David Corkery: Rugby needs more reporters asking the hard questions

Online trolls must not take from excellent job Sonja McLaughlan did after England lost to Wales
David Corkery: Rugby needs more reporters asking the hard questions

England's Maro Itoje competes in the air with Alun Wyn Jones of Wales in the Six Nations clash. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

EVEN with a very small allotment of sport, we have a massive amount to talk about.

Everything from the stupid, irresponsible and downright disgusting image of horse trainer Gordon Elliott on a dead horse to the shambolic refereeing decisions in the Six Nations clash between Wales and England.

I guess controversy is what makes the sporting world revolve and everyone is entitled to their opinion. What is becoming more and more prevalent in modern society is the gutless actions by the so-called keyboard warriors. 

Anonymously slating BBC reporter Sonja McLaughlan after her post-match interview with England's Owen Farrell is taking things to a whole new low. Unless sanctions are implemented for this, they will continue to get worse.

Now, let’s talk about the mistakes made by the rugby officials last weekend.

My understanding as to why TMOs were introduced in the first place was that referees who are not sure about their on-field decision can look to them for clarity if there is any foul play. Or they are not 100% sure of their original assessment.

The pace of the modern game has increased 10-fold over the last few years and there is no way a referee will get every call they make correct. However, when the TMO, who has the advantage of multiple viewing points, slow motion and magnified viewing and still manages to get it wrong, there is something seriously amiss.

I know if I were Owen Farrell or Eddie Jones, I would have needed an army to restrain me from approaching referee Pascal Gauzere after the game.

People must remember that for players and coaches alike, rugby is their profession and they are judged on whether they win or lose. I don’t say this too often about English rugby but I would commend Farrell, his players, Jones and the English rugby union on how they represented themselves after the final whistle.

For me, the interview by BBC reporter Sonja McLaughlan was simply outstanding and the hard and interesting questions she asked reminded me of the ones that Sinead Kissane threw at Eddie O’Sullivan after Ireland lost to France in the 2007 World Cup.

It pains me to watch post-match interviews because they are so boring. For what it’s worth, well done Sonja McLaughlan and don’t be afraid of the weaklings who cower behind pseudonyms on Twitter. Keep those difficult questions coming.


Now to Friday's game in the Guinness Pro14 between Munster and Connacht.

Connacht's Jack Carty is tackled by Josh Wycherley and Keynan Knox of Munster. Picture:  INPHO/Bryan Keane
Connacht's Jack Carty is tackled by Josh Wycherley and Keynan Knox of Munster. Picture:  INPHO/Bryan Keane

The last time these two sides locked horns was back in January when Connacht failed to make Munster pay for their poor discipline.

With Munster reduced to 13 men after receiving two yellow cards and a scrum on the Munster line, Connacht somehow managed to squander a fantastic opportunity to close the gap in the league table and went on to lose the game by six points.

It was great to see that Andy Farrell had released 13 fringe players back to the provinces for this weekend.

I’m sure Farrell will be keeping a close eye on this game, with Bundee Aki, Ultan Dillane and Dave Heffernan facing off against Casey, Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell and Shane Daly. There is always the risk of injury, but all of the players listed above are much better off playing in a game where there is something tangible at stake, rather than holding tackle bags in the bio-secure bubble of Carton House.

The good news for Munster seems to be arriving in waves at the moment, with Joey Carbery returning to the field last week against Cardiff and now RG Snyman back running after his ACL reconstruction.

Everything for Johann van Graan seems to be coming together however, there always has to be a loser when any of the big players return from injury and the one that sticks out a mile in this instance is JJ Hanrahan.

Hanrahan may not be of international standard but he has done a fine job in keeping Munster’s medal-winning hopes very much alive and kicking. It will be very interesting to see how the Munster coaching ticket keeps Hanrahan and Ben Healy happy because both these individuals will want to be playing first-team rugby on a consistent basis.

Considering the scare against Connacht back in January and Munster having home advantage, you would like to think that they will win this game and stretch out their lead at the top of Conference B to double figures.

A loss would see Connacht move within shouting distance of Munster and with no play-offs in this year’s competition, just the two league winners playing in the final, van Graan and his players need to be sharp and kill off Connacht’s fighting spirit as early as they possibly can.

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