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    ROG summarises......

    https://www.irishexaminer.com/breaki...x6OKvejrz9GfUA

    That Ireland could lose a World Cup quarter-final to the All Blacks is not a major shock in itself. New Zealand just have better cattle, as I said in last week’s column. However, the manner of the loss, even at a remove now of five days, was utterly shocking.

    We are further away from a World Cup semi-final now than we were in 2011.

    The importance of perspective is paramount, but this was the sort of World Cup for Ireland that demands a complete rethink of how we prioritise, periodise and prepare. It isn’t just one thing here — it’s a complete re-evaluation in my book.

    For starters: do we want to be judged on World Cups or championships? We admired the Ireland team greatly over a recent period, but all the while other nations — primarily Wales and England — were preparing for a World Cup.

    Surely for Ireland to be a credible top tier nation, we have to be judged on the World Cup? Look at the semi-finalists.

    The next World Cup in France may be four years away but there’s no point winning Grand Slams and Six Nations in the interim unless they are achieved in tandem with the three P’s I’ve mentioned.

    Of course, we all live in the now and we are firmer in our convictions with the benefit of hindsight. And judging Ireland on the basis of beating New Zealand almost a year ago was fine last November.

    Similarly, we have to judge Ireland in the here and now — when it matters most.

    And in that regard we are further away by every metric from the last four of the World Cup.

    I got great advice when I retired. Thinking I might have accumulated a decent body of work over a decade and more, someone offered me a sage counterpoint: Rog, you’ll be remembered for your last three games.

    Joe Schmidt has been up around a 75% win rate but the taste of disappointment overpowers everything at the moment.

    Ireland have had winning Six Nations campaigns, but it’s clear to me that Wales and England look to Six Nations as a means to an end — the end being the World Cup.

    If we started well in Japan against Scotland, the wheels came off on the second weekend against the hosts.

    My contention is that the issues were worryingly evident long before that and if I was guilty of anything as a supporter, it was wishing away the problems of the warm-ups on the basis of ‘No, it couldn’t happen again in a World Cup’.

    The England game, in particular, at Twickenham, gave me that sick sensation in the pit of my stomach. It was the reason I indicated that for the Wales warm-up, a win was more important than a performance.

    If that seems odd to say about a warm-up, it betrayed my own subconscious concerns. Twickenham was a grim portent. You knew there was a problem, irrespective of what was in the players’ legs or not.

    That day showed to me that there was a rugby issue.
    He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck either, but a real duck that was actually lame. Maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

    #2
    En route to Japan this week, I did a bit of mathematics on the game minutes of Ireland’s 9, 10 and 12 compared to New Zealand’s. It doesn’t stack up well.

    The three Irish lads were rusty while Richie Mo’unga, to mention just one I am familiar with in terms of workload, has been on the go since last January.

    I am convinced more than ever we have got to the stage where our players are under-rugbyed (is that a word?).

    The local derbies are gone, and with them the bite; the national team has become a disproportionate priority, so where’s the hardness in our players, that durability from playing in real games? There’s no PRO14 relegation, there’s no Six Nations relegation and if someone throws at me ‘neither has New Zealand or Super Rugby’, NZ are streets ahead in their mental as well as physical preparation.

    Many noted Steve Hansen’s comment after the game about relative ‘experience’ but fewer commented on remarks by All Blacks in the build-up about how important their mental tune-up was.

    You’d have to question the non-selection of form players in the quarter-final — the likes of Jordan Larmour, Andrew Conway and Chris Farrell, all of whom were going really well. Momentum is a big thing, that’s something we have learned.

    Robbie Henshaw’s failure to ground a ball for a try was an unfortunate metaphor for Ireland in that quarter final — undercooked and not up to speed.

    There was nothing instinctive about Ireland; compare it to Mo’unga, whose rugby brain was something you’d associate with an out-half with 50 caps.

    We have rightly praised Joe Schmidt and Ireland for what they have achieved over the past few years — and for what Joe did at Leinster before that.

    Now they deserve constructive criticism. Some of the journalists feed this sense that we are better than we actually are.

    I read James Ryan got a 7/10 somewhere for his World Cup.

    I presume that was in an Irish context because if it’s in relation to the World Cup as a whole, what does it say about an All Black who might actually win the World Cup and get the same rating from a more balanced assessment?

    I don’t say it lightly, but it looked like the All Blacks were playing a different sport to Ireland.

    And yet they would probably rate themselves as 8.5 out of ten. You will get a nine for the semi-final tomorrow.

