Wales v Ireland 2019 6N (The Match)

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Re: Wales v Ireland 2019 6N (The Match)

Postby sunshiner1 » March 18th, 2019, 3:03 am

by blaker

I think the non replacements of the two halfbacks when both were so abject rests on who was on the bench rather than the pitch. Carberry is second choice outhalf while Marmion and McGrath are second and 3rd scrumhalves. Joe probably looked at it and said I’m better off sticking and hoping with these two because there’s no point putting game time into Carty or Cooney. I reckon if Marmion was there all tournament or Carberry you’d have seen both replaced very early or even dropped.


For me I think Joe made a fundamental error. He tried to play both his 9 and 10 together into form. Quite frankly I think it has to be one or the other. I would have dropped Murray completely and let him go back to Munster where he could get himself fit and right under a less intense focus with Mathewson as an able deputy and give Cooney the number 9 shirt. That would have taken a lot of pressure off Sexton who with better/faster service and less reponsibility have come back into form quicker. We could play Murray and Sexton together against the likes of Italy for gametime giving them minutes together and the pre-RWC games as well.

I also expect a serious reaction in the RWC. This group will not like being embarassed like that and will have something to prove going into that tournament
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Re: Wales v Ireland 2019 6N (The Match)

Postby Jackie Brown » March 18th, 2019, 9:12 am

blaker wrote:I think the non replacements of the two halfbacks when both were so abject rests on who was on the bench rather than the pitch. Carberry is second choice outhalf while Marmion and McGrath are second and 3rd scrumhalves. Joe probably looked at it and said I’m better off sticking and hoping with these two because there’s no point putting game time into Carty or Cooney. I reckon if Marmion was there all tournament or Carberry you’d have seen both replaced very early or even dropped.


Marmion was the replacement scrumhalf....

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Re: Wales v Ireland 2019 6N (The Match)

Postby Columbo » March 18th, 2019, 11:08 am

I have always loved Schmidt, couldn’t get rid of Kidney fast enough, he was totally out of his depth and wrecking the Irish team - so was delighted to get an adult in the room.

And things went swimmingly for a while, but over time I developed 2 sneaking reservations about Irish teams under him - firstly they are very structured, to the point of inflexibility. And secondly, they are inefficient. The implications of this are that while we’re fine when our gameplan is working, we struggle badly to adapt if it is countered by a good opposition side - and we often win games narrowly that we should win by wide margins, or scrape through / lose games we should have won, through not getting points on the board during periods of dominance.

After 2018 these reservations had subsided, but I have to say they’re back with a vengeance after this tournament - plus 2 more: inflexibility in selections for one, and the biggest concern of all, a frightening lack of introspection.

On the selections, not just the half-backs, but also Aki (who is one of my favourite players) was seriously out of sorts, while C Farrell, T Farrell, McCloskey and even Scannell are all having good seasons, POM was cr@p while Ruddock has been brilliant this season etc. And btw, the theory that Ireland are focusing on the RWC and didn’t care about the 6N, apart from being ridiculous on its face, isn’t supported by the selections - if we didn’t care, then there wouldn’t have been a problem with playing Cooney and Carty and letting Murray and Sexton rehab and take it easy.

The bigger concern I have right now, after reading reports on the post-match interviews is the seeming lack of soul-searching - the weather, the roof, the ref, the Irish press for printing the team a day early, a ‘bug’ - all at fault, but not a suggestion that there was anything wrong with the coaches. And btw the Ireland team will ‘definitely’ show up in Japan. So that’s all right. :roll:

Maybe they are absolutely going back to the drawing board, with no sacred cows etc etc but I have been wondering if Schmidt still has the fight in him. He’s packing it in after the WC, and retiring as far as we know - does he have the hunger any more? The team looked like anything but a team driven by the Schmidt of old. Has there been a shift in dynamic due to the announcement of his retirement / replacement by Farrell? Knowing that your current boss is out the door soon, and his current second in command is your new boss - it certainly changes something, and Farrell is quite a dominant character.

