A performance to be proud of but our maddening inconsistency continues to baffle
French NotesWe are allowing administrators, coaches and players to perform well below acceptable standards and get away with it
This November produced a good win against the Pumas and sixth position on the IRB rankings. That is well below what this Irish team is capable of and below what we should all accept from the administration of the national team.
The Springbok match was one of the worst games of rugby I have had the misfortune to watch. The Boks were under manned and as badly prepared as I have ever seen them. They are rarely in such a poor state and were ready to be taken.
In what has become a trademark of the past three seasons, the national team’s systems, that deliver the athlete to the ball in both attack and defence, were almost unobservable. If Ireland had a plan on how they were going to go forward and attack the Boks, I could not see it.
What could be observed and has been observable for many games is that, whatever it is the coaches were attempting to do, the players did not do it. Players and coaches carry the responsibility for executing a game plan. It was not executed against the Boks.
We soldiered on to Limerick.
The decision to declare the Fiji game a “non cap match” because of an external commercial contract is without precedent in world rugby.
Have you ever heard of men representing their country being denied recognition of their achievements because of a sponsor’s contract? I am sure Aviva, who are fantastic sponsors of rugby, did not want their name sullied as the big corporate bad guy in denying Test caps to the excellent young Irish players who performed so well in Limerick. But that is the unfair reality for Aviva Insurance.
I say unfair, because the responsibility lies with the IRFU. When the original contract for the naming rights of Lansdowne Road was being negotiated, the IRFU should have demanded that every two seasons a ‘tier two’ international be played outside of Dublin.
Did the IRFU actually sign a contract that said they could never play international matches in Limerick or Belfast? Unbelievable.
As Kerry Packer once said, to the board of directors of a company he was about to make a takeover offer to: “there is a little bit of the whore in all of us, gentlemen. What is your price?” Asked the same question, the IRFU pitched low. The decision was made to play the Fiji game in Limerick, because the costs of staging the game at Lansdowne Road were high. The IRFU needed a big crowd to cover costs.
With full knowledge that the players would be denied caps the IRFU moved the game to Thomond Park. They allowed the price of an Irish cap to be set by their sponsor. Kerry Packer was right.