Sam is 17. Been a supporter of Leinster since he was 6 yrs old. Have been playing since 6 too. Best Rugby moment was playing in the McMullen Cup Final last year (albeit on the losing side).
September has never been the happiest time of year to be a Leinster fan. This season has proved no different. The kings of Europe opened their RaboDirect PRO12 campaign with a customary away loss, this one coming at the hands of the Scarlets, a crushing 45-20 dismantling in Llanelli. This didn’t come as a huge surprise though, with the IRFU player welfare scheme in effect there was very little experience on the field; what did come as a surprise, however, was the way they continued.
The fringe players they’ve relied on so much in seasons past just didn’t produce the goods that they had shown in the previous two campaigns, with Brendan Macken the only one really impressing. Indeed it was he who scored the last minute intercept that allowed for a score line that really did flatter Leinster against the Dragons, the home side emerging victorious 45-25 in an unconvincing performance. They struggled yet again in their next home game, as they made a needlessly tricky job of putting Edinburgh away before finally walking off the pitch at the RDS as 22-16 victors.
The shock of the season so far came in the form of a 34-6 drumming they received from Connacht at the newly renovated Sportsground. It’s never easy to beat Connacht in the West, but this result was expected by no one. It was one of the most un-Leinsterlike performances you will ever see. The defence they usually pride themselves on was nowhere to be seen and it seemed that they just gave up well before the final whistle was blown.
Being Leinster though they always manage to come up good for the big occasions. At the beginning of his tenure with the province many criticised Joe Schmidt for his tactics as Leinster began poorly. But on two occasions now he has proven to everyone that he is an incredible tactician in the way that he has mixed his frontline players back into the squad alongside their younger teammates and had them gel just in time to put together a serious performance, and on what better stage than the Aviva Stadium against Munster. Leinster completely outplayed their southern provincial counterparts to come away with a much needed 30-21 win.
Leinster’s most valuable player so far this season comes in the shape of their young, pacey out-half, Ian Madigan. He really has continued in the rich vein of form that he was in for most of last season. He offers something different than your traditional fly-half, in the way he takes the ball to the line, puts his feet to breathtaking use and mixes it up in the physical battle with the forwards. His goal kicking has also improved immeasurably, landing 13 of his 15 kicks so far this season.
If you’re looking for a top try scorer in this competition, you’d be making a mistake looking past Edinburgh’s flying Dutch/Scotsman Tim Visser on the wing. As for the player topping the scoring charts, I think Dan Biggar will be the man once again.
Despite Leinster’s typical slow start, I still expect the hurt of the last three Finals to push them over the line and win the RaboDirect PRO12. That being said, there will be stern competition from the likes of Ulster, Munster, Scarlets and many more.