So here we go. I have only just lifted my head above the pillows with tears crusted to the bed and my heart broken. The weekend that promised so much, delivered so little.
Unlike every other pundit or internet know it all, I am not at all negative on how everything went. Obviously I am very sad that I don’t have to sit at the bar with a good dose of vitamin G in both hands while screaming at a big screen TV wearing the green jersey, but not as negative as most reading this.
I thought I would just go through the matches and give my take on them.
The first 2 matches went to plan and went to seeding. We handled Canada and Romania exactly the way we should have. It got all available players on the pitch which was the design. Then it gets to the business end of the fixtures. Italy was always going to be a strange one, because we were aiming at France. Trying not to take Italy for granted but kinda taking them for granted. We really shouldn’t have won that game based on the performance, but the sign of a good team is winning ugly. And we won about as ugly as I was at the age of 14.
Now we get to France. This was the game we were aiming at all along and the performance showed it. I don’t know if it was not wanting the play the All Blacks or just not liking France, but we demolished them. The game plan worked the players caught most of the passes and it ended up being a lot easier than planned. Everyone stepped up and it was amazing to see.
The injuries mounted up, Sexto, Paulie, O’Mahony and O’Brien (more on that in a sec) all were taken out of the squad.
Then we lost the run of ourselves. Beating France meant we were going to breeze through to the finals. Never mind Argentina and Australia. We had everyone’s number. Very few mentioned the toll taken in the France game. Very few mentioned that the game plan almost worked to 100%. Luck etc. went our way the week before, what would happen when it doesn’t?
As for the O’Brien ban, we were lucky it was one week. But if an 18 stone French man puts his hand on your arse, what are you going to do? I would suggest it would be the exact same reply as Seanie gave. But ours would be followed by running away as fast as possible.
The Argies played their best game in years against us. And it is a mark of respect that they felt they had to do it. They were more aggressive everywhere in every minute. Even with a full squad we would have struggled. This is just a fact, we cannot hang on to excuses.
But, if Madigan gets that kick and it is 23-23 with 15 minutes to go, I think we win it. I think the crowd and the adrenaline gets us through. And if we won that game NOONE would be giving out about northern v southern hemisphere divide or any negativity about the coach or team. None of you would be doing that. That is because we were SUPPOSED to beat Argentina. Most people thought we should beat the pumas and then the wallabies to face the all blacks in the final. Everyone got carried away with that nonsense. Even pundits who really should know better.
The fact is, France beat us up. The physical toll taken by the players in that game was just too much. Energy levels where about as high as mine at 7:30am on a Monday morning. As well as that, the aggression was gone. Players talk about not getting aggressive, trusting systems and executing game plans. But we have to remember that rugby is a game of assaulting another human being to score points. Obviously within the rules. So how can you win a game of rugby without a certain amount of aggression? You can’t!
Some of the issues where down to skill according to the experts, but are you going to tell me that the southern hemisphere players are more skilful than Luke Fitzgerald, Ian Madigan, Jamie Heaslip, Ian Henderson etc.? There is no way that is the case. ‘Experts’ said that we spend too much time in the gym, are these people unaware of what it takes to compete at the top level? We have to be as big as possible to compete and to combat injuries.
I don’t mean to rant too much as we are all still recovering, but let’s not fall for the nonsense. Don’t toe the party line. If Ireland beat the pumas then the conversation goes to how fantastic northern hemisphere rugby is and how Ireland are a shining light of how rugby should be played.
We had a bad game due to a few factors, the big one being the hammering from the week before (not the injuries etc.). Argentina played a game we just couldn’t match. That happens at every level of the game.
As usual, debate me @nkeegan and feel free to share/like and forward this to every pundit / member of the IRFU.
Until next time…