Irish Rugby – Back to the Future
April 2, 2018 (No Comments) by Evan Coughlan

Phew, well that was an exciting few weeks wasn’t it! Ever since Johnny Sexton kicked that drop goal against France back in early February, we were all looking towards March 17th as D-Day for this current crop of Irish rugby players. Could they become only the third Irish team to secure a Grand Slam in the 135 year history of the Six Nations? The answer as we all know was a resounding yes!

irish-rugby-where-to-next

With expectations now sky high due to the current success and relative youth of this Irish team, people are already beginning to talk about the 2019 World Cup in Japan like it’s something we’ve already won. After another brilliant weekend of club rugby for Ireland, with both Munster and Leinster advancing to the semi-final stages of the 2018 Heineken Cup, things couldn’t be rosier for Irish rugby at the moment.

Of course Joe Schmidt is never going to admit that he is preparing these players for Japan in September/October 2019 and would say that he only sees it as one game at a time. But let’s be realistic, we all know that Japan is Joe’s end goal with the Irish rugby team. So let’s go back to the future and take a look at what Ireland and Schmidt have planned over the next 18 months and what we learned from this year’s Grand Slam triumph.

Ireland at the 2018 Six Nations – What we learned

In the run up to Ireland’s first match in this year’s Six Nations against France, everybody, fans, journalists and ex-players were all saying the same thing. Ireland will breeze by a French team in absolute disarray, who had only hired their new head coach in the weeks leading up to the match.

In a dreary evening in Paris, Ireland were frustrated by the French all across the field who showed their expertise in defence by not allowing the Irish anywhere near their try line. When France scored a brilliant individual try from Teddy Thomas with eight minutes to go, it looked like Ireland’s supposed Grand Slam showdown with England wouldn’t be coming to fruition at all.

Vive la Sexton

Ireland were a point down as the clock ticked into the red, but only had the ball in their own half, try as they might they were not making any headway into the French half of the field. After a clever break from Keith Earls, Ireland were now ever so slightly into the French half. Then we all know what happened next as Johnny Sexton added another one to the highlight reel and we got out of Paris with the Grand Slam still on.

johnny-sexton

Even though they had won, Ireland were rightly criticised for their performance, but also lauded for the way they grinded out a victory from what looked like a certain defeat.

The Italian Job

Then Conor O’Shea’s experienced Italian side came to Dublin, but Ireland were in fine form, impressively running in eight tries. There was however concern about our defence, after Italy managed to run in three tries of their own in the final 25 minutes. Ireland’s defence needed to step up if we were going to have any chance of securing this Grand Slam. Next up were our Celtic cousins Wales and panto villain Warren Gatland.

Welsh Wizardy

Ireland needed a big performance against Wales and brought one, as did the Welsh. Both teams played great attacking clinical rugby, resulting in one of the games of the tournament. Ireland took on the Welsh dominance early in the match and were ultimately leading heading into the final quarter.

Yet again, Ireland’s defence let them down again in the later stages and Wales were able to go over for two tries, bringing it back to a one score game going into the final four minutes. Luckily for Ireland, Jacob Stockdale was able to catch an intercept ball and go over for a try putting a bit of gloss on a game that prior to that had been edge of your seat stuff.

welsh-wizardy

A Scottish Statement

After a two week break, Ireland returned to action with the Grand Slam now clearly in sight, up against them were Scotland. The break had allowed Ireland to work on their game from a defensive point of view and they appeared much stronger in defence. Scotland weren’t let anywhere near there line, despite dominating in the first half. Ireland eventually ran out comfortable winners and had answered some of their critics, making a statement with a dominant display in the forwards.

Time for Twickenham

So it all came down to this, what was originally supposed to be a Grand Slam showdown had turned into a crowning moment for this Irish side. As is often the case, the media made a massive deal out of the game and in the lead up we took a look at some of the Best Ireland v England Rugby Clashes of The Last 15 Years.

