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Could Conor Murray Be Ireland's Greatest Ever Scrumhalf?

Could Conor Murray Be Ireland's Greatest Ever Scrumhalf?
By Conor O'Leary
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Gerry Thornley, speaking on Off The Ball last year, has proclaimed that Conor Murray could go down as Ireland's best ever scrumhalf. Is this hyperbole, or is it very much in the realm of possibility? Ireland have produced some fantastic players through the 130 years of international rugby - Willie John McBride, Keith Wood, Jack Kyle and Ollie Campbell. But how many outstanding scrumhalves have we produced?

It's actually quite hard to think of many stand-out Irish scrumhalves through the years, but let's see how Murray compares with the best Ireland has produced.

1. John Moloney

One of a small few Irish scrumhalves to have been selected for the Lions when he was included in the 1974 tour that has gone down as one of the best in the team's history. Moloney wasn't a test starter, sitting behind the legendary Gareth Edwards who was possibly the best scrumhalf in the history of the sport.

2. Colin Patterson

A favourite for many when this subject is brought up. Patterson was one of the most talented players Ireland have ever produced. He was one of two Irish scrumhalves on the 1980 Lions tour, along with John Robbie. Patterson's career was unfortunately cut short due to injury, but he remains highly thought of by those who remember him as a scrumhalf who had it all.

Patterson was named in the balls.ie Greatest Ever Irish Lions XV

3. John Robbie

John Robbie had a similarly short career, starting off as Patterson's understudy before taking over and eventually moving to South Africa. He fell in love with South Africa on the 1980 Lions tour, and eventually moved out there the following year. He remained in rugby in South Africa, and appeared on the replacements bench for the Springboks after his move. He is now a radio presenter in South Africa, where he has grown in popularity for attacking issues like racism, and inviting political detainees onto his show.


He has a strange record where he lost every one of his nine tests for Ireland, yet remained unbeaten in his eight matches for the Lions.

4. Peter Stringer

The first name in the list that most people would recognise, and the only player on the list that wasn't selected for the British Lions. Stringer has by a distance the most international caps on this list, with 99 appearances and is the most decorated player after winning two Heineken Cups with Munster and three Triple Crowns with Ireland as well as a Grand Slam in 2009 as the sub scrumhalf.

Stringer was widely renowned for his speedy pass, and fearless tackling despite his small stature.

5. Conor Murray

Conor Murray is the Irish incumbent in the scrumhalf position, and as Gerry Thornley as just opined, is on his way to becoming the best Irish scrumhalf ever. The improvements made in Murray's game in the last two years have been outstanding. It's hard to believe that he can get better, but, at only 26, he more than likely will.


He's control of a game is a massive boost to Ireland and Munster, any time he's not there his importance to the southern province is highlighted. His kicking used to be a liability, but he it is now arguably one of his strengths. He's incredibly physical, and acts as a fourth backrow at times.

He was selected to the Lions squad as a lesser player than he is now, and has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of that tour. His growth has been remarkable, and his inclusion in the world's best scrumhalf conversation is warranted.

Can he be Ireland's greatest ever scrumhalf soon? Absolutely, is he there yet? That's for you to decide.



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