‘I believe in what we are trying to do’: Ireland players keep the faith despite French result

Iain Henderson and Garry Ringrose point to work-ons while maintaining their self-belief

Courage comes in many forms, and daring to keep believing and keep playing their running rugby will give this Irish side some solace and belief moving forward. Not the least encouraging aspect of the second half revival was that the players and coaches clearly regrouped effectively during the interval.

"We had a good chat at half-time," confirmed Iain Henderson afterwards. "Although it might not have seemed it at times in the first half, we felt we were fully in it. That transpired in the second half and we went into it with full belief that we could do it. Right until the very end of the game, we thought we were in to win it. But unfortunately towards the end, it just didn't work out for us."

Many an Irish team, missing their captain and talisman, losing their hooker in the 26th minute and having received something of a physical pounding to trail 19-7 at the break, might have doubted themselves. Then again, this Irish team had generated confidence from a free-scoring, nine-game winning run.

“A lot of it is a massive belief in what we do, the way we train and the way Faz [Andy Farrell] and the boys have us playing,” explained Henderson. “The players believe in what we are trying to do and in what we want to do. When we discuss it in training sessions and on the pitch, everyone is fully buying in to what we are trying to do in attack and in defence and when you do go points down that is a very comforting place to fall back to.

“I believe, and the guys beside me believe, in what we are trying to do to get back into this game and if we nail what we are trying to do in attack and in defence, generally we are quite difficult to play against.”

Henderson admitted that Ireland’s problems were “probably around the breakdown”, adding: “We had tried to identify a few things they do in previous games. They throw a lot of people into rucks, try to make it scrappy.

“Obviously, the way we like to play, we like to play probably a slightly tidier game in terms of the numbers in breakdowns. We probably fell into their traps a number of times, putting too many in and that would leave us skinny in other places.

“Defensively as well, I haven’t watched it back obviously, but they caught us a few times and we had a couple of switch-offs. But on the whole, I thought we came together quite well.”

Although Ireland did come up short, as Henderson also noted, they can also draw strength from their ability to hang tough in very difficult circumstances.

Despite describing the defeat as "sickening", these sentiments were echoed by Garry Ringrose.

“We rallied in the second half. There was no question of our trust with each other and the belief that was there if we got our stuff right we could deliver, which we showed in flashes.

“So I think that will reinforce the belief that if we ever find ourselves with our backs to the wall then to stay calm and level-headed and trust what we’re trying to do in attack and then also defensively trust what we’re trying to do.”

All that said and done, Ireland also needed to be more alert to a quick throw-in response to Ireland’s first exit.

“It’s a tough one,” said Ringrose. “I wouldn’t question anyone in the group, there’s a trust there that everyone’s ready from the off. It’s just the way it panned out, they got a quick lineout and put us on the back foot and then it kind of evolved from there.

“But if you were to rewind the clock from there you’d probably get a bit more balance and get someone back to that edge to defend it. It’s only small, simple things but at this level against that side that’s clinical in the way they are, that’s the tough part.

“I guess it’s just small things. I don’t think it’s necessarily a mental thing, it’s just one or two fix-ups that we will have to learn from and be better at if we find ourselves in the same situation.”

In all of this, of course, Ireland had also just lost to the best French side in a decade.

“I think they’re an exceptional side with individuals that can bring something out of nothing so you have to be properly alert for everything from everywhere,” admitted Ringrose. “They were clinical with the chances they took so that’s probably summed them up.”

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