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Irish boss Kidney reacts to criticism over winless 10-game run

By Liam Heagney

Trending on RugbyPass

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Long-serving London Irish boss Declan Kidney doesn’t believe the pressure has ratcheted up at the club as they seek to snap a ten-match winless streak in the Gallagher Premiership when they host Gloucester next Sunday. It is the Exiles’ most barren run of results in the top-flight since the 14-match winless streak of 2017/18 resulted in the appointment of the Irishman as director of rugby in March 2018 prior to their relegation to the Championship. 

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Irish only spent one campaign in the second tier but their struggle for improved Premiership results has become a theme of the Kidney era. Last Saturday’s defeat to Leicester was the club’s 33rd on-pitch Premiership defeat in 50 outings with the ex-Ireland and Munster coach at the helm, their meagre 13 victories (and four draws) good enough for just a 26 per cent win ratio. 

You have to go back to last March against Bath for their most recent Premiership win and while they have generally been competitive in this latest winless run, five of their defeats being by five points or less, some Irish fans have started to lose patience with the Kidney tenure judging by social media comments after the latest setback against the Tigers. Some of the Twitter posts questioning the luckless Irish were: 

  • “We’ve spent millions to achieve nothing. Something is clearly wrong at the top and it feels like K&K (Kidney and Les Kiss) are out of ideas.”
  • “Lost for words, we need to start winning. We have the talent so what’s actually wrong?”
  • “Since we were last promoted, we’ve played something like 48 games and only won 12! It’s just not good enough. With that kind of win rate, in most other sports Kidney and Kiss would be long gone.”
  • “It is getting very boring now to lose week in and week out. You get our hopes up to then dash them.”

Asked by RugbyPass if he was feeling any sense of added pressure at the moment, Kidney replied: “No, nothing new. Everyone has been very nice.”

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Louis Rees-Zammit as you have never seen him before
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Louis Rees-Zammit as you have never seen him before

Irish have so far lost to Worcester, Northampton and Leicester, while also drawing with Sale, in their latest Premiership campaign following on from the run of six losses that brought the curtain down on their efforts last term and cost them qualification for the Heineken Champions Cup. Kidney, though, isn’t lost the faith in his team, insisting they are playing must better this season and a W is only a matter of when and not if in being achieved. “You are combining the end of last season with this season which is understandable,” he accepted when the ten-match winless run was put to him.

“The matches at the end of last season (the reason we lost) were the finishes. This year we had an unhealthy start in two of the four matches where we gave up 17-point leads and got our way back against Sale but didn’t quite get our way back against Northampton. We managed to rectify that last week (against Leicester). To be fair they are different circumstances. It’s a statistical thing of drawing matches this year together with matches last year, but I know we are playing better this year than we did last year.”

Kidney has assembled a squad from around the world to help bring through a core group of promising English youngsters, but it has yet to deliver a consistently winning blend at Irish. “You want the players to get a bit of a reward for their effort but it doesn’t guarantee that you will get it, so if you get anxious about it or if you say you have to do something then in sport it rarely happens like that. Take golf, if you think, ‘God I have to get a par on this hole’, you will probably end up with a treble bogey. 

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“What you have to do is just go out and play the game, believe in yourself, deal with the things that Gloucester throw at you, deal with the different scenarios that are around a match and see where that leaves you at the end. It would be nice to get it [the win] and it is important to get it and I wouldn’t underestimate any of that but if you try and force it then it doesn’t happen then either.

“You just have to have that belief in yourself to go out, trust your process, trust what you are doing knowing we have been knocking on the door. It takes courage to knock on the door and my belief is that we are learning to win. Sometimes if you learn to win you stay in a better place for longer because sometimes if you get a few easy wins at the start you don’t learn what actually went into it whereas now we have reference points to bring back into it and that will stand us in stronger stead going forward. Would we like to win? Absolutely, but there is no point in trying to force it.

“There are lots of people with experience here, people with a hundred international caps, so it is not like I have to show them how to suck eggs and the younger players are building up a degree of experience as well, so that will come together and get us the wins as time goes on. When that will be, it will be but I know they will come.”

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Irish boss Kidney reacts to criticism over winless 10-game run

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