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So what went wrong?

by Frank Schnittger Tue Oct 22nd, 2019 at 10:02:11 AM EST

I am, for my sins, also a moderator of the Irish Rugby Fan forum which is a closed Facebook group with over 23,000 members and dozens of new membership applications every day. If only we had similar numbers here!

Every now and then I post a blog trying to summarise a week-end's play or otherwise editorialise on the going's on in a particular match. Today's post is a requiem for Ireland's underwhelming performance in, and exit at the quarter-final stage from the World Cup taking place in Japan right now.

For family reasons I have had very little time for watching TV or blogging on any topic right now so the post is restricted to Ireland's matches as I have been unable to watch any of the others.

Ireland went into the World Cup ranked, very briefly, at no. 1 in the world, but that was never a realistic assessment of our recent form. Our current ranking of 5th. in the World is probably about right, and not bad for a small country where rugby is the third or fourth most popular sport behind Gaelic Football, Soccer, and perhaps Hurling.


So what went wrong?

Looking back at our triumphal season in 2018 when we won the 6 Nations Grand Slam beating England 24-15 in Twickenham and the All Blacks 16-9 at the Aviva one has to ask the question as to what went wrong in 2019.

As usual there is no simple answer and there were a number of small things which added up to the 5% which can be the difference between winning and losing badly against the top teams.

Firstly, one has to acknowledge that other teams moved on and improved substantially in the interim. Playing an injury weakened All Blacks team on their end of season tour in a "friendly" at the Aviva is not the same as playing them in a World Cup.

The All Blacks have developed a new "dual playmaker" system for beating the rush defence and discovered a rich vein of new talent in the meantime. Everyone has twigged the very structured set piece based game plan that Ireland has relied on, which has made them very predictable.

The Springboks have been transformed under Rassie Erasmus and being allowed to bring home their exiled talent gives them a far stronger pool of players to choose from. England have benefited from having all their top players fit at the same time as well as finally discovering a top class back row.

Ireland, by contrast, have stagnated, trying to manage a lot of key players through injury and not bringing in many new players or tactics in the last 12 Months. Our rise to the top has bred a conservatism on the basis of why change a system that got us to the top in the first place? The game has evolved in the last 12 months, and we didn't lead the change.

But let us not forget the small margins which led us to lose to a very good Japan side, which in turn landed us with a quarter final against a rampant All-Black side which had the benefit of an extra week's rest and training prior to what had become a grudge match for them.

Some of the Irish players may have passed their peak. Best, probably Kearney, and possibly Sexton and Earls will retire from international rugby. Top class replacements will have to be developed or found. Some of our established players may not be quite as good as we thought they were.

Certainly this World Cup has unveiled some extraordinary talent in the other top teams. For us perhaps only Larmour, Ringrose, Farrell, Ryan, and Beirne enhanced their reputations. But all is not lost. The 6 Nations is just 3 months away, and I have no doubt this Irish squad still have a lot to give. Onwards and upwards!

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Numbers!

Are you telling us UK politics is not as sexy as Irish Rugby?

Thx for all yr contributions Frank ... a great relief there is life beyond Boris 😎.

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.

by Oui on Tue Oct 22nd, 2019 at 11:12:38 AM EST
Thanks Oui! Your contributions here are also greatly appreciated, especially as you cast your net so much wider than I can at the moment. Totally re-vamping your home and having a daughter, son-in-love, and 10 day old baby move in with you changes things somewhat!

The house has been a building site for the past 4 months and I have been living with friends and neighbours with only sporadic Wifi access. Living out of a small suitcase can be a bit discombobulating!

The builders have now left but we are left to paint the entire house, reflooring all rooms, replacing the kitchen and all the fixed storage areas in the house and trying to sort through a lifetime of possessions many of which have been damaged by damp and mould in the meantime!

The house has now achieved an energy rating of A+ - equivalent to passive house standard, and is, I am told, one of the 10 most energy efficient renovated houses in Ireland. We have installed solar panels, battery storage, heat pump, heat exchanger ventilation system, 100mmm underfloor and all exterior wall insulation and removed all carbon based heating. At the moment only two bedrooms and no living areas are finished so there is still a lot of interior work to do.

I will do a blog on the renovation when I have all the technical data and the job is complete. But for now, its back to the painting and trying to figure out the giant 3d jig-saw puzzle that is an IKEA kitchen with the usual lousy and ambiguous instructions!

