Click here for the thoughts of various players and newspaper columnists on Ireland’s RBS 6 Nations defeat to France on Saturday.
…Gordon D’Arcy gets away from the French defence…
IRELAND FULL-BACK GEORDAN MURPHY (The Sunday Times): “I don’t think I’ve ever done so much running in one game. Our forwards were absolutely magnificent and given the amount of work they got through, it would be harsh for anyone to lay too much criticism at their door. The job they did, particularly in the second half, laid the platform for the rest of us to go at the French.
“I know I’ll take some flak this week. You expect that when you float a pass across midfield and see it intercepted for a try beneath the sticks, but no one goes out to deliberately make mistakes like that. It was a tough moment, jogging back to my own goal line to wait for the conversion, but it’s at that moment you have to look within yourself. I promised myself the next thing I did in the game would be positive. Pack that mistake up and move on.
“It took a while for all that positive thinking to pay off, but at least for the last half-hour of the second half we managed to play some rugby.
“We took some criticism after our performance against Italy, and we’re certain to take some more after this performance, but I still feel we’re in pretty good shape after our first two games.”
IRELAND REPLACEMENT LOCK DONNCHA O’CALLAGHAN (Ireland On Sunday): “Coming on as a replacement when I did wasn’t ideal but I was itching to get stuck in and do anything to help alleviate what was happening. It went well but I wouldn’t have the cheek to say Ireland “won” four tries to nil after I came on. That wouldn’t be my style at all. I did get to score, though, and I was thrilled. But at the same time, I could hardly celebrate as the attitude was “let’s get back up as quickly as we can and have another go.
“Yet while we were beaten, accusations earlier in the week that the mood within the camp isn’t great remain well wide of the mark. I’m not talking through my ass here – camp has been great since we first met up again in january. It’s very different from November, so it is frustrating to hear people on the outside trying to suggest that we’re an unhappy bunch.
“That’s just not so. If it was there would have been no way we would have had the necessary unity and pride to mount the uplifting comeback that we produced (in the second half).”
TONY WARD (The Irish Independent): “In pure statistical terms, Eddie O’Sullivan’s side dominated position and possession. The French held the ball a mere 27 minutes in total to Ireland’s 42. The game was played for 29 minutes in Ireland’s half with over an hour spent deep inside French territory.
“Little surprise, therefore, that it was the home side doing the bulk of the tackling and at a ratio of four to one. These are extraordinary statistics by any test standard but particularly so given this was Ireland dictating the terms on French soil. Bernard Laporte, however, had the last laugh. A 43-31 win and a 12-point winning margin was the most telling number of all.
“Two years ago, I well remember leaving the same stadium having lost ‘respectably’ (17-35) but with a hollow feeling because, despite the coach’s protestations to the contrary, we had played with little obvious ambition. Though he denies it to this day, it seemed an exercise in damage limitation. Well, whatever else this latest performance was, it most certainly wasn’t that.
“Here was an Irish side in Paris sticking rigidly to its preordained plan of playing it through the hand. It’s always a high-risk strategy and leads to the concession of soft tries but, as a statement of future intent, it blew the Italian display away. Losing is never easy but – sometimes – the manner does help.”
GERRY THORNLEY (The Irish Times): “The claim that Ireland were merely enacting a gameplan in the last half-hour which individual errors had undermined in the first 50 minutes also rings hollow. In keeping with what seems an over-emphasis on analysing the opposition, Ireland slavishly adhered to moving ball along a flat line and sought to bypass the advancing rush defence with inaccurate, long skip passes.
“In the final half-hour, as the French defence eased off for either physical or mental reasons, or a combination of both, and the ruck ball quickened up, it was noticeable how much this strategy was abandoned. Passes were kept short and Ireland’s array of game-breakers worked more closely together.”
FRANCE INTERNATIONAL THOMAS CASTAIGNEDE (The Guardian): “Wales need (Gavin) Henson back, but not as much as they need Gareth Thomas to continue the form he is showing. Guy Noves at Toulouse has been singing his praises all season, which means a lot, and on Sunday’s evidence Thomas is going to go through the final phase of his career at a gallop.
“Two weekends away, every match in the third round has something riding on it. Wales can get back into the Championship in Dublin; Ireland have produced 30 minutes of good rugby and can’t afford a second defeat. Can England take on the Scots with a little more aplomb than the French? At least they have been warned.”