Billy Twelvetries

An extraordinary day, which showed the sport of rugby in the greatest possible light. After so much dour rugby, and so much talk about how dour the rugby was, and how the odds were stacked against it ever not being dour again, the Six Nations exploded from torpid sludge into kaleidoscopic colour right at the last. It was truly, utterly wonderful, 240 minutes of magic, and if individual test matches could be argued to have been better, it is hard to believe there was ever a rugby day which was so utterly fantastic, heartstoppingly exciting and with so much at stake. Whichever nation you were supporting, and all played their part, it would have been hard not to have been awed by the sheer excitement, but we Irish get to enjoy the deepest satisfaction.

For those lamenting how the laws of the game make it impossible to play rugby, it was a somewhat eye-opening experience. All it took was a few 20+ handicaps and everything we thought we knew about the State of Rugby Today went out the window. Quick ball, space on the field, line-breaks, running at speed, tries, brilliant handling: it was all on show. It makes you wonder if the better teams should play this way more often. After all, it’s always better to beat your opponent by 30 points than by 5. In all sports, it is up to the more talented participants to make their superior skill level count for as much as possible. The same should be true of rugby. Why give a sucker an even break, by allowing yourself to be dragged down to a game of bish and bosh by less talented opponents?  But too often that fails to come to pass.  Against Italy, Ireland were happy to play Italy at their own game, just with greater accuracy.

One interesting question to ponder is whether Ireland had been playing for a Grand Slam and merely needed to beat Scotland, would they have played this way, and won by so many? Knowing Ireland and what they do for their supporters’ heart rates, probably not. That said, Joe Schmidt talked about the gameplan being to build on the second half against Wales, where Ireland played a more ball-in-hand game and were effective too, outside the Welsh five-metre line at least.  This being Joe Schmidt, it’s reasonable to assume he had a plan all along to build Ireland’s running game over the course of the tournament, but that’s a narrative that might be too easy to weld on after the event.

Coming into the tournament, Ireland had several to-dos: bed down the new centre partnership, address other weaknesses in the squad (primarily that the tighthead prop has played every game bar one in this RWC cycle), continue to deliver results, and have the squad and team ready for the RWC. How did we do?

On the first, it’s an A – Robbie Henshaw and Jared Payne started all five games together and looked increasingly assured as time went on. Defence was expected to be the biggest concern, for both the new partnership, and for Payne, who has looked leaky at outside centre for Ulster, but in actual fact it was creativity that became the biggest issue. However, as Ireland expanded their gameplan, the centres became increasingly influential – in the second half against Wales, Payne’s footwork and attacking lines caused some problems, and he deservedly scored his first try against the Scots. Henshaw was a contender for Ireland’s player of the tournament – it’s hard to believe he has played more games at inside centre in the last month than he has in the rest of his career.

We spent the tournament calling for Marty Moore to get a start ahead of Mike Ross. Ross himself had a solid championship, but it didn’t really change anything or tell us something we didn’t know – if Moore can scrummage at international level, he becomes the better pick in our opinion. The possibility remains that Ross will not start another frontline game this season, and when we get to the RWC warmups, we will be back in the familiar mantra of “we need to get Ross gametime to get him up to speed”. All of which is true, but still doesn’t change the fact that we are relying on a player who is past his best, and may have fallen off a cliff by August. Again, we feel like a long-playing record, but that doesn’t change the fact that Moore hasn’t started an international yet.

The squad itself was expanded with the likes of Iain Henderson now pushing for a starting slot, and our deep resources at backrow characterized by the impact of Tommy O’Donnell, our 5th choice who has still to nail down a slot in the RWC squad. The backup outhalf issue is still live – Madigan was pretty average off the bench, and himself, Keatley and Wee PJ will all have genuine hopes of going to RWC15, but it’s likely that 25+ of the 31 man squad are already in Joe Schmidt’s mind. We’re in a good place.

The results were obviously excellent, and the championship was won – you can’t ask for much more than that. Even in the game we lost, we did lots of good things, and, to be completely honest, it did no harm for Wales to expose our kick-chase gameplan a little. The reaction was positive, and it set us up well for Murrayfield – it we had lost that game 12-9 in a kick-fest where our tactics were somehow effective, we may not have had the hour of ball-in-hand that set us up for the tilt at the championship. It also might have meant we wouldn’t have needed to listen for a week for sore-losery whining about Barnesy with highly-selective videos doing the rounds – the world would be a better place if the Irish accepted defeat in a more magnanimous fashion.