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Oct 22nd, 2019 at 11:45:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Looking forward to the renovation story of your home. Am also contemplating a number of much needed energy saving investments ... or move to a new home.

Also looking at insolated roofing 25 sqm with solar panels and an integrated central heating system based on hydrogen. A converter electricity to hydrogen and a storage tank. Planning for coming spring to start the works.

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.

by Oui on Tue Oct 22nd, 2019 at 12:37:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I just couldn't resist ... the rugby referee is a god on the field ...

ooops Jaco!

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.

by Oui on Tue Oct 22nd, 2019 at 12:05:56 PM EST
Rugby is a game played on the edge of violence, so discipline and respect for the referee is all important if a lot of potentially serious injuries are to be avoided. Central to that is obviously the quality and impartiality of the refereeing, and so Jaco rather let the side down posing with the Welsh fans having (rightly) sent of a French player, thereby more or less determining the outcome. I doubt he will get to referee another match in this competition and he was not considered for the Semi-final matches.

Having Television match officials (TMOs) and slow-mo action replays has improved the quality of refereeing greatly, and deliberate foul play has been greatly reduced and is severely punished when spotted. That said, there have been a lot of refereeing mistakes which have determined or greatly influenced the outcome of matches.

English referee Wayne Barnes - generally a much improved referee - committed a few howlers in the Japan South Africa match firstly by not sending off "the Beast" Tendai Mtawarira, then not yellow carding a Japanese player, and finally disallowing a legitimate South African try, all without consulting with the TMO. Japan were well beaten in the end, but had the Beast been sent off the result might have been different. He won't be popular in Japan.

Ireland also suffered at the hands of the referee in the Japan match, but can have no complaints about the refereeing of Nigel Owens for their defeat against the All Blacks. In my view he is the best referee in the world and recently made history by coming out as gay in what is still largely a male macho world, even though that has been changing much for the better.

Referees are human and can make honest mistakes but it is critical that they are impartial, are respected and communicate well with the players. Rugby can degenerate into a mêlée without that.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Oct 22nd, 2019 at 12:54:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Suffering at the hand of the referee ...

Every competition weekend during the past thirty years, I have been a referee in fieldhockey. Even at my age going strong ... enjoy every game and the best part is indeed the third half, having a drink with both sides and sometimes talk about rules of the game and interpretation. Spirit of sportsmanship has always been part of my life.

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.

by Oui on Tue Oct 22nd, 2019 at 02:20:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I had a brief career as a schools field hockey coach and umpire while at college and my brother played for Ireland at u.23 level. Unfortunately I was never much good as a player so focused on table tennis, regrettably no longer possible since the loss of sight in one eye. But yes, sport has always been part of my life-blood, and I still play social tennis with the old fogies...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Oct 22nd, 2019 at 02:49:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]

History does not record whether Wainwright was, unseen, twisting Vahaamahina's testicles...

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

by eurogreen on Wed Oct 23rd, 2019 at 09:43:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's .... all in the game and not limited to rugby union. 🤡

Discipline, discipline ... best your adversary by storing more points.

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.

by Oui on Wed Oct 23rd, 2019 at 11:16:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He seemed to be enjoying himself all right, but Vahaamahina has a history of this sort of thing...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Oct 23rd, 2019 at 11:42:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And will never play for France again.

Things are going to slide, slide in all directions
Won't be nothing, nothing you can measure anymore
L. Cohen
by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Wed Oct 23rd, 2019 at 11:59:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course the red card was the right and obvious call, but it did finally hand the match to Wales. So this celebration of the incident with Wales fans is way out of line. All the more in that the last-minute try that gave Wales a one-point victory was borderline enough that some other refs might have refused it.

A ref at this level must not only be impartial, he must be seen to be impartial. Null points for Peyper.

(Disclaimer: I am partial to both sides in this game. When Wales plays France, I say "Let the best side win". After the match, Warren Gatland said the best side didn't win. I agree).

Things are going to slide, slide in all directions
Won't be nothing, nothing you can measure anymore
L. Cohen

by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Wed Oct 23rd, 2019 at 11:19:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Once again France managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of history... pssst - email sent to an old(?) address.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Oct 23rd, 2019 at 11:44:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, got it, thanks, will reply shortly.

Things are going to slide, slide in all directions
Won't be nothing, nothing you can measure anymore
L. Cohen
by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Wed Oct 23rd, 2019 at 11:59:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We both have a team left in this competition.