I don’t know what the truth is, but I have to say I’m pretty shaken after seeing the wheels come off so badly!
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Re: Wales v Ireland 2019 6N (The Match)

Postby MylesNaGapoleen » March 18th, 2019, 11:30 am

sunshiner1 wrote:For me I think Joe made a fundamental error. He tried to play both his 9 and 10 together into form.


got back from cardiff late last night. missed all the interviews and media stuff. Did joe actually say that he was trying to play 9&10 into fitness?
odd if he did....i thought he was the one who engineered the provinces resting murray and sexton in the pro14. Or was this about the flu bug or whatever in the camp?

they were clearly ring-rusty...we were terrible all over the pitch. very very hard to watch.

I think 3rd place is incredible considering how we performed this year.
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Re: Wales v Ireland 2019 6N (The Match)

Postby suisse » March 18th, 2019, 1:58 pm

blaker wrote:I think the non replacements of the two halfbacks when both were so abject rests on who was on the bench rather than the pitch. Carberry is second choice outhalf.....

I reckon if Marmion was there all tournament or Carberry you’d have seen both replaced very early or even dropped.


Except Johnny Sexton was rubbish v England but Carbery stayed on the bench for 73 mins and only came on to replace an injured Garry Ringrose. A change somewhere should have been made before Henry Slade's try on 65 mins even though we were within a score. To still not make any changes after that score was dreadful. It didn't mean Sexton had to come off but Carbery should have been on somewhere.

I still wonder what would have happened if the IRFU didn't send Paddy Jackson on his way. Carbery could still be at Leinster learning his trade as a 15/10. Ireland would have another man to occupy 21 and Ross Byrne would still get the same amount of rugby as a 10.
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Re: Wales v Ireland 2019 6N (The Match)

Postby ribs » March 18th, 2019, 2:02 pm

MylesNaGapoleen wrote:
sunshiner1 wrote:For me I think Joe made a fundamental error. He tried to play both his 9 and 10 together into form.


got back from cardiff late last night. missed all the interviews and media stuff. Did joe actually say that he was trying to play 9&10 into fitness?
odd if he did....i thought he was the one who engineered the provinces resting murray and sexton in the pro14. Or was this about the flu bug or whatever in the camp?

they were clearly ring-rusty...we were terrible all over the pitch. very very hard to watch.

I think 3rd place is incredible considering how we performed this year.

He said it before the Italy game about 9 and 10, about finding form and not needing a rest. The fact that he kept playing them suggests the same reasons had not changed
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Re: Wales v Ireland 2019 6N (The Match)

Postby MylesNaGapoleen » March 18th, 2019, 2:44 pm

ribs wrote:
MylesNaGapoleen wrote:
sunshiner1 wrote:For me I think Joe made a fundamental error. He tried to play both his 9 and 10 together into form.


got back from cardiff late last night. missed all the interviews and media stuff. Did joe actually say that he was trying to play 9&10 into fitness?
odd if he did....i thought he was the one who engineered the provinces resting murray and sexton in the pro14. Or was this about the flu bug or whatever in the camp?

they were clearly ring-rusty...we were terrible all over the pitch. very very hard to watch.

I think 3rd place is incredible considering how we performed this year.

He said it before the Italy game about 9 and 10, about finding form and not needing a rest. The fact that he kept playing them suggests the same reasons had not changed


thanks. didn't catch that. hope whatever is going on with the national side doesn't flow into the provinces. thought we had the measure of the welsh pack based on our pro14 clashes and were in with a shout. buddy sitting beside me had the referee earpod thing on and was going ballistic at a lot of calls. it was so hard to watch....so many mistakes. the only flash of normality came from johnny early on with the perfect cross field kick to stockdale. great tackle from parkes to stop him, though. apart from that it was a complete shambles.
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Re: Wales v Ireland 2019 6N (The Match)

Postby Flash Gordon » March 19th, 2019, 10:15 am

CiaranIrl wrote:http://stats.espnscrum.com/scrum/rugby/match/295111.html

O'Mahony made one tackle all match?!


