Leinster and scrumhalf development

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mildlyinterested
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Leinster and scrumhalf development

Post by mildlyinterested »

As evidenced last season, scrumhalf is an area lacking young quality talent pushing for gametime in the province. The current young scrumhalves are comfortably well behind the top 2 at leinster, the approach of Craig Casey further underlines this IMO. Leinster still do have a large number of professional scrumhalves who have came through the underage system, they are noted below:

John Cooney(30/Gonzaga/Ulster) - 5'10
-- Cooney wasn't the player he is now when he was at leinster, but is a clear case of how a scrumhalf can improve when given time to develop with consistent game time.
Peter Du Toit(29/Kings Hospital) - 5'11
-- Played irish u20's, but wasn't picked up by the academy, last seen playing AIL.
James Hart(28/Belvedere/Biarritz) - 5'10
-- failed to make leinster academy, picked up be Grenoble before moving to Racing and Munster, where he failed to make the grade, now in France.
Angus Lloyd(27/Blackrock/Connacht) - 5'7
-- Leinster underage player who wasn't picked up by the academy, after impressing in AIL he has had contracts with Munster, Ulster and now Connacht.
Luke McGrath(27/St. Michaels/Leinster) - 5'9
-- While not a star, a key member of the leinster squad for the foreseeable future.
Dave Shanahan(27/Belvedere/Ulster) - 5'9
-- went north after irish u20's, has been 2nd choice in Ulster since Paul Marshall retired.
Nick McCarthy(25/St. Michaels/Munster) - 5'11
-- moved south this season after growing frustrated with game time at leinster, was it the right decision? time will tell.
Charlie Rock(25/Blackrock/Lansdowne) - 5'5
-- left leinster after academy contract, undoubtedly skilled but size a huge issue.
Nick Peters(23-24/Gonzaga/UCD) - 6'0
-- a knee injury as a under-20 causing him to miss out on ireland u20 caps, has played several seasons with UCD representing ireland students and clubs during that time.
Rowan Osborne(23/Clongowes/Leinster) - 5'6
-- joined leinster on senior contract from ail after preseason trial. Overlooked when he was younger due to his size.
Hugh O'Sullivan(22/Belvedere/Leinster) - 5'10
-- graduated into senior squad this season, only playing the position full time since he was 19. Had been playing regularly for Clontarf.
Paddy Patterson(21/Blackrock/Leinster) - 5'8
-- In Academy Year 2 now, offers some explosiveness from the position. Faces uphill battle at Leinster, had been playing regularly for UCD.
James Kenny(21/Gonzaga/Lansdowne), 6'0
-- Missed irish u20 season due to injury, was involved in sub academy last season but injury interrupted him progressing again. Was having a strong season for Lansdowne.
Cormac Foley(20/St. Gerards/St. Marys), 5'11
-- Played irish 20's last season, primarily at 9 but also in the centre, was involved with sub academy again this season and with Leinster A but injury has interrupted his season.
Louis O'Reilly(20/Blackrock/DUFC), 6'2
-- Involved with the sub-academy last season, regular starter for DUFC this season.
Jack Connolly(U20/Gonzaga/DUFC), 6'1
-- In the sub academy this year, but was injured for most of the season I believe. Played for Leinster against Irish 20's at christmas and was in DUFC AIL squads in 2020.
Ross Barron(U20/Blackrock/Lansdowne), 5'9
-- In the sub academy this season, has played 20's mostly but has a few appearances for Lansdowne in AIL.
Rob Gilsenan(U19/St. Michaels/UCD), 6'1
-- 1st year out of school, has been injured for most of it, but when he has played for UCD u20's his undoubted quality has been evident.
Ben Murphy(U19/Pres Bray/Clontarf), 5'10
-- 1st year out of school, got 3 caps for Ireland u20 off the bench and played some for Clontarf in AIL.
Will Reilly(U19/Portloaise RFC/MU Barnhall), 5'11
-- Still in school afaik, playing AIL for Barnhall as a 18 year old starting 9. Played irish u18 last season.

You can split the above list into two groups IMO:
1. 25 and older.. players now longer playing AIL.
2. 23 and younger.. players who are active in AIL at the moment and recently involved with Leinster setup.

Leinster in the earlier part of the decade seemed to have a particular type of scrumhalf, small nippier 9's.. in recent underage groups there has been some different types being looked at with players who have experience playing other positions(HOS, Patterson, Foley) and taller 9's(Kenny, O'Reilly, Connolly)

Next season's u20's have a strong group of 9's lead currently by Ben Murphy who fits in the classic leinster underage 9 of recent past, along with Rob Gilsenan and Will Reilly who are a different style of scrumhalf and Matthew Cullen who is similar to Murphy in style.

