James Crombie/INPHO Joey Carbery watching on at Twickenham.
# Bigger picture
To what extent should Andy Farrell rotate Ireland for the summer tour of New Zealand?
‘If Ireland go down and rotate their team and get pumped by New Zealand three times, well then everyone’s going to be talking about this falling apart.’

ON TODAY’S EPISODE of Rugby Weekly Extra for The42 members, Bernard Jackman, Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey delved into a magical weekend’s rugby in Dublin, Cork, Paris and Cardiff — albeit it wasn’t magical for the home side in the Welsh capital.

The lads explored Ireland U20s’ Grand Slam success: how did Richie Murphy and co. make them tick so successfully considering their lack of age-grade rugby over the last couple of years? And who from this previously unheralded squad looks most ready to play pro ball?

They spoke about France’s Grand Slam win over England, which ‘Berch’ witnessed first hand from the commentary box at the Stade de France: what makes this French side different to every other team in the world, and are they set for a period of sustained dominance in Europe? And has time finally caught up with England head coach Eddie Jones or has he still got a few tricks up his sleeve?

Plus: Italy’s fearlessness of youth and the respective impacts of Conor O’Shea and Kieran Crowley, Munster feel the heat — literally — in South Africa, and Irish rugby bids its farewell to one of its most quietly influential players, Devin Toner.

edoardo-padovani-celebrates-scoring-the-winning-try-with-ange-capuozzo-and-marco-zanon Andy Watts / INPHO Ange Capuozzo, Marco Zanon and Eduardo Padovani celebrate Italy's last-gasp try against Wales. Andy Watts / INPHO / INPHO

Also on the agenda, naturally, was Ireland’s Triple Crown success over Scotland and the upcoming summer tour of New Zealand. Gavan asked Bernard and Murray if they feel Andy Farrell should shuffle his deck with a view to giving elite Test exposure to replacement or squad players in a bid to burnish Ireland’s World Cup prospects next year, with a particular focus — again, naturally — on out-half. Or is this summer more about Farrell’s crop carving a slice of their own history, he asked, by winning a Test, or even a series, on Kiwi soil?

“I think this is a great opportunity to win a Test series in New Zealand,” Jackman began in response. “Speaking to some of my New Zealand friends who are in the professional game there, they’re not really sure how strong New Zealand are. Obviously, Joe Schmidt getting involved might have a bearing on that.

I think it’d be an unbelievable boost, psychologically, to win a series down there — or certainly to be competitive and win one of the three Tests. Even just thinking back to the 2003 World Cup where England won it, where the year before and the year before that, they set out to beat all the southern-hemisphere teams and they felt that that was a really important part of being able to go to a World Cup with genuine belief.

“So, I think if they get those two extra games [midweek v Maori All Blacks], you can have the best of both worlds: you can play Johnny [Sexton] in certainly the first Test and see how that goes, and then you also have the opportunity to experiment a little bit midweek if those games come in, or in the second and third Tests with Joey [Carbery]. So, yeah, I’d be shocked if Joey doesn’t get significant gametime on that tour, and maybe even Jack Carty as well because I think it is important that we don’t overplay our players.

“I know some of the other teams… Scotland were thinking about not bringing their Lions to Argentina, Wales certainly were thinking that but that might change, now, before they go to South Africa! if Wayne Pivac’s still in the job, he won’t want to bring youngsters down there.

“But I think Ireland are in a great place given a very good November, a very good Six Nations. I think we could afford to rest players but I think that [Andy] Farrell will want to keep momentum and look to really test ourselves away from home.”

robbie-henshaw-james-hume-and-robert-baloucoune Billy Stickland / INPHO James Hume and Robert Baloucoune training alongside Robbie Henshaw. Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

On Carbery specifically, Murray noted that “he got two starts in the Six Nations which I think is a great return. We were talking about one start. Two is really good outcome. He’s been involved in the other games as well.

Interesting to see him come on at fullback against the Scots and I still think that’s worth exploring a bit more — even in New Zealand, having the pair of them (Carbery and Sexton) on the pitch so that you have a really guaranteed backup for Hugo Keenan in the matchday squad at all times. I think that makes a lot of sense.

“And definitely, it would be valuable for Ireland to get him a start down in New Zealand in one of the Tests.

“They’re going to have those two midweek games, it sounds like both against the Maori All Blacks, so there’ll be good-quality fixtures there for a squad of around 40, 42, that they’re going to bring. And I think it’d be brilliant to see the high-potential players who have been on the periphery like Gavin Coombes, [Robert] Baloucoune, James Hume, definitely some of the looseheads and tightheads; the front-row depth build is massive over the next year or so — that’s an important part of it. But also, I agree with Berch: go and be really ambitious about winning down there, get a first win on Kiwi soil, take that next step on your journey towards the World Cup — which they’re definitely on, but they’re also respecting what’s in front of them.

bernard-jackman-and-murray-kinsella Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Bernard Jackman and Murray Kinsella. Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO

And for England, I think that’s the frustration now: they’ve been poor in two Six Nations in a row and Eddie Jones is talking about a World Cup. And absolutely, I think they’ll be competitive when it comes to that, but it’s nice to be competitive along the way. It keeps everything on course and keeps people behind the project as well. If Ireland go down and rotate their team and get pumped by New Zealand three times, well then everyone’s going to be talking about this falling apart.

“I think it’s important to get a balance, and it’s important for the team who are going to be most likely your first choice come the World Cup to get good experiences against the All Blacks as well down there, with the All Blacks obviously looking to rebound and get some revenge. So, I think taking this tour with a balanced philosophy and thought process is important for Ireland.”

To listen to Rugby Weekly Extra with Murray Kinsella, Bernard Jackman and Gavan Casey every Monday, as well as Murray and Eoin Toolan’s Wednesday analysis pod, join The42 at

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