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Ireland 24 France 9

by Frank Schnittger Sun Oct 11th, 2015 at 02:11:18 PM EST

OK, I don't want to crow too much but Ireland were unfortunate to win by only 15 points and lose three of their best players to injury - Sexton, O'Connell and O'Mahoney - three of the main leaders of the team.  The match confirmed my  prior prognostications that Ireland are now a better team than that which won the last two 6 Nations titles.  Not only that, but all 8 substitutes played their part and added something positive to the team performance - something that would never have been the case in the past.

For France it is a demoralising defeat, the third time in a row that they have now lost to Ireland - and they have not beaten Ireland in their last five meetings.  Ireland had 70% possession and France never looked even close to winning the match never once threatening the Irish try line. Having said all of that, France are still a very good side, and could well embarrass the All Blacks in the quarter-final.

The Quarter final match-ups have now been decided:

South Africa vs. Wales
New Zealand vs. France
Ireland vs. Argentina
Australia versus Scotland

In other words, very much as I predicted with Wales replacing the home nation England. So much for my detractors Eurogreen, Melanchthon et al! That is part of the weakness of Rugby as a world sport: the international pecking order is fairly clearly established and is rarely upset.  For all their natural and numerical advantages, France still have some way to go to being a top power in World Rugby.

Having said all that, if O'Connell and Sexton are ruled out of the World Cup, the road ahead will become increasingly difficult for Ireland.  Argentina will offer a stern challenge in the quarter final and my prediction that Ireland will proceed to the semi-final is far from a done deal.  Nevertheless it has beeen a good week for Irish sport - beating world champions Germany in the European Cup qualifying was another highlight.  If things get much better than this, I can see Prime Minister, Enda Kenny, calling a snap general election in November rather than the expected date in early spring...


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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Oct 12th, 2015 at 11:35:16 AM EST
Wales and France supporters had a hard weekend.

Though Wales wasn't bad at all. France played pretty much as I realistically expected, though you can always dream that they will work the old magic. There's not much magic that works against Ireland, anyway.

I mean, where's the Celtic mist in all that?

I used to be afew. I'm still not many.

by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Mon Oct 12th, 2015 at 02:01:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You mean the fog of confusion?

O'Connell has always played the full 80 for Ireland, bar one warm up match which was being used to give everyone game time

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Oct 12th, 2015 at 06:42:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Always has doesn't mean will continue. Towards the end of the first half, he looked stretched to me. And he's due to retire after this competition.

Celtic mist, I dunno, couldn't they be leaping leprechauns instead of boom-bang-boom power players? As for Gallic flair, they should be holding a funeral service for it. A team without a game plan beyond the mighty Bastareaud who has no tactical sense and can't pass the ball.

I used to be afew. I'm still not many.

by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Thu Oct 15th, 2015 at 01:19:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
O'Connell is due to retire from international rugby but has a two year contract with Toulon who wouldn't like to hear he is past his best (although that may be true...).

Schnitd has numerous set plays designed to release a player into space - as happened with Tommy bowe in the first half only for Earls to drop the scoring pass -  using decoys and switching the point of attack at the last moment. The players are encouraged to play "heads up rugby"  to identify where the space is, but there is very little unrehearsed off the cuff rugby played any more at the top level - defences have simply become too organised.

It will be interesting to see how France do against the all blacks.  At an individual level the two teams are comparable, but somehow France have contrived to be less than the sum of their parts under the leadership of PSA.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Oct 15th, 2015 at 12:23:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - Ireland 24 France 9
if O'Connell and Sexton are ruled out of the World Cup

I think O'Connell is too old to last a game at that level of instensity. Sexton didn't look too badly hurt. And Madigan is a good replacement (that the French didn't handle, to their cost).

I used to be afew. I'm still not many.

by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Mon Oct 12th, 2015 at 02:05:47 PM EST
O'Mahony has been ruled out and been replaced by Ruddock - who is potentially as good anyway.

