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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: February 6, 2012 @ 8:38 am

    Ireland’s use of possession became puzzling

    Liam Toland

    LET’S TEMPORARILY suspend reality and assume that yesterday was a draw and not a fortunate two-point win for Wales. Who would then have more confidence in Paris, Ireland or Wales? With your answer in mind let’s now look at yesterday.

    From the kick-off it was clear Ireland had learned from last October where subtle changes proved very dangerous. The Irish backrow in October were very hungry for contact around the fringes and were cut down. Yesterday Stephen Ferris, Seán O’Brien and Jamie Heaslip immediately popped up all over the place asking major questions of the Welsh. Heaslip had a very active day on the ball creating many opportunities for his team.

    But then no plan survives the first shot as the opposition have their little nuances. Wales appeared a team dancing to a certain beat. Their lineout, for instance, was but a starter to a multi-phase approach where if a breakthrough came off, great, such as Bradley Davies’ early run down the touchline but it appeared their objective was to expose space by the third or fourth phase in which to send giants such as Jonathan Davies or George North into space or an unbalanced defender.

    Jamie Roberts had a big opening and the use of him illustrates my point. The seventh minute brought the TMO into play on a potential Welsh try. The outcome was important but Robert’s role in the build up was essential. He carried into contact twice and immediately sucked in three Irish defenders Jonathan Sexton, Gordon D’Arcy and Fergus McFadden. He was stopped and I got a sense a score from him was a bonus where the Welsh were actually anticipating his force-multiplier role and were primed to expose the outside channels.

    Rhys Priestland was more ambitious in his building of phases where he was ever vigilant of the imbalance in our defence. Aware of the damage his big men were doing to our numbers I could see him scanning where the space was and in the 13th minute he switched onto the blindside where Mike Ross and Tommy Bowe lay in nervous wait. Priestland mustered five Welsh men to our two and simple hands provided their first try. Three minutes later he did it again, this time with Heaslip isolated in a massive openside where Priestland sprinted from behind the ruck to attack the space.

    In possession Ireland had set up with the backrow at various channels which was a massive improvement but soon reverted to type in the one-up carry. Heaslip was sensational in traffic gaining great advantage. The question remains; what if he gets stopped in contact? What then? Ireland’s use of possession in the opening quarter was inventive but soon became puzzling. Strangely all bar one of Wales’s kick-offs went to one place, O’Brien, who had rotated with Stephen Ferris into the natural blindside wing forward slot and ran back at Wales. Each time Conor Murray box-kicked with good length and height affording the blindside winger a real chance. That made sense.

    Wales, the away team, dominated the possession stakes considerably and did so quite comfortably. Why we elected, as the home team to kick so much, and in many cases aimlessly, affording Wales the opportunity to continue on the ball, is the puzzle. Our provinces don’t do it but when they do it is very tactical. Ireland too had opportunities but couldn’t get outside the Welsh defence consistently enough to get our back three into threatening positions, who out-carried their Welsh opposition by 51 metres. D’Arcy and McFadden found the swinging Welsh defensive gate cutting them off on the outside. I’m surprised we didn’t get to see the famed Leinster loop from Sexton to get outside the Welsh. Pity as there was space to be exposed.

    What of Sexton and McFadden’s performance? Sexton didn’t look like the man he has become in blue but it’s difficult to judge him before he gets a run of games in the role of the main man he has become at Leinster. He did however defend excellently albeit being bumped by North but I did notice D’Arcy appears very confident in Sexton’s defence, hence not rushing in to aid him and so keeping free for other threats. This begs the question why bring him off when defence was crucial in the closing minutes?

    McFadden was clearly much less influential than his opposite man Jonathan Davies. He did carry and especially in tough traffic eked yards that weren’t necessarily there.

