Highlights on Off The Ball

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Highlights on Off The Ball


"We weren't able to respond and evolve on the pitch" - Gordon D'Arcy

Gordon D'Arcy believes that Ireland have some learning experiences that they can benefit from after the France game.

Ireland lost to France in Paris last weekend and Gordon D'Arcy joined Wednesday Night Rugby to break it down.

In many ways, Ireland's loss to France wasn't a bad result.

Matt Williams said weeks ago that Ireland are the best team in the world, but they'd lose to France on their best day. During the first half, France played their best rugby. They dominated the game outside of a Mack Hansen moment of magic.

Ireland fought back in the second half, making it a one-score game in the end. There was a level of physicality, precision and tactical intelligence in that game that Ireland won't see again until the Summer.

But there are specific issues that will linger in the minds of Irish rugby fans. The big moment was the decision at the end to kick to the posts. That's a detail that has been discussed to death this week.

Gordon D'Arcy didn't focus on the micro details of the captain's decision-making. Instead he looked at Ireland's wider performance and noted some key areas where Ireland can improve.

When asked about Ireland's tempo and style of attack in the context of the scrum half, D'Arcy noted Ireland's inability to adapt on the field.

"How we responded to the French defensive line is the bigger [concern]," D'Arcy said.

"We weren't able to respond and evolve on the pitch. They were picking specific rucks to counter ruck and then they were spreading the line, sending the high shooter at the first receiver to try and get us to not pass the ball. At important moments we did what their defence wanted us to do."

Andy Farrell changed how Ireland played at halftime. They were able to create space more easily and penetrate through the French defensive line more often. But D'Arcy rightfully notes that the players should have adjusted prior to that point. By halftime, the game was already close to gone.

Because the key players in the team are all relatively young, inexperienced in their roles, the learning opportunities that come from this game make it exciting. Ireland lost and had really bad spells throughout the game, but a handful of moments really decided the game in the end.

Moments that Ireland can turn in their favour in the future.

"If we were able to unpick one or two of those pressure penalties that we gave away in the first half by what we were doing, better decisions, better composure with the ball in hand. You take six points off that and then that changes the dynamic of the game. It also changes the energy resource that the Irish team are distributing.

"When you're soaking up that amount of pressure...this Irish team when they're playing really well they hog possession, they hog the territory and that reflects on the scoreboard. France didn't allow us to monopolize either of those two and we had to play with even possession, even territory.

"We have to be able to find a way to win with a lower possession and lower territory. If that's not achievable with the group of players we have then we have to accept results like this will happen."

Ireland lacked leadership - Brent Pope


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Andy Farrell Gordon D'arcy Ireland Rugby James Ryan Joey Carbery Mack Hansen Six Nations Rugby