Wales helped in Rome too, for there can be no question that having to win by over 20 points amounted to a throwing off of the shackles. Ireland simply had no choice but to throw caution to the wind. And in doing so they were sensational. Murray and Sexton controlled the game, the backrow rampaged, O’Connell was his usual self and the introduction of Healy and Fitzgerald seemed to galvanise the team. Healy’s selection was questioned in a lot of quarters, but it’s the sort of call that Schmidt has a habit of getting right.

And in both the post-match interview and the celebrations, Schmidt once again managed to hit every right note, even going so far as to say he ‘wished [he] could say [he] had anything to do with [winning the Championship]’. It was all terribly Declan Kidney, who also had the ability to be exceptionally humble in winning circumstances.

It seems highly improbable that this day will act as a tipping-point in the grander scheme of things. Will the coaches involved suddenly decide to throw the ball around like confetti from now on? Hardly. The World Cup takes place later this year, and chances are it will be like the last two: starting well enough, before the rugby gets tighter and tighter, and sludgier and sludgier as we get closer to the final. Saturday served as a reminder of how great the game can be, and why we all fell in love with it in the first place, but chances are it will go down in history as a weird anomaly, a day when the stars aligned to produce something extraordinary. It was a day that’s hard to apply cold hard analysis to.  Why look for patterns and themes that will never be repeated?  Its like may never be seen again; all the more reason to allow yourself to bathe in its spine-tingling magnificence all the longer.

Advertisements
Previous Post

67 Comments

  1. Stephen Jones and Walesonline both pick Henshaw and O’Mahony in there teams of the tournament… Scarey

    • To be fair Jones did pick four Italians in his squad and omitted POC. I’m not so sure how POM is making his way into so many teams of the tournament, I thought he only really performed against Scotland and maybe England, can’t remember him being too visible/effective other times but could be wrong.

      • O’Mahony slows down just about every opposition ruck he gets involved in. His lineout and maul work are also top class.

        Oh, and he can catch a high ball.

        • SgtUnruly

           /  March 23, 2015

          O’Mahony made a catch in the 2nd half of that game which was absolutely sensational!

      • Peter Daly

         /  March 23, 2015

        Do we need to continue with the questioning of POM? It’s beyond tiresome at this stage.

        • I’m not questioning him overall, I just thought there were better 6’s in the tournament and don’t remember POM being hugely effective at times but, again, that could just be my memory failing me.

          • Peter Daly

             /  March 23, 2015

            Fair enough. I’d agree as regards him not being good enough to make the team of the championship. I just think that after every win, loss or draw there’s always a couple of comments about him not being up to scratch.

        • Jojo

           /  March 23, 2015

          Yes definitely he did nothing in welsh match

  2. I’m *still* exhausted and hoarse from the shenanigans of Saturday, and I wasn’t even drinking! Incredible, surreal day that I’ll always treasure.

    Interestingly, I think England are probably the team best set up in the hemisphere to challenge for the World Cup, but that’s based on some pretty big (but not bold) assumptions:

    1) That Joe Launchberry, Ben Morgan and (most importantly) Manu Tuilagi return to full fitness
    2) Owen Farrell doesn’t get parachuted into the 10 jersey come the pool stages
    3) Wales continue to treat Australia as their bogey-team

    As for us, we’re a close second, but it all depends on the France that played in Rome showing up over the France that played in Twickenham. While I don’t think Ireland would invite a baa-baas slugfest in any circumstances, France when they play like that can be pretty irresistable. If we can top the pool, it’s likely we’ll see England in the knockouts which will be tough.

    All in all though, it’s been a great Six Nations for Ireland fans. One request I have of Joe for the warm-up games is to give some of the more front-line players a rest for at least one of the matches (I’d almost give Sexton the warm-ups off entirely to build up confidence in whoever the back-ups are).

    Is it now officially time to start predicting WC squads?