    The laws of physiques must be accounted for when assessing these infamous tip tackles where Ferris appeared to make a genuine attempt at waist height to tackle; Davies didn’t. As for those who were planted by North I do feel for them. Wales utilised his assets extremely well where he came in off the blindside targeting an unbalanced midfield more concerned for the traffic immediately in front. McFadden suffered from North popping up as did others and had to change his body completely to attempt the very tough tackle.

    North carried for 36 metres (three more than Bowe and 10 short of Andrew Trimble) but Wales made the most of those metres and Ireland strangely failed to blitz the Welsh.

    Points to be pleased with; is there any finer sight than your fullback (Kearney) sailing through the sky on the way to catching that speculative kick or, better still, as your last line of defence in the air catching and powering forward lifting the siege and pumping real energy into the 14 men in front of him.

    The Irish lineout remains excellent where crucial steels were made none more so than Donnacha Ryan, who made a real impact on his arrival. O’Connell’s telepathic reading of the Welsh lineout is extraordinary; I don’t know how he does it. On 23 minutes for no reason at all he switched with Heaslip and stole the Welsh lineout ball. Rory Best’s 36-minute try was superb with D’Arcy’s very soft hands sucking in Wales for Bowe and Best to flourish in the third channel, not to mention Ireland’s brilliant use of the sin bin.

    • Kieron Rock says:

      Liam Toland,

      Like all Munster men you refuse to accept that Conor Murray had one of those days (I like to call a bad Stringer Day). Where he box kicked away a lot of good ball, in some cases it was ball we had actually turned over from Wales. When you have a physically superior three quarter line who are excellent footballers as well, the one thing you don’t do is kick the ball to them. He did this in spades. If this was a pre-defined tactic then another Munster man Declan Kidney has to put his hand up and explain what sort of a tactic this is. Yet another Munster man Paul O’Connell did not look at what was happening and do some on-field adjustments. I think some instructions should have been given to Murray to speed up his passing from the base of the ruck and scrum. Conor Murray is a fine player and should always be in contention for a starting place, but if the coaching staff or the captain don’t give him a dig out then this very talented player will lose confidence and form. This would be a shame for him, Munster and Ireland.
      I think Declan Kidney lost some of his objectivity during this game. He failed to grasp the need for change early in the second half. He should have made the following changes Reddan for Murray, O’Gara for D’arcy (Moving Sexton to first centre size for size on his Welsh counterpart) and possibly brought on Donnahca Ryan for either Ferris or O’Brien.
      By the way Liam, I’m a Munster supporter when they’re not playing Leinster.


      Kieron Rock

    • Gareth Moss says:

      Can it also be noted that on the wing Tommy Bowe was genuinely awful. In defence he was abysmal as best summarised by that fumble into touch leading to a Welsh try. When did he look good? When he moved in-field. He set up Best’s try with a great step, and scored one of his own too. McFadden 12, Bowe 13. Way of the future

    • jack swalbe says:

      I feel what realy lost us the game was the stupid kicking tactics. Murrays box kicking was terrible. He should have been told to stop it. One of his kicks led to a try, if he is going to continue to play like this Reddan should start in France. We cannot use this kicking game against France, they will murder us. If we want to do well in France we need real pace in midfield. Our two centers are too small and not fast enough, I would give Downing a chance along side Earls. The inclusion of Downing would give our mid field some much needed physical presence.
      I wish the team well in France on yesterdays performance they will need it.

    • Chico Hopkins says:

      “fortunate two-point win for Wales” – Dear oh dear oh dear Liam, is that the best you have. All the months telling yerselves that the RWC game was a fluke, that it was only because Ireland didnt turn up in Wellington, that the shameful Welsh dared tackle what all Irish rugby fans know is the best backrow in the WORLD (TM:Neil Francis) and to get demolished by a team that by the end had 7 of its first team pack missing, must be galling in the extreme. In fact, judging by your piece, your finding it incomprehensible, I mean Leinster & Munster & Ulster are bossing the Heineken, therefore, surely you’d beat that Welsh team full of nobodies huh!?