No replacements announced for O'Connell and Payne yet, but we are running low on proven international class replacements in those positions.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Oct 12th, 2015 at 06:50:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I haven't really been in hiding. Just a bit busy.

Well, that was certainly the end of the Saint-André era, and good riddance. I could never work out what his grand scheme was, and the French have been rubbish in the Six Nations since he took over. But well, I thought, perhaps he's right and it's all secondary to the World Cup.

But no. He's just a crap coach after all. France is really in the same position as England (well, not nearly so deep, but in the same position).

At that level, it's no use blaming the players. The selection policy is hard to criticise because it's hard to discern. Finally, as I suspected from the start, PSA is just a crap coach.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Oct 15th, 2015 at 03:20:56 PM EST
From an Irish perspective the suspicion was always that the French weren't all that motivated for the 6N with the Top 14 taking precedence.  We always saw the French at a world Cup as an altogether different proposition and so prioritised that match above all else from early on.

In the warm up matches we played largely a kicking game, but that changed for the France match.  We targeted Michalak and Bastetraud defensively by having multiple runners and decoys running down their channels.  There is also a huge focus on the break-down in the Schmidt game plan as a means of retaining possession.  

But mostly it was a case of seeking to exploit the lack of a clear French game plan which led to an incoherence and lack of focus in the French play. This has been a problem for the French throughout the PSA era and it is difficult to see how it can be rectified in time for the All Blacks match.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Oct 15th, 2015 at 04:58:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's why the pool matches are so much more fun to watch. The underdogs, at least, play their natural game. In the knockout stages -- which, in practice, includes matches like France-Ireland -- it's all about disrupting your opponent's game. I'm sure the French were well-prepared to shut down the Irish kicking game... They will have a similar problem with the Blacks, who haven't really needed to show their hand yet. Perhaps that's a good thing : not knowing the Blacks' plan, they can't work on shutting it down; they might surprise everyone by showing up with a game plan of their own.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Sat Oct 17th, 2015 at 08:31:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, after that demonstration, there's no doubt in my mind which team will win the cup.

I used to be afew. I'm still not many.
by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Sun Oct 18th, 2015 at 03:04:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wales-SA living up to my estimation as the most evenly-matched quarter final. Currently the South Africans are looking shell-shocked, though leadint 12-10.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Sat Oct 17th, 2015 at 11:25:27 AM EST
Oh dear oh dear. Ireland have fifteen minutes to save the honour of Europe (I don't fancy the chances of Scotland against Australia later on). Are we looking at purely southern-hemisphere semi-finals?

A thrilling quarter final, better than yesterday's Wales-SA.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Sun Oct 18th, 2015 at 09:41:57 AM EST
Completing a triolgy of elliptic mid-match quarter-final commentaries : Scotland, a priori the least likely of the four European contenders, are currently leading Australia, 5-13 after twenty-five minutes.

I'll gladly back them to salvage a bit of European honour.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Sun Oct 18th, 2015 at 11:28:15 AM EST
Argentina are a good side, but I was v. disappointed by Ireland.  It seems that the loss of the leadership spine had a major effect on the team.  O'Connell has been an inspirational Captain for years, Peter OMahoney is the Munster Captain and Sexton runs the back-line. Losing O'Brien to suspension and Payne to injury exacerbated the leadership deficit. The thing is, the 5 players coming in are almost as good on an individual basis but lack the experience and the leadership capability.

As a result Ireland played horribly: passive in defence, lethargic around the pitch and lacking confidence in attack. Every now and then Ireland put in a bad performance - usually when they are overwhelming favourites - but on this occasion there is no excuse for the lack of energy and brio.  Maybe the team had a collective brain freeze, or maybe we will discover that a bug was doing the rounds within the squad.  Whatever happened, it was the worst performance of the Schmidt era.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Oct 18th, 2015 at 12:30:20 PM EST


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