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    Analyst Columns......


    Galwey's Six Nations Column </font>



    Ireland and Munster legend Mick Galwey shares his thoughts
    on Ireland's RBS 6 Nations progress with Rugby.ie




    There are special occasions when say yourself, ‘thanks be
    to God I’m around for this’, and Croke Park last Saturday
    was definitely one of them.


    As a spectacle it was magnificent; and one which was crowned
    by as good an Irish performance as we’ve seen for years.


    All in all, the first visit of an English side to the famous
    old ground couldn’t have gone better. We were courteous,
    welcoming, polite and respectful; and then we beat the daylights
    out of them.





    I have rarely seen an Irish side as pumped up for a game.
    One look at them during the national anthems and you knew
    that something special was in the offing.


    I don’t think I’ve ever heard Amhrán Na bhFiann
    belted out with as much passion. While the silence for God
    Save The Queen cut the ground from under all those who predicted
    that there would be trouble at the game.


    With the world watching, it was a great advert both for
    sport and for Ireland.


    Eddie O’Sullivan must have been delighted with the display.
    It was as comprehensive a victory as Ireland have ever recorded
    over England.


    Brian Ashton’s men never got a toe-hold in the game, not
    to mind a foot-hold. They were literally blown away.


    It’s hard not to have a bit of sympathy for a coach when
    you see a side being taken apart like that but there was
    also an element of justice in the former Irish coach being
    on the receiving end of last weekend’s drubbing.


    In his last game in charge of Ireland, Ashton distanced
    himself from his players when he claimed that he didn’t
    know whose game plan the Irish had followed but it wasn’t
    his.


    I’d say similar thoughts were going through his head about
    both sides last Saturday. England weren’t let play to the
    plan they had in mind and Ireland were a hell of a lot better
    than anyone expected.


    England’s approach was based on they being able to slow
    matters down at every opportunity and provide the platform
    for Jonny Wilkinson to control proceedings.


    However, to do this they needed to win the battle up front
    but that was never going to happen. And that was clear from
    the first 15 minutes of the game when the Irish pack rattled
    the visitors.


    Paul O’Connell set the tone early on. He was the man who
    was taking the big lineouts and kick-offs, and he was hitting
    rucks like a man possessed. O’Connell was clearly back to
    his best, making the calls and leading by example. He was
    by far and

    #2
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    @@@@SPAN id="news_c&#111;ntent"><h2>Exposing astounding English naivety</h2>@@@@SPAN ="storytime">26/02/2007@@@@/SPAN>

    @@@@SPAN ="story">By Donal Linehan
    IF ever a team captured the spirit of a nation, it was Ireland's 22 proud heroes in Croke Park on Saturday.

    You
    sensed something special was going to happen from the moment the teams
    were announced. A deafening roar accompanied the name of each Irish
    player. If anyone was in any doubt what the occasion meant to those
    players, one only had to look at the tear-strewn faces of John Hayes
    and Jerry Flannery before the start of the game.

    The build up
    to this contest was dominated by matters other than rugby and a strange
    nervousness hung over the stadium in the moments prior to the national
    anthems. For the 40 seconds that it took to perform 'God Save the
    Queen', the eyes of the world were focused on a green field on the
    north-side of Dublin. One need not have worried.

    Once again
    those charged with the responsibility of supporting an Irish team did
    the country proud. The round of applause that followed England's anthem
    will be remembered in the same manner as that which greeted John
    Pullin's England in Lansdowne Road in 1973.

    With the memory of
    the last minute defeat to France still raw, Ireland played with a
    commitment and intensity that blew England away. Nowhere was this more
    obvious than in the performance of Paul O'Connell. He played like a man
    possessed. Where he went, others followed.

    Despite conceding
    the first score to a Jonny Wilkinson penalty in the second minute,
    Ireland stage-managed the opening sequences to ensure the slow start
    that proved so costly against France would not be repeated. This was
    exemplified by the manner in which they chose to run from deep inside
    their own 22 on three occasions in the opening quarter. As a result of
    the yardage made, Ireland grew in confidence.

    This victory was
    built on solid foundations. For the six Munster forwards on duty, the
    sight of Martin Corry, Louis Deacon and George Chuter evoked memories
    of Leicester in Thomond Park. The prime victims appeared to be Corry
    and Harry Ellis who were picked up and dumped on their backsides with
    such regularity they must have realised this was payback.

    In
    Ireland's successive defeats of England over the past three seasons,
    the launching pad has been the demolition of the England lineout. On
    this occasion it was no different. O'Connell, in particular, was
    masterful and took on additional responsibility by calling the majority
    of ball on himself. He also attacked England's delivery with menace,
    pinching two vital balls in the first half.

    If the lineout set
    the tone, Ireland scrum was a revelation. The front row of Hayes, Rory
    Best and Marcus Horan was imperious throughout and the introduction of
    Julian White early in the second half made no difference. The fact that
    Corry was forced to pick from the base of a retreating scrum presented
    an inviting target for Ireland's dominant back row. They didn't
    disappoint.