      Forget the penalty by Ferris, and it was a penalty, though I’m sure you can wheel out Alain Rolland to say he’d never have awarded it, and watch the way the Welsh team marched the grand Ireland team backwards from inside their own 22, to the Irish 22. As they say in here in Ireland, It was Gas Crack lads!

      Better luck next year bois

    • Michael O'Donnell says:

      A couple of things. O’Gara when he came on had little to do – merely two drop-outs after Welsh scores. With the exception of O’Connell’s rush-of-blood-to-the-head penalty, Ireland were able to compete on each Sexton drop-out, winning most. Just when we needed to win it, O’Gara kicked too deep, on both occasions. Win the first of those and we would have won the match; win the second and we had a chance to retake the lead. O’Gara horlixed!

      Secondly, James Hook deliberately slapped down a Best pass that could have led to an Irish try. At it’s most lenient interpretation, it should have been a penalty to Ireland, in a far easier position than they were awarded one. However, you, me and everyone else who has ever watched Rugby has seen players who do what Hook did rewarded with ten minutes rest (in the sin bin). Barnes did not even award the penalty! Similarly, the Davies yellow should have been red and he was back on the pitch for their match-winning drive. Arguably, that’s two years running that horrible refereeing decisions have given (and I use the verb ‘to give’ deliberately) the Welsh Six Nations wins over Ireland!

    • James says:

      Funny how those berating Murray for his box kicks have said nothing about the woeful kicking from hand by Sexton. I’m also surprised to read Liam write about our performance without any mention of the fact our defensive system let Wales run at full tilt unopposed until well over the advantage line. It was boys against men in midfield – and Tommy Bowe was very poor defensively also. Kearney is excellent under the high ball once again but his positional sense is a bit suspect and he seemed to be totally absent for all three Welsh tires.
      Wales were not fortunate to win; they were the better team and fully deserved that win.
      back to the kicking..Priestland kicked astutely behind the Irish wingers and turned Ireland back deep inside Irish territory. Upon gaining possession from the ensuing lineouts Ireland ran or passed the ball aimlessly for a short time before putting up an aimless, undirected garryowen, ceding possession and territory back to Wales.
      Sexton’s tactical appreciation was non-existent. Even if he was under instructions to kick, he wasn’t under instructions to kick so badly.
      Changing the half-backs – and a few others – with three minutes to play was demeaning to all concerned and had no likelihood of enhancing the outcome. What really sewered us though was the idiotic decision to go for three points when we had a man advantage and a very good lineout;; this came right after a period of Irish forward dominance. POC should be harshly criticised for that and JS should have overcome his ego and turned down that shot.

    • Brian Murphy says:

      Ireland were beaten by better tactics, it’s that simple! We defended the blindside poorly and this was obviously something Wales had noticed in their build up to the game. We kicked too much and blindly. I think this Irish team should be banned from box kicking – why give posession away to a strong and unpredictable backline like Wales?
      For the life of me I dont get why ROG is not played with Murray or Reddan with Sexton? Surely when these two 9/10 combinations work well at provincial level we should leave them be at international level?
      The cohesion between our backs and forwards was poor – it was two groups on the same side who didnt know what to expect from one another.
      That all said I dont think Wales are given enough credit – they have power, skill and unpredictability in the backline as well as an aggressive pack. They have no fear of any team and they rightly came here believing they would beat us. Fair play to them!

    • James says:

      Michael O’Donnell – you have to be joking. We didn’t adequately contest one restart all day but you find it all to be O’Gara’s fault? Sexton kicked like circus elephant all afternoon, giving tons of possession to Wales but the last two restarts decided the match? let me guess – you ‘support’ Leinster.

    • Mick says:

      The Irish game plan was obviously to kick any possession within their own half; if Murray didn’t kick then Sexton did. The Welsh team knew what Ireland were going to do, so their back 3 were primed to receive the kicks. We never looked to mix up the play to keep the Welsh defenders honest. The players wouldn’t do that is for provinces so it was obviously management call.
      The galling thing is that we looked so good when the backs had ball in hand; both of the tries were superbly worked, great passing at pace. Why on earth didn’t we look to keep the ball, work the phases intelligently and use our passing skills?