    • Leinsterlion

       /  March 23, 2015

      Tuilagi return to fitness? But they have Sam Bur…

    • A lot of people coming out with the line that England are the best team in Europe, but it mustn’t be forgotten how easily Ireland contained them and put them under pressure with a fairly predictable gameplan. It could also be argued that had they shown cooler heads in the France game (or indeed the Scotland game) that they would be champions. They played some great stuff, but they do not quite have the ruthless strak that Ireland do. For now at least.

      • That’s correct. But no backline in the Six Nations displayed such an ability as England’s in slicing through opposition defences, creating try scoring opportunities and getting over the whitewash.

      • SportingBench

         /  March 23, 2015

        Or if England had managed to contain the mighty Italian backs a little better they’d have also won the title

      • Hairy Naomh Mhuire

         /  March 23, 2015

        England are a callow team. Plenty of talent but callow. After a hairy 15 minutes before half time Ireland re-grouped and focussed on a more controlled, possession based game. England do not currently have the capacity to do so and will not develop it in time for RWC.

      • Yeah, for sure, but we contained them while they were missing several Awesome Powers. Also, similarly to how Ireland will probably look back and accept the Wales defeat, England will do the same for their single losses over each of the last four years.

        • Das Waderwurst

           /  March 23, 2015

          On a day packed with highlights, two in particular from Twickers stand out.

          1) Debaty’s try. Has a prop ever busted more of a gut to run a support line?

          2) Robshaw trying to have a word with Nigel Owens late in the game before the Welshman cut him short with a very stern “Christopher”. I nearly fell off my chair.

          • I feared for Debaty’s life when I saw him after that – he was hauled off immediately and presumably attached to a range of drips

          • Jimble

             /  March 24, 2015

            “Christopher” was my highlight of the tournament. The look on Robshaw’s face was priceless.

    • Stephen

       /  March 23, 2015

      England need to learn to defend.

  3. Whatever about the rules of the game, what about the rules of the competition? If flowing rugby is still possible, why not encourage it by awarding bonus points and instructing referees to ref the game according to Nigel Owens’ template?

    Starting Healy paid off in spades. Still harsh on McGrath though.

    • Why fix it if it isn’t broken? Almost any reasonable rule change I can think of – sharing the championship if level on competition points, or try and losing bonus points – would have reduced Saturday’s try count from 27 to closer to 7.

      • @CompleteBore

         /  March 23, 2015

        The point of bonus points in the 6 Nations would not be to replicate the lunacy of that last round of matches but to spread it out a little more across the five rounds. As much as we all loved the last day, the rugby that preceeded was generally rubbish, because there was no incentive to win by more than a point.

        I’m torn on the introduction of bonus points especially without home and away rounds, but so long as the Grand Slam retains primacy (which could be easily done), but I’m leaning towards it being trialled for a couple of years to see if it helps.

      • SportingBench

         /  March 23, 2015

        Bonus points basically mean the try count would stop at 4. Don’t see that having a big effect on the style of play in general

        • curates_egg

           /  March 23, 2015

          I’d settle for teams aiming for 4 points a game!

        • curates_egg

           /  March 23, 2015

          4 tries

        • More importantly how fair is it to introduce try bonus points when 3 teams have 2 home games and 3 have 3? You’d be further distorting an already unbalanced fixture list. Unless you want to invite Georgia aboard? That would be genuinely more progressive that tinkering with the rules.

          BTW, any idea how many past 6/5 nations titles would go to alternate winners under a BP structure?

          • curates_egg

             /  March 23, 2015

            Actually, the home-away thing is an issue.
            The rest of your points are not, you can’t apply it retroactively, as the whole point is that there is no incentive at present for teams to score tries.

          • curates_egg

             /  March 23, 2015

            Right. I’ll try again:
            4 Nations. Home and away fixtures. Bonus points. Relegation/promotion.
            A tier 2 of Scotland, Italy, Georgia and Romania would be more competitive than the opening two fixtures on Saturday.

            Seriously though. There is no incentive to run the ball right and score tries now. Creative thinking is needed.

          • SportingBench

             /  March 23, 2015

            That’s a great idea Egg!

      • curates_egg

         /  March 23, 2015

        Think your analysis is ignoring the fact that bonus points would have applied to all rounds and not just the final round.
        I wouldn’t have losing points by the way, just try scoring bonus points.

