Thursday, June 28, 2012

Ireland's season - the verdict. Time for a spot of dialysis

Ireland’s season was slammed shut by the All Blacks last weekend, so time to pore over the debris, and try to work out what happened.  This is Irelands record of the season- readers of a nervous disposition should look away now.

Scotland 10-6 Ireland
France 19-12 Ireland
Ireland  22–26  France
Ireland 9-20 England
Australia  6 – 15  Ireland
Ireland  36 – 6  Italy
Ireland  10  22  Wales 
Ireland  21 – 23  Wales
Ireland  42 – 10  Italy
France  17 – 17  Ireland
Ireland  32 – 14  Scotland
England  30 – 9  Ireland
New Zealand 42 – 10 Ireland
New Zealand 22 – 19 Ireland
New Zealand 60 – 0 Ireland

Pluses – we beat Australia! Lost narrowly to the All Blacks, and at a push got a draw with France

Negatives – takes a deep breath – lost 60-0 to the All Blacks, knocked out of the WC by Wales when we should have been there or thereabouts. And look at the losses NZ 3 England 2 Wales 2 France 1 Scotland 1.  Basically, Italy and Australia were the only teams we beat consistently.  I haven’t included the USA and Russia, because if we can’t beat them we can all go home.

So, what’s the reason for all of this, when we have arguably the two best club teams in Europe. And Munster. Not arguably in the best the best two teams in Europe, but a pretty good team none the less. We are struggling a bit with the age of the best players – there are a few giants of the game who have retired, or are held together by bandages and plasters.

But after all that, we managed to up in the IRB rankings, to 7th. I love the IRB rankings! If you can lose and go up, we should keep Kidney forever, because at this rate we’ll be no. 1 in no time!

We have been struggling with a few key positions, mostly at lock and in the front row. So one of the positives of the NZ was what looks like the new starting lock combination of Tuohy and Ryan, and a new tighthead in the shape of Declan Fitzpatrick.

In the next 2-3 years we are going to lose Ross, O’Connell, O’Driscoll,  O’Gara and D’Arcy. We have some replacements coming through, but at centre we have a big gap looming. So far Kidney has used Earls and Wallace there. Earls improves each match, but I don’t know if he’ll ever be a center he’s a wing or a full back.

That is the nub of the problem we have right now, in that we need change, but have an ultra conservative coach, who’s making change mainly as a result of injuries. Our style of play doesn’t fit our skill set either, it’s not great to watch, and it’s not giving us the results. We have the firepower in our backline, but we are firing blanks. We had a great win over Australia, but the only time the team had the hairs stand up on the back of my neck was the second NZ match. Straight after that match, I had some good words for Kidney. I’m going to have to take them back now.

I think it’s time for change. We need a coach who can foster new talent, and play to our strengths. My ideal candidate is Joel Schmidt – it wouldn’t be great for Leinster, but I think he could really do things with Ireland.  Mike Ruddock would be in the frame too, that’s a smashing job he did with the U20’s, 5th and the only team to beat the Baby Boks.  Personally, I think it’s too early for Connor O’Shea, although I wouldn’t mind him at Leinster! Graham Henry?

I think it’s how and when, and not if anymore.


  1. Joe as in Josef, why do people insist on calling him Joel

  2. Fair enough, I'm normally concentrating on spelling Schmidt right.Who do you think should replace Kidney if he needs to go?

  3. I don't think Schmidt would take the Ireland job. I think he will do another year at Leinster and then head home. Having said that if he did I think it would mean a totally different ball game for Ireland, faster ball, players not played out of position, the end of the O'Gara era, young players brought in and hope again. Liking your thinking on Connor O' Shea, I am a huge fan of Connor and would love to see him at Rodney Parade.

  4. Hi Laura

    It'll be interesting to see what Schmidt does - I think he likes living in Ireland, and could easily be offerd the job. I suppose it depends on his ambition - he could coach Ireland, and if he does well go onto the All Black job down the line. Taking over a Super 15 side could be a step back. We'll see! I'd say there's a few clubs who wouldn't mind taking Connor O'Shea!