How the Irish provinces rank so far

The first five rounds of the United Rugby Championship are on the books and despite the fact that the league top looks a lot like previous years, with Leinster at the top and Munster / Ulster in the chase, I think it was more competitive than the previous years. through. The South African franchises haven’t really pulled a shot yet, but I honestly think it’s only a matter of time given how good they have to come back after November, the Sharks in particular.

Will it be played out over a less predictable end of the season? We’ll have to wait and see but, with this November break approaching, where are the Irish provinces with a quarter of the regular season over?

Munster

Things couldn’t have been rosier after the first three rounds of the RCU for Munster. Two big home wins followed by an impressive victory at Llanelli and more references to evolution than On the origin of the species. What not to like?

The two weekends since then have got off to a great start, despite winning over Connacht and losing for the first time of the season last Saturday, albeit facing an exhausted Ospreys side, who will sit sourly in Limerick’s HPC. for the next few weeks. .

The more time Munster spends without winning a trophy, the more results like this loss to the Ospreys will irritate the public.

The only solution is to earn something, anything, to build more credit in the bank.

Until then, a “blip” like the Ospreys’ will be used as proof that things aren’t going to change anytime soon on the trophy front, although that doesn’t prove much.

The next block of games will be crucial.

Munster classification: B-

Ulster

Dan McFarland’s Ulster feels like he’s in a state of transition right now, halfway between who he was and what he hopes to become. The imminent arrival of Duane Vermeulen combined with the emergence of guys such as Hume, Doak, Timoney, McCann and Balocoune show real hope for the medium term but, until they find a higher quality at No.10 , I think they will stay for the most part in the same place they have been in recent years.

When they have shot so far this season they have done well and sidelined the teams quite easily, but there is no doubt that losing a game against Connacht they were keen to win will do more. badly because of their quality up to this point.

Ulster Ranking: B +

Connacht

Connacht is the United Rugby Championship’s greatest enigma.

Away from the playing field against the Irish opposition, they are an excellent counter punches team that hits long and often, chases hard and hits the set piece cleanly. Yet the same side can be a lottery of sorts against any other side at home or away. They can beat a solid Bulls team one week, be a hair’s breadth away from beating Munster at Thomond Park, and then lose to the Dragons in the Sportsground the following week.

This inconsistency is a key feature of Connacht’s later years, but there is no doubt that at best they are able to beat any team in this league.

They are already behind in the Irish Shield, but they look like a team capable of creating a few more surprises – both positive and negative – over the next few months. As disappointing as it has been for Jack Carty not to be part of the Irish squad, I think getting him out for the next few weeks and coming back with a point to prove will end up being a clear positive for Connacht in the medium term. .

Connacht’s Note: C +

Leinster

I have a theory that any team that can live with Leinster’s power in the peloton, even to the point of achieving parity, has a very good chance of clinching a result against them at home or away.

Easier to write than to do. Teams have handled it for brief periods during games this season and looked good, in a few glimpses. The Dragons did very well for almost 80 minutes and should have beaten Leinster earlier in this block, for example, but Leinster’s power is such that they can play beyond most temporary impositions. Their performance in Glasgow was typical of Leinster marrying a team that just couldn’t live with them physically. Leinster’s dependence on a 36-year-old Johnny Sexton is a reflection of Ireland’s dependence on the same player.

There is no doubt that Leinster is better, smarter and more efficient when he is on the pitch and that seems to be a potential problem for them as the season progresses.

Sexton’s physical form is directly linked to Leinster’s success on the business side of the RCU and Europe, but for now they look like a champion team on hold again.

Leinster Ranking: A-


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