Lead Balloon

So that was good, wasn’t it? Ireland’s bright new dawn turned out to be, er, dreadful. Absolutely dreadful. The performance was up there with the worst of the dross we have seen over the past few years, and the four tries to nil margin told the full story. It’s hard to know where to begin with the post-mortem, but we’ll try and finish on a high note.

The forwards and the backs never showed up, a discernable gameplan to actually win the game was undetectable and the error count was astronomical. The pack provided no platform – none – the lineout was ropey, and the scrum got milked for penalties by Australia. Australia! Mike Ross’ woes in the scrum brought to mind something David Baddiel said about Matt le Tissier in the mid-90s “If he can weave so much magic with Francis Benali, imagine what he could do with Paul Gascoigne [for England]”. If Ross could get turned over so badly by James Slipper, imagine what’s going to happen when Tony Woodcock comes to town.

With no platform, the backs were always likely to struggle, but the absence of anything resembling a coherent attacking pattern was a major disappointment. Lateral shunting, aimless kicking (to Israel Folau!) – it had bad and very bad. Luke Marshall provided some attacking zest, but got done by the excellent Quade Cooper for the third Wobbly try (note: better players have been done by Cooper, and we should be persisting with young talent like Bamm-Bamm). Tommy Bowe was as bad as we have seen for Ireland – one-paced, poor lines (going inside when Bob needed him to go out in the first half), uncertain decision-making (his half-hearted low clearing kick to Cooper in the first half was lapped up by the clinical Wallabies to create a 4-on-2 and put in the Honey Badger) and unsure looking.

BOD has rarely been as bad and Johnny Sexton was poor even before going off for injury, looking below 100% fit, cranky even by his usual standards and distracted. Ian Madigan had a tough day at the office in the second half, and when he failed to make 10m from a kickoff it felt like every possible error had been made by Ireland. The gap in basic skill levels right across the field was alarming – sometimes it’s hard to escape the conclusion that our players … aren’t that good.

So where do Ireland go from here? The pack looked too lightweight – getting shunted around by a pack who were the laughing stock of world rugby three months ago is very concerning – imagine if South Africa or England were up next. But they seem simply too nice. Where is Ireland’s Bakkies Botha, Brad Thorn or Lionel Nallet – where is the enforcer? Or the player to simply create chaos, a Lewis Moody, Quinny or Jerry Flannery type.  Ireland missed Fez, clearly, but thinking about more realistic option in the near future, the aggression that Donnacha Ryan might bring something we didn’t show. The second row is light, and can’t carry very well. So when the lineout isn’t functioning, they are essentially redundant. The backrow got blown out of it – Michael Hooper’s domination of the breakdown and the Wallaby targeting of O’Brien – sounds familiar? – left Ireland with nothing to fall back on. Irishi fans burn with hatred for the likes of Botha, Dylan Hartley, Jamie Cudmore, Courtney Lawes, Rodrigo Roncero et al – anyone think any opposition fans despise any of our forwards? Doubt it. We aren’t advocating cheap shots and eye-gouging or anything, but where is our nasty streak?

And as for the scrum, there is a good case for Ross to be jettisoned – he looks tired and is struggling to get with the new scrum calls. At Leinster, Marty Moore has out-performed him, and a change simply has to be considered – Deccie Fitz has done ok against BNZ in the past, and if he is fit, he could come into play. The way we have seen our props perform this season, there is more risk attached to picking Ross than benching him.

Is there any good news? Not much unfortunately – we said before the series that the performances would count for more than results, given the schedule. And after Saturday, performances aren’t in positive territory – far from it. The video review on Monday might last until Wednesday there is that much to pore over. Looking to this weekend, we expect a better performance against BNZ, where another 17 point defeat will constitute something of a moral victory. But we can’t continue to veer from the sublime to the ridiculous – Joe Schmidt needs to start putting his stamp on this team and give it some direction.  Such things were never going to happen overnight, but nor is there any excuse for simply being so flat, and giving up such soft tries.

Allowing for the fact that a beaten-up pack won’t help with putting together attacking direction (ask the Scarlets), better imagination with ball in hand is needed. Barnesy wrote some word in the Jones Gazette yesterday which helped us think about what Ireland need to do:

“How do you get from the muddle of England’s back play to the consummate handling and running like of [BNZ]? You practise, and you .. trust the talent and free it to find ways to create space. It is the application to the attacking game that enables the execution and clinical finishing that seems such a formality to New Zeland. Running the right lines is not the mystery it seems if players have the time to practice what is in front of their eyes.”

Get practising boys – the scale of the task, if it wasn’t apparent before Saturday, is apparent now.

PS. How good was the Honey Badger?  And he stayed around on the pitch for ages after the game talking to his legions of admirers.  Badger got some meat!

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110 Comments

  1. Bob

     /  November 18, 2013

    “If Ross could get turned over so badly by James Slipper, imagine what’s going to happen when Tony Woodcock comes to town.”

    You can only imagine…because Woodcock is out injured. On another forum I frequent, an Australian journalist was given a roasting for making factual errors about Irish players, so fair is fair.

    Otherwise I agree with your article, Folau is without peer at present under the high ball, so kicking to him all day was folly.

  2. I posted this on Saturday evening as my initial reaction on the IT website:

    “That was an unmitigated disaster. Can we not start a match as favourites and then win it? Do we always have to the underdogs to put up a fight? Are the Leinster players more motivated with the blue jersey on than the green one? BOD, Darcy, Ross and Reddan are past it and should be dropped from the squad, with younger players like Marmion and Olding brought in. I hope Joe Schmidt avails of the opportunity to carry out a Night of the Long Knives. It’s deserved after such an abysmal performance.”

    Some moron took it as dig at Leinster and accused me, a dedicated Leinster fan, of parochialism. So here are my subsequent replies (lightly edited):

    “The reason I picked the players I did is cos none of them are playing as well as they used to and at 34, 33, 33 and 32 they’re too old. It’s time for new blood. I can remember Ireland sending out Mike Gibson to play at 37, when he was actually past it. I would have hoped we’re beyond that.”

    “Also the reason I mentioned the question of the pride in the green jersey, is one, because that – as we all remember – was a bone of contention with the Munster lads a couple of years ago, and two, I cannot imagine Leinster playing as badly as this in such an important match. Considering the majority of the team on the pitch were from Leinster, I think the question of the disparity between their performances for their province as opposed to for their country is more than justified – Fergus McFadden excepted.!!!”

    • Len

       /  November 18, 2013

      I’d agree with you but in the point of the Leinster lads not playing badly in a big game for Leinster how about the match last December versus Cleremont in the palindrome? That was an aweful display.

  3. It was a tough, tough game to watch, and even more difficult to discern any positivites from such a weak willed performance.

    There are definitely massive areas to improve, defense particularly – how many times was Bowe’s channel isolated and taken advantage of? We continue to play within the 5 metre lines and try to use the touch-lines as assistants to our defensive line. This isn’t working, teams know our approach and unfortunately with a slowing BOD in 13, we cannot move up and across quick enough to cut out supply.