    • Robin says:

      I dont understand how sexton can be so widely criticised by James. When ROG started against Wales in the WC he was nothing short of shocking. He missed his kicks at goal, kicked it out on the full on three occasions and as always was like a roadbump in defense. Given sexton did have a 2 aimless kicks down the centre of the pitch but when you look at his defensive effort in comparison to what ROG would have offered against a huge Welsh backline he was by far the better option and played his role well with ball in hand. On top of that he can actually carry the ball into contact without getting turned over everytime. It is never easy to play at outhalf when you dont have the ball for the more than 60% of the game and when that is the case i’d rather have sexton to defend than ROG anyday of the week

    • Robin says:

      James I think if you watch the match again or else test your eyes you’ll find POC winning two of Sexton’s restarts……….. Good man

    • Simon Oliver says:

      Ireland used to have a very fine out half – indeed one of the greatest – who wasn’t very good at kicking out of hand. He was moved out to centre where he became a star. Surely Mr Sexton could become another Mike Gibson?

    • curates egg says:

      The comments and analysis are focusing way too much on individuals. We lost because we were tactically naive (again) and did not play as a team or in proper units. That this happened again is a shocking indictment of the management.

      The defensive strategy was horribly wrong. As alluded to by James (the only non-ludicrous point he makes in his post), the first defensive line just stood back and let the Welsh behemoths build up a head of speed charging at us. It was completely wrongheaded. McFadden (who had an otherwise good game) was deployed as a shooter but it was an outdated defensive strategy. We needed to pressure the Welsh line and not allow their first phase runners ball time. Given our defensive coach is the same person as our attacking coach and as our backline coach however, it is not surprising.

      We have a coaching crisis and the IRFU urgently needs to address this, all the more so as we are now bound to the same head coach for another 2 years.

      As for the players, I would agree with all posters that Conor Murray was the worst Irish player on the pitch (kicking and running options were invariably wrong and/or poorly executed).

      The front five and Heaslip were generally good both in set pieces and around the park (ignoring 2 bad carry options by POC).

      Of the backs, Sexton had by far the best game, followed by Kearney and maybe Trimble. His restarts were all perfect. He was instrumental in the few running moves we had. He was the best of 3 central defenders (10, 12, 13). One kickable penalty and two bad kicks from hand aside, he had an outstanding game.

      That we are still forced to have this debate, though, underlines all that is wrong about Irish rugby. Bringing on O’Gara with 2 minutes to go was an absolute disgraceful decision. It may not have lost us the game (although ROG’s two restarts were shocking) but it will have done no end of damage to our preparations for this weekend.

    • Michael says:

      As soon as I saw Wayne Barnes’ face on the tv as the ref I knew he would be trouble. Speaking of faces – Rory Best et al.’s face at numerous breakdowns were of disbelief that Wales were not getting pinged for holding on or Ireland were being told to release because they were “off their feet”…yet the two steals justin tupuric got in the second half, he was lying across the ruck and simply rolled sideways when he got hold of the ball. Kidney obviously had plans to compete at the breakdown as you could tell from the wording in his post-match interview regarding having to “reassess their tactics under the current guidelines” – that said to me he couldn’t belive they only secured one penalty from Wales holding on.

      With that, it is clear Ireland need a proper 7, or they need Sean O’brien to act like a proper 7 – i.e. don’t be the first man into each tackle, but the second that is straight over the ball. Ireland have enough players to batter the ball up the middle. O’brien should be used at pace in attack or to compete at the ruck in defense.

