half, John Cooney, is bringing the ball back with his foot through the ruck to pick up and pass. Ref had told him to use it already. He picked it up as ref blew whistle and awarded scrum to opposition. The expression on the 9s face is a classic. Things hurried up after that.

Nigel Owens was pinging them in the European Cup last September – in the semi between Saracens and Racing 92.

Tap penalties are also coming back into fashion with teams choosing to tap and go when inside 10m line rather than waste time on scrums.

English rugby is leading us back to the light (no, really)

Enforcement of the 5-second rule, etc has been happening in the PRO14 as well.

English rugby is leading us back to the light (no, really)

Furlong as one of the tightheads
Ryan as one of the locks
Doris as one of the back rowers.

Gatland wants to take a reduced squad on tour. The majority will be from England who have greater playing stocks/depth, and Wales.

Will the Lions actually tour South Africa in 2021?

If the Lions tour was held next year, the other unions could still tour other countries – assuming they are allowed tour. For example, currently I could see only 2-3 Irish players being picked for Lions – which wouldn’t impact much on an Ireland squad touring New Zealand next year.

Will the Lions actually tour South Africa in 2021?

Agreed, Nicholas. The rate of vaccination in Ireland very slow. The level of interest in a Lions tour is pretty small in comparison to more important things.

Will the Lions actually tour South Africa in 2021?

No. Same thing. IRFU have said that crowds are unlikely to happen until 2022.

Will the Lions actually tour South Africa in 2021?

Can’t see tour happening in SA. As for UK & Ireland instead? Not a chance that rugby would be allowed play a game in Ireland whilst other more popular sports can’t. Particularly one involving foreign fans arriving from UK and SA.

Will the Lions actually tour South Africa in 2021?


J Carty
H Byrne
C Frawley
B Healy
C Fitzgerald

Middle of Road
B Burns
R Byrne
JJ Hanrahan

I Madigan
P Jackson

J Carbery

Who is Jonathan Sexton’s heir apparent?

Due to uncertainty about results of Covid tests. These turned out to be okay after all, but too late for changing the postponing of the game.

The rise again of Munster rugby

“A boat sailed out of Brandon in the year of 501
’twas a damp and dirty mornin’ Brendan’s voyage it began.
Tired of thinnin’ turnips and cuttin’ curley kale
When he got back from the creamery he hoisted up the sail.
He ploughed a lonely furrow to the north, south, east and west
Of all the navigators, St. Brendan was the best.
When he ran out of candles he was forced to make a stop,
He tied up in Long Island and put America on the map.
Did you know that Honolulu was found by a Kerryman,
Who went on to find Australia then China and Japan.
When he was touchin’ 70, he began to miss the crack,
Turnin’ to his albatross he sez “I’m headin’ back”.

“Is it right or left for Gibraltar”
“What tack do I take for Mizen Head?”
“I’d love to settle down near Ventry Harbour”
St. Brendan to his albatross he said

Christy Moore – “St Brendan’s Voyage” (c) 1985

The rise again of Munster rugby

Have to agree with the theme of Munster on the rise again. Playing some lovely rugby this season and the comeback against Clermont was classic Munster Heineken Cup rugby.

Their academy is slowly starting to pay dividends after 6-7 years of drought replenished only by Leinster buy-ins like Carbery, McCarthy, English grandparent qualified players, and this season a couple of decent foreign capped players in Snyman and De Allende – very much against the hiring trend of the last 5 years, where foreign quotas have not been filled for the last four seasons under Nucifora’s iron grip on recruitment and enforcing policy of Irish-qualified players whenever possible since 2018.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

77% of Munster’s senior squad and academy is Irish-born/raised compared to a boggling 91% being not just Irish- but province-born for Leinster. The Easterners lead the charts on running the most productive academy in Ireland and are one of the best in Europe.

Pity the Xmas interpro between the two teams was postponed until January – it promises to be a humdinger when they meet.

The rise again of Munster rugby

Nice piece of analysis again, Harry. In some people’s view, Ryan has not been performing as well of late, and questioning whether he is the shoo-in partner for Maro Itoje on the Lions tour.

If you’re looking at the likely touring locks for the Lions series – if it goes ahead – there’s media talk of a possible bolder in Ryan’s team-mate and newbie, Ryan Baird – 1.98m, 107kg, a 21-year old who played for the senior team whilst still in academy and did well enough to displace Scott Fardy off the bench in a European Cup match a few months ago.

Was part of the Irish 6N U20s Grand Slam winners and called into senior squad this year for the Autumn Nations Cup but was injured before it got going again. He is likely to feature in 6N 2021 but that may not be enough for the Lions selectors.

Is James Ryan top of the locks?

Ireland wouldn’t miss a single residency player.

Stander and Aki are both 30. They can be replaced by younger players in the morning – Doris, Conan, Farrell, Henshaw, McCloskey, and newbie,
Gibson-Park has plenty of competition – McGrath, Cooney, Marmion, and newcomers Blade and Casey.
Roux at 30 is an accidental test player who was dropped by Leinster after a trial year and got a loan move to Connacht – Baird, Henderson, Dillane, Dunne, Wycherley better options for the future.
Lowe is an injury waiting to happen, defensively unsound, and at 29/30 is suspect for lasting until RWC ‘23. Larmour, Conway, Stockdale, Keenan will compete with him.

Nationalisation of foreign-born rugby players vs the selection of Irish players overseas

Good article and comments from all. Mzilikazi – you reference Ray Williams. I just recently received a lot of photos of him from his refereeing days including the famous Scot vs NZ match in 1967 that ended 0-0. He said that it was a tough match despite no scores! I was up visiting him earlier this year when he’d turned 95 and still in good health.

'There's no mavericks out there, but Nigel Owens has his own style': John Lacey on refereeing


It hasn’t worked up to now.

The SARU must seize this opportunity to create a strong domestic competition

Yes – but did you not see how he played against England? That defines his whole playing career and temperament.


The solo pivot: The Irish attack that isn't working as well

“The game was incredibly boring.”

Fair play for watching for the whole 80 minutes. Impressive fortitude.

The solo pivot: The Irish attack that isn't working as well

Right. I suppose that Leinster and Ireland might see it differently and based on the resources currently available to them.

The solo pivot: The Irish attack that isn't working as well