While in schools rugby this season there has been some notable performers in Oisin Devitt(Clongowes) and Conor Duggan(Castleknock), while Leinster schools scrumhalves Michael Moloney(Blackrock) and Fintan Gunne(St. Michaels) will be back next season.
Last edited by mildlyinterested on May 20th, 2020, 5:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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hugonaut
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Re: Leinster and scrumhalf development

Post by hugonaut »

mildlyinterested wrote:Notable Leinster developed scrumhalves playing pro rugby and AIL:

John Cooney(30/Gonzaga/Ulster) - 5'10
-- Cooney wasn't the player he is now when he was at leinster, but is a clear case of how a scrumhalf can improve when given time to develop with consistent game time.
Peter Du Toit(29/Kings Hospital) - 5'11
-- Played irish u20's, but wasn't picked up by the academy, last seen playing AIL.
Angus Lloyd(27/Blackrock/Connacht) - 5'7
-- Leinster underage player who wasn't picked up by the academy, after impressing in AIL he has had contracts with Munster, Ulster and now Connacht.
Luke McGrath(27/St. Michaels/Leinster) - 5'9
-- While not a star, a key member of the leinster squad for the foreseeable future.
Dave Shanahan(27/Belvedere/Ulster) - 5'9
-- went north after irish u20's, has been 2nd choice in Ulster since Paul Marshall retired.
Nick McCarthy(25/St. Michaels/Munster) - 5'11
-- moved south this season after growing frustrated with game time at leinster, was it the right decision? time will tell.
Charlie Rock(25/Blackrock/Lansdowne) - 5'5
-- left leinster after academy contract, undoubtedly skilled but size a huge issue.
Rowan Osborne(23/Clongowes/Leinster) - 5'6
-- joined leinster on senior contract from ail after preseason trial. Overlooked when he was younger due to his size.
Hugh O'Sullivan(22/Belvedere/Leinster) - 5'10
-- graduated into senior squad this season, only playing the position full time since he was 19. Had been playing regularly for Clontarf.
Paddy Patterson(21/Blackrock/Leinster) - 5'8
-- In Academy Year 2 now, offers some explosiveness from the position. Faces uphill battle at Leinster, had been playing regularly for UCD.
James Kenny(21/Gonzaga/Lansdowne), 6'0
-- Missed irish u20 season due to injury, was involved in sub academy last season but injury interrupted him progressing again. Was having a strong season for Lansdowne.
Cormac Foley(20/St. Gerards/St. Marys), 5'11
-- Played irish 20's last season, primarily at 9 but also in the centre, was involved with sub academy again this season and with Leinster A but injury has interrupted his season.
Louis O'Reilly(20/Blackrock/DUFC), 6'2
-- Involved with the sub-academy last season, regular starter for DUFC this season.
Jack Connolly(U20/Gonzaga/DUFC), 6'1
-- In the sub academy this year, but was injured for most of the season I believe. Played for Leinster against Irish 20's at christmas and was in DUFC AIL squads in 2020.
Ross Barron(U20/Blackrock/Lansdowne), 5'9
-- In the sub academy this season, has played 20's mostly but has a few appearances for Lansdowne in AIL.
Rob Gilsenan(U19/St. Michaels/UCD), 6'1
-- 1st year out of school, has been injured for most of it, but when he has played for UCD u20's his undoubted quality has been evident.
Ben Murphy(U19/Pres Bray/Clontarf), 5'9
-- 1st year out of school, got 3 caps for Ireland u20 off the bench and played some for Clontarf in AIL.
Will Reilly(U19/Portloaise RFC/MU Barnhall), 5'10
-- Still in school afaik, playing AIL for Barnhall as a 18 year old starting 9. Played irish u18 last season.

You can split the above list into two groups IMO:
1. 25 and older.. players now longer playing AIL.
2. 23 and younger.. players who are active in AIL at the moment and recently involved with Leinster setup.

Leinster in the earlier part of the decade seemed to have a particular type of scrumhalf, small nippier 9's.. in recent underage groups there has been some different types being looked at with players who have experience playing other positions and taller 9's.
Great post, great research.

I agree with your findings about typecasting scrum-halves. Sometimes I think that comes from the earliest exposure to rugby, where the smallest guys get put at scrumhalf and then just stay there because they have the most practise at it and it is a specialist position.