    • Peter Daly

       /  March 23, 2015

      It’s a reasonable idea to propose but what happens when a team wins the Grand Slam but not the Championship. Say Ireland win all 5 games with no bonus points then that would put them on 20 points and Grand Slam winners. But another side could win 4 games with 4 bonus points, and pick up a bonus point in their 1 loss. That would leave them with 21 points and 6 Nations Champions. Or they could get 4 bonus point wins and have a better point difference than the Grand Slam winners. Both are highly unlikely to happen but the reason why I don’t think bonus points will ever happen in the 6 Nations.

      • Yossarian

         /  March 23, 2015

        offer a “grand slam bonus” of 2 points.avoids that scenario.

        for me the lack of home/away fixture basis of objecting to bonus points.

        a lot of short memories who don’t recall the 90’s if looking for italy/scotland to be removed.

        some competitions don’t count points difference obtained from bottom placed team. avoids Brown and youngs sour grapes.

        • Peter Daly

           /  March 23, 2015

          Sorry total miscalculation on my part. My whole hypothesis was based on the assumption that it’s 4 points for a win. I’d forgotten that in the Six Nations it’s only 2. That makes the bonus point idea even harder to apply. A Grand Slam team could finish on 10 points and a 4 win team on 13 or a 3 win team could finish on 11. Or if there’s no Grand Slam a 2 win team could conceivably finish with 9 points and a 4 win team could finish with 8 . They would need to change the whole points scoring system and would still run into the problem I mentioned earlier.

          For me the Six Nations is always going to be an imperfect beast. It’s part of what makes it so interesting. There’s the whole Home/Away fixture schedule that means ever odd numbered year our hopes are a little higher than in even number years. The seemingly bygone dread of the bi-annual trip to France for a hammering contrasted with our surprisingly great record in Wales. I can’t speak for other nations beyond England’s fear of crossing Hadrian’s Wall to face the wild Scots (also seemingly a bygone tradition) but I’m sure they all have similar hopes and fears in odd/even numbered years. The only way to make the Six Nations “fair” would be home and away fixtures against each team but there is zero chance of that happening so let’s not try make something great “better”.

          As for getting rid of Scotland or Italy hat’d be a non starter for me. Let’s not contemplate going down the ICC’s route of widening the gap between the top tier teams and the rest. If anything I’d consider a playoff between the Wooden Spoon winner and the winner of the European Nations Cup winner to give the likes of Georgia something to aim for. It’d also give Italy and Scotland a reason to fear falling too far off the pace.

  4. Leinsterlion

     /  March 23, 2015

    Thats how rugby is supposed to be played, in a season of dire-dire rugby, needing to chase points finally makes coaches take the handbrake off. Its a pity the tournament is over as soon as it sparks into life, and its back to watching MOC dismantling Leinster and trying his damnedest to poison Ian Madigan whilst no one is looking(and maybe strangle the odd puppy when he has the time).

    Schmidts selections were vindicated, Healy got his arse in gear, Fitz was menacing, and we did what was needed, job done. Still, the manner of our play and victory does beg the question of why Schmidt was content to send us out to play as little rugby as possible for the majority of his tenure, and does he intend on wrapping us back up in the Murray/Sexton kicking straightjacket?

    I dont see why coaches would reapply the handbrake for the WC, for my money Graham Henry’s 05-07 blueprint is still the best in terms of marrying pragmatic plan B with an attacking plan A. If not for losing three outhalves and having Wayne Barnes reffing them, they would have won the WC, they played with an exciting plan A and reverted to “up the jumper” plan B that in normal circumstances would have won them the game, but they ended up getting Wayne Barnsed. Coaches seem content to play plan B of keeping it tight and only when its on the line throw the kitchen sink at the opposition, it makes for dire viewing. John Mitchells 03 team were built in the same attack mode but did not have the pack to win outright, once you have a solid tight five I dont see any reason for attack not to be your default plan, no matter the opposition.

    Tip of the hat to POM, who had a cracking game after an utterly woeful championship, his performance added more weight to the fact he is not a 6 in any way, that was an opensides performance on saturday. He is not hard enough or made of granite, or whatever other nonsense Stephen Jones wants to ascribe to him, to play blindside, and never will, the idea he is a blindside is dead. He played as an openside on Sat and performed well(albeit against Scotland), he may yet be a poor mans Tom Croft and make a career of hanging out with the backs whilst packing down as a 6.