There needs to be an honest conversation about POM. His name is being bandied around as captaincy material but there is a question as to whether he is an automatic selection if you go beyond the hype and look at the numbers. At the weekend he made 1 tackle as you say and made 3 meters - the one tackle was the same total Gatland saw for the Lions before promptly dropping him from the squad. There's a definite argument for Stander at 6, Conan at 8 and either JVDF or Leavy at 7 in my opinion with Conan answer the question at 8 when he was selected.

I think Joe's review needs to be ruthless if we're to improve for the RWC. There are some previous shoe in selections that are now questionable like Best, Kearney and Murray where we have options who are in better form for the provinces. Sexton's form has been poor but Joey (when fit) is a bit behind and Carty well behind.
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Re: Wales v Ireland 2019 6N (The Match)

Postby Edna Kenny » March 19th, 2019, 12:05 pm

Columbo wrote:
The bigger concern I have right now, after reading reports on the post-match interviews is the seeming lack of soul-searching - the weather, the roof, the ref, the Irish press for printing the team a day early, a ‘bug’ - all at fault, but not a suggestion that there was anything wrong with the coaches. And btw the Ireland team will ‘definitely’ show up in Japan. So that’s all right. :roll:

Maybe they are absolutely going back to the drawing board, with no sacred cows etc etc but I have been wondering if Schmidt still has the fight in him. He’s packing it in after the WC, and retiring as far as we know - does he have the hunger any more? The team looked like anything but a team driven by the Schmidt of old. Has there been a shift in dynamic due to the announcement of his retirement / replacement by Farrell? Knowing that your current boss is out the door soon, and his current second in command is your new boss - it certainly changes something, and Farrell is quite a dominant character.

I don’t know what the truth is, but I have to say I’m pretty shaken after seeing the wheels come off so badly!


I don't think the selected comments from interviews are being pushed as excuses. I'd say there's no more honest or self critical bunch than this squad. I think it's absolutely crazy to question the fight in Joe, as though he's given up. I'd be amazed if he's retiring full stop, more likely he has said he's retiring so that he doesn't have to field constant questions of who he will coach next, causing a distraction. I also can't see how any player would think it would be wise to not perform when the new boss is part of the coaching set up. This seemed to have been brought up with a reference to Fergie at United. Lets not forget Gatland is also leaving Wales.
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Re: Wales v Ireland 2019 6N (The Match)

Postby hugonaut » March 19th, 2019, 2:34 pm

Flash Gordon wrote:
CiaranIrl wrote:http://stats.espnscrum.com/scrum/rugby/match/295111.html

O'Mahony made one tackle all match?!


There needs to be an honest conversation about POM. His name is being bandied around as captaincy material but there is a question as to whether he is an automatic selection if you go beyond the hype and look at the numbers. At the weekend he made 1 tackle as you say and made 3 meters - the one tackle was the same total Gatland saw for the Lions before promptly dropping him from the squad. There's a definite argument for Stander at 6, Conan at 8 and either JVDF or Leavy at 7 in my opinion with Conan answer the question at 8 when he was selected.

I think Joe's review needs to be ruthless if we're to improve for the RWC. There are some previous shoe in selections that are now questionable like Best, Kearney and Murray where we have options who are in better form for the provinces. Sexton's form has been poor but Joey (when fit) is a bit behind and Carty well behind.


O'Mahony is a superb lineout option and very good over the ball; he's a good handler as well. He has been a very poor carrier for years [5+ years] at Pro12 level, it's only going to be more obvious at test level. He can't get over the gainline. He's not a destructive tackler, and never has been. Occasionally he posts very, very low tackle counts, albeit part of that is due to how Ireland play the game [i.e. he plays a wide role in that 1-3-3-1 pattern that we use] ... but you also have to take that into account when you look at his turnover stats, as a lot of them come against isolated backs in the tramlines, i.e. they're easier wins than they are in midfield.

That's the player he is, and has been for years. There are big plusses and big minuses to his game. I'm not a particular fan, but he was one of our more consistent performers over the tournament. He was poor at the weekend, but so was pretty much everybody bar James Ryan.
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Re: Wales v Ireland 2019 6N (The Match)

Postby ronk » March 19th, 2019, 2:43 pm

Flash Gordon wrote:
CiaranIrl wrote:http://stats.espnscrum.com/scrum/rugby/match/295111.html

O'Mahony made one tackle all match?!