I'm a big fan of Cooney, but even I am surprised at how brilliantly he has progressed. He has been the best scrum-half in Ireland without a doubt this year, and you'd have to have him as one of the four or five best scrum-halves in Europe - there's Dupont miles ahead, Ben Youngs has been very good this season and Gareth Davies is excellent. But on club form and accomplishments, Cooney is a match for any of them. He can't pick himself for the Irish team [or he would], so it's difficult to make a full comparison. But he's a shoo-in for his third Pro14 Dream Team in a row, and should definitely win his second bout of awards for Ulster's Player of the Season.

The thing about shorter than average guys like Rowan Osbourne and Charlie Rock is not that they are too small, it's that they're not outstanding players and they're small. There shouldn't be [and I don't think there is] an agenda against short scrum-halves. Faf de Klerk is listed at 170cm [5'7"], Aaron Smith at 171cm [5'7"], Dupont at 174cm [5'8"] ... probably the three best scrum-halves in the world. If you're a first rate player, size is a side issue and not a problem.

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Re: Leinster and scrumhalf development

Post by mildlyinterested »

Thanks Hugo, I agree that players in regards to player size.. the shorter you get at 9 the more outstanding you have to be.
Leinster are looking everywhere and converting underage players from other positions to play 9 in the hopes that an outstanding player emerges. The biggest thing I take from Cooney is that nothing beats coaching and game time ... 9's need specialized coaching and need game time at the position to develop and need to make their mistakes to learn from them.

I'd argue Murray improved a lot over time, Cooney did too once he started to get regular game time at pro 14 level.

Certainly they are looking at all types underage at the moment, with the typical leinster scrumhalf present, the non-typical all getting a look.

Typical leinster scrumhalves
Ben Murphy(Pres Bray/Clontarf)(u20)
Matthew Cullen(Blackrock)(u20)
Conor Duggan(Castleknock)(u19)
Oisin Devitt(Clongowes)(u18)
Fintan Gunne(St. Michaels)(u18)

Non-typical scrumhalves
Rob Gilsenan(St. Michaels)(u20)
Will Reilly(Portlaoise RFC/MU Barnhall)(u20)
Michael Moloney(Blackrock)(u19)
Cualan Carbery(Athy RFC-Clongowes)(u18)

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Re: Leinster and scrumhalf development

Post by Dave Cahill »

hugonaut wrote: I'm a big fan of Cooney, but even I am surprised at how brilliantly he has progressed. He has been the best scrum-half in Ireland without a doubt this year, and you'd have to have him as one of the four or five best scrum-halves in Europe - there's Dupont miles ahead, Ben Youngs has been very good this season and Gareth Davies is excellent. But on club form and accomplishments, Cooney is a match for any of them. He can't pick himself for the Irish team [or he would], so it's difficult to make a full comparison. But he's a shoo-in for his third Pro14 Dream Team in a row, and should definitely win his second bout of awards for Ulster's Player of the Season.
Were next season to be a normal season (which it won't be, but anyways), Cooney will have lost the starting spot at Ulster by Christmas.
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Re: Leinster and scrumhalf development

Post by mildlyinterested »

Dave Cahill wrote:
hugonaut wrote: I'm a big fan of Cooney, but even I am surprised at how brilliantly he has progressed. He has been the best scrum-half in Ireland without a doubt this year, and you'd have to have him as one of the four or five best scrum-halves in Europe - there's Dupont miles ahead, Ben Youngs has been very good this season and Gareth Davies is excellent. But on club form and accomplishments, Cooney is a match for any of them. He can't pick himself for the Irish team [or he would], so it's difficult to make a full comparison. But he's a shoo-in for his third Pro14 Dream Team in a row, and should definitely win his second bout of awards for Ulster's Player of the Season.
Were next season to be a normal season (which it won't be, but anyways), Cooney will have lost the starting spot at Ulster by Christmas.
Your running down of Cooney is nothing if not consistent. He'd be starting for Leinster if he was still in the squad.

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Re: Leinster and scrumhalf development

Post by Dave Cahill »

I don't think he would be, I think he's a competent scrum half and an excellent goal kicker, no more, no less. He had his chance at Leinster and it didn't go his way for a variety of reasons (not all of his own creation it must be said), the same at Connacht - but he has done very well, mainly due to his own hard work and perseverance, to become the starting scrum half at Ulster. But theres a big difference in standard between Ulster and Leinster. And if you take his goal kicking out of the mix, his unique selling point as it were, he looks quite ordinary, particularly around his decision making.