    Defense needs a pretty big overhaul, and a serious increase in line speed.

    This brings me on to my main point though, I can absolutely forgive errors in skills or tactics but what I absolutely cannot forgive is a poor mindset and lack of intent. This can only rest on the players shoulders – there is no way I can see any of the coaches not giving 100% to try to energise the players and give them a mental edge before the game.

    I attributed this to the players being tired of the same voice towards the end of the Kidney reign, but that cannot now be true.

    Something is wrong with the players psyche, or their ability to gel and play for each other as a team. That is the only conclusion I can make from what I saw at the weekend.

    ROG made the best point I’ve heard in a long time after the match on RTE – why wasn’t there an absolute melee after the POM tip tackle? In days gone by (and I’m not really one for harking back to the amateur days), if someone did that to one of your team-mates everyone would pile in. It might only be handbags and I would never encourage punches being thrown but the intent and body language would be there.

    Throw in the fact we were losing badly when this happened and there’s even more reason to show some pride and unity by storming in. Whatever about playing for the shirt, not playing for your own teammates is unforgivable.

    Can you imagine any other Test playing team not backing up their man like that? I certainly can’t.

  4. All last week there was a degree of complacency about how that game was going to go. We would have them in the forwards, so it was just a case of not kicking loosely to the Aussie backs, and the rest would take care of itself. This gave me the willies, and I’d imagine provided no small amout of motivation for Moore et al.

    At the same time, this was a very good Aussie performance, we were abject for most of the game. If Sexton had stayed on the pitch I’m not saying we would have won, but I don’t think it would have been a 17 point gap. I aggree we should keep Marshall in there for sure.

  5. Leinsterlion

     /  November 18, 2013

    Obviously the foundations of the Kidney regime are still in place, a demolition job is necessary to bring Ireland back to being a top ten team capable of regularly beating average teams(of which Australia are, make no mistake, the quad nations proves this) on our own patch.
    For starters Ross has to go, Toner too. Back row has to be balanced, SOB reverts to six and an openside(any openside) brought in. POM/Heaslip/SOB axis that failed spectacularly for Kidney is still malfunctioning. POM just isnt a good 6 and it throws the back row out of kilter, the Aus game being proof of this.
    Nine is a problem, Redden is aging and Murray is clearly not up to it, service noticeably declined one he came on.
    Marshall should be retained at 12, Drico is finished, done, not at the races, either swap him and Marshall and see what happens with some physicality and pace at 13 or drop him out of the 22. His career is over.
    Wings, Bowe muck, dropped for anyone with pace. McFadden had a stormer, but no tries, Nick Cummins is the Aussie version of him, but with top end pace and a step. McFadden should be retained as a utitlity but his serious lack of top end pace results in no tries against good wingers and his industry and endeavour doesnt make up for that. Its like playing a flanker on the wing, and we have POM for that. Pace badly needed on both wings.
    Kearney poor game, replace for someone with pace or bottle to run it back.

    RE: the performance, SOB was utterly limited in terms of his attack, no offloads, running straight at people, no subtlety whatsoever, perfect if he was playing at six, but he was carrying at 8/7 so his bosh/hit the deck style resulted in no players running off his shoulder and gaps in the Aussie line. POM did nothing of not, similar to Heaslip, but POM carried more ball, to no great effect though. Front and second rows were anonymous, POC was below average, Toner again showing he is too light for his height, not an international rugby player.
    We kicked way too much ball in the backs, it was a sad sight to see Dricos few actions with ball in hand attempting to chip through. We had zero penetration of athleticism outside of Marshall or kamikazee McFadden. A center partnership of both would be utterly unsubtle but far superior to the shell of Drico that was on show.
    I said if it was an open game on a dry night that is Aus could use their athleticism they would carve us up and so it proved. Complete overhaul necessary, getting hammered by Un-Zee is no different than losing by 17, you still lose. Time to jettison anyone who isnt going to potentially start during the WC, there should be no room for sentiment at this level.

    • What would be your proposed starting fifteen then? Some of your points are absolutely valid but I struggle to see who has the necessary physical and technical attributes you mention that isn’t currently in the 23?

      • Leinsterlion

         /  November 18, 2013

        Healy, whoever throws the best, Mooradze, Tuohy, POC, SOB, Copeland, Jennings, Marmion, Madigan, Fitzgerald, Marshall, McFadden, Kearnage jr, Morris.
        (Earls, Zebo, Hendo, gilroy(still not fit I believe) are all not included due to injury.)

        Not a great team imo, but certainly has more punch in the backs, back row more balanced, more mobile second row, and more mobile front row, a team to throw the ball around, not kick it to the opposition. I’d drop Sexton even if he was fit.

        • Jimbob

           /  November 18, 2013

          Copeland, Marmion, Morris all not in Ireland squad. Neither is Moore I think.

          • Leinsterlion

             /  November 18, 2013

            And? Its not like the guys training together looked remotely comfortable playing together. Rugby is a simple game, have Madigan run flat and hard, and have fast powerful backs running off him, have him hit one or a big lump of a 6 and 8 as a safety valve on his inside. Rinse cycle repeat. You dont need complex backs moves. run fast and receive flat passes, pass on the gainline. Parachute Morris in, tell him to run everything back and people to drop back in support.
            Stephen Donald won a WC overweight coming off the beach, its time to call in guys “in-form”, whats the point in persisting with out of form players? Is this to be a repeat of the Kidney era?

          • Leinsterlion

             /  November 18, 2013

            *when I say is this to be repeat of the Kidney era I only mean in the picking patently out of form players, some of the stuff we did on Sat was good, we are playing better stuff then the last two years of Kidneys shitshow.

          • Jimbob

             /  November 18, 2013

            Not saying they wouldn’t deserve a shot or make an impact. It’s just incredibly unlikely any will be called up without injuries to specific players. Morris would have the best chance considering Kearney is a doubt.
            For what it matters I’d love to see Moore in green sooner(this week) rather than later(6N), Copeland is a better squad option than Cawlin and I’m a big fan of Morris although I can’t comment on his form this season. I’m unsure on Marmion at this stage although Redden was crap and Murray wasn’t much better last week.

          • Bueller

             /  November 18, 2013

            None of the stuff we did on Saturday was good. Sexton threw a nice pass before Bowe butchered a try an u12s side would have finished. That was it – no other play looked even remotely threatening (McFadden and Marshall running hard but going nowhere aside).
            Kidney beat Aus 2 years ago – yes his tenure was a ‘shitshow’ but I think Saturday could be another case in point for the players playing a large part in us being rubbish-they’re either not good enough at international level or we as a nation don’t have the temperament to live up to potential.

          • Bushmills

             /  November 18, 2013

            I have been impressed by Copeland from watching the league, but he never gets a mention in the media. Tend to agree is a bit late in this series to parachute in unkowns. Which brings us to Roger Wilson. I am not saying he is the future but if we have an attitude problem and are playing NZ on Sunday, and he has been part of the camp, why can’t he get a shot? One things for sure, he would not have stood by and watched POM get knobbled.