There needs to be an honest conversation about POM. His name is being bandied around as captaincy material but there is a question as to whether he is an automatic selection if you go beyond the hype and look at the numbers. At the weekend he made 1 tackle as you say and made 3 meters - the one tackle was the same total Gatland saw for the Lions before promptly dropping him from the squad. There's a definite argument for Stander at 6, Conan at 8 and either JVDF or Leavy at 7 in my opinion with Conan answer the question at 8 when he was selected.

I think Joe's review needs to be ruthless if we're to improve for the RWC. There are some previous shoe in selections that are now questionable like Best, Kearney and Murray where we have options who are in better form for the provinces. Sexton's form has been poor but Joey (when fit) is a bit behind and Carty well behind.


The problem us that the POM debate was done to death and he came out eventually in form. Because he was criticised so much even when he was in form there's a reactive push back. He could walk off the field for 15 minutes and no one would say anything if there wasnt a lineout.

I understand that theres a reason he's playing the way he is but he's out of the game too much and has been too easy to neutralise as a poaching threat.
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Re: Wales v Ireland 2019 6N (The Match)

Postby OTT » March 19th, 2019, 3:35 pm

Sitting on this for a few days. I don’t think it’s any harm for the fans to get a dose of reality. We have had an expectation that we will win every game we play, it ignored the quality of opposition and our own team we can field. The media definitely pumped this up which added to the expectation. Obviously we had some great results in the bank so that also fueled our belief, none of it is necessarily a bad thing but also doesn’t allow us to be reasonable when things don’t go our way, we tend to throw all the toys out of the pram.

Last season in the 6 nations quite literally everything fell perfect for us, that does not mean we were perfect eg the France match where we remember the fairy tale drop goal from over 40 meters out which involved all those phases and included Keith Earls regathering a kick but we also nearly fecked that game away a few mins before when Thomas got his try and then after that France missed a very kickable penalty to close it out. Practically all the crucial moments in the different games went our way eg the Stockdale intercept against Wales, the Kearney knock on in the build up to Ringers try against England

This season everything went against us, our luck was non existent. First minute against England a basic system failure that this team usually doesn’t make, stockdale fumbling under pressure over our line, last season he would have gathered and probably ran the pitch. This year we can't even get away with not knocking on the ball eg Kearney against Italy !

Now you make your own luck as they say and we have been a bit below where we were but the 6 nations is a very tough competition. Home advantage is huge where all the teams now expect to win their home matches except maybe Italy.

Against England we were a bit off but England are one of the best teams in the world right now and played their best game of the tournament against us but the match was still in the melting pot on 65 mins, We made a very bad start against Wales and we were chasing the game, Last season Stockdale gets that try from Sextons kick and we are back with Wales in a tight test match where they did not score another try, another day Murray gets the try off the lineout in the second half. For me the score did not reflect how hard the test match was actually played like imo it was 25-0 but it was in no way the same intensity as watching Ireland wallop France the week before the inches were hard fought and Wales played the conditions superbly and once they got the early lead they nailed every kick there after with much help from our indiscipline, their indiscipline did not reward us to the same degree.

I would worry about the stupid silly penalties we give away like the Healy one in the second half but some of the others were down to consistency of decision by the ref. Tipuric climbs around a maul and gets the decision. Healy does the same thing to AWJ and gets pinged. Three offside penalties to none and both teams were offside all day. Davies not getting a yellow for the shoulder on Aki. There are lots of excuses but are some of them valid? Probably, yeah imo.

Anyway this ramble is more to put a bit of perspective on where we are. Can we beat England, NZ, Australia, SA, France, Scotland, Wales and Argentina? Definitely. We could also lose to any of them because they are all ranging from brilliant teams usually to France who can turn it on on their day. There are a lot of very good test sides nowadays, it is unfortunate but that is life. We are one of the best teams in the world along with a group of other teams. I think we can win the world cup but it will take a lot of luck with key moments and injuries and we could as easily go out at the quarter final stage again. Most of the other teams that I named I think similar as well, it is tight at the top.
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Re: Wales v Ireland 2019 6N (The Match)

Postby Dave Cahill » March 19th, 2019, 4:10 pm

So basically we're all in agreement - everything that could go wrong or be gotten wrong went wrong or was gotten wrong. All the off-field stuff like selection and tactics and all the on-field stuff like discipline and execution of basic skills were crap. Lots of injuries and loss of form to key players. The Roof. Even the marketing from Guinness and Vodafone was a bit shit.