      Ireland’s midfield – best to look at this in terms of what Wales had, or what France will have next week in Fofana and Rougerie, or even England had – strong runners with bulk and good steps. Hugely out there, but James Downey was the go-to man for a number of seasons with Northampton, who were extremely successful in club rugby. I don’t get to watch a lot of rugby however I would read that he consistently broke the gain-line and was rock solid in defense – why not? Neither D’arcy nor McFadden consistently broke the gain-line nor were rock solid in defense. Also, out there, but he did get his first 2 caps there, Andrew Trimble. Bulk, great step, hard lines (and can’t kick so don’t particularly want him in the back 3!)

    • Bill Redmond says:

      First it needs to be said quite clearly that Wales deserved to win, they were overall the better side and showed more adventure in their play than Ireland. Having said that, the opportunities for Ireland to win were there, and were missed because of poor decision making. Far too much possession was kicked away, Tommy Bowe should have let the ball go into touch for an Irish throw-in, rather than trying to catch the ball while off balance and running towards the touchline, and the decision to kick for goal rather than put the ball into touch and then control the game through the forwards, was bizarre for a captain of Paul O’Connell’s experience. Finally, the Welsh were allowed to make so much ground in coming out of their own 22 that a winning score, be it penalty or dropped goal, became almost inevitable. Once again the refereeing was wildly inconsistent, Ferris’s tackle did not even merit a penalty whilst Davies’s on Ryan could not more clearly have deserved a red card. Dave Pearson had a clear view of the incident yet recommended a yellow card. Any referee can make a mistake by being unsighted or because of the speed of the action, but Pearson’s was a considered view, not a mistake. It gives no cause for confidence that Pearson will be the referee in Paris next week.

    • Prefect says:

      Michael O’Donnell

      Absolutely right about the failure to penalise James Hook deliberate knock-on. Ref missed an identical foul by Tommy Bowe in the first half, to deny Wales a try, which should also have been a sin bin offence. At that time Wales were running rampant, against 14 men they would have had the game sown up by half time.

      Davies was a definite red card. He should have just chinned Donnacha Ryan if his blood was up over a perceived “cheap shot” at Adam Jones. I think we all would have understood that.

    • Rob Mac G says:

      First of all, calling Wales’ win ‘fortunate’ is ridiculous, táim brodúil le haon Éireannach but Wales played the better, more attacking rugby than the boys in green. Commentators like Liam owe it to Irish rugby to be more honest. The Australian match now appears really like a once-off and there are inherent flaws in Irish set-up that the Australian match papered over. Is Kidney getting the best out of the troops that he has (and I realise that players have their own personal responsibility to perform)? No way! Wales kept it simple, admittedly they have huge pacey backs, but we afforded them the space to run at us. Is Kidney being out-thought by other coaches e.g. Gatland? Absolutely. B O’D is a big loss and D’Arcy looks a bit more pedestrian without B O’D on his shoulder. Kidney seems to be tinkering with a team that is flawed, why not make a bold s/ment and try smth like a 9/10 Leinster or else Munster pairing. Very typical Irish mindset, i.e. conservative that dooms us time and time again. Kidney’s poltician-like answers are also becoming a bit wearing. Wales played with pride and passion and above all seemed to know exactly what their game-plan is. Cad tá muidne ag déanamh?

    • Chico Hopkins says:

      Curates Egg : Heaslip is a show pony, the day DK realises this and does the sensible thing of moving SOB to 8 and getting in a 7 that can play the modern game, the better it’ll be for Ireland. Heaslip doesnt like doing the hard graft of the 8 position, he likes to stay out in the backs, hoping for a run or 2 to make it look like he does something. He doesnt.

    • W. Kennedy says:

      Murray is out of his depth. He always has been. Why was he selected in the first place? He never earned his place and certainly has done nothing to retain it. No wonder many consider Kidney to be in thrall to his Munster connection to the detriment of Ireland’s rugby team. Add in Kidney’s inept tactics and serious lack of judgement surrounding players. Buckley’s continual inclusion alone should have set the alarm bells ringing. Include the rest, selecting over the hill Munster players like Mick O’Driscoll, unfit Munster players like O’Leary, playing others out of position over superior players in that position and you have a major problem.

