Well it was a terrific performance by the Irish rugby team against England. Ireland completely dominated the English, and recorded their first ever win against them, with an emphatic, 25-0, victory. Pity their male counterparts couldn’t match their performance.
Yes, despite the Irish Women’s historic victory over their English rivals (and congrats to them), and every representative Irish team winning (even the Legends), the National side couldn’t conquer their English rivals.
It was a game that promised so much, but turned into a bit of nightmare. After a great performance against Wales in the opening match, and France’s shock loss to Italy, it looked like Ireland were in with a great chance of maybe collecting some silverware this year.
England looked beatable, after a less than convincing performance against Scotland, and Ireland looked to be on a roll. Unfortunately, England studied our tactics well, were able to nullify our big threats.
Despite Ireland having more than twice the possession, the English players were able to snuff out any momentum we had, cutting down our strike runners and committing twice as many tackles. If anything, England looked more likely to score, despite their limited possession.
It was a masterful performance by the English. Not pretty, but it got the job done. To highlight England’s dominance, they were actually a man down during the match (when Haskell was sin-binned), but still managed to score more points during the 10 minutes he was off.
To add to Ireland’s woes was the stunning amount of injuries Ireland suffered, and one terrible lack of judgement. In all, Ireland will be without 5 of the players that started against England, for the next game against Scotland.
Simon Zebo was the first to go off, injured after 10 minutes or so. It was a cruel blow, as he looked to be one of the stars of the championship, and even a prospective Lion.
Zebo will be out for about 10 weeks or so.
Jonny Sexton was also taken off, though his injury isn’t as bad. Still, he has become an integral part of the team, and looked to be the starting Lions out-half. Sexton probably won’t be out for as long as Zebo, but it will still be an ardous task for him to regain his form and fitness.
Mike McCarthy was also injured, as was Gordon D’Arcy, with D’Arcy missing the rest of the tournament, which is a shame as he’d been integral in his defence against the Welsh (despite what I said about him, ie been past it).
McCarthy had been one of the stars of the November series, and was becoming a star of the 6 Nations. It’s not known how long he’ll be out, but he’ll suffer the same challenge to regain his fitness.
We do have replacements for these positions, but not players who are of equal class.
Keith Earls replaced Zebo, and while Earls is very good he doesn’t have Zebo’s flair.
Ronan O’Gara came on for Sexton, and although O’Gara is one of the best tactical out-halves in the world, he doesn’t have Sexton’s all-round abilities. O’Gara also seemed to be having an off day when he came on.
Donncha O’Callaghan can be very good, but there’s always been something missing from his game. Fergus McFadden has strengths but isn’t as good defensively as D’Arcy. Ireland also had injury concerns with O’Driscoll and O’Brien but both seem to have pulled through.
Cian Healy had a moment of madness when he stamped on an English player, and has been banned for a month, meaning he’ll miss both Ireland’s matches against Scotland and France.
His loss will be one of the most keenly felt as we don’t have an abundance of good props, and with Mike Ross seemingly suffering during the games, we could be without both are front line props for the crucial game against France.
Ireland’s next opponents are the Scots, who are coming off a dominant performance against Italy, their first good performance in far too long. Scotland should be galvanised by their great win, while Ireland will be licking their collective wounds.
Wales will also be in good form, after a shock win against France. Wales finally ended their bogey, having lost the last 8 games they’ve played, while France suffered their second loss in a row, with a poor dispirited performance.
France now have to travel to Twickenham to face England, which will be a crunch game for the English, with them been the only team that can conceivably win the Grand Slam. France will want to avoid another embarrassing loss, their 3rd on the trot.