Oh Joe, you cunning tactician you. Making us miss your presence less come the end of the World Cup with a subpar performance that flew in the face of all expectations. Ok, there’s a chance I’m still in denial. Who wouldn’t be though right? That was one of the worst Irish performances of the Schmidt era, capitalised on brilliantly by one of the best I’ve seen from England in a long long time. So what happened and what happens next?
I’ve deleted the first two drafts of this guys, bear with me. Last Friday’s loss in Cardiff was not only deeply upsetting in relation to Ireland’s title hopes – it was easily the most infuriating performance from the green army since Schmidt took charge of the team. Yes, I even include the Argentina loss in the World Cup and the 2013 loss to the All Blacks in there. This was awful.
Every game in the Six Nations is a must-win. Lose one, the Slam is gone, the Triple Crown too potentially, and with no round robin structure or pool stages the competition is already much further out of your control than it already was. That being said, we have recent precedent for a team losing their opener and still winning the tournament – Wales in 2013. Back then there were no bonus points and the Welsh had been well and truly battered by Ireland in the opening game. You’d swear that opening game never happened as they nonchalantly proceeded to run home with the trophy come the final game against England. There’s hope, that’s all I’m saying!
I mean, it’s said every year, but this truly is shaping up to be one of the most competitive Six Nations ever seen. Four of the six teams have had plenty of reason to be optimistic in the last 6 months or so, whilst Wales and Italy have had a steady time at least, if not spectacular. Most importantly, all six of them have big, pressure intensive wins under their belts recently and are perfectly fired up. Oh, and did I mention the addition of bonus points to the competition this year? Bring it on! Continue reading Six Nations – Wherefore Art Thou, Johnny?
There was a world of difference between the display against Scotland that Ireland put in versus how alert and gelled they seemed against Wales, nobody will dispute that. Yet much like their win against France in this year’s Six Nations it was down and dirty but got the job done. We’re also nearly into double figures for tries scored, quite the opposite of all the Six Nations bemoaning. All in all, things still look well oiled and promising.
Comprehensive? Yes. Particularly educational? Maybe not, either way though; Ireland are off to a great start ahead of the long six weeks leading to World Cup 2015. For Wales, the fallout is severe but there is plenty of time left to fix what is broken. Continue reading World Cup 2015 – The Long Road Begins
This weekend was all about qualification security for the provinces, with Leinster ensuring they will see top tier rugby next season and Connacht doing everything in their power to try do the same. For Ulster and Munster however it was all about trying to sway the balance of power in these last two weeks of regular season and in one of the only entertaining games of the weekend both sides did all and more to best each other and the result was as close to enthralling as the Pro 12 has come this season. Continue reading Pro 12 – Nothing In It Between Munster And Ulster