Provinces key to Farrell’s Ireland succession, Sheffield United stun Arsenal

The Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the Rugby World Cup with The Irish Times sports team

Red Star Belgrade train at the Tottenham Stadium ahead of Tuesday night’s Champions League clash with Spurs. Photograph: Glyn Kirk/Getty/AFP

Red Star Belgrade train at the Tottenham Stadium ahead of Tuesday night’s Champions League clash with Spurs. Photograph: Glyn Kirk/Getty/AFP

Ireland’s heavy defeat to the All Blacks in still raw, but a new era is already underway - with Andy Farrell replacing the outgoing Joe Schmidt. In his column this morning, Gerry Thornley has suggested the succession won’t be easy, and that the Rugby World Cup hangover could easily carry into the 2020 Six Nations. And he writes that the key to rejuvenating Irish rugby is to start at domestic level: “Given the inextricable link with the provinces, reviving the spirits will be difficult, but that’s where the rebooting has to begin.” And the production of young players throughout the country will be key: “Leinster’s plans to create modern centres of excellence in three locations outside of Dublin can’t come soon enough, for there must be more Sean O’Briens and Tadhg Furlongs out there. Even better if the other provinces follow suit. Ulster, for example, are not pulling their weight. St Michael’s College and a few of the other elite Leinster schools can’t remain the primary source of talent indefinitely, even if there are more fine prospects coming through that pool, such as the hooker Ronan Kelleher and the back-rowers Scott Penny and Caelan Doris.”

Meanwhile John O’Sullivan has given Joe Schmidt’s squad their end of term ratings, after they once again failed to make it into the World Cup last four. Among those to emerge with credit are Rhys Ruddock, Andrew Conway, Garry Ringrose, Jordan Larmour and James Ryan - the only six players in the squad to score seven out of 10 for their efforts in Japan. Conor Murray, Keith Earls and Cian Healy all score five out of 10 while Jacob Stockdale only musters a four - a sign of Ireland’s poor game plan and form throughout the tournament. John O’Sullivan writes: “Compiling the end of term report is a flawed process, offering nothing more than a soundbite, but what’s unarguable is that very few Irish players emerged from the tournament in Japan with reputations enhanced; the majority underperforming based on standards they have set in the past.”

The Irish Times
Please subscribe or sign in to continue reading.
The Irish Times

How can I keep reading?

You’ve reached an article that is only available to Irish Times subscribers.

Subscribe today and get the full picture for just €1 for the first month.

Subscribe No obligation, cancel any time.