Liam Toland: Ireland’s hard work in French trenches paid off

Schmidt’s side displayed discipline in painstakingly plotting a win from a certain defeat

Gerry Thornley and Gavin Cummiskey give their post-match reaction to Ireland's defeat of France in their opening game of the Six Nations Championships in Paris. Video: Gavin Cummiskey

Were those 41 phases a window into the world of Irish rugby – being sucked deep down in the French trenches where, but for terrible French discipline, we may never have been extricated? Or was it the flowing exchanges in the opening quarter when Ireland went wide with a series of ambitious, aggressive plays, and where Jacob Stockdale’s first touch was an entry off his left wing way out on the right tram tracks? His first pass was to his right winger Keith Earls.

Yes, that was an ambitious start in which there was much to admire. But, as expected, Ireland were always going to be sucked in or voluntarily enter the trenches in an effort to get an all-too-rare away win in Paris. Being sucked in is one thing, leaping in is another, but there’s no doubt in my mind that those 41 phases are far more valuable to Ireland than the copious phases Wales executed against the hapless Scottish.

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