Pride and Frustration

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“We’re a good team when we play” – Brian O’Driscoll

I don’t want to become one of those critics who find fault with every single Irish performance but frustration is the overriding emotion right now. That was an immense effort from our lads and we came so close to our greatest ever result. There were technical elements that let us down (as well as some easy penalties in the first-half), but there were multiple positives too. The desire and intensity was incredible, and we attacked at a much higher tempo than we have done for a long time. But today’s game simply poses the question of why this type of Irish performance is so rare?

From the first minute, Ireland’s physicality was through the roof. Every single player threw himself into collisions again and again. Gone was the respect for the mighty and unbeatable All Blacks. This was just plain old New Zealand. During the week, Dan Carter claimed that Ireland were always “ferocious” opponents. We didn’t see that last weekend, but it was evident today. Once again, we dominated the breakdown. Most welcome of all was how we got on top in the scrum in the second-half. All huge positives, and part of a strong display overall.

It reminded me of the Rugby World Cup win over Australia last year, and the big win over England in the 2011 Six Nations. It could be argued that these three games were Ireland’s only three strong showings in the last couple of years. Why are they so rare? Why can Ireland not motivate themselves to this degree more regularly? If we could match today’s level of intensity and physicality more often, we’d be a truly successful international team. The quote from Brian O’Driscoll immediately after the game says it all. Ireland need to work out a way to “play” more consistently.

It might seem particularly harsh to be critical in the aftermath of such a narrow loss to the best team in the world. On Thursday night, Roy Keane blasted the Irish soccer team for their losing mentality. He was critical of the fact that Irish fans were singing and supporting, even at 4-0 down. I don’t want it to come across that I’m doing something similar here. It’s a very different scenario. While Ireland doesn’t have players with enough quality to get anywhere near the world’s best in soccer, we do in rugby. Today was the very proof of that.

O’Driscoll and his team mates certainly won’t be accepting of this loss. They will analyse it and dissect it on Monday morning. They’ll look at the dropped balls, lineout misses, and the number of visits to the New Zealand 22 which brought no points. The provincial success of first Munster, and now Leinster, has given this Irish squad a winning mentality. They will be critical of themselves and look to improve next weekend. So why should us supporters and critics not look for more too? We should certainly praise the many positives in today’s display, but equally we should question why we don’t see them more often.

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I’ll try to do some of that analysis myself on Monday morning, looking at the strengths and positives, as well as the areas where Ireland can improve. Watch this space.


4 responses to “Pride and Frustration

  1. Yes, yes, yes. We need so much more of this type of thinking. Playing for Ireland is the ultimate privilege and honor. When selected you are expected to give everything, every time. Sometimes you will loose but you should always expect to win. Not because it is your right but because you are representing all on this island and they should expect nothing less.

    Supporters are often called fickle if they do not support their team blindly through the highs and lows. I loved the singing from the soccer lads v Spain but as Murray said we know where they stand and it’s not like Keane&Co. have been showing us a game here or there where we could see glimpses of a world beating performance. I would like to make the point that the tri-nations countries’ supporters demand performances as intense as what we saw today all the time. They are only happy with wins and even then that is not always enough.

    The foreign players in our provinces talk of the immense support they receive but they are also playing for teams that are expected to win and more often then not, they do.

  2. Fantastic display from the Irish forwards- I think no one in the rugby world had expected anything less than a AB victory by twenty, given what had happened last week, the fact that this was in Christchurch and that the AB’s had plenty of Crusaders.

    Comes down to that missed Sexton kick and that scrum penalty for incorrect wheeling- it’s little things like those that Ireland need to get right if they are to beat the SH nations on a more consistent basis.

    Not just Ireland for that matter, Wales could have beaten the Wallabies too.

    Really looking forward to the third test

  3. Patrick Logan

    What a brilliant match. Ireland were outstanding. There are loads of pluses: more test rugby for Tuohy and McLaughlin (both of whom looked excellent): Healy showed he is the best loose head in world rugby; Heaslip had his best game in ages; and Best kept up the amazing standards of his stellar season. Whilst Murray was nowhere near as poor as last week, Reddan made a huge difference. Even with O’Gara at 10, Ireland suddenly looked like Leinster. Their rugby in the last 20 mins was outstanding.

    I though Nigel Owens was outstanding. By reffing the Blacks properly, he is taking away many of their unfair advantages. But Ireland were on the receiving end of some unfortunate decisions in the last few minutes. They had a scrum going forward which was dropped by the ABs, then Weepu clearly delayed the put in; then they got pinged for illegal wheeling. From the resulting penalty NZ went down the pitch and ultimately got their drop goal.

  4. Roryokane_raz_

    I must as Ireland were a crdit to the country, and were unbelievably unlucky today. that said i must hold my hands up I criticized Kidney’s selections the inclusion of D’Arcy who was excellent, aswell as McFadden keeping his place ahead of Zebo, each of the changes worked. PO’M was a super impact sub, a role which i feel he is suited to. McLaughlin was excellent and added great balance to not only the backrow but was a strong lineout option, Healy was ferocious and is undoubtedly a world class loss-head, best again led from the front and proved he is up there with Bismark Du Plesseu as the best hooker in world rugby. Ross was solid but made a few errors. Tuhoy and ryan were great in the engine room. So’B was immense. Heaslip played his best game for ireland in nearly 2years. Murray was good, sexton excellent and showed he is the 2nd best fh in the world after a certain Mr. Carter. BoD was great and all of D’arcy, trimble, Kearny and mcfadden tackle and chase there hearts out. A pity the game turned on a poor scrum call. Enough is enough for this thought, if we can get TMO’s for tries we should have a specialist scrum TMO to get these mistakes eradicated from the game. (an idea paul wallace is keen on) All in all a lot of positives. But ultimately these one-off inspired performances need to end. and we need to be more consistent. However at times like these i wonder if we had of had a full time attack coach and less kiss as full time defense coach would we have won? was this a handicap for us, after all its a cliche but Rugby more than any other sport is a game of inches.

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