The Offload: early signs the Andy Farrell era will be progressive

Incoming coach says embrace the setbacks, Springboks look too big for Ireland to handle

Andy Farrell has urged Ireland to use their Japan setback as a positive. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Andy Farrell has urged Ireland to use their Japan setback as a positive. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

 

Farrell points the way forward

Indications are strong that Andy Farrell will take Ireland in a progressive direction post World Cup. The Wigan Rugby League legend, father of Owen and proven defensive expert on two successful Lions tours has fronted more media sessions than usual at the World Cup.

He answers questions as directly as possible. With Mike Catt’s attacking mind being added to the mix, the 2020 campaign could be an improvement on Joe Schmidt’s - so far - ill fated final season in charge.

Farrell offered an interesting take on the Japan defeat, and how it can be moulded into an advantageous situation, if the pain is harnessed correctly, on the eve of Ireland’s lacklustre dismissal of Russia.

“I think with a setback you can use it in the right manner. If you look at the last three World Cups; South Africa losing to Japan and they lost the semi-final [to New Zealand]. If you look at 2011 France seemed to be in disarray and there’s a debate about whether they should have won the final [New Zealand squeezed home 8-7 in the end].

“In 2007, I was part of the England squad that got a thrashing off South Africa and there was a bit of turmoil in that camp and they managed to get to the final. There was a debatable try that was disallowed [the Springboks prevailed 15-6 after Mark Cueto’s try was disallowed].”

South Africa’s Cheslin Kolbe has been one of the stars of the Rugby World Cup. Photograph: Adam Davy/PA
South Africa’s Cheslin Kolbe has been one of the stars of the Rugby World Cup. Photograph: Adam Davy/PA

None of those teams won the World Cup but they all went where no Ireland team has ever been before (beyond the quarters). “So, you can use [setbacks] to your advantage. They’re not ideal but if you use them to your advantage they can be powerful.”

Farrell is not suggesting the Irish players enact a mini revolt against the head coach, similar to what England in ‘07 and France in ‘11 did, but they do need to take control of their own destiny before it is too late.

By the numbers

218 - South Africa wing Cheslin Kolbe’s metres covered with ball in hand in two games at the World Cup.

O’Shea on sizeable Springboks challenge

The Offload is officially clutching at straws but at least Ireland know how to beat the All Blacks because Rassie Erasmus’ Springboks represent everything Leinster [v Saracens] and Ireland [v England twice] have run aground against in 2019.

Don’t take our word for it. Italy coach Conor O’Shea was very clear about what he witnessed at The Ecopa stadium on Friday night.

“Thankfully I don’t have to stand in front of them. They are massive. They are powerful. They have got X Factor out the back as well.

“Potentially the most powerful sides I have seen on a rugby pitch. They are going to be very, very difficult to stop. The match against New Zealand was a lot tighter. It hinged on moments like all these big games do. They are formidable.”

South Africa’s lock Eben Etzebeth (top) celebrates with RG Snyman after the Springboks’ win over Italy. Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty
South Africa’s lock Eben Etzebeth (top) celebrates with RG Snyman after the Springboks’ win over Italy. Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty

The way it pans out, if Scotland beat Japan then Ireland face South Africa on October 20th but if Japan prevail in Yokohama then it’s Ireland versus New Zealand [Schmidt versus Steve Hansen part five] the previous day.

Never thought we’d see the day where the All Blacks is the preferred opponent but O’Shea is right; the Boks look far too big for Ireland to handle.

Quote of the week

“These are not meant to be ironman competitions, but they’re turning into that.” – Russia assistant coach Mark McDermott rebrands the World Cup

Boks in social media storm

Shoo-Gate. South Africa call their bench “The Bomb Squad.” They come in and dismantle or detonate – whichever – in the last 20 minutes. All you need to know is they finish games with bigger men than they started. The primary members of the bomb squad are RG Snyman - the humongous lock - and Frans Steyn - the massive utility back who as a teenager kicked the Springboks to world cup glory in 2007.

Twitter folk saw a bunch of white South Africans celebrating in a huddle after victory over Italy on Friday night and a black winger Makazole Mapimpi (inset) seemingly being excluded, while making a slight hand gesture, and screamed “racism!” at the top of their social media lungs.

“There was nothing wrong there with what they were doing – we are united as a team,” said Mapimpi as Steyn’s name began to trend. It sort of looked like Steyn was shoo-ing Mapimpi. This was not case with even head coach Rassie Erasmus feeling the need to intervene: “It is so sad that somebody could see something negative in that. I can give you my word, I as a head coach would not allow anything like that in the team. There is nothing like that in the team. For those that want to see something negative, I guess they will find something negative.”

That’s why Twitter exists. Pure negativity.