    • Mike says:

      Please delete Kieron Rock’s comment. Very embarrassing to call a former Leinster captain a Munster man! Clearly knows nothing about rugby.

      Great article, very insightful and I look forward to reading more throughout the championship.

    • Tadhg Barrett says:

      Kidney and his fellow coaches were out thought by Gatland again. It hurts.Wales were allowed to be the better side on the day,we gifted them posession and our backs were poor and overpowered. The front five were ok the backrow were also poor.T ime for changes Darcy, O Callaghan, Heaslip, to the bench, Earls, OMahony and Ryan to start. O Brien to 8. Draft Downey into the squad ASAP. Finally find a natural 7.
      If we are defeated in France time for wholesale changes. The coaches are too worried about criticism and need to take risks ,defeat is easier to accept if we are building unfortunately we are papering over the cracks.
      Game management was very poor,if you want to use a bench for an impact give them 20 mins not 3.Stop making excuses,there are no buckets big enough to contain all the mistakes,get back to work,make changes and have a right go at the French.

    • John Boyce says:

      Never has so little been made from so much! Tactically astute when they play for their provinces, like debutants when they play for their country. The 50+ metre penalty attempt decision epitomised Ireland’s lack of confidence/ambition.


    • jack says:

      So when Sexton has a poor game we are supposed to just wash it away and let him have a “run of games” to settle is it? So just how many games does he need to achieve that??

      I think you forgot to UNsuspend reality after you wrote the first paragraph there Mr Toland!

      As for the final comment by Curates Egg above re: “Bringing on OGara …….no end of damage to our preparations fo this weekend” …………. so I see you already have your excuses our for Johnny in advance this time is it?? Its all someone else’s fault always isn’t it ………….. sure that;s much easier to live with than the truth , right??!!

    • mac says:

      has Johnny Sexton EVER kicked a penalty from his own half? Crazy call from O’Connell. And we should be building around Trimble – he’s finally living up to his promise.

    • Som P says:

      Why is it that no pundit, journalist or paper has touched on the concept of “intensity”. We can talk about how big the Welsh backline is all day and make excuses but the fact of the matter is they were more “up for it” than we were.

      The Irish team had everything going for them in this game– a home draw, putting the rwc behind them and the chance of revenge after losing 2 games in a row to the Welsh. However this wasn’t the case, looking at pre-match interviews during the week with some of the players I couldn’t get over how apathetic they were in looking forward to the fixture and how they dismissed the idea of revenge…. I guess they’re too busy making television ads for O2 .

      The Welsh on the other hand were visibly pumped up, running hard, quick ball through the phases making easy yard after yard. It brought back memories of the WC quarter final. And whats more, our stand- off defense just let them have all the space in the world, I even recall our players shuffling backwards at one stage when the Welsh backline was coming at them…the word “effeminate” comes to mind. I really wonder what Les Kiss is doing?

      This was in comparison to the Welsh swinging-door defense which starved us of ideas once again, it’s not rocket science….this is where angled runs to the space on the outside shoulder of your opposite number come into play which in turn forces the next defender over to also draw in i.e creating space on the far outside for an oncoming runner (backrow)

      Losing the game wasn’t the hardest part to swallow, nor even the evidential lack of creativity or a changed game-plan. The hardest part was seeing a bunch of young lads out muscle our supposed battle hardened players. I think this was best represented when Bradley Davies spear tackled Donnacha Ryan and went off the pitch unscathed. Everyone just put up their hands with the “ref do something” look, because you know if Davies had done that to an All Black or South African he would have got mashed straight away!!

    • Mucker says:

      Wales have one team in the Heineken Cup quarter finals this year. They had one last year. They have never won the competition. Ireland have three teams in the quarters this year, two last year. Irish teams have won the competition on 4 of the last 6 occasions.