          • Leinsterlion

             /  November 18, 2013

            @Bueller Look at our meteres gained, passes etc, we did a lot of stuff with ball in hand, we just didnt have the ability or athleticism to get the home run and we kicked away good ball. We didnt capitalise on SOB/McFads/Marhalls boshability. It was better than the 60-nil or the entirety of Kidneys last 6 nations, still garbage though.
            I’d put it down to players being selected on reputation and instructions to kick and the morons in the crowd and IRFU who still think kicking away posession makes a good outhalf or is a viable strategy. As Toland said in todays piece.
            “Up here in Six Nations land, a relieving kick to touch from your outhalf is applauded by the crowd; not so in Sydney.”, From Tolands article today. I’d drop Sexton(if fit) and let Madigan do what he wants, play to his strength run at Nonu is a weak point defensively(when he doesnt cut you in twain, or shoulder your head) for Un-Zee and has missed the most tackles out of any Nz’r during their tour so far and during the Quad Nations, he is the weak point..

        • Great call. Am in 100% agreement!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • Barry

           /  November 18, 2013

          Nice to see someone else has spotted Robin Copeland this season – personally I like the selection buts its All Blacks next so established players all the way

          • Barry

             /  November 18, 2013

            What about Henshaw?

          • Leinsterlion

             /  November 18, 2013

            Why established players? We have never beaten them with high cap teams chocked full of experience and we have been hammered with high and low cap totals throughout history. Why not use a guaranteed loss to blood youth and play with some attacking intent as opposed to keeping the score down.

            As for Henshaw, I’d try the direct route against Ben Smith and Nonu with Marshall and McFadden running hard before bringing on Henshaw if that doesnt work. The direct route should always be your first option, if you can run through guys, do it.

          • curates_egg

             /  November 18, 2013

            Henshaw has looked out of water in his first few run-outs for Ireland. He may have a bright future ahead of him but I shudder at the thought of him facing the All Blacks.

          • Billy

             /  November 18, 2013

            Jesus, I know things are bad but Robin Copeland – seriously?? Serious athlete, good at AIL level in second row but absolutely nowhere near international standard. He’d struggle to make US/Canadian standard squads. Don’t let the Toulon game fool you.

            Quite scared about where we’ll be with regard to our back row in the next three or four years. While the current trio will most likely still be about, beyond that there seems to be very little. I’m not convinced the current supporting cast (Coughlan, Wilson, Jennings, McLaughlin, Diack) are international class and in any case they are aging (the first three anyway). We have turned out some great back rows in the last few years at JWC level but they don’t seem to be coming through particularly quickly. Ruddock, Ryan, O’Callaghan, Butler, Marshall have all looked very promising at various stages over the last three/four years but none of them have really kicked on. Henderson seems an obvious exception but I’m convinced his future lies in the row.

          • Len

             /  November 18, 2013

            Jordie Murphy and Dom Ryan (assuming he can shut his gob) both look like good prospects and are getting game time. Expect them in the wolfhounds for the 6n.

          • Barry

             /  November 18, 2013

            Jake Heenan? Formerly NZ U-20 captain – now playing for Connacht

          • Billy

             /  November 18, 2013

            Jordi Murphy does look like he has a bright future but I think he needs to pick a position (hopefully 7) as he seems too small to be an 8 or a 6.

            If Ryan can’t make the bench in a first choice Leinster team I’d hate to see him play for the Wolfhounds and I feel like it would devalue the concept somewhat.

            Haven’t seen Heenan play but he certainly sounds like a handy player by all accounts!

          • Paddy

             /  November 18, 2013

            When is Heenan IQ.

          • toro toro

             /  November 18, 2013

            Heenan’s a quality player, but despite the surname he needs to qualify the long way around; since he only arrived over the summer, that makes it 2 1/2 years at least.

    • So funny you mention having McFadden is like playing a flanker on the wing; during the game here in Oz, the ball was kicked to McFadden and the commentators said it was a poor kick but it was OK because it was only a backrower who had gathered it!

  6. Rava

     /  November 18, 2013

    When Tom Court had a new hole torn in him by the English in Twickenham he was (unfairly) castigated by Southern journos, bloggers and internet “fans”. Ross was similarly taken apart on Saturday and so far has come through relatively unscathed in the written press.
    The unfortunate thing about it is we don’t have anyone better so we will be stuck with him for this season at least. Archer’s body position in the scrums had me asking who, if anyone, is coaching scrummaging technique at club or international level!!
    It’s small comfort that Woodcock is injured for this weekend game although I suspect his replacement will be more than capable.

    • Ross had a shocker, and has been having a shocker all season. Ask any Leinster season ticket holder and they’ll say the same. I think even if you asked him, he’d concede he’s struggling with the new scrum laws and as a result seems to be expending huge amounts of energy trying to get it right in the scrum, but to no avail.
      .
      I’d actually put Moore straight in and give him the first 40 minutes.
      He’s proven already that he’s the best scrummaging tighthead we have under the new sequence so put him in, let him try his best against the best, and see where he needs to improve for the rest of the season.

      • Len

         /  November 18, 2013

        As a Leinster season ticket holder I totally agree with you. The change in the scrum laws has destroyed Ross and he just doesn’t offer you enough around the park. Marty Moore has been a revelation this year and is now 1st choice for me at Leinster (followed by Bent who is showing some form now he’s back for injury). Stick in Moore and Copeland and drop Toner for Touey.

  7. Bit of an elephant in the room here is the performance of POC. WOC calls out for an enforcer type above, a role that’s normally O’Connell, yet he was comprehensively outplayed on Sat, worryingly so.

    None of our so called ‘leaders’ played well. Was Rory Best on the pitch for example?!
    Heaslip, Bowe, Kearney, POM, BOD all failed to fire at all, and our over-reliance on SOB to make metres was found out yet again.

    • All true Shane. The performances of POC and BOD in particular was worrying. Is it just us, or has POC been struggling for form since his return from injury? BOD looked way, way off the pace. It was all just so… flat.

      • O’Connell was fantastic on the Lions tour, I’ve no worries about him generally. Shite at the weekend, obviously, but so was pretty much everyone.

      • Rava

         /  November 18, 2013

        One of the biggest annoyance factors for me was the start of the second half without Sexton, POC was standing at outhalf taking balls that Madigan should have been taking. (was he trying to protect Mads?)
        POC’s ability to carry ball is non existent now so each time he was stopped behind the gainline meaning the cover was always coming backwards.

        • Jimbob

           /  November 18, 2013

          No POC does this quite a bit. It has never been effective as 99% of the time he goes to ground without a gain. The only time I remember it working was against France in 2009 when he actually offloaded and Heaslip scored.

      • Let’s not forget that both tightheads had POC behind them too. When McCarthy came on I couldn’t believe he pushed behind the loosehead.

        Worse yet if POC can’t hold up the tighthead side and is moved across, our next most talented locks (Ryan and Toner) get pushed out in favour or McCarthy or Touhy.