  5. John Storey

     /  March 23, 2015

    Surely one of the main contributory factors to a great weekend was the lack of Barnes or Clancy 2 refs who never appear to have a feel for the games and seek to impose at all times:-)

  6. ORiordan

     /  March 23, 2015

    The final day of the 2016 six nations has the same fixtures and the same order as 2015 except obviously home and away are reversed.

    2017 will be a bit different with Scotland v Italy, France v Wales then Ireland v England.

    The BBC are clearly picking winners when it comes to the TV audience.

  7. Two points: One, with the magnificent tryline tackle on Hogg Heaslip has IMO finally proven his detractors wrong. He mightn’d be the greatest captain of all time, but when it comes to putting in the 100%+ effort in his position at number 8, he is the biz. Ireland & Leinster are lucky to have.him. Two, it seems France are citing Courtney Lawes for a late tackle on Plisson. I support them. Lawes has been getting away with dangerous tackles on number 10s like that for too long. In the Premiershipship final two years ago he did the same thing twice in short succession to Toby Flood, with the result that the latter had to leave the pitch injured. I’m all for the game of hard knocks and revelled in it in my time…. nonetheless thuggery like that can’t be gotten away with or be seen to be gotten away with.

    • An incredible tackle, it encapsulated Heaslip in microcosm. What people forget about Jamie is what a technically superb player he is. His footwork and tackling technique are exemplary, and this was a perfect example. He did everything he did to get his arms around Hogg’s arms knowing it was the only chance of squeezing the ball somehow. Outstanding stuff.

      • Ryan

         /  March 23, 2015

        It was a phenomenal tackle, but did no one else notice Heaslip giving up on Russell and letting him go around under the posts for his try? That conversion (which Russell only just made) could have been equally important

    • Hairy Naomh Mhuire

       /  March 23, 2015

      If Heaslip had not proven his detractors wrong before Saturday then I suspect they won’t have changed their opinions by one iota in the interim!! He is, as you say, a phenomenal talent.
      As regards the Lawes tackle, I’d be interested in why you see it as dangerous / thuggery? Once they stopped showing it in slow motion (which is plainly ridiculous – how many tackles are late in slowmo!!) I thought it looked ok. A big hit – almost bullying giving the difference in size of tackler & tackled – but in terms of timing and technique I struggle to see a case to answer? Happy to be persuaded otherwise.

      • Amiga500

         /  March 23, 2015

        When Lawes committed himself to the tackle, he’d have been fully aware the ball would be gone by the time he arrived. His only intention was to cause pain, if not harm.

        Whether that is illegal or not by the letter of the law is another matter, but it definitely looked quite distasteful.

        • SportingBench

           /  March 23, 2015

          What if Plisson had dummied and ran? Then analysts would ask why Lawes pulled out of the tackle.
          Lawes may have a rep and it was a very hard tackle but it was superbly executed with Lawes clearly tackling with the arms, holding the player. It was not a hit, simply whacking Plisson, if it had it might have seriously hurt him. It looks like it should be dangerous but in truth that is just one of those playing incidents – big man hits little man when little man is trying something else. Plisson was brave as he saw it coming and executed the pass anyway so let’s give him a lot of credit for that.

      • Stephen

         /  March 23, 2015

        Posted this on another forum, but:

        1. Lawes saw the ball leave Plisson’s hands before he put his weight into his step for the tackle.
        2. By the time Lawes had finished the tackle, Plisson was being driven head-first into the ground. It was a tip-tackle. So even if it was not late (and it emphatically was), it was the textbook definition of a tip tackle. I don’t think Lawes intended to dump Plisson onto his head, for what it’s worth, but he did – intent or lack thereof matters not a jot.

        Red card.

        • You know – that was my first reaction .. that it was a red

        • SportingBench

           /  March 23, 2015

          Disagree as above. Certainly it wasn’t a tip as he wasn’t lifting Plisson’s legs which is in the defination of a tip tackle. Seriously, can’t see how citing Lawes is anything other than punishing him for being bigger and executing a tackle. Not a huge fan of Lawes “persona” etc but that tackle was one of those things. People launching themselves at rucks to hit a player out of the way with no attempt to stay on their feet is a much more dangerous thing than a borderline tackle such as this one.