      There is simply no way that Wales should be beating Ireland on our own patch, or anywhere else on the simple evidence given by the stats above – we have three squads of 25 odd players to pick from who are consistently at the top end of European club competition – the Welsh simply do not.

      However, the passion and precision that the Irish players play with when wearing their provincial jerseys is rarely there at international level. It is there only once in every 8 games or so. This would be Australia so far this season, which is one performance in 9 games. England last season, again 1 performance in approximately 9 games. The previous season, I think it was England and if memory serves, we beat South Africa and drew with Australia. Terrible in other games.

      The book stops with Mr. Kidney. He is the national team coach, and the man charged with getting the best out of the Irish players. He has destroyed the confidence of one of the bright lights of Irish rugby by not allowing him to finish out a game. Subbing Sexton and Murray with 3 minutes remaining when 1 point up and all the focus on defence is scandalous management.

      It has also become apparent that in any tight selection calls, being from Munster is a huge help. I won’t bother with all the examples, if you don’t know, you don’t follow international rugby. I will mention Leo Cullen dropping out of the squad, and instead of calling in Tuohy, McCarthy or Toner, all those locks playing well for their provinces are ignored and a Munster back row (Coughlan) is brought in. O’Leary’s selecion ahead of Marshall is incredible. Confidence and morale is low with this Irish team, Kidney had his day with Ireland but is simply not up to the task.

      The provincial bickering over the national number 10s is another huge reason why we fail. An entire province wishing and hoping that Sexton messes up so they can vent their spleen is a huge factor contributing to our disunity at national level. People complaining that O’Gara couldn’t nail his restarts and it was all his fault is the same – Kidney should not have put O’Gara on the field with three minutes to go regardless of how good anyone thinks he is, and to believe that Sexton should remain unaffected by the constant undermining of his position does not tie in with any sports science. Can anyone say when Sexton last finished a game at number 10? Kidney and Ireland are reaping what they are sowing. Note how Priestland remained on the field with his trustee scrumhalf until the final whistle, Gatland has managed his outhalf’s international career brilliantly and gets the best out of his man. Kidney has savaged Sexton’s confidence, and along with a catalogue of other selection travesties, has undermined Ireland’s progress in the last two seasons.

      He has had an army of begrudgers helping him to do it. We get what we deserve not just as a coach and a team, but as supporters also.

    • Peter says:

      I think the big difference between Wales and us is cohesion in attack, as the last few minutes showed, they were able to get themselves the lenght of the pitch, similarly to the first few minutes in the world cup game in Wellington. Our defence was shocking for their last try and O’Gara’s restarts at critical stages of the game, when it was there to be really contested, was awful from an experienced kicker. Positives – Heaslip, D’Arcy (finally) and Kearney. I’d bring in Ryan and Reddan for French game to add bit of spark.

    • John says:

      To all those slating Sexton we were 4 mins away from winning the game with Sexton on the pitch. We lost it after he left.

      As for those claiming Heaslip doesn’t like doing the hard work – he was carrying, tackling, winning turnovers (without conceeding penalties), winning lineouts, stealing lineouts. Seriously watch the actual game without preconceptions for once.

    • ThomasFergus says:

      Ireland beaten for so many reasons yet most posts here focus on Sexton v O Gara and Munster v Leinster…..is it any wonder the country is ungovernable? Bring in a foreign coach with zero loyalty or direct experience of the Irish game; sounds like the way the economy is being run anyway!