        (I’m expecting someone to mention Henderson for the 6 nations, but talented as he may be he’s not yet a first-pick lock at his province, and thus has been playing out of the position the national team needs him for. See also: Madigan, Moore, Copeland – dropped earlier this season for workrate reasons BY CARDIFF – and whichever of Kearnashian Jnr. or Henshaw gets the 15 jersey next weekend, all of whom are either not established starters at club/province or are playing out-of-position).

        Whiff – while I understand and commend the intention, I found the attempt at an uplifting ending was rather like the game on Saturday, flat and unconvincing. The teams that push NZ hardest, England and South Africa, don’t do it by aping them.

        • Rava

           /  November 18, 2013

          In fairness to Henderson he has been getting more time at lock this season compared to previously. I would expect this to continue post injury as Muller will have to be carefully managed to get him through this season.

        • Fair comments, though I guess it’s something to think about as a longer term ambition rather than beating New Zealand next weekend, which is obviously not going to happen.

          Superbly written by Barnesy all the same.

          • Scrumdog

             /  November 19, 2013

            Hopefully NZ will have a day like we had last Saturday..and Ireland step up with a lot of fight in them like they did at Christchurch. It is a very distinct possibility that they will! Through our rugby history we have always lifted our game when the odds are against us…its the way Munster beat them and its in us to do it! Good old fashioned in your face ‘boot ‘n ‘bollicks’ will kill off the ‘world’s most dominant team’…as they call themselves.

            I like David Wallace’s suggestion of switching Heaslip to openside (groundhog) and O’Brien to #8 (carrier). Surprise the Kiwis!
            O’Mahony’s carrying is good but his tackle count is suspect once again (what was it?)..not working like a blindside flanker..he needs to be out there making many decisive tackles (Messam, Wood, Ferris, Fardy etc) as well as the ball carries. Try locating POM on the field, its difficult, and then, there he is, coming in from the 15m line or further out from the action, late or not at all….what is he doing out there… am I missing something? The only time you see him get up from the ground is usually from a ball carry, not a tackle. Maybe its by design, in the new defense, that’s not working! Maybe I need to watch the game again…..and just watch POM…God knows!

            Where was the ball protection at ruck time? That was another cause of Ireland’s attack woes..eg. Moore stepping around and pilfering the ball and several other instances of Reddan being harassed at the base. Communication seemed to be absent.

            Some minor adjustments:
            1.The heftiest lock should be on pushing on the tight-head….McCarthy or Touhy!
            2. Keep the ball away from POC (he can settle for winning it).
            3. Fitzpatrick should be in the 23 and not Archer. Cronin to start at 2.
            4. Don’t engage in aerial ping-pong. If you’re going to kick it..chase it!
            5. Ball protection.
            6. Aggressive defense/communication.
            7. Irish rugby pride on Sunday boys!

  8. Agree with a lot whats been said above. Scrum V (BBC) on Sunday reckon our drift defence is redundant these days. Combine this with a lack of pace(line-speed, kick-chase, taking the man on the outside etc) and we are gonna struggle for a while to come if most of the same players that played on Sat keep playing.

  9. Mike

     /  November 18, 2013

    Its all a tactic to lure New Zealand into a false sense of security….

  10. kenny

     /  November 18, 2013

    POC is not a tight head lock and never has been. Why was he pushing behind the our tight head for the entire game?

    • Yep. This one came back to bite hard. Did we underestimate the Aussie scrum, perhaps? It looked like Australia was the sort of opposition where you could ‘get away’ with two lanky locks, but it looks like the Aussie scrum was disrespected.

  11. kenny

     /  November 18, 2013

    Tonner/McCarthy should have been on the right side of the scrum. Even ehen McCarthy came on he went to the left side and the seemingly unfit and exhausted O’ Connel was persisted with behind an already in trouble tight head.

    When John Plumtree started he made curious comment about knowing nothing about scummaging and yet he is the coach in chanrge of it. I really hope that he is just lashing lads out and guessing what is going to happen.

    • kenny

       /  November 18, 2013

      i meant i really hope he isn’t just lashing lads out onto the pitch and guessing what will happen.

      • jaybee

         /  November 18, 2013

        Plumtree was apparently recruited because he was the man who could solve our lineout woes, which as we could see on Saturday evening, are behind us now . . .

    • Is that true Kenny? Bizarre if so. I was at the game and this detail escaped my attention.

      • kenny

         /  November 18, 2013

        http://www.thescore.ie/plumtree-scrum-ireland-1018776-Aug2013/

        “I’m not a front row forward. Some of the little detail you have to know as a front row forward, I wouldn’t have a clue – they’ve got their own world up there those blokes – but we’ll get some help in when we need it.”

        We need help now

        • L.P.O.

           /  November 18, 2013

          Sure, but him declaring he was never a front row (and knows little of the shady goings on therein) is a bit different from him declaring he hasn’t a clue what goes on in a scrum at all, in fairness.
          I mean, how could he not understand the difference between the positions of tight and loose locks as a former lock himself? He’d likely be able to rattle off a few theses on the topic. Makes no sense whatsoever.

          • toro toro

             /  November 18, 2013

            I remember an (admittedly drunken) conversation with Jim Glennon – an international second-row before he was a politician – at the time of the Brad Thorn signing, and he didn’t understand the distinction either. So it’s not impossible.

            Different thing entirely for an international forwards coach, mind you.

    • L.P.O.

       /  November 18, 2013

      One of the biggest bonuses in being able to select McCarthy is getting him to pack down on the tight side. If Paulie played there for the full whack… well… that’s incredible. And how could Plumtree (a) know nothing about scrummaging and (b) allow this particular issue to escape his, as a former lock????????

      I call shenanigans.

      • L.P.O.

         /  November 18, 2013

        *escape him… need an edit button… feeling crankier.

  12. Archer or Moore should be brought in instead of Ross. Niall Morris should be given a chance in place of Kearney. Heaslip, whose true ambition would seem to be as media clown, should be replaced by Robin Copeland. James Hart, who’s going great guns for Grenoble, should be brought in to compete with Murray for the number 9 slot. As regards the NZ game, I would throw caution to the wind and give the new guys a chance. That means Jackson at 10 with Marshall beside him and BOD and Darcy not even on the bench.

    Say what you like about Gatland, but what he has and what is needed to succeed in Test rugby is ruthlessness. That’s why his decision to chuck BOD for the Lions 3rd test was right. He imposed his will on his squad, thereby displaying by example the ruthlessness, which the Lions until then had been lacking and which they subsequently displayed in the final test. I don’t want to see Ireland going out for a “brave struggle” on Sunday, but to try to bloody well win. Say what you like about our bosh-merchant neighbours, but at least they gave the All Blacks a run for their money. Nothing but a win against NZ – a long shot I know – can for me make up for the disgraceful performances in Hamilton, Rome and last Saturday!!!!!