It was an omnishambles of a campaign.

And its over.

And, in reality, are we sure that anyone in the Irish squad and management really cares that much. This was a placeholder of a Six Nations for us.



------------------------------------------


I was struck by how much the performances in the this Six Nations reminded me of the performances in the 2007 Rugby World Cup. Nothing was quite right, no one was quite sure why (except Franno of course, he knows why and will be telling as soon as that world cup is over).

The big difference though is that we had a great six nations in 2007 - a missed tackle against France away from a Grand Slam and an injury time try away from a Championship. We went into that world cup with players saying, without bravado, that they were looking to win the competition. They genuinely believed it. Then the arse fell out of things the moment we hit French soil.

This time though, we've had our wake up call early. I'm not even sure it was a wake up call because I'm not sure that the group were even asleep in the first place, that they didn't - on some level - know or suspect that this was going to happen because they were, to an extent, going through the motions of this Six Nations on autopilot
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Re: Wales v Ireland 2019 6N (The Match)

Postby Flash Gordon » March 19th, 2019, 4:40 pm

Dave Cahill wrote:So basically we're all in agreement - everything that could go wrong or be gotten wrong went wrong or was gotten wrong. All the off-field stuff like selection and tactics and all the on-field stuff like discipline and execution of basic skills were crap. Lots of injuries and loss of form to key players. The Roof. Even the marketing from Guinness and Vodafone was a bit shit.

It was an omnishambles of a campaign.

And its over.

And, in reality, are we sure that anyone in the Irish squad and management really cares that much. This was a placeholder of a Six Nations for us.



------------------------------------------


I was struck by how much the performances in the this Six Nations reminded me of the performances in the 2007 Rugby World Cup. Nothing was quite right, no one was quite sure why (except Franno of course, he knows why and will be telling as soon as that world cup is over).

The big difference though is that we had a great six nations in 2007 - a missed tackle against France away from a Grand Slam and an injury time try away from a Championship. We went into that world cup with players saying, without bravado, that they were looking to win the competition. They genuinely believed it. Then the arse fell out of things the moment we hit French soil.

This time though, we've had our wake up call early. I'm not even sure it was a wake up call because I'm not sure that the group were even asleep in the first place, that they didn't - on some level - know or suspect that this was going to happen because they were, to an extent, going through the motions of this Six Nations on autopilot


I think there's something in this but it really really worries me that 6 Nations coaches and unions are seeing the 6 Nations as a warm up - which I think some are. Personally, I prefer the 6 Nations to a World Cup, it has tradition, high quality rugby and the unique experience of fans interacting together socially. I've been to 3 World Cups and each one was a bit sh!t if I'm honest. We need to watch that what happened to the FA Cup doesn't happen to the 6 Nations.

I'm sure Joe will be ruthless in his review and the players will be very very hard on themselves and have a point to prove. The standards this group has are things that make them exceptional and different. To be honest my 2 big concerns are that some of our pivotal players are finished - I think our skipper might be done (hope I'm wrong) and just how the whole team hinges on the form of Sexton and Murray.

I thought the Vodaphone stuff was quite good.
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Re: Wales v Ireland 2019 6N (The Match)

Postby MylesNaGapoleen » March 19th, 2019, 6:01 pm

Dave Cahill wrote:This time though, we've had our wake up call early. I'm not even sure it was a wake up call because I'm not sure that the group were even asleep in the first place, that they didn't - on some level - know or suspect that this was going to happen because they were, to an extent, going through the motions of this Six Nations on autopilot


I was at the game in cardiff...only just watched it back last night online. Have to say, I am not sure about all the dramatic doom and gloom and slating of the team & coach.

before the game, welsh fans were in good spirits but extremely nervous...rightly so..we (provinces) have had the measure of welsh teams for quite a while now..so they (and I) was expecting a close game. There were a few moments in the game that could have gone our way....such as stockdale dancing through a great tackle by parkes, after a sublime cross field kick by johnny. Jayziz...I thought he was in there. But without dissecting the entire game, move by move, I thought we were poor but not as poor as the press and online comments are suggesting. And the welsh were well up for this...Navidi nipped a few power moves of ours from the first play. Was on ringrose like a rash the entire game.

