Defeat doesn’t dash Gordon D’Arcy’s hopes
Ireland centre insists the championship is still there for the taking with Italy and France to come
Ireland’s Gordon D’Arcy insists the game is not up. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
Dashed Triple Crown and Grand Slam dreams will not damage Ireland’s bid for a first Six Nations title in five years, according to Gordon D’Arcy.
England edged out Joe Schmidt’s side 13-10 at Twickenham on Saturday, blowing the Six Nations wide open. Stuart Lancaster’s men can lift the Triple Crown if they see off Wales in round four, while the title is a now a four-way fight between England, Wales, Ireland and France.
Leinster centre D’Arcy vowed Ireland will not let their frustrations in defeat to England overshadow their drive towards the championship.
“We’re a better team than we were eight months ago,” said D’Arcy of Ireland’s resurgence under new head coach. “And the chances of a loss like this derailing the rest of the championship for us, there’s no chance of that happening. “With Joe driving that, and Paul (O’Connell), Brian (O’Driscoll), Johnny (Sexton), Jamie (Heaslip) and those guys, they are going to be getting everybody back together.
“We can’t change the result but we look at the positives, fix the mistakes and we move forward.
“We focus for Italy and France, then we refocus for Italy, and then we go from there.
“You want to win silverware, so that’s pretty disappointing. The whole tournament can be a bit of a game within a game, there’s the Triple Crown but also the championship.
“We’ve lost one but we’re still in the hunt for the other, so it’s not really that easy to think that way at the moment. We’ve got to pick ourselves up after a pretty tough loss, then just refocus on Wednesday and Thursday when we meet up.”
Rob Kearney’s smart score to open the second-half raised hopes of a superlative Ireland victory on Saturday. England hit straight back through Care, who raced clear after a fine break from in-form fullback Mike Brown.
Ireland built several late field-position platforms to attack, but were unable to force a game-changing score at the death. D’Arcy admitted frustrations at Ireland producing plenty of attacking rugby without enough end product.
“We gave them three kickable penalties and that was probably the difference,” said the 35-year-old. “They were pretty dangerous in broken field and capitalised on a good offload, and maybe a slip at the back of the field.
“But the discipline around the kickable penalties, that’s the difference. We played pretty positive rugby, we definitely played the more attacking rugby and when you don’t get the results from that it can be pretty frustrating.
“We had a couple of scrums on the right-hand side late on and I thought we were definitely going to get something out of it.”
Brian O’Driscoll’s final Twickenham appearance passed without the 35-year-old surpassing Mike Gibson’s Irish record of eight personal victories over England.
Saturday’s defeat means the Leinster stalwart will retire in the summer without adding another Grand Slam to his trophy haul. D’Arcy said O’Driscoll is not the only experienced Ireland star running out of chances to claim another European clean sweep.
“There’s definitely an age profile on the squad and maybe a few guys won’t get that many more chances at a win in Twickenham,” said the 34-year-old. “We’ve done so well in the last 10 to 12 years here, so that just makes this harder. So to fall by three points, it’s pretty tough.”