Leinster 50 – Treviso 19

1150930On Saturday Leinster played Treviso in a much-win game for them. They knew going in to the game would guarantee a home semi-final. So the stage was set for a lose-lose situation in my opinion. That is because Treviso are such a poor team, if you win, nobody is going to bat an eyelid or congratulate you. However if you lose like Connacht did last round, everyone will sit up and take notice.

So credit must go to Leinster, in some regards to how they dispatched Treviso without the result looking in doubt. On top of this, they scored some really nice tries, especially the ones that were finished off from Sexton and Nacewa. Some of the handling was good, linking forwards and backs brilliantly.

There were three players who really stood out for Leinster in my eyes. The first was Nacewa, who looked really sharp in attack and took over the kicking duties with no hesitation at the beginning of the second half. The second player that caught my attention was Ringrose. He made numerous breaks in the first half and made a huge amount of metres. Unfortunately when Rob Kearney went off he was switched to wing, where he didn’t get as much of the ball. Finally I thought Heaslip was terrific. He often does a lot of the unseen work and puts in huge shifts every time he plays. On Saturday, he also carried really well and it was nice to see him putting in some big hits.

One criticism I have of Leinster is that they let in three soft tries. It’s easy to see how they took the foot off the pedal near the end, but it shouldn’t happen nontheless. The worrying thing is that Leinster in their last three games have leaked 4 tries and 3 tries twice. This is concerning, especially because they had such a serious defensive record before these.

Now on the 20th May, Leinster will face Ulster in the first semi-final. After travelling up to the away game a few weeks ago, it is safe to say I’m not overly confident! That day Ulster were far better than Leinster in almost every facet of the game! But hopefully with home advantage the result could be different. Before I finish I must say a massive well done to Leinster for finishing first in the league. From the beginning of the season with the World Cup and then subsequently during the 6 Nations, Leinster have had almost their entire starting team missing due to the internationals. And we have suffered injuries to some of our key players. I’ve always believed that the sign of a great team is to win games when they aren’t playing well, but it is incredible to top the league without playing wonderfully well! So congratulations Leinster, and let’s see if we can go forward and win the playoffs!

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Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond

9780099302780

(Read between 12/04/2016 – 11/05/2016)

I had previously attempted to read this book roughly 3 years ago whilst on holidays. I had gotten roughly half way through the book before leaving it in a taxi in the middle of Cambodia! So this year I finaly had the heart to buy it again and hold on to it long enough to finish it! And I am very glad I did.

The first thing that will strike any reader is the ambition that Jared Diamond shows in this book. He tries to answer the question of why some sets of people and communities throughout history have been more successful than others. He does this by examining almost 13,000 years of human existence! This incredible scope means that in 400 pages Diamond examines a huge length of time, in fact if you do the maths, it roughly equates to 325 years of human history per page!

One of the most important aspects of the novel is to dispell any notions of superiority some nations may feel over others in modern times. Instead of being genetically or naturally ‘superior’, Diamond emphasises the point that it was only because of factors outside many communities’ control that some became conquered or died out. For instance, one of the leading reasons for the success of some nations was the domestication of animals and the growth of crops, leading from the shift from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to a food production one. Well in many societies, this was impossible because of the simple fact that no animals were suitable for domestication or that they lived in areas where the tilt of the axis menat that crops weren’t possible to grow all year round. This meant that the hunter-gatherer lifestyle was the only viable option for many communities. The reader is constantly reminded that the fact that some nations and countries find themselves in a more successful position than others, was largely down to the luck of the draw and factors that were largely out of their control in their long histories.

One of the main attractions of the book is how well written it is and how knowledgable Jared Diamond appears. In certain sections he makes assumptions of what may have happened (as he is discussing scenarios that could have played out with no records available) and they make sense to the reader. As well as this he often uses historical examples of what happened in other places and communities to back up these assumptions. The reader gets the sense that Diamond is not only extremely educated on the topic, but he also greatly cares about it. Diamond has spent lots of time living with some of the few remaining tribes around the world and he seems to really be interested in their history and way of life, and this constantly shows throughout the book.

I will however warn the reader that the book can be tough going in parts. The first half is extermely gripping and hard to put down, however the latter parts of the book can get difficult in some sections and sometimes quite repetitive. This is all understandable given the wide scope of the book, and what Diamond is trying to achieve.

Overall I would strongly recommend this book to everyone. It gives people a wider view of why some nations and continents today find themselves in a superior position to others. Historically people have narrowed the lens, resulting in racial and divine superiority complexes, whereas what Diamond does is widen the lens and see how a lot of these advantages are as a result of mostly geographical factors which were uncontrolable. Although it may be difficult in parts, if you stick by it you really learn a lot about human history in the process