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'Some of the those tackles were absolutely appalling'

By Ian Cameron
Zoe Aldcroft of England runs with the ball as Dannah O'Brien and Aoife Dalton of Ireland attempt to stop her during the Guinness Women's Six Nations 2024 match between England and Ireland at Twickenham Stadium on April 20, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Broadway/Getty Images)

The Ireland Women’s team’s 88-10 hammering at the hands of England in the Women’s Six Nations has been described as unacceptable by commentators.

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It’s even worse than the 48-0 drubbing the women in green received in the same fixture in last season, suggesting the gap is growing between the sides.

The performance has sparked its fair share of criticism.

Ireland struggled defensively throughout the game, missing 61 tackles which translated into a poor 71 percent tackle completion rate. This meant they failed to make a successful tackle one out of every five attempts.

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England Women’s coach John Mitchell on the Red Roses squad

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England Women’s coach John Mitchell on the Red Roses squad

The contrast England demonstrated superior skill and execution, making 24 linebreaks and 18 offloads while gaining 1,067 valuable metres out of their total 1,547 metres carried. The Red Roses capitalized on Ireland’s sloppiness, amassing 14 tries in front of a record crowd of 48,778 spectators. Standout performances came from Abby Dow and Ellie Kildunne, each completing hat-tricks. Megan Jones and Jess Breach also made significant contributions with two tries apiece.

Kildunne in particular dazzled with her athleticism and sharp attacking skills being a constant threat throughout the game. Her ability to break from deep positions was highlighted by a cunning dummy kick that turned defensive play into attack.

Despite the overwhelming scoreline, Ireland managed a penalty try reflecting their persistent if ineffective effort, but it wasn’t enough to put any respectability on the scoreline.

Former Ireland Women’s internationals speaking on Virgin Sport did their best not to put the boot into the Irish side, but it proved an almost impossible task given the dire nature of their defending.

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Former Ireland outside back Eimear Considine said: “They will be really working hard on tackling this week. Individually, they’ll be wanting to make 100 tackles before heading into that Scotland game… That was below the standard of any of those girls and they will all think that and I know they will think that.”

Former Ireland prop and Six Nations winner Fiona Hayes was even more direct in her appraisal of the performance.

“Let’s be honest, some of those tackles were absolutely appalling,” Hayes said after the bloodbath. “If a player can say, that won’t happen to me next week, I promise you I’m going to do better, because sometimes when you’re in the heat of battle you can’t change that.”

Former outside centre Jenny Murphy said a lot of players needed to ‘look in the mirror’.

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“Speaking about honesty, a lot of players are going to have to look in the mirror. Some of the best feedback and toughest feedback you get is not from your coach, but it’s from your teammates. If they are a close-knit team that is driving to be better, then there are certain standards that are to be expected.

“I imagine you see some of the leadership come down on some of those players, saying ‘This is what is expected of you. This is what you need to work on’…In some areas, it was just not good enough.”

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D
Diarmid 9 hours ago
Players and referees must cut out worrying trend in rugby – Andy Goode

The guy had just beasted himself in a scrum and the blood hadn't yet returned to his head when he was pushed into a team mate. He took his weight off his left foot precisely at the moment he was shoved and dropped to the floor when seemingly trying to avoid stepping on Hyron Andrews’ foot. I don't think he was trying to milk a penalty, I think he was knackered but still switched on enough to avoid planting 120kgs on the dorsum of his second row’s foot. To effectively “police” such incidents with a (noble) view to eradicating play acting in rugby, yet more video would need to be reviewed in real time, which is not in the interest of the game as a sporting spectacle. I would far rather see Farrell penalised for interfering with the refereeing of the game. Perhaps he was right to be frustrated, he was much closer to the action than the only camera angle I've seen, however his vocal objection to Rodd’s falling over doesn't legitimately fall into the captain's role as the mouthpiece of his team - he should have kept his frustration to himself, that's one of the pillars of rugby union. I appreciate that he was within his rights to communicate with the referee as captain but he didn't do this, he moaned and attempted to sway the decision by directing his complaint to the player rather than the ref. Rugby needs to look closely at the message it wants to send to young players and amateur grassroots rugby. The best way to do this would be to apply the laws as they are written and edit them where the written laws no longer apply. If this means deleting laws such as ‘the put in to the scrum must be straight”, so be it. Likewise, if it is no longer necessary to respect the referee’s decision without questioning it or pre-emptively attempting to sway it (including by diving or by shouting and gesticulating) then this behaviour should be embraced (and commercialised). Otherwise any reference to respecting the referee should be deleted from the laws. You have to start somewhere to maintain the values of rugby and the best place to start would be giving a penalty and a warning against the offending player, followed by a yellow card the next time. People like Farrell would rapidly learn to keep quiet and let their skills do the talking.

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