Next season his USP is gone - Madigan is easily his equal as a goal kicker. So he is left to battle it out with Mathewson purely on his merits as a scrum half. I just don't see him winning that battle - Mathewson is exceptional and showed it with Munster
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Re: Leinster and scrumhalf development

Post by paddyor »

Dave Cahill wrote:I don't think he would be, I think he's a competent scrum half and an excellent goal kicker, no more, no less. He had his chance at Leinster and it didn't go his way for a variety of reasons (not all of his own creation it must be said), the same at Connacht - but he has done very well, mainly due to his own hard work and perseverance, to become the starting scrum half at Ulster. But theres a big difference in standard between Ulster and Leinster. And if you take his goal kicking out of the mix, his unique selling point as it were, he looks quite ordinary, particularly around his decision making.

Next season his USP is gone - Madigan is easily his equal as a goal kicker. So he is left to battle it out with Mathewson purely on his merits as a scrum half. I just don't see him winning that battle - Mathewson is exceptional and showed it with Munster
Mathewson is 34 going on 35. He's a replacement for Shanahan who despite the improvement isn't a HEC level player. Nothing short of Cooney having successive meltdowns will see him lose the shirt to Mathewson.
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Re: Leinster and scrumhalf development

Post by hugonaut »

mildlyinterested wrote: Nick McCarthy(25/St. Michaels/Munster) - 5'11
-- moved south this season after growing frustrated with game time at leinster, was it the right decision? time will tell.
McCarthy has cause for regret. We only had three senior scrum-halves on the books when he decided to leave, and obviously you've got to have two in every matchday squad. If you're playing better than one of them, you're going to be in a lot of matchday squads.

The situation that existed when he made the decision to leave was that JGP was going to become Irish qualified by residency, and thus we could select JGP, James Lowe and Scott Fardy together for the first time since Lowe arrived. But my reading of it is [and it is hard to come up with a different reading], that he didn't back himself to compete and win out over one of the other two scrum halves in the squad.

The best he could have hoped for moving to Munster was to sit behind Conor Murray. He is not going to get selected ahead of Murray in a one-on-one in the two year period covered by his contract. If he was backing himself to take the Munster No9 jersey off Conor Murray, then clearly he should have been backing himself to take the Leinster No9 jersey off Luke McGrath. So you've got to assume that he went there to be the back-up initially, and maybe play in 20-25 games per season.

He moved down to Munster, who had resigned Mathewson [which he wouldn't have counted on], which immediately put him as third choice in a worse team than he had just left. Matthewson was on the bench for the first two European games, and then he left. McCarthy was on the bench for both fixtures against Saracens. He was unused in the first game and got seven minutes in the second game. By the last two European fixtures, he had been passed from behind by Craig Casey and wasn't making the bench for a team who got knocked out in the group stages of Europe.

I can't see him getting any sort of selection push with the emergence of Craig Casey. Casey is both really good and already very popular amongst the fanbase and the media. There will be both external pressure and a lot of internal goodwill when it comes to giving him chances. He already got the nod for the subs' bench over the last two European games over McCarthy.

There has been no upside for him in terms of his career.

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Re: Leinster and scrumhalf development

Post by mildlyinterested »

hugonaut wrote:
mildlyinterested wrote: Nick McCarthy(25/St. Michaels/Munster) - 5'11
-- moved south this season after growing frustrated with game time at leinster, was it the right decision? time will tell.
McCarthy has cause for regret. We only had three senior scrum-halves on the books when he decided to leave, and obviously you've got to have two in every matchday squad. If you're playing better than one of them, you're going to be in a lot of matchday squads.

The situation that existed when he made the decision to leave was that JGP was going to become Irish qualified by residency, and thus we could select JGP, James Lowe and Scott Fardy together for the first time since Lowe arrived. But my reading of it is [and it is hard to come up with a different reading], that he didn't back himself to compete and win out over one of the other two scrum halves in the squad.

The best he could have hoped for moving to Munster was to sit behind Conor Murray. He is not going to get selected ahead of Murray in a one-on-one in the two year period covered by his contract. If he was backing himself to take the Munster No9 jersey off Conor Murray, then clearly he should have been backing himself to take the Leinster No9 jersey off Luke McGrath. So you've got to assume that he went there to be the back-up initially, and maybe play in 20-25 games per season.

He moved down to Munster, who had resigned Mathewson [which he wouldn't have counted on], which immediately put him as third choice in a worse team than he had just left. Matthewson was on the bench for the first two European games, and then he left. McCarthy was on the bench for both fixtures against Saracens. He was unused in the first game and got seven minutes in the second game. By the last two European fixtures, he had been passed from behind by Craig Casey and wasn't making the bench for a team who got knocked out in the group stages of Europe.

I can't see him getting any sort of selection push with the emergence of Craig Casey. Casey is both really good and already very popular amongst the fanbase and the media. There will be both external pressure and a lot of internal goodwill when it comes to giving him chances. He already got the nod for the subs' bench over the last two European games over McCarthy.

