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[2021 Six Nations] Ireland vs France (14/02/21)

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No, that you’re so sure you’ll get out of the group stage :D
I thought Ireland did OK today with the team put out but I get the distinct feeling that France were playing in second gear for the majority of the game. I think had France been at their best it could have got ugly but Ireland knocked them out of their rhythm for a lot of the match. Ireland have got Italy next, that might not be a stroll in the park judging by how laboured the Irish looked against Georgia in the ANC. Italy may sniff an opportunity.
Agreed. Italy will target this game and have shown they can move the ball about - which Ireland clearly struggle with.
 

munstermuffin

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F*** me, come on. We can all admit ireland are in a transition from the somewhat success of the Joe Schmidt era but we have to give Farrell time. He has had a 2020 six nations which was a disaster for any new coach, affected by covid and ended up playing games 6 or 7 months apart. The team has not had a proper camp until this one.

France were in transition for nearly a decade until lately. They still haven't won anything with this current crop of top players

Farrell has no idea what his best side is for a number of reasons, injuries are playing a big part in it.

His hand is being forced to give caps to new players which may not be a negative thing in the long run. He can only be judged on the next world cup as that is ultimately the pinnacle for an international coach.
Transition is importing new guys in to team etc. The last few games have failed to reward form and more worryingly trust youth.
Hugo Keenan got capped due to injuries.
Shane Daly was flying it up to Autumn games - Everyone thought he should get serious time. No.

A few cases like that. Even yesterday. A game crystal made for Craig Casey for last 5. JGP was having nightmare and still no risk. Harry Byrne not in original squad.
 

The Alpha Bro

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Yeah, we're a team in desperate need of transition and the only thing prompting any transition is the injury table. Farrell can't be given until the next world cup if it continues, he can't be given until the next six nations if it continues. By the end of this tournament he'll have had 14 test matches, 11 v opposition better than Italy, the best he can have is a 6/11 record which is really the minimum to be expected of an Irish coach, especially when not bringing in new caps regularly because the 11 new caps sound far more impressive than they are:

Hugo Keenan - Has been Farrell's best contribution to the Ireland set up thus far.
James Lowe - Was never not going to get the call
JGP - Decent at best but not good enough to be blocking Casey as much as he is
Will Connors - Underused, unfairly dropped after France in the Autumn, blocked by a 31 year old makeshift 7
Ronan Kelleher - ditto, blocked by a 30 year old journeyman
Dave Heffernan - Not at the level required
Billy Burns - Ditto, blocking Harry Byrne and Ben Healy
Ed Byrne - Injury forced
Eric O'Sullivan - Injury Forced, underused
Shane Daly - Underused, blocked by a 33 year old back three
Blanking on the 11th

Not great transitioning.
 

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Agreed on the above two posts. Farrell is not acting like a coach in transition, he wasted otherwise meaningless Autumn fixtures and is persisting with several players who are just not at this level. I can appreciate he's under serious pressure to win games and putting in young players at this level may not immediately pay off, but you can't not perform AND go conservative and expect much leeway from fans.
 

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If I was Irish I’d be banging on the Scott Robertson drum. Having said that I think he’s at least got to be given a summer tour to properly transition and then see how he goes in the autumn
 

big ginger 8

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Some loosely ordered thoughts:

