When a battered and injured Irish side left the Stade Ernest Wallon last night, their attention was already on Italy’s home game next weekend, in an important game that is approaching the must-win category.
rance has so brutally exposed Ireland’s weaknesses that players will need to pick themselves up both mentally and physically.
Perhaps most worrying from an Irish perspective is that the set piece has stalled so badly that there isn’t enough time until next Sunday to properly address the issues.
That task is made even more difficult by the fact that the side will not reconvene until Thursday before taking on Italy at Musgrave Park three days later.
A humiliating experience in front of 11,657 fans at the raucous Stade Ernest Wallon further highlighted the widening gap between Ireland and the world’s best teams.
France excelled at sending off their visitors recklessly, scoring six tries against Ireland in an absolutely dominant display.
For Greg McWilliams, it was the kind of heavy defeat that deep down he must have feared.
“You want to keep the ball when you play international rugby, especially when your set pieces aren’t working,” said the Ireland head coach.
“At times when you’re trying to gain momentum and you’re making basic handling mistakes, it’s difficult because you’ve lost all the momentum and all of a sudden it’s 3-0, 8-0, 13-0, 15- 0, then suddenly it’s 26-0.
“In the second half I thought the girls reacted well. We watched some video in the dressing room, we tweaked a few things, I found her depth better and I found our execution better.
“If you look at the line of defence, it’s something to be proud of. They not only batted and topped, but they did it with vigor and they put up a really good line against a French side who easily defeated New Zealand twice in November.
“So yes, disappointing, we need to keep the ball and we need to get better.”
Ireland’s inability to keep the ball came from their really poor execution of the fundamentals, like their own line.
Such mistakes are inexcusable at any level, let alone on the international stage.
“I think together they were snapping at the ball, they got pretty flat and they got pretty scared because when you don’t have the ball and when you don’t have the ball in play, when you get it back you tend to be more scared , when you get it,” McWilliams continued.
“Look, let’s be honest, We have a lot of work to do around our set pieces. The coaches know that, the players know that and we have to acknowledge that and aim to do better.
“Rugby is a possession game. You need to hold the ball, and you want to make sure you hold the ball for a long time when you get it. We didn’t and I’m disappointed about that.
“If you look at the Welsh game and the areas that we’ve had to work on, we’ve seen huge improvements. So it’s not like a fake pat on the back. It’s not about that, but it shows that we’re working so hard to get better. We saw elements of that today, which is probably why I’m in remarkably good shape after a loss.”
The competition was over at half-time and by then France had already bagged the bonus point thanks to attempts by the standout crowd favorites from Toulouse, Laure Sansus, Melissande Llorens, Audrey Forlani and Clara Joyeux.
McWilliams was 0:26 behind and the scrum and lane had a lot of trouble. Christy Haney jumped off the bench for her debut, meaning Linda Djougang switched sides of the scrum to play 80 straight minutes as a highlight of Ireland’s lack of depth on prop.
Sansus had their second try of the game before Ireland finally stayed patient and worked their way through the stages, resulting in Eve Higgins finishing an excellent team try.
France would have the last word, however, as Emilie Boulard crossed for the sixth time, adding Jessy Tremouliere’s conversion to Caroline Drouin’s earlier eight points from the boot.
Boulard was booked late for a high tackle and when Ireland looked for a second attempt at consolation, as they had in the previous 79 minutes, a lost lane halted their attack.
“There’s more to come from this Irish side and I just hope people out there stay patient because you have to be very proud of the girls and their efforts,” added McWilliams.
As much as fans may be willing to be patient, it seems more important than ever for this Irish team in transition to beat Italy at home.
Goalscorers – France: Sansus 2 attempts, Llorens, Forlani, Joyeux, Boulard 1 attempt each, Drouin 1 Con & 2 Pens, Tremouliere 1 Con. Ireland: Higgins 1 try.
France: C Boulard; Banet C, Filopon M, Vernier G (Jacquet C 69), Llorens M; C Drouin (J Tremouliere 55), L Sansus (A Chambon 60) ; C Lindelauf (A Deshayes 55), L Touye (C Domain 68), C Joyeux (A Khalfaoui 55); M Fall (C Ferer 55), A Forlani; A Berthoumieu, G Hermet (captain) (J Annery 63), R Menag-er.
Ireland: E Considine (B Parsons ht); AL Murphy Crowe, E Higgins, S Flood (E Breen 74), L Mulhall; N Cronin, A Reilly (K Dane 55); L Djougang, N Jones (E Hooban 55), K O’Dwyer (C Haney ht); N Fryday (Captain) (A McGann 74), S Monaghan; S Wall, E McMahon, B Hogan (H O’Connor 55).
Referee: A Barrett’s Theron (South Africa).
https://www.independent.ie/sport/womens-sport/there-is-more-to-come-from-this-irish-side-greg-mcwilliams-focused-on-improvement-after-french-humbling-41515077.html ‘There’s more to come from this Irish side’ – Greg McWilliams focused on improvement after the French were humbled