Not sure if anyone has mentioned it, but, with the championship gone, I can't help but wonder if some players minds were on the HC quarters and not going full pelt for a win..which at the time of the game..was for second place.

In the same breath, that does not account for the previous 4 games. There is something up...and perhaps we need another team summit..like we did with kidney before the 2009 GS. When Kearney stood up and asked if everyone was really playing for the green jersey.

Which reminds me..there was a munster fan in the Yard after the game in a munster tracksuit top....it was fairly dark and seeing the red top we patted him on the back passing him by, saying fair play or well done (1 ulster and 3 leinster fans in our group all wearing green)..and he kicked off "why does everyone f*cking assume.....[didn't catch the end of it]" in a thick cork accent at the top of his voice. We just kept on walking.

leaving eejits aside....as someone said...at least we had the hiatus before the actual world cup this time.
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Re: Wales v Ireland 2019 6N (The Match)

Postby scentofgunpowder » March 19th, 2019, 6:39 pm

Dave Cahill wrote:So basically we're all in agreement - everything that could go wrong or be gotten wrong went wrong or was gotten wrong. All the off-field stuff like selection and tactics and all the on-field stuff like discipline and execution of basic skills were crap. Lots of injuries and loss of form to key players. The Roof. Even the marketing from Guinness and Vodafone was a bit shit.

It was an omnishambles of a campaign.

And its over.

And, in reality, are we sure that anyone in the Irish squad and management really cares that much. This was a placeholder of a Six Nations for us.



------------------------------------------


I was struck by how much the performances in the this Six Nations reminded me of the performances in the 2007 Rugby World Cup. Nothing was quite right, no one was quite sure why (except Franno of course, he knows why and will be telling as soon as that world cup is over).

The big difference though is that we had a great six nations in 2007 - a missed tackle against France away from a Grand Slam and an injury time try away from a Championship. We went into that world cup with players saying, without bravado, that they were looking to win the competition. They genuinely believed it. Then the arse fell out of things the moment we hit French soil.

This time though, we've had our wake up call early. I'm not even sure it was a wake up call because I'm not sure that the group were even asleep in the first place, that they didn't - on some level - know or suspect that this was going to happen because they were, to an extent, going through the motions of this Six Nations on autopilot


I agree with your take on the broad picture. The alternative is that we win everything in 2018, win the 6 nations in 2019, then go and win the WC. Can anyone other than New Zealand maintain form consistently over two years? I also don't agree that our game plan has been figured out, I just think we aren't executing particularly well. If we perform to our abilities and show a little more adaptability I think we can still put teams through the "meat grinder" (credit to - I think - hugonaut). Also, despite being largely rubbish we still played well enough to win our WC pool.

Having said that, I do believe there are issues which have been present throughout Joe's reign which are exacerbated when we hit bad form. I don't think Joe uses the bench well. Our phase play attack is poor, compensated for by power plays and sheer volume of possession. France made around 200 hundred tackles against us. We scored three times off first phase. Therefore we went through well over 100 phases in open play, many in the red zone, which yielded one try. It's all well and good when you're battering the other pack and have over 60% possession and territory, but against bigger meaner packs we could be in trouble. Our defence also struggles with teams like England who can hit the wide channels with two long, quick, accurate passes.
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Re: Wales v Ireland 2019 6N (The Match)

Postby hugonaut » March 19th, 2019, 10:34 pm

Dave Cahill wrote:So basically we're all in agreement - everything that could go wrong or be gotten wrong went wrong or was gotten wrong. All the off-field stuff like selection and tactics and all the on-field stuff like discipline and execution of basic skills were crap. Lots of injuries and loss of form to key players. The Roof. Even the marketing from Guinness and Vodafone was a bit shit.