    They have an innate capacity to build for when the moment requires.

    This is damaging for everyone associated with Irish rugby, and I say that as a big fan.

    I could even see my own players at La Rochelle coming in on Saturday afternoon and looking at me in an odd sort of way that said: I thought ye Irish guys were meant to be good at rugby? ‘Like how am I meant to take your message seriously’ was the subconscious vibe I was getting from them.

    Perception is everything and the perception was awful. There is a massive job to be done now, but it might help Andy Farrell, not stymie him.

    We had built up a lot of players to world class status without them ever really getting there. For me, world class status is the top three in your position in the world.

    Do Ireland have that? On current form, perhaps Tadhg Furlong and James Ryan. Our half-backs were not in world-class form in Japan and there was no one else you’d consider.

    We throw around that stuff way too easily. We are judging players on a Heineken Cup, or even a Grand Slam, when it seems to me that others are busier peaking for Rugby World Cups.

    Getting into the minutiae of the 80 minutes serves no purpose at this remove. It was an odd and rare sensation watching your country against a group of players you have just finished coaching.

    I genuinely thought Ireland would trade blows for 30 minutes even if I feared the prize herd was in black.

    England’s semi-final selection has made my mind up that the All Blacks won’t be stopped from reaching a third successive final. The opportunities New Zealand will have with George Ford at 10 will be too rich for them to pass up. Irrespective where Eddie Jones tries to hide the Leicester 10 in the defensive set up, the All Blacks will find it.

    Owen Farrell is a proper player and I like him at ten. NZ respect him there, and the balance was perfect with Slade at 13, Tuilagi at 12.

    Clearly England management believe they can run the All Blacks around the pitch, employ two receivers and fire May and Daly at them. To score 40-odd points against the Wallabies was a statement win and for sure, Ford has developed his game, but it’s just a different body in front of you when it’s him and not Farrell.

    Instead of asking questions of the All Blacks, England have drawn a map for them.

    With Scott Barrett’s inclusion, there are nine Crusaders starting for the All Blacks tomorrow. I’m not so sure that the Leinster v Crusaders question holds as much water now.

    Anyway, New Zealand v South Africa final for me.
    He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck either, but a real duck that was actually lame. Maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

    Comment


      #3
      Thanks for posting.
      Makes for some seriously grim reading. The only positive note is that it clears the decks for Farrell. He won't have to look over his shoulder and worry about the Schmidt fans in the media.

      For my money the team needs to be built around our best passers of the ball and with the next four years in mind. For me that's focusing on players like of Joey Carbery, Craig Casey, Chris Farrell and the lads that Andy Friend is producing at Connacht. I'm not suggesting we jettison our current crew, just the idea that the focus is firmly on putting the passing game at the centre of everything we do and move away from the focus on the ruck and retaining the ball among the forwards, all the time building for the next RWC.

      I feel sorry for the squad and for the coaching staff. In the Universe of Karma, they didn't do anything evil enough to be exposed in such a brutal fashion. But now that the old regime is dead and buried, we can have a revolution.
      Munster – Champions of Europe 2006, 2008, 2020.

      Comment


        #4
        He says:

        "I got great advice when I retired. Thinking I might have accumulated a decent body of work over a decade and more, someone offered me a sage counterpoint: Rog, you’ll be remembered for your last three games."

        They were wrong. He will be remembered for some fantastic performances in green and red including.

        - The try against Toulouse in 2000
        - the try against Leinster in 2006
        - the drop goal against Northampton in 2011
        - the drop goal against Wales to win the Grand Slam

        Similarly, in the cold light of day we will remember good times under JS - that performance in Chicago was incredible, plus the win against the Blacks in 2018, the performance against England in twickenham to win the grand slam, the 6 nations win in Paris in 2014 etc...

        Like a lot of coaches, their greatest strength (loyalty and systems) can be their greatest weakness. This team left the motorway last year and ended up on a country boreen last week. But we will have good days again in the near future.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by The Last Stand View Post
          He says:

          ...
          ... But we will have good days again in the near future.
          I think you're missing the point. In his eyes, it's time that we started counting getting to RWC semi-finals as the so-called "good days". And we need re-assess our view of how good our players really are.
          "I don't believe in fairytales," O'Connell once told me, "even though it feels like I've been lucky enough to live through a few. However it ends, I'll feel lucky."
          Donald McRae, Guardian Rugby, October 2015

