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‘England deserved it’: Farrell and Ireland humbled by their own game
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‘England deserved it’: Farrell and Ireland humbled by their own game


After the whistle blew, the Irish stood still while the English darted around on the field, trying to catch Marcus Smith. The coaches in the box, including Steve Borthwick, were embracing each other while the 80,000 spectators in the stands cheered, yelled, cried, shouted, stomped, and applauded.

It has been a considerable amount of time since Twickenham has seen a game like this. In the midst of it all, the 15 Irish players stood frozen in shock – some with their hands on their hips, others bent over gasping for air. They seemed to be struggling to comprehend what had just happened.

Andy Farrell acknowledged the outcome, not just to his team, but to all present, stating, “That’s how it goes in rugby.” He refrained from making excuses, pointing fingers at the official, or lamenting the team’s injuries that necessitated changes to the lineup. Despite feeling foolish, he believed it would have been unfair for England not to come out victorious since they put in a solid performance and deserved the win.

Farrell achieved great success both as a player and a coach, but also experienced significant losses in international rugby. This was especially evident when he led a British team that was unable to secure a victory against Australia and New Zealand in crucial matches.

We have been successful in winning, but now we must also learn how to handle defeat. We will acknowledge England’s victory and even share a drink with them. Then on Sunday, we will pick ourselves back up and approach Monday with positivity, as we have a championship to compete for next weekend. The opportunity for a grand slam may have passed, but there is still a chance to claim a title. To do so, we must either defeat or tie with Scotland in Dublin next week.

Prior to this, there will need to be some analysis of the match, and the team meeting on Monday will likely be extensive. In the initial moments, it was too soon for anyone to determine precisely where things went off course. The game was fast-paced and constantly changing, causing many players to misinterpret the specifics once it was over.

Their thoughts were scattered and incomplete, unable to form a complete understanding of the situation at hand. Each individual event, such as a failed tackle or an injury, contributed to this blurry image. Even a crucial try, which initially seemed like a game-changer, ended up being inconsequential.

Josh van der Flier expressed his frustration, stating that the team had the opportunity but ultimately failed due to a few crucial moments that were not executed properly.

Unfortunately, Jamison Gibson-Park admitted that his team was unable to establish a cohesive strategy due to various factors, causing them to struggle against England’s well-executed blitz defence. As he has experience with this type of defence from his time at Leinster, Gibson-Park was acutely aware of its effectiveness on Saturday. Despite his efforts as scrum-half, he was limited in time and opportunities to contribute to Ireland’s complex phase-play, hindering their overall performance.

“The defensive strategy employed by England is familiar to many of us as we also use a similar one. We are aware of the importance of applying pressure at the ruck, and England executed this tactic successfully.”

Marcus Smith charges forward against IrelandView image in fullscreen

Hugo Keenan reflects on what he describes as “the game within the game” during the final eight minutes, as his team struggled to hold onto their two-point lead. He admits that they could have handled the situation better, recalling the events of that critical period. “We had a chance to clear our lines with the restart, but we didn’t execute as well as we could have. They took advantage of our weaknesses in the kick returns.” In hindsight, he believes they made the mistake of sitting back and focusing solely on defending their lead. After putting in so much effort to secure the win, their mindset was to hold on to it at all costs.

Farrell, sitting in the stands, believed that his team needed to display more control. “Not only in terms of penalties, but also in the way we play our game – that’s the key reason they were able to catch up.”

It was a challenging situation and the team was facing a lot of pressure. This led them to feel desperate and try to fix things on their own, especially during the breakdown. As a result, they made several small errors. These small errors added up and were evident in the final minutes, where they could have opted to kick for distance. However, they made two mistakes in their kicks – one was not kicked long enough and the other was not kicked out. These small details ultimately made a difference in the outcome.

If the situation seemed like a surprise attack, then that is the consequence of being ahead of the game, as Ireland has been for the last few weeks. It seemed as though Borthwick and his team had been strategizing for this match all season. The concern is whether other teams will be able to emulate their style of play and, if so, whether Ireland will be able to adjust to it.

The way Farrell thinks, you wouldn’t bet against them. Just listen to Keenan. He gets it. “The hurt is what makes losing so tough, that emotional dip. But then you always tend to dig deeper in the reviews afterwards, to look at each other that bit harder, and that’s how you get better.”

Source: theguardian.com