  • Fair play, POC. 97% ruck retention, 67% recycled in 0-3 seconds compared to the French 50%, 100% lineout success (even if Kelleher's try is probably a bit dodgy to count there) and a lineout steal. The maul is also once again an actual weapon instead of just staying in the same spot. These were the main things I wanted a forward's coach to fix and based off the small sample size so far he's done an excellent job. He obviously had the tools to be a good coach but based on his track record many of us were dubious about his hiring. He's rightfully silenced doubters so far.
  • Leaving Casey on the bench is baffling, I'd predicted he'd only get a token few minutes but it's still very annoying. JGP was having an average at best performance and I disagree with leaving your 9 on for the whole game no matter who he is. Casey could have added the tempo we needed to make a break.
  • Our discipline was much better than it has been. Only five penalties. Hard to ask for better than that. Part of it was Pearce though, he was definitely a bit laissez faire, how a professional ref misses hands in the scrum I don't know.
  • Fogarty changing the scrum set up has made us a lot more solid. We nearly got the tighthead during the YC but didn't fully push our advantage, still we haven't looked shaky at all.
  • I keep seeing people saying we had no structure in our attack. This is dumb. We had a very clear structure, whether it was good or not is a different question. Our set up off an edge is similar to what a lot of teams do. We've a set of forwards ready to play off 9 with the 10 directly behind them with another grouping of forwards either outside 10 or 12 and more backs in behind them. Our ideal is to use flow and screen passes to sit down the defenders on the inside and make it to the other 15 in one phase, two phases max. We then want our 13 or 15 to be on the outside shoulder of the defence's 13 where they should at the least be able to make a half break. The objectives seem clear to me. Take the sole responsibility of our attack off our 10s shoulders, get around the rush defences that have caused us so much trouble and get Ringrose the ball in space more. The issues with it so far seem to be, our halfbacks still aren't cut out for this level. I could see Carbery being absolutely deadly in this system (as a 10 or 15) and HB should be quite good in it. A 10 who is a threat ball in hand would tie in more defenders in close. Byrne lacks the overall athleticism and Burns lacks the upper body strength to do it regularly. Next we're not actually sitting down defenders. Ringrose and Keenan need to be better at it. Unfortunately it's neither's strength. I can see the intent behind it but yeah if it hasn't clicked by the end of the tournament move on from Catt.
  • Another issue with our team's attack is that our forwards are still lacking in carriers. Obviously if you put in Doris and Ryan there's a bit of a difference but we're still lacking someone like Ferris, SOB or even Healy at his best. While we have a number of good carriers coming through I don't know if any of them could be considered monsters. I do however, think within a year or two we'll have a pack where everyone (except the loosehead) is at least a good carrying option which obviously makes you overall more dangerous. Until then we need to show more invention in how we use our forwards close in. Obviously there are limitations on how inventive you can get but we still need to do more. We have been better about not always hitting the obvious man but we seem to have removed the variation we had in the autumn where the outside man would run a tight line to the ruck getting screened to the inside forwards angling out. It only gets called as obstruction if you **** up and is much harder to defend than standard balls off nine.
  • I agree more with Reddan than Williams about our defensive structure. It isn't a huge problem even if there are a number of issues that need to be fixed. The most glaring of which at the moment is that when stretched it relies on the winger being able to make a good read and at the least slow down the player with the ball. Neither of yesterday's wingers can do that consistently.
  • Also seen a lot of people saying we were kicking aimlessly in the match. I disagree our kicks were with clear purpose, our chases were poor at the start which limited effectiveness in winning the ball back and providing attacking opportunities but as an extension of our defence they kept France pinned for most of the first half as they (rightfully) don't want to attack from their own 22. I actually think we gave up on it a bit too early. Admittedly we definitely could have used more variation in the kicking game though.
 

big ginger 8

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Yeah, we're a team in desperate need of transition and the only thing prompting any transition is the injury table. Farrell can't be given until the next world cup if it continues, he can't be given until the next six nations if it continues. By the end of this tournament he'll have had 14 test matches, 11 v opposition better than Italy, the best he can have is a 6/11 record which is really the minimum to be expected of an Irish coach, especially when not bringing in new caps regularly because the 11 new caps sound far more impressive than they are:

Hugo Keenan - Has been Farrell's best contribution to the Ireland set up thus far.
James Lowe - Was never not going to get the call
JGP - Decent at best but not good enough to be blocking Casey as much as he is
Will Connors - Underused, unfairly dropped after France in the Autumn, blocked by a 31 year old makeshift 7
Ronan Kelleher - ditto, blocked by a 30 year old journeyman
Dave Heffernan - Not at the level required
Billy Burns - Ditto, blocking Harry Byrne and Ben Healy
Ed Byrne - Injury forced
Eric O'Sullivan - Injury Forced, underused
Shane Daly - Underused, blocked by a 33 year old back three
Blanking on the 11th

Not great transitioning.

