Kidney deserves the chance to sit down with IRFU and explain where he thinks it all went wrong
The further that game went on, the more disjointed and nervous Ireland looked. They looked like a team who were low on confidence and short on leadership. Considering that it’s only a few weeks since they came out of Cardiff on such a high, the England defeat must have had a huge effect on them. All of a sudden, there’s a lot more pressure on them, a lot more scrutiny and a lot more criticism.
It looks like it has fed into the players to a certain extent. It was interesting to hear Donncha O’Callaghan say after the game that the players were ashamed of their performance. I just think that’s the wrong word to use. You should only ever be ashamed of your performance if you don’t try. Ireland’s players made plenty of mistakes and we could all see where the day went wrong for them but nobody is saying they didn’t try. The effort was there but the accuracy wasn’t.
The atmosphere within the squad must be difficult right now. That’s what happens when you get on a bad run and especially when you throw away a big game that you should have won. The added pressure flows all the way down from the union to the management to the players. The air of disappointment and depression feeds in from the supporters and the media.
As a player, your mood will be so different to even just a couple of weeks ago. You can’t be too jovial or relaxed. Now you’re even careful about making a joke at the wrong time. You have to approach your days in camp and around training in a different way. It was serious before but feels more serious now.
There’s an added bite in everything now for the Ireland players because the season is all about salvaging something from the France and Italy games. The mood won’t be as upbeat, players won’t be bouncing into camp and into training the way they were at the start of the campaign. Everybody will be frustrated and some guys will get ratty with each other. They will need to turn it around quickly and get ready to go into the France determined and in the right frame of mind.
On the coaching side, there’s a lot of flak flying in Declan Kidney’s direction these days and that’s understandable because he is the boss and ultimately he signs off on all the major decisions. Declan has made big decisions that haven’t worked out. The captaincy was one, Paddy Jackson was the other. He will have to live and die by those decisions now. I think the least he deserves is to be allowed the chance to sit down with the union at the end of the Six Nations and explain where he thinks it all went wrong. If he gets that and is still replaced at the end of this contract, so be it.