    The key moment in this game was the sin binning
    of Danny Grewcock prior to half-time. In his absence Ireland racked up
    14 unanswered points. England's naivety in this period was astounding.
    Forced to defend a five metre scrum with seven forwards, I couldn't
    believe they failed to bring Andy Farrell in from the centre to plug
    the gap in the back row. He started his Union career in the No. 6
    jersey. Sensing the opportunity, Ireland shunted Eng

    Comment


      #3

      <div id="article">
      <h2>Up the junction - Barnes</h2>
      <div>
      Created on </div>
      </div><!-
      clubtext=
      channeltext=446225
      comptext=
      defaulttext=
      hlid=446225->To the events in Dublin in a few lines time but first and
      above all, congratulations to Italy for recording their first away
      victory in the Six Nations. Scotland gifted them the lead but the power
      and control of the Italian pack suggested that, even without a 21-point
      gimme, this is a game they may well have won. Wales will not anticipate
      their trip to Rome with glee after losing a third straight game.
      However, this was their first effort near the standards they should be
      setting themselves.

      To lose to France was not a disgrace
      especially as Yannick Jauzion was returning to something near his
      maestro best. The French are solidly on course for the Grand Slam but
      nothing yet convinces me they are anywhere near a threat to New Zealand
      come the autumn. Indeed the gulf between the All Blacks and Europe
      seems to be growing although Ireland’s performance against England was
      the outstanding effort so far this Six Nations.

      The pack,
      inspired by the Munster trio of Paul O’ Connell, Paul Wallace and
      Dennis Leamy were always on the front foot and the returning Brian O’
      Driscoll undoubtedly adds a degree of confidence to those around him.
      In particular, Ronan O’ Gara was superb, totally eclipsing Jonny
      Wilkinson who was indifferent for a second game.


      The
      biggest question surrounding what appears as a fine Irish win was the
      quality of the opposition. England were awful — as they were against
      Italy. The players seem to struggle to changing circumstances — an
      indicator of the baleful influence of over coaching that has become all
      too prevalent within the culture of the English game.
      Brian Ashton has a culture to change and miracles will not
      happen overnight. Having said that, the coach and his fellow selectors
      must accept their share of responsibility for a poor selection; pick a
      wrong team Monday and you won’t win Saturday.

      That was the
      biggest failing of the last regime and it remains a worry with the new
      one. Julian White should have started and tried to dismantle the Irish
      scrum and therefore game from the first as he did to Marcus Horan when
      he faced him in the Leicester shirt against Munster. If this means
      dropping the captain, so be it. There should be nothing scared about
      the captaincy of a team. There was also a lack of mobility in the
      second and back row, whilst the understandable gamble on Andy Farrell
      needs to be shelved until he is a more instinctive union player.

      The match was the first real test of Ashton’s regime and it failed dismally. Bold remedies are required.
      At club level, Northampton produced the result of the day
      with their win at Leicester. Worcester are not out of contention given
      a cursory glance at the table but this result will surely lift the East
      Midlands side and sink their rivals from the west. At the other end,
      only Gloucester of the top five won. It is one hell of a competitive
      league.
      This weekend the cameras return to Leicester where the Tigers
      will be smarting. It will also be another chance to view one of the few
      individual English successes of the weekend, David Strettle. The other
      was Harry Ellis, let’s hope he plays and both Leicester and the rapidly
      improving Harlequins have enough belief to make a real match of this
      game.
      <stron

      Comment


        #4
        <div ="float-left -relative margin-top-minus-22">@@@@SPAN ="small"> From @@@@/SPAN>@@@@SPAN ="byline">The Times@@@@/SPAN></div><div ="small color-666"> February 26, 2007</div><h1 ="ing">Hands up, we were thrashed. But we must learn from this</h1><!- END: Module - Main ing -><!-CMA user Call Diffrenet Variati&#111;n Of Image ->

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        generated if we are coming from a secti&#111;n or topic -><!- Print Author name associated with the article -><div id="main-article"><div ="article-author"><!- Print Author name from By Line associated with the article ->@@@@SPAN ="small">@@@@/SPAN>@@@@SPAN ="byline"> Jonny Wilkinson
        @@@@/SPAN></div></div><!- END: Module - M24 Article line with no image -><!- Article Copy module ->
        <!- BEGIN: Module - Main Article -><!- Check the Article and display accordingly-><!- Print Author image associated with the Author-><!- Print the of the article-><!- Paginati&#111;n ->


        There is no way of appreciating just how disappointed the England players were
        about being unable to get into the game on Saturday. Defeat like that is
        almost unbearable as a professional sportsman. It is horrendous when it is
        your life and it doesn’t go the way you want it to. The dressing-room was a
        pretty quiet place afterwards. But the flipside is that there are lessons we
        can learn.



