Ferris comes through the tournament relatively unscathed. Ireland’s World Cup campaign came to it’s inevitable end on Saturday morning with a young Welsh side showing enough composure to knock the Irish bandwagon off it’s rails. It was a fun adventure while it lasted, and the players chosen outperformed in a lot of ways but ultimately this defeat was cast two years ago with Ireland’s failure to experiment since they won the Six Nations Championship.

In truth, the lack of faith in Ireland’s youth and diversity has been disappointing over the last six years with few given a real chance to compete at international level. Sure some, by necessity, have made it through, and interestingly most have become integral parts of the team, but the numbers have been nothing like those tried by Wales, France and Australia over the same period of time.

Whether through commercial pressure, short term goals, a complete lack of faith in the ability of the contenders, or pandering to the new breed of corporate supporter who demand a win at HQ with their Guinness and canapés,  Ireland have always reverted to the tried and tested where possible damaging confidence and desire amongst the possibles. The oft quoted mantra from the short sighted of, “Who else would you play” was made a mockery off by the young Welsh side who comprehensively outplayed Ireland yesterday. If that side had been picked with an Irish mentality Stephen Jones would have been playing out half, Martin Williams would have been there instead of Warburton and Faletau and Charteris would have been back home with the Dragons!

However, all credit to the small number of Irish players that Ireland relied on to get them through this campaign, they certainly gave their all, but at the end of the day the ageing backbone just didn’t have enough in the tank to see them through. Crucially, faced with familiar opposition that they have beaten time and time again in the Magners/PRO12, they deviated from their simple game plan of ferocious defence, banging it up the middle and taking the points on offer and instead tried to stamp their authority on the game taking the option of attacking lineouts instead of kicking penalties.

The match stats show that Ireland enjoyed the bulk of possession, obtained four turnovers to the Welsh one and spent almost two and a half as much time in the Welsh 22 as Wales did in the Irish but Ireland’s play was so forced an laboured that they committed 14 handling errors to Wales’ 4 with these figures almost a complete reversal of the Australian game! Ireland took the ball on too far too often, forcing the pass with the inevitable result, with Warburton in particular slowing the ball down and pressurising the man in possession.

Ireland can take a lot of positives from this championship but perhaps the biggest message from thecampaign is the one delivered so tellingly by the opposition, Australia and France. Give all your resources a chance.

It’s going to be interesting to see if Ireland have the faith in their youth that others have shown.

6 Comments

  1. John ,

    You avoid the obvious teams are made of individual players not strategies and age level rugby exists for a reason which is the strategy ,

    I also very much doubt if you would be riding the hobby horse if Ireland had beaten Wales and everyone is saying how young the Welsh team is but the fact is that Priestland with 9 caps is only four years younger than Trimble and only got his first caps from the bench in six nations.but has been playing with the Scarlets since 2006-07. ( Likewise Warbuton)

    But there is no doubt whatsoever that for many of the Irish squad the World Cup / and the squad selected pre the World Cup it was a swan song situation — Hayes D Wallace Horgan MoD. P Wallace Cullen Springer whose presence therein only proved the old adage of Irish Rugby ” while it is hard to be selected for Ireland its even harded to be dropped”

    And by quoting that I hope you recognise I do approve of change of personel but those who replace them must be worthy of their place in the team.which is defdinitely not met by the criteria ” he’s up and coming” lets try him

    The fallout at school level is due to a number of factors and each has a place in the gigsaw.

    Many of the players at school level take up rugby because sport /exercise is a complusory element of school life it is also has peer prestige in teen years to be seen to excel st sport both these elements are lost immediately on leaving school. Then there is the fact that there is very little encouragement from either school or club to continue playing when leaving school unless a schoolboy shows a lot of promise. similiarly many on leaving school go to university where a social life ( drugs sex rock and roll) and study take precedence over sport.

    You may wish life was different and wish you could change human nature but the fallout after school has existed since the schools strated to play the game its not new . although since the late sixties as more students went to universities over the pond even fewer have continued to play.

    Then there is the effect that changes of the laws of the game have made as well. When I left school in the sixties you could play a fine game of what was then refered to as “Course Rugby ” it didn’t require a great deal of fitness but it could exercise the glass lifting arm Alas those days a long gone the game nowadays requires a much higher level of fitness.

    Not many school leavers have the desire to spend two or three night training.

  2. I thought Ireland were superb in losing the four meaningless games in the run-up to the tournament…

  3. Then John

    Name the players you think could have been tried over the last 6 years not included in the squad.

    You miss the point about Priestland at out half . Both Jones and Hook are easy to defend against from an Irish point of view . They are laterial runners which suits the Leinster/Irish drift defence. Priestland is not an “fancy dan” out half he kicks or passes which enabled the welsh backs to run man to man at the Irish backline and over the gian line.

    Similiarly there was a psychological effect of Hook on the bench – an extremely talented player and British lion — Ireland had nobody of that quality on their bench.

    Re possession having watched the match again after Ireland scored early in the second half — next 20 -25 minutes Ireland never got out of their own half and it was during this period the Welsh scored two trys. basically due to field position and pressure and the Welsh at that time were not under the pressure of being 7 points down trying to score as Ireland had been in the First Half.

    Of three names you mention only Spence could be considered a serious contenter and he was injured and recovering from surgery likewise Tuohy who you failed to mention ( who has been capped )

    Luke Marshall has a total of 5 starts for Ulster Gilroy a total of 19 both only started to play professional rugby last year not 4 years ago.

    To claim they should have been tried at International level before now really is only worthy of a tunnel visioned turnip.

    John it is not that I am against experimentation its not that I consider every game must be won ( but a winning team does put bums on seats — its a professional game and money makes the world go round ) it is the fact that there have been very few players who seriously stand out as having the necessary qualities of an International.

    Gartland actually got lucky that he found three young backrow forwards in the last 12 months.
    Finally
    I don’t think Sexton has been kicked into touch the truth is every outhalf can suffer a loss of confidence — o Gara did at the last World Cup — my take is that Kidney felt of the two o Gara was the player for the game — unfortunately he wasn’t –but thats with the benefit of hindsight.

    • I don’t have the time or inclination to get involved Mote – again you completely miss the point, it really is like banging your head against a wall. You are talking about individual players I am talking about an overall strategy.

      If you want, go back over the last six years and look at the average age of the Irish side compared to their opponents – you will find the Irish side older by a stretch in most cases. They rely on a small core of players with the rest of the squad regarded as make weights. They are generally much later at introducing young players to the setup and have a structured set of roadblocks in front of the up and coming players which ever one just seems to accept. Marshall, Gilroy and Spence are only examples and I’m positive that the youth in Leinster, Munster and Connacht are just as good. However those three have all shown exceptional talent, as have many others, throughout their brief careers. Players like that should be sampling the international arena or by the time they do they will be so far behind their rival peers that they won’t have a chance. Gilroy would have been a much better option to be in New Zealand compared to say Trimble or Wallace for all the peripheral involvement they had. At least Gilroy would have got something out of the experience.

      It is always easy to point the finger at individuals to explain the loss, but sometimes you have to look at the bigger picture and ask why teams like Wales and Australia, who have roughly the same playing numbers as Ireland, can do better than Ireland can with more inexperienced players in their side?

      Also ask why out of those countries and compared to approximately 75% of the main rugby playing nations that Ireland has one of the biggest fall out rates between schools players and adult players?

  4. John the Irish lack of experimentation in truth had little to do with defeat on saturday morning and is likewise a manta of those who over estimate the resources of Irish Rugby and the talent available.

    The defeat had at its core a couple of factors firstly the selection of Priestland at outhalf with Davies and Roberts as centres and Hook on the bench. Very few coaches would bench possibly one of the most talented backs in Welsh Rugby. The selection was a clear indictation that Gartland was opting for pace and power in the mid field rather than guile. Similiarly both Jones and Hook are known quanties when playing outhalf both tend to run cross field away from defenders Priestland on the other hand either kicks or passes and seldom if ever runs with the ball.

    Secondly the two mistakes by Earls within the first five minutes . The first an unenforced
    knock on which had its basis in the fact he was two keyed up for the game .That error depleted his concentration and lead directly to the second which was coming in two yards too many in field and leaving to much space for Williams on the wing. he should have called a player to come in to mark the centre.

    After the first try Ireland were always playing catch up rugby , with the forwards playing a predictable game which the Welsh easily countered by a two player defence on the first receiver — be it Healy Ferris Heaslip or o Brien or any other forward.

    Kidney did rotate his squad in this World Cup to a greater extent than EoS and there are very few names that could be added to the 30 man squad .It should be remembered that a few which do some were injured and most lack experience at both League and ERC level never mind International level.

    Lack of experimentation is really just another easy criticism to make of a coach my own verdict would be unfortunately some of the key players do not have their best days ahead of them and many of the players who may replace them are not yet ready for the task many are still in the 20 -22 age bracket .

    One only has to think about player such as Fitzgerald McFadden and even to some extent Earls all of whom have been capped to realise that there is a great difference between league and International Rugby and recognise many players are just not ready for that difference.

    • You really do miss the point all the time Mote, don’t know if you really are so blinkered or if you’re just being deliberately obtuse!
      With Priestland I’d say Wales had a lot more guile than Ireland at out half. They had less possession and yet scored at will!
      Ireland played the same side for all but one of their WC games.
      Ireland played the same way in all but one of their WC games. It is predictable but it’s all they have got. Given the lack of experimentation and piss poor planning by Ireland over the last 6 years of course there are very few names that could have been added to the squad that’s the whole point of what I was saying.
      The Welsh Captain is aged 22
      I’m not criticising Kidney but rather the IRFU and supporters like yourself who are too scared to lose a few meaningless games. Just look how quickly Johnny Sexton was kicked to touch whereas in reality the team should have been built round him the last 18 months – at least he would have brought a different dimension to the Ireland game. How do you know they are not ready for the task when the have not been tried you only have to look at Wales and Australia. Spence, Gilroy and L Marshall would have had Senior caps by now, along with a fair few others from the other Provinces for no other reason than to be shown that this is the route that you can go down.