It was an omnishambles of a campaign.

And its over.

And, in reality, are we sure that anyone in the Irish squad and management really cares that much. This was a placeholder of a Six Nations for us.



------------------------------------------


I was struck by how much the performances in the this Six Nations reminded me of the performances in the 2007 Rugby World Cup. Nothing was quite right, no one was quite sure why (except Franno of course, he knows why and will be telling as soon as that world cup is over).

The big difference though is that we had a great six nations in 2007 - a missed tackle against France away from a Grand Slam and an injury time try away from a Championship. We went into that world cup with players saying, without bravado, that they were looking to win the competition. They genuinely believed it. Then the arse fell out of things the moment we hit French soil.

This time though, we've had our wake up call early. I'm not even sure it was a wake up call because I'm not sure that the group were even asleep in the first place, that they didn't - on some level - know or suspect that this was going to happen because they were, to an extent, going through the motions of this Six Nations on autopilot


I'd agree with a lot of that Dave, I think there's a lot of sense there. "Autopilot" might seem too strong to some, but we didn't look at the same emotional pitch as either England or Wales when we played them ... you have to be fully fired up to take it to those teams in the Six Nations.

I think Blaker and Sunshiner mentioned something above that I wholeheartedly agree with: trying to carry two misfiring halfbacks in the one team was a huge issue. Everything goes through 9 and 10, and if both of them are out of form, you're not going to be a successful team. But it was a tricky situation for Joe Schmidt - his now second choice outhalf [Carbery] was unavailable for three games, his second choice scrumhalf [Marmion] unavailable for four. On the evidence of the most recent squad selection before that for the Six Nations, Luke McGrath was his third choice scrumhalf, and he missed the whole tournament.

Some people might disagree with the scrum-half pecking order [I do] but I also recognise that Schmidt knows f*cking loads more about rugby and specifically what he wants from his players than I ever will, so I respect his opinion.

Murray's clearly not 100% physically, but the fact that he has been cleared to play for 4+ months now is a positive, because he's on the comeback trail.

I know he was protective of his privacy at the time, but he has since mentioned the nature of the injury and it's in the public domain [sources: https://www.independent.ie/sport/rugby/ ... 80508.html , https://www.sportsjoe.ie/rugby/conor-mu ... ard-122347 (2017 injury) and https://www.the42.ie/conor-murray-munst ... 2018/(2018 injury)]. The follow on is that he looks to have lost a really significant amount of muscle mass in his left shoulder and arm as a result of the injury: https://www.sportsfile.com/id/1663775/ and https://www.sportsfile.com/id/1663302/ ... again, these are publicly available photos. I feel a little uncomfortable speculating on a particular player's health or injury, but I think it's a case of 2+2=4 in this instance. He's had a long term injury, he's not physically at his best, and it's affecting his game ... but he's been cleared to play, he should be able to get himself back to where he was before with another four or five months of work, and better form will very likely come with him being healthier and closer to his physical peak. Cian had a similar nerve injury and it took a toll on him, but he came back from it [source: https://www.the42.ie/cian-healy-retire- ... 9-Dec2017/ ].

With regards to outhalf, I'm not going to get into a long discussion on Paddy Jackson, because Pandora's Box doesn't cover it. The fella ruined his career, disgraced himself, and has been written out of rugby history, but the record shows that Schmidt gave him 9 starts at No10 between the start of Jun 2016 and the end of June 2017 [he was charged in Oct 2017].

Carbery's musical chairs since then is everything to do with Jackson, but because he wouldn't go up to Ulster [who looked every bit the basket case at the time] and went to Munster instead, and because Jackson's trial caused a huge furore and has a load of social consequences – and nobody wants to bring it up for fear of invoking a sh*tstorm – Carberry is not referred to as Jackson's replacement ... which he is. Schmidt had to fast-track the hell out of him, and with Carbery injured for the majority of this tournament, the coach was put in the position of having to mend and make do on the bench.

