Failure doesn’t define you but the question for this Irish team is how do we take those setbacks and turn them into future success. With the Six Nations drawing to a close, no matter what happens at Kingspan Stadium today, we shouldn’t consider this Irish side’s performance a failure.
Instead we need to look at it as a big learning curve – for players, management and the 15 program. Starting off Greg McWilliams would have been aiming for three wins and if they walk away with two – by beating Scotland tonight – it won’t be a bad return.
I spoke to a few players this week and they are suffering physically and emotionally. Who wouldn’t be after 192 tackles against England? After sending 59 points in the second half, morale is understandably low. They have given their all but not being able to compete fairly with England remains a tough pill to swallow.
It was a really physical fight and I fear they could be a very tired team today. It’s a bit like the Italy game for Ireland – a must. It’s so important to finish off on a high. It is the battle of two amateur teams. Scotland is very similar to us, from their program structure to their inconsistency on the pitch.
Their scrum can be very good, they dominated against Italy and when they got their mouths going last weekend they were very dominant. But then they also sent out trials. They would have been really disappointed going from 10-3 to a 20-13 loss so coming to Belfast is a dangerous beast especially without wins on the board and a world championship to look forward to be able.
Their Maul Defense is very similar to ours and they can let teams attack. They can be very passive on defense and the key for Ireland is to go through the phases.
Scotland have a tremendously experienced attack. Jade Konkel is out but they still have Emma Wassell and Evie Gallagher who fitted in well in eighth. Then there’s Sarah Bonar, Chloe Rollie, Lisa Thomson, Rachel McLachlan, Rachel Malcolm and Helen Nelson. It’s an extremely experienced squad. If they get to play it could be a long night for Ireland.
We have to start well and stay on the ball. Greg will try to use his bench like he did against Italy: advance early and then rear fresh bodies.
Both teams showed what they can do, but they were also bad when they switched off. It’s about who can be consistent, get their set pieces right, keep the ball, go through the stages and punish the other.
The crowd is central. Looking at the clips from last weekend some of our profiles were very bad. England were a flat platform, their backs aligned, but Ireland had bums in the air, their pressure going down instead of out.
There was pressure on the front row from our flankers, who dived down with butts in the air. This is criminal because not only are you trying to withstand the pressure in front of and behind you, but someone is then hanging from your leg instead of being under your butt.
When people are tired and work so hard, such little things suffer. Many of the improvements they had shown against Italy were nullified by the weariness that caught up with them against England. Here, in my opinion, the experience of Cliodhna Moloney is missing.
Neve Jones (below) was the standout player for the Irish, a young player who led from the front and was exceptional, but if Cliodhna was there at set play she would be a little more accomplished and that would only help us in terms of consistency to the scrum -Time.
Scotland dominated the scrum against Italy and we can’t afford to let our set piece not shoot today. We need this platform to get us on the ball. England had 64 percent possessions and 81 percent territory. Sometimes we barely got out of our 22, working tirelessly and doing so many tough tackles. When we got the ball we had so little time in attack.
We have to win the ball, keep it and do the basics really well. If we can keep things simple, we will win the game.
What comes next, the Treaties are key to progress, but we cannot rush them. It cannot be a spontaneous reaction or a short-term solution. These changes won’t show up for another two or three years, but if we get the program right it will have a huge impact and allow players to be the best they can be.
But now only the 80 minutes on the pitch count. A win in front of a home crowd lets the players take a well-deserved break from a tough season with a smile on their faces – the future looks bright.
https://www.independent.ie/sport/rugby/this-game-is-a-must-win-if-ireland-are-to-move-forward-with-ambition-41602218.html This game is a must if Ireland is to progress with ambition