    • curates_egg

       /  November 18, 2013

      The scrum problem seems to be deeper than just Mike Ross, and seemed to be more linked to our lack of a scrummaging second row. Archer did not fare any better when he came on. McCarthy may have a beer-belly and be unfit but he needs to come in for the ABs. O’Connell – as captain – is undroppable, so we have to hope he can quickly rediscover the former he showed for Munster and the Lions at the end of last season. Leaves with a very immobile second-row and a reliance on on our backrow for the lineout…but that’s where we are.

  13. Much of the commentary on the IT article is beyond disgraceful. One gets the impression that some of the bitter end of the Munster spectrum have been sharpening their knifes for ten years for O’Driscoll. To question his commitment at this stage… embarrassing. Indicative of the fact that the Irish rugby public at large still knows f*ck all about the game.

    Rewatched the game. Penalty straight in front of the posts about 40 out, to go to seven points down at 61 minutes is kicked to the corner is ridiculous call from O’Connell. To have fought our way back into this game at HT against extremely cynical (and lethal) Australians with apparently no defensive organisation or set piece was actually quite good. To rank this as “up there with the worst of the dross we have seen over the past few years” is way, way way over the top.

    Getting ploughed 60-0 by NZ will trump everything, but the Scotland game last year? Losing to THAT Scotland team, 8 points up with twenty to play? I’ve never seen the Italy match, but it sounded equally meek, and they aren’t any great shakes either. In this game, we were, believe it or not, in the mixer with 20 to go if we had kicked that penalty. With no platform to speak of in the scrum or line-out or in backline defending.

    It’s really disappointing to concede the game changing tries in the manner that we did, but there’s no need for such gross over-reaction.

    • labrecha1

       /  November 18, 2013

      Yes there has been some hysterical talk particularily on the IT about Drico and his commitment, still doesn’t distract from the fact that he hasn’t had a really good game in a long time.

    • Bowe Gathers

       /  November 18, 2013

      I agree in part, if you watched Scotland play on the weekend it puts our problems into perspective. At least Marshall made a line break, Scotland literally had nothing to offer against a deeply aggressive Saffie d. Still we were dross, really pish.

    • Barry

       /  November 18, 2013

      I was at Italian game – surreal is the word that come sto mind – I kept straing at players to assure myself I recognised them and that I was, indeed, watching Ireland – it felt like an Irish Universities XV or something

    • contraflow

       /  November 18, 2013

      Stop reading the Irish Times and other papers. You will feel much better in general. I can’t wait for “the paper of record” to go out of business. I daily give thanks to the gods for providing us with the internet so I can bypass the agenda as laid out by a few ediitors in central Dublin. I don’t know why they are held in such high esteem.

    • Agree most strongly. This performance is somehow being taken as definitive, two games into a coach’s tenure? I’ve very little good to say about Saturday, and plenty of bad, but JS has come in with the national team in a shambles and this is his first series, what do people expect?

      Australia were in a similar shitheap after the Lions tour, they were abysmal early in the Rugby Championship, but now McKenzie’s had them for ten games or so and they’re looking good. Meyer’s Boks were for quite some time a bit nonsensical, now they’re world class. Lancaster’s England started off a hard-working shambles but are now vastly improved, and on and on.

      Broadly speaking, I think there are an awful lot of knees jerking terribly after the weekend.

      Robin Copeland? He’s done OK for Cardiff, but – lest we forget – he’s looked a fair bit less good than Heaslip, who started two Lions tests in the summer. James Hart? James Hart? he fella had that good game in the Top 14, and he got his photo taken with Rog after the game… one good game and he should play for Ireland?

      Like I said, I’ve nothing good to say about Saturday’s match – and I was there, and people were booing the kickers, and the dicks in front of me were talking nonsense all game, between misunderstanding the rules and praising players from their own province and slagging off those from others (I’ll not say which province, it doesn’t matter in the slightest). Altogether my most miserable experience at a rugby match ever. And I’m back next week. So, let no-one accuse me of being easy on the players and new coaching ticket, but equally well when did so many people become so reactionary? We’re starting all over again after a long and depressing period of rot. We will get better; whether we end up any good or not remains to be seen, but anyone expecting that we wouldn’t be at risk of being awful initially was perhaps being wishful.

      • Leinsterlion

         /  November 18, 2013

        Copeland can carry ball, Heaslip covering for POM’s ineffective carries hasnt shown much ability. You need a 6 and an 8 that can carry(at minimum) when neither of your locks can. If SOB switches to 6 you are relying on turning it on against the best team in the world . Im a massive Heaslip fan but him sacfiricing his game for the team should see him dropped, you play 8, play like an 8 not a quasi openside.

      • montigol

         /  November 18, 2013

        Good to hear a bit of sense Larry. The crowd at Ireland games really hasn’t had a clue about the game for years. It’s actually rare when you do find somebody who knows what they’re talking about at them. Throw in the toxic Leinster-Munster bitterness and the expectations by years of success from the O’Sullivan era teams and you’ve an even worse atmosphere. I was hoping Schmidt would be given a fresh start but it’s not abundantly obvious that he won’t be – unfortunately.

        • I think calls for Robin Copeland are hysterical, and thanks for the perspective Larry.

          There’s a reason No.’s 8 and 10 get more man of the match awards than anyone else, it’s because they’re so visible on the pitch. But in reality there’s more to a backrow’s work than a few flashy carries, and while Copeland is a decent carrier, he has plenty of weaknesses elsewhere in his game, notably his workrate and defence. His Cardiff team are where exactly in the Pro12? Heaslip played rubbish on saturday – absolutely dreadful – but the idea that he has been superceded by Robin Copeland as a result is just pure fantasy.

          • Leinsterlion

             /  November 18, 2013

            I dont know anyone saying Copeland has superceded Heaslip, he is by far the best 8 in British and Irish Lions side of the 6nations imo. But due to the lopsided nature of the backrow selection he has been relegated to a minor role and his performances as an 8 (in isolation of the team, granted) have suffered.
            Sure we could drop POM, play SOB at 6 and play an openside and see if he can get back on form, but why not pick an in form 8 who can carry well and see what he has to offer in what is an utterly meaningless game at the end of the day.
            Heaslip is Irelands 8 for the WC barring a major catastrophe, Copelands form has been good, why not rest an out for form player and build depth. I’m a massive Heaslip fan and the thought of giving the red clad myopic hordes ammunition makes me shudder, but surely form and building a squad superceds keeping the score down?

    • Yossarian

       /  November 18, 2013

      Could not fathom the kick to the corner, not because it was a wrong call but minutes before hand at 13 points down we took 3, there is very little difference between 13-10 points down, you need two tries to win.Start chasing the tries then not a couple of minutes later when you still need two tries to win!

  14. Montigol, the main accusation of making anti-Leinster diatribes on the IT website was directed – incorrectly – at me. I am a Leinster fan for nigh-on 40 years and I still think BOD, Darcy, Ross and Reddan are no longer up to Test rugby standards. A petulance has crept into BOD’s game e.g. the yellow-carding offence in Rome, his carrying on Saturday when requiring attention to a blood injury, which make him superfluous to requirement!!! There has never been and perhaps will never be a greater Irish player. But let’s call a spade a spade: he’s past it!!!!

