The Reuters global sports blog
from Photographers Blog:
By Kacper Pempel
Three weeks of the Euro 2012 adventure are already behind us. Three weeks of hard work, meeting thousands of people, driving thousands of miles and shooting thousands of pictures.
As a photographer based in Poland, I was assigned to cover not only matches but also news stories in Polish cities like Wroclaw, Poznan and Gdansk. So I had a chance to meet people from many different parts of Europe who made the journey here for the soccer fiesta. They were genuine football lovers and real soccer fans.
The Irish fans made the most remarkable impression. The party they threw for all three of their games was incredible and they showed they know how to have fun even when their team is losing. They transformed the Old Market in Poznan into a “green island”, singing and cheering their national team before and after matches and through the night. After a couple of hours sleep they would be back again to kick off the next day’s festivities.
Every Poznan citizen I spoke to - taxi drivers, waiters - said they had been surprised how nice the Irish were and they wouldn’t forget the example they set of how you should behave as a soccer fan on the road.
By Padraic Halpin
Ireland’s rugby board advertised for the newly established role of high performance scrum coach on Tuesday, just days after the national team’s scrummaging skills were shambolically exposed in a 30-9 Six Nations defeat by England.
The job, posted on the Leinster and Munster provincial websites, called on applicants with “a complete and thorough understanding of rugby union” to plan, research and constantly evaluate current scrummaging practice.
It wasn’t just Irish eyes that were smiling when the Euro 2012 playoff draw was made in Polish city of Krakow – some of the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) delegation appeared to be laughing out loud when they were drawn to face Estonia, with the winner heading to next year’s finals.
But despite the protestations of coach Tarmo Ruutli, Ireland probably represents the best possible draw for the Estonians, given that the other alternatives were Portugal, Croatia or the Czech Republic.
The Euro 2012 two-legged playoffs should offer plenty of action and eight entertaining matches, with the last four berths in next year’s finals up for grabs.
While Ireland will start as strong favourites against Estonia, the other three ties appear set to be nerve-jangling affairs in which two former Yugoslav repubics will be eager to avenge painful defeats against their respective opponents, while another is aiming to make history in only their second tournament as an independent nation.
By James Illingworth
“Unforgivable”, “embarrassing” and “indefensible” are just some of the descriptions of Jonathan Kaplan’s decision to allow Mike Phillips’ try for Wales in their Six Nations defeat of Ireland on Saturday.
Italy’s marauding pack should tread carefully if they think they can pick on Ireland’s debut flanker Kevin McLaughlin in Saturday’s Six Nations opener.
Why? Because this writer has been there, done that and has the mental schoolboy scars to prove it.
Picking the winner of the Six Nations championship is always a tricky task as the vagaries of form and the fixture list ensure that no two seasons are the same.
France, who finished third last season, are rated 6/4 favourites by Ladbrokes while grand slam champions Ireland are only second-best at 9/4.
from Reuters Soccer Blog:
Overseeing qualification for the World Cup via a blatant handball is unlikely to do much for the popularity of French coach Raymond Domenech, either at home or abroad (his Wikipedia page is currently saying some very nasty things about him, but it will doubtless be put back to its less offensive version soon).
The 57-year-old former defender, whose name is booed at every match, has never made any effort to make himself popular, but here are 10 reasons (or nearly 10) why football fans may want to reconsider their view:
from Reuters Soccer Blog:
France ensured the likes of Franck Ribery, Karim Benzema and Thierry Henry will be at the World Cup in South Africa next year after winning through with a goal that has left Irish fans seething.
There was nothing wrong with the finish from William Gallas, but Thierry Henry admitted using his hand to keep the ball in play and commentators and Irish supporters are already talking of "The Hand of God II" and "The Hand of Henry" in reference to Diego Maradona in 1986.