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Dublin: 8 °C Friday 18 October, 2019

Copeland offers Munster fans a dashing glimpse of the future

The Wexford native was in fine form for Emerging Ireland during the Nations Cup.

Robin Copeland with his player of the tournament award.
Robin Copeland with his player of the tournament award.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

THE WINNING STREAK continued for Irish rugby on Sunday as Dan McFarland’s Emerging side captured the IRB Nations Cup in Bucharest.

A 31-10 win over hosts Romania confirmed Irish dominance in the end-of-season tournament with ill discipline the only concern for the coaching staff. Both Johne Murphy and Dave Foley reverted to needless dips into Romanian rucks rather than trusting their team’s defensive system.

Before a ball was kicked or a try raced in, Emerging Ireland captain Dominic Ryan told he expected as many of five of the touring squad to be in next year’s World Cup selection. Ryan may have to force himself into the Leinster picture first, before he can target Test caps, but Craig Gilroy, Ian Keatley, Andrew Conway and Paddy Butler can be happy with their contributions.

Gilroy has put his head down and impressed in both attack and defence and did not let the disappointment of missing out on the Argentina tour reduce his work-rate or commitment. Ireland’s best player in Bucharest, however, is Munster’s summer signing Robin Copeland.

Playing for Rotherham Titans in the English Championship two seasons ago, Copeland was an astute signing for a Cardiff Blues side that have done little right in recent years. The Wexford native, and former St Mary’s player, appeared 53 times for Cardiff in two seasons and scored eight tries. Having trained with Ireland ahead of the Six Nations, back in January, Copeland may have been nudged home after conversations with Joe Schmidt about his international chances.

Robin Copeland in a maul Robin Copeland attempts to halt a Romanian maul. Source: FFR.RO/INPHO

During the Nations Cup, Copeland was charged with exploding off the back of Irish scrums and mauls. Russia struggled to contain him for 45 minutes, he set up a try as emergency openside against Uruguay and he saved his best for last against Romania. His ball carries invariably made ground, he made a crucial turnover and showed an offloading talent that the senior side has been lacking of late. The opposition was undoubtedly inferior but few defences in world rugby would have cut him down at full flow as he was for his 43rd minute try.

Last October, Copeland told, “[Test caps are] the dream I suppose at the moment. All I can do is just keep playing well here and try to make my performances speak for themselves really.”

The competition will come from Leinster’s Jamie Heaslip and Jordi Murphy but a solid start for Munster could well see Copeland realise that dream in the November internationals.

Robin Copeland took on Romania on his own, and won

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About the author:

Patrick McCarry

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