Heretofore, loyalty shown by Ireland coach Andy Farrell has been admirable. Billy Burns flunks the last play against Wales, and Ireland lose, yet Farrell sticks with the Ulster outhalf.
Eventually, failure to perform fundamentals – like kicking to touch or passing the ball – have to come with consequences. For the second time in an Ireland jersey James Lowe appeared not to bust a gut when a kick from the opposite wing landed in the back field. This resulted in Finn Russell's sneaky try following a combination of errors after Stuart Hogg blocked down Garry Ringrose.
In the international arena defence cannot be sacrificed for attacking gifts. Huw Jones brought Scotland back to life at Murrayfield with a try that had Lowe looking like a well-oiled turnstile.
Jacob Stockdale is no angel when it comes to lapses when addled by pressure, but the Ulster fullback has stormed back from injury, looking closer to his scintillating best more than any time since 2018. If form matters, Lowe has to be replaced by Stockdale to face England.
If form matters, Joey Carbery needs to replace Burns on the Ireland bench. Peter O'Mahony also deserves to return to the team now his suspension is served. At openside. That is down to Tadhg Beirne steadily growing into as important a figure in the team as Johnny Sexton. Hugo Keenan's expertise at fullback wins the bronze medal in this regard.
Beirne travelled the long road to become a regular Ireland blindside but the most dangerous man over opposition ball on the European club scene since 2017 deserves to be recognised as a key figure in an Irish pack that Paul O’Connell is shaping into a serious force.
Accessing all the available talent is how this squad moves forward, especially if they are to overcome an England side that fully believes they have their number up front.
By the numbers
14.3% – CVC stake in the Six Nations worth €56 million for the IRFU over five years.
2% - of votes by Alfredo Gavazzi denies him a third term as president of the Italian union.
Carbery v England
Joey Carbery is, once again, an essential service. The 25-year-old looks all set to become Ireland's resident number 10 come France 2023. We have all the evidence we need. All the other pretenders to Johnny Sexton's throne lack the ability to do what Carbery did at Thomond Park last Friday night.
Remember Murrayfield two years ago when Sexton was laid out by Allan Dell, a split second after creating Jacob Stockdale's try? That dog-eared narrative was overrun by the sort of flyhalf play not witnessed since Tony Ward wore the green jersey. Carbery swung the Test match when gathering a loose ball and somehow shuffling between two Scottish forwards before sprinting 50 metres down field and flinging a perfect left to right pass, without breaking stride, for Keith Earls to score.
Fast forward 24 months to Carbery catching a Scarlets' box kick under a Limerick downpour. His balletic swerve put the first would-be-tackler on his back side. Streaking into open country, he drew four moths to his flame before sending Shane Daly clear for a stunning try that should puncture a stubborn Ireland selection policy of late.
Munster's barely-disguised disgust after Carbery returned from Japan with a mangled ankle might prompt Johann van Graan to refuse to release him for international duty. If the departmental disputes can be avoided, Andy Farrell has to bring Carbery back into the fold to save the season against England when Sexton is presumably forced off next Saturday. Or, finally, turn the dream of them attacking in tandem into a neccesary reality.
Rugby legend sues Davy Stockbrokers
This is probably not the platform to dig into the Davy 16 scandal, but one of Irish rugby's most revered servants, Ray McLoughlin, is seeking "substantial damages" from the stockbrokers. The Sunday Times reports that the 81-year -old businessman, who propped up the Ireland scrum in an epic international career spanning 13 years, 40 caps and two tours with the British and Irish Lions, is suing Davy via his retirement fund, and his companies Monset, Duneeda Ireland and Duneeda Investments for alleged breach of contract.
The case comes before the court next month.
Word of mouth
"On field decision is no try, he got held up, just confirm that please." – Andrew Brace, initial call on Maro Itoje's match-winning try against France.
"It's a tight call, just hold on one moment please." – TMO Joy Neville
"Let's just take our time here. On field decision is no try but we just want to confirm." – Brace
"Andy, I have a decision, you may award the try as a little bit of ball does touch the ground." – Neville
“It still stings a little bit. Just disappointment with how it came about. I didn’t think there was a chance I wasn’t going to go [to the World Cup] and then his name came up on the phone . . . No [clarity on it] I haven’t talked to him since.”
– Devin Toner talks to The Left Wing podcast about Joe Schmidt bringing Jean Kleyn to Japan ahead of the veteran Leinster lock.
"We need to be visible, and everybody accepts that." – Philip Browne on the new tender for Six Nations broadcasting rights
"CVC don't have a controlling interest in the Six Nations, they have a minority interest. They are effectively a seventh partner to add to the six we had." – Browne again
“We’re hopeful he can get back playing again soon. Within the next month. It’s like a progressive return to play on the back of a concussion. It depends on the reaction. He’s certainly making moves in the right direction. Physically, he’s in great shape. We’re optimistic.”
– Stuart Lancaster on Caelan Doris's imminent return
"The problem is ancient; in 2000 we should have started building a system to give players [the skills to compete with other nations]. We did not do it and first thought of relying on players born in Argentina, then we turned to players from other countries not selected by their own national teams and now that these solutions have proved inadequate, we find ourselves disarmed, and we are struggling without a system. Perhaps there is no time to fix this. I hope they still give us a few chances to move forward."
– Italian rugby's new (part-time) president Marzio Innocenti.