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by blackwarrior View Post

            I think you're missing the point. In his eyes, it's time that we started counting getting to RWC semi-finals as the so-called "good days". And we need re-assess our view of how good our players really are.
            I get the point. I disagree with it. The bread and butter, and heart of rugby is the H Cup and the six nations sprinkled with a Lions tour, Autumn Internationals and the odd tour.

            plus even JS said that one of the issues with the World Cup performance was that they turned their attention to it too early and for some reason that meant going into their shell. In 2018 we brought through players but that stopped.
            Last edited by The Last Stand; 25th-October-2019, 18:49.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by The Last Stand View Post

              I get the point. I disagree with it. The bread and butter, and heart of rugby is the H Cup and the six nations sprinkled with a Lions tour, Autumn Internationals and the odd tour.

              plus even JS said that one of the issues with the World Cup performance was that they turned their attention to it too early and for some reason that meant going into their shell. In 2018 we brought through players but that stopped.
              Targeting is nonsense. It should just be a matter of adjusting when you are in prime form, otherwise you play well consistently, and, remarkably enough, the rewards come. Peak performance is a notch about where the usual level should be- that’s what we get wrong. Play well enough to deserve a win, and it’ll happen more often that not.

              Comment


                #8
                Exactly, we've previously seen sides stumble into RWC finals & compete, who just know how to win & contend in tournaments e.g. England 2007, France 2011, etc. So no need to target it hugely imho.

                Ireland's mistakes this time didn't include targeting& peaking for the 2019 6Ns over the RWC say, by winning it & a grand slam in 2019. Rather the coach thought they were so brilliant in 2018, that he photocopied the team sheet, and game plan & tried to press rinse & repeat. And thought this would work!?

                That strategy was fine in one way, but of course it didn't allow for players getting past it, e.g. Kearney & Best. It didn't adjust for the much better form of other players than were selected e.g. Larmour, Conway, Farrell & Scannell (& Kilcoyne?) in particular. Lastly, it didn't allow that all sides had figured out how to beat Ireland. This was most peculiar with England, Wales & England again all doing so comprehensively before the RWC & of course Japan & NZ again in it!!! (surprising hey??)

                Lastly, Ireland management compounded these already grave mistakes at the RWC, by repeating an avoidable errror of so many previous Irish campaigns I.e. they over played players during this intense tournament, did not actively rotate their squad nearly enough & did not allow adequate recovery for players between games, by rotating & resting them & keeping them fresh. This was worst exemplified by playing the top 23 v Samoa, ffs, just 7 days before facing the 14 day prepped & rested mighty NZ, who of course ran a ragged, error strewn, jaded looking Ireland into the ground in the QF. This last mistake was really stupid imho, as it was clear v Japan, that recovery was an issue for this squad after playing well v Scotland, & Ireland's group should have easily allowed JS play a second team v Samoa. (except her panicked imho) No excuse for that mind boggling mistake imho....

                Just infuriatingly fuppin stupid!!
                Last edited by Daithi; 26th-October-2019, 02:32.
                ____________________________________________
                Munster were great when they were Munster.

                alas they are just north munster now.......
                ____________________________________________

                Comment


                  #9
                  FFS the World Cup is where you measure yourself. Six Nations are grand and all that but if you want to be the best you have to beat the best. Schmidts failures in World Cups are Shakesperian failures that tarnish his reputation. Best ever Irish coach with a huge f*cking asterix

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Now that the dust is settling and the hacks are putting the boot into joe I’m in two minds about the RWC.

                    firstly NZ played a near perfect game against us, we made mistakes that helped them win, but they were playing so well they would have won anyway, a lot is being said about our QF performance that doesn’t give credit to just how good NZ were. Maybe when the hammer England today it will change people minds.

                    secondly, we are lucky we got such a weak pool to stumble out of, had we got a different team to Scotland, like France or Argentina it could have been curtains earlier .

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by Daithi View Post
                      Exactly, we've previously seen sides stumble into RWC finals & compete, who just know how to win & contend in tournaments e.g. England 2007, France 2011, etc. So no need to target it hugely imho.

                      Ireland's mistakes this time didn't include targeting& peaking for the 2019 6Ns over the RWC say, by winning it & a grand slam in 2019. Rather the coach thought they were so brilliant in 2018, that he photocopied the team sheet, and game plan & tried to press rinse & repeat. And thought this would work!?