  15. TJ Hooker

     /  November 18, 2013

    Any mention for our defence coach, Les Kiss? We have been leaking tries for some time now, was it really Schmidt’s preference to keep him on? I mean, Kiss seems like a nice character with a kooky sense of style, but surely a change was considered…

  16. Rocky

     /  November 18, 2013

    After what can only be described as a shameful performance. it is once again very annoying to see a single player (Marshall) being scapegoated by the southern press. IMO, our out half was at least as much at fault – it was his man who scored, after all and he simply made no attempt to make a tackle – but has escaped all criticism.
    The only changes for Sunday should be to bring D’Arcy and Murray back.
    After that there has to be a clear-out and several players should not pull on a green shirt again. They are Ross, McCarthy, Reddan, D’Arcy and O’Driscoll. Archer and Toner may be worth keeping in the squad but have a lot to do to demonstrate that they are capable of being effective at international level. POC was poor but should maybe be given a last 6N.
    We should be looking at a first 6N match with something like Healy, Best, Moore, POC, Tuohy, SOB, Henry, POM, Murray, Sexton, Marshall, Cave (the best 13 in Ireland currently), Zebo, Bowe, Kearney along with McGrath, Cronin, Fitzpatrick, Henderson, O’Donnell, Marmion, Olding, Henshaw.
    If we don’t, we are facing another early exit from RWC 2015 as well as finishing bottom (or fifth) in the 6N because Italy would have beaten the rabble that played on Saturday.

    • I think that’s being unfair to the “southern press”. All they were reporting was the coach’s own statements as regards Marshall.

      I also think that most of us southern softies could see plenty of blame attaching to BOD and Bowe’s positioning, and Reddan and Kearney’s attempts at tackles, for try numero un, while the second featured an appalling missed tackle by POM, with nods to McFadden’s kick and Henshaw’s falling over his feet as he attempted a cover tackle.

      Plenty of fault across all four provinces there, with a surfeit for Leinster as they had more players on the pitch. Don’t go down the route of (a minority of) other provinces fans who stick it to the other provinces and think the solution is to pick a load of lads they watch every week (before you point it out, yes, as a Connacht fan I have the luxury of knowing this isn’t true in my/our case). Some of the Ulster lads you’re big-upping there aren’t even holding down a provincial spot. Cave is the most established and he looks to be losing the 13 shirt to Payne, which Henderson and Olding have mostly been covering multiple positions/on the bench, right?

      • curates_egg

         /  November 18, 2013

        The reality is that the hole at 13 is looking even bigger to fill now than it was before. Henshaw is (as of yet) nowhere near ready to play as a test 13 and Cave can’t even hold down a place in Ulster. Munster do not have an IQ player as their starting 13 and Leinster have abjectly failed to develop a replacement (even though there must have been doubts over O’Malley’s future before he actually retired). Putting all our eggs in the Payne basket is a risky strategy but we don’t seem to have anything else to hope for.

    • I’m pretty sure 12. Toomua ran a dumbie switch which would make 10, in this case Cooper, Marshall’s man and Toomua Madigan’s – not singling him out just clarifying that it was Marshall’s mistake which he has freely admitted.

  17. curates_egg

     /  November 18, 2013

    Set pieces and defense looked to have taken major steps backwards. Dominated at the breakdown and zero platform for an attack. Shocking individual performances from almost all Irish players (bar Marshall and McFadden), and – just as worryingly – those on the jokeshop bench performed no better and, in many cases, worse.

    Nobody should have ever expected an immediate impact from Schmidt in this autumn series. The system he wants to play will always take time to adapt to. [When Kidney came in, he had a very basic gameplan that was very easy for the Munster pack and Leinster backs to coopt – the problem is that it very soon became outdated by law changes and was never adapted.] That – coupled with the need to build a squad – meant Schmidt was never going to be able to suddenly turn the national side around.

    I always felt – and still do – that Schmidt needed to be given leeway until the end of the 6 Nations to try and deliver the foundations we urgently need for RWC2015: a gameplan and a squad. The problem is that when you have expectation, which is answered by an all-round abject performance (with key systems failing), it is tough to engender goodwill among those groups of Irish rugby followers and partial journalists, who feel some sense of odd personal grievance and are programmed to mistrust Joe Schmidt.

    Next week will do nothing to change this – in terms of result. The only thing Schmidt can hope for is a total turnaround in performance. Anything other than that will further undermine the morale of the national side. Irish rugby fans (as opposed to followers) can only hope the players bear with this initial tough birth and look to the 6 Nations for salvation.

    The fact that some key players are already moaning to the media is a massive cause of concern though: scuttling the ship before it has even left the harbour. We’re not talking betrayal of Roy Keane/Eamon Dunphy proportions but it’s enough to make you lose all hope that we will ever be able to produce a coherent national side. Disruptive players like that should be dropped from the squad, regardless of how good they and their fans think they are. Hopefully, we are not destined to be the anti-Wales: national success scuppered by the relative success and rivalry of sub-national sides.

    • Who’s moaning? Give us a list so we know who’s getting cut for next week. 😉

      • curates_egg

         /  November 18, 2013

        Well, rumour has it the erudite Conor George got his premature “jokeshop” selection news directly from one of the disgruntled players who didn’t make the XV (but felt he should always be selected). The player in question is certain to start this week – in spite of doing nothing in his time on the pitch on Saturday to clarify why he is as good as he believes. I notice George got the weekend off though…wonder if his employers are finally sick of him.

    • “The fact that some key players are already moaning to the media is a massive cause of concern though”

      Missed this, who? What did they say?

  18. People pining for Copeland need to cop on. A complete journeyman and one decent game against a Toulon side in full French away match doesn’t justify him leapfrogging a 3 time Heineken Cup Winner, Grandslammer, and #8 who’s played 5 of the last 6 Lions tests. There’s probably a logical reason why Clermont are looking for Heaslip as opposed to Copeland….Heaslip always gets the brunt of abuse in comment sections but I feel the real problem is the balance of the backrow. A Henry/Jennings at 7 with SOB dishing out pain at 6 would free Heaslip up to perform his excellent linkman and open field running play. We’ve seen some great performances from Heaslip in blue and red this year when he’s played with prototypical 6s (McLaughlin 7 Lydiate) and 7s (Jennings & Warburton).

    Anyway, I feel people are missing the point. Dropping X and promoting Y won’t solve this teams problems, which based on Saturdays performance run a lot deeper than we think…

    • @Completebore

       /  November 18, 2013

      Dropping some established players for Sunday will not, of course, solve the many, many problems this team has, but it will send a message that performances of that manner will not be acceptable, both in manner of play and lack of leadership displayed under the new regime.

    • montigol

       /  November 18, 2013

      More sense here from @kfatts on Heaslip. He possibly makes himself an easy target with his off-field carry on and his performances this season patchier than everyone would like, but the scapegoating he receives is ridiculous.