There has been no upside for him in terms of his career.
McCarthy seemed to want to play more and didn't see that happening in Leinster, so moved. Not sure it will happen for him in Munster either though.

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Re: Leinster and scrumhalf development

Post by mildlyinterested »

U20
Ben Murphy(Pres Bray/Clontarf)
Show Spoiler:
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Rob Gilsenan(St. Michaels/UCD)
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Will Reilly(Portloaise RFC/MU Barnhall)
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Matthew Cullen(Blackrock)
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U19
Conor Duggan(Castleknock)
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Oisin Devitt(Clongowes)
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Michael Moloney(Blackrock)
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U18
Fintan Gunne(St. Michaels)
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Culann Carbery(Athy RFC)
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Re: Leinster and scrumhalf development

Post by Purist98 »

mildlyinterested wrote:U20
Ben Murphy(Pres Bray/Clontarf)
Show Spoiler:
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Rob Gilsenan(St. Michaels/UCD)
Show Spoiler:
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Will Reilly(Portloaise RFC/MU Barnhall)
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Matthew Cullen(Blackrock)
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U19
Conor Duggan(Castleknock)
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Oisin Devitt(Clongowes)
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Michael Moloney(Blackrock)
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U18
Fintan Gunne(St. Michaels)
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Culann Carbery(Athy RFC)
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Gunne is small but I think he's the best prospect out of all of those here long term

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Re: Leinster and scrumhalf development

Post by mildlyinterested »

Purist98 wrote: Gunne is small but I think he's the best prospect out of all of those here long term
Don't think he stands out massively compared to the rest... was very good for a 4th year starting at the position but as you said he is small and will need to be outstanding to make it.

Devitt and Duggan were the best 9's in the cup, both return next season afaik.

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Re: Leinster and scrumhalf development

Post by dropkick »

I dont see being a small 9 as a disadvantage at least in terms of attack. They are lower to the ground and usually quick off the mark. Craig Casey scores loads of tries because he is so quick off the mark. Also they've less bulk to carry around.

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Re: Leinster and scrumhalf development

Post by Purist98 »

I don't think his size is an issue either, just unfortunately like Casey it is something that will always be looked at. Having watched Gunne for a few years, he is an outstanding prospect with a great all round game, proved this year too that he doesn't lack anything physically either.

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Re: Leinster and scrumhalf development

Post by mildlyinterested »

No issues with small 9's myself but they have to be outstanding as Casey is. Haven't seen that from Gunne yet but has had a very good start considering he is only a 4th year.
Last edited by mildlyinterested on May 19th, 2020, 9:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Leinster and scrumhalf development

Post by Purist98 »

Fair enough

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Re: Leinster and scrumhalf development

Post by mildlyinterested »

Added James Hart to list on Leinster 9's who while skilled enough to have a professional career, not good enough to be 1st choice at a province.

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Re: Leinster and scrumhalf development

Post by neiliog93 »

If the IRFU see fit to strong-arm Leinster players into leaving for other provinces where those other provinces have failed to develop young players of the required standard (and where Leinster also have a senior international also on their roster) why didn't they push Casey into joining Leinster when Leinster expressed an interest? Double standards that only seem to go against Leinster..
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Re: Leinster and scrumhalf development

Post by mildlyinterested »

Starter level(1st/2nd choice at a province)
John Cooney(30)
Luke McGrath(27)

Squad player
James Hart(28)
Angus Lloyd(27)
Dave Shanahan(27)
Nick McCarthy(25)
Rowan Osborne(23)

AIL level
Peter Du Toit(29)
Nick Peters(23-24)

Young Scrumhalves
Hugh O'Sullivan(22/Clontarf)
Paddy Patterson(21/UCD)
James Kenny(21/Lansdowne)
Cormac Foley(20/St. Marys)
Louis O'Reilly(20/DUFC)

Underage scrumhalves
Jack Connolly(U20/DUFC)
Ross Barron(U20/Lansdowne)
Ben Murphy(U19/Clontarf)
Rob Gilsenan(U19/UCD)
Will Reilly(U19/Barnhall)
--
Matthew Cullen (U19/Blackrock)
Conor Duggan(U18/Castleknock)
Oisin Devitt(U18/Clongowes)
Michael Moloney(U18/Blackrock)
Fintan Gunne(U17/St. Michaels/)
Culann Carbery(U17/Athy RFC)

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Re: Leinster and scrumhalf development

Post by mildlyinterested »

Quality try by Oisin Devitt in this years cup:

https://youtu.be/Q53SQ6h-8oA?t=4725

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