                      That strategy was fine in one way, but of course it didn't allow for players getting past it, e.g. Kearney & Best. It didn't adjust for the much better form of other players than were selected e.g. Larmour, Conway, Farrell & Scannell (& Kilcoyne?) in particular. Lastly, it didn't allow that all sides had figured out how to beat Ireland. This was most peculiar with England, Wales & England again all doing so comprehensively before the RWC & of course Japan & NZ again in it!!! (surprising hey??)

                      Lastly, Ireland management compounded these already grave mistakes at the RWC, by repeating an avoidable errror of so many previous Irish campaigns I.e. they over played players during this intense tournament, did not actively rotate their squad nearly enough & did not allow adequate recovery for players between games, by rotating & resting them & keeping them fresh. This was worst exemplified by playing the top 23 v Samoa, ffs, just 7 days before facing the 14 day prepped & rested mighty NZ, who of course ran a ragged, error strewn, jaded looking Ireland into the ground in the QF. This last mistake was really stupid imho, as it was clear v Japan, that recovery was an issue for this squad after playing well v Scotland, & Ireland's group should have easily allowed JS play a second team v Samoa. (except her panicked imho) No excuse for that mind boggling mistake imho....

                      Just infuriatingly fuppin stupid!!
                      On the money- Dathi. For me the selection mistake was Japan. Joe just rolled on the tried and trusted intending to basically secure the top place, but I don’t think the players had recovered sufficiently from the Scotland game. Had the gamble worked presumably he would then have rested and rotated for the other, eminently winnable games. Frankly, fun as Japan were to watch, a rotated Ireland side should still have beaten then. He just didn’t trust players beyond his go to 15, and never really has. We were still a million miles from ABs, and probably SA given how they and we were shaping- but playing a better rested japan at home, with a team that must have looked battle weary in training? Losing the gamble and then sticking to the tried and trusted til the end? It was lousy management. And I really do not like the way he seems to be spreading the blame around, and accepting little himself.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        His best point in that is how we're under rugby-ed.

                        The over protection of players works best for the provinces in European competition. In intense international competition it feels like players bodies aren't up for it, and we struggle to put consistent levels of physical and mental commitment together week to week. Our players aren't really exposed to the bear pit of survival you get in the premiership or Top 14, and seem to buckle when our backs are to the wall in international competition. The quality might not be much higher than the same level in the Pro 14, but the stakes certainly are.

                        I think a bit much is being made of the four year cycle thing. We clearly did aim for the world cup, we just got the approach totally arseways, and it became more arseways the closer we got. If we had approached the past year the way we approached previous years - picked fit and in form players, evolved our game - then we would have pushed on from 2018. The problem was we stood still and became afraid to change what brought us success, either the system or the players.

                        2018 was on the back of a rush of blood into the team in Ryan, Stockdale and Leavy while players like Ringrose, Earls and Healy were fresh back in the side after injury troubles. Guys like Farrell were involved a bit, you had Porter and Carbery on the bench, and just a really fresh feeling about things. We had none of that since, and there was a real sense of staleness when the side was announced for NZ.

                        Also, the idea you can play one dimensional rugby for years and then pull the magic plays out of the bag in a QF is pretty obviously horse****. If players haven't had the chance to execute an attacking structure in lesser matches, they have little chance of pulling it off in the biggest match they'll ever have played in.
                        "There are probably more annoying things than being hectored about African development by a wealthy Irish rock star in a cowboy hat, but I can't think of one at the moment"

                        Paul Theroux

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by Yatenga View Post
                          FFS the World Cup is where you measure yourself. Six Nations are grand and all that but if you want to be the best you have to beat the best. Schmidts failures in World Cups are Shakesperian failures that tarnish his reputation. Best ever Irish coach with a huge f*cking asterix
                          I think Obelix was the huge one, no?

                          Comment


                            #14
                            We most definitely have been "under-rugbyed", it feels like we're excessively cotton wooling players and suffering from a lack of match sharpness and team cohesion as a result.

                            There's far too great an emphasis in Irish rugby on rest and doing the bare minimum required against weaker teams while targeting a handful of "big" games to show up for. Schmidt highlighted how big an advantage the weeks rest was for NZ, France and England and it's probably fair to say our player welfare system hands our provinces and international team that advantage over others through the Heineken cup and Six Nations. It works out well for the lesser competitions but it's poor preparation come World Cup time when the playing field is level and we discover we have no idea how to build continuity from big performances every week or how to deal with opponents who match our energy and intensity.
                            Last edited by Dowlinz; 26th-October-2019, 14:04.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by MunsterLux View Post

                              I think Obelix was the huge one, no?
                              Either way, our approach appeared to date back to Roman times alright.

                              Comment

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