Was ultimately a complete disappointment. Trying to work out why…my reasons are a few-fold:
- Recent 6-nations near successes gave us a false sense of where we are – other nations (eg France) stepped up a notch, we rested on our laurels
- We relied way too much on flinging it out to the backs even when under huge pressure and without going through the phases – there is only so much Brian O’Driscoll can do going backwards with no space and in-your-face defences, and that brings me to:
- We rely too much on our over-vaunted midfield – what happened to the powerful lineout and open play of a couple of seasons back?
- We never matched the ferocity in defence that the teams that are doing well in this world cup are showing (such as Argentina and obviously the All Blacks [not to mention the rising Islanders – go FIJI!])
- We don’t support the ball carrier quickly enough to the breakdown
- We have become obsessed with offloading in the tackle – once again, this doesn’t work when you are being overrun on your own ten metre line going backwards with no support – moments need to be chosen! I think defences, offloads in the tackle, and quick powerful support will win this world cup – ie New Zealand
- Our set-pieces were woeful. Lineout, once an O’Connell and O’Kelly dominated fortress for us, was a shambles. No accuracy, no ideas. Scrum – always on the back foot against any half-decent team
- Some said we were over-coached – how does this explain the LACK of structure in everything we did?
- What the hell was Ronan O’Gara up to? He kicked like he had a broken foot (actually my mate Rhys has a broken foot, and he kicks better) He needs to go, but what are our options? We should have fielded David Humphreys for one last World Cup – he may not have changed our overall chances, but I think we would have beaten Argentina with him – he was a far superior kicker in tight high-pressure games. He was forced to retire one World Cup too early by Eddie O’Sullivan’s obsession with Munster players, and the ROG/Stringer combo – speaking of which, what does the unexciting Eoin Reddan add? At least Stringer can tackle like a terrier even if he is tiny
- Where was the Munster factor? Don’t they put themselves on the line for Ireland?
- And lastly, we just weren’t good enough. We would have been crushed by the All Blacks in Paris anyway