  19. @ curate’s egg. Hadn’t caught that with the mouthing off. To whom are your referring?

  20. Len

     /  November 18, 2013

    Is it just me or does there seem to be (and has been for some time) a shocking lack of on pitch communication between the players. This struck me before but seems almost heightened over the last two games. I’m not sure is it just that they’re not talking to each other or that everyone’s too focused on their own game but there have been a lot of mistakes which come down to poor communication.

  21. Billy

     /  November 18, 2013

    Quite scared about where we’ll be with regard to our back row in the next three or four years. While the current trio will most likely still be about, beyond that there seems to be very little. I’m not convinced the current supporting cast (Coughlan, Wilson, Jennings, McLaughlin, Diack) are international class and in any case they are aging (the first three anyway). We have turned out some great back rows in the last few years at JWC level but they don’t seem to be coming through particularly quickly. Ruddock, Ryan, O’Callaghan, Butler, Marshall have all looked very promising at various stages over the last three/four years but none of them have really kicked on. Henderson seems an obvious exception but I’m convinced his future lies in the row.

  22. Billy

     /  November 18, 2013

    The reason this one hurts so much more is that we were entitled to expect so much more.

    Italy this year – we had an unprecedented injury crisis and Kidney was basically already gone
    Scotland this year – we comprehensively outplayed them but somehow contrived to lose and so it was frustrating in its own unique way
    NZ 60-0 was abysmal but at least we could console ourselves with the patchwork team and the fact we ran them close the previous week.

    Saturday was more painful because I (and I get the impression we) had hope because of Schmidt and the Samoan performance. Any hope was dashed in the most demoralising way. I have rarely seen such an insipid home performance. Australia even felt comfortable enough to have their half time break on the pitch. I don’t know about everyone else but this struck me as casual. “It’s a nice evening for it, let’s have class outside”. I can accept that with a new coach that systems might not run optimally (line outs, defensive systems, etc.) but I would hope that the players would be fired up enough to at least try and impress the new coach (aside from the motivation of representing your country at home and playing top class oppo) but they looked so flat. I couldn’t help but think that maybe Schmidt’s rotational selection method backfired somewhat, i.e. players maybe not confident in the selection or players maybe just happy to be selected. I don’t know but I have never seen those players look so flat, especially not at home. By the end of the game I was hoping that someone might throw a few slaps in frustration if nothing else. But no, we just lay there and took it. Even in the bad old days we could be expected to provide a bit of fire to make up for our technical inadequacies.

    I’ve actually depressed myself writing this.

    • montigol

       /  November 18, 2013

      For fuck’s sake.

    • The Mad Octopus

       /  November 18, 2013

      @Billy. I’ve seen Australia stay out on the pitch at half time during The Rugby Championship this year. One of the Sky commentators said it was a policy Ewan McKenzie had introduced as basically a team building exercise… something about bringing the team back to earth after a fairly turbulent time of the pitch over the last few seasons. In fairness apart from honorable mentions for a couple of the Welsh and Kiwi lads over the years no-one comes close to the Aussies for frequency of ridiculous (and frankly, sometimes hilarious!) antics whilst actually in camp! I see a few of them couldn’t resist the lure of the black stuff a couple nights before playing us and have earned a spell on the naughty step!

      I only bring it up as it struck me as interesting the first time I heard why they were staying on the pitch for half time but it had nothing to do with the Irish performance (however good/bad/depressing), its just what they do

  23. L.P.O.

     /  November 18, 2013

    Alright, I’m feeling a bit of a cranky pivot myself today, so please allow me to take my frustration out on you lads.

    This article was disappointing for a couple of reasons. I’ve been trying to work out what the hell happened to our bright new dawn since Saturday evening. Fact is, I haven’t got a clue- it makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. So I was looking forward to reading what you lads had to say on the matter. Perhaps I’d missed something? But it seems you don’t have a scooby either, which is fair enough, because who does? No idea why it went awry, but at least a glimmer of hope how we might right it? And you come up with ‘Stick Ryan on there, at least he’ll shoot a murderous glace at the opposition that the cameras might pick up, so we don’t look like such a bunch of creampuffs while we lose by ludicrous margins…. we can at least look hard in embarrassing defeat’.

    And please… the worst sporting cliche’ around today, and the most diffused, is ‘hard day at the office’. Oh… tee hee… he compared the players turning up at the pitch to somebody going to work… in some kind of bureaucratic post… and that’s hilarious, because an office… ha… isn’t very much like a rugby pitch at all really! I mean… imagine… Monday morning, your boss asks where those number sheets are, and instead of giving him your report, you dump-tackle him into the photocopier. I know! Crazy, right?

    So if you could do me the one favour of avoiding that particular cliche, because there are plenty of Thornleys and Cumminskeys who will make sure it isn’t neglected, so you don’t need to feel bad.

    Back to the game- I’m racking my brains. You mention the error count, which was astronomical. But the people making the specific kinds of errors you just don’t see are what I don’t get. Bob Kearnage couldn’t catch a high ball to save his life. We’ve won whole tests based entirely on the fact that he never misses one. Seanie spilling the ball in the tackle. Bowe giving his opposite number a spare 5 yards for no apparent reason for what should have been another. O’Driscoll kicking the ball into an opponent. But O’Connell for me was the most depressing… an indifferent Paulie (!) captaining his country… just does not make sense. His tactical decision making was poor, and if you ask me, that’s nothing new. His execution was woeful, though, again making mistakes you just don’t see him make. And he did nothing to rally the lads and inspire something… anything. He’s not a great choice of captain, in my opinion. His poor calls in the past have cost us dearly. But at least he brought the ‘fear of God’ bollox factor. Nothing.

    So, a young lad could let the occasion get to him. Even a seasoned pro can have an uncharacteristic off day. But all of our most solid players failing to do the stuff they can do in their sleep together on the same day? Defies explanation.

    Which is handy, because you lads didn’t even try and give one! And I’m flummoxed and all, in fairness. Venting over. Thanks for listening. Will go and find someone else to be all J10 at. Have a good one.

    • One suggestion: Nothing went wrong.

      Well, nothing new and/or of importance anyway. When’s the last time Ireland played well, the first half against Wales in the first game of the 6 nations? When’s the last time we made a really decent team want to go home and hide under the duvet? Australia in the World Cup?

      All anyone interested in the Ireland rugby team – including the management and players, I’ll venture – has this morning is hope that Saturday was a bottoming out after several years of continuous decline.

      • curates_egg

         /  November 18, 2013

        To be fair, losing to a resurging Australia is less of a bottom than losing to Italy and Scotland in a 6 Nations…in my book anyway. Losing 60 zip to the All Blacks was a bit of a posterior too – lets see if we can get the seat of our pants back at the weekend.

    • LPO, we can see where you’re coming from.

