7 Jun, 15:39
ERC can confirm that the Federation Française de Rugby (FFR) has withdrawn its application to host the 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals, due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding the availability of the Stade de France.
O' Driscoll was probed on the Ireland captaincy issue after three successful outings in the Autumn. At 23 it is something that he'd rather happen after the World Cup well after it.
The notion of being 'happy to lead off the pitch' is where he is most comfortable. Clarity of vision can be expressed and explained better than the training field he'll throw his tuppence worth in, in the heat of battle.
Both players were 'very impressed' with the way the current Captain Reggie Corrigan runs the show. Hickie is also a leader and a thinker who has a major influence in what is said in the dressing room and on the field in the huddle particularly if he perceives something which is not being addressed properly.
Hickie though is quite happy to maintain the status quo feeling awkward 'running over to the forwards to tell them what to do'. Realising their worth to the side both point to Nathan Spooner as their most influential player and executive decision maker Brian OÂ¹Meara is a guy they single out too in terms of they guy they see calling the right call at the right time and executing it properly.
But there is a big difference between playmakers and game-breakers. In terms of the Heineken cup preparation O'Driscoll took a forthright line on what suited Leinster best 'being out of the Celtic League is not a plus, it doesnÂ¹t give us better time to prepare yes the standard is well off Heineken Cup, but I donÂ¹t like playing interpros, the rugby is poor and it is not going to get us ready for the games you can expect in France or England.
I'd have preferred a full programme where we can play in Donnybrook every second Friday it's enjoyable. I would love to be playing in a Celtic League semi-final on December 18th'.
It didnÂ¹t seem to upset them for their monumental win in Montferrand which whatever they say sets them up as serious contenders.
The author in a pre-tournament forecast put Montferrand in as potential winners.
Hickie was mildly incensed when he was asked about how Leinster won. 'That's typical Frano, you asked me on the phone after the match if Montferrand were any good, yet you installed them as cup favourites. When we beat them you have to ask whether or not they are a good side instead of recognising LeinsterÂ¹s ability'.
I put my hands in the air. What was the formula for doing something they had never done before. Dressing room fervour? The call for the supreme effort? No both players put it down to relaxed concentration, supreme confidence in each otherÂ¹s ability and the ability to take the two or three chances that came their way.
Both muse over Jeremy Guscott and Matt Dawson installing them as favourites knowing how hard the last three games will be and smarting at the injustice of winning five out of six pool games last year and being rewarded with an away trip to Welford Road for their efforts. That game was a hiatus for Leinster Hickey pointed to the fact that Malcolm OÂ¹Kelly didnÂ¹t play and that Spooner and Horgan were taken from their deathbeds to play.
They lacked the mental strength to deal with Leicester that day. Now Hickie says that their structures are the same but there is that gap which can only be bridged by winning. Leicester are back to back European Rugby Cup champions and serial Zurich champions.
The next time they are called to the plate they'll swing the bat with a bit more puissance. Knowing that more is required mentally knowledge is the only of production that is not subject to diminishing returns.
As the business end of the pool games are played out it is surprising that the drudgery of twice daily training hasnÂ¹t diminished their resolve work is hardly fun. Both are still engaged by Matt Williams' ability and directorship.
The team clowns Halpin and Brennan are long gone but there is still a deadly buzz going down, running through the whole set up. Whatever Leinster are doing to keep this pair interested and alive with possibilities they should keep doing it. Leinster's diamond geezers might just repay them with Dean Richards' Cup!