Kidney won't try to hide from the 'unacceptable'
SOME OF New Zealand rugby may live in a black bubble and lack respect for Irish rugby, but can you blame them after this? Thank heavens Ireland may not come back here for another dozen years. It won’t be a day too soon after this. The IRB should be applauded for their wisdom and foresight.
“Caned.” “Irish Caned.” “Abs give green and whitewash.” “All Blacks get the green sweep.” Like repeats of the massacre, it all made for grim viewing, if you could bring yourself to read it. No “plucky Irish” this time.
“We won’t try and hide from it,” said a stunned looking Declan Kidney afterwards. “We were hammered and it’s unacceptable and we need to learn from it and improve . . . and I’ve absolutely no doubt we’ll do that.”
“Absolutely, absolutely,” repeated Kidney afterwards when asked both if it was a humiliating experience and if it would ruin his summer. “I can’t say anything other than that. You don’t get into it for games like this. But you’re the coach, you’re the one that has the responsibility to rectify it.”
It was an honour to be asked to coach his country and he would continue to do so.
That he would still be the man charged with that onerous task was, he said, a decision for others, namely the IRFU, with whom he, Les Kiss and Gert Smal are contracted until the end of the next Six Nations. For management and players, this will always be a stain on those involved. Their belief in each other, through the squad and the management, and even in themselves at this exalted level, will have been undermined.
Maybe, in a sense, it’s as well Ireland don’t play together again for five months. However, on foot of Ireland’s hasty retreat from New Zealand to home and holidays, the de-brief cannot be put off until then.
“If you leave it until the week before we play South Africa you haven’t a hope in hell,” said Kidney. “What you have to do is you have to look for time to meet and prepare and work your way through tonight’s game and that’s one of the things we need to do. That’s one of the processes that needs to be gone through that I can’t give you an answer now, whether that will happen or not.”
This was in reference to whether or not there will be such a camp, although there assuredly will be, probably in September.
One of the most revealing stats that New Zealand RFU revealed after the game is under the title “tackles bust” which read 24-7 in favour of the All Blacks. This was partly the anticipated “Blacklash”, partly Ireland wilting physically.
Accepting this, Kidney said he saw no signs of it coming beforehand. “Obviously they hit us better but we didn’t respond in the way that we needed to.
“Once they went points up we probably chased it a little bit. It isn’t a case of slowing it down but it’s going to be difficult to break them down from your own half all the time so that is where we need to play a smarter game. We’ve a few lads who need to do that.”
After another demoralising example of the gulf in standards, you wonder how Irish rugby can ever hope to emulate New Zealand’s conveyor belt, given rugby is ingrained in their DNA.
“It is but it’s one that has a high skill level too,” said Kidney. “There’s a little bit of a social reason for that in the background then too. Look into their schoolyards and there are all the balls around. There are different cultures and they gain from that skill level in their culture that we have to manufacture in ours.”
Struggling for the right words, Rory Best conceded: “It’s an honour to play for Ireland and when you turn up and do that in an Ireland shirt, what can you say, it is embarrassing, walking off the pitch with your head down and now we have to front up and answer questions about that and quite rightly so.
“The key thing for everyone whether you have one, two or 102 caps is that you can’t go against the best team in the world and not front up physically in the first 10 minutes,” added Best.
“We showed last week, almost, what we could do when we get a good start, when we’re physical. I suppose this was just the polar opposite.
“There’s no doubt as a pack of forwards, especially, we have to take a lot of criticism because we were blown off the pitch. Our set-piece held up reasonably but in everything else we got completely outclassed.”