Irish reaction to the defeat in Stade de France
Understandably the mood in the Irish dressing room was one of disappointment with the first twenty minutes indentified as perhaps the key period in the game. ” It was a difficult game for us, very frustrating opening half.” said Malcolm O’Kelly, ” For the first twent/twenty five minutes when we really needed to be in there with them and getting the amount of posssession that we needed to put something together we just didn’t get it for whatever reason. We’re all very disappointed especially to finish like that but I don’t think France were going to be denied today. In the second half we won some ball and put some phases together. We didn’t light the night up I know but in fairness to them they were superb in defence, in all facets of play.” O’Kelly agreed that they were aware right from the start of the task they faced.
“Yeh, there was a party atmosphere there from the very start, they were up for business. At any opportunity the ball just seemed to bounce up into their hands and like lightning, they swept it across the field and there was very little we could do about it.”
” Hugely disappointing,” was how Gary Longwell desbribed the day.
” We set out for a big first twenty minutes, we thought the game would be won or lost in that first twenty minutes and unfortunately we managed to lose it. France are very dangerous when they get points clear of you. If you can keep close to them we all know that you can get in amongst them and things can go your way in the last twenty.This time they were out of sight by half-time. We tried everything we could but on the day they were absolutely fantastic.”
” At half time we talked about getting a try and start hauling them back but they started the second half superby as well. It was just a French juggernaut today. ”
Captain Keith Wood played his part despite a long lay off and scored his side’s only try.” The French are a good side and were especially good today almost irresistable.” he said.” They cut us off at every sphere of influence you’d like on the field. They put us under an awful lot of pressure in the scrum and also at the line-out and they breached our defence on numerous occasions. In that sort of situation, there were times in the first half when we were just hanging on. We didn’t defend nearly as well as you have to. The ball is precious, especially over here. We stopped them on the line about four or five times in the first twenty minutes, we were barely keeping ourselves in the game. We needed to do something from then on and it was they that did.”
” Everybody is very very disappointed. It’s the end of a long season for a lot of the players maybe not for myself, I’ve been out for a while, but for a lot of the players it’s the end of a long period of time. We have a month and a half to reflect before the tour to New Zealand.”
” We haven’t had days like this in France for a while. We won last time and two years before that we only lost by a couple of points. You’d like to think these days are behind you but it happens. Only one team can win on a day and France fully deserved their championship. They played like a team who wanted the championship.”