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 gave up. I won’t bullshit anyone, I flat out gave up. Why wouldn’t I though – we simply don’t come back from moments like that. How many times have Ireland mounted a last minute comeback that simply falls short? How many times have they given up the lead moments from the end? This was New Zealand 2013, the difference being that, for once, we were New Zealand.
I was a little negative last week, I accept that. I don’t think it was unjustified but I am certainly happy to be proven wrong. For the second time in 6 years Ireland have spoiled the English Grand Slam party and by doing so on Paddy’s weekend have left a certain sheen on their 2017 Six Nations campaign. A sheen can be dangerous though, and Ireland’s shortcomings this season cannot be forgotten.
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.
In any other year we would probably meter expectation after a demolishing of Italy, especially with such an embarrassing showing from the Azzurri as we got on Saturday. In a Six Nations where Ireland need to make amends for a poor start and tries/points are more relevant than ever though, this was promising stuff.
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!
Finally into the business end of the league now that all Pro 12 teams are out of European contention, the table is looking awfully crowded. Funny that it is given that form would suggest the top 4 teams are as good as qualified but with three weeks remaining it could fall either way. There’s a lot of notions and permutations to rattle through so we’ll do our best to get our heads around them now. Continue reading Pro 12 – Tough At The Top
Ryle Nugent’s words have never been more appropriate as we go into one of the most exciting final weekends of the Six Nations in some time. Last year two teams remained in contention at this juncture, this year it’s three and if some abbhorently strange sequence of events were to unfold, four. It’s what it’s all about, it’s what we came for, let’s dive right in.
Continue reading Six Nations 2015 – Don’t Forget To Breathe
After four rounds and some pulsating rugby coupled with the dour we now have a three way tie for the championship going into the final weekend. On top of that, if a mass sequence of miracles occur we could even see France sneak into contention, though Wales aren’t likely to fall to Italy. Break out the calculators guys, we’re going number crunching.
Hats off and all that jazz, Wales were superb. The most fair outcome of Saturday’s fixture was that the scoreline for Wales’ yellow card was 6 – 3 Ireland. Not that the yellow wasn’t deserved but it would have been an injustice to nab a lead against a Welsh side who were deserving winners from the first second in such unceremonious circumstances. There is also the issue that Ireland were extremely below par which all led to this absolutely enthralling spectacle in Cardiff. Continue reading Six Nations 2015 – Ireland Brought To A Halt In Cardiff