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'Congratulations': The compliment Ireland paid to beaten England

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Dan Mullan/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

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Andy Farrell was gracious in victory at Twickenham on Saturday night, the Ireland coach paying compliment to one particular aspect of play by England even though Eddie Jones’ team were ultimately defeated by 17 points in a contest that ended with a four-zero try count. Despite losing lock Charlie Ewels to a second-minute red card and then conceding a penalty at the game’s first scrum, the English battled back to enjoy set-piece supremacy.


They went on to force Ireland into conceding six penalties and a free-kick at the scum while they also got great joy at the lineout until Tadhg Beirne rose high to crucial pilfer a 68th-minute throw with England trailing by just 18-15 and looking to create in the opposition 22.    

“England set-piece was outstanding,” accepted Farrell, whose Ireland team are now still in with a shout of winning the Guinness Six Nations title next Saturday if France slip up against Jones’ side in Paris.

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Back in the Game – RFU
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Back in the Game – RFU

“Our discipline at times creaked a little bit so continuity in the middle third of the game was hard to come by. That is what you want when you are down to 14 men, so hats off to them. They [England] spoiled parts of our game pretty well to be 15-all, but you could tell the lads were so calm to the field. We knew it wasn’t past them to do what they did in the end,” he continued before elaborating further on the set-piece. 

“The pressure they put on everyone at lineout time is there for everyone to see. There are a few things to work on there. As far as the scrum is concerned you could see the lads asking a lot of questions and they wanted some answers because everyone wants to get on with the game set-piece wise. No one wants to give penalties away or reset scrums etc. 


“Listen, it is what it is. We will go through the right channels and make sure we realise whether it is our fault or not and if it’s not we will adjust and see what happened on the back of going through the rough channels. This is what happens in Test rugby, you are under pressure in all of the different areas and congratulations to England, at times set-piece wise they put us under the cosh.”


Ireland skipper Johnny Sexton reckoned the pressure that England applied made it the type of fierce contest his team would have lost two years ago when Farrell had initially taken over from Joe Schmidt post the 2019 World Cup.  

“The positive thing we learned is two years ago we would have lost that game,” he said following the 32-15 triumph. “At 15-all we wouldn’t have had the composure to regroup, the mental skills development we have done over the last couple of years really stood to us. 

“Even this we week prepared for things like this so that is the positive of it and what you learn when things can distract you like a team going down to 14 men, you just focus on doing the basics really well and at times we just forced that last couple of things. Those things were on so it’s probably more execution than decision making. 

“And then at other times we didn’t play, we tried to kick the ball or didn’t shift it to the edge where the space was but there are lots we will take out of it and we will just build towards next week. We have got a chance to win a Triple Crown at home… we have a big week ahead of us.”



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