The fallout for the shell-shocked Irish side continues after former players broke down the performance following a historic first-ever loss to Japan in Shizuoka.
Former Ireland great Brian O’Driscoll described the performance as devoid of ‘ideas’ and ‘energy’ that has impacted the mood of the whole country.
“They looked devoid of ideas, they looked devoid of energy actually. I wonder did the conditions and the humidity take effect because it wasn’t the Ireland we’ve come to expect over the last couple of years,” O’Driscoll told ITV after the game.
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“The mood of the whole country has shifted in 80 minutes.”
It was a result he didn’t see happening, predicting Ireland would get the win from a tough Japan-side.
“For one, I didn’t see that happening. I knew it would be a tough game playing against the host nation. They’d nothing to lose, but huge credit to Japan, they played terrific rugby, but Ireland looked very blunt.
“Well that certainly didn’t go to plan. Now need 10 points from the final two pool matches and see what way the chips fall. Very disappointing after the first-up performance but massive congrats to an excellent Japan.”
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“It’s very disappointing. It’s not the end of the tournament. They can still top the pool, but they have some amount of work if they’re even thinking about getting beyond the quarterfinal.”
Former Ireland captain and lock Paul O’Connell also was highly critical of what he thought was a ‘flat’ performance.
“They looked very flat. They replaced the two props after 45 minutes. I thought (lock Iain) Henderson looked quite flat in the second half.
“A big thing for Ireland over the last couple of years has been their ruck. They’ve had the best ruck in the world, in terms of ball retention and in terms of speed of ball. And Japan has just absolutely done a job on them at the breakdown.”
For Ireland’s current crop of players, putting the finger on why they lost was difficult. Centre Garry Ringrose, who scored the match’s opening try, said Japan put them under pressure in the right areas.
“Not too sure exactly but I think they put us under pressure in the right areas and our ill-discipline let them gradually keep building into the game with the points they were putting up,” he said post-match.
“It made it very difficult when they did take the lead; they defended incredibly well and made it very difficult for us to try and score in the end.”
Prop Cian Healy, who was the subject of pre-match targetting by Japanese player’s in the media for his scrummaging techniques, praised the style of rugby Japan brought to the game.
“Japan played an incredible brand of rugby, they were very expansive. They had unbelievably strong defence. They put us under pressure.”
The frantic pace of the game played into Japan’s favour as the contest went on in the humid conditions.
“From the start, there was wave after wave of constant pressure from Japan. There’s no level of easing yourself into a game – it was fast. It started fast and continued like that. It was a great brand of rugby played by them and they really put a test on us.”
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