      • Glad to oblige, Hairy. As I see it, he made no effort to play the man and the ball. He went purely for the man. To totally ignore the fact, that the ball, by the time he makes contact, will be gone – albeit not necessarily long gone – is dangerous play. He has played the man without the ball. Fact. The fact that he does this repeatedly is indication to me that it’s a deliberate tactic and not a pure misjudgement in timing, as the apologists would like to call it I thing the authorities should have stamped this out long ago. Throwing the rule book at Richard Cockerill for going mad about the ref and linesmen not protecting Toby Flood in the Premiership final 2013 was criminal misjudgement, IMO.

        • Hairy Naomh Mhuire

           /  March 23, 2015

          Have looked at it again on youtube (over 700K views already..) and it looks even worse than I remember. Plisson’s a brave lad. I still do not think Lawes will receive any sanction if cited as to do so would require a ruling on intent (to hurt) which is tricky – i.e. I still think the tackle was technically just about ok. However there is a reason that little lads can play against big lads without getting destroyed and that is that big lads generally exercise a level of decency and restraint – tackle to stop a player, not to hurt them. To your broader point that Lawes possesses no such decency, I am more than happy to concur. In a not too distant past I’m pretty sure he would have probably received a more fitting retribution (with interest) shortly afterwards but (for better or worse!!) those days of self-regulation are gone…

          • And I betcha any money, Hairy, if Dev Toner, Luke Charteris, Bakkies, Richie Gray, whoever did the same to George Ford in a white jersey, all those keyboard warriors in England, who at this moment on Facebook and elsewhere are lauding Lawes for his “hit” on Plisson and telling the rest of the rugby world to grow a pair, would be screeching blue murder!!!!!!!!!

          • SportingBench

             /  March 23, 2015

            Similarly if Toner had done that to Ford we would all be saying that he was committed before the ball left. Most importantly we’d also sayToner isn’t that sort of player and I think that is key. Lawes is that sort of player but he has to get away with this one as he executed it perfectly. We have to judge the actions solely and as has been mentioned, the citing board and referees can not/should not be asked to judge intent as that means good faces will get away with everything and fairness will go out the window. Kind of like creating multiple Richie McCaws I suppose.

    • D6W

       /  March 23, 2015

      Heaslip has been playing extremely well in this six nations (maybe should shoulder some blame for Welsh try) to his credit. Captaincy may not suit him, or came at wrong time for him, but so what. But he has not being playing like that for Leinster.

      I would say that the old perception of players playing better for their provinces has been turned on its head under Schmidt. Ross is anchoring the Ireland scrum, while not even trusted to do same for Leinster. Heaslip, POC and POM all arguably in form of their lives for Ireland. Henshaw is playing at a new level of excellence, Ireland center Payne unrecognisable compared to Ulster center Payne and Zebo, (cardiff game aside) has been excellent.

      I would also agree with you regarding Lawes tackle. It was a similar late hit in a warmup game that put Wallace out of 2011 WC. It seemed that the fact that Lawes was in the air and therefore was committed that officials excused it from being a late hit. But that should not be the way. If you launch yourself in the air from a distance as Lawes does, then you should bear the risk of a late hit, and subsequent punishment. Also, in Lawes case, hard not to see it as a thuggish attempt to injure a key opposition player. Only seems to do it once a game, and alwys on a key opposition player.

      • Hairy Naomh Mhuire

         /  March 23, 2015

        If Lawes had been ‘in the air’ before he tackled he’d have been sent off. And rightly so.

      • “If you launch yourself in the air from a distance as Lawes does, then you should bear the risk of a late hit, and subsequent punishment. ”

        Watched that game on the Beeb and Brian Moore said as much, you get timing right your golden, you get it wrong your to blame and should shoulder the subsequent punishment

    • Agree 100% – Lawes main intent seems to be to maim and there is a constant air of thuggery about his play.

    • Stevo

       /  March 23, 2015

      I’m not sure if any action will be taken against Lawes as he was committed to the tackle before the pass was made. Unfortunately that will ignore the fact that this is not an isolated incident. No doubt Lawes feels that part of his job is to rough off the opposing 10, but that can be done within the laws while the player has the ball. A man who has just passed a ball is in the worst possible position to take a tackle, particularly a Courtney Lawes special. We all love the physical aspect of the game but players who feel the need to regularly go beyond what’s permissible should be punished – see Pascal Papé.

