Gordon D’Arcy says change is needed, Chelsea outclassed by Bayern
The Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team
Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski celebrates scoring his side’s third goal against Chelsea with David Alaba and Alphonso Davies. Photograph: Adam Davy/PA
In his column this morning Gordon D’Arcy has picked the bones out of Ireland’s defeat to England last weekend, and has suggested a change of personnel is necessary if Andy Farrell’s side want to avoid the same fate when they travel to Paris in the final round of the Six Nations. He writes: “It was all too predictable. The same pack, and largely the same team, that failed at the 2019 World Cup could not turn the page,” and he says that, “change was advisable before this moment, now it is inescapable.” D’Arcy believes that while Farrell should avoid anything knee-jerk, he must freshen his side up before the trip to the Stade de France on March 14th - especially in the backrow: “Instead of stewing over who should make way from Stander, O’Mahony and van der Flier, how about sitting them all down and taking a good look at Doris, Max Deegan and Will Connors?” One player who is beyond reproach however is James Ryan, who delivered another mighty performance in the face of an English onslaught: “Ryan was picking all the fights and, to my eyes above the halfway line, he was the only angry Irish man. That’s not good enough at Twickenham.”
Elsewhere and Ireland’s penultimate Championship clash against Italy on Saturday March 7th is under threat due to fears over the coronavirus, with Minister for Health Simon Harris recommending the game be postponed. Harris's recommendation came on the RTE Six One news yesterday evening with the IRFU later releasing a statement saying they were seeking “an urgent meeting with the Irish government to discuss the matter further.” That meeting is set to take place today, with fears arising over the 2,500 tickets which have been sold to Azzuri fans as well as the high number of flights from Dublin to affected areas in Italy. If the game does go ahead, Ireland will be without prop Cian Healy, who will miss the rest of the Six Nations with a hip injury he sustained in the 24-12 defeat at Twickenham.