    • jack says:

      Peter – …… and I quote …. “Positives – Heaslip, D’Arcy (finally) and Kearney” ………. are you serious or did you even watch the match?? Kearney – Yes, absolutely ……….. but Heaslip and Darcy were appalling! Darcy was a great player once but that time has passed a few years ago and the odd dash here and there doesnt compensate. Heaslip has also been excellent for Ireland int he past and still can be one of the top 5 number 8′s in the world if he bothers his backside to work, but he hasnt played well for Ireland in so long its crazy to even consider him, He needs to be dropped and made work for his place again because he has been taking it for granted for many games now. Just because he and Darcy have been criticised doesnt mean they are being UNFAIRLY criticised . But saying that they were positives, no matter how often you say it, won’t make it true! I mean, I honestly have to wonder if you really believe that or if you are just gonna support every Leinster player for the sake of it?? Either that or you simply didnt watch the match (or a number of matches previous to it either). Anyway ………….

    • I think kidney has to start spending a lot more time with team, like gatland does at wales. He needs to learn how leinster attack and try to copy it. The team also needs to try and adopt the blitz defensive system which is helping wales so much

    • Chico Hopkins says:

      Be interested to know what the Irish fans think about your fitness because from a Welsh point of view, what was once a huge achilles heel for the Welsh team has become a huge plus. We looked like we could carry on playing for another 10 or 15 mins – The Irish team looked out of puff by around the 65-70m mark. Yet I see no one talking about fitness!???

    • jack says:

      So maybe its time to have someone put a Rob Kearney to the Leinster players then and ask them if the Blue Jersey means more to than the green!! Since we are told how grteat they are every week then why are they not so great in Green?? Conveniently thats Kidneys fault, but when Munster have the larger portion of the squad it’s all the players fault, right??? ………. you should spend more time considering Messrs Darcy, Sexton, Heaslip, Healy et al before blaming the coach! But that wouldnt fit your convenient theory at all sure …………. Kidney has destroyed one of the brighetst lights in Irish rugby ……….. of course yeah, cos it could never be that said brightest light had zero control and was not at the races for the first 76 minutes now was it? Poor Jonny, sure if only big bad Ronan would step aside so he could shine and get his confidence back, boo hoo ! And Kidney favours all the Munster players over the poor Leinster lads …….. although SOMEHOW there were 8 of them started last week and only 3 Munster players …….. Give it a break would ya! Yawn bloody yawn !

    • Rory Mcgrath says:


      Can we leave the provincial pettiness aside here? This is the national team so we should leave out provincial rivalry when it comes to performance. If you analyse the situation, you’ll find that the majority of murray’s kicking was from inside the 22, which is a common tactic to give wingers a chance to win possession. The alternative would be for Sexton to kick the same distance to touch. He had one bad kick in the 2nd half which should be highlighted but I still fail to see what Eoin Reddan has offered to Ireland on any appearance to date. His passing is still quite slow and his defence is an even bigger issue. Mike Phillips presence would have been a big issue for Kidney here. We still seem to come up short on a scrum half who ticks all the boxes, so there will always be a trade off depending on the game plan.

      Ireland will need to front up in defence and bring some creativity to the game in Paris. Kearney and Bowe will need to pose a bigger threat in attacking the line as it will most likely be a high scoring game. France have averaged 26 points against Ireland over the last ten meetings.

      Chico, your analysis is highly flawed. I don’t think too many branded Wales world cup win a fluke. To say Ireland were ‘demolished’, to say Faletau, Jones and Warburton (the captain) are not first team players and to say Alan Rolland would not have awarded a penalty is simply farcical. The fact remains that another key decision has swung the outcome of this match, as proven by the resulting bans midweek. So for Liam to say Wales were ‘fortunate’ is a fairly accurate judgment, albeit that they were the stronger team. Probably best doing some analysis first ‘boi’!!

    • Bill Redmond says:

      When making comparisons between provincial performance and national performance, three things need to be borne in mind. First, all our provinces have non-Irish players, so we’re not just looking at selecting the best 15 players from the provincial teams. Second, international rugby is a considerable step up from the Heineken Cup, so it’s not axiomatic that players who do well at provincial level will shine in the 6 Nations. Third, provincial teams spend more time together than the national team so have more time to work on player combinations and tactics. Finally, I couldn’t agree more with Rory Mcgrath on the subject of provincial pettiness.

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