      • I would have defended Lawes before in a lot of instances, although the rwc knee on ledesma I remember as being indefensible. In this instance, for me he got his timing off and if you are gonna walk the line like that then the risk you are taking is red. My feeling is he got it wrong and should get done for it.

        On the Saturday in general….it was about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.

    • bedlam9999

       /  March 24, 2015

      there was nothing wrong with that tackle, he timed it perfectly, the ball was gone but he was committed to it.

  8. connachtexile

     /  March 23, 2015

    It was an amazing championship and Ireland are in a great place to have a serious tilt at the RWC. My only worry now is at TH prop. Ross and Moore are doing well but if either of them get injured or their form drops then our 3rd choice guys are extremely inexperienced. Fitzpatrick and Ah You’s form has gone downhill. Archer is not international level and White and Furlong have never played a senior international. I really want to see either White or Furlong getting as much experience during the RWC warm-ups as possible otherwise we could be in trouble.

  9. Roundy

     /  March 23, 2015

    An amazing day which you summed up very well. The big winner was the game itself and the Six Nations tournament. However for all the attacking flair we witnessed on Saturday the old saying ‘defenses win tournaments’ still holds. Ireland had the meanest defense in the competition by a long way. There must be a worry too regarding Italian rugby after this season. What will happen when Parisse, Castro and one or two others depart the scene? The England France game was one of the best International games I have ever seen. Loads of mistakes with loads more skills and nail biting to the end. The French player (didnt see who it was as I was jumping around the room) who tapped that last penalty on his own line nearly caused me to have heart failure. I will remember this one for a long time!

    • Leinsterlion

       /  March 23, 2015

      All the worry about Italy, but they are paying around 3mill a year(thats three world class players in each of their sides) for the “privilege” of playing in the Pro 12, and have only been in the 6 N for little over a decade, and still they manage to finish ahead of the Scots. Scottish rugby is on the way down, Italy just need a decent ten.

    • Cian Murphy

       /  March 23, 2015

      The Irish defence has been astounding – the last two years have been two of the top three performances since the Six Nations began in terms of fewest points conceded. Only England in 2003 did better, and not by much.

  10. Punk Anderson

     /  March 23, 2015

    Great summary of a remarkable day.

    I fully understand concerns about introducing bonus points to the competition, but why not add 1 point for tries in a game (4 or even 5)? No bonus points for losing by a close margin. Points differential comes into play only if teams are tied on points total.

    Saturday’s performances could be repeated next season, at least to a degree. It is possible to foresee Wales, playing first again on the final week, attempting to pour on the tries and post a points total and differential for those playing later to chase.

    The intent to attack and score tries was not a coincidence, but a direct by-product of the closeness of this year’s competition. It would be madness to not seize upon “the glow” from Saturday by incentivizing the scoring of more tries in next year’s competition.

  11. Great day and one that a script that a Hollywood producer would dismiss as too fanciful. But despite it all Ireland won the shootout on Saturday because of defence. We opened up but didn’t lose defensive discipline and structure. England and Wales both let it rip but couldn’t defend quite as well.

  12. Declan

     /  March 24, 2015

    Super day of rugby but it struck me watching the matches for the second time that maybe it wasn’t players and coaches suddenly embracing running rugby and ambitious game plans. Maybe it was something much simpler. The back foot rule at rucks was reffed much better. Wayne Barnes didn’t okay a part, ditto ‘george’. I wonder was there a Fifa type memo issued to referees during the week gently reminding everyone to referee space back into the game? Mr Owens whistle does tend to produce excellent games.

  13. neilw90

     /  April 2, 2015

    Hi guys, I’ve been a big fan of your site for a number of years now but first time commenting! I wanted your opinion on a suggested rule change to scrum management. Save for blatant infringements (punches etc), wouldn’t it be better for the game if all infringements around the scrum could only be awarded with a free kick? It would encourage running play from the scrum half and would also mean kicking for points or territory would be out of the question as well. The dominant scrum would still have the benefit of possession, but it would mean less games would be decided solely on a poor scrums/ poor refereeing and would make the game more competitive. Thoughts?

    • Listen, we’d be in favour of that – and blogged on it recently. I’m sure there would be unintended consequences (e.g. Stellenbosch leading to kick tennis) but it seems worth trying right?

%d bloggers like this: