Ireland Vs France
24 hours have passed since Ireland were beaten by France 21-5. In that time I am sure there has been a lot of soul searching done by the Ireland squad. The time for reflection after this particular defeat can happen in the aftermath of this World Cup. The defeat will sting for a long time because of the manner of the defeat.
France came to play last night in the UCD Bowl and were well worth the win given that they managed to nullify the Irish threat in the scrum, line out and in the backs as well. Looking at how France dismantled the Irish challenge, they went after Ireland in the area’s where Ireland managed to get the better of them back in the Six Nations earlier in the year.
Watching France play such an open brand of off loading rugby was a pleasure and will serve them really well next Tuesday when they play England in the Semi Final in The Kingspan Stadium. Looking at the Irish performance they will know they never really got going in this group narrowly beating both Australia and Japan respectively.
While both victories showed great courage in the face of failure both wins also showed Ireland had a plenty of work to do in attack. The lack of tactical kicking throughout the first two games showed that Ireland were struggling to get to the pitch of each game in the first half of each game in particular.
Larissa Muldoon started alongside Nora Stapleton in the opening against Australia and they failed to get the back line firing although the forwards were in control led by Ciara Griffin and Paula Fitzpatrick , the lack of threat from the backs caused major problems because for all the forward dominance , Ireland were not putting enough points on the board. Ireland managed to secure a late win through a Paula Fitzpatrick try.
The manner of this win should have set the management team thinking that they had issues to solve before game 2 against Japan. You can put up the defence that they suffered opening night nerves and once they managed to secure that win, they should have noted this trouble that Ireland were having in the backline and tried to address those problems before the second game.
Unfortunately this didn’t seem to happen; looking at that Japanese game they used some of the tactics that served the Japanese team well under Eddie Jones in the 2015 World Cup against South Africa. They were very clever in the scrum and line out, they forced South Africa to do things differently than they normally would. It was amazing to watch that Japanese side do the do things very well , they were sharp and well drilled like the Japanese team last Sunday in the Bowl.
To the French game last night, given the evidence of the previous two games, one feels that it was going to take serious effort and a lot of luck to secure that coveted win to get them to a Semi Final. Alas that win never came and they have to plan for a game against Australia next Tuesday afternoon at 2pm.
The IRFU will have a review after this tournament and it will be very interesting to see what comes out of that review and what recommendations will be acted upon once the review is complete. The IRFU will have some tough questions to ask and answer. That particular job will come after this campaign and will take time.
Time now to focus on Australia next Tuesday and see what will happen when they clash. The Irish team have had time to lick the wounds of last night. Let’s hope they can dust themselves off and really tear into Australia and take out all the frustration of last night on them. Over to you Ladies…
Cian Mc Gibney