Ireland’s bully thrashing at the hands of England in Twickenham has predictably been met by widespread dismay and hand-wringing among both Irish media and fans alike.
Less than a year ago Joe Schmidt’s men appeared to cement their credentials as legitimate World Cup contenders after securing their second win over New Zealand in the space of two years.
All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen all but fell over himself in a rush to label the men in green as World Cup favorites and all was rosy in the team Ireland’s garden.
If Ireland’s Six Nations campaign went some way to disabusing the nation of their tournament aspirations, then the record 57- 15 defeat at Twickenham has all but snuffed out any lingering hope.
“Ireland lacked the right attitude and showed no courage in their performance yesterday, something I have not seen in a long time from an Irish side under Joe Schmidt,” Neil Francis wrote in The Irish Independent. “Ireland’s World Cup credentials and the Loch Ness Monster have something in common – there is a strong suspicion that neither exists.”
The famously outspoken former Ireland international didn’t stop their, labelling the defeat as a dark portent what was to come for Ireland.
“Ireland, though, were number one in the world at losing their own lineouts. They managed to do so in a variety of ways, not all of it down to rust. Ireland were also number one in the world yesterday for missing tackles, they missed 34 out of 108 – I cannot remember a worse defensive performance.”
John O’Sullivan wrote in the Irish Times: “Defeat was hardly a surprise but the nature of it was disquieting in many respects and while there is some context to offer mitigation to the the broad disappointment of the performance, it doesn’t suffice in explaining how Ireland could be so badly beaten up.”
Cian Treacy wrote in The Irish Independent that: “At times on Saturday, it looked as though Ireland’s back-line had never played together and were thrown together at random.”
“There is a feeling of collective decline almost unprecedented in a top-class team over such a short period,” wrote Eamonn Sweeney in The Irish Independent.”
Murry Kinsella of the The42.ie was in more charitable mood, suggested Irish players getting the hairdryer treatment has little benefit.
“There is a horrific review coming the way of the Irish players,” wrote Kinsella. “And yet, one has to wonder if laying into his players again is the right move now. The Ireland coach eviscerated his men behind closed doors at Twickenham yesterday, but there is a challenge for Schmidt now in ensuring his squad hold whatever confidence they have left, building it back up again for the World Cup.”
Meanwhile Ruaidhri O’Connor of The Irish Independent wrote: “Ireland look so far off being on top of the world it seems incredible they were 80 minutes away from going to the top of the world rankings. They returned to Dublin last night having dropped from third to fourth place, but that’s the least of Joe Schmidt’s worries after his team slumped to the heaviest defeat of his era.
England Captain Owen Farrell and coach Eddie Jones speak after England beat Ireland 57-15 at Twickenham.
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.