La Rochelle is steeped in history, whether back to the days of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine in the 12th century or indeed to the presence of the Huguenots in the 17th. A thriving but small Maritime port was never supposed to carry off the Blue Riband trophy in club rugby, although try telling that to Toulon!
It may have appeared that Round 6 of the Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup was confirming known truths about Irish dominance and the resurgence of Toulouse as well as a brooding Saracens who look very tough and menacing at full strength.
Some say that Ireland is God’s own country and certainly the rugby gods smiled on them with a clean sweep of European wins this past weekend, a triumphant National team this autumn and the good news goes on, it’s no coincidence.
Sometimes passionate rugby people come together – and even better if it involves wine.
The return of the great Conor Murray to action for Munster’s European victory over Castres coincided with the debut appearance of Schalk Burger’s wines at Thomond Park through the auspices of Sporting Wine Club.
I am not referring to various maverick attempts to take on a political poison chalice, nor is it for me to pass comment on random pre-season behaviour by England’s incumbent stand off,
We all thought that the International season was over but we were wrong – even hardened cynics doffed their caps to some incredible contests at the Quarter Final stage of the European Champions Cup Rugby Competition.
As the Autumn Internationals played out, followed by two tumultuous European weekends, there has been much to admire as well as ponder as we approach a seasonal period of rest and reflection – unless you are a professional rugby player who isn’t banned or injured in which case not much of either.
It used to be that once the Six Nations was over, sell out rugby grounds were at a huge premium and confined to major finals. No longer, as has been proven since England were squeezed out of a Double Grand Slam by a highly disciplined Irish team. Consider the following