I was seeing a path to my preferred final, right up to the 79th minute...

France, exactly as I expected, were unexpectedly good, and wouldn't have had much trouble with the Boks.

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

by eurogreen on Thu Oct 24th, 2019 at 04:20:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well we don't have none now... :(

Things are going to slide, slide in all directions
Won't be nothing, nothing you can measure anymore
L. Cohen
by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Sun Oct 27th, 2019 at 11:46:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wales have misfired three games in a row: Fiji, France, South Africa.

Hate to point the finger, but Davies-Biggar were rubbish. And Gatland doesn't seem to have inspired his side with a game plan to beat the predictable SA game.

Things are going to slide, slide in all directions
Won't be nothing, nothing you can measure anymore
L. Cohen

by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Sun Oct 27th, 2019 at 11:50:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can you add a Brexit joke to an Irish Rugby diary? Apparently you can (h/t Politico.eu):


by Bernard on Wed Oct 23rd, 2019 at 06:03:21 PM EST


Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.
by Oui on Sat Oct 26th, 2019 at 12:50:12 PM EST
Awesome performance by England. Puts Ireland's defeat to them in a better perspective. The match was much more one-sided than the scoreline indicates - England had two tries disallowed - one by a very marginal and possibly wrong decision.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Oct 26th, 2019 at 01:34:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I couldn't watch the match, did listen to some comments afterwards ... the All Blacks had a game plan ... adjusted their line-up ... lasted for less than 2 min as England crossed the goal line for their first try 🎃

As Mike Tyson was quoted ... the game plan lasted until a punch square in the face 😄

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.

by Oui on Sat Oct 26th, 2019 at 03:14:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy...- Helmuth van Moltke

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Oct 26th, 2019 at 06:56:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
England were really quite good against the Blacks.

#GrudgingRespect

Things are going to slide, slide in all directions
Won't be nothing, nothing you can measure anymore
L. Cohen

by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Sun Oct 27th, 2019 at 11:52:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually I thought they were fantastic - really bullied the all Blacks in all areas. Awesome power allied to no little skill right across the team...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Oct 27th, 2019 at 02:34:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Welsh irony.

Things are going to slide, slide in all directions
Won't be nothing, nothing you can measure anymore
L. Cohen
by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Sun Oct 27th, 2019 at 02:51:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes but the Irish no longer have any need to put down the English - we now have them where we want them - the far side of a sea border...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Oct 27th, 2019 at 02:59:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You don't get a sea border down the middle of the pitch, though, do you?

Things are going to slide, slide in all directions
Won't be nothing, nothing you can measure anymore
L. Cohen
by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Sun Oct 27th, 2019 at 03:48:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes but it is the Welsh misfortune not to have one with England...As Eddie Jones said of Wales, "Wales. Who knows Wales? Are there any Welsh people here? So it's this little s*** place that has got three million people. Three million!" he said."

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Oct 27th, 2019 at 11:24:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wales has a 2:1 ratio sheep:people. Can Australia beat that?

Things are going to slide, slide in all directions
Won't be nothing, nothing you can measure anymore
L. Cohen
by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Mon Oct 28th, 2019 at 09:52:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How do you tell them apart?  (/hides)

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Oct 28th, 2019 at 08:25:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Australians?

Things are going to slide, slide in all directions
Won't be nothing, nothing you can measure anymore
L. Cohen
by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Mon Oct 28th, 2019 at 08:51:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't fall asleep ... keep them (down-under) apart by counting sheep. Aussies ratio 3:1 ...

Quite impressive the Falklands, they don't play ball do they?

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.

by Oui on Mon Oct 28th, 2019 at 10:15:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]

A Pollard penalty wins it for RSA in the 76th min. 🏉

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.

by Oui on Sun Oct 27th, 2019 at 11:03:46 AM EST
Very much a pedestrian, predictable contest between two sides some way off the England/All Black standard. Boring for the neutral with a lot of not v. good kicking and very little passing or open rugby. Wales did well to hang in there, despite some injuries to key players, and can be proud to have reached the Semi-final. But they are little above average for a Welsh side and I expect they will be destroyed by the all Blacks in the 3/4 place play-off.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Oct 27th, 2019 at 02:38:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
After succumbing to the "Cherry Blossoms" in 2015 ... prediction for the final with England a slight favorite over a young, talented Springboks - odds.

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.
by Oui on Sun Oct 27th, 2019 at 08:00:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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