The 11th is the best one...

Doris.

The Daly underused comments also come across as pretty unfair to me now that we've seen it twice. Based off of interviews, once he was fully fit he was selected in the Autumn. He was dealing with an issue throughout the camp and I don't think he can give out about not being used at the moment.
 

munstermuffin

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The 11th is the best one...

Doris.

The Daly underused comments also come across as pretty unfair to me now that we've seen it twice. Based off of interviews, once he was fully fit he was selected in the Autumn. He was dealing with an issue throughout the camp and I don't think he can give out about not being used at the moment.
Working with the man I can assure you he was fit for a lot more than was stated. He lost out to Keenan. (No issues there). But had to spend few weeks holding tackle bags and effectively lost out in Munster battle to as Mike Haley turned is serious form.
 

munstermuffin

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Yeah, we're a team in desperate need of transition and the only thing prompting any transition is the injury table. Farrell can't be given until the next world cup if it continues, he can't be given until the next six nations if it continues. By the end of this tournament he'll have had 14 test matches, 11 v opposition better than Italy, the best he can have is a 6/11 record which is really the minimum to be expected of an Irish coach, especially when not bringing in new caps regularly because the 11 new caps sound far more impressive than they are:

Hugo Keenan - Has been Farrell's best contribution to the Ireland set up thus far.
James Lowe - Was never not going to get the call
JGP - Decent at best but not good enough to be blocking Casey as much as he is
Will Connors - Underused, unfairly dropped after France in the Autumn, blocked by a 31 year old makeshift 7
Ronan Kelleher - ditto, blocked by a 30 year old journeyman
Dave Heffernan - Not at the level required
Billy Burns - Ditto, blocking Harry Byrne and Ben Healy
Ed Byrne - Injury forced
Eric O'Sullivan - Injury Forced, underused
Shane Daly - Underused, blocked by a 33 year old back three
Blanking on the 11th

Not great transitioning.
On these:
- Keenan got in though through injuries
- Lowe as you said was always getting in.
- JGP was brought in but isn't good enough. Was arguably known when Luke McGrath keeping him out and well knock on is Casey, Blade, Cooney all loose out.
- Connors - as you said is in but like Daly can be argued it messing with his confidence
- Kelleher - Is this really on Farrell. Not a lot of options there and even depth chart isn't on form overall.
- Billy B/ Ross B - Both blocking younger and better guys. And neither up to standard.
- Ed Byrne - Injury and not up to it.
- Eric O' Sullivan injury.
- Daly again I've commented.
- Doris - Was this even a Farrell guy but again he has forced his way in but even then it has been strange path.
 

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Yeah, we're a team in desperate need of transition and the only thing prompting any transition is the injury table. Farrell can't be given until the next world cup if it continues, he can't be given until the next six nations if it continues. By the end of this tournament he'll have had 14 test matches, 11 v opposition better than Italy, the best he can have is a 6/11 record which is really the minimum to be expected of an Irish coach, especially when not bringing in new caps regularly because the 11 new caps sound far more impressive than they are:

Hugo Keenan - Has been Farrell's best contribution to the Ireland set up thus far.
James Lowe - Was never not going to get the call
JGP - Decent at best but not good enough to be blocking Casey as much as he is
Will Connors - Underused, unfairly dropped after France in the Autumn, blocked by a 31 year old makeshift 7
Ronan Kelleher - ditto, blocked by a 30 year old journeyman
Dave Heffernan - Not at the level required
Billy Burns - Ditto, blocking Harry Byrne and Ben Healy
Ed Byrne - Injury forced
Eric O'Sullivan - Injury Forced, underused
Shane Daly - Underused, blocked by a 33 year old back three
Blanking on the 11th

Not great transitioning.
Doris is 11

Which to be fair is a case where he picked a younger player and backed him over more experienced guys but the whole thing has been stymied by injury. Even then you could make the point that he was too good not to pick.
 