      As you say, it’s hard to put your finger on where it went wrong. It reminded us of Kidney’s first proper game in charge, at home to BNZ. I remember the atmosphere before the game was electric that day, the Kiwis had had a crap season and there was a real feeling that we could do something that day. New coach, strong selection, perfect kick-off time… and the whole thing just fell as flat as a pancake. Same on saturday. No wonder you’re so bleedin’ cranky.

      • curates_egg

         /  November 18, 2013

        …and 6 months later we had a Grand Slam. Rome wasn’t build in a day…but plenty of cities were destroyed in a day.

        • We did, it’s true. But only after a serious bout of soul-searching by the players. I wonder if we’ve hit that sort of low again. The players look careworn when playing in their national colours and have done for at least two years.

          • That was precisely my point about the disparity of the Leinster players’ performances in the blue and green. That is also why I think the elder Leinster players should be relieved of their duties and for example a predominantly Ulster backline played. I mean, Ulster are the form team in the country at the moment, are they not??? And was form not supposed to be the number one criterion in selection???

          • curates_egg

             /  November 18, 2013

            They certainly looked unhappy for the 2 years after the world cup but I think you are reading too much into it to suggest what we saw on Saturday is merely the same malaise.

            A couple of insights I have taken out of postmatch comments seem to indicate that the players were trying to process too much (of the new Schmidt gameplan) and therefore reverted to type (the tried, tested…and failed of times past). If that is the case, then maybe Joe needs to listen to his own words and crawl before he walks.

  24. The_Beefheart

     /  November 18, 2013

    Long time lurker…. first time poster, I felt compelled to post in order to echo the sentiment of some of the other posters about the hysteria this result seems to have cause in peoples views of the Irish team.

    Yes, we got pumped. Yes, most of our big name players didn’t step up. Yes, there was worrying amount of basic errors. Yes, there was a worrying air of complacency and/or lack of desire/aggression on show.

    However, before chucking out half the team in favour of a serious of “untried at international level” left of field suggestions to face the All Blacks lets keep things in perspective.

    – We were playing an Australian team with a very talented backline which is some 10 or so games into a rebuilding process under a new manager. This is not the same Australia which was derided during the lions tour (but came within a Kurtely Beale slip of a 2-1 series win) but one growing in confidence.

    -Ireland by contrast have been poor for a long time now, even the victory over Samoa was at times painful to watch. Many of our big name players have big reputations that do not match their recent performances in Green, reputations that I’d be surprised are shared outside of Ireland.

    I think we need to re-evaluate our expectations of the Irish team in light of their actual performances at test level in the last 2 years, not perceived abilities off the back off success at provincial level. Then we need to give the coach some time to get the team in order and instill some structure on the game.

    Then, when we start getting first performances, and then results, and only then should we start to fathom the notion that we can go up against top teams like Australia and EXPECT to win!

  25. Yossarian

     /  November 18, 2013

    Defense was awful, sitting in the South Upper you could see the massive overlap on Bowe 2 phases out and he was ruck watching from across the pitch,never looked up till it was too late. shocking awareness and it was a collective failing.
    Lineout 5m from our own line,they put 10 men in and we send a pod up to compete!?!bizarre decision.Let them get a drive on, simple try.
    Team selection, we are not blessed with multiple international caliber players in many positions,when they are off-form we have little choice but persist with them. Therefore we will have “untouchables” who just will get selected. Throw in a few injuries and the Irish team has very little scope for change. Kearney,BOD,Heaslip, even POC deserve to be dropped but for who?some of the names being thrown around don’t start for their province. A first Cap against the best side in the world is not going to end well for them!Change the lesser players (POM can be replaced,Toner-even though he was far from our worst performer can be replaced) after that injuries curtail replacing most of the rest.
    All we can hope for is a change in approach, there won’t be resounding changes being made before next week.

  26. Keith

     /  November 18, 2013

    Anyone think Paulie and BOD are a bit undercooked? How can BOD expect to be sharp having only played against Cardiff and Samoa so far this season

    • curates_egg

       /  November 18, 2013

      One thing I find funny is how people oohed and aahed BOD’s first 2 performances this year and now – all of a sudden – he is the pariah among online commenters and some in the mainstream media. Yes, he is at the end of his career and no longer the same player – but why the the finest Irish rugby player of my lifetime is now deemed persona non grata based on one performance (when he wasn’t really that bad) is difficult to grasp.

      One thing is certain: we have nobody else who could play 13 against the All Blacks now (maybe a couple who might be ready/qualified by RWC2015), so we better hope BOD is more sharp next weekend.

  27. George Hook's lovechild (a coherent Connor George)

     /  November 18, 2013

    Quick question here, I assume you mean Madigan missed his tackle on Cooper rather than Marshall as, you know, it was actually his fault.

    • Leinsterlion

       /  November 19, 2013

      First centre cut inside, therefore Cooper was Marshalls man, basic defence 101.

    • toro toro

       /  November 19, 2013

      Perhaps you should explain that to Marshall, GHL(ACCG). Since he seems to be under the impression that it was his man.

      I’m sure you know best. But you might want to reassure him about it.

  28. I think part of the issue with BOD and to an extent POC is that they are clearly undercooked and lacking match sharpness, I have read plenty of comments regarding Murray and international rugby being no place to learn how to play the game surely the same must apply to getting match fitness and regaining form, the stakes are higher, the players better and much more able to exploit any lack of sharpness or match fitness.

    Also while you may be right about having no-one who could play against the All Blacks when do we find these players if not during the autumn internationals, is BODs place to be guaranteed through the 6 nations irrespective of form, is an international sports team supposed to carry a player who may not be up to it any more (note may not not isn’t) on a valedictory tour around Europe because he is the best player we have produced and was once capable of breath taking moments of skill

    International sport is a hard place and like O’Gara the sad fact may well be that BOD has went on a little too long

    • curates_egg

       /  November 19, 2013

      Right, let’s put it another way: who do you start at 13 against the All Blacks? If the answer is not BOD, then I’ll have some of what you are smoking.

      To paraphrase a reply I posted above: we have a major problem in filling the 13 hole and there are no players with any of the provinces who are currently international standard and qualified. It seems the whole plan is to wait until Payne comes through. It’s a high-risk strategy but there is no alternative at Ulster (Cave not even first choice), Munster (Laulala is first choice), Connacht (Henshaw may be good in the future but at present he is lacking many elements needed at the international level…and has too little experience at 13) or Leinster (who put all their eggs in the O’Malley basket and have failed to bring through someone else).

      • I would play Cave, simply becasue Earls is not fit, I would do this because they were both in better form than BOD prior to the autumn internationals and as you yourself point out he had what 2 games before the Samoa game (Earls mainly on the wing to be fair) and also because the selection of BOD has slightly the feel of kicking a can down the road in regards to succession planning.

        I might also suggest that we play the 2 centres who have performed best over the 2 matches and play D’Arcy at 12 and Marshall at 13, we would at least have a 13 with the pace and power to make an outside break.

        I do however accept that any selection is a compromise as BOD is not as good as he once was and our other options are either unproven at international level or perform better in different positions.

      • Oh for a fit and firing Luke Fitz… 😦

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