I'm not going to sh*t on Carty, because he did well when he came on, and I like him and respect him. But I completely understand Schmidt not dropping the current World Player of the Year and the greatest outhalf in the history of Irish rugby for a guy who has been a very slow burner with practically no test experience. The nearest equivalent I can draw would be dropping Drico for someone like Darren Cave or Paul O'Connell for somebody like Dave Foley.

I think most Irish fans accept that the RWC is the team's prime target this year. With that in mind, dropping both underperforming halfbacks [Murray and Sexton] for guys who are likely on the very fringes of selection for that squad [Cooney and Carty] would have been letting the tail wag the dog. The two Lions would have seen it as a massive breach of trust, because they have been incredibly reliable for Schmidt's entire stint. Selection is an art, not a science ... and managing a team could never even be confused for a science.

*EDIT* Apologies for the essay. A lot on my mind!
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Re: Wales v Ireland 2019 6N (The Match)

Postby LeRouxIsPHat » March 19th, 2019, 11:31 pm

I admire the optimism but I think some of the concerns are legitimate.

Age is a big concern IMO. Best, Johnny, and Rob are all looking slow and under-powered. I hope they all come good in 6 months, but there are no guarantees, and each one of them has a huge impact on the team, so we could be in trouble even if only one them doesn't improve. Best is obviously captain, Johnny is our most important player (IMO), and Rob is the only solid fullback we have and we've seen the difference that that can make.

I want to be optimistic about Murray, and I actually stuck up for him after the England and Scotland games because I didn't think he was as poor as others made out, but there's no guarantee that he gets back to normal in 6 months time. If he's not back to full fitness after rehabbing for ages and playing for 3 and a half months then why expect him to be right during pre season? He might be, and I'd be hopeful that he's healthy enough to put some serious gym work in and that the coaches wouldn't be playing him if they couldn't see a physical improvement, but like I said, no guarantees.

So that's four key players that I would see as legitimate concerns. The game plan really worries me too. Against England we were really predictable and static, we added subtlety against the French, and largely forgot about it again on Saturday. Bundee was used as a playmaker in the first game, and then we didn't try it again. Now fair enough I don't think anyone wants to see Bundee doing an impression of Aaron Mauger, but surely if we go in to the tournament with the idea that we're going to use a second playmaker then you'd expect to see it tried again with someone else? Ringrose does take that on a bit but that's worlds apart from what we tried with Bundee in the first game. We called Roux up and he called the lineout against Scotland, yet James Ryan did it on Saturday. We dropped Josh after the England game but then had him back in for France.

So my question is, are we really trying things out, hiding game plans etc, or do we not know what went wrong and are scrambling around for a solution? It feels like the latter to me. Now I've already said in this thread that the physical state of the squad wasn't great so that meant that players weren't sharp and led to a lack of cohesion. Fingers crossed most of them will be in good shape for pre season and that will help get us motoring again, but like I said I think there can be genuine concerns around some of our key players and IMO there has been a lot of muddled up thinking in regard to how we played over the last couple of months. I'd actually have been happier if we'd failed consistently with different tactics or selections, because then I would have a sense that we were trying to develop something.
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Re: Wales v Ireland 2019 6N (The Match)

Postby ronk » March 20th, 2019, 4:12 am

You can't stay still in rugby at 6N level. England had a poor championship in 2018.

England had breakout players like Curry, we had...

We were a bit one dimensional. We were able to find the weaknesses after phase play but that only happens if you get penetration. Stander is doing everything right but he's easy to gang up on. Having multiple options running a pattern doesn't work as well if one guy is the threat.

We have other options but probably suffered a little for the variety. Same for kicking. England spread the kicking duties and Davies is good that way for Wales.

If defences don't respect the kick then it's harder to carry.
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Re: Wales v Ireland 2019 6N (The Match)

Postby Twist » March 20th, 2019, 12:30 pm

Re-watched the game and just want to add to the chorus of criticism for the referee. My god he was shocking. If we’d had something important on the line I’d be absolutely fuming

I’d echo a lot of the concerns around our game plan too. We looked like we were trying to win a game from 2018. Also we’re too slow to react when things are going wrong and above all too rigid in our application of pre-determined tactics


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