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The Alpha Bro

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Yeah I'll give him credit for Doris, it would have been tragic not to have brought him in but he's done the best he could here.

Still, doesn't read well for me when lads like Casey, Baird and HB aren't on there yet added to their treatment this test window. His centres in the current squad don't help him in my opinion either, we've a few years before it's a problem hopefully but getting lads like Frawley or Hume time with the squad and minutes this year could be huge but looks very far away from happening. Every man and his dog knew that a transition was needed prior to the world cup, Farrell would have had leeway for a loss against Wales or Scotland if he was trying to blood new lads in the ANC. Right now the results aren't there and the squad looks stagnant so I want change in some form fast.
 

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i actually thought Burns loked good with a slippery ball yesterday, some big bombs going up and coming down exactly the right spot. A couple of times, we didn't compete despite being in good position to do so, and one of my pet hates is the blockers stopping competition (along with the offsides in midfield nearly every play)

Herring is a true journeyman, and Heffernan showed he can really add to the team in his carries once he's on (im not even including the try in this)

Hendy and Beirne looked brilliant to me, I wonder if Henderson reading that long lineout was planned or just an awesome play off instinct, but highly unfortunate
Beirne I think is a long term six, with his athleticism, ability over the ball, and ball carrying

Stander again clearly struggles as the main ball carrier in a team, he really does need someone to complement him. I feel van der flier has been poor/average for a while, Will Connors looks decent but Dan Leavy would make a massive difference to the entire forward pack i think

JGP somehow made it into a vodafone Lions team of the week, which really surprised me

Lowe's defense was quite horrendous at times too

But Ireland lost the kicking battle big time, every time a game of kick tennis started, Ireland would lose 5-10 yards with each kick until France were high enough up the pitch to counter attack. We should have been kicking for touch more, or relying on counter attack and really attacking the garryowens (which we werent) but early on France did not look at all comfortable with them. Lowe was the only one able to compete with the length of the French boots, and their exits from their own half were that 10 yards beyond average, just making attacking that much more difficult/risky
 

TBeastT

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Deegan’s also been capped by Farrell, right? Not that he really makes a good case for Farrell as he was only in due to injuries but think he deserves to be mentioned.
 

The Alpha Bro

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Deegan’s also been capped by Farrell, right? Not that he really makes a good case for Farrell as he was only in due to injuries but think he deserves to be mentioned.
Yeah, good spot. It's 11 debuts but Heffernan actually got his first cap in 2017.
 

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Some thoughts on halfbacks. Billy Burns 's strengths for Ulster are his short kicking game - chips, grubbers, high balls for teammates to chase and compete for - and orchestrating back line running moves. But that's a high-risk game, and Ireland are a safety-first team. He also doesn't do the goal kicking for Ulster unless John Cooney isn't there, so I don't know how reliable he is - he missed a fairly straightforward penalty against France. Ross Byrne is an incredibly reliable goal kicker and touch kicker and a safe pair of hands, so he perhaps suits Ireland's style of play better. But he lacks a certain amount of attacking creativity, so if you're going to go with him, I think you need to pair him with a more adventurous scrum-half like Cooney or Caolin Blade. I'm a fan of playmaking scrum-halves, and Cooney and Blade are the nearest we have to someone like Antoine Dupont. I'm an Ulster fan and can bore on with the best of them about Cooney's Ireland credentials, but I can't believe Blade doesn't have a single senior Ireland cap.
 

big ginger 8

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Deegan’s also been capped by Farrell, right? Not that he really makes a good case for Farrell as he was only in due to injuries but think he deserves to be mentioned.

Mad how much an ACL makes you forget about someone.

Farrell's first squad actually had HB, Baloucuone, Baird and Deegan in it. Admittedly the first three were apprentice players. I think Baird was definitely in line to make his debut in the Autumn before getting injured but obviously that's all supposition.

 
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