        We now have more information to use and draw on for the next game. Most of
        all, the guys have a better understanding of what is needed. You have to be
        strong enough to take it on the chin and take the huge amount of flak. It
        doesn’t mean you bow down.



        It is early in the team’s development. We have lots to learn and we will. And
        what better way than to do so against France at Twickenham? The players are
        all enormously proud people and professional about what has to be done.



        There was not a huge amount we can take from a positive perspective. That is
        the reason why we need to learn. We need to look at the reasons why we were
        beaten. We played against a side that has been together for many years, that
        has momentum.
        <!-#include ="m63-article-related-attachements."->


        We were not able to show anything of ourselves, because we were not given the
        opportunity and did not have enough ball. We felt like we were chasing the
        game the whole time. It demonstrates why rugby is the ultimate team game
        because when a team gets it right, as Ireland did, it becomes irrelevant
        what you do. The result was not something that just happened. It happened
        because they are a very, very talented side.




        It might have been a record score but I do not look at it as negatively as
        that. Points are irrelevant. There was nothing wrong with the Ireland side
        we beat 42-6 in the grand-slam game in 2003 but we got it right on the day.
        It did not make them a bad side. We are a team that has got a lot to prove.
        If you don’t get the basics in place it all gets lost inside. Ireland had a
        game plan in place. The scoreline was irrelevant.



        People compare them to where we were before the 2003 World Cup. I am not in a
        position to make that judgment with regard to talent but as a country
        Ireland have moved with the times. They have done a lot of learning. They
        have found what works for them. Everyone has to learn lessons. Ireland
        learnt a painful one two weeks ago against France.



        They showed they can incorporate that lesson and turn things around very
        quickly. The understanding they have comes from a lot of time together. They
        are in very good shape for the World Cup in what is a massive year for
        rugby. They are coming good at the right time.



        I think Ireland are capable of beating anyone, which means they must be in the
        top three. But for me rugby doesn’t work like that.

        Comment


          #5
          <div id="twocolumnleftcolumninsiderightcolumntop">
          <h1>Farrell should not shoulder all the blame for team failings</h1>
          England lost the game against Ireland in the forwards, so it's wrong to pick on Andy Farrell.
          </div>

          <div id="twocolumnleftcolumninsideleftcolumn">


          <h2>Shaun Edwards</h2>


          </div>

          <div id="twocolumnleftcolumninsiderightcolumn">
          <div id="twocolumnleftcolumntoplinetext">February 26, 2007 12:50 AM</div>


          It was fairly obvious where the brickbats would be aimed after
          England's performance at Croke Park and I don't want to be cast as an
          apologist for Andy Farrell, but to single him out, as some commentators
          have done, is just plain wrong. England lost because they did badly in
          too many core areas of rugby union.



          Instead of England's expected dominance of the scrum and hoped-for
          parity in the lineout, Ireland edged the first and commanded the second
          thanks to Paul O'Connell's towering performance and pilfering and some
          naive thinking, especially when Danny Grewcock was shown the yellow
          card.



          Immediately England had to defend a five-metre lineout. They chose
          to compete for the throw when, one big man down, they should have
          stayed on their feet to defend the anticipated Irish drive. The result
          was inevitable. Instead of being free to join the midfield defence,
          England's open-side flanker, Magnus Lund, got sucked into the maul,
          Gordon D'Arcy produced a little bit of magic and Girvan Dempsey made
          the score.



          A small thing, but at this level they change matches. At times Tests
          are like chess matches and never more so than when it comes to the
          kicking game. And this is where Ronan O'Gara takes the bows. He was
          exceptional all day; I can't remember him being better.



          When England applied pressure he was clinical in getting Ireland out
          of trouble and back downfield where the visitors didn't have anyone who
          could answer at the same level. Jonny Wilkinson looked out of sorts,
          Harry Ellis failed with a few attempted box kicks and Mathew Tait
          turned over the ball by running back into his own 22 before kicking to
          touch.



          Of course it helps a fly-half to have a pack that is going forward,
          winning the majority of contests at the breakdown and providing the
          kind of silver service that O'Gara enjoyed. But England's defensive
          patterns didn't help, failing to put enough pressure on him.



          In the first half it was much too lateral and there was obviously a
          half-time rethink, but the resulting pattern had a few kinks of its
          own. Farrell and Mike Tindall got up faster but, as happened in the
          first half, the wings lagged 10 yards back - more in the pattern of a
          sevens defence, something with which David Strettle is comfortable.



          I'm not having a go at the young Harlequins wing. I'm a great fan
          and he did at least get over the Irish line - from a Farrell cut-out
          pass. Farrell may be newish to the game and still learning but take a
          good look at the video. He was virtually error-free and was one of our
          better performers. But for now he's too easy a target for the old
          brigade.
          </div>

          Comment

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