Eoghan Hickey

Like questionable fashion tastes, rugby strategies too often seem just as whimsical. Initially entrenched in some simplified notion of the now, they're then dumped after dubious overuse in ways that weren't originally intended.
Facing into this weekend against Argentina, it's likely that Ireland are more psychologically robust this time around, but the Pumas are a quality side who know how to play it tough and smart. Irish supporters won't have forgotten how well Juan Martín Hernández can build a score for his team...
On Saturday evening at Twickenham we saw the first game that actually mattered in this Rugby World Cup towards ascertaining where the trophy might ultimately end up...
It's no secret that Samoans love the physical side of rugby, but they are also hugely gifted footballers and often the magic-sparks at the club sides, unlocking defences that remain shut to others... For all their valour and quality within the squad, the Samoans still nonetheless compete at a disadvantage owing to their lack of resources.
When Ireland play Canada next Saturday in Cardiff, few will be expecting anything other than a green victory, but as 2007 proved when Ireland stuttered to victory over both Namibia and Georgia, nothing should be taken for granted, especially at Rugby World Cups. The Canadians aren't likely to make it beyond the pool stages, but that doesn't mean that they don't have the capacity to send a few shocks waves.
Had Ireland won all four warm-up games, or lost all four, the looming pool games against France and Italy wouldn't have become any easier or harder. As ever, it's the team who can think more clearly when emotions and pressures start clouding judgements that will prevail. This can't be fabricated in preseason, so be careful what you read into it.
As the Rugby World Cup draws nearer, waiting just over this season's horizon, the divergent fortunes of success or failure are drawing more into focus, as each subsequent decision by the various coaches compounds the already great pressure on them.
As the custodians of the game, the IRB still regularly tweak laws here and there to find the optimum formula for the sport. To that end, I propose a few minor alterations for debate.
Alternate proposals to fill the void left by an absent European Cup have considerably more failings than any imperfections they were dreamt up to fix. Remember that the two main reasons for the current European shambles are a dissatisfaction with the lack of meritocracy, and a skewed distribution of remuneration.
The trajectory of the negotiations that started over a year ago to agree a new accord beyond the current season, is a tale of brinkmanship resulting from the abandonment of meaningful cooperation and a refusal to even contemplate change. Myopia is the common theme here and no group is blameless in this episode.