England had self-destructed in the previous rounds and Eddie Jones was under heavy pressure from the English press. Ireland were expected to play conservatively. Instead they played fast exciting rugby and completely dominated the English for the first 30 minutes of the game. After a moment of magic from Jacob Stockdale, Ireland led 21-5 at half time, but England were expected to come calling in the second half.

jacob-stockdale

The English did indeed come calling but Ireland met them with much more force, blowing Jones’ men out of the water. The Irish players worked hard and restricted them to only two tries late in the second half. It’s important to say that Ireland didn’t just sit back on their line and defend; they attacked like they had done so throughout the whole tournament and perhaps could have scored more. The final whistle was sounded as the Irish team chased down Owen Farrell’s conversion attempt and the Ireland were officially crowned Grand Slam champions for 2018.

Key Takeaways

The main takeaways from this year’s Six Nations for Ireland are as follows; Jacob Stockdale is a proven try scorer and is the spark that Ireland have been missing in the backline since the days of Brian O’Driscoll. The injection of youth has proven crucial to our newfound success with the likes of Andrew Porter, Dan Leavy and Garry Ringrose. These players are going to be crucial clogs in this machine for years to come. While the likes of Jordan Larmour and Joey Carbery will have massive roles to play off the bench.

key-takeaways

One thing that I feel has been overlooked about this Irish side is just how good they are with the ball in hand. Be that through offloading the ball in the tackle or pulling off a combination play. Perhaps most impressively of all, its not just the backs who are able to play with the ball in hand, with the forwards in particular like Tadhg Furlong showing there quick hand skills. So with the 2018 Six Nations been and gone, what is next up for this group of players?

Back to the Future of Irish Rugby

Well for the next two months, Irish players will be fighting for provincial glory as Munster and Leinster are in with a shout of European titles and potential Pro 14 success. The Red Army edged out an epic encounter in Thomond Park with a tight win over Toulon. Andrew Conway dished up a serving of magic to win the game with a tremendous try which you can watch below.

Yesterday afternoon, Leinster shook off stiff competition from reigning two time Heineken Cup champions Saracens at the Aviva Stadium. After an almost perfect group campaign, Leo Cullen’s men will look to their next challenge of a home semi-final against the Scarlets and a potential first European tile in six years.

2018 Summer Tour

When all the club affairs are taken care of, Ireland will head Down Under to Australia in June for a three test series against the Wallabies. Ireland will face Australia for the first time in the land Down Under since 2010. Joe Schmidt will see this as a perfect opportunity to give some of his fringe player’s big game experience in the run up to the World Cup in 2019.

Expect the likes of Johnny Sexton and captain Rory Best to be left at home, as Schmidt looks to blood younger players in a big game environment. Jordan Larmour is exciting many fans and pundits with his explosive pace and quick feet. But the youngster didn’t get much of an opportunity to show us what he is capable of during the Six Nations, as he was confined to three substitute appearances.

The likes of Larmour and Carbery will be given significant game time in this three test series. The Irish coaching can look to develop them along with a host of other young players during their time in Australia.

The Autumn Internationals

the-autumn-internationals

The next time the Irish rugby team will meet-up will be in late October for the Autumn Internationals. So far, only two matches have been announced for the annual November internationals with Ireland taking on Argentina on November 10th and World champions New Zealand in Dublin on November 17th.

There is one more game expected to be announced for the weekend of 24th/25th November against a Tier 2 nation. Expect a Samoa or a Tonga to show up in Dublin that weekend to give the Irish defence a stern workout.

The 2019 Rugby World Cup

It goes without saying that we have been guilty of looking too far ahead to the future before. This is after all, a competition that isn’t taking place for another 18 months. Many forget that we will have another Six Nations to play before we travel out to Japan. Joe Schmidt isn’t going to let his players get complacent in the next year and a half.

the-2019-rugby-world-cup

Joe will want to back up this year’s Grand Slam victory with another one next year, and you know what, maybe then we can start getting excited about a full on tilt at the Rugby World Cup. But until then let’s just bask in the glow of this year’s Grand Slam triumph like the proud little sporting nation that we are.

Evan Coughlan
Writes about sport and stuff. When Evan thinks of a witty comment it will appear here.

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Irish Rugby – Back to the Future
April 2, 2018 (No Comments) by Evan Coughlan

Phew, well that was an exciting few weeks wasn’t it! Ever since Johnny Sexton kicked that drop goal against France back in early February, we were all looking towards March 17th as D-Day for this current crop of Irish rugby players. Could they become only the third Irish team to secure a Grand Slam in the 135 year history of the Six Nations? The answer as we all know was a resounding yes!

irish-rugby-where-to-next

With expectations now sky high due to the current success and relative youth of this Irish team, people are already beginning to talk about the 2019 World Cup in Japan like it’s something we’ve already won. After another brilliant weekend of club rugby for Ireland, with both Munster and Leinster advancing to the semi-final stages of the 2018 Heineken Cup, things couldn’t be rosier for Irish rugby at the moment.

Of course Joe Schmidt is never going to admit that he is preparing these players for Japan in September/October 2019 and would say that he only sees it as one game at a time. But let’s be realistic, we all know that Japan is Joe’s end goal with the Irish rugby team. So let’s go back to the future and take a look at what Ireland and Schmidt have planned over the next 18 months and what we learned from this year’s Grand Slam triumph.

Ireland at the 2018 Six Nations – What we learned

In the run up to Ireland’s first match in this year’s Six Nations against France, everybody, fans, journalists and ex-players were all saying the same thing. Ireland will breeze by a French team in absolute disarray, who had only hired their new head coach in the weeks leading up to the match.

In a dreary evening in Paris, Ireland were frustrated by the French all across the field who showed their expertise in defence by not allowing the Irish anywhere near their try line. When France scored a brilliant individual try from Teddy Thomas with eight minutes to go, it looked like Ireland’s supposed Grand Slam showdown with England wouldn’t be coming to fruition at all.

Vive la Sexton

Ireland were a point down as the clock ticked into the red, but only had the ball in their own half, try as they might they were not making any headway into the French half of the field. After a clever break from Keith Earls, Ireland were now ever so slightly into the French half. Then we all know what happened next as Johnny Sexton added another one to the highlight reel and we got out of Paris with the Grand Slam still on.

johnny-sexton

Even though they had won, Ireland were rightly criticised for their performance, but also lauded for the way they grinded out a victory from what looked like a certain defeat.

The Italian Job

Then Conor O’Shea’s experienced Italian side came to Dublin, but Ireland were in fine form, impressively running in eight tries. There was however concern about our defence, after Italy managed to run in three tries of their own in the final 25 minutes. Ireland’s defence needed to step up if we were going to have any chance of securing this Grand Slam. Next up were our Celtic cousins Wales and panto villain Warren Gatland.

Welsh Wizardy

Ireland needed a big performance against Wales and brought one, as did the Welsh. Both teams played great attacking clinical rugby, resulting in one of the games of the tournament. Ireland took on the Welsh dominance early in the match and were ultimately leading heading into the final quarter.

Yet again, Ireland’s defence let them down again in the later stages and Wales were able to go over for two tries, bringing it back to a one score game going into the final four minutes. Luckily for Ireland, Jacob Stockdale was able to catch an intercept ball and go over for a try putting a bit of gloss on a game that prior to that had been edge of your seat stuff.

welsh-wizardy

A Scottish Statement

After a two week break, Ireland returned to action with the Grand Slam now clearly in sight, up against them were Scotland. The break had allowed Ireland to work on their game from a defensive point of view and they appeared much stronger in defence. Scotland weren’t let anywhere near there line, despite dominating in the first half. Ireland eventually ran out comfortable winners and had answered some of their critics, making a statement with a dominant display in the forwards.

Time for Twickenham

So it all came down to this, what was originally supposed to be a Grand Slam showdown had turned into a crowning moment for this Irish side. As is often the case, the media made a massive deal out of the game and in the lead up we took a look at some of the Best Ireland v England Rugby Clashes of The Last 15 Years.

England had self-destructed in the previous rounds and Eddie Jones was under heavy pressure from the English press. Ireland were expected to play conservatively. Instead they played fast exciting rugby and completely dominated the English for the first 30 minutes of the game. After a moment of magic from Jacob Stockdale, Ireland led 21-5 at half time, but England were expected to come calling in the second half.

jacob-stockdale

The English did indeed come calling but Ireland met them with much more force, blowing Jones’ men out of the water. The Irish players worked hard and restricted them to only two tries late in the second half. It’s important to say that Ireland didn’t just sit back on their line and defend; they attacked like they had done so throughout the whole tournament and perhaps could have scored more. The final whistle was sounded as the Irish team chased down Owen Farrell’s conversion attempt and the Ireland were officially crowned Grand Slam champions for 2018.

Key Takeaways

The main takeaways from this year’s Six Nations for Ireland are as follows; Jacob Stockdale is a proven try scorer and is the spark that Ireland have been missing in the backline since the days of Brian O’Driscoll. The injection of youth has proven crucial to our newfound success with the likes of Andrew Porter, Dan Leavy and Garry Ringrose. These players are going to be crucial clogs in this machine for years to come. While the likes of Jordan Larmour and Joey Carbery will have massive roles to play off the bench.

key-takeaways

One thing that I feel has been overlooked about this Irish side is just how good they are with the ball in hand. Be that through offloading the ball in the tackle or pulling off a combination play. Perhaps most impressively of all, its not just the backs who are able to play with the ball in hand, with the forwards in particular like Tadhg Furlong showing there quick hand skills. So with the 2018 Six Nations been and gone, what is next up for this group of players?

Back to the Future of Irish Rugby

Well for the next two months, Irish players will be fighting for provincial glory as Munster and Leinster are in with a shout of European titles and potential Pro 14 success. The Red Army edged out an epic encounter in Thomond Park with a tight win over Toulon. Andrew Conway dished up a serving of magic to win the game with a tremendous try which you can watch below.

Yesterday afternoon, Leinster shook off stiff competition from reigning two time Heineken Cup champions Saracens at the Aviva Stadium. After an almost perfect group campaign, Leo Cullen’s men will look to their next challenge of a home semi-final against the Scarlets and a potential first European tile in six years.

2018 Summer Tour

When all the club affairs are taken care of, Ireland will head Down Under to Australia in June for a three test series against the Wallabies. Ireland will face Australia for the first time in the land Down Under since 2010. Joe Schmidt will see this as a perfect opportunity to give some of his fringe player’s big game experience in the run up to the World Cup in 2019.

Expect the likes of Johnny Sexton and captain Rory Best to be left at home, as Schmidt looks to blood younger players in a big game environment. Jordan Larmour is exciting many fans and pundits with his explosive pace and quick feet. But the youngster didn’t get much of an opportunity to show us what he is capable of during the Six Nations, as he was confined to three substitute appearances.

The likes of Larmour and Carbery will be given significant game time in this three test series. The Irish coaching can look to develop them along with a host of other young players during their time in Australia.

The Autumn Internationals

the-autumn-internationals

The next time the Irish rugby team will meet-up will be in late October for the Autumn Internationals. So far, only two matches have been announced for the annual November internationals with Ireland taking on Argentina on November 10th and World champions New Zealand in Dublin on November 17th.

There is one more game expected to be announced for the weekend of 24th/25th November against a Tier 2 nation. Expect a Samoa or a Tonga to show up in Dublin that weekend to give the Irish defence a stern workout.

The 2019 Rugby World Cup

It goes without saying that we have been guilty of looking too far ahead to the future before. This is after all, a competition that isn’t taking place for another 18 months. Many forget that we will have another Six Nations to play before we travel out to Japan. Joe Schmidt isn’t going to let his players get complacent in the next year and a half.

the-2019-rugby-world-cup

Joe will want to back up this year’s Grand Slam victory with another one next year, and you know what, maybe then we can start getting excited about a full on tilt at the Rugby World Cup. But until then let’s just bask in the glow of this year’s Grand Slam triumph like the proud little sporting nation that we are.

Evan Coughlan
Writes about sport and stuff. When Evan thinks of a witty comment it will appear here.

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