Six NationsMedia Reaction

UK media reaction to Ireland v Wales in Six Nations: ‘Men against boys’

Despite the big rugby defeat there were some promising signs for Wales spotted by visiting journalists

“Men against boys” was the verdict of one UK-based writer after Ireland’s 31-7 victory over Wales on Saturday afternoon.

Andy Farrell’s side were admittedly not firing on all cylinders at the Aviva Stadium, but the verdict is they did not have to be to blow a way a Welsh side in the midst of a youthful rebuild.

“Let us not reach for too many cliches, but that one about men and boys does spring to mind,” writes Michael Aylwin in the Guardian. “Wales are hard and flexible, but do not possess anywhere near the firepower they were up against here.

“The bonus point was not secured until the last play of the game, but you almost had to remind yourself that it had not been. This dismantling of a brave Wales team was total. Now for England at Twickenham.”


Writing for Wales Online, Steffan Thomas highlighted a Welsh defensive effort that frustrated Ireland at times. “One area of Wales’ game which has improved drastically since a calamitous first half against Scotland is the defence,” he says.

“Ireland threw the kitchen sink at Wales but the visitors rarely missed anything in defence, and Mike Forshaw [defence coach] deserves a huge amount of credit here.

“Ireland enjoyed the lion’s share of possession and territory but they were made to work for all their points. Wales’ line speed along with some smart defensive reads forced Ireland to overplay at times.”

In The Telegraph, Tom Cary overlooks some of Ireland’s cohesion issues, instead focusing on how Farrell can call upon a number of replacements and still see his charges win comfortably.

“Ireland’s strength in depth is frightening,” he writes. “They are without Sexton (permanently), Garry Ringrose, Mack Hansen and Hugo Keenan. But it hardly seems to matter. Their cupboard is so full. Particularly at lock where they can call on Beirne, ‘Big Joe’ McCarthy, James Ryan, Ryan Baird, and Iain Henderson.”

Writing for the Mail, Alex Bywater pointed to Welsh ill-discipline as a key element of a first half which saw Ireland build a substantial lead. “Wales conceded a mammoth nine first-half penalties – the same number they had given up across the entirety of their first two games with Scotland and England,” he writes.

“It gave Ireland, a team who hardly need a helping hand, the platform to camp themselves in their opposition’s half and take control. Andy Farrell’s men led 17-0 at the break.

“Game over. Gatland expressed frustration at some of the penalties given against his side by Andrea Piardi who became the first Italian to referee a Championship game.”

Returning to Thomas of Wales Online, he saw a number of positives for Wales despite the 24-point margin.

“There are some green shoots of recovery for Wales with a number of players who only recently made their Test debuts standing up to be counted in Dublin. Dafydd Jenkins is really growing into his role as captain, while he is really imposing himself around the park, and is a player to be reckoned with.

“Cameron Winnett has been steadily getting better since making his debut against Scotland, but he really excelled at the Aviva Stadium. The 21-year-old just doesn’t make any mistakes while his positional play has shades of Leigh Halfpenny, and he is also as safe as houses under the high ball.”

Yet of all the players, one in particular comes in for praise: “Aaron Wainwright has taken his game to a new level over the past month. The Dragons man had shown flashes of brilliance up to this point but perhaps he wasn’t quite significant enough.

“If he stays injury free one would expect him to get even better over the next year or so, and he is clearly a leading contender